The Road to Ensenada, Mexico

The toll road to Ensenada collapsed about 10 miles of north of Ensenada on December 22, 2013. An earthquake struck the area on December 19 and the road slid down the hill about three hundred feet three days later. This is the area of the road built on the side of cliffs, with the beautiful view of the ocean (and tuna pens), just south of Salsipuedes.

I have traveled to Ensenada three times since the slide. The road closure results in a minimal, one road detour that is easy to follow. The detour is well marked and impossible to miss. The detour is on to the “free road” and begins at the entry/exit point on the toll road known as Mission, located at La Fonda hotel and restaurant.

The detour does traverse a few switch backs on a two lane road, fairly busy with normal traffic including buses and large trucks. The detour slows the commute to Ensenada by about fifteen minutes if you are unwilling to pass the slow moving vehicles. The detour rejoins the “toll road” just south of the last toll booth (San Miguel) and all of the other parts of the road between the border and Ensenada are unchanged. You save $2.40 by missing one toll booth.

The failed section of road had been under repair for some time and the cause appears to have been reliable old gravity. The timing of the repair is not yet known.

For those who have not traveled the road in some time, there have been many changes over the past few years. The Mexican side has a new border entry located several hundred yards west of the old entry. The crossing is much “higher tech” than the prior crossing, but still uses the red light/green light random method to determine who gets a secondary inspection. The border road on the Mexican side has been rebuilt on a raised foundation, to allow its use in rain and flooding conditions. The return to the U.S. is slightly different, requiring a little zig zag at the transition between the road along the border and the access to the actual border crossing, but it is well marked.

The American border crossing at San Ysidro (San Diego west) now has three options, passports, passport cards (Ready) and Sentri. The Ready lanes are for R.F.I.D. enabled cards, including passport cards. The Sentri lanes are exclusively for Sentri, Nexus and Global Entry card holders and are the fastest moving lanes. The passport lanes are for all others (with passports required) and are the slowest moving lanes.

The boating draw to Ensenada includes fishing, surfing, economically advantageous repairs and general destination cruising and exploration. Traveling in Mexico is safe and fun. My family and I have traveled all over, mostly by plane, but some by car (including a drive to Cabo) and some by boat. We understand the fears many of our friends express but we are strong advocates of facing those fears and enjoying the alternative culture that is so close and easily accessible. The narco war is mostly calmed in Baja, the risks are minimal, and from our experience they are the same as they have been for the past two decades.

There has been recent activity regarding importation permits, properly displayed hull numbers and some impounded vessels. As with any foreign country, we must follow the rules and carry the proper documents. The motivation of the traveler and the boater are often the same, adventure, new experiences and exploration of the unknown. Mexico offers all of this and if you continue south it also offers warm water!

We would like to offer congratulations to the winner for the drawing of the free survey at the San Diego Boat Show held in January 2014… Mr. Richard Gallegos.

Kells Christian
Christian & Company
Marine Surveyors, Inc.