CARLOS BAJA UPDATES
CARLOS FIESTA RECOMMENDS
TOURISM AND BUSINESS
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As friendly and beautiful as Baja is, she can seem a bit intimidating
to those who do not know her well. The large, uncharted open spaces can
seem a little foreboding.
And the decades of wild stories about this renegade land only add to
the newcomer's anxiety of visiting this often misunderstood land. In reality,
however, Baja is probably one of the most enjoyable places in the world
Truth is, Baja's bark is usually much worse than her bite. Stories of adventures
gone wild are usually well exaggerated, and many of those incidents that
were not exaggerated were quiet often instigated by visitors who overstepped
the reasonable boundaries set by man and nature. (I can personally vouch
for several of these!)
As with any untamed territory, it's always a good idea to travel with
care, to remember that you are a guest in another country, and to come equipped
with as much accurate information as possible.
CARLOS FIESTA UPDATES was created for just this purpose.
Within these articles we hope to be able to educate those folks
interested in spending time in Baja, by passing on the good information
that we have acquired over the years, and to share the information we receive
from those who visit our site. These pages change on a regular basis, so
keep coming back for more good stuff!
It's a tough job, but someone has got to do it! In an effort to help flatten
out the learning curve for your next visit to Baja, Carlos Fiesta regularly
spotlights a different hotel, restaurant or service on the Peninsula. These
reviews are an invaluable way to increase the 'quality time' of your next
HOTEL BAHIA LOS FRAILES
by Carlos Fiesta
A minister, out for a drive in the country, stopped to admire a particularly beautiful farm. As the owner of the farm approached the minister, the minister thought it would be a good idea to remind the farmer of his good fortune. "God has provided you with a wonderful parcel of land here", said the minister. The hard working farmer nodded, understanding that the minister was just doing his job, and remarked, "Yes, God has indeed blessed me with a fine piece of land." He then paused, before completing his thoughts, and then stated, "But you should have seen this place before, when God had it all to himself". As is so often the case in life, man can definitely enhance the many wonders of nature. Few places in Baja display this combination of the splendor of nature and the focused efforts of man than the Hotel Bahia Los Frailes, on Baja's East Cape.
Long before mankind discovered the shores of Los Frailes, this spectacular bay offered one of the most beautiful views on the Baja peninsula. If this bay were located in any other location on the North American continent, it would have been completely developed many years ago. Fortunately, it is tucked away on an impossibly desolate stretch of coastline on the Sea of Cortez, well removed from civilization. Which is why, as we enter the new millennium, Los Frailes Bay today is not much more than a small fish camp for the local people. After spending just one evening here, you wouldn't want it any other way!
Waking up in the morning at the Hotel Bahia Los Frailes is like waking up in a dream. And even the best dream would have a difficult time competing with the beauty of the sun crawling over the horizon at Los Frailes. The splendor of the glistening sea meeting the razor sharp horizon, the special scent of the salt air, and the sound of small waves lapping gently on the broad white beaches all compete for your senses. Nature is evident everywhere. Pelicans and seagulls dance in the sky above the bay, butterflies flutter aimlessly in the beautiful gardens, while a small lizard scampers across the manicured pathway that leads to the beach. Fish occasionally leap out of the water, if only briefly, then return to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez.
The Hotel Bahia Los Frailes consists of four separate custom bungalow suites, plus a separate house featuring the dining areas, patio, veranda, fire pit, and barbecue. Each of the four separate bungalows is a unique masterpiece. The well thought out design provides for 2 complete bedroom suites, separated by a large open palapa living room. Custom woodwork includes windows and hand carved doors, along with custom designed artwork. Each home features a wonderful palapa covered patio and lush landscaping, facing the spectacular Los Frailes Bay.
Meals are included at Hotel Los Frailes, and the personalized service is more like that of a European Bed and Breakfast than a Mexican hotel. Water toys, including snorkel equipment and kayaks, are available for guests.
If you are looking for a first class destination in an intimate setting, Hotel Bahia Los Frailes is tough to beat. And you might as well put it in your calendar this year. Because if you don't, you'll just be one year older when you finally do.
For further information on Hotel Bahia Los Frailes, check out their excellent web site.
DRIVING BAJA - FROM TOP TO BOTTOM!by Carlos Fiesta
We usually reserve this section of BAJA EXPO to recommend hotels, services, and special destinations on the magnificent Baja Peninsula. However, as evidenced by the significant amount of E-mail we receive from CACTUS HEADS who have inquired about driving the full length Baja's Transpeninsular Highway, I thought we would deviate from our regular format just once to shed some light on a topic that has obviously stirred the imagination of many people. Simply stated, driving the Baja Highway from the U.S. border on the north to Cabo San Lucas on the south is an experience not to be found anywhere else on the planet. If you enjoy a good cross country-type drive, then driving the Baja Blacktop is the ultimate road trip!
The distance from the U.S. border to the end of the highway in Cabo is approximately 1,067 miles, if everything goes as planned. Fortunately, one of the nice things about Baja road trips is that things never go as planned! You see, our good friend Senora Baja is a crafty ol' soul, and she is capable of whipping up many side shows and distractions along this thousand mile adventure! It is literally impossible to do this drive with a set itinerary. Indeed, put another way, it would be a darn shame to shun the serendipity that goes along with any good Baja excursion!
Travelers who come from the United States will try to draw parallels to some of the wide open drives of the western U.S. It's not even close. Those who come from a land where the highways are littered with Adopt-a-Highway signs will find little common ground in the land of Baja, where one can drive for hours and see little evidence of human existence. The expanse of open country is awesome.
The first part of Baja Highway One skirts the west coast of the Peninsula, and through a relatively populated section of the state of Baja California. When the road hits El Rosario and heads east, hello open spaces! From El Rosario south, for hundreds of miles, the terrain is mostly open and untamed. The spectacular cactus and large rocks found on the way to Catavina offer a surreal landscape, as if from another planet. After running mid-peninsula for a bit, the Transpeninsular makes one more mad dash to kiss the west coast at Guerrero Negro, before deciding to head back to the warmer climates towards the Sea of Cortez on the east side.
Starting at the beautiful oasis of San Ignacio and heading further south through Santa Rosalia, Mulege, Bahia Concepcion and Loreto, tourists and locals become more common, and the enticements to stop and relax become harder to resist! If you can drive by the unbelievable beaches of Bahia Concepcion without slowing down for a better view, or a quick dip in the warm Sea of Cortez, you are missing the whole point of the Peninsula drive. It is these side excursions that are the Baja! This stretch from Mulege to Puerto Escondido south of Loreto offers many of the flavors of Baja that tourists are looking for. Lazy villages, spectacular fishing, crystal clear coves for snorkeling and kayaking, secluded marinas, oceanfront golf and much much more! In fact, there are so many things to see and do along this particular coastal area, many Baja travelers just throw in the (beach) towel on the remainder of their Baja drive, and hang out here with the fresh ocean breezes for the duration!
South of Loreto The Highway ribbons southwest through the hills until it reaches Ciudad Insurgentes. From this point south, for dozens of miles, a thriving agricultural economy works the fertile soil of the Magdelana plain. Complete with traffic signals and taco stands, this area of the blacktop is a temporary but rude awakening from the barren lands prevalent to the north and south. As the road again heads towards the Sea of Cortez, La Paz dangles her cosmopolitan flair and seaside beauty to entice those who want to take one last look at civilization prior to reaching Mexico's newest tourist mecca, Los Cabos. On the way to Cabo, the abandoned mining town of EL TRIUNFO and the coastal settlement of Buena Vista - Los Barriles offer excellent opportunities for a view of a very special Baja.
Although the natural geography all along the Baja Peninsula is much of the value of any Baja drive, the true treasures of any good Baja road trip is the people you meet along the way. Whether it is a humble Mexican woman serving you home made burritos made with goat cheese at a roadside "Lonche" shack, or a fellow traveler that you start up a conversation with on a beautiful stretch of beach, the people you meet in Baja are the unexpected "icing on the cake" of most Peninsula adventures!
So if you are thinking about getting away from your daily grind of voice mails, e-mails, Facebook madness and Twitter updates, and want to take on an adventure of unforgettable proportions, the Baja Highway awaits you. And you might as well put it in your calendar this year, because if you don't, you'll just be one year older when you finally do!
SNORKELING CABO'S CHILENO BAY" by Carlos Fiesta
Some folks say there are two Cabos. They talk about the difference between the slower paced San Jose del Cabo, and the non-stop action of Cabo San Lucas. True, there is quite a difference between these two Cabos. But those who know Los Cabos well understand that the differences between these two Baja destinations is nothing compared to the difference of the 'other' Cabo...Cabo underwater! The underwater world of Cabo is world class, and a whole new dimension for the Baja traveler!
The Cape area offers wonderful snorkeling, and there are several locations well deserving of the classification 'excellent'. Cabo Pulmo, Santa Maria Bay, and Lover's Beach are just 3 snorkel destinations that offer spectacular underwater excitement. But nowhere in Los Cabos can one find as many of the perfect ingredients for a great snorkel destination than Chileno Bay.
Chileno Bay is located just a few hundred yards south of the entrance of the now closed Hotel Cabo San Lucas, and the parking lot is right off the main Baja Highway. This is the first great feature about snorkeling here, it's easy to get to!
It's a short walk through the palm trees to the main snorkel beach at Chileno Bay, and setting up camp is as easy as laying down a towel on a warm section of soft Baja sand. As soon as you enter the water, it becomes evident that this is a great place to join the underworld. You quickly notice Chileno Bay's second great quality...fish! From the moment you stick your head underwater, 'they' are there to greet you, offering all of the colors of the rainbow!
The reef at Chileno Bay starts at the beach, and heads directly out to sea for over 100 yards. So, depending on your comfort level of snorkeling, you can stay close to shore, or head out along the reef further into the Sea of Cortez.The bottom depth here increases only gradually, and, when snorkeling along the reef, you are never more than a few feet from the fish, coral, and sea life that continually entertain you! Visibility is usually good, often running between 30 to 70 feet, and sometimes more. The water is warm almost all year long, although in "non El Nino" years the water temperature can drop below 70 degrees during January and February.
One of the nice features about snorkeling here is the water sports shack up on the beach! Beach rentals are available, as well as soft drinks and snacks. If you are looking for a quiet, empty beach to hang out and have a picnic, there are several private beaches just south of the water sports shack that you will most likely have all to yourself.
All things considered, Chileno Bay is a great place to spend an afternoon, soak in the Baja sun, and enjoy the "other" Cabo!
CALAFIA RESTAURANTby Carlos Fiesta
Many visitors heading for Baja have a preconceived idea of what they hope to experience during their south of the border adventure. When that idea includes a relaxing seaside lunch, spectacular ocean views, strolling Mariachis and friendly service, few places in Baja can match the experience of a relaxing visit to Calafia.
Calafia's history dates way back to 1773, and it is one of the few historical landmarks in northern Baja. Located less than 25 miles south of the U.S. border, Calafia is located about a 10 minute drive south of Rosarito Beach, on the free road at mile marker 35.5. It's the perfect place to relax and drink in the special flavor of Baja.
Most visitors to Calafia enjoy sitting outdoors in one of the many terraced areas built into the hillside, right above the pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean. Those in need of a snack might enjoy sharing a Mexican Combo Nacho Plate, a large platter of chips, melted cheese, guacamole, quesadillas and beef rolls in tortillas. Combined with a pitcher of margaritas, this ensemble can put a visitor in the "Baja" mode in short order! Folks looking for a full meal will find a complete menu, including Mexican food, sea food, and much more.
Calafia is popular with couples, as well as with families. If you bring the rug rats with you to Calafia, they usually enjoy heading down to the 'pirate ship' on the lower level, just above the ocean. Romantics who want to tie the knot in Baja can now take advantage of a new chapel at Calafia, and reasonable package deals are available.
Looking for a place to spend the night? Calafia has quaint rooms with spectacular ocean views, and the rates are very reasonable.
Calafia's convenient location makes it a popular stop for Baja visitors checking out Tijuana and Rosarito Beach, as well as for folks heading south to Ensenada. Calafia is one of northern Baja's best kept secrets! Check it out!
Don't stray too long! We'll have a brand spanking new CARLOS FIESTA RECOMMENDS!
for you to review soon.
TOURISM & BUSINESS
It's not always easy to find good business and real estate information on Baja, but when
we find something of interest, we enjoy passing it on to our viewers. These
pages are updated on a regular basis, to keep you 'in the loop', so keep checking back for new information.
For more good information on what's happening in business in Baja check out the MEXICO BUSINESS MAGAZINE web site.
TOURISM - MEXICO BRACES FOR TOMORROW
By Carlos Fiesta
Mexico has had it's share of bad press. This is hard to avoid when you are a third world country being analyzed by first world media. Despite the possibility of increased risk when traveling in Mexico, visitors from around the globe continue to flock to Mexico's mainland and Baja Peninsula in record braking numbers. In 2009 those numbers reached record highs with approximately 20 million tourist visits. As impressive as that number is, the future of tourism in Mexico is even that much more remarkable.
It is estimated that the number of tourist visits to Mexico will more than double to almost 50 million by the year 2020. This rate of increase in proposed tourism is second only to China, where tourism is expected to explode during the next two decades.
To anyone who has visited Mexico, this large increase in tourism comes as no surprise. Mexico offers more of what travelers want, at a cost that is attractive to most currencies throughout the world. This is especially true for Mexico's neighbors in the United States and Canada, where close proximity only adds to the allure of vacationing "south of the border". If you throw in great weather, friendly people, and a taste of adventure, it's no wonder tourism has become one of Mexico's largest economies.
How will Mexico handle this large influx of tourism over the next 20 years? Chances are good that Mexico has learned much from the development of past resort areas and tourism, and that they will use this information as a format to plan a successful and profitable future for their tourist trade.
MEXICO'S ECONOMY IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM by Carlos Fiesta
When most people think about Mexico, they think about beautiful sandy beaches, friendly local people, and the 'tourist' elements of Mexico. Although this is indeed an accurate image, it is a shallow interpretation. Yes, tourism is huge in Mexico, and getting bigger each year. But, like any other country dependent upon tourism, there's much more depth to the economy than meets the eye. And the financial strength of a country is an important element in the future direction of its tourism potential. Fortunately, Mexico's economy is on a good, if not slightly fragile, track.
Mexico's economy, now more than ever, is directly tied to the economy of the United States. The two countries share a common economic thread that is likely to strengthen significantly as we slip into the new millennium. Trade between the U.S. and Mexico has almost tripled since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, and now exceeds $200,000,000,000 (that's with a 'B' folks).
In addition to the increased trade between the two governments, U.S. businesses have invested over $30,000,000,000 (another 'B') into Mexico, a number not too distant from the amount of U.S. business investment in Japan and France. And this number is likely to rise substantially in the years ahead.
A key element in the continuation of these trade and investment dollars is the slow evolution of Mexico's economy to a free market system, and the improvement and expansion of its public infrastructure and educational systems. Even with the improvement in these area, it is unlikely that any significant changes will take place in Mexico in the near future. Mexico seems well removed from the economically depressed third world country it was just a decade ago.
Although the short term outlook for Mexico is nothing to get excited about, the long term outlook is promising. If Mexico can maintain its strong ties with the United States, and continue to expand its economy towards a free market system, it is possible that Mexico can be one of the shining stars of the new millennium. Time, and a dedicated government, will make the difference.
FINANCING BAJA PROPERTIES
by Carlos Fiesta
It seems like each year it becomes a little easier to buy property in Baja. The most recent improvement is the availability of institutional financing for some home and condo purchases in Mexico. Unlike buying a home in the United States, where a 10% or 20% down payment is common for buying a home, in Baja most real estate sales require the buyer to have all cash, or a very large down payment with owner financing.
Americans alone purchased almost $500 million worth of residential real estate in Mexico annually, and several banks began competing for a piece of the pie. Institutional financing is making it easier for Mexicans and others to buy homes and vacation properties in Mexico. Banks from California, Texas, and Alabama (that's right, Alabama!) have recently entered the mortgage market in Mexico, and chances are good that additional lenders will enter the field.
Even though real estate loans are becoming available in Mexico, borrowers shouldn't expect the same rates and terms available in the U.S. Interest rates on these loans are a bit high by U.S. standards, often between 10% to 12%, and are usually due in 25 years. In addition, loan points are higher, generally running between 2 to 3 points (a point is one percent of the loan amount). Because these lenders are entering new territory (literally and figuratively) most loans max out at 70-75% of the value of the property. And most of these loans are for prime properties only.
Despite the lack of competitive rates and terms (at least by U.S. standards) these new loans are a welcome tool for buying a piece of property in paradise. As time goes on and this current recession is over, confidence is likely to build in the Mexican real estate market, and additional lenders entering the market should help create more attractive rates and terms.
HOLDING TITLE WITH THE "FIDEICOMISO"by Carlos Fiesta
Buying property in a foreign country usually takes a bit of a learning curve, and so is the case in Baja. But a little information can go a long way towards capturing a piece of paradise! Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution prohibits foreign ownership of real property within 31 miles of any coastline, or 62 miles of the border. This area is referred to as the restricted zone.
In 1973 the Mexican government approved the bank trust fideicomiso for foreigners to hold title. This law was expanded even further with the Foreign Investment Laws of 1989 and 1993.
With this bank trust system, the buyer of the property becomes the beneficiary of the trust. Legal title is placed in the name of the bank selected by the buyer. This bank then becomes the Trustee, which is similar to the way title is held to many properties in California. The bank administrates the property according to the instructions of the buyer. The buyer enjoys the same rights of ownership as a Mexican National, including equity build up and appreciation.
The term of the trust is 50 years, and the trust can be renewed for additional 50 year periods, as long as it is renewed within the terms established by law.
The cost to establish a bank trust is between $1,000 - $2,000. Annual bank administration fees usually range from $500 to $600 U.S. dollars per year. Just like in the U.S., there are closing costs that must be paid as a part of the sale transaction.
What does all this mean to you? Owning property in Mexico is now a reality!
Carlos receives letters from Baja aficionados from all over, inquiring
about 'this and that' in Baja. This column is designed to answer those questions,
and to share that information with other interested "Cactus Heads". The perfect
way to learn more about Baja!
My boyfriend and I are considering a trip to Baja. We are trying to choose between Loreto and Los Cabos, because they both have International Airports. We just want to get away and relax for a few days. Which location do you recommend? Do both locations offer kayaking?
Both destinations are great places to visit, and they both offer kayaking. But if you really want to relax I'd say Loreto is your best bet. Not that you can't relax in Los Cabos, but there are so many options in Los Cabos that it can be hard to sit still! Loreto is a very quaint and relaxed seaside town with all of the amenities you will need for a good getaway. You might want to try an excursion to Mision San Javier for a half day getaway! Check out the Loreto section of Baja Expo for more information.
I was getting excited about an upcoming trip to Cabo San Lucas, until someone mentioned that Cabo has been "ruined" by development. Now I'm not sure that I still want to go. What do you think?
I say go and have a great time! I have heard that same type of comment more than once, and it is usually made by some hard-core fishing nut who first went to Cabo San Lucas when it was a sleepy fishing village with only 3 hotels. True, Cabo was a remote and wonderful destination back then, but it is still a fantastic destination today. By most resort standards Cabo is still pretty small. You can still walk the main part of town on foot, and most of the qualities that made Cabo a great place in the 60's and 70's are still there today. There has also been significant development along the Los Cabos Corredor, which is the 20 mile strip of beach between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. But that stretch has been developed in a very controlled manner, and is a good example of planned growth in a resort area. If you want to experience Cabo the way it used to be, just head up the East Cape dirt road. Pristine Baja still awaits you! -
I understand that I might be stopped by the Mexican Army while driving in Baja. Is that true? If so, what should I expect?
The Mexican government has a series of official checkpoints along Baja's main highways. The number of these checkpoints can vary, but on a normal trip down the entire peninsula, a Baja traveler might expect to run into a total of 6 to 8 checkpoints. The purpose of these checkpoints is to help stem the flow of guns and drugs in Mexico. Assuming you have neither, these inspections should not cause you any problems. Even though the very young uniformed men with the guns may seem hard to take seriously sometimes, it is wise to respect them and the work they are performing.
A friend just got back from Baja. She had a great time, but said she had to pay a fine because she lost her Tourist Card. Do I need a tourist card if I am just going to Baja for the weekend?
Mexican law requires you to file a tourist card and pay a $150 peso fee if (1.) you will be staying in Baja more than 72 hours, and (2) if you are traveling below Ensenada or San Felipe. If you are traveling further south into Baja, especially for more than 72 hours, having a Tourist Card can save you a lot of headaches. If you are flying to Baja, the airline will provide you with this Tourist card. If you are driving to Baja, you must STOP at the immigration booth either at the border or in Ensenada, fill out the simple form (it's free), and get it stamped by the official. You then have 72 hours to pay the $150 peso fee ($16 U.S.) at a Mexican bank. If you are unable to provide this card when returning home from Baja, it will cost you time and money (up to $50 U.S.). Keep it in a safe place!
I keep hearing about a 'toll road' as the best way to drive the coast from Tijuana to Ensenada. What's the scoop?
There are two road heading south from Tijuana to Ensenada. The "Scenic Road" runs along the coast the entire way, and really is a beautiful drive. In addition, it is a good road, and traffic moves along at a decent clip. There are 3 toll stations, each costing about $2.30 U.S. as of 2002. The first toll station is just as you leave Tijuana at the coast, the second is at the south end of Rosarito Beach, and the third is north of Ensenada, just before San Miguel. Dollars are accepted, and so are pesos. They do NOT, however, accept a combination of U.S. currency and pesos together.
The 'free' road (Libre) from Tijuana to Ensenada takes you through the hills behind Tijuana, skirts the coast for about 25 miles, and then heads back inland before dropping you into the back side of Ensenada. Be prepared for local (slower) traffic. For a fun trip, some folks take the toll road down, and the free road back home, or visa-versa.
A friend and I are driving to Cabo. Is there anything we shouldn't bring with us into Baja?
There are three things you do NOT want to drive or fly into Baja. Guns or ammo, drugs, and fruit. Yes, that's right, fruit! Most visitors to Baja are smart enough not to bring in guns and drugs (no, not even a little bit of pot!). But these same visitors often do not know the laws about the importation of fruits and vegetables.
This tends to be a bigger problem in Baja California Sur, than in the tourist zones of Baja California in the north. When driving into Baja California Sur, you will be stopped at the inspection station just north of Guerrero Negro, about half way down the Peninsula. They will ask you if you have fruits or vegetables, and if you do, they will keep them! To add even more color to your adventure, they will then fumigate your car (this costs about $1 U.S. and you get to stay inside the car while the man with the funny outfit pumps in the poison!). I'm sure there is a really good reason for this major crackdown on bananas and grapes, but don't worry about the details. Just eat your mangos before you get to Guerrero Negro!
The same hold true for flying into Loreto, La Paz, or Los Cabos. However, if you get caught with the forbidden fruits at these international airports, it could cost you a fine and the loss of your peaches!
I am a U.S. citizen, and I'm planning on flying to Loreto for kayaking around the islands this summer. Do I need a passport?
As of January 1, 2000 travelers heading south beyond the border towns are supposed to have passports. Although this new law is not being enforced consistently, it's best to be prepared. Most airlines will not let you on the plane without the necessary legal documentation.
My friend and I are going to Cabo San Lucas for Cinco de Mayo. We are staying at the Plaza Las Glorias. We want to have a really good time, as far as the nightlife is concerned. Is our hotel a good hotel...are we in for a good time? - Ceci
Ceci;I've stayed in Cabo on Cinco de Mayo several times and there was lots going on! The hotel you are staying at is a very good hotel, and the location is perfect for what you want to do. The Plaza Las Glorias is located right downtown, facing the marina on the back side, and facing the main street (and all of the restaurants and clubs) on the front side. For nightlife, you may want to start of at the Giggling Marlin...they start off with a very good dance-type show at around 9:15 - 9:30 p.m. After the show, open dancing begins...and it got real crazy on Cinco de Mayo last year. There's plenty of other places to stop and party as you head up the street, before ending up at Squid Roe for early morning dancing. I'm sure you'll have a great time!
We're driving the Baja Peninsula to Cabo San Lucas in June. We want to avoid any problems with gasoline for our car. Any suggestions?
With just a little bit of planning, you shouldn't have any problems. The availability of gasoline in Baja has come a long way in the last few years. All of the gasoline available in Baja (and throughout all of Mexico) is via the government owned PEMEX stations. The price of gasoline is fixed, so whether you are getting filled up in a big town, or out in the boonies, the price should be the same. Gasoline is sold in liters, and prices are in pesos, so prepare to work on your calculator each time you get gas, if you are concerned about monitoring the process. By and large most of the workers at the PEMEX stations are honest, so it is unlikely that you will be overcharged. Gasoline prices are similar to the prices in the U.S., so it's a good idea to have an understanding as to the cost of filling up your tank before heading south.
When heading south, be sure to get gas in the San Quintin-El Rosario area. The next gas availability south, in Catavina, was inconsistent in 1997, and there is no reason to think that will be any different this year. The PEMEX station on the left (east) side of the highway in Catavina is now closed, but the PEMEX pumps at the La Pinta Hotel there often have gas. If you fill up in the San Quintin-El Rosario area, you don't have to worry about getting gas in Catavina. South of Catavina, the next two reliable options for gasoline are Jesus Maria (usually open - except late at night), and Guerrero Negro. In a pinch, gas can often be obtained at the Bahia de los Angeles junction from barrels, across from the permanently closed PEMEX station. From Guerrero Negro south, gasoline is readily available all the way to Cabo.
When getting gas, pull up to the pumps marked "Magna Sin" (without lead). For a fill-up, just say 'lleno' (yae-no).
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