Will you be my Paper Lantern Valentine?

Valentine’s day is finally over, people selling so much chocolate and cards; however, in Playas de Tijuana, Valentine’s day was celebrated in a different way… Paper Lanterns.

Heart shaped lanterns were the Valentine's day special
Heart shaped lanterns were the Valentine’s day special

On February 15th (OK, a day after Valentine’s) people reunited in Playas de Tijuana to take part in an event that happens a couple times a year… paper lanterns. The lanterns cost $60 pesos (about $5) and come with the thing you need to burn. Don’t forget your lighter!

You need to let the lantern burn for a bit before it flies away
You need to let the lantern burn for a bit before it flies away

For the special occasion, there were heart and regular shaped lanterns, both types were red. Letting them go to fly away was an interesting experience and it was cool to see science working its magic.

People letting their lanterns fly away.
People letting their lanterns fly away.

I highly recommend the experience. Although I’m not too crazy about the environment impact the metal wires have, I do think it could be a fun activity with friends and family, and way better than being inside!

More lanterns flying away…

If you are interested in going to the next event in Playas (right south of the border fence, also a pretty cool thing to see), check out the Facebook page where I’ll be updating the events and keeping you posted on the next available date.

Looks like more people are learning about Baja!

“Little is known about wine production in Mexico. But slowly, the world seems to be catching on. For good reason: Mexico is one of Latin America’s oldest wine-producing countries.

Winter sunset in the Valle de Guadalupe
Winter sunset in the Valle de Guadalupe

Though vines have existed in Baja since the 1700’s, during the 18th and 19th centuries, wine was mostly produced by the clergy, strictly for the Church. During the early 1900’s, production for commercial purposes began, but poor practices and sub-standard techniques led to poorly produced wines.  That all changed in the 1980’s, when better vineyard maintenance and incorporation of modern oenological advances helped Mexican wine production steadily improve, particularly in Baja California. Hugo d’Acosta, a French-trained winemaker from Mexico City, inspired the movement and has since become the face of Valle de Guadalupe’s independent winemaking community. A semi-arid geographical region sandwiched between a sprawling mountain range and the salty air of the Pacific Ocean, the Guadalupe Valley Valley offers a unique microclimate that protects the grapes by day and cool the vines as evening rolls in each night. Paired with mineral-rich soil, the “Valle,” as locals call it, is prime grape-growing real estate. As d’Acosta himself attests, “great wine is made in the vineyard; not in the winery.”

This region, essentially a diamond in the rough on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, has some enthusiasts calling Valle de Guadalupe the next Napa Valley.  With over 50 wineries and some of Mexico’s top chefs populating Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe which runs along the Ruta del Vino’s Highway 3, Baja wineries and Valle de Guadalupe have been covered by such esteemed press as the The New York TimesNew York Times’ T MagazineNew York MagazineThe Wall Street JournalWine Enthusiast and Conde Nast Traveler’s website.

Baja Meets New York is a multi-day, multi-format showcase of wine and food events that will shed light on the wines of Baja California, the chefs of the region, and the accompanying food-wine-travel intersection. Showcasing the region is tantamount to giving Valle de Guadalupe and Mexican wines the respect and exposure they deserve. Mexico is already known for tequila and, more recently, mezcal, but never has one imagined that the production of great wine is also taking place in this incredible microsystem with so much beauty and bounty.”

 

Taken from the Baja Meets NY . take a look here website http://www.bajawinefoodfestival.com/about

I did not write this piece I want to share it with you so you can have access to Baja if you live near New York!

Are you afraid of heights?

On the Tijuana-Ensenada libre, you do not need to worry about the San Andres fault, about 76 kilometers away from Tijuana, there is a great canyon called El Salto.

It's about a 30 minute hike uphill to get to see this view.
It’s about a 30 minute hike uphill to get to see this view.

This can either be a day trip or a week-end long trip. You pay 20 pesos (less than two dollars) per person upon entering the park, and at around 5 pm you will get kicked out; or you can pay 60 pesos (less than 5 dollars) per person and camp. It’s reasonably priced considering you have access to a bathroom, (cold) showers, a barbecue and fire pit. The installations are clean and the staff is friendly.

Take advantage of the amenities to cook up a carne asada or some hamburgers.
Take advantage of the amenities to cook up a carne asada or some hamburgers.

The hikes are very nice, there are a couple that can be done, some more difficult than others. The first one does not have any incline and ends at a canyon where people have lunch or rappel. If you do want to rappel, you bring your own, there is no one there providing equipment. The canyon is quite big and there are lots of places one enjoy the view.

Feeling up to it?
Feeling up to it?

If you want to sweat a bit, take a left before the canyon. You will see a path, climb to the top of the path and you take a right, there you will get to a “mirador” (view point) where you can see the valley from the top. It’s pretty scary because there is no protection, but if you stay safe, you won’t fall off. If you’re not tired after that, you can keep on hiking down the hill (on the other side from where you came) and you will arrive to a tiny lake with a teeny waterfall.

If you come after a lot of rain, there is more water and you can jump off the rocks into the water
If you come after a lot of rain, there is more water and you can jump off the rocks into the water

If you are feeling adventurous, there is a little beach you can camp at. The park is already quiet, this campsite is extreme solitude! There was a tent, but keep in mind you have to pick up after yourself and make sure that you leave the area as it was when you came. And make sure you can carry everything because it’s a steep walk back to the main campground.

The way up, very slippery but easier on the way up.
The way up, very slippery but easier on the way up.

Whether you only have the day or the week-end it’s a great trip for your family and your dog. Not once did we feel unsafe or threatened; nature is for everyone and if you can experience it close to untouched, well how great is that?

Puppies (and humans) are happier outside!
Puppies (and humans) are happier outside!

Unfortunately there is no website to the place but it’s called EL SALTO near Ensenada, BC. Try to take the trip!

How to travel

Once you decide you want to travel to Baja, you have to decide how you’re going to do that. There are a couple ways you can go about organizing your trip; you can drive, take a plane or take a bus.

The Nissan Xterra is a great car to use around Baja. (This was before I thought to protect my board on a long trip, luckily it didn't suffer too much!)
The Nissan Xterra is a great car to use around Baja. (This was before I thought to protect my board on a long trip, luckily it didn’t suffer too much!)

In my opinion, a car is the best choice because you can explore anything you want on the way. Let’s say you didn’t know about the cave paintings but someone tells you about them during your trip, you’ll have a way to get to them. It also lets you explore at your own pace and gives you more freedom when as you drive around the peninsula.

If driving isn’t your thing, take Volaris. It’s a cheap airline that operates around Mexico and in some US cities. If you live in the US, fly to San Diego, cross the border and catch your plane. This is such a popular option that soon the airport will have an international parking, you park in the US, take the bridge to Tijuana and catch your plane, without ever leaving the airport! 

Plan on buying your tickets in advance, some trips when bought six months in advance can cost you $100 round trip instead of $400. For a family of 4, that’s over $1000 dollars of savings! To find the best deals, shop by price instead of by date.

As you can see, the flights are $100 cheaper on March 19th!
As you can see, the flights are $100 cheaper on March 19th! You can also have the website in English if you do not understand Spanish.

The third option, by bus, is probably the least popular but if you have plenty of time to kill and don’t want to spend as much as a plane, buses are safe.There are two main bus lines that go from Tijuana to the southernmost tip, ABC and El Aguila. El Aguila is more expensive but the buses are newer and take less time. There is not much information on the internet but they go about every hour North to South and vice-versa. The downside is that you cannot explore what you want and that after 10 hours the bathroom is not as clean as when you first got on.

An alternative is to combine various modes of transportation; if you want to go to Cabo, fly down there and rent a car or take a bus to check out La Paz or have some independence.

We like to drive down because we get to explore
We like to drive down because we get to explore