I have been going into Baja for thirty-five years, I’ve seen most everything. I’ve also spent a few memorial day weekends down there, campgrounds packed, long lines at the border, bars spilling over.
This last trip was quite a different experience—freaky.
We drove down during the day, crossed without incident and made our way to a surf spot just outside of Colonet.
We didn’t see one other car with surfers or surfboards the whole way down and the place we stayed, normally packed on a holiday weekend, was empty and remained empty the whole weekend.
I am good friends with the owner of the Hostel at 4casas and I was sure he would tell me straight up without any exaggeration how bad the situation is—he has been in Baja 28 years and has his pulse on life in Mexico, he is a ‘Mexican Gringo.’
I asked him a few question and his responses were unequivocal.
Are people getting kidnapped?
For sure, but not Americans.
Is there a band of ex-police committing crimes and extorting people?
For sure, but I never have trusted the Police down here—ever!
Would you recommend people stop coming to Mexico?
Is it as bad as people think?
No, the news always makes things much worse than they are.
He went on to tell me about the war between the government and drug cartels in northern Baja, he said that it was going to get worse before getting better. He also stated that because of all the violence that the new port project was put on hold, nobody wants to send there freight into a war zone.
He stated that most of the fighting and violence is between Mexicans, he did say that gringos should be more mindful these days.
If you are going to Baja please don’t drive at night and don’t pull over for anyone—not even the police, except for the ones you see in the video.
Don’t camp in open areas, stay at well established hotels and if you have to stop on the road, stop where there is high visibility or wait for a gas station or other public area.
If you have a newer car you are a target, if you are pulling toys you are a target, if you are in an RV you are a target, I’d recommend taking the plates off your car—a tactic that I have used in the past.
We had a great trip, I’d recommend going to Baja but I’d also suggest that you not do anything stupid and be more mindful than in the past.