Thursday, 5 November 2009

An Englishman in Tecate - Day 64 – Rest Day

I decided to take the day off. I had to sort out my visa and I wasn't really sure where I was headed yet. I visited the tourist office in the centre of Tecate. I had expected the staff there to speak English what with it being tourist information office. The young lady didn't speak English. I am actually quite pleased to find out so far that most people I've come into contact with don't speak English. It forces me to improve my Spanish which is one of my main goals while visiting Mexico. I asked whether I could get my tourist card here. She told me I didn't need one. This is true for most visitors. You can spend a week in the Northwest of Baja without any paperwork at all. I explained I was travelling to the end of the peninsula and would be staying a month. She told me I needed to visit the immigration office at the border.

I walked back to the border where I'd entered Mexico the day before. The immigration office was well hidden, I think perhaps you are supposed to visit the office as you enter the border. To get to the office I had to go around the back of a building and walk down a pathway in the opposite direction to a series of arrows painted on the pavement. I was aware that to a border guard I could appear to be sneaking back into America. I prepared myself to be taken out by a sniper or set upon by a guard dog. None of this happened of course. I got the impression it would actually be quite easy to sneak back into America from here. Nobody was paying me any attention at all. If any Mexicans are reading this and are interested in illegally entering the United States I suggest rather than risking your life digging under the fence or swimming across the ocean, just pay a visit to the Tecate border and casually walk through. I found the office and spoke to a young lady who seemed a little unsure about her work. She asked to see my passport and then spent a long time flicking idly through the pages. She spent the longest time studying the page at the back where I've written details of my next of kin. She asked if I was Canadian. She was holding my clearly labelled British passport in her hand. I filled out a form and handed it back to her. She explained that I needed to visit a bank to pay the fee of about £15 and then return with a receipt.

At the bank the cashier seemed quite excited to meet someone from England. I don't think they get many English people coming through Tecate.

I returned to the immigration office and had my passport stamped. I was allowed to stay for 180 days. I found out today that Baja California is the second longest peninsula in the world but I hope it won't take 6 months to cycle the length of it.

Back at my hotel I took a long nap. I then spent a few hours trying to work out where to cycle to tomorrow. There appears to be a few campsites in the wine-making region I'll ride through on my way to Ensenada, the next city. I may stop at one of these or continue on the 72 miles to Ensenada and get another hotel. I'm still not really sure how much water, food and money I need to carry. I am hoping that 4.5 litres of water will be enough to get me to the next place where I can refill. No doubt everything will become a lot clearer once I actually get going.

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