Ensenada City Bus
Mark's buddy Peter, "The Brownie Man"
The BEST taco stand in town.
A wall of tequilas
Hussong's Cantina before the party
Lazy harbor seals take over the docks.
Bona fide US cherries for sale.
Farmlands outside Ensenada
Road to La Bufadora
The start of La Bufadora madness
All this for a little blow hole?
We find each other in the crowd
Street performers work their magic
A craggy coastline
La Bufadora itself
Honey for sale.
Ensenada Tourist Fun - La Bufadora
Late May, 2010 - We had been enjoying Ensenada so much over the past few months
that when my mother came to visit for her 80th birthday week we couldn't wait to share
the treasures we had found and do a little further exploring with her. She got a kick out of
taking the bus to town.
Once we got there we were greeted
by a vintage car flying two huge
Mexican flags. We had seen an
impromptu parade of antique cars
and low-riders the week before, but I
hadn't had my camera with me then,
so I was happy to catch this
one on camera as it went by.
We had come across The
Brownie Man a few weeks earlier and still had vivid memories of his heavenly
chocolate brownies baked by his Norwegian wife. What luck to find him once again,
strolling along Gringo Gulch with his tray of baked delights.
Following our tummies across town,
we stopped at Taqueria Las Brisas,
a taco stand that came highly
recommended by all the workers at
the marina. "Go along the Costero
past Hotel Corona and you'll see three taco stands in a row. Go to the middle
one. They are the best tacos in town" We followed their advice and directions
and had a scrumptious meal. The tortillas were handmade on the spot, from a
huge mountain of dough, and the steak and seasonings were sensational.
For $1 a taco we gorged ourselves, murmuring "mmm...mmm" with every bite.
guests is always a
great excuse to run
out and do all the
fun tourist things, so off we went in search of the perfect tequila for
mom to take home to my sister's family as a souvenir. A little open
air liquor store offered tequila tastings, and we soon found
ourselves sampling all kinds of tequilas we'd never heard of (and it
well before noon!), comparing this "reposado" to that "añejo."
Mom found a
tequila that really
hit the spot, and
no doubt Corona
on the wall
approved of her
Of course we had to get photos with each of us
sporting Corona sunglasses, and our moods were
quite light as we strolled the streets of Ensenada
Hussong's Cantina is the oldest bar in
Ensenada (founded in 1881). My first
impression weeks ago was that it was a
tourist trap, filled with cruise ship visitors
getting a taste of Mexico ashore, so we had
never been inside. We poked our heads inside with mom during
daylight hours and saw nothing more than a gaping room filled with
chairs and tables, bereft of any spirit. She insisted we return after
dark to see if it livened up. Being Tuesday, two-for-one night, we
returned to find it packed to overflowing, absolutely jumping with
happy Mexican revelers. We were the only gringos in the crowd.
Mark ordered up a song from a Mariachi band that strolled in, and
soon our toes were tapping and grins flashing as the table next to us
ordered up another half-hour's worth of music. Mom's dance card
filled up, and she easily outpaced us youngsters, protesting that
"the fun was just getting started" when we got up to leave.
Returning to the Malecon (the waterfront boardwalk) the next
day, we saw dozens of seals draping themselves across the
docks. They seemed to feel about the way I did: exhausted.
With the image of their slowly swaying heads and mournful
barks vivid in our minds, we snuck away from the tourist zone
and headed out along the scenic drive to one of Ensenada's
highlights: La Bufadora.
Driving along Estero Beach, we didn't get the perfect day for
a sightseeing tour, but seeing the outlying farmlands and
famed blow hole at La Bufadora were what this drive was all
Mark spotted a guy selling cherries by the side of the road and we quickly
pulled alongside to get some. "Where are the cherry orchards around here?"
I asked in the best Spanish I could muster as he handed me my bag. "There
aren't cherry trees any in Mexico. These are from the US." Oops! So much
for the authentic Mexican farm stand experience. We all got a great laugh,
but the cherries were so delicious it didn't matter where they were from.
Oregon's finest from a Mexican roadside vendor. What next?
We drove through
behind a row of
and we breathed
deeply as the road
swept around towards the point that marks the far end of the bay.
This point drifts in and out of the fog every day as we look out across
the bay from the marina. Driving the road perched on the edge of the
hills, we had a chance to see its rugged, steep cliffs up close.
La Bufadora is simply a blow hole, a craggy tidal cavern in some steep cliffs
where ocean water periodically shoots sky high in great gusts of salty white
spray. However, it is really so much more than that, as an entire cottage
industry of tourism has grown up around it. We got our first sampling a few
miles out when a painted pony posed for us.
In a little closer we walked under a grand entrance that announced
our arrival at La Bufadora. For the next quarter mile or so the road
was thickly lined with vendors selling everything from sweets to
colorful masks to cheerful dresses to swinging hammocks.
Vendors stood outside every
shop inviting the tourists to
come inside and look around.
"Come in and see what
we're selling. It won't cost
you anything." "Would you
like a dress, a t-shirt, a bag
-- look, this bag would be
perfect for you ma'am. We
have it in red or blue or
green..." "Come on in and
buy something you don't
need!" one guy said as I
walked by. It was a little
overwhelming and very
Some of the
Suddenly a busload
disembarked and a
wave of people walked
past in a flurry, like the
first rush of flood water
plunging down a dry
desert wash. We got
swept up and swept
away and separated. I
waited for Mark to
appear in the crowd
and then we spotted
each other, cameras
The busload of tourist surged past, leaving
some small-fry in their wake. The kids
played hide-and-seek among the vendors'
stalls, and a group of squirrels scampered
after food scraps.
Musicians and street
performers pulled out all the
stops while the sea of
vendors finally parted,
revealing the crashing surf
and rugged cliffs of this
Fortunately La Bufadora was doing her thing in style that day.
Somehow we timed the tides and winds just right for our visit,
and ended up with salt spray on our hair.
Leaving the crazy Bufadora scene behind, we stopped at a roadside
stand on our return trip home to buy some honey. Sold in jars and
bottles of all shapes and sizes sporting familiar labels and bottle
tops that reveal their former contents, each jar of honey was a
different shade of golden brown. We picked a nice dark one and
headed home with plans for a late-night after-dinner tea sweetened
with our new honey.
We retreated into boat projects for a few weeks, but emerged again
for two enduring but contrasting Ensenada experiences: the
Riviera Cultural Center and Baja 500 off-road race.
Find Ensenada on Mexico Maps.