Ensenada’s “La Bufadora” – The Blow Hole

Ensenada City Bus

Ensenada City Bus

Ensenada vintage car with Mexican flags flying The Brownie Man

Mark's buddy Peter, "The Brownie Man"

Taqueria Las Brisas - best taco stand in Ensenada

The BEST taco stand in town.

Inside Taqueria Las Brisas - best taco stand in Ensenada Shelves of tequila in Ensenada

A wall of tequilas

The Corona Macaw Corona sunglasses Inside Hussong's Cantina, the oldest cantina in Ensenada, MX

Hussong's Cantina before the party

Harbor seals on the Malecon

Lazy harbor seals take over the docks.

Waves crash on Estero Beach

Estero Beach

Oregon cherries for sale on an Ensenada Mexico roadside

Bona fide US cherries for sale.

Farmlands on the outskirts of Ensenada

Farmlands outside Ensenada

Scenic road to La Bufadora

Road to La Bufadora

More coastal scenery driving to La Bufadora A pony painted like a zebra for tourists

Painted pony

La Bufadora tourist zone

The start of La Bufadora madness

Vendors sell anything and everything at La Bufadora

All this for a little blow hole?

Masks for sale at La Bufadora, Ensenada Dresses for sale at La Bufadora, Ensenada Hammocks for sale Intriguing painting of lovers, young and old Crowds at La Bufadora

We find each other in the crowd

Spotted in the crowd at La Bufadora little girl little boy squirrel Street musician at La Bufadora

Street performers work their magic

Street performer in exotic garb at La Bufadora Beautiful rocky coastline

A craggy coastline

La Bufadora (the Blow Hole) erupts

La Bufadora itself

Buying honey at a roadside stand

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.

Having house

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

macaw painted

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

all afternoon.

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

farmlands nestled

behind a row of

oceanfront mountains,

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

artwork and

crafts were


but we'd

need a

bigger boat

to indulge.

Suddenly a busload

of tourists

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

popular landmark.

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.