La Fonda, B.C., Mexico
Kaleidoscopic Baja CaliforniaDriving from the hallowed confines of Newport Beach only ninety minutes north, it never gets any less shocking crossing the international border from San Ysidro into Tijuana. The vehicle border entrance into Baja California has been updated in recent years, featuring dozens of law enforcement and myriad types of high-tech equipment to detect criminal transport and activity. However, once into Tijuana proper the initial slap to the senses then wraps around like a soiled blanket.
The initial greetings are a dead dog shoved up against the side of the road embankment, a homeless man with one shoe and a blood-encrusted face stumbling along the road, the incessant odor of burning trash and standing water, an awkwardly juxtaposed billboard for a brothel and row upon row of shanties spreading to the horizon.
Once through the TJ megalopolis and into the beach communities, the scene morphs into what we came for: world-class street food vendors, a nice head high swell running, the legendary Mexican hospitality and mirth and the expectation of several days decompressing along a stunning part of the West Coast.
A short drive south brings us to the storied resort of La Fonda. The term "resort" is used loosely in these parts; if you are used to 5 star AAA ratings and Michelin restaurants, drop the expectations. Instead, embrace the rustic rooms right on the water with no phone or TV, excellent margaritas, mile long stretch of beach and the fact you are a world away after a two hour drive.