Mexico is beautiful, most of the country moves at a much slower pace than the United States, and in Baja there are miles and miles of picturesque deserted beaches to enjoy (see our post Bahía Concepción in Photos). However, nowhere is perfect, and there are some things we took for granted in the states that are hard (or impossible!) to find in Baja.
Ales and Dark Beers
The selection of beer in Baja is limited to a few well-known Mexican brands including Tecate, Corona, and Negro Modelo. There is nothing darker than Negro Modelo available in stores or restaurants, and ales are akin to unicorns here. For us Oregonians this leads to EXTREME microbrew withdrawal!
By the time we found the only microbrewery in Baja, Tom had not had an IPA in months. We were both in absolute heaven drinking a Rattlesnake IPA and a Bandito Stout (or 2 or 3…) from El Zopilote Brewing Company in Loreto. Alas, this brewery does not bottle their beer, so we are once again missing our microbrews.
Luke warm and cold showers are the norm here in Baja. Some campgrounds and hotels advertise hot water showers, but in our experience that means you will get about 5 minutes of hot water if you’re lucky- so shower FAST!
So far the only truly hot showers we’ve had in Baja were at Rivera Del Mar RV Park in Loreto. The campground has big, beautiful showers, with strong water pressure, and seemingly unlimited hot water. After my shower at Rivera Del Mar I felt like a completely new human, it was glorious.
Brewed Coffee/ Espresso
The most popular coffee in Mexico, by far, is Nescafe instant coffee. Anywhere outside of a city center this will be the only coffee served in restaurants, and the only coffee for sale in grocery stores. You walk through the coffee section of the grocery store, and it is literally lined with Nescafe instant coffee in three different size options. When we go through larger cities we try to stock up on basic ground coffee so we can brew our own in the mornings, but very often we live with Nescafe as our only coffee option. We really miss our locally roasted Cafe Mam coffee from Eugene, Oregon.
Reliable ATM Machines
Finding an ATM that will actually dispense cash is a constant struggle for us in Baja. We still aren’t really sure how the banking systems work here, but we’ve been told that the ATM’s have a limited amount of cash in them, and as they get low they will only dispense small amounts of cash, or sometimes no cash at all. Also, some of the ATM’s seem to have trouble with international debit cards.
On a few occasions we’ve had to drive over an hour just to get to an ATM that would dispense cash to us. On top of that, almost all purchases here require cash (no cards), including the gas stations! So having cash is absolutely essential in Mexico.
ATM’s seem to be an issue for all the international travelers we’ve met, and tend to be a topic of discussion that comes up regularly. Often tips from other travelers are the only way to find out which ATM’s are currently working! We will never take reliable ATM’s for granted again!
***For anyone currently in Baja: As of right now Banomex ATM’s seem to be consistently reliable for international debit cards, and you can often find them in Ley’s grocery stores if there’s not an actual Banomex location in the town (this is the case in Loreto).
Chocolate! (Chocolate bars, chocolate cake, chocccooollaaaate……)
Chocolate just isn’t as popular in Mexico as it is in the states. Candy and sweets are not as popular here in general, but ESPECIALLY chocolate. Most pastries are vanilla, cinnamon, or fruit flavored. The candy section generally has a lot of tamarind and fruit flavored candy, but often no chocolate at all. Recently I couldn’t even find chocolate chips in the grocery store (I was getting desperate!) Occasionally we find m&m’s in a store, and we stock up! I have daydreams about the mouth watering chocolate dessert options at Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene, Oregon.
We really miss some of the creature comforts of home while we travel through Baja, Mexico, but we consider these things a trade-off for such a beautiful travel experience.