PCH Tour: Hitchhiking Waves in Ensenada

Humbug Mountain Beach Rock

Day 63 – We all slept in a bit, taking our time to get up and get ready. There was a hostel breakfast of toast, muffins and coffee. We met a group of young college guys and girls that drove down from LA for a day. They said they were going to go explore the beach before heading back north. I had a little food and then relaxed on the couch in the common room. The guy running the hostel suggested that we take the bus to San Miguel to rent some surf boards and try out the waves. We looked up the wave forecast and it looked like they’d be about 5 ft waves, which seemed perfect for us newbies.

Michael decided to go for a long bike ride around town. Tim, Liam and I made our way to the local McDonalds to wait for the bus. We were all pretty hungry at that point, so we decided to try some Mexican McDs and Coke. I ordered the AngusDeluxe. It was a double cheeseburger smothered in mayo. I won’t lie. It tasted pretty great for something so bad for me. The Mexican Coke wasn’t as sweet as American Coke. They used cane sugar instead of corn syrup. The bathrooms were free to customers, but there was no soap. I hoped that the employees had some soap of their own. We finished our food and went out to the curb.

We waved down bus after bus and as they open the door we would ask, “San Miguel?” Each bus said, “No.” Then they would point behind them. “Venti Minutos.” “Cinco Minutos.” “Uno Momento.” We must have asked 10 bus drivers if they went to San Miguel. Finally, a bus with a sign for San Miguel showed up. They waived us in and we took a nice ride several miles north. It appeared that there were no official bus stops. You just stood somewhere in the buses route and waived your hands when they got close. Then they would swerve off the road and pick you up.

We got to the edge of San Miguel and they dropped us off. It didn’t look like anything was going on. We couldn’t find any surfers and the waves were barely visible. It was all residential, no surf shops in sight. We found an American couple sitting on their back porch and we asked them if they had any suggestions. They told us that San Miguel was not safe for beginners. They said we should go a couple of miles down the road and ask the surf shop there. We thanked them and made our way back up the road.

Liam suggested we hitchhike back. He held his thumb out to the first truck that came our way. It was a rickety old blue pickup. It pulled over and the man stuck his head out the window. Liam asked for Ensenada. The man shook his head. Then he asked for 2 miles down the road. The guy waived us in. We all piled into the back of the tiny pickup and next thing we knew we were cruising down the road at 50 miles per hour. We got to our destination and the man pulled over. We said, “gracias.” The guy waived and rode away. It was as simple as that. It seemed like hitchhiking was much more a part of the culture in Mexico.

We found a surf shop and went inside asking for board rentals. The kid working there said that they only sold boards. He suggested that we go to the municipal beach back in Ensenada, only a mile from where we started. We thanked him and made our way out to the road. The first bus we saw took us back to the center of downtown Ensenada. We strolled around town and checked out a little Sunday market. It was more like a flea market. There was nothing worth buying. We saw some taxi drivers and they agreed to take us to the beach for 60 pesos.

It was a quick ride over. The driver dropped us off and we finally got to walk out onto the sand. The beach was pretty packed. We found a nice spot to lay out and then we all took turns swimming in the water. The waves were strong, and the ocean had a bit of a funny smell. But the water was the perfect temperature and quite refreshing. After our swim we all laid out on the sand, allowing the sun and wind to dry us off.

The air started to get cold, so we packed up and got ready to leave. Just then, Michael rolled up on his bicycle. We watched his bike while he took a swim and then we took a bunch of photos in the setting sun. We all agreed to meet for dinner later and waived Michael off as he went for a ride down the beach. We grabbed snacks at the Oxxo and then made the mile hike back to the hostel. There we just relaxed on the beds and took naps.

Michael showed up just as we were getting hungry. We all loved the restaurant from the night before so much that we decided to go back. This time I ordered a big combo plate that included an enchilada, a taco, soap, and flauta. I was stuffed when I finished. We went to bed early. I knew I would have to get going early in the morning to catch my noon train in San Diego. Tomorrow would be the long journey home. Gracias Mexico.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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