An Up Close Look At The Crippling Mexican Drug Trade

Somewhere in time between the sale of The View and the adoption of The PAV, I heard about HarvestHosts.com.  Although RV-less at the time I signed up right away in support of an amazing idea.  After visiting 70 countries (48 by vehicle) Kim and Don Greene came up with the idea of a membership organization arranging overnight RV parking at vineyards and farms.

Our hosts Don & Kim Greene

For 2012 Harvest Hosts is adding guided wine tours.  This past week was the first one, a “Wine and Whales” tour to Mexico!  Isn’t Mexico very dangerous? I mean doesn’t the news media call Mexico a war zone and tells everyone to stay away? Aren’t we going to get robbed, raped, and beheaded?  Is it safe to drive a Pleasure Assault Vehicle in Mexico?  We don’t know a thing about Mexican wines.  We’re scared to death to drive and travel to Mexico.  But we’re close by so why not?

We don’t follow popular advice!  We did some research, called folks in the know, found out the risks where the tour was planned were minimal, and decided to sign up.

Last Sunday we met our hosts and four other vehicles just inside the USA border for a meet & greet happy hour and overnight.  Monday morning we packed up and headed out caravan style for the Mexican hill country.

Line 'em Up, Move 'em Out - "What we have here is a convoy" L

Currently there are 60 wineries in the Guadalupe Valley of the Mexico state of Baja California (Baja North).  In fact, Mexico has named a Ruta Del Vino – Valle de Guadalupe to promote tourism.

See, big signs that we are welcome here!

Monday we visited three wineries in the Guadalupe Valley: Casa Pedro Domecq, Casa de Dona Lupe, and overnighted at L.A. Cetto.

First stop, Casa Pedro Domecq

Not quite classroom, more like immersion

Tiny 12,500 liter barrels

Aged bottles in Domecq's underground cave

Told you it was a cave

L.A. Cetto

Live music by campfire at L.A. Cetto!

Thanks Jane & Boris! (They drove from South Carolina to join the tour!)

How's this for an early morning view from The PAV?

Tuesday we traveled to Ensenada for a whale watching tour and overnighted just south at the Estero Beach RV Park

Two tourists on a whale watch (more like whale search since we didn't see any)

Wednesday we traveled about 20 miles south to visit La Bufadora and then northeast for tasting, dinner, and overnight at Bodegas San Rafael.  Ludwig Hussong is not only a winemaker, but master chef.  Plus, he’s the grandson of Juan Hussong who owned Hussongs Cantina in Ensenada where the Margarita was invented.  Underachiever.  (We’re not supposed to pick favorites but we liked his wine and food the best!)

La Bufadora (notice the empty parking lot)

La Bufadora

Slightly different model year

Bodegas San Rafael

Bodegas San Rafael

Bodegas San Rafael

Bodegas San Rafael

Thursday we traveled back to Ensenada for lunch at the fish market and then north to overnight at Adobe Guadalupe.  What an amazing place Donald and Tru Miller have built here!  Check out chef Rick Bayless’ experience here to see more and get a glimpse of the kitchen where we were served breakfast Friday morning.

Ensenada Fish Market

What the fuss was about

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Friday is was back to the USA border, the experience of crossing back into our home country, and the feeling that USA citizens aren’t as welcomed returning home as in the past.

The main evidence of the drug wars and the resulting media coverage are: 1) many, many, many closed shops and deserted businesses 2) nearly a ghost town feel to many spots  3) the complete disappearance of United States tourists.  Are the problems real?  Yes.  Has there been violence?  Yes.  We were not in the most dangerous areas and the wonderful people in the beautiful countryside of Baja California, MX could really use our support, tourism dollars, and smiling faces.

Would we go again?  YOU BET!  In fact, we’re going to plan for it!

Hard evidence of Mexico's crippling drug trade

J

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