La Fonda, Baja California Mexico
It is funny how time and space play with your memories. The farther you get from a certain point the memory starts to fade and you start to fantasize about what really happened. Case in point this picture. Taken very long ago this pictures marks a half way point to one of our numerous car trips to Ensenada. Back when this picture was taken there was no express way into Ensenada. The one road that did exist was a two lane road that was very bumpy and windy. To get where this photo was taken from the border it took us about 3 hrs. of driving. I remember along the way we would see people selling stuffed armadillos,coconut vendors and countless souvenir shops.
Fast forward 32 yrs. from this picture my Aunt Zilpha has continued on in her eternal journey and I am now a grown man with a wife and child. I have a fast paced career that keeps me very busy. Yet, in the back of my mind I have this picture of me and my aunt sitting on a beachfront restaurant listening to a man slowly strumming a guitar as we eat lunch. It is something that haunts my memory in almost a taunting way. I have learned with many memories things have faded or changed. I remember when Puerto Nuevo was not “lobster capitol” but just a sleepy fishing village south of Rosarito with only three restaurants. Rosarito was the only town south of Tijuana back then, but now it is a full grown city with a Walmart and movie theater, although it still could use more traffic lights. So while the memory might be fun I have learned to temper what is in my head with what is reality. Though the question always lingers, what is out there?
So with the question in my mind I do what any modern millennial does, I googled it. Using my faded memory and my internet research skills I learn that there was a place called La Fonda but the news doesn’t look too good. I read some articles about how the original owners have sold the place and it now has been divied out into to three places: two hotels and two restaurants with the same name right next to each other. It sounds strange to me. I find a website for the “Original” La Fonda Hotel, but it doesn’t work. I then find a Facebook fan page, it has an email on it. Success!
I email the owner (who turns out bought back half of the original hotel) and they said they do have a room and it will cost me $100 a night cash, no credit. With follow up emails and a phone call I am told I need to be there early, no later than 4 p.m. Kind of funny to me. Usually hotels it is the other way around, you get charged more for early check in, not for later check in, but I roll with it because this is Mexico and in Mexico you just roll with it.iving to San Ysidro to Tijuana I see something I have never seen before, traffic going into Mexico. I panic slowing while we slowly inch our way to Aduana (customs), so we call the hotel to explain the situation. The owner thanks me for the call and we proceed along our way. With the new toll roads we make good time and get to the hotel only about a half an hour later than we were supposed to be there. In Mexican fiesta rules this is practically considered early. The very nice lady takes our money. The whole transaction is done in paper and cash. The hotel key is an actual key, no plastic at this place.
We find our room, which is up a flight of stairs. As far as hotel rooms go you need to understand that this is Mexico. There is paint that is chipping, there are signs of past leaks looking at the bathroom sink, the water pressure is low, the TV doesn’t work, and towels are thin. If you are looking for luxury, you have come to the wrong place. If you are coming here, you are coming for one thing, the view. Can’t beat it anywhere. There is nothing like opening up your door, having your own little balcony and just listening to the waves roll in.
For dinner we walk to the tiny town of Alisitos and eat a never ending supply of dollar shrimp and fish tacos. Before bed we play on the beach which are all ours as we watch the sunset.
Next morning we get up for breakfast and go to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The waiters have started the fireplace and out on the balcony we can see it. The same place from all that time ago. The waiter turns on the radio and a gentle guitar rift fills the air and for a brief moment I am once again 9 yrs. old and I am enjoying a lunch with my family on the beach. I come back to my senses as the food comes. Banarama pancakes with coconut syrup and chilaquiles by the beach. Sometimes the memory is just a fantasy,but sometimes it is not, and that is when you know life is good.
Great reflection. We used to drive to Ensenada four or five times a year on that two-lane highway, but we never stayed overnight. We went back about ten or eleven years ago for a day trip, and we could tell things were a-changing. Haven’t been there since. Next time you go for an overnight trip, let us know, and we just might tag a long for a dish of those chilaquiles.
It was a great little weekend out!
Nice post John. I have fond memories of that drive down to Ensenada.
It isn’t always easy to recreate a memory. Glad you had fun.