Epic Adventure Starts Here

Practical Safety in Baja

  • Practical Safety in Baja

    Posted by paranewbi on August 1, 2022 at 5:30 am

    With the recent topics on criminal activity and the most recent murder accounting. Perhaps a thread around safety is pertinent. Maybe even the inclusion of some personal experiences that impressed upon one’s self about how to approach travel, camping and living in Baja?

    I would start off with this offer: When I am asked what to look for in camping vehicles (in Baja as well as just in general) I usually make two points to keep in mind mandatory. 1) is the need for water. Water capacity will dictate how long you can stay anywhere you are. If a water source is not available then your ability to store water becomes primary. Although our large type A RV keeps us from some of the more remote locations… the 70 gallons we carry keeps us where we are much longer than most. 2) is the idea that if you should need to evacuate your location ‘on the fly’, do you really want to have to exit a tent, trailer, etc., to gain access to your drivers seat?

    In the 70’s while camping at K38’s surf point with dozens of other surfers, the cops would usually make a night time visit and surfers were dealing away stereos, wet-suits, camping gear, for infractions such as pot. It was always a bonus to wake up in my VW bus and peer out to see the cops at the camp of someone else and I all I had to do was move into the drivers seat and bail-out.

    CarlosHC replied 1 day, 3 hours ago 16 Members · 52 Replies
  • 52 Replies
  • Blitzer

    Member
    August 1, 2022 at 6:39 am

    Great topic – thanks for posting this. Partly based on my previous experience years ago of forgetting to take my gun out of my truck, I always go through whatever we are driving before we leave for Baja, looking for anything I wouldn’t want found at a military check point or police stop. I have added the routine into my pre-trip mechanical check, making sure I have coolant, belts, etc. Doing so a few trips back I found some 9mm ammo that had fallen under the back seat and later that day our truck did get checked out thoroughly at a military check point before the toll road east out of Tijuana.

    • bajajeepers

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 9:02 am

      We follow the same routine and one time I found some pot my cousin left there. That could have gotten interesting if found in a car search.

      • Blitzer

        Member
        August 1, 2022 at 12:17 pm

        Oh, for sure! A good friend smokes in my truck as his wife doesn’t want it in their home or cars and I have to constantly vacuum out my rig and use air freshner so my old lady doesn’t get on my case. 😁😁😁

  • laguera

    Member
    August 1, 2022 at 7:35 am

    My husband always insist on wearing money belt underneath with most of our cash and a couple debit cards in case we ever get robbed. We have never been robbed until now, thank God. But one time in Tecate my husband missed a stop sign and we were immediately stopped by a traffic cop who wanted 200 dollars. My husband opened his wallet to show he have only 25 dollars and so the cop take that and let us go. Now he also keep copies of our identification in there, just in case.

    • JuanSoler

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 8:28 am

      I would suggest keeping your current drivers license in there as well and carry your older, expired license to show an officer if stopped here in Mexico.

      • AmandaE

        Member
        August 2, 2022 at 6:34 am

        @JuanSoler But won’t an officer reject an expired drivers license?

        • BajaGringo

          Organizer
          August 3, 2022 at 1:21 pm

          They don’t care if your license is expired, at least not here in San Quintin where half of the people driving don’t even have a DL and probably half of those who do are carrying licenses that expired in the last 3 years. 😆

    • paranewbi

      Member
      August 2, 2022 at 4:52 am

      Got to look into this… Already use to the feel of my ‘inside the belt’ concealed carry holster. Might just give me that ‘feels like home’ sense I haven’t quite acquired camping in Baja 🙂

    • AmandaE

      Member
      August 2, 2022 at 6:33 am

      That’s a really good idea. I hate using credit or debit cards in Mexico and that’s a much better way to carry cash.

      • laguera

        Member
        August 4, 2022 at 2:26 pm

        I hate using credit cards in general.

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      August 2, 2022 at 7:49 am

      I would often use one of those when frequently traveling abroad decades ago and they would actually be quite practical for travelers down here. Great suggestion.

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      August 3, 2022 at 1:16 pm

      Yes! We carry one and keep most of our cash and credit cards tucked inside wherever we travel these days. Never have been robbed in all these years when on vacation, fortunately.

  • BajaBill

    Member
    August 1, 2022 at 7:59 am

    As we like to remote camp a lot when in Baja, the wife is always worried about being robbed so we started bringing along our 2 large dogs with us in addition to a couple of cans of bear spray. Never did have to use the spray but last year on a beach south of Gonzaga a car drove into our campsite around midnight and 2 guys got out but they quickly got back in and drove off when our dogs made it clear they were not welcome.

    • bajajeepers

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 9:04 am

      We only camp if we bring our dog with us. He’s a great night watchman and loves our Baja trips.

  • BajaBill

    Member
    August 1, 2022 at 8:01 am

    I have thought about purchasing a flare gun which I was told are legal in Mexico. Anybody here know for sure?

    • JuanSoler

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 8:31 am

      Technically, you should be pulling a boat behind you and it should be stored inside of the boat. The way to get around that is to say you keep a boat moored in Mexico and you are taking it down to keep onboard your boat and they will let it go.

    • JuanSoler

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 8:32 am

      Or if it gets noticed on your way back home, just say it was not working correctly and you are taking it back for repair.

    • bajajeepers

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 9:09 am

      Flare gun? Hadn’t thought of that. Checking on Amazon they aren’t expensive and keeping it in the bag makes look legit.

      https://www.amazon.com/ORION-572-Alert-Plus-Kit/dp/B00GLL2W7G/

      • Blitzer

        Member
        August 1, 2022 at 12:18 pm

        That’s pretty cool and has to be real effective

      • JuanSoler

        Member
        August 1, 2022 at 9:41 pm

        Make sure it’s not loaded and I would keep the charges separate.

        • paranewbi

          Member
          August 2, 2022 at 4:50 am

          Yep, a friend told me about the flare gun he had for protection… but he did have a RIB. Now that we have a RIB I may get one as it would be legit.

          • AmandaE

            Member
            August 2, 2022 at 6:31 am

            @paranewbi forgive my ignorance but what is a “RIB”???

            • paranewbi

              Member
              August 2, 2022 at 6:54 am

              Not ignorance! RIB is an acronym for Rubber Inflatable Boat. We bought one about a year ago and took it down to Santispac (Conception Bay) because I got to old to paddle my wife around in our double kayak (I lovingly refer to her as my ‘Fishing Whore’ because she loves to fish all the time!). Ii use to refer to them generally as ‘Zodiacs’ because that’s all I knew them as.

              I have been surfing for nearly 60 years now and to walk down the beach with a new board is one thing… to shred on it gets you way more respect.

              I took our RIB out of the RV and set it up on the beach @ Santispac for the first time. Everything was shiny brand new including the 9.9 Honda outboard. The other RIB owners (about 30 of ’em and mostly Canadians) watched with great interest. A couple even came over to oogle my new toy. I had watched a ton of YouTube videos on how to set up and operate it so learned some of the lingo about RIB’s there and sounded half intelligent while conversing with them.

              Of course being my first boat, I knew nothing of how to approach departing and arriving in shallow water. I knew they knew I was a RIB kook at my first launching. They were gracious though and over the coarse of time their wisdom helped me immensely and after two months camping there I almost looked like I knew what I was doing!

              I appreciate your inquiry as to the acronym AmandaE! Hopefully you won’t have to be humiliated at 67 years of age as ‘That American guy with the new RIB’ was.

              Rick

              • This reply was modified 5 days, 13 hours ago by  paranewbi.
              • BajaGringo

                Organizer
                August 2, 2022 at 7:55 am

                Thanks Rick, I didn’t know what a RIB was either. Love your inflatable setup.

              • AmandaE

                Member
                August 2, 2022 at 9:24 am

                Of course and thanks for the explanation, it’s really nice to post in a forum where everybody has been so helpful. We have talked a few times about how awesome it would be to have a boat and that RIB of yours looks like something we could manage. Hauling a big boat on a trailer down the narrow highway is something out of our league.

                Would you mind sharing what that would cost us?

                Note to admin – sorry if off topic, delete if not appropriate

                • BajaGringo

                  Organizer
                  August 2, 2022 at 9:35 am

                  Just start a new thread on your question and tag @paranewbi to start off the conversation

                  • AmandaE

                    Member
                    August 2, 2022 at 9:37 am

                    Thank you, I will!

      • BajaGringo

        Organizer
        August 2, 2022 at 7:53 am

        Wow, that would really get their attention! Would probably work great when camping in a remote area and prowlers show up in the middle of the night. Fire one of those babies over their heads and I couldn’t imagine they would stick around long enough to see how many more shots you had left. Hopefully they are relatively easy and quick to reload in the dark.

        • paranewbi

          Member
          August 2, 2022 at 2:49 pm

          Wow! Good thing you gave some direction there… I was thinking more along the lines of firing the Flare AT them ;(

          • BajaGringo

            Organizer
            August 2, 2022 at 3:38 pm

            If they moved in on me, believe me I would – without hesitation. But if they only pull up near our campsite in the middle of the night on public property and still a distance away, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they might just be love birds looking for a romantic beach.

            As long as they are not advancing on me and at a safe distance, I will do them the favor of lighting up the sky immediately over their heads to help them find their car keys so they can look for another beach to make out at. However, if I should feel compelled to fire a second shot it will most definitely be aimed center mass.

            • paranewbi

              Member
              August 3, 2022 at 7:54 am

              Speaking of lighting up the sky… We have several of these on board when camping. You can set them on sensor and they will come on when someone breaks the plane. We will wire them up and hang them on a palapa or up high on the RV. They really light up a large area and will let you know if anyone is checking out your camp.

              While in Santispac the beginning of this year, someone came through the camp at night and rifled several camp sites for stoves, propane containers and even an outboard on a RIB. They are light enough to carry away.

              The thief was wearing cowboy boots with a distinguishing ‘H’ imprint on the heel. It was easy to tell if he was around your stuff because of the sand imprint. He walked several feet out in front of our place about the distance where he would have been lit up by our solar sensor lights.

              Our boat was well lit up and of course our outboard is well secured with locks to the transom so he stayed away from our stuff. I have heard stories of thief’s having portable sawzalls and just cutting the transom to get a locked boat motor though.

              These are available on Amazon

              • BajaGringo

                Organizer
                August 3, 2022 at 10:38 am

                Those lights are perfect! Out here where we live it’s a remote location and completely off-grid where we keep our place well lit at night with our Dobermans having free access all around the house inside of the rock wall around the property. We occasionally get some prospecting perps cruising by late at night who slow down to evaluate the potential (at least it appears that way) but quickly drive off when they hear the chorus of large dogs growling and barking. The rock wall perimeter is my first line of defense – the lights and dogs the second, locked and bolted doors on the house the third and me inside holding the last thing they will ever see alive.

      • Gaviota

        Member
        August 3, 2022 at 1:46 pm

        What is the practical range when firing one horizontally vs vertically?

        • mx-rider

          Member
          August 3, 2022 at 5:07 pm

          Not sure but I believe that the one displayed is a 12 gauge and I am positive they sell more powerful models so I would assume that the range would be affected by what size flare gun you are using, correct?

          • paranewbi

            Member
            August 4, 2022 at 4:05 am

            I tend to duck when someone fires a bottle-rocket (fire cracker) in my direction… not really concerned with how far away I am. But if your aiming a flare at someone who is worthy of being fired at… their probably in range.

      • CarlosHC

        Member
        August 6, 2022 at 5:20 pm

        Flare guns are super good to give thieves a warning from a distance but best to save your available rounds until they are close in to to make sure you hit them. The accuracy really decreases outside of about 50 feet or so. Also they break up in flight and beware of ricochets.

  • CaboDream

    Member
    August 1, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Don’t get drunk in public places around people you don’t know.

    Drive only during daylight hours.

    Stop and count to five at stop signs.

    If any family members smoke pot, vacuum out car thoroughly before driving in Mexico.

    • Blitzer

      Member
      August 1, 2022 at 4:08 pm

      I would add don’t try to impress by flashing a lot of cash, expensive new cars,clothes, or jewelry

  • ScreeSki

    Member
    August 1, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Leave your pot and other illegal substances at home. If you can’t survive w/o them for a weekend then you’re better off staying home. If you insist on taking them anyway and are traveling with other friends and family, you have a moral obligation to inform them of your decision before crossing the border into Mexico.

    • AmandaE

      Member
      August 2, 2022 at 6:40 am

      In relation to that I would add – don’t accept requests for rideshares from people you don’t know and don’t agree to carry sealed packages or drive vehicles for people you don’t know across the border.

  • BajaBill

    Member
    August 2, 2022 at 10:04 am

    It’s a really bad feeling being broke down late in the day in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. You feel vulnerable and with no options and most of the time, those situations can be avoided or at least easily resolved. Check the integrity of your vehicle before traveling including tires, belts, brakes, fluids and carry extra coolant and belts along with some radiator hose fix kits and tools. That will help you avoid or at least easily get through most of the more common mechanical problems you might encounter while traveling down in Mexico. Also make sure you have your jack, lug nut wrench and carry some foam tire repair and a good air compressor.

    • Guacamole

      Member
      August 4, 2022 at 9:15 am

      Great advice and yet probably few take the time to follow it.

  • SawDogger

    Member
    August 2, 2022 at 10:53 am

    I second the idea of bringing a big dog or two. Not only do they scare away thieves they also work on most cops at shake-down traffic stops as well as get you waved through military checkpoints.

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      August 3, 2022 at 10:39 am

      I second that

    • Guacamole

      Member
      August 4, 2022 at 9:23 am

      Our two aren’t small but they are not super big either yet they certainly do growl, bare their teeth and bark when someone unfamiliar to them comes near us when camping. Never really have been tested so far with anything seriously bad and hope we never have to find out.

  • MaxMo

    Member
    August 3, 2022 at 6:39 am

    Get enough pesos for your trip when crossing the border and always pay in pesos. Don’t use dollars to pay here in Mexico to make sure they cant rip you off on the exchange

    • paranewbi

      Member
      August 3, 2022 at 7:29 am

      Probably one of the more difficult things to deal with around the money thing is ATM’s at the bank and understanding the fees when shown on the screen. It always looks like a good exchange rate but then the screen shows some amount that looks like a high percentage of your withdrawal. Then I get home and that doesn’t seem to be the amount deducted from my account.

      Sometimes it seems like the ATM at the entry to the store in San Felipe gives a better rate if you can catch it when it’s working.

      • BajaGringo

        Organizer
        August 3, 2022 at 7:37 am

        Good point – when an ATM offers you an exchange rate, ALWAYS decline what they offer you which is typically about 1 peso off the rate you will get when you refuse to accept their offer.

        • MaxMo

          Member
          August 3, 2022 at 7:48 pm

          Mexican banks are all ripoffs and I hate them. Well, banks everywhere are probably all bad but the banks here in Mexico are the worst! That exchange rate game they try to commit fraud with tourists at ATM cash machines is criminal.

          • laguera

            Member
            August 4, 2022 at 2:49 pm

            Banks today mostly only lend money to people who really don’t need more money.

          • paranewbi

            Member
            August 5, 2022 at 4:27 am

            Usually under pressure in the banks ATM area by the line of eyes waiting for a gringo to navigate the process of obtaining funds… if you decline the initial offering, is it not the case that you are kicked out and forced to start over? Do all ATM’s offer a second exchange rate?

        • laguera

          Member
          August 4, 2022 at 2:50 pm

          Yes, I have seen that in recent trips and the rate is much too low.