|The year 2017 in Baja began with a Chubasco, of sorts. Beginning with a devaluating peso, (In 2015: $1 USD = 15.9311 Pesos MXN; today $1 USD = 21.1382 Pesos MXN) and then the deregulation of Mexico's fuel industry causing a 20 percent rise in fuel costs, (prices vary from station to station but average around $3.60/gallon for premium, $3.40/gallon for magna, and $3.65/gallon for diesel, prices converted to U.S. dollars). The common fuel shortages over the holidays combined with the heavy rains in Northern Baja fueled frustrations that often manifested in anger. Over-simplification perhaps, but a better explanation will have to come from someone with a higher pay grade than mine.
AND SO THE story goes, all the way down Mex One to the tip of Baja. Fuel shortages, long lines and angry protesters all seem to suggest avoiding driving in Baja for the next few weeks until the situation settles down.
The people’s exasperation and wrath has resulted in protests, picketing and road closures up and down the Baja Peninsula, as well as gas shortages in many areas. Although from the border through Ensenada everything seems to be normal and fuel is available according to recent reports, traveling farther south there have been protests as well as sporadic gas shortages in Camalu, Vicente Guerrero, Cabo Colonet and San Quintín.
One group headed south reported that traffic was completely stopped going both ways in San Quintín where protesters had blocked Mex One with tires and rocks. They were driving a SUV and were able to detour around the closed portion through river beds and back roads. However RV's wouldn’t have been able to use the detour because of the muddy conditions. Also the Pemex stations were surrounded and closed by protesters as well. No gas or diesel was being sold. There were many trucks parked on the side of the road in both directions awaiting the road to open.
Beyond there, the stations at El Rosario and Catavina were reported to be low on fuel, if not out. At Bahia de Los Angeles there wasn’t any diesel available at last report and again visitors shouldn’t count on any gasoline there as well.
And so the story goes, all the way down Mex One to the tip. Fuel shortages, long lines and angry protesters all seem to suggest avoiding driving in Baja for the next few weeks until the situation settles down.
Of course, there are many travelers who simply must make the trip down or back. One word of caution: Before you make a trip through Baja, you should get up to date information from one of the Baja travel clubs, either Discover Baja or Vagabundos del Mar.
MOST TRAVELING IN either direction are choosing to take the Mex 5, route using the turn-off at Laguna Chapala from the south or entering Baja via Mexicali.
Most traveling in either direction are choosing to take the Mex 5 route, using the turn-off at Laguna Chapala from the south or entering Baja via Mexicali. If coming from the south, don’t be discouraged by the first 20 or so miles of dirt road. After that it is paved all the way to the Border at Mexicali in less than 6 hours travel time. Thus far, gasoline supplies have been more reliable on this route and there have been no reports of civil demonstrations to contend with. However a word of caution, like in the “good old days,” if you see a gasoline station open, top off your tank!
Hopefully, by the time you read this things will be back to normal. Although some of the fundamentals dictate that costs are going up just as the fuel has. An example of this is the cost of an FMM has been increased already this year from 390 pesos to 500 pesos. At first glance a healthy increase, although when the exchange rate difference is factored in the increase only amounts to $1.14. Still another example, at the beginning of 2016 a one day fishing license was about $15 U.S.at the current exchange rate. In 2017, that same license converts to less than $10. Good for U.S. travelers to Mexico . . . not so good for Mexican nationals.
It is ironic that many years ago it was common practice for some drivers to cross the border to take advantage of the inexpensive fuel prices. Now that has flipped and there is already talk of locals coming across the border to purchase our fuel. Times are a changing…
Monday Road Report
As of Monday, Jan.9, many gas stations in this area are closed or out of gas in Tijuana, Mexicali and San Felipe. However, there was fuel available at Vizcaino, Mulege, Loreto and farther south.
On Mex 1 below Ensenada to San Quintin, protesters have abandoned their blockades leaving the highway open to local commerce and are directing their protest efforts at Administrative Offices instead.
The entire Baja peninsula as well as the Mainland has been confronted by the “gasolinazo” problems, which will likely continue in the near future until the fuel supply is completely restored. Once again anyone planning a trip should check with reliable sources before departing.