So he went from friend to friend, talked with their parents and heard the same basic response. “Too dangerous.”
When he asked the last time the parents had been to Baja there was another basic response. Either it had been many years or they had never been.
Friedman was becoming more and more frustrated as he had been to Baja over 30 times over the years including round trip drives to Cabo San Lucas with only great memories and wonderful times.
Finally, Danny Herrera from Rolling Hills Estates and former Bishop Montgomery High School fellow student got the green light to go. “I have to admit that I was a little nervous about going,” said Herrera. “Everyone kept telling me how dangerous it was going to be; it was like we were going to cross the border and be attacked right away.”
It didn’t take long until Herrera got a different perspective about what Baja is really all about. “It was the exact opposite of what everyone had told me,” said Herrera. “It was so peaceful, so fun and we met so many great people there."
The two longtime friends never stopped doing things. They fished Todos Santos Island off Ensenada and caught copious amounts of rockfish along with some fat calico bass. They went to the Pueblo Amigo Hotel Casino in Tijuana where they played slot machines. They visited the fish camp at Popotla where they saw pangeros return from the sea with their catch and met some colorful fishermen. They checked out another Baja gem; Playa Saldamando which is located 8 miles north of Ensenada. There they saw a family with several small children enjoying a peaceful day on a secluded, pristine beach.
They made friends with the workers at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, met the head of the Girls and Boys Club Rosy Torres. Rosy, as always talked about her goal to give the kids of Rosarito Beach a great education, make sure they were all bilingual, and make sure they were decent, courteous, hardworking citizens.
There was also so many great meals. Fish, shrimp and carne asado tacos. Carnitas, ribeye steak and eggs for $7, and some great seafood. And yes, they spent some time blowing off fireworks one night on the beach.
Where were all the bad people? Herrera started to realize that there were an awful lot of great people who lived on the other side of the border and there was so much to see and to do. “I learned that you have to think for yourself sometimes,” said Herrera. “If I would have listened to all those people who haven’t even been to Baja, I would have missed a great experience. I learned so much on this trip and I want to learn Spanish more than ever.”
Of all the great things that the boys got to experience, perhaps the trip to the Casa Estrella all girls orphanage made the biggest impression on them. Thanks to Megan Gomez from Rancho Palos Verdes, the boys took new soccer jerseys to each one of the girls followed by a spirited game of futbol. In fact, it got rather intense for the gol de oro.
On the way home, I overheard the boys talking about their great Baja experience. “I never really ever thought of adopting a kid before but after seeing those girls at the orphanage, I think I might want to do that,” said Friedman.
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Herrera. “Me too.”
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