I always knew that when it came time to rescue another puppy, it would have to be done in Baja. There is something reassuring about the born-on-the-streets nature of Mexican mutts that I relish – you just know they are going to make it in this world, come hell or high water. It’s in their blood to become adventurous dogs, which is a necessity for my lifestyle - both in Southern California, and traveling up and down the Baja peninsula multiple times a year. You must be a perro with street smarts and an exploratory nature to make it in my world. Enter Pancho, the newest addition to my gypsy gang. Here is how he came to be.
For the past few weeks, I woke up every day determined to find my dog Minka a full time best friend. I had been researching a wonderful Tijuana based non-profit called Baja Rescue Dogs and had my eye on a pretty boy named Custard, a rescue that was found terrified on the streets of TJ. Cut to this past weekend – it was time for a quick sojourn to Mexico!
We crossed the border with Minka and headed straight to Tortas Wash Mobile, a food cart about five minutes from the border. First of all, I was stunned at how clean and progressive TJ felt. We usually cruise straight through ready to hit the Sea of Cortez, so to really dig deep into the back streets was a revelation. What have we been missing all this time? Every street cart, food truck, outdoor café was calling my name…but Tortas Wash Mobile had been on my must try list forever. This underground foodie haven serves one thing only – carne asada tortas – and they do it the way they’ve been doing it for over 50 years, charred and loaded with the sandwich elements that make it truly heavenly. We gathered up a few tidy tortas and roosted in the truck with Minka (she got her own pile of beef), slobbering over mesquite grilled meat on toasted ciabatta-style bread layered with mayo, super hot sauce, pickled red onions, slivers of avocado, and chunky tomatoes. You can taste the 12-hour marinade in every bite, as well as the charcoal/mesquite mix the meat is expertly grilled over.
The only thing that can possibly take the fire of the hot sauce out of your mouth isn’t a Mexican coke. Nope, it’s a couple of scoops of nieve from the neighboring ice cream shop, Amorcito. This delightfully rustic storefront sells a plethora of homemade flavors topped with white caramel. All I’m going to say is I never new arroz ice cream could be so tasty, especially when paired with a scoop of deep chocolate. It was a perfect pit stop on the way to get the new boy.
But then, as we made our way toward the neighborhood of La Gloria, 15 minutes south of the border, we took a few wrong turns and ended up camped out at a seafood joint, Del Mar Mariscos, for a bit of a regroup. We questioned ourselves – were we really ready to take on pup numero dos? I partook in a bit of vino to answer those questions, and came up with a resounding YES! Quite by mistake we ended up there, but then we came to many life conclusions parked in those flimsy plastic chairs snacking on fried fish and shrimp tacos, chocolate clams and mixed ceviche. Minka got fish, we got answers. Why not another dog? Our lives are changing all the time and I kept bringing up our Airstream on the beach in Los Barriles, with a bonfire and a few cold beverages…and Minka having a best friend to chase waves with at sunset. Sounds dang near idyllic to me. We paid the tab ($17 USD for all that fresh seafood and wine) and made our way toward the rescue sanctuary, ready to take on this brand new responsibility.
We made our way down a non-descript dirt road and pulled up to the gate of the rescue and were greeted by the barking of at least 100 dogs. All had their own spacious cage – with food, water and shelter and seemed on high alert to be uber friendly just in case this was set to be their lucky day. We made our way back toward Custard, the dog I had seen online. Alhough he was indeed beautiful, he was already too big for us. A recent growth spurt had him bigger than Minka and we just didn’t think it would be fair to bring in an already bigger boy to her home domain. We ventured to the back where all the puppies were located and promptly fell in love with each of them. My guy, Kuba, was dead set on it being a boy, so out came Pup #5! He was so chill, so zen, so unafraid of Minka’s barbaric rompingt that we just had to have him. Shot paperwork and rescue funds were efficiently exchanged and just like that we became a family of four.
To avoid the border rush, back to Del Mar Mariscos we went. A few more sips of wine, a few more plates of poached shrimp, a few more stunned realizations that we now had a baby boy in the gang - and off we went back toward TJ and the border. We were full of great Mexican food. We were happy that Minka would have on-the-ground company that she’d soon fall in love with. We had the new addition cuddled next to us and life made sense again. And, it was all so easy except for the naming process. That has taken us all week – but we finally decided on the most famous of all Mexican bandits/robin hoods, Pancho Villa. This little Cho-Cho is a game changer for us yet again and set to break ground on his first big boy trip down the peninsula come November…back to the lands from where he came. I can’t wait to see his life unfold with us by his side. Boy, did he hit the foodie jackpot!
Visit the Tortas Wash Mobile Facebook page.
Visit the Amorcito Facebook page.
Del Mar Mariscos is located off of Highway 1 (the free road) one exit past the La Gloria exit 15 minutes south of the border. It’s on the right side of the road. Dogs welcome!
Visit the Baja Rescue Dogs website.