You need to know the following:
1. A Tourist Card is required, if you plan to stay longer than 72 hrs. For more info, visit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/mexico/practicalinformation/visas
2. Reservations are necessary – While accommodation at the Erma Fennell Foundation is available, it is limited. A user fee is charged ($8.50 U.S. per day for each person) to offset the high cost of utilities in the Baja area. It covers cost of hot showers, propane for heating & cooking, electricity & use of the internet. Cash only is accepted & is payable when you check in.
3. Climate is temperate but it can also, get hot. Although we live in a desert, humidity is high due to our close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures average +25 C. by mid-day but drop dramatically in late afternoon & can dip as low as only +5 C. during the night. A warm hooded fleecy or other headgear is recommended. Higher temperatures do occur.
4. What to wear – Dress modestly & bring some warm clothing as well as shorts & sleeveless tops. Due to mud, dirt & sand in work areas, sandals are not practical. Runners or workboots are recommended, especially on a jobsite or working in one of the local outreach ministries. Headgear is essential for protection from sun or dust.
5. Cost of food is average but cheaper, if locally produced & purchased at the weekly street markets. Local water is treated & can be used for cooking, but it is recommended that you buy your drinking water.
6. Medical Services – While local hospitals exist, they may not measure up to a standard you enjoy at home. More serious illnesses or accidents would be medi-vacced to Ensenada or San Diego – it is expensive & medical travel insurance is recommended. Doctors & pharmacies are available locally & prescription drugs are quite inexpensive, comparatively speaking.
7. Credit Cards – rarely accepted in the Baja (except in some major cities). Banking machines & a currency exchange booth are available. A service fee is charged for all transactions – only U.S. dollars or Mexican pesos are available. As in most countries, bank machines in Mexico only accept 4-digit PIN’s.
8. Work Projects – may vary greatly depending on whether or not you are in a group or come individually. If alone, you need to be willing to assist in whatever you are assigned to do, unless you are physically unable to do so. Duties may include any general maintenance to EFF compound buildings, cleaning, cooking, office duties or assisting in one of the many mission outreach programs (packing food, clothing & other supplies into a mission vehicle, serving soup & milk, & helping out as required & directed.
9. Mexican Vehicle Insurance – is required (your insurance is not valid in Mexico) & if stopped by the local police/border authorities, could result in a fine or forfeiture of your vehicle. Mexican insurance is available at U.S./Baja border crossing.