Rosarito Resort Debacle - Follow The Money - CycleBlaze

January 22, 2020

Rosarito Resort Debacle

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After waking up from an awesome sleep, I walked over to the PedWest crossing and exchanged about $100 worth of cash to pesos.  The name of this game would be to follow up on a lead from a friend and try to open a savings account in Mexico for pesos.  They pay about 7% interest rates which is significantly higher than the US dollar accounts and it was worth an attempt for sure.  Also, I still had two nights left at a supposedly awesome beach resort in Rosarito that I had already booked online.  As it turns out, they tried to charge my credit card twice, one for the actual booking (about $80 a night for 3 nights) and the other for 'incidental deposit' which was around $600.   Fortunately I had blocked the card before that attempt and it was rejected by the bank.

But for now I needed to cross the border into Mexico.  It was about a 3km walk to the border and then through the turnstiles.  Once through, it felt like a point of no return because we all know those turnstiles only go one way.  In the daytime, however, it was much safer and there was nothing to worry about.  My Spanish was put to the test on getting a ticket to Rosarito from the ABC bus lines, again recommended by a friend.  After a little back and forth, it was discovered they only take the freeways (toll roads) and I would be dropped off somewhere near a 7/11.  I said sure, fine, why not.  Well that was quite a mishap as the dropoff point was literally on the side of the highway and it meant over a 5 mile walk to the town center of Rosarito.  Instead of this, the best way is to catch the collectivos, i.e. the vans that go from Tijuana to Rosarito and only cost 22.5 pesos, in other words just over a dollar.  Now I know exactly where to find them for next trip.

Eventually I was able to the find the resort, and the name is Quinta Pacifica Beachfront Villas.  They are not marked and are located on a sketchy looking side road that veers off from the Chevron gas station.  Even on a bicycle they'd be hard to find as Google maps tells you to go on side roads that are now walled off.  Once there, a sign said the check in is only from 3pm to 8pm and there was nobody at the gate.  The whole place was eerily quiet.  There was a side gate that appeared to be locked but I tried opening it and it wasn't locked at all.  The lock was disabled actually.  Once inside I found the office and the girl said they wanted a credit card to charge for incidental deposits.  I explained that the credit card was blocked, and she said "Yes we tried contacting your bank and it was reported stolen."  Thank goodness I was smart to have done it, they would have taken the money for sure.  I then said, "Can you take cash?"  She said, "No cash, only credit card."  I passed over my Hong Kong card which would be useless for this purpose and she goes, "Where is this bank from?" and I basically said China.  She gave me a totally surprised look as if to say what the hell is this. and then asked, "Does it have money on it?"  I said yes.  But to no surprise, the card wouldn't charge like a credit card and so I said, "Alright maybe I'll just cancel this whole thing" and was prepared to eat the $240 that had already been charged and go find somewhere else.  

Just as I was about to walk off she said, "Ok we can take cash deposit, do you have $400?"  I did, but was afraid that if I parted with all that I wouldn't get it back and so I negotiated down to $200 and she took the deposit.  Then I went to check in and later explored around the town.  The whole place felt really dead and depressed, even the main tourist center, and not the least of which was this resort where nobody was staying.  Still I found a few cool places like the supermarkets selling alcohol for rock bottom prices I couldn't even imagine possible.  After stocking up and making a few videos by the beach, I went to bed and slept over 16 hours straight.  The sound of the waves actually made this one of the most peaceful sleeps I can remember in ages.

The next day, well the afternoon mainly, I did some more walking around the town and wanted to inquire about opening a savings account.  It seemed simple and only a minimum deposit of 500 pesos, but the catch was I needed proof of a Mexican address.  The guy was very cool about it, he just said use a friend's address.  So I contacted one of my buddies in Tijuana and I knew him from earlier.  Unfortunately nothing came of this attempt because for whatever reason he didn't want to see me this trip, and so it would also be useless to try to open this bank account.  Nothing too much lost though, I have the information and there is a way to do this next time by staying in an Airbnb long term and talking to the hosts about this.

There was another thing I wanted to do and that was to explore how the vans work from going back and forth from Tijuana and Rosarito.  Previously I had just ridden my folding bike over the hills and that takes about an hour and a half.  It turns out the vans take around the same amount of time actually.  You catch them anywhere and they drop you off at the terminal which is very near the border crossing and I memorized the location.  Coming back, just reverse the process.  I enjoyed another great night of sleep in the hotel, then did some research on how much alcohol I could bring back to the US (only one bottle duty free).  

The next day I was all set to go and ready to check out early so as to cross the border and get buses back to LA in time for a double header class at OrangeTheory Fitness.  My heart sank when I saw a sign saying that the office was only open from 2pm to 8pm and that included, I assumed, checking in and out.   There was an 'express checkout' option of just dumping the room card in a slot but how was I supposed to get my $200 deposit back?  After a few phone calls, the clerk said she'd wire it to a bank account but I didn't trust her with this and insisted on picking up the cash in person.  She said, "That's why we don't like to take cash for the deposits to begin with."  After much more bothering her on the phone, it was finally decided that I'd have to wait until 2pm.  I was mad as hell about that as it would mean needing to cancel on my fitness classes and losing $24 for the late cancel fees, but there was no other option at this point.

So I headed to the beach and started drinking margaritas to pass the time, and made sure to limit it not too many.  Once 2pm finally rolled around I got my deposit back minus about $50 and I demanded to know what that was about.  She pointed to a sign saying a hotel fee of $15 a day applies and that is mainly for the Wifi.  There was no point in arguing about this, I said fine, and then wrote a nasty review on both Agoda and TripAdvisor.  Thankfully I knew how to get back to the border quickly using the vans and did that while crossing around 4pm.  It was super easy getting back into the US and for whatever reason the crossing was almost deserted at that time on Thursday afternoon.  I then waited an hour for a bus going back to LA which went smoothly.  By then it was getting late and so after helping someone else out getting a city bus to Santa Monica (sure made me feel like a local in LA now) I started walking around Skid Row late at night but I wasn't afraid.  How could I be afraid after having survived Tijuana?  This was nothing.  It was easy enough to catch the buses to the metro and then out to Culver City where my next Airbnb was.  The host probably wasn't so happy that I stumbled in around 11pm after my supposed original plan of 3pm but I explained about what happened in Mexico and she got the drift.

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