You’ve probably heard Greg Reddick, aka “Baja Joe,” on the radio promoting Baja and his website, www.bajasbacknow.com. Watch for him on an upcoming episode of PBS’s “Crossing South” with Jorge Meraz!
When was your first trip to Baja? Where did you go?
My first trip to Baja (at least without parents!) was in 1973. I went down with some friends from work in a VW Bug and we camped outside of Ensenada.
What’s your most memorable “Baja moment”?
It’s gotta be on one of the trips to Bahia de Los Angeles about 20 years ago. Five of us jumped into a VW camper van, but before we left we installed a huge set of real Bullhorns that spanned the entire front of the van. It was a sight to see. Everyone that went by honked or waved at us – it was absolutely hilarious. The van was an older model and one of the first ones with fuel injection. Back then the gas wasn’t as good as it is today and after the first tank of gas we started having engine troubles, somewhere near San Quintin. The van would run for about two hours then die…. over and over again. This is where I fell in love with the Mexican people as time and time again, they would stop and help us get moving again, usually by jump starting the car. At one point we had two flat tires and a guy pulled over and took both tires and had them fixed and then brought them back. He wouldn’t even take any money from us so we fed him and kept going.
But, the most memorable moment came in a small town where our van died again. There was a little rodeo arena (by arena I mean a large dirt circle with sticks as a fence) down a small hill where our car died. Nobody came around for a little while, then a police car drove by and stopped. We told him about our car problems, so he opened up the rodeo gate and we attached a tow strap on the back of the police car. With one of the guys driving and the other four of us overlooking this scene, the police car went in circles round and round the arena pulling our van and trying to jump start the engine. The four of us were watching our van with Bullhorns getting pulled by this small police patrol car for about 20 minutes…. To this day its has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.
Craziest experience you’ve had in Baja?
This would probably involve Tequila… Well, for 21 years I put on a huge beach party and volleyball tournament on La Salina Beach called the Corona Open with 600 of my best friends! The first night was “Welcome to Margaritaville,” where we would pour 100 liters of Tequila in Margaritas and dance the night away. Then Saturday with 20 kegs of Corona and volleyball on the beach all day. Everyone camped on the beach so that nobody had to drink and drive. I was lucky enough to drag down the former San Diego Padres Baseball player, singer and songwriter, Tim Flannery (3rd base coach for the SF Giants now), Gary Sieler and the Buffed Out Band. Those 21 years were all crazy. Steve Poltz singer and songwriter played one Saturday night till 4:30am in his boxers! The last Corona Open was in 2006. If tents could talk…
In your opinion, what’s the best thing about Baja?
I’ve surfed a wave right next to a dolphin; spear fished halibut for dinner; snorkeled and dived in the waters to Cabo and back; and golfed at Bajamar Resort right on the water, to name a few. It’s too hard to pick just one!
Where is your favorite place in Baja?
This has to be La Salina Beach where I have my home, it started with a trailer on the north side of the beach at Poncho Tequila’s camp, also known as Clam beach now. Then when they started to build Puerto Salina Marina on the south side of the beach about 20 years ago, I bought a lot and built my dream home. Every time I pull into that beach I feel blessed.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Baja?
Going out with good friends for dinner and drinks to one of the great restaurants there like Splash or La Fonda. Or wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe. Of course that’s when I’m not in the water!
How did you come up with the idea for “Baja Joe”?
Well, I just wanted to help bring back the tourism to Baja. It’s such a special place and it’s in our own backyard. So my thoughts were that the typical U.S. tourist would not trust a Mexican National Government Official sharing that it’s safe to come back down to Baja. So I created Baja Joe as an unofficial U.S. spokesperson for Baja. I’m in Baja 3-5 days a week and I feel safer there than many places in San Diego. I’m a true U.S. patriot, but lucky me, I have two countries I love, as many of us do.
Tell us about your website, BajasBackNow.com. How and why did you get started?
I combined my marketing experience, the love of Baja, Baja Joe and the BajasBackNow.com website so people could reach out to me for advice and questions regarding Baja – where to go for their trip to Baja and the safety side of it all. There has been too much overhyped negative media attention on Baja for way too long. There was a small window of issues way back in 2008-2009. It’s long gone, but the tourism hasn’t come back like it was. I know so many business owners that are still struggling because of the lack of tourism, that I just wanted to help bring back the Gringos. Its time, Baja’s better than ever right now!
How do you describe Baja to someone who’s never been there before?
The best way is to tell them to visualize Southern California about 75 years ago, before the freeways and all the people were there. Where you can see the beautiful Pacific Ocean as you drive south. It’s just paradise without all the restrictions of the U.S. Imagine stopping at any beach, parking your car, grabbing a cerveza and walking in the sand along the water. That’s a simple thing to do, but you can’t do it in the US.