Whatever happened to living on the beach in Mexico for nearly nada and margaritas for breakfast?   I have been thinking about this for two years, having saved a reader e-mail praising Ensenada. Lance, who lives in a trailer park in Puyallup, Washington, wrote that he could live well in a trailer park south of Tacoma for about $1,000 a month.

But the real story was his dad, who divided his time between a beach South of Ensenada and trips back to the U.S. for occasional medical care. His dad had leased land on a six-mile beach south of Ensenada for $600 a year. Lance thought he could still do it, today, for $1,200.

"Most Americans expect a primo life style," Lance, a master of understatement, wrote.

"And this can be a set back if you are trying to live on $12,000 to $15,000 a year. Mexico is great because it is not primo!   I would get compliments on my 5-year old Ford Tempo when I drove it down to Mexico. Even when it was brand new, I never got googly eyes over my Tempo in the U.S."

So I buy my Mexican car insurance at the border. A reproduction of Picasso's Guernica hangs ominously behind the agent's desk.   I head down the beach highway toward Ensenada. The first thing I notice is that the ubiquitous RV communities of Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas disappear the moment I cross the border. I find a few north and south of Rosarita, but most are nearly vacant. It may be high season in Arizona and Texas but this clearly isn't prime time in Mexico. Beachside temperatures are cool, down in the low to mid sixties.

But I press on, running south of Ensenada. There, going down a series of dirt roads, I find a few RV parks on the beach. They could be good sets for a David Lynch film. Windswept, worn, and empty, the location conjures images of desperate moves.   Even Hotel Joker, a place savvy enough to have a mention and picture on an RV website, is forlorn.

I decide to cut my losses. I know there is RV life in Mexico. I have seen RVs lined up along the beach north of Puerto Vallarta. There are RV parks on the Mayan Riviera. I have even seen caravans of RVs heading into San Miguel Allende. But this isn't the season.

Driving back to the border, determined to make fast run to LA, it dawns on me once again. This isn't about RVs, Park models, or manufactured homes. This is about community.

To have community, you must first gather people.