MEXICALI is hot – unbearably so in summer, though winter nights can drop below freezing – but despite its natural disadvantages it's a large, wealthy city, the capital of the state of Baja California and an important road and rail junction for the crossing into the States. It's also an increasingly important destination for Mexican migrants looking for work in the maquiladoras. While there may be an exotic ring to the name, there's nothing exotic about the place, and if you come looking for a movieland border town, swing-door saloons and dusty dirt streets, you'll be disappointed: you're more likely to run into a lobbyist or medical professional than a cowboy.
Though filled with some nice hotels, Mexicali is not a place where you'd choose to spend time (unless you're trying to pass a piece of legislation). It's really only valuable as a stop-off on the journey south, a daunting trip of at least nine hours on the bus to Hermosillo, the first place you might remotely choose to take a break, and a further hour and a half to the more appealing Guaymas. If you happen to be around during October you'll find a few cultural activities in town – live music, dance, street food and the like – taking place as part of the Fiesta del Sol; or at any other time of year you can fill an hour browsing the local history exhibits at the free Museo Regional de la Universidad de Baja California, on Reforma.