La Paz Area

The strong rain from the night before continued through the day. Driving to La Paz was rain, rain, rain. Still, we were not prepared for the way the we found La Paz: flooded! The roads were filled with water. The manhole covers were popping up, splurting brown water from the storm drains below. Rivers of water were filling the intersections and there was no way to escape it. Fortunately, our van is a high clearance vehicle so we had no problems, but we watched efforts of the small city cars as they tried and sometimes failed to navigate the water.

La Paz Rain Storm - Manhole Cover - Water Coming Out of SewerLa Paz Rain Storm - Road - FloodingLa Paz Rain Storm - Road

It was lunchtime, and we were craving our old favorite restaurant, Palapa Adriana, on the La Paz waterfront. Even though we parked just across the street, the rain had drenched us by the time we reached the door. Not much business today! Guzzling down some wonderfully limey margaritas and our favorite snacks (campechana!), we could relax and enjoy watching the torrents of rain streaming down the streets and into the sea. Wow. What a sight!

La Paz Rain Storm - Laura - Margaritas - Cafe Adriana

We pampered ourselves for two nights at our old favorite hotel, Los Arcos, with a swimming pool, showers and Wi-Fi. Luxury! We washed some badly needed laundry at "La Paz Lava" while we read books in our van in the parking lot. I'm glad we got a chance to relax that night before the chaos that was to come the next few days figuring out the ferry system.

Getting a Ferry

Our main goal for coming to La Paz was to catch the ferry over to Mazatlán, and then drive to the Morelia area to visit our friend Brian who had recently moved there from Seattle. We had read several websites about the ferry system and felt we knew what to do.

There were two ferries from La Paz: one that traveled 18 hours to Mazatlán: Sematur, and another that traveled 5 hours to Topolobampo (Baja Ferries). We decided to take the longer ferry, as we could sleep while we traveled, and we'd end up 5 hours closer (by car) to Morelia.

It was Saturday, and we had read that the ferry didn't travel on that day. We would wait until Sunday. There were supposed to be four classes available: salon (reclining seats), turista (a shared bunk room), cabina (private bunk room) and especial (private room with the works). As we wanted to sleep, we wanted to get one of the private rooms, not an airplane-style reclining chair.

We started our ferry investigation process first thing Saturday morning. The first step was to purchase a temporary vehicle permit in order to bring our car into mainland Mexico. For some reason, the Mexican government fears that foreigners will sell their cars (in mainland Mexico, but not in Baja). Bearing numerous copies of the vehicle registration, passports, tourist visas, etc., we were well prepared to get our vehicle permit. However we couldn't do it in La Paz. We had to travel the 17 km north from La Paz to the ferry terminal at Pichilingue. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 24.27843, -110.3311  Little did we know that we would be traveling this road several more times in the coming days. After going through a fairly painless process (as we were prepared), we drove back into La Paz to the Sematur ferry office to buy our tickets for the Sunday ferry. Geoff spoke to the woman behind the glass window and learned that, actually, the ferry didn't run on Sunday. However, there was another ferry company that ran a boat Sunday that was the same as the one we hoped to take. However, to purchase these tickets we need to drive back to the ferry terminal in Pichilingue. As all of this conversation is occurring in Spanish, we didn't really have the ability to ask all of the subtle details we needed, and at the time we didn't know what we should ask. So, as talking Spanish in person was much easier than talking on the phone, we drove back out to the ferry in Pichilingue.

After much asking around, we eventually found other ferry ("TMC") service's office, a little metal building out in the parking lot. A woman who was on her smoke break but was willing to answer our questions, but she spoke much faster than we were comfortable with. We picked up enough words to comprehend that her ferry was a "cargo" ferry — no tourist class — and we could make a reservation but could not actually purchase tickets until the day of departure. As we had understood that our original Sematur ferry was going to have beds for us to sleep in, we decided to wait a day and skip the TMC ferry. So we went back again into La Paz, only to find that the Sematur ticket office had closed for the day. Argh!!

Oh well... So, we wandered around La Paz and relaxed for the rest of the day, enjoying the sun. Last night's rain was long gone, and the streets were so much cleaner! We had a delicious lunch of fish tacos — again US$1 per taco, with 12 different types of condiments/salsas to add. We just kept piling them on. So yummy!

La Paz - Day After Rain - Clean UpLa Paz - Taco Stand GonzalesLa Paz - Taco Stand Gonzales

Sunday morning, Geoff went back to the Sematur office to buy tickets for the Monday ferry but was told that he couldn't buy tickets until the day of, so we'd have to go back on Monday.

Camping North of La Paz

We had to wait, and we needed a break from La Paz, so we headed out for a night of beach camping. We drove north, pass the Pichilingue ferry terminal (yet again!), up to Punta Las Pilitas See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 24.35104, -110.2892 , beaches that we had camped on when we first came to Baja many years ago.

I'll let the photos speak for the wonders of vegging out on a beach for a day. The hermit crabs crawling around on the were the cutest things ever. We spent hours watching them. At night, they become a lot more feisty and brave! The last two photos are of a crab on the floor of the van. He was so big he couldn't even retract all the way into his shell!

Punta Las Pilitas - LauraPunta Las Pilitas - PufferfishPunta Las Pilitas - SportsmobilePunta Las Pilitas - LauraPunta Las Pilitas - Beach SportsmobilePunta Las Pilitas - Laura - Hermit CrabPunta Las Pilitas - SportsmobilePunta Las Pilitas - BeachPunta Las Pilitas - Dead FishPunta Las Pilitas - AgavePunta Las Pilitas - Laura TidepoolingPunta Las Pilitas - Laura GeoffPunta Las Pilitas - Hermit CrabPunta Las Pilitas - Hermit Crab