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.
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!
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.
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.
- Taking the Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán
- Sematur Transbordadores - A History of Their Ships
- Ferry Information
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
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!
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.
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
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!