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La Paz to Sayulita

Written on: Tuesday December 18th, 2007

A journal entry from: Camping Mexico


 Written immediately after our ferry ride from the Baja:

 We have just gotten into a hotel room in Topolombompo on the mainland of Mexico.  Topolombompo is a small port town and is the destination for the Baja Ferries from La Paz.  The trip was somewhat different from what we are used to back home to say the least.  Alayna and I decided to leave the Baja after another long night of heavy rain.  We had seen rain four times since arriving in La Paz and wanted to get a different exposure to Mexico so decided to make the voyage across to the mainland.

 We arrived at the ferry terminal at 10:45 Am for a 3PM departure.  We had read in one of our travel books that you should arrive three hours prior to departure.  We had to get vehicle permit for our truck so that it could be shipped to the mainland.  Fine, copies of all documents (insurance, ownership, passport, drivers license) were necessary to process the paper work.  We wanted to make sure the journey went as smoothly as possible so showed up the previous day to look into all of this.  The permit took only half an hour to obtain and cost 332 pesos, no big deal. 

 After receiving our paperwork we proceeded to purchase a ticket for what we hoped was the right ferry. 

 Next step, proceed through the entrance and show the vehicle permit along with your passport and ticket, push the sidewalk button like at the boarder and wait for the green ?passé? light (hopefully) to get the go ahead.  After this it gets a bit fuzzy. 

 No direct instructions, in English or Spanish from what we could tell, to tell you where to go in order to get in line to board the ferry.  Looking at a federally aimlessly seems to indicate you have no idea where you are going so they quickly tell you politely, based on his mannerisms anyways, in Spanish where to proceed.  We get inline along with the other few vehicles that are there as early as we are and I make a coffee with my new Starbucks beans (good beans are hard to track down on the Baja). 

 After a while another ferry worker approaches you and tells you to drive through with your ticket to another waiting area, only this time Alayna must leave the vehicle and go into the walk on passenger holding area.  Alayna was more than happy to go sit and wait amongst mostly Mexican men in an outdoor breezeway in the shade which was rather cold??yah right!  I was able to come spend a few moments with Alayna however and bring her some provisions for the wait (book, passport, TICKET).

 All of the vehicles boarded the ferry unlike any other I have any seen.  Some transport trucks backing in while others went forward (what sounded like a gunshot just went off, again there it is, we have heard this several times while in Mex and are only speculating onHEr the source).  I was directed to forward into the ferry where I then proceeded to the depths of the ship and turn around into a dark corner.  I wasn?t sure if the ferry worker was all there as he was breathing a lot of exhaust fumes for an extended period with no respirator.

 Anyways, I meet up with Alayna where the walk on passengers board the boat and we begin to occupy ourselves for the 6 hour journey.  Watched the sunset and saw the Baja disappear as we headed east. 

 6 hours pass.

 We get in line to disembark and are again told that Alayna must be separated and walk off while I go down to get the vehicle.  We were given these instructions by a guard on the ferry who seemed to be overseeing the drunk truck drivers who were continuing to pound back there 6 packs of Tecate, sticking one in their pockets for the road.  As we new there would be plenty of drunk truckers on the road we did not want to drive too long.  Fortunately, our Lonely Planet guidebook suggested the only hotel in town, turns out it is clean and quite luxurious compared to our accommodations we have had the past week.

Tomorrow we proceed to Mazatlan and will begin to explore mainland Mex. 

Ok, we are in Sayulita now:

We have been traveling down the mainland for the last few days slowly heading for Bara De Navidad where we will spend a month with Alaynas family.  So far, this portion of the mainland has been slower going than I had anticipated, this is because there is more to see and do than I had expected.  We have wanted to spend a bit more time checking places out which are north of Puera Vallarta.

We spent the last two nights in San Blas, a nice little town 290 km?s south of Mazatlan.  San Blas is supposed to have the longest break in the world, I think it is a left, and when it works it breaks for a mile or more.  While we were in San Blas the surf was not very good and the water was quite chilly from several days of El Norte winds.  I spent less than half an hour surfing and came out of the water with deep chills (still no wetsuit).  Alayna and I ran into a couple which we actually met at the ferry terminal the day before we left at our campsite.  James and Sandy happen to come from Victoria as well and have very similar travel plans for the winter.  They both had bought surfboards a couple days prior and james bought a kite when he was in Los Barrilles (sp?).  James and I spent part of one afternoon doing down winders in waist high surf while Sandy and Alayna walked into town to get things for dinner.  James and Sandy happen to both be chefs in Victoria so we were eager to here their camping menu in hopes that we could expand ours.  We had a Jambalaya which will deffinately be included for the rest of the trip and most likely made while we are at home. 

Rice has become a major ingredient in our dinners which I am happy about, I never thought we made enough rice at home and am glad to be eating it regularly however we must make the switch to brown rice in the future.  For dinner tonight:  Knorr cream of tomato soup with sautéed onions and garlic over rice, simple, delicious, easy; it will definitely be coming with me to Nitinaht. 

The worst part of my life right now: filling our stove fuel canister with gas from our jerry can.  I think I am going to buy a siphon so that I can fill it from our gas tank, then I will be able to ditch the jerry can which we have only used for this one purpose.  We have plenty of space for everything, however, I always enjoy eliminating items from our travels.  Getting rid of the jerry can will proved a few more cubic feet of space in the roof box and make things in the back of the truck a little less crowded.  It leaks because the gasket is wearing out?.things are not made to last.

The best part of my life right now (besides everything): Pacifico Ballena?s are less than $1.60 after the return on the bottle.  Ballena?s hold 940 ml of beer. 

A full day of surf, for both of us, is on the agenda for tomorrow.  


Here?s a bright idea (one that I just can?t take credit for): Consume eight, nine, heck, why not ten, ?Tecate? cervesas as you sail across the Sea of Cortez with some of your fellow truckers.  Next, stuff one last cerveza in your denim jacket pocket for the road (naturally), and then stumble down to your vehicle, which happens to be a giant 10 tonne transport truck. Proceed to use your truck for balance as you gently sway back and forth with the rocking motion of the ship.  Next, climb on into your truck, which has now been converted into a potential 10 tonne steel weapon, and head for the highway because you have a long night of driving ahead of you!  No, kidding, we say numerous truck drivers who actually thought this was a good idea.

Recall rule number 1: Do not, under any circumstances, drive at night. This is why.

Our next major stop on this ultimate west coast road trip was the bustling city of Mazatlan. Once again, we rolled into a ?campsite? which, in reality, is just a  sparsely treed parking lot for elaborate fifth wheels and RVs. Surrounded yet again by these luxurious transportable homes we were one of two tents, ours being the smallest, as usual.  Our site was right along the main road, and it appeared the fancier the RV the closer to the beach you were. Apparently the beach front spots go for $1000 per month, and maintain a four month minimum!  

The ?Old Town? is slightly chaotic and is where we found a large market. All was really enjoyable until we stumbled into the dreaded make-you-wanna-puke ?meat section?. Oh my god, the smell that permeated that place was enough to make you bolt to the nearest exit, at least I did. Pigs heads and all, we were later told that is the place you take guests who have overstayed their welcome to pick up dinner.

The next morning I attempted to temporarily ease my longing for the horses which I left behind in Victoria by dragging Colin along for a trail ride on the beach! According to our Lonely Planet guide ?Ginger?s Bi-Lingual Horses? (no kidding) provides happy and healthy horses for hire. I?ve seen enough starving animals on this trip and there was absolutely no way in hell I was getting on the back of an even slightly emaciated horse. Ginger?s horses were definitely fed enough; I?m not too sure how happy they were, though. Seems most of them were labeled ?biters? and were tacked up with excessively harsh bits. The curb chains were also way too tightly done up and I attempted to loosen a few while the trail guide wasn?t looking ;)

I rode a really precious dun named Cinnamon and Colin rode a sweet flea-bitten grey called Mercury (Erin, I know, I know!). It was fun cantering down the beach and then I attempted to steer Cinnamon over a small log, in hopes he might jump it, with no avail.

I spent several minutes giving attention to a number of their horses (and one donkey!), then gave a minor lecture to the tour guide explaining why repeatedly hitting the ?biters? in the face (his advice when one tried to bite me) is a really stupid and short sighted idea that does only harm and has the opposite effect on the horses that he desires. I alluded to the fact that perhaps these horses bite people because they are in constant pain (totally unnecessarily harsh bits, being kicked all day by tourists, etc) and because they are repeatedly being hit in the face for biting. His reply: Why all you Americans against smacking your horses?

I?m not against smacking my horses (I carry a friggen crop when I ride); rather, I am again punching them repeatedly in the face.

Moving on?

We are now In Sayulita, a picturesque town 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta.

There are enough gringos here to make you feel at home, and we will spend the night in a campsite right on the beach. There?s no shortage of surf here and I plan to rip it up in my new rash guard tomorrow ;)

Still on the hunt for a horse sticker to adorn my surfboard?


From MOM on Dec 18th, 2007

Pnotos fabulous. You have had at least some sunny days! Lots of snow in the mountains, great skiing at Whistler. Wonder what Christmas in Mexico will be like..be sure to take your camera!

From Ben_W_Can on Dec 18th, 2007

Colin, I think you should keep that stash for the trip. Ha ha ha. It looks great and it will help you blend in; with it you kinda look Mexican (lol). Merry Christmas to you both, and fyi we have 3 feet of snow in Ont. Take care.

From Joe...Mum's friend on Dec 19th, 2007

What great photos...Brings back memories of 'Old Mexico'...I enjoy the stories too!!!!..Thanks

From Graham Chapman on Dec 20th, 2007

yah boyyyyy. the wind is finally bumping, too bad you left. wheres that picture of CJ? see you soon, oh yah... nice pictures, ahem!

From Mike T on Dec 20th, 2007

I echo colin DL's comments about happiness vs jealousy. Have a good christmas on the beach and in the ocean - i'll be back in the slush in Ontariable

From dad on Dec 22nd, 2007

Alayna, you should forward a comment to the Lonely Planet wrt the treatment of the horses, one small, but important step for the humane treatment of horses. lvu

From pepperdine on Dec 23rd, 2007

i hear Punta Mita is nice. well the internet says so. and everything on the internet is true! are you going there? REAL GOOD THEN!

From Don, Patti, and Pete from Casa on Dec 27th, 2007

Following your website, good luck on the mainland. We are at North Beach, Los Barriles for about a month.