Friday, October 16, 2015

I'm on a Boat

Finally made my way down to La Paz to catch the ferry across. I realized as I was arriving in town that, had I planned a little better, I could have made it to the Tuesday ferry and been moving on two days earlier. But I'm actually pretty glad I didn't.

After pulling into La Paz, Paul (the Canadian I rode with from Loreto to La Paz) and I went looking for a hotel. We found one that google said was around $30 a night... but when we went inside, they were quoting us more like $45. Not ideal, and I couldn't even talk them lower by showing them that I could reserve on travelocity for cheaper than he was quoting me (which I'm sure they lose a cut from).

As I was talking to the hotel, Paul started up a conversation with a guy walking by - who then proceeded to offer us the small apartment behind his house, in the downtown area, for $15 a night. With secure parking for the bikes, since he had one too. So we made our way over to his place, and talked bikes with him for a little bit.

Our sweet digs, we also had a kitchen off to the side, and AC.

Once we got a few things off the bike, we decided to go ahead and do ferry ticket stuff right away, to get it done and not have to worry about it. We rode over to the Ferry office in town, and ran into a little snag... or rather, Paul did.

I was able to pick up my ticket, but they told Paul that while he could buy his ticket, it probably wasn't a good idea. See, Paul (like many people, I guess) rode right on through the U.S./Mexican border without stopping, because no one stops you. Except... if you're going south in Mexico, you're supposed to have a tourist card. It's not required for the "border zone" which includes areas as far from the border as San Felipe and Ensenada. But past that, you need the card.

So what do you do when you figure out that you need the card? Well according to Mexican officials, you drive back to Tijuana and get one - almost 2000 miles. Now, I've heard stories of people getting them other places. Clearly if you fly into the country and need one, they can provide one at the airport - and in fact Bryce and his friends were able to get it at the airport in La Paz a few years ago.

But Paul seemed to not have any luck. They wouldn't let him get it at the airport, the ferry terminal, or anywhere else, so Wednesday he packed up and headed off for Cabo on the chance he could get it there.

We did take some time Tuesday night to go out and check out La Paz nightlife a little bit. We caught a band rehearsal at one bar, and thanks to a friend found a bar with a number of amazing beers.
One of my favorite beers from back in Illinois
The next morning while Paul headed out to take care of tourist card stuff, I went for a walk. We'd walked quite a bit the night before, but the foot was feeling good, so I ended up walking all the way down to the end of the malecon looking for something interesting to do during the day.

There's some big boats in La Paz.
I found one place that had a boat heading out the next morning to check out whale sharks, and otherwise just wandered to see the town and got some amazing ceviche. One thing I did get out of the walk was that I actually had some... let's call them "voluntary" conversations with people in Spanish. I talked to people not because I needed something, but just because I wanted to talk to them. I asked a motorcycle cop about his bike and talked about his other bikes for a bit, and I talked to a guy about kayaking and where were good places and if people do it a lot. And got along pretty well with only Spanish, if I do say so myself.

La Paz's malecon is definitely a tourist area, with a lot of English signs.
The next morning I woke up and headed out on a boat to see some of the famous tiburon ballena. I was told I'd be "guaranteed" to see some... and sure enough, we saw quite a few of them. We even got to snorkel with them, and man was that an exciting experience.

First we'd just see what appears to be a small little fin sticking up out of the water, but it's sweeping back and forth very quickly. The boat would pull up next to it without getting too close, and we'd drop into the water and see... this:

Click for larger, but hopefully better pics and some video coming soon.
That little fin is actually just his tail swishing back and forth. And these things are big. I really couldn't believe how big they were, and kept trying to capture a picture that did them justice, but couldn't.

Turns out they swim pretty fast too, so with a bum ankle, I really couldn't keep up with them for very long before I got tired and the boat would swing around and pick me up. Rafael, one of the other guys with us, actually took the GoPro at one point and took video - which turned out to be a seven minute video, most of which involved him swimming as fast as he could with a camera in his hand.

The three of us who were on the boat together.
As soon as I got back from the boat, it was time to start packing up and get ready for the other boat - the Ferry. I got over there with plenty of time, rode the motorcycle up to the top deck after a little paperwork check, and then strapped it down. By the time I got that all done, I was absolutely drenched in sweat underneath my gear - and no shower in sight. I made a quick trip to the bathroom to change into dry clothes and laid out the wet ones on top of my bag with hopes of drying them.

I also chose a seat near the air conditioner since I was so hot, but that turned out to be a mistake - that thing ran all night, and while I had three seats to stretch out across, I was pretty cold for most of the night and didn't sleep all that well.

Arrival in Mazatlan
But, 18 hours later we arrived in Mazatlan not too much worse for wear. First big transportation hurdle crossed, though this one honestly wasn't too big of a deal. Now I spend a few nights going down the coast before heading inland to Guadalajara.

1 comment:

  1. Good job Eric.. as precisely as NPA scheduling and as smart as your NPA code to handle unexpected things...

    Cheers, Yongxin