Whoops, having too much fun and have slacked on posting.
Camping in CD Constitution wasn’t very glamorous at an RV park, but it was comfortable and we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of farm animals. There were also two happy dogs and a very playful little kitten to keep us entertained. We took off after breakfast to La Paz.
La Paz is waaaay bigger than I expected. We drove quite a ways in the heat before we finally decided to go down to the waterfront and cool off with some ice cream. Our agenda for the day was to figure out how to catch the ferry to Mazatlan the next day. We went and made copies of the bike’s registration, passports, and tourist visas. The ferry, we found, was to leave at 5pm the next day and we’d need to get our vehicle import permit at the ferry terminal.
La Paz has a pretty waterfront with a long boardwalk that is loved by the locals. Tons of people were out running/biking/skating along the water. There was a USA/Mexico friendly soccer match in the evening so I donned my USA jersey and stopped at the first place showing the game (not hard to find, we could hear the game from our hotel window). It was a great game to watch, although the 2-2 outcome should have been a USA win at 3-2 but the sideline ref called us offside. 😛
First thing in the morning (after breakfast) we rolled up to the ferry terminal and secured the vehicle import permit along with our ferry tickets for later in the day, woohoo!! Since we didn’t have a whole lot of time, we zipped back into town and rented stand-up paddle boards for an hour then quickly packed up our belongings to meet our 12pm checkout time. We escaped the heat at a crepe and coffee place until it was time to go catch the ferry.
We arrived just at the right time to the terminal. They ushered us over to the waiting area then right as we were dismounting the bike they had us go line up to board. Only drivers are allowed to be in/on vehicles; Emily had to walk on by herself as I drove up to the top deck (along with a new friend also taking his motorcycle aboard). This ferry is really a cargo boat first and a passenger ferry second. The area where we stayed was called the “trucker’s lounge”. This 18hour ferry travels overnight and places us in Mazatlan at 10am the next day. Such an interesting ferry compared to the WA ferries we’re used to. Once we left the bikes (secured down with chains) we’re not allowed to go back to them until it is time to leave; this is to prevent theft. We had seats in the “cinema-room”, meaning non-stop old movies dubbed into spanish with the volume turned way way loud. We sat in seats that were a cross between large airplane seats and actual cinema seats. Not horribly uncomfortable, but certainly not comfortable. Entertaining for sure though!
Arriving in Mazatlan, we headed straight for the the one and only hostel (that we could find). The Funky Monkey Hostel was a bit of a party zone, so we stashed our stuff and took off to explore the old town Mazatlan. We happened to be there for their once a month art walk, that provided us with great sights and a guided route around the beautiful city. Mazatlan is a VW lover’s paradise, tons of bugs and some buses, but most notably.. THINGS! We saw many old VW things and some new version of the Thing that we’ve never seen in the states. These were mostly used as tourist taxis. Perfect rigs for driving around in paradise! We walked back to the hostel along the waterfront where there were many sculptures and lookouts over the water. Like in La Paz, the people really came out at night to enjoy the nice evening temperatures. Party was still going at the Hostel when we arrived, but we were plenty exhausted from our less than satisfying ferry sleep that we didn’t really mind the thumping bass.
Since we were about to leave the coast for a while to ride inland, we decided we should stay one more day in Mazatlan (rough life). We took off in the morning to hike up to the lighthouse that we saw when the ferry pulled in. Traffic on the Southern trip to the lighthouse was hectic since most of the main southbound roads had been converted to Northbound for the day to accommodate people traveling to some Mexican film star celebration. This gave us the chance to ride like hooligans and cut through traffic all the way down. Super fun!!! The lighthouse hike was short and super hot, great views of the city up there. Headed back to the Hostel where I watched the Sounders/Timbers game on my laptop while relaxing at the hostel pool. Never been so excited for a tie game! We checked out a couple more beaches and turned in for the night after some card games at the now much tamer hostel.
The drive from Maz to Tepic was mostly hot and uneventful. We stopped in a tiny town and found a place that was grilling up whole chickens, had some of the most delicious chicken of my life there! The road climbed up and up as we neared Tepic, it is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains. Emily had set us up with a couch-surfing arrangement and we just had a street name to find him, my lovely navigation app found a street with a similar name on the completely wrong end of town so we rode around on a bunch of tiny dirt roads for quite a while until we found a shop advertising internet. We stopped to try to communicate with our host when someone behind us asked if we were lost (I’m sure we looked quite out of place). Pepe and Jackie were a super nice couple who invited us into their home, offered us drinks and allowed us to make use of their internet to find our way. Pepe had an absolutely gorgeous VW Bug that we were quite interested in. It was made in 2002! Same old-school body style with a perfect engine with the addition of fuel-injection and an amazing interior. He said he had two more of them as well. I think I’m going to have to move to Mexico. We then met up with our host at a coffee shop, he’s just getting into hosting travelers as he is preparing to go on a Euro-trip and would like to get advise from other travelers as well as build up his couch-surfing reputation. He was a super nice guy and had a great group of friends.
In the morning, we went to Cecillo’s (surfing host) restaurant for breakfast and wifi then off to Guadalajara! I had spent 3 months in Guadalajara with my family when I was 12, so I was super excited to go see thing things I could remember and see how they had changed. Along the way we drove through an impressive lava field left by the Volcano Ceboruco. There was a little lookout tower that we stopped to climb for a good view of how vast the lava field was. We mostly took the small free roads, but the toll road that we took out of Guadalajara had a big accident involving a semi-truck and a street sweeper and maybe a couple other cars. Traffic was backed up for a long ways (not our lane!).
We stopped for tacos in Tequila, funny to see the rows of liquor stores cashing in on the local product. We did drive past many many agave farms on the way.
And then… Guadalajara!!! We stopped for coffee and internet so I could mark some locations on my GPS, then went to San Juan de Dios. SJD is a huge market place where you can find pretty much anything you want, or at least imitation versions of anything you want, and for dirt cheap! We had gone to this market several time while we were here 18 years ago, so this was a must, and I knew Emily would love it! There is a gory meat market on the bottom floor too which is always fun to show people 🙂
Driving around Guadalajara was crazy, people expected my loaded down motorcycle to act like the rest of the little moto’s riding around and had no problem cutting us off and turning in front of us without any notice. (translation, super fun!) We only had one incident where someone turned in front of us to do a U-turn and I couldn’t completely stop/turn in time. Emily’s backpack mounted on our left side bumped against their bumper as I swerved. Just a little kiss. The driver didn’t seem interested and we kept going.
We were now couch-surfing for a second night with another great group of people. They took us to a trendy wood-fired pizza joint and then played a few games of dominos before turning in. I thought it was hilarious, they called the game “Cuban Dominos” and I’ve only heard the game referred to as “Mexican Dominos” or “Mexican Train”. I wonder what they call it in Cuba.
Staying in Loreto with Bruce and his other house guests was a real treat, super nice people who love Mexico and fishing. We had a slow start this morning due to having a nice time chatting with them and going out to breakfast at a little restaurant right on the boulevard on the beach. Loreto is lovely! We left ~noon on our way to Ciudad Constitucion. The road was full of construction and diversions which only really slowed us down once as they had all traffic stopped both ways to clear debris. We arrived in Constitucion and spotted an Auto Zone. Perfect time to perform yet another oil change on our little sherpa. Grocery store and delicious taco stand later, and we’re camping at a little RV shop on the West side of town. Time to do some research on La Paz and see what we need to do to catch the Ferry to Mazatlan!
We left LA with the intention of making it to Ensenada on Thursday night. Due to our slow packing and a delicious brunch provided by David, we didn’t reach the border till much later than originally planned. We had promised everyone that we would not be driving at night so we decided to stay the night at a cheapo motel in San Ysidro and take off early the next day (I also got a bit shaken by a gal in a parking lot in San Diego who scolded me for going into such a dangerous area, but I’d rather my excuse be that we didn’t want to drive at night (she was telling me that I needed to learn how to assemble a cross-bow from scratch… perhaps she wasn’t all there, but I still got a bit shaken)). While in San Ysidro, we chatted with a guy on a little motorcycle who goes back and forth between Mexico and California who gave us plenty of encouraging words and words of advice. Namely (something we should have researched) that tourists are not allowed to carry pocket knives. They are considered weapons and can end you up in jail!! This meant that my pocket knife was to be left behind… Not to mention my machete ;P
Way to do your research Matt…
Anyhow, we cruised right through the border without even being stopped. Then we found the immigration office and purchased our tourist visas, and we were off! We paid to ride along the toll roads to get around Tijuana, and then onto the free road from Tijuana and on. We decided that our destination would be a hostel called Campo Cuatro Casas. It is a surfing destination that is a ways off the road. He wanted $20/each to stay there but only $5 each to camp, so we opted to camp. It was a great location ~5miles down a dirt/rock/sandy road and on a wide bay. It was fun watching people surf and we had a great cliff-side tent spot. The next morning the hostel owner cooked us up some delicious breakfast burritos with homemade tortillas.
Second day in Baja, destination unknown. We take off from 4 casas a bit late after a delicious breakfast and continue our Southernly journey. The roads are still quite nice (I had been warned of pot-holed roads that could be quite perilous) and more beautiful views. The deserts down here are so fun to drive through with so many unique cactus/plants covering the areas. We stopped for lunch in a small town where Emily finally experienced her first legit Mexican street taco. Was not disappointed! Really were delicious. We decided to keep going as far as we could today as we had no real agenda. We kept an eye on the horizon and as soon as the sun looked to be getting too low and our shadows were getting long we found a little path off the road to drive down a ways to camp in the middle of the desert. After the sun went down, we had a huge 360* view of the night sky. I’ve never seen so many stars! There wasn’t any light pollution, and no large mountains were nearby to intrude on our views. We could see both Mars and Jupiter! It was so so quiet out there at night that it made sleeping a bit creepy; we eventually turned on a bit of music to help us fall asleep.
Since we were in the desert, we got up pretty early to try and beat the sun. We got a decent start, but it was still quite hot by the time we finally took off. We quickly cooled off, however, as clouds rolled in and blocked the sun out for the res of the morning. We stopped in Guererro Negro for lunch and coffee then headed down to Mulege and to the beautiful Bahía de Conceptión. We found a private beach to camp on by ourselves (down a rocky path that I almost crashed on twice) and setup camp just as it was getting dark. We pushed ourselves a bit too much today, both our butts were feeling super sore and ready to be done ~1hr before we actually stopped. Pretty rough. But the beautiful views of the Sea of Cortez and our Paradise camping spot kinda made up for it.
In the morning we were not super motivated to get moving after such a long riding day the day before. Also we were on a gorgeous beach. We pulled our camping mats out and started trying to work on our pnw lack-of-tan. We became sufficiently overheated and tore down camp to head towards Loreto for brunch. Arriving in Loreto, we realized that we really didn’t want to go any further today, and also that Loreto is quite beautiful! We chatted with a super nice hotel owner who was asking more than we wanted to pay, he called around and found a suite for us at one of his friend’s place who has a great house and two units that he rents out from time to time. Having a relaxing time walking around the town and the beach was just was we needed 😉 Showers were nice too!