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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Catching a Ferry to the Mainland?


Unstuck from the muck
We headed to the ferry terminals in La Paz to make reservations. At the terminal we scouted the two available ferry companies, fancy Baja Ferries and working hog ferry TMC. Naturally we chose the cheap, no amenities, cargo ferry TMC. TMC had a reputation for uncomfortable accommodations but the ladies at the front desk were incredibly helpful and we do not need much in terms of material comfort; heck we had not showered in a few weeks.

The ladies informed us that we could board the ferry leaving in two hours if wanted to. After a brief conference we jumped into gear getting our passports out and running around the car. Unfortunately the customs agents quickly thwarted our efforts; we needed to pay a specific Banjercitio tax to the government for the car to get across. The Banjercitio office conveniently closed at 4 and it was 4:26. We resolved to stick to our original plan after realizing we could not get on the ferry. After watching the Superbowl at a bar in La Paz that night, the next morning we planned on getting our ferry information in order.

From the ferry terminal we drove out to Tecolote, a free camping beach a few kilometers from La Paz. We heard about the beach from Mike and Sally, a wonderful couple we met at Cabo Fraile. Mike and Sally gave us a beautiful filet of Yellowtail, let us borrow a helpful guide book, and provided us an example of the travelers we hope to one day embody. At Tecolote the sun slipped below the horizon and we enjoyed a phenomenal explosion of color. 
Not a bad spot

Clouds
In the morning we headed to the Banjercitio only to find out that we needed to have our FMM cards to get the Banjercitio card. When we crossed the border in Tecate we forgot to pick up FMMs and after our harrowing experience bribing cops we decided not to turn around and get them.

Damn. The Banjercitio lady told us we might be able to get them at the airport or at the downtown immigration office. We showed up at the latter only to find out they did not open on Sundays. We knew the airport was open so we headed there to find out that they could only give FMM cards to people coming in on planes. The officer at the airport told us we could get our cards at the downtown office on Monday.

Josh in La Paz
 Satisfied that our situation was under control, we navigated to the central square in La Paz, posting up in a café with Wifi to get our finances in order and catch up with family and friends. From the café Josh and I headed to purchase some staples, another loaf of bread and tortillas, while Brian and James held down the café. Josh and I spotted a bar on our way to the supermarket and it turned out that not only was the bar showing the Superbowl but the owner had also lived in Seattle for nine years and loved the Seahawks. Additionally he had a deal, six beers and a bucket of wings for 150 pesos, or about ten dollars. We resolved to return for the game.

We cheered, we yelled, and we drank beer for a few hours, enjoying a great game that left us all (though none nearly as broken as Brian) in heartbreak. We all cheered for Seattle and the end of the game left a bitter taste. Why not run Marshawn!!!?? Heck our ‘Burb is named after Beast Mode! Alas and alack. Brian did not speak during the ride home and we pulled into camp saddened but with plans for immigration papers and a ferry ride the next day.

During the Superbowl, a couple warned us that that Monday was a holiday; however, our lady at the airport said the office would be open. Upon arriving at the immigration office, the few people on duty informed us that they were closed for any kind of business but we could come back on Tuesday to get our papers. Exasperated, we settled in for a day of exploring La Paz, finishing up our finance checks, and fixing our water filter.

On our way back to Tecolote we stopped in at the ferry offices to confer with our friends at TMC. Once again I became the messenger walking back and forth from the office to the car.

“The ferry to Mazatalan on Wednesday is full but there is space going to Topolobampo the next day. Did we want to go?” Running back and forth to the group and back into the office, the ladies at the front desk laughed and laughed, “Un otro vez?” Another time? They asked each time, cracking big smiles, we had developed rapport over the past week of coming and going. Yes, was our collective answer; saving a day sounded like a good idea. Little did we know what was coming!

While we drove back from the ferry terminal James suggested we camp on the beach next to Tecolote that night. Whilst hiking the day before he saw a road that he thought would get us to the beach. Why not? We all thought. Winding over desert roads we made our way back and back towards the craggy peaks behind Tecolote eventually funning out of desert road. Stymied, we turned around and rehashed, should we try to find a different way? Brian was hungry and voted we stay at the same beach, Josh and I were indifferent and James, our driver, voted to try once more. So away we went, winding back towards the road on the hill. However on this new road a puddle of water stood in the way. James sped up and then slowed down and slowed down, and then the wheels stopped.


Happier after escaping the mud
Shit. Stuck in the muck with our truck. James lowered his head, dejected, and muttered, “Sorry guys.” As he revved the engine the wheels spun and spun. Jumping out of the car our feet sunk six inches into a sopping mud, sand mixture. Stripping down to our skivvies, Brian, James, and I moved behind the car, mud mooshing between our toes, while Josh our resident mudding expert took the wheel. One, two, three and PUSH! Our catchphrase, repeated over and over, trying to push our way free. The wheels spit mud back at our shins, stomachs and faces. Rocking back and pushing forward we tried to rock the car out to no avail. We dug under the wheels trying to find solid dirt, once again rocking back and forth and still, no luck. Finally with Brian and James pushing from behind, Josh asked me to push on the right front of the car to move us sideways onto solid ground. One, two, three, rock and GOOOO!!! Pushing with all our might, the wheels throwing mud everywhere, the ‘Burb inched forward and then sideways, grabbing into the dirt like a climber dinoing past the crux, grasping for a solid hold, and at last Marshawn lurched forward, out of the mud to an elated chorus of YEEEEESSSSS from tired men.

Moonset over the La Paz bay

Sunrise

Tecolote

Bay from the top of a hill near Tecolote

Mountains behind Tecolote
Needless to say we spent the night back at Tecoclote, licking our wounds and preparing for the ferry. We were going to the mainland.

Best,
   Elliott Finn

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