Real time update: We are on on another beautiful beach. This time on the mainland of Mexico in the state of Nayarit. We find it so beautiful here that it is starting to blow our mind how easy it is to put the Baja beaches behind us. And we got a tip from a traveler about another off the beaten path beach town in the state of Jalisco which should be our next stop. So, time to catch up on everything in the past couple weeks. (Also we realized the comments were turned off by accident last time. It’s turned back on now.)
Our last stop in Baja was La Paz. If we had to choose our favorite city among the three biggest cities in South Baja – Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo or La Paz – we would choose La Paz. It is a real Mexican city with a thriving middle class. Everywhere we went there were at least as many Mexican families enjoying themselves as there were North Americans. Unlike Los Cabos, it is a town where the foreigner is expected to get by in broken Spanish, not the other way around. Unless you are on the malecon (seaside boardwalk), signs are in Spanish. When we went to the Baja Ferries office in downtown to get our shipping arranged to go from Baja to the Mainland, we fully expected someone would speak English. But when we asked “Habla Inglis?”, the nice lady smiled politely and said “No”, then waited for me to scramble it together. We actually really liked that.
The city also has a pretty malecon where you find locals exercising and walking their dogs all the time. The architecture is nice, restaurants are diverse, the pollution is better and there are beautiful beaches within a 20 minute drive. The great thing is the city didn’t sell out the whole waterfront to hotel developers. In Los Cabos, you can’t see the ocean at all unless you are in a resort or way outside town. In La Paz, it’s all public.
La Paz is a usual stop for overlanders because this is where you can catch a ferry from Baja to the Mainland. This was supposed to be one of only two ferry crossings for this entire trip so extensive research was done as to the ferry operator, price, route, schedule, etc. We chose the 16 hour overnight ferry that would take us all the way to Mazatlan and had our tickets in hand ready to go. As if we needed another reminder that nothing goes according to plan, about half an hour before we were to leave the hotel for the ferry terminal, we got a call that the ferry was cancelled. Something was broken and they might run again in a couple days or another week.
So change of plans – we took the ferry to Topolobampo instead, which is a port town in the state of Sinoloa. It was a shorter ferry ride but then we had to drive 5 hours down the coast to Mazatlan. Everything turned out fine in the end. Next time we will remember our Dramamine.
But because of this change in plans, we got our first Pemex camping experience out of the way. Pemex is a gas station. It’s a safe place to crash or free. And we also got our taste of the Mexican toll highway which is great and smooth and very much like the freeways in the States except it is so expensive. From Topolobampo to Mazatlan we probably paid about $30 for a 5 hour drive.
Finally, Mazatlan. It is our first Mainland Mexico stop and it turned out alright. We heard that much of the beach was washed off by Hurricane Odile so the coastline was supposed to be much better in the past. That is okay because the city is pretty nice. We stayed at the Mar Rosa RV Park which is right on the beach and in the middle of town. The bus stop was right out front so we took the bus or walked everywhere. It is a great walking city. It’s probably about 6 miles top to bottom and you can walk the entire length on the beach or the malecon. In the back streets there are always interesting sights or architecture. We spent 5 days here recovering from the sea crossing and also a cold. We spent our days going to the playground, aquarium, and just walking around Central Historico or Old Mazatlan.
We have moved on from Mazatlan and going down the coast of Nayarit now. It’s so beautiful here.