Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Side Trip on the Ferry

The Use of a Car

We brought Faith to La Paz to repair the alternator and accomplished that quickly but there was something else we could check on while we were here.  For a long time I have wanted to add some solar panels and a wind generator to the boat and thought we could get an estimate from Sergio, possibly the best stainless steel welder in Mexico.  When we got hold of him it turned out not only could we get the estimate but he had time to build the arch.  We expected the estimate but had figured that scheduling would be a problem. 

The Cabin on the California Star

This delays our departure from La Paz but that is just a part of cruising.  It presents us with some issues that we had to think about how to cure.  A big one was that we left the panels and the generator in the RV in San Carlos on the other side of the Sea of Cortez.  Fortunately there is an easy fix.  There is a ferry from La Paz to Topolobampo (say that a few times fast).  It leaves the dock, more or less, at 11:00 p.m. and arrives at about 08:00 the next morning. 

I took the marina shuttle to near the bank and gathered a few Pesos.  Then I found a taxi that dropped me off at the ferry offices where I bought a ticket for myself and a cabin to make the ride more comfortable.  I rode the ferry a few years ago without the comfort of a cabin and it was a bit draining.  I was younger at the time but I decided then that if I were use the ferry in the future I would try the cabin approach. 

At about 08:30 p.m. Sandy and Abby walked with me up to where I could catch a taxi and the guard at the gate called and had me on my way within about ten minutes.  When I got to the terminal a line was forming to board so I added myself and within 20 or 30 minutes was climbing the steps to the interior of the ship.  Finding the reception area was fairly straightforward and figuring out the system to get the cabin key was easily done.  The way it works is to present a form of picture identification that the reception will hold until the key is returned.  Simple.

Situated and ready for the trip I took to walking the boat to see where everything was.  Before we got under way the cafeteria closed for business.  Interesting.  The loading of trucks, cargo trailers and other vehicles took longer than our stated leave time so we were there until the lot was loaded.  Not a problem, I was comfortably reading in my own cabin and before I was tired enough to slip into sleep I felt the motors power up to leave. 

Almost back to La Paz

The crossing itself was excellent.  When I got up in the morning the snack bar was open for coffee and pan.  Good enough.  We docked at about eight and I was off the boat after standing in line waiting with everyone ready to debark.  Next time I will know not to rush into line but, rather, hang out wait for the crush to be over.  Once the line started moving out the place was emptied quickly.  No real benefit to waiting in the line. 

Outside the terminal there were a line of taxis.  When asked they all said $300 pesos for a ride to the bus station… "but it is a looong way to town," they all said.  For thirty pesos there was a bus that goes directly to the bus station.  Yes, it IS a long way but the local bus was perfectly fine for the fifteen or twenty minute ride. 

Once in the Los Mochis bus terminal I booked a seat to Guaymas for about $20U.S. ($245 pesos) and had to wait about 2 hours for lift off.  It was a short wait, really, as I read a book and watched the families waiting too.  The bus was about a half hour late but that was not a problem… where else was I going to go? 

Despite the calm sea there were people with motion sickness on board.

Mexican buses are wonderful transportation for the most part.  The seats are comfortable.  There is overhead storage for your backpack.  There is usually a movie playing, often in English with subtitles.  Usually the person sitting next to you is friendly and strikes up a conversation for awhile.  There are a number of stops, sometimes for extended periods, where you can find a meal or a snack.  Occasionally, the driver allows a vender to ride for a short way while selling all manner of foods.  At the end of a day of travel I am still stiff but that is me getting older rather than the bus getting uncomfortable.  We left the terminal at a little before 11:00 a.m. and we arrived in Guaymas at about 04:00 p.m.

From that terminal I walked about six blocks to the local stop for the San Carlos bus.  I could probably have just crossed the street in front of the bus terminal to catch the local but by then I needed to stretch and walk anyway.

So, that was the trip to the RV park in San Carlos.  I uncovered the car and loaded it with the solar panels, wind generator and miscellaneous stuff to take back to LA Paz the next day.  It allowed me to go to dinner at JJ’s and I slept well that night in RV! 

The next morning it was time to reverse the process with the car.  Loading the final stuff into the car I was on my way quickly.  I arrived in Topolobampo at about 04:00 p.m.  There I ran the car over the scale and paid the $150 pesos requested.  In the terminal I bought the ticket for the car, a cabin and myself ($1106, $786 and $897 pesos respectively).  Since I had a long time to wait for our supposed 11:59 p.m. departure I found a taxi to look for dinner.  On returning I still had several hours to go so just sat reading while the terminal filled up with the entertainment of others going on the ferry.  Long wait made short, I got to board with the car near the head of the line.  My mistake.  They put me on the top deck of the vehicle loading area and I realized immediately I would be a long time getting off the ferry.  I was asleep long before the boat actually left the dock at around 03:00 a.m. My inside cabin had no view but who cares about a view while you sleep??

Our shadow on the shallower San Lorenzo Channel

Once we got to La Paz and I waited until most of the boat had been unloaded it took quite awhile to get out of the terminal district.  First there was a port fee of $152 pesos to leave.  Then there was a military inspection that took a bit of luck to find then about 15 minutes to pass through.  Then there was a fumigation for insects that cost $30 pesos.  And, finally, there was a Federal Police stop asking where I came from. 

All-in-all it was a long 3 days but now we have the “stuff” here in La Paz along with the car.  It should make the coming month easier and then, ahhh, I get to take the car back to San Carlos.

1 comment:

beisbolfan2007 said...

You're a better adventurer than I am!