Day 108: Checking out Mazatlan

We arrived at Mazatlan earlier than the scheduled time of 11. It was just 9 and as I got off the ferry, noticed that my front tire had lost air. Dang, I guess I didn’t fix the flat properly.

The Schwalbe tires are pretty strong and I could ride them with very little air to the a hotel a few K’s away in the old town. Hotel Lemar was a bit of a throwback to old times and was a cute place with a huge courtyard and old rooms with huge windows. At 230 pesos for a double room, we were stoked to be here.

We walked around the town taking in the crowded markets scenes and the refurbished shop houses with cafes and diners. The market is pretty similar to the ones I’d find in Thailand. Its a collection of small shops lined tightly against one another and selling a lot of plastic junk. It’s a kind of place where one would go looking for some stuff and be sure of finding it. heh. This being the christmas season, there is a lot more tinsel that one could shake a leg at.

The vibe here is a bit more happening than in Baja and I sense crowded cities as we head along from here on. I wonder how the traffic would behave, hopefully decently.

The hotel even had some fast wifi and I caught up on blogs and charged up the batteries and stuff. Guess I feel ready to head out for the next leg.

In the evening, we walked around a bit more taking in the vibe of the town and eating some dinner too. We found a nice little restaurant and I had another interesting mexican fare called Pozoli. It was fantastic and even better was a lovely chilli queso soup. Yum.

I guess this is a typical trading post of a town and I would find similar places in any part of the world, but to me its cuter than huge metropolis with their fancier shopping malls. Such towns are nice to walk around.

Route: Mazatlan
Distance: 3 Km
Ascent: 0 m
Descent: 0 m
Expenses: $ 38.95
Comment: The old town is a nice bit of walkabout.

Day 106-107: Rest days in La Paz

We ended up staying longer in La Paz because of the ferry schedule.but it was the family that hosted us that made the big difference in making our stay such a pleasure.

Julio was a veteran traveller and had hitch hiked across countries in the 70’s and Eduardo and Alejandro had biked in Europe themselves. They not only had an appreciation for travel and travelers but were genuinely open hearted and all of us there felt so much at home.

Incidentally, we met two German cyclists, Wolfie and Daniel here and later Mathias another German showed up too. They were hosting 5 people at the same time!it was nice hanging out and checking the town.

We had a nice dinner one of the nights as they had a house guest and all of us were invited! The next day we had a bit of a hangover, but nothing a bike ride can’t cure.

We packed up and road in the headwinds to the ferry terminal about 20 km north of town. There were few tiny hills, but we made it in time to catch the boat.

It was a cargo ferry and instead of hanging indoors with the truck drivers, we spread out bedding on the open deck and slept under the stars. With the boat rocking gently, I slept like a baby and woke up in Mazatlan!

Route: La Paz to Ferry Terminal
Distance: 19 Km
Ascent: 152 m
Descent: 172 m
Expenses: $ 149.80
Comment: Sleeping on the Deck was nice and cool.

Day 105: Scheduled off day

La Paz turns out to be an absolutely charming town. Till now, all along Baja, I haven’t felt any town to have a soul. They mostly seemed to be towns formed out of necessity, a little truck stop to service he trade route. Even Loreto, the nicer of all the towns seems like an afterthought. Like someone decided they needed a base camp for tourists in the mar de Cortez.

La Paz, feels different. It feels lived in. I walked around town and had a real barber give me a proper shave. Rodrigo was a seasoned professional. I don’t think I have had a closer shave like this one before. He was pulling and tugging on my face and scrapping in all directions until he was satisfied and my face feels buttery. A nostalgic moment getting a proper shave from a pro.

The bike shop couldn’t really help me and recommended me to go to Guadalajara. I hope the wheel holds up till then.

Our host, Eduardo was nice and walked us to the ferry booking office and enquired a bun for us and finally suggested that we should take the cargo ferry which would turn out to be 300 pesos cheaper and would give us an additional day in town. He later chaperoned us around town in the afternoon and the old market street felt very Asian. I mean a place where you can buy mini accordions, next to another which sells guitars and hats. A really awesome jumble.

The town is lovely and I think a couple of days here before we get the ferry would be time well spent.

Route: La Paz
Distance: 0 Km
Ascent: 0 m
Descent: 0 m
Expenses: $ 72.00
Comment: Crazy winds all day long!

Baja California – travel thoughts

It’s a desert, so be prepared for it. Carry enough water for at least 75 km of riding (you know what you need). Carry a bit more if you decide to wild camp and have to cook. I would be happy with 3 liters I think.

The roads mostly have no shoulders and you should be prepared for vehicles passing by two abreast. You need to hold some nerves, but largely people tend to respectful and ride safely. But it just takes one crazy guy to make a mess eh.

Apart from that, riding in Baja is not a bit challenge. There are no major hills. November is a decent time weather wise and you might have inconsistent winds.

I probably averaged 80 + km and I it’s easy to do that. It’s possible to do more in a day, but I don’t mind short days.

I wild camped many times and it’s easy to do. Just have to make sure you aren’t riding on thorns when going off the highway. The stretch after santa Rita was all fenced and not great for camping. However, I would recommend asking the restaurants and service stops along the way and mostly they would allow you to camp nearby. You will have access to toilets, some water and a b’fast. So why not eh.

If there is a town with warm showers, call them and try to be hosted. People in BC and BCS are absolutely fantastic and they are genuinely happy to host travelers. And to top it, they are great to hang out with too!

There are some stunning bits of landscape along the way. Most days are going to be great. But there are also some really boring stretches. So be ready for the boring parts. You can check the blog for the details of each of the section.

The skies are wonderful in the night and if you are a photographer, make time to shoot some nice star trails and long exposures. Sunrise and sunsets are generally blah.

It gets really dusty in parts, so be prepared to be dirty most of the times.

Bugs and mozzies are a bit of an issue in BC Sur and I’ve been hearing dengue being a real problem. Carry Mozzie repellent.

I would highly advice sunscreen. The sun is intense and can cause some damage I reckon.

I have marked waypoints on most service points along the way. They may be either a small shop or a restaurant or some of them even small towns. So use it as a guide to plan your days. All the spots do have water though, even if you have to buy bottles.

Well, that’s about it. Start in Tijuana, enjoy the ride and when you are in La Paz, enjoy the sense of accomplishment.

Day 104: La Paz! Whoopie!

The palm stumps I had tied my hammock to were pretty flexible and I ended up on the ground when I got in. So I ended up sleeping on the ground, but the hammock was great to keep the bugs out.

In the morning, we had b’fast at the restaurant we stayed the evening in and the guy was awesome and gave us the food for free! Nice chap!

The route was going to climb in the morning and it did, but it was super gentle and the cool morning made it a lovely ride. There weren’t much views, but its always nice to be climbing and feel like doing some work. Once on the top, the terrain changed to a bit of rolling hills and was nice. We had heard of some road works going on and we ended up with 3 stretches of them today.

The alternate road was super sandy and with crazy bumps. I was pretty sore after riding just a couple of K’s on them. Dang. There was more to be annoyed about. When ever a car passed, they would blow tons of dust on me. On top some of the drivers were absolute idiots. The would drive by like a maniac and would shoot a spray of small pebbles all over. Like a hail of stones. Dang. Luckily some bits were already paved and I could jump out and ride away from the traffic.

We reached the summit looking to La Paz and decided to go on till we get to a cafe with wifi. After 20 more km we stopped at a petrol station for lunch and wifi and hung out a bit.

We managed to get a response from a Warmshowers host and we rode into the town of La Paz. I felt the rear wheel to be a bit wobbly and realised that the rear hub had some play. Dang. I thought the guys in Portland REI fixed it good for me. I am surprised at the failure. But the bike is still rideable, just needs a mechanic to look at it and fix it I reckon.

We rode into town and reached Eduardo’s (our host) house just as he was leaving. But he was nice and let us hang out and freshen up even though he wasn’t going to be home. Awesome eh!

We met a couple of German cyclists there and went walking around town in the evening. La Paz turns out to be a nice charming little place and very enjoyable to walk in, Tons of people running / skating along the beach. Has a good vibe.

In the night, Eduardo set up some fire in the backyard and we ended up chatting with him and his family until after midnight. They were really friendly people and much fun to hang out with. Nice to be here while we make plans to head towards mainland.

Route: La Paz -76 Km to La Paz
Distance: 76 Km
Ascent: 452 m
Descent: 578 m
Expenses: $ 21.5
Comment: Give a man a Fish, he will eat for a day. Give a man a car, he will be an asshole for ever!!