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Day 300-310, 7-17 May 2009: Chillin’, refillin’ and cruisin’ in La Paz

August 21, 2009 by , 2,037 views 
Filed under Baja California, Mexico, North America, Trip reports

When we entered La Paz, we checked our CouchSurfing inbox for replies to our requests.

Sunset from Marina PalmiraActually a few people had replied positively, including Brian from the US, who had just left for California. Still he offered us the use of an empty apartment he owned and we gladly accepted as we had our own mattresses & stove. When we checked our email again to look up the directions, he had written us again:

‘I decided to invite you to use my regular apartment… You need a good rest.’

Just a few simple words, but they turned out to mean a lot more. His ‘regular apartment was not regular at all and perfect for us. Quiet, with a view of the sunset from the huge balcony, a pool below and Wi-Fi to catch up with work. Coming from 1400km of dust and heat, we were literally overwhelmed and got again convinced that if you work hard enough good things will come your way…

R&R

Gringo Gazette: SwinefluIvana, Malecon, La PazWe spent the next days resting and recovering from the desert. Brian’s apartment was at the Northern end of the Malecon, the nice stone pedestrian boardwalk that extends to 2km on each side of the centre.

We rode to town often, to eat (great tacos at El Rancho Viejo), to , to see the town and to prepare our trip to the Mexican mainland. Brian’s blender worked overtime to make liquados from all the fruit we fed it.

We also visited Brian’s friend Claude Vogel, who not only owns a great-looking restaurant called Capricho’s (merci for the margarita’s Claude!), but seems to singlehandedly have photographed all of the photos appearing on Baja Sur’s postcards. He has published several great photo books, showing all the well- and unknown spots of the peninsula, it was fun to chat with a fellow-European living in Baja.

Bing at the Cathedral squareOne night we entered the town square –as it is a few blocks away from the sea it is actually not visited much-, where we heard a strange succession of words through a speaker:

‘El tortuga (the turtle)! El Negrito (the small black kid)! El borracho (the drunk)!’

first we thought it was a strange Spanish class, but we found out that the side of the plaza was lined with chain-smoking old ladies playing bingo, with pictures instead of numbers :)

Bike goodies!

Changing oil of a rohloff hub (3) Robbert from Santos Bikes had sent us a package from The Netherlands, to a La Paz address of a friend of a fellow cyclist. It had arrived perfectly and not only contained new oil for our Rohloff hubs, but also a new headlight! Mine had already been wrecked in the plane to Fairbanks (a few centuries ago?), and though I managed to fix it a few times, it had definitely died. The new one works even better, so we can safely be caught out in the dark again.

Rohloff gear hub on a Santos Travelmaster bicycle The 14-speed Rohloff gear hubs we use on our Santos Travelmasters are almost maintenance free, the only thing you need to do is change the internal gear oil every 5000km/3000mi. We were getting close to 10,000km, so we changed the oil for the 2nd time and also tightened our chains a bit.

I will write up a detailed manual when I have time, but basically it is very easy: inject cleaning oil, ride around to mix and clean, take out old oil and cleaning oil and inject new gear oil. Easy as that :)

Getting rides on the Net

DownTown La PazWe had already gotten to know The Net in Juncalito. All cruisers get together on the VHF channel 22 every morning at 08.00 to discuss the weather, news, outgoing mail, stuff to trade and more. They answer questions for newcomers in the area and offer very useful info. One section is called: crew & rides, where the cruisers can mention if they need a crew and boat-less people like us can indicate they need a ride!

We preferred a boat ride to the ferry. Not just to save some money, but also so we could learn a bit more about the cruiser’s way of life we had gotten to know the week before. Also it would be safer to watch our gear then when tucked away between large trucks on a ferry…

Flying topless bronze lady, la PazBrian had a handset he told us to use and we got on The Net several times with our story and a request to get a ride across the Sea of Cortez. We even left a note at the Club Cruceros clubhouse, where many cruisers come to exchange books, borrow DVD’s, chitchat and drink coffee, but had little luck. The problem was that hurricane season was approaching and most cruisers were on their way North, back to the US or at least Baja Norte.

We met one couple that was till planning on crossing, but their boat, the “Good News”, had a broken autopilot and were waiting on replacements parts to come from the US and had no idea when and if they were going ad if there would be space for us…

Malecon, La PazDownTown beach, La Paz (2)

Free ferries for the next cyclist & more Good News!

The old guy and his paper boat, La PazFellow cyclists Anna & Alister (http://www.thefuegoproject.com/) had kindly sent us a lot of information about the crossing. They were the first to point us to the fact that besides the well-known Baja Ferries, crossing to Mazatlan, there is another ferry company, called TMC (http://www.ferrytmc.com).

Though they are marketed as a cargo ferry, they also transport cars, RV’s, foot passengers and cyclists! They charge quite a lot less than Baja Ferries (http://www.bajaferries.com), especially for cyclists with a fully loaded bike. We got in contact with them to see if they maybe would like to sponsor us in exchange for some exposure, here on our blog, so other (bike) travellers know about them.

They agreed quite quickly ad offered us a free crossing for us and our bikes! :)

DownTown beach, La PazBut that same afternoon we got Good News! Literally, as captains Michael & Deborah told us that the spare parts would arrive in the next days and that they would like to invite us on their boat to get to know each-other.

We had a nice time and even though they already had agreed with another traveller to take him along, they said that we could fit as well on the 12m boat, though it was not yet clear where we would fit our bikes and gear…

We took the chance and told TMC Ferries that we appreciated the offer a lot, but that we were going to cross on a sailboat instead. I asked them if we could maybe offer the next cyclist a free crossing instead? Again, they agreed, so if you are a bike traveller reading this and are looking for a crossing from La Paz to Mazatlan? Leave a comment below, the first ones to comment (arriving in La Paz this year :) will get a free crossing, we will put you in contact with the right persons.

We had to say goodbye to the swimming pool and the comfort of a home. It was time to start packing our bikes again, but this time not for the road, but for the sea…

Ivana living the hard life Sunset from Marina Palmira (2)

Coming up next: WorldOnaBoat!

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Comments

4 Responses to “Day 300-310, 7-17 May 2009: Chillin’, refillin’ and cruisin’ in La Paz”
  1. cristi says:

    querido Harry ya soy una experta en traducir tu pagina , me gusta mucho hacerlo . asi puedo conocer mas tus pensamientos y sentimientos que a veces no pude por no hablar mas ingles que pena !! ya lei los 2 post de esta semana son muy lindos.
    Espero ser la 1 asi me gano un pase libre a un pais !!JAJA!!
    VAMOS GRAN ESCRITOR SE NECESITA TALENTO Y PERSEVERANCIA MUCHA PARA HACER TODO LO QUE HACES ESTOY MUY ORGULLOSA !!!
    UN GRAN ABRAZO CRISTI
    GRACIAS !!

  2. Hi Harry and Ivana!
    We’d love to take you up on the offer for a free ferry ride to Mazatlan! We expect to be in La Paz at the end of Oct or early Nov. Happy trails and tailwinds!
    fellow cyclists,
    emi and nicholas

    • Harry says:

      Hi Emi & Nicholas,

      thanks for the note. Ivana has sent you the details of the person to talk to. Let me know how it works out and how the crossing went!
      Meanwhie: enjoy Baja California, it will be the last stretch without too many people for a looong time :)

      • Avatar of Harry Harry says:

        (via email) From: Grab A Wheel Team
        Sent: zaterdag 5 december 2009 12:19
        To: elmundoenbici .com; Harry, BikeTravellers.com
        Subject: Belated thank you for the ferry information

        Hi Harry and Ivana
        Here we are in Puebla, and we still haven´t thanked you for hooking us up with TMC ferries.

        We had a very pleasant (and free!) ride with them across from La Paz, and it wouldn´t have been possible without your generosity. We are still looking for a way to update our website to promote them, but as soon as we spend more than a week in one place we´ll get all these to-do items off our list.

        Wishing you sunshine and tailwinds
        emi and nicholas

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