[Originally posted January 15, 2008]
I considered staying for a couple more days in La Paz just to explore, but curiosity got the best of me and I set out for Pichelingue, the ferry terminal about 10km north of La Paz. The ride reminded me why I love Baja - the coast is full of little coves with blue water, white sand beaches, and palapas. I started to regret my decision.
There are two ferries that depart La Paz for the mainland. A fast 6-hour trip leaves daily for Topolobampo and a much longer 18-hour trip leaves MWF for Mazatlan. I love boats so I would have preferred the Mazatlan trip, but Saturday was not an option so I departed for Topo, figuring the four-hour distance to Mazatlan would be quick work the next day. This was a mistake.
The ferry ride was fast and efficient - my least favorite kind of boat ride. Then I got to my destination. My initial reaction to the mainland: OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!? I left paradise and arrived in grimy urban slums with big highways, mega truck stops, graffiti, and a population that appears to already have adjusted well to south-central LA. As soon as I got off the ferry and looked around, every fiber of my being wanted to return my ticket (and my location) for a full refund. It doesn't help that I got off the ferry sometime after 10pm and immediately started looking for a hotel in an industrial wasteland. Not pretty.
The first couple hotels I tried (of the infamous and apparently very popular no-tell mo-tel variety, each little room with it's own private garage so nobody will recognize the car) were full, so I had to ride about an hour before I found something in a little town south of Los Mochis. The first thing I noticed about this town is that *all* the young people (ie, between the ages of 16 and 25) were driving around in circles up and down the main block. This seems to be the standard form of amusement here, kinda like "cruising" in 50s americana (see: American Graffiti). The second thing I noticed is that the gate to the one hotel in town was locked with a chain.
There was a bar next door, so I went in to ask. This was mistake #2. No less than two short, pudgy, *very* drunk middle-aged mexican men got up to repeatedly alternate between shaking my hand and making threatening, mumbling gestures at me. I mentally verified the route between me and the door for emergency purposes and looked around the room for someone a little more cheerful. Immediately a very attractive Mexicana materialized in front of me (oddly, the only girl in the room), had some harsh words with the two (I think she kicked them out), and walked me out, telling me in good English that I should be very careful around here because "they're crazy". She also banged on the gate, introduced me to the hotel owners, and even walked me to my room just in case I didn't understand once
. Friendly little thing. She was actually very nice and had I been in a more curious mood I would have accepted her invitation for a drink just to find out if, in fact, she was a "professional" or if she was just out having a good time like everyone else. I suspect I already know the answer.
In any case, here's the location for my drama:
I hope the coast pretties up south of here.