Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bus, taxi, ferry, freeze, warm welcome

It was so nice that Dick came along with me on the first leg of my journey. We took a Tufesa bus from Guaymas in the early afternoon on Wednesday for a 5-hour ride to Los Mochis. We arrived after dark and he saw that I was in a safe and secure taxi for the 24km trip to Topolobampo where the ferry terminal is located. There have been news reports on Mexican television about fake taxi drivers who rob their passengers. The precaution is to write down the license plate of the vehicle, and check the official ID tag and match the picture to the driver. In Los Mochis the taxi driver was the husband of the woman who worked at the bus ticket counter. However, he turned out to the the "patron" for all the drivers and he had his brother drive me who spoke English quite well. However, they turned out not to be brothers at all. Nevertheless, I felt quite safe. Thirty minutes after Dick and I arrived in Los Mochis, he was back on a northbound bus.

We boarded ferry around 11 pm, it would be a 6 hour trip across the Sea of Cortes. This was a huge ferry. Semi after semi rolled up the ramps along with a few cars and a couple of motorcycles.

The foot passengers first took a escalator, then climbed 3 more flights of stairs to the seating area.
There weren't many passengers on the ferry this night, so I could put of the arm rests and stretch out over a 3-seat length. Tonight I wished for better Spanish language skills. All of the announcements were in Spanish and I only caught a few words here and there. I froze ALL night long, it was sooo cold. The next morning, I was dismayed to see other passengers returning big blankets to the reception desk. If only I'd been able to understand the announcement about shipboard amenties, if only I'd had the language skills to ask. My next palabras del dia will be the word for "blanket."

The ferry arrived in Pichilingue, about 14km north of La Paz, around 6 am. It was very cold and windy. This is the view from the seating section I was in.

The full moon was about to set.

Semi's disembarking.
This was a very cold an windy morning.

There was a protracted search of all passengers by the state police. It took at least an hour before it was my turn at the table with two officers about to look through all my belongings. I watched every suitcase, bag, and purse opened and thoroughly searched. Every adult male put his hands on a chain link fence for a full body pat-down. At my table, the supervising officer asked me where I'd come from (Guaymas), if I was from the Estados Unidos (yes), and he motioned to the younger officer, who had barely unzipped my suitcase, to close it up, that everything was fine, and I was on my way. At that moment it was a good thing to be an American.

I found a colectivo (a taxi-type van which leaves only when enough passengers have filled it), leaned back, closed my eyes, and enjoyed the sun coming through the windows. It felt so good to get warm again. I was dropped off along the malecon in downtown La Paz and began my search for a rental car. The problem here was the upcoming state elections for governor and other governmental positions - all the candidates were in town and renting vehicles for their staff members. I felt lucky to get the last car available at one of the rental agencies. While my paperwork was being filled out, the woman helping me told several callers there were no more cars.

First stop: Rancho Viejo for their chilaquiles breakfast - one of the best restaurants in La Paz and one of the best chilaquiles I've found anywhere. I'm on a general ongoing search for this delicious breakfast in Mexico. Tortillas chips as a base, red sauce (or green), carne asada, melted cheese, and two fried eggs on top - yum!

Next: a 2-1/2 drive to Cabo San Jose in the afternoon to pick up Justin and Glenn. I got there 2 hours early, found a less-sunny spot, opened the windows to let in the breeze, reclined the seat, and fell fast asleep. Perfect, now I'm ready to meet the guys when they arrive. There they are:

Justin arrived first in Terminal 1 and we quickly made our way to Terminal 3 where flights from Canada arrived. This morning when Glenn left Regina (in Spanish, it's pronounced "ray-HEE-nuh"), it was 40 below with 4 feet of snow on the ground.

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