After our short and amazing stay in Loreto (back on the Sea of Cortez side) with our friends Jen and Axel we headed again over to the Pacific side, thus crossing the mountain spine for the fourth time. The climb up to San Javier was probably one of the hardest we have done so far. Climbing 700 meters vertical in under 15km makes for a very, very steep road (10-15% grade – yikes). At least our arms got a work out that day.
We were finally getting close to La Paz, ready and excited for some time off the bikes. Our last few days consisted of quite a bit of climbing as we were crossing the mountains for the fifth and final time. I do consider it a bit of a miracle that we had no real close encounters with any cars or trucks, even buses usually give us some room. Drivers have been very considerate here. A few new sections of the transpeninsular highway 1 that do have a giant, 10 feet wide shoulder are a heaven of safety and pleasant to ride on. I think in another 5-10 years, HW 1 might have a shoulder all the way through and would be great for cycle touring! Work in progress.
It seemed like a good road, rather well used and not too much washboard so far. We made it through a herd of cows, donkeys and horses, including some grumpy looking bulls. The road surface began to get a bit softer with every kilometer, not super nice, but still ridable. After another hour or so we were pushing our bikes more than riding them. Deep, soft sand made it impossible to ride our bikes. On this kind of road you want a dune buggy or at least fat, fat balloons for tires. Thanks Google for that great cycle route suggestion. Ya, ya I know never blindly trust your GPS, learned our lesson, again.
The sun was about to set again and we still had 30 km to go. Well, this is one of those times when we are totally happy to hitch a ride. It took literally one minute and we had a truck pull over to take us into downtown La Paz. Happy ending! We got a hotel room at La Quinto Lolita (thanks Jen and Axel for the recommendation). After some walking around we ended up at a restaurant scarfing down a large pizza. (We couldn’t for the life of us find an open taco stand that night – we learned that many are open during the day and close at night.)
La Paz is a big city, the biggest we have been to in a month since San Diego. It is quite touristy, but not crazy at this time of the year. The Malecon – the beach promenade – is nice. Blue-turquoise ocean, sandy beaches, palm trees and even dolphins swimming in the harbour. Eventually we found some great fish tacos and amazing gelato. We also had the best and biggest seafood Cesar cocktail ever, more like a meal really. While we were devouring our fish tacos with ocean views, our bikes packed and stuffed with food for the long 18 hours ferry ride to Mazatlan parked beside us, we got an email from Baja Ferries. As it was in Spanish I thought I must be misunderstanding it as I was reading that our ferry was cancelled for today. What???!!!??? No this can’t be true, ferries are delayed here but not cancelled. We headed up to the Baja Ferry office and they confirmed that the ferry was cancelled for today. WHY?? Protests. Some people are blocking the harbour in Mazatlan. Very bad timing. Turns out that there are mass protests, road blockades and some violence all over Mexico as the government has risen the gasoline and diesel prices by up to 20%. Yikes! Totally understand the anger of people. Just bad timing for us. Oh well, as the next ferry leaves in two days (hopefully) we have some more time to explore La Paz and its beaches and fish tacos!
A big THANK YOU to:
Jen and Axel for feeding us, letting us crash in their apartment and the amazing tequila and mezcal tasting.
John and his family who we met in Mulege, he was making sure we were caffeinated for the day.
The ‘road angels’ from British Columbia who fueled us up with water (and a couple of motorcyclists with gasoline).
UPDATE: Looks like the ferry to Mazatlan is sailing tomorrow - we finally got to swim in the ocean and it wasn't freezing - Andrea got 'doored' (hit by a car door on her bike) but luckily nothing worse than a bruise on her leg. Always watch out for them nasty car doors!