Todos Santos to East Cape

Todos Santos to East Cape

After the Baja 1000, we headed South towards La Paz.  This is the city to take the ferry out of but first we wanted to finish our drive throughout the rest of Baja.  We stayed a night at Maranatha Campestre RV Park in La Paz (the only RV park still standing in the city).  We caught up on laundry and got our fill on internet- they had a great signal which can be hard to find in Mexico!!  After throwing together a soup made of odds and ends in the fridge, we hit the hay.  The next day, off to Todos Santos!

Our first night was spent at Playa Cerritos.  Through the grapevine, we had heard that there was free camping there.  After finding a parking lot that looked promising, we pulled in and asked the attendant in our broken Spanish if we could camp there.  “Si, si!  Sesenta pesos!” Sweet!  We pulled in and parked in a shady spot.  After grabbing a couple cold ones at the restaurant, we headed back to the truck with a strange feeling in our gut.  There were no more cars in the parking lot and the restaurant was closing (at 6pm).  Puzzled, we went back into the restaurant to clarify that it would be okay to park overnight there.  The waiter told us it probably wasn’t a good idea and asked us if we had the paper the attendant gave us that said we paid.  I told him that we weren’t given a paper so he kindly filled one out for me and told us to go park on the street parallel to the parking lot for the night.  While leaving the lot, a rough looking man with glazed eyes came out from behind a dark building and demanded “el recibo” from us.   Graciously giving him our fraudulent receipt, we got the hell out of there.  The only place that looked acceptable to camp was the public beach entrance, a little sketchy feeling but we had a nice Mexican family to camp next to, so why not?  We found a spot to park for the night, made some macaroni and cheese out of the “don’t feel like making dinner” reserves and plotted our revenge on the little sneak who stole our 60 pesos.  The next morning our plan abated us. Deciding that it was probably better left alone, we packed up and headed into town to explore.

Driving into town, something seemed a little different than the day before. There was a strong police presence and road blocks. Looking a little farther up the road we saw a huge parade coming towards us!   We quickly dashed the truck to the side of the road and hopped out to join the party!  The parade was a celebration of the Mexican Revolution and it was put on by all of the schools in Todos Santos.  The kids each put on a little show from their extra curricular group they were involved in at school and there were even some mini banditos mixed in! 

Since it happened to be my birthday, we splurged on a hotel for the night.  Nate ran all over town looking for a good hotel for the right price.  We stayed at Bentley’s Boutique Hotel.  It was a little on the expensive side, but it was an occasion and it was right downtown. There was a safe place to park the truck and they allowed dogs too!  The hotel was absolutely gorgeous.  It was like a little oasis once you stepped through the gate.  The room was clean and tastefully decorated with the owner’s tile and woodwork.  There was a common kitchen area so you could cook, a pool and little gardens scattered around.  That night, we went out to eat at El Zaguan, a delicious restaurant that was recommended to us by Tranquilo Adventures. 

The next morning, we packed up the truck and headed South towards Cabo San Lucas, which was not for us.  Cabo is a super touristy town, and was hectic.  After about 5 minutes, and a couple of photos we were out.   Continuing down the coast was the town of San Jose del Cabo, it was the perfect place to stock up on groceries and head out to East Cape. The coastal dirt road wound along desolate beaches and up and around mountains.   It stumbled through small, desolate villages and towns that offered the freshest pescado and, of course, cerveza.  It was absolutely one of the highlights of Baja for us!  It was hot that day and with no a/c we were truly learning what “swamp ass” was all about.  We spotted a nice beach, pulled over to take a swim and hit the road again.  Just before sunset we pulled up to camp at Shipwreck.

The next morning was off to Cabo Pulmo for some world class snorkeling. Cabo Pulmo is home to the only reef in Baja and some wild sea creatures as well.  While here, Brady received his first test of solitude away from the truck.  We grabbed our snorkels, filled one of his bones with peanut butter, tied him to a saggy palapa and took off before he could see us disappear.   Once satisfied with our sightings, we swam to shore.  We were greeted by a wiggle-worm of a dog who was so happy to see us even though we just left him for dead tied to a broken palapa 😉  Wanting to make it to Los Barriles before dark, we dried off and continued on. 

We pulled in to Martin Verdugo’s RV Park in Los Barriles on Thanksgiving day.  Having stocked up on food the day before, we were planning on making the most extravagant meal The Long Way South has ever created while on the road…but first, it was time to explore the town.  The long winding dirt roads make a traveling team real thirsty so we decided to grab a beer before heading back to prepare our Thanksgiving feast!  But  before we knew it we were walking away with bellies full of fish tacos.  Oh well, when in Baja 🙂  I can officially say that was the first time in my entire life that I did not eat turkey on Thanksgiving!

After a few nights in Los Barriles the time had come to move on.  Next destination… mainland Mexico.  We camped for free at Playa Tecolote which is only about 20 minutes from Pichilingue, where our ferry would depart from the next day.  We got up fairly early that Monday morning and made our way to the ferry terminal.  We still needed to figure out our vehicle import permit, since we never got one in Tijuana.  It’s actually a pretty easy process, they just need you to give a deposit of $200-400 based on the age of you vehicle.  Apparently they don’t want people entering Mexico with their car and leaving it behind.  

They told us to come back around noon time to go through customs and get our ferry ticket.  When we returned, we got in the customs line, pressed the button (green means go, red means search), green this time!!, and got our ticket.  We decided to go with the TMC Ferry rather than the Baja Ferries because it was cheaper and we could have Brady with us the whole time.    Had we chosen the Baja Ferries, Brady would have to go in a crate for the 18 hour ride with no food or water and we would have no access to him so he wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom either.  No bueno.  The TMC ferry company is designed for truckers and cargo companies, and the occasional stray gringo, so pretty much anything goes on their boat.

After waiting approximately three hours, they started loading the ship.  Free wifi in the parking lot kept us entertained while waiting.  We did start to get a little nervous once we realized that everybody except a few larger trucks were loaded onto the ship except us.  Nate attempted to ask when we would be able to board in terrible Spanish.  The man responded with a big grin and in flawless English said “I will come and get you.”  When we finally got the go ahead, we were parked right on the top deck next to a couple we had met earlier in the day and had an amazing view!  We spent the evening talking with Joan and Dave on the deck while watching the sunset.  It was so nice to be able to keep Brady with us the whole time and we even got to sleep in our truck!  They provide you with two basic meals(really basic), bathrooms and even hot showers!

Once we pulled into mainland, we bid farewell to our new friends and drove through Mazatlan to continue on our long way South.