Travelogue I

Greetings from sunny La Paz Mexico in Baja California Sur. We entered Mexico on Monday, January 10th at Mexicali in the Baja. Actually we got our vehicle and tourist permits on Sunday the 9th and then watched the Vikings beat Green Bay. We had no trouble entering Mexico. In Mexicali there is a RV lane at the downtown entrance. The border guard took a look through the window of the F-350, asked to look in the trailer and we went in the trailer and he asked if we had guns or bullets and I said no. He looked in one kitchen cabinet and said OK and we were off. We parked by the SCT (Mexican FCC) and it took about an hour to get my amateur license for Mexico. We then headed south for San Felipe which is on the Sea of Cortez or Gulf of California depending on which name you want to use. Mexicali is smoky but south it clears up. By Mexicali is is still part of the Imperial valley so lots of farming. South we came to the mountains and some sand dunes. The mountains are tall and rugged but the desert is like parts of AZ. San Filipe was really the first warm place we have been with all the bad weather in California, etc. We found a RV park away from the ocean, it was tight be got backed in but could not get the slide out but they let us pull ahead so we were out in the center area and that worked fine. The other 4 people in the park were there for the winter and we got to know them and were invited to a supper the first night. The electricity was fine and in fact every RV park so far in the Baja the electricity has been fine at 15 amps. Much different than our previous experience in Mexico. I had a bad abscess on a bottom tooth toward the front and had called Salem to get a prescription for penicillin. It was helping but still was swelled up badly. We found out about a dentist Ester De Rodgers who could speak English so I got an appointment and she found a cracked filling, took it out, cleaned it and put in antibiotics. The tooth already had a root canal. She then put in a temporary filling and gave me a prescription I can refill.

Lots of development north of town but in town things are slow. The local economy is tough and there is some stealing so you don't want to leave things lay around. It would not be a bad place to spend the winter but can be cool at times, you can get USA satellite TV with the smaller dish, the dentist is very reasonable and can do bridges, caps, etc. for 25% or less of USA prices. We got 50 pounds of oranges for $6 for orange juice and they were good. Sea food is plentiful but not cheap. We also got a pineapple for $2 and some other vegetables. We walked all over and drove all over and it is perfectly safe and people are friendly. There is a nice water front and a fishing industry. There are a couple of RV parks down town you can get a big rig in on the beach. The ones along the ocean to the north end of town are really tight and unless you were going to stay for several weeks it would not be worth the trouble. Out north you are 10 miles north of town or so which would not be real convenient. It would depend on how many others were around you. We then headed out after my dentist appointment and went over to Encenada and Hwy # 1. It got very mountainous there. Before then there was farming and some irrigation in a big valley between the mountains. With the GPS we managed to make the transition from hwy # 3 to # 1 in Encenada which in Mexico is never easy because the highways stop at the edge of town and you have to figure out how to get through town; generally with no signs to help.

It was hilly and winding south of Encenada with a little farming but mainly some goats and a few cattle. It was time to stop for the night and we got mixed up on two towns with about the same name so decide to go 12 miles off the road to the ocean to a RV park which was a bad mistake. The road was full of potholes, we got to the ocean at dark and they the roads were muddy and the RV park was closed so with my Spanish I found out from a lady we could park at the motel where she worked or owned not sure which. The problem was it was three miles through town in mud, slop and terribly bumpy but we did get there after what seemed forever. It was tight getting out in the morning and later I discovered I hit the top side of the pickup box with the 5th and put a nice bend in it. The 5th wheel showed no damage. There was a lot of irrigation, truck farming here and fishing industry. We got back to the main road and headed south. We soon had a lot of towns to got through so it was slow going and we were not far from the Pacific Ocean.

The Baja was not at all like we expected. There are cactus beyond belief of all types. There are huge ones with 6 or 7 arms which must be very, very old. With the rain things were really green. There are huge, rugged mountains everywhere and every so often you have to climb from the winding sea coast road up over the mountains and then the road uses a broad valley to go on south. It is often said to be a boring trip but we did not find it that way at all. The desert and mountains were very pretty and it is the most cactus we have seen any place and there were some great rock formations east of El Rosario. We then traveled down the middle of the Baja and then to Negro Guerrero on the pacific coast and took a tour of the Gray whales. There were plenty of whales but in another month by mid-February the young ones are curious and they come up to the boat and you can pet them. This goes on for about a month. We met some Adventure Caravan people here, John and Pat who went off the oil shoulder but managed to pull it back on but really bent things up so they were having lots of work done. We helped them get things from down town, etc. They were nice and gave us lots of camping information. From there we went to San Ignicio which has a nice zocalo and very old church and we met a store owner who liked to learn English and he helped me with learning some Spanish and we had fun with him. There is a great date palm oasis here and lots of water. We then went to Santa Rosalia to the famous bakery there and found the ferry that goes to Guymus. We went the Muleje which is also a date palm oasis and then parked on the beach for $6 south of there at KM 115 at Playa Santispec. It is one of the nicest places we have ever stayed right on the ocean with the mountains with just one other on the beach with us. There is a dump available and water. Lots of people spend the winter here and to the south of here. Next was Loreto where the RV park was full but we got directions to Loreta Shores which our book said was closed but it is definitely open. We drove down town and looked around. This is the oldest town in the Baja and there is a nice historical section and some nice shops. I discovered I have a couple of tires wearing on the side so rotated them and discovered I had a low voltage problem with the battery bank which I worked on until after dark but could not fix.

We find Hwy # 1 to be good and smooth, no holes but it is narrow and no shoulders so if you go off the edge it could be fatal so it is hard work driving and there is barely room when you meet an 18 wheeler of a big motor home. I felt the locals drove much less aggressively here than on the mainland which is nice. People waited to pass at reasonable places. It is also very important to get fuel at certain points as it is about one tank between fuel stops. There are reported to be a few shady PEMEX stations so our listing of these of the Internet served us well as to where to be sure and fuel and where not to fuel was valuable.

At La Paz we stopped at the first RV park Casa Blanca, left the 5th and headed for town to check out the ferry and parking on the beach beyond the ferry which is 17 KM northeast of town. The streets are poorly marked and we kept asking and we were getting close and I kept talking to people in Spanish and finally a young lady said just follow me and she led us to the ticket office. It was Semateur which goes to Marztlan. The lady there did not speak English so it really taxed my Spanish but I got the job done, the price, schedule, etc. and found we could get measured and tickets at the ferry dock. We drove there and I talked to the other ferry office, Baja Ferry which goes to Los Mochis and they were quite a bit cheaper although we will have one days travel south to Marztlan. Again it taxed my Spanish but she knew a little English. They do take credit cards so we are going to take this ferry on Friday. We checked out the beach at Tecolate and found it is free so we have moved here today. The ocean has the beautiful turquoise blue and the rugged mountains are all over not that far away so it is a very pretty place. It really got decently warm at Loreto and is nice here at La Paz getting in the low 80's or upper 70's and getting in the low 60's or upper 50's at night. It is a bit windy here on the beach. A big caravan came into our RV park at Casa Blanca and it was a "ZOO" so we sure are glad to be out here. There are two other rigs that we had met on the way down in the park and they wanted to come up here so we told them we would check it out and let them know so today they also came up here so we are all at Playa Tecolate. We watch each others stuff as there are a few from town who come out here to steal things. BTW last night I found a bad ground connection to the battery bank so I re-wired things and it is working. Today I taped some of the wiring that goes to the second alternator that charges the battery bank. I fixed a shelf in the 5th wheel and also repaired a broken wire that feeds 18 volts into the F-350 so I can use a laptop when we go down the road. We have been in Mexico for 9 days but it seems much longer than that as we really have covered a lot of miles in packed in a lot of things. Tomorrow we are doing a day trip to Cabo San Lucas which is a loop road from La Paz down there and the back. On Friday we will take the ferry to Topolobampo near Los Mochis and head south and end up at Ricon de Guayabitos north of Puerta Vallarta for a couple of weeks and then head south for our last two states in Mexico Colima and Michoacan.

There are a lot of Canadians who come to the Baja and of course a lot of California. Speaking some Spanish is a great help but most who come down here can speak very little Spanish. We sure have met a lot of great fellow RV people. I for one would certainly not take a caravan down the baja as it just is not necessary as long as you get the Mexico Camping book and do some research on the Internet.

Next time we will report on our Cabo San Lucas loop, the ferry ride to the mainland and the trip to