Okay, the last two days went by in a flash so I will try to get it all downright now before the Mazatlan madness begins. As mentioned before, we came back from La Ventana, spent one more night in Pension California (La Paz), and then hopped on a ferry to Topolobampo. In the meantime, we met two awesome Australians in La Paz named Eddy and Lizzy. The two are backpacking all around the world this year and we have banded together for the last few days.
Eddy and Lizzy are also in their mid-twenties. We kept running into them all throughout La Paz on Monday after initially meeting them at the hotel. After researching the Baja ferry system, they decided to take the Topolobampo boat to mainland the same day as we. Instantly, Charlie and Alex offered their bikes up as free taxi services to the ferry docks and another Baja friendship was born. On Wednesday, the boys took our new amigos to the ferry docks, came back, loaded their own luggage, and we all set off for the six hour voyage.
I’m used to the posh Puget Sound ferry fleet, so boarding the ‘California Star’ ferry on a motorcycle was quite an experience. Amidst a very confusing Mexican check-in process, we entered the boat and immediately rode down into the belly of six-story, three hundred foot behemoth. The deckhands waved us down to the second level of parking; down a bunch of metal ramps and under some very low steel crossbeams dodging semi-trucks the entire way. A classic Mexican boarding process. We parked the bikes, lashed them to the floor mounts, and went upstairs with our valuables in tow.
We got to know Eddy and Lizzy very well over the next six hours and enjoyed a nice meal courtesy of Baja Ferries. I met a lovely girl named Dulce at the bar and we ended up talking in English and Spanish together for a couple hours as the sun set. Dulce is from Culiacan, MX, drives a red VW Goal (Mexican Golf I think), and is an experienced bank teller. For a 26 year-old girl, she showed a lot of honesty and openness in talking to the tall gringo stranger (me); it’s something I appreciate about the Mexican people. She offered me and Al a spot to sleep on the floor at her parents’ house but unfortunately it didn’t work out due to a very confusing Mexican off-loading process… didn’t see that coming. Oh well, I guess we can still be facebook friends.
The ferry arrived around 10:00pm Tuesday night and Eddy and Lizzy stayed with our group of motorcycle bandits at the closest hotel we could find in Topolobampo. We cheap bastards love to pile on the vagabonds because it spreads the hotel prices even thinner. In the morning, Charlie and I took the two of them for a quick ride around the city on our bikes and ran a couple errands. Afterward we packed up made some goodbyes and headed out. Eddy and Lizzy were going to take the bus to Mazatlan and we hoped to see them there in a few days.
Meanwhile, Charlie, Sarah, Alex, and I were heading to Culiacan (two hours north of Mazatlan). We set off on the only southbound highway early afternoon. To my delight it was a four-lane divided freeway surrounded by farm fields the entire way. After 2000 miles of Baja desert, the rich smells of manure, corn husk, and tractor fuel were sensational. So was riding at 75mph… I was wondering what that fifth gear was for.
Somewhere along the way we lost Sarah when the road split. When we got to Culiacan, we had no clue where to find her and did not see any Wi-Fi hotspots. In a hasty decision, we thought it best to continue on to Mazatlan and hopefully meet up with Sarah the next day (remember, she is an independent rider who is fit to take care of herself). I was hoping to find Dulce somewhere in town, but the timing was wrong and our plans were awry. Again, oh well, we sped off to Mazatlan.
Two hours later, just inside the Mazatlan city limits, Charlie’s tire went flat while waiting at a stoplight. Approaching complete darkness, Charlie masterfully changed out his tube in a convenience store parking lot off the main drag. Now I don’t care if you don’t believe in God, but there are some things in this world beyond luck (and they seem to be quite prevalent on this trip). Today’s example: while Charlie was working on his tube, Alex and I walked over to the road to admire a VW Beetle/motorcycle combo that had pulled up to the nearby stoplight. We sat there for thirty seconds discussing the machine before Al noticed Sarah’s yellow jacket and Yamaha 225 idling amongst the other cars at the intersection just twenty feet from us.
Somehow, due to Charlie’s flat tire, the stars aligned and Sarah pulled up on the same random street in the middle of Mazatlan just as Al and I were scoping the intersection. You can’t even plan a meeting that effortless! Alex got her attention and Sarah pulled over; she had arrived at Culiacan, couldn’t find us, and made the same decision to push forth to Mazatlan. The group again was reunited!
Okay, now it was Wednesday night in Mazatlan and very dark. With Charlie’s tire fixed, we all rode into town together, found an apartment to rent for $20/night each, and ate celebrated with everyone’s favorite staple: tacos.
I only intended to be here in Mazatlan for one or two nights, but in almost immediately I changed my mind. To start, our apartment here is incredible. It has two bedrooms, a living area with a dining table, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Fully air conditioned with TV and internet access for $73/night. What we pay extra in rent we are already saving in food; Al and I went out and bought $20 in groceries today (Thursday) and feasted on chorizo, onions, beans, and potatoes this afternoon. To boot, we rounded up Eddy and LIzzy this morning and moved them in with us again. This place just got way cheaper and way more fun.
Furthermore, it turns out that Mazatlan hosts one of Mexico’s biggest motorcycle rallies this weekend. There will be 14,000 bikes here on Saturday and I will be damned if I’m not riding down the strip with them during the parade. This rally will be a great opportunity to restock on some of the spares we need: spark plugs, clutch cable, tire tubes, etc.
On top of all that, Mazatlan just happens to be a huge Mexican party city. I swear there is a Senor Frogs every three blocks. And the word on the street is that the city goes off harder this weekend than any other in the year. Needless to say, I may have to reawaken some of my dormant college genes for a few sleepless days.
So by sheer dumb luck, we lost Sarah, spotted her from a parking lot, rented an awesome apartment, and are here in Mazatlan for motorcycle mania. Not a bad turn of events.