Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Great Move South: Part 4 (Baja Ferries)

We had a relaxing breakfast in the hotel lobby since we weren't in a huge hurry to leave. Our travel plans for today included driving to La Paz and taking an eight hour ferry ride across to the mainland. Our ferry wasn't set to depart until 2:30pm but everyone is encouraged to be there about two hours early to allow for boarding. Baja Ferries goes to Topolobampo or Mazatlan. I had debated back and forth over which route to take. The one to Topolobampo only takes about 8 hours and it's during the day so no need to reserve a room to sleep in. The one to Mazatlan is overnight, we'd need to reserve a room for the evening, and our dogs would be penned into a kennel alone and exposed to the sea elements for about 12 hours. In the end, I decided that short and sweet was the best option for our family and critters. 

The ferry charges an additional fee if your bikes are on the exterior of your vehicle so I stopped in the parking lot to rearrange our load. We had decided that José would board with the girls and the dogs and I would drive the van onto the ferry and park it. As you enter the loading area, you must pass through another inspection area for customs. They inspected our paperwork for the vehicle and my receipt from the aduana in Tijuana when I crossed over and declared our belongings. All the vehicles formed a line to board the "ship." You enter on ground level and the floor literally opens up and you drive down a ramp to the lower levels. The vehicles are parked bumper to bumper.  I grabbed the girls personal bags to keep them occupied for the 8 hour journey as we weren't allowed access to the van during the trip. José and the girls were slow to join me in the lobby upstairs. They had to wait forever for someone to come retrieve the dogs and place them in a kennel. I have no idea where this holding area is and I was very concerned during the trip. In hindsight, I would have just stayed quiet and left the dogs in their kennel in the van. No one looked inside when I was boarding and they would have been warm and cozy there. 
A meal is included with the price of your ticket. It is served cafeteria style so you grab a tray and slide it down the line. While it was not pretty, it tasted decent. There were other desserts, snacks, and drinks for sale but we had brought snacks and juice on board with us. There are several levels on the ship. There was a lounge with a bar, couches that were snatched up quickly for sleeping, foos ball tables, and loud music and large screen TV's. We settled into the TV that had rows of lounge chairs so we could try to relax during the trip. The girls played on their Kindles and covered up in their blankets when it got chilly. The dogs were on my mind the whole time... It was dark by the time we reached the port in Topolobampo. The dogs were shivering and Rocket was wet when we got them back. I will not be repeating this experience with them.

We had to pull the bikes out of the van and strap them back on the van again so I could load up the girls and dogs. As soon as we pulled out onto the road, we heard an awful noise and had to pull over, not 50 feet from the entrance to the port. Now driving in Mexico already makes my husband nervous, add in the dark and Sinaloa and it multiplies. The rear fender connected to the running board had somehow been tweaked and was jammed into the left rear tire. We had no tools in the vehicle...I pulled the tire iron out of the back and we used it along with a large rock to beat on the metal. We were there for almost an hour with only one person asking if we were okay. We finally ripped the screws out and folded it onto the running board so we could continue.

Los Mochis is the next town closest to the port so we had planned to get a motel room and eat. On the way into town, I was lucky enough to get pulled over by the local police for speeding down town. I was going like 5 mph over the speed limit and I couldn't find my freaking driver's license!!! Seriously, the only time I get pulled over and I've misplaced my driver's license. I already misplaced my debit card somewhere between Guerrero Negro and Cabo San Lucas so this was the last thing I needed. Thanks to the dark lighting and my fabulous Spanish, they didn't realize I was an American. José was able to talk our way out of it for 200$ pesos and $20USD. We found a less than desirable motel for about 400$ and we all shared a king bed for the night. José said he didn't get much sleep because of all the talking outside the door but I was out like a light. 

The Great Move South: Part 3

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