Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Day in La Paz

Etosha at Coffee and Cookies
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
La Paz, BCS, Mexico is an acknowledged mecca for the cruising sailor. It’s not that this is the most stunningly beautiful place in Mexico, nor will you find the cheapest goods, the best services, or the most comfortable anchorage. La Paz attracts cruisers because La Paz is full of a berzillion and one cruisers already, and a good fraction of the community and businesses have evolved to provide support for those afloat.

For example, you could live full time in La Paz and never own a phone; All you need is a powerful VHF. In the morning at 7:30AM on 21a you can listen to the Bill and Pepe Political show. This is your opportunity to discuss the latest news: political, economic, local, US and international. The participants range from libertarian and conservative to hippies living the good life. The conversations drift from the fluctuations of the Dow to how the new hotels on the Mogote are going to process their shit.

At 8:00AM, switch to 22a where you can get all the rest of the news that’s fit to print. Tides, weather, lost and found, arrivals and departures, Bay Watch, local assistance. During the morning net, you can find a diesel mechanic, trade your unwanted items for “coconuts,” and learn about the day’s activities. The cruisers organize daily yoga sessions as well as weekly Alcoholics Anonymous, dominos, blues jam, and quilting meetings. Do you need to find cranberry sauce? Want a part brought down from the United States? Looking for crew to go to Mazatlan next week? The morning net is your opportunity to find it.

Then you go to Club Cruceros in the Marina de La Paz at 9:30AM for coffee and cookies. The club includes a really well stocked book for book exchange as well as adverts for just about everything you might be looking for in terms of shops, technicians, and mechanics. It’s hard to get out of there in less than an hour. The girls love the place not just because there is a small playground to one side. And the cookies.

After coffee, head into town to the market. My daily rounds include the bank, fabric store, municipal market for fruit and vegetables, mercado for milk and packaged goods, carnaceria, pescaria, and tortilleria. My last stop is always the panaderia where I pick up a bag full of pan dulces and big soft white bread rolls. My whirlwind tour through the markets usually costs me about $20 USD for two days of food. I’m still having trouble getting over how cheap food is in Mexico... as long as you eat local.

We spend most afternoons on the boat doing chores, sewing, school, putting the water maker together. In the evening, we’ll go into town to play dominos and exchange email. I’d like to say that Internet is great in the anchorage, because technically it is. You have to pay for it though and we were too cheap. Stupid. In retrospect, I regret not plunking down the $30/month to get Internet out here on the hook from BahiaNet. Lesson learned.

Other useful bits to know about La Paz:
Both sunrises and sunsets are simply gorgeous nearly every day.
Theft is rampant. Anything not tied down will get stolen. Do not leave your stuff lying around anywhere, even on the deck of your boat.
Two weeks in Mexico and 65 degrees at night is going to feel really cold. Don’t ditch the blankets as you cross the border.
Fabric is cheap and abundant, at least here in La Paz. People still sew here. However, do not expect to find all that wonderful quilter’s cotton you find in the States. Down here, the fabric is for clothes. So the stores are stocked with muslims, linens, polyester blends, and all the notions you can possibly stuff into your cubby on board.
The much balloyhoo’d La Paz Waltz out in the El Mogote anchorage should not scare any experienced cruiser. Anchor your boat with lots of scope and a good clearance to your neighbors, set it hard and deep, and drift around. Particularly anyone who has anchored in the Pacific Northwest with routine tidal swings and currents of 2 or more knots will not find it particularly challenging.
Sunrise in La Paz
Sunrise in La Paz
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
The best free Internet in the city is at Ciao Molina across from Marina de La Paz. 20 pesos for a limonado or 28 for a beer, and they’ll let you sit for hours. The meatball sandwich is also surprisingly good.

We go to bed early here. We get up early too. The days are short as Winter Solstice approaches, and the temperatures are dropping. Today, we move into the marina for a day of clean up and provisioning before heading across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland. I can readily understand the bungee appeal of La Paz that brings cruisers back again and again. We will no doubt swing through in April. The trick is not to get seduced into staying long enough for the barnacles to form.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We were amazed by how many boats there were in La Paz when we were there a couple years ago!! It was fun to talk with other travelers that weren't in RV's. It seemed like the boaters could "get it" about us traveling on bikes in a way other travelers couldn't.

Anyway - enjoy your journey to the mainland. We loved mainland Mexico even more than the Baja!! We loved it so much that we're headed down there again - we'll be passing into Mexico within a couple weeks.