Tiffani's Yamaha Fz-07 Tour: The Other Side of La Paz

Chapter 3, Part 6.

Tiffani Mexico
With no more land to the south, we head north once again for a date with a ferry.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

As the sun rose on our little mansion by the beach, I lazily got out of bed to take in the new day. Despite the small bit of sleep I lost from Hollywood talking about all the ghosts that were haunting this dilapidated building, it still felt like such a special place to have gotten to camp. I contemplated suggesting staying another day, but I wasn't sure if we'd be pressing our luck, being unsure that no one else knew about this spot. So we packed up and headed out early enough to beat some of the heat.

Tiffani Mexico
You know it's hot when the closest thing to shade you can find is a cactus. As much as I enjoyed Todos Santos, the combination of costal air and the desert heat created enough humidity that I'm 90 percent sure I was physically melting at some point.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

We stopped for breakfast in San Jose del Cabo at what appeared to be a popular little spot. A was man cooking meat for tacos behind the counter and rather than choosing from a menu of options, they simply asked how many tacos you wanted. So tasty!

Tiffani Mexico
Chillin' in an Airbnb, getting work done and getting ready to experience the more authentic side of La Paz, outside the tourist district. This may have been the best idea we've ever had.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Not wanting to deal with the traffic in Cabo San Lucas again, we hopped on a toll road and headed toward Todos Santos. The plan was to camp on the beach and see the baby sea turtles get released, as this was the season when a local wildlife sanctuary released new hatchlings every couple days. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early, so we instead made our way down a couple of kilometers of sandy road to a popular surf spot, and watched the surfers shred some substantial waves. For the first time the entire trip, Hollywood's bike ended up on its side as he hit some deep sand and bucked to the side. But fortunately, hitting deep sand at no speed is generally a pretty easy way to crash. We spent the night sharing a campfire with some locals who spoke just enough English to trade stories and then we got some rest.

Tiffani Mexico
Some of the street hustlers really, REALLY earned their change. This guy alternated between juggling while bouncing a soccer ball on his head and riding a unicycle.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The next day we headed back to La Paz. I had booked the ferry for Tuesday, giving us a couple days to relax and check out the city. We got a small house via Airbnb that cost next to nothing, located off in the suburbs. I actually ended up liking La Paz a lot more after this. We were removed from touristy downtown, the overbearing vendors that hustled one product or another at any given intersection, and the expensive restaurants that were tailored to the gringos and expats. Eating at small mom and pop places that were as inexpensive as they were humble and delicious just felt like a far more authentic and warm image of the city.

Tiffani Mexico
As we were riding around, we saw some GS riders on the side of the road, so we stopped to chat and make sure everything was alright. Turns out, they were both from Montana and one was from Havre, a town near the Canadian border. And more significantly, Hollywood's hometown. What are the chances we'd run into one of the, like, eight people from Havre while in Mexico!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The days went by entirely too quickly, but the rest from the daily stress of trying to find a place to sleep, hoping the roads were passable, and struggling to communicate was much needed. When Tuesday arrived we headed out late afternoon toward the dock, hunting down an internet café to print our tickets and skirting through a mess of construction to get to the dock. The ferry was scheduled to depart at 8:00 pm, but vehicles were expected to show up a couple of hours early to verify paperwork and load up. Motorcycles were last to load, theoretically under the pretense that we would be first to leave, so we hung out in the dirt parking lot with some locals on BMW GS1200s, also waiting to cross. One was a doctor named Alex who spoke a little English and he seemed excited to hear about our adventures.

Tiffani Mexico
What time is it, you ask? Time to put my bike on a mawfuggin' boat!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

When we finally got the signal to load up, we made our way up a bumpy, grated ramp, slipping a little on the oil a semi had spilled near the top (great timing to spill oil, guys). We were then directed beside a wall where there were some bars to tie down the bikes. We had picked up some tie-downs at Home Depot before arriving, as they weren’t provided, and crossing the Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California is still essentially crossing an ocean. They ushered us up to the deck where I had reserved a cabin, which seemed well worth the expense. Otherwise, we would have to sleep on the floor of the common areas, alongside the loud partying all night that was oh so common here.

Tiffani Mexico
When they said a truck had spilled a bunch of oil at the top of the ramp, I was hoping they would let us park here on the bottom level. But my life never gets to be that easy. So we rode up.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

We hung out on deck, watching the sea rush by under the light of a full harvest moon. We met another traveler who had walked to La Paz from Argentina, and we met some Canadians who were cycling down to South America in a similar shotgun-style of guerrilla camping and open-ended scheduling. Like us, they had come to the conclusion that spending the rest of their youth in an office just didn’t make sense, so we hit it off instantly. We stayed up most the night joking and swapping stories before finally trying to get some sleep under the rocking and swaying of the sea.

Tiffani Mexico
I think every nerdy bone in my body (spoiler alert: that's all of them) just got incredibly excited. The ferry had a number of foosball tables and UFO catchers for entertainment, but I had to really struggle to resist some Tekken and Marvel vs. Capcom, haha.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The ferry ride was advertised at 15-18 hours depending on conditions but our ride instead clocked in at only 12, as they ushered us out of our beds entirely too early the next day. Admittedly, I’m kind of disappointed it was so short, as I would have liked to enjoy the view of the sea in the daylight, but it is what it is, I suppose.

We got down to the cargo hull near the front of the line, but unlike when we loaded, there was no order of unloading, so we had to cut our way in front of semis and cars pushing to go first. But we were finally on the mainland! Officially! For better or for worse.

Tiffani Mexico
Motorcycles everywhere! Unlike the states, it seemed like there may have been more motorcycles that cars on the road once we got to Mazatlan! I'm not sure they were any less careless than the car drivers, though.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The traffic on the mainland was immediately terrifying, as trucks, motorcycles, buses and cars weaved around each other without minding to lanes, stop signs or speed differentials. The Baja had still had a degree of order, but getting through intersections that didn’t have stop lights in Mazatlan was akin to playing a game of chicken—if your opponent was in a bulldozer and you were on a bicycle. And this was only the beginning. We made our way to another Airbnb, as it was the most affordable way to stay in the city and we were both still exhausted from the ferry ride. After a night of recovery (and finding a large bolt broken off in the side of my tread, giving me an unpluggable flat tire) we opted to stay a couple more days and see what Mazatlan really had to offer. Traveling takes perhaps a much larger toll on the body and mind than I have probably let on, and I felt like a few days off from worrying about where we were sleeping and if we were safe would do us some good. That said, time for a little R&R! Hopefully the mainland will be as fun as the Baja!