The road to La Paz
From Loreto in the east, the main highway, Mex 1, turns back towards the center of the peninsula. It was the most beautiful part of our Baja drive so far.
We made it to the industrial city of Ciudad Constitución, found this little recreation area with a campground and a pool, and stayed for two nights.
It was a cute and productive place. The local kids had swimming lessons there but their three-hour long sessions looked more realistically like bootcamp. We were able to give the van a clean and Edd painted the propane tank, which was getting a little rusty. We swam in the afternoons, and the evenings were cool.
The big city
Then we arrived in La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. And guess where we camped the first two nights? Walmart! Weird and wacky, a little like our whole time in La Paz.
On a quick side note, Mexican Walmarts don’t actually have the same reputation their American counterparts do. They are some of the most expensive supermarkets, which means many wealthy Mexicans shop there. Their bathrooms have things like infinity sinks. It was here that we found real butter (no colors, vegetable solids, or other additives), which had proved to be a difficult task in the smaller towns. Crucial to us, its parking lot provided shade and security.
La Paz also has a Home Depot where we bought a new toilet seat for the van the second day (woo-hoo! It’s the little things). We celebrated by seeing a movie, Atomic Blonde, in the VIP section. $4.50/ticket for a bit of luxury! 😂
The bad day
You know how on some days, everything just goes wrong? For us, that was Friday.
It started off well. After spending a little time downtown, we knew we had better plan for our journey to mainland Mexico! We went to the ferry service office and reserved a place for Monday.
Then Edd got an email that the replacement airbags for the suspension had been delivered, a few days earlier than expected!
We went to the DHL office to pick them up. The desk agent told us the package wasn’t there but in Cabo San Lucas! We had changed the delivery address to La Paz several days before, and we showed him the confirmation emails from DHL, but he kept repeating that he couldn’t do anything. Not even make a phone call.
Very pissed off, Edd and I sat in a nearby McDonald’s to eat lunch (don’t make meal decisions when stressed) and to call DHL’s main Mexico branch many many times. They were pretty pathetic, saying they couldn’t straighten anything out until Monday.
Edd suggested we should just drive down to Cabo and get the package ourselves. But that would be a four-hour round trip drive through mountains, and we didn’t want to miss the package should it be redirected back to La Paz.
Instead, we decided to postpone our ferry trip for a few days and wait. So we hadn’t accomplished anything, just polished off 39000 calories worth of lukewarm burgers and fries.
We drove back downtown to spend the evening, and even thought we might find a spot to park overnight. We showered in the van, dressed up, and treated ourselves to a meal out at the Tail Hunter. The restaurant was bien gringo; I really think only the waiters were Mexican. But the food was pretty good.
We spent a while walking down the long and lovely boardwalk next to the bay. Couples were rollerblading, families were eating popcorn, children were riding bikes. On the opposite side of the road, people packed into the bars.
A guy was selling boat tours to snorkel with sea lions. He was covincing; we signed up to go with him the next morning! We had thought that a snorkel tour would really make a spiffy end to our time in Baja.
But when we came back to the van, Edd said, “Somebody’s smashed our window.” I thought he was joking. But then I looked around. The front console was cleared out, my box of bras and underwear was tipped onto the floor, and one of the overhead cabinets was missing a bunch of mostly utility items.
We called the police to report the robbery, and the agent said that a unit would be there as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we made a list of what had been stolen:
- Edd’s prescription sunglasses
- My old sunglasses
- Camera tripod
- A bag full of extra cabinet locks
- A bag full of curtain hooks
- My makeup bag with makeup
- A cable for locking up our bikes
- Tire puncture repair kit for bikes
- Waterproof cell phone case
- Swim goggles
- Bag of pine sap from Colorado (I know it’s weird but I was going to see if it burned it like frankincense)
- Propane tank adapters
- Digital multimeter
- Extra LED bulbs
- BOSE headphones Edd got me last Christmas
- Brand new backpack that Alexis and Maggie bought me
The last two items were the worst that the bastards made off with, mostly for sentimental reasons. Edd thinks the culprit grabbed the backpack and shoved in everything he (or she) could. But most of it will be useless to them, unless they install new hardware in their kitchen cabinets while wearing some used makeup.
The sounding alarm, which my Uncle Mike had installed, probably prevented them from taking more. The thief was in and out. If he had taken his time, he could’ve easily found Edd’s laptop, which was in the adjacent cabinet, a Bluetooth speaker, our Kindles, my jewelry… none of these was inside our safe at the time. I’m thankful we had the alarm.
We called the insurance company, but our third-party policy doesn’t cover these damages. I guess I was being hopeful. So we didn’t really need the police report anymore, but the cops were already on their way, so we waited.
A police truck with four officers showed up an hour later, and they didn’t write an incident report anyway. Apparently you have to go to the Public Administration building to get one. They didn’t even take notes, nothing. The lead officer asked my first name and pretended to type it in his cell phone, and told me he’d let me know if any of the listed items showed up, i.e., we were shit out of luck.
Looking for a safe place now, we drove to the Aquamarina RV park at the edge of downtown. We turned up at about 1AM, but the guy at the gate was nice and even gave us a cardboard box to cover the window for the night.
Looking back, we hadn’t heeded the warning signals. We had noticed that most everyone in this city has a car alarm, more than any other place we’ve been. Signs on businesses warn you that you are being filmed. And the street we parked on was one block away from the sea. So while the all the noise and commotion was happening on the boardwalk, our street remained quiet. It all made sense after the fact.
On a lighter note, we have a running joke about Edd’s oldschool iPod. It’s a clunker that won’t die. When we first lived in Mexico, someone broke into our VW Beetle and stole our speakers but they didn’t touch the iPod. Now, seven years later, that same iPod was the only thing left in the center console. The iPod that no one wants! Even when it’s free!
The downs are as much as part of the adventure as the ups. And our little roller coaster in La Paz wasn’t finished yet!