Were we ever excited to leave the chaos, crime and corruption of La Paz! Well, while that may be a slight exaggeration, it certainly made us more excited than most to jump on a ferry to Mazatlán, on the mainland. And it really wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Here’s how it went.
Friday afternoon. Reservations. At the downtown office in La Paz, we arranged to ship the van. They only took our name and the length of the van (5.9 meters), which classified us as “vanette”. We called the next day to change the reservation. It was easy. Agent told us to arrive 2 hours early.
Wednesday 13:30. Arrival. Almost four hours early! We showed our vehicle import permit to a customs officer, checked in at the TMC office below, took the van to get weighed on a scale (4300 kilos including us), then went back to the office to buy our ticket for the ferry.
The agent seemed concerned about finding us “space” even though we had made reservations! Edd got nervous, but everything was fine. We paid and got tickets along with meal coupons for dinner and breakfast.
15:30-17:00. Loading. The reason you should show up early is so they put you on the open part of the deck! Otherwise you might get stuck in a dark enclosed humid section with no air circulation! We were on the top near the starboard edge.
17:00-17:30. Explored ship. Not a cruise ship. Most other passengers were truckers. And male. I was the only female passenger; the cook and a deckhand were the only other women I saw!
17:30. Departure. Half an hour late, not bad. Before it got dark we had views of the mountainous tip off the peninsula. We passed between Isla Ceralvo and the mainland, and also the island where we had gone snorkeling with sea lions, San Rafaelito!
17:30-19:00. Dinner. Home-style cooking in cafeteria ambience. We both thought the food was pretty good, though definitely not much for vegetarians here. Paid extra for a Coca-Cola, because drink (juice?) tasted like bodily fluids.
19:00-23:00. Downtime. No wifi here. There was a small lounge room with chairs and TVs where the air was very stale. A few men were even sprawled out on the floor to sleep. Much nicer outside. We stayed on the upper deck with a beer, watching the shore until it got dark and the boat took off for the open water. Then we took showers. Nothing fancy, but there was hot water!
23:00ish. Sleeping. Weather was warm and the scant breeze sometimes brought in the smell of a damp fishy dishrag from our deck. If you take enough Dramamine (or the generic equivalent, Vomisin, that I did) you might sleep deeply enough to only get an occasional whiff.
07:00-0:800. Breakfast. I didn’t get up for breakfast. Too tired and too dizzy to climb up any ladders. Edd did, without second thought, and got eggs with ham, tortillas and coffee, which he said wasn’t too bad.
12:30. Arrival. The Santa Marcela docked at Mazatlán. Apparently the ramp to disembark has fallen in the past, but we drove off without incident.
We have read a lot of complaints about the ferry services on the Sea of Cortez. Baja Ferries offers more passenger-friendly service, but it is slightly more expensive. With a little patience and tolerance, you can survive a trip on TMC! Buen viaje!