Welcome to the Motherland – Mazatlan

As the sun set behind us, we left the ferry terminal near La Paz and closed our visit to Baja. It was a little sad for both of us but we were excited to arrive in Mazatlan the next morning.

Neither of us knew what to expect from TMC’s San Jorge ferry as we were sandwiched between semi trucks on all sides with only inches to maneuver. The smell of grilled meat wafted over us as we left port and we assumed it was from a restaurant along the shore but we soon realized that it was carne asada to be served on our ship for dinner and we missed it! Fortunately, the kitchen staff made us chicken quesadillas so we wouldn’t go to bed hungry.

TMC is primarily a trucker’s ferry. A few smaller vehicles were on the boat but we were the only tourists onboard. We like to think they enjoyed having us aboard as it is somewhat unusual for tourists to join them. We visited for a couple hours with Gabriel who rides the ferry several times a month to deliver coffee from Mazatlan to La Paz. When he is not delivering coffee, he works on a sport fishing boat which explained how he could speak such good English. He gave us some great information about the region as we approached the ferry terminal in the fog at Mazatlan.

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Immediately after driving off the ferry, it was clear that we had left the desert of Baja behind us and entered the tropics. Everything was green and, in the distance, we could see banana plantations and coconut palms everywhere. It was beautiful!

Mazatlan is a colorful colonial city with hundreds of years of history. The architecture caught our eyes immediately as we walked through its streets lined with trees. Following our stroll through the city square, we walked a few blocks further to stumble upon a huge church. It was stunning! We needed a few plumbing supplies to fix our sink so we decided it would be fun to walk to the store clear across town. It was a great way to see the town but we were tired after our two hour walk in warm temperatures and high humidity.

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As we were making a late lunch to wrap up our short visit to Mazatlan, passengers from the cruise ship walked by and were quite interested in our camper. We met some folks from Montana who had an Alaskan and a couple from  New Hampshire that expressed their interest in driving the Pan American Highway someday. Secretly, we both loved talking to them about our camper!

With limited camping options in Mazatlan, we headed south to find a camping spot on the beach where we watched the sunset from inside our camper as the sand fleas were horrendous! After another try at fixing the sink, we struck out but at least we had some ice cold Pacificos to keep us cool.

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San Blas was our next destination between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. It is a cute town with cobble stone streets that are zero fun to drive on with fully inflated tires and airbags to support the camper. Once again, we ended up at the beach to look for a place to camp. The first spot was free with no services and, unfortunately, no shade. The second spot was behind a surf restaurant that included restrooms and showers for 100 pesos per night but our camper was too tall to stay here. Finally, we pulled into a parking spot and asked if we could camp in their parking lot. The man we talked to sported quite a few tattoos on his arms and looked a bit rough and initially said no, but then changed his mind with the prospect of having some more customers. It was a heartwarming experience as he didn’t speak any English and our Spanish is still pretty bad, but we were able to work things out! As we sat down for some ceviche and enchiladas, he set down a bottle of salsa in front of me and said “es bueno” with a thumbs up which made both of us crack up.

We awoke to trumpets playing at 6am as we were parked very close to a naval base and began preparing for our visit to Puerto Vallarta!

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