Cargo Ferry to the Mainland
We boarded the cargo ferry to mazatlan and can now report back that we made it safely to the mainland.
In short, we would recommend the cargo ferry to anyone looking to save a few bucks (and somewhat use to roughing it)…and an absolute must for anyone traveling with a dog.
We planned to arrive an extra hour early but some construction on the road made us arrive at just about their recommended 2 hours before departure. We were happy to save the step of exporting the vehicle since we had already done that paperwork in Tiajuana, and proceeded to the ticket office. We were concerned about making sure we would be on the top level for fresh air, but she quickly set our minds at ease with an assuring "ill take care of you", handed us our tickets and meal vouchers and we head for the boat.
No waiting in line, we simply proceed up the ramp and find that we are the only vehicle on board. Within a few minutes the crew go to work loading several dozen containers in the belly of the boat and a few semis pull up on the top deck with us. Even after fully loaded there were only 4 passenger vehicles, a few trailers and an otherwise empty top deck. One vehicle pulled on no more than 15 minutes before departure, so we probably could have cut our arrival a bit closer. Just us and the semi operators on this trip…they all hang out upstairs around the cafeteria, chatting and drinking and waiting on the next meal, we hung out on the front deck with the breeze and the view.
Overall the trip was great, and the services better than 90% of the nights we've spent on the road. We had electricity to charge things and top off the batteries, 2 square meals (cafeteria style, nothing amazing), clean bathrooms with actual showers, and we slept on a mat on the front deck all alone under the stars. Entertainment came in the form of a midnight visit by a few pods of dolphins playing around the bow as it cut through the water- with an encore performance at sunrise. delightful, almost magical.
Don't get me wrong, this ferry is not luxurious accommodations, and if your'e looking for a room to sleep off the 14+ hour journey you won't find it, but for us it meant we were with Karma the whole time and had the ability to hang out in the bus. Only complaints for us were that (because we were the first on) we got parked directly in front of the extremely loud ventilation system and some drying cans of really foul smelling paint. The fumes were gone part way into the trip, but the noise continued throughout the night and made sleeping in the bus tricky. Regardless, we suggest the front deck for the breeze and dolphins over inside any day.
This trip made us long for sailing and being on the ocean. We are having a wonderful time in the bus but we still drool every time we see a sailboat anchored off the bay we are camping in. Often, if said sailboat is a catamaran we have the full conversation about whether they will come over to check out the bus, invite us onboard for dinner and over cocktails offer to give us their boast as they have recently decided to move back home. f course, there is usually some tequila involved during this very plausible discussion.
We got off in Mazatlan, expecting long lines of customs and inspections, but had what was essential a quick military checkpoint as we let the parking lot.
"where did you come from?"
"where are you going?"
"they are in the back…we need to get them out"
"no worries, have a nice day"
We hit the road expecting a long drive but excited to get to sayulita. We've been warned to drive carefully and essentially get out of mazatlan as quickly/smoothly as possible but we of course we end up on the side of the road between maztlan and tepic. No bueno.
At first it seemed like we ran out of gas again (which those of you paying attention know can't be true as we now have an odometer…but in truth we haven't gotten back in the habit of counting miles just yet). Regardless…added a jerry can of gas but realized quickly the engine still wasn't getting any fuel. As i took off my muddy flops to try starting again i realized the accelerator was on the floor. Thus, no gas. I adjusted the accelerator cable on the engine side as it has been known to slip from time to time, but no luck. A look under the front of the bus showed the problem. The bracket/lever that connects the pedal to the cable is not only loose but pretty badly bent, which means pressing the pedal actually provides little pull on the cable and no response at the engine. I bent things back in place as best possible for a quick roadside fix and at least got us back on the road and headed for our final destination. Can't help but be excited by any problem that can be fixed in under 30 minutes roadside and that didn't involve us having to flag someone down. Worth noting, that even here (in what several people have told us in a "sketchy" stretch of mexico)…as we were pulling away someone had already turned around to help out.
Got to our destination just fine, although our starter now seems to be hanging up for the first time since we had the relay installed in AZ, and our shifting is getting difficult again. Why these things couldn't have shown themselves while in LaPaz and blocks away from maybe the world's best VW mechanic… well, wheres the excitement (or learning experience) in that? Looks like tomorrow will be spent under the bus tightening bolts and cleaning wire connections instead of out exploring sayulita as planned.
We did see a bit of town this evening as we pulled in and ran down to jump in the ocean. Gorgeous, and it looks like a great place to hang out. Also very gringo-fied however, and not cheap from what we have seen so far. I can hardly imagine what must go through jen's mind as she walks through town on streets that didn't even exist 15years ago when she was hanging out on this same beach.
Tomorrow will tell us more, but so far we like what se see of the town.