We are tempted to stay for a few days but are really hoping for surf in our future and head on to LaPaz. This is a long and boring drive as the mapmaker clearly chose the easiest line to draw before paving the road. A dead straight line for about an hour and a half. I felt like i was back working in Kansas and N Dakota.
In Ciudad Constitucion we finally have our first run-in with the federales.
We knew this day would come and have read about 100s of made-up infractions and rules that cant possibly be met looking for a bribe or following them back to the station for paperwork. Thus far however, we simply pass the policia with a wave and smile and the wave and smile are returned. Constitucion isn't much worth stopping for, just a string of 25blocks of stores so we simply roll on through slowly, making sure to stop fully at every intersection. Last intersection before leaving town and the the Policia rolls up next to us on an ATV waving us over to the right. We simply smile and tell him to have a nice day but his waving increases so we make the right-hand turn. He walks up next to the car with our infraction- which was not wearing our seatbelts (im assuming he could see from the lack of shoulder straps at his perch 2 blocks back even though we have cabinets behind both seats).
Funny thing is...i actually wasn't wearing my lapbelt either (yes, of course jen was...shes the good one). I keep acting as though ive never heard a word of spanish in my life and getting him to go into a mime routine about how to secure your shoulder strap while smoothly grabbing my seatbelt from beside the door and laying the two pieces across my lap while jen is convincing him we are okay. This maneuver complete, we then explain that our car is old and we have only the lapbelts, to which he quickly nods, politely apologizes for the inconvenience and backs away from the car.
hmm. not how we saw that going exactly...but we'll take it.
We count down the kms and finally pull into LaPaz. Nothing like driving a full day into a major international tourist destination only for the first thing you see to be a walmart and burger king. Woohoo.
We make it through the centro and see why people come here...once you get to the marina and bay LaPaz actually doesn't feel any bigger than the 15-20 blocks you can see right in front of you and is very picturesque. We get our bearings and then head out to find the vw mechaninc (Geraldo's) that everyone since San Diego has been telling us about. We find the shop without too much trouble, but arrive during siesta and have to wait them out. First half an hour until they reopen, then another hour until the boss is back.
Walking into the shop we immediately believe everything we've heard about them being the main mechanic for the baja1000. The shop is full of baja bugs and every vehicle is being outfitted with foglights, new suspensions and safety straps. I'm thinking if we stay long enough these guys can turn E into a synchro. We talk with the boss (Rogelio), who luckily speaks fantastic english, and decide that E can park inside his shop for the night and we will take a look and assess the needs early tomorrow.
Jen and i book the cheap hotel across the street (which appears to be the only asian hotel/scuba operation in baja) and finally get that laundry issue out of the way. We spend our evening hanging out in the cool scuba-zen vibe of our hotel and walking along the malecon watching the sunset over the bay. On the way back to our room we stop for a chile relleno, beer (and a carne asada taco to-go for karma). Dinner, including the full salsa bar brought to our table and the coconut ice cream in handmade cone we eat on our walk was under $10.
In the morning we check out the progress on E. Good news is that the temporary fix on the transaxle mount looks good or better than new. Great news is that the engine appears to be really healthy (contrary to what we've feared for the last few weeks). We sigh that we aren't having a bad or worst case scenario conversation right now.
Moderately bad news is that he had forgotten about the broken rear mounts...which sadly require a full pulling of the engine. We head back to the cool cave of our room and wait. Check back in at noon and the engine is still sitting beside E so we decide to go ahead and book another night' and remove the chance of stress if things arent done this afternoon. Not that we planned on staying, but did briefly do the math and figure out that we could stay in our a/c hotel room one block from the LaPaz beach for an entire month for less money than our underground shanty in VAN (and wont mention the fact that the hotel room is bigger).
We check back in on the way back from grabbing a snack at a cart, and again just before closing. This time the engine is back in place and sounding pretty good but they are busy closing up for the night. They are still balancing the carbs and planning to make some welds and brackets to better support the muffler. The morning should see a test drive and if all goes well we will be on our way with a few small changes and a ton more confidence that things are in good shape heading into the majority of our trip. We have all new gaskets, air filters, main seal, rear mounts, shifter bearing and points.
Fingers crossed for good news in the morning so we can get back to a quiet beach and peaceful palapa living!!