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Wrapping up our beach camping at Playa Santispac, we head south through Loreto (where we stop for gas) and continue inland towards the twin Ciudads, Insurgentes and Constitución. The former is not much more than a farming community (akin to many we’ve ridden through in the Dakotas, for example), while the latter seems to be a bit more substantial. With the temps in the low 100s again, we decide to spend the night here in a hotel with some precious A/C.

The benefits of traveling with others is that we get some awesome pictures of ourselves, like this one taken by Raquel.

Here’s another one taken by Raquel outside our hotel in Ciudad Constitución.

After checking in, the four of us (we are still caravanning with Raquel and David at this point) walk a few blocks down the main street to a café for a late lunch. As we are readying to leave, a man with an English accent chats us up for a while. He fills us in on all the horrors of Baja Sur, the cartel activity, how difficult it is for him to do business without getting hassled by the local cops, etc. Raquel and I both get a sketch vibe from him and wish to quicken our leave, but Ehren happily conversates with the man, always too polite to cut a discussion short. Finally, after what seems like eons, we get our wish and start the trek back towards our hotel, with a fresh dose of paranoia sinking through to our bones.

It’s a feeling we’ll encounter time and time again from every middle-aged expat we meet along the way who chooses a life in Mexico. While we appreciate the honesty of day-to-day life for a foreigner, their jadedness tends to stir up a sense of unexperienced (for us) but seemingly inherent distrust and increased difficulty in enjoying a place or its people. It’s something we struggle to balance as we are continually awestruck by the beauty of the locations we visit and the warmth and kindness of the people we do experience firsthand. Perhaps it is the dark side of long-term travel—in a country long enough to see past the glaze of tourism, but still not long enough to get the full story.

To continue our abbreviated story, that night we send a text to Gary to see where him and Johnston have ended up. He responds that he left Johnston behind in Mulegé that morning and opted for a hotel with a pool in Loreto. Johnston actually ends up heading to La Paz that day (quite a trek) and gets tickets for the Tuesday ferry, the same ferry we are planning on catching the next day. Gary offers to head over from Loreto first thing in the morning to meet us for breakfast.

Obviously taken by David, here’s one of the five of us before we split ways. If you can’t tell by now, we didn’t take a lot of photos ourselves during this stretch.

Morning comes and Gary is sitting in the parking lot of our hotel. The five of us go out for breakfast at the same cafe we went to the day before, where we discuss our individual travel plans over chilaquiles and fresh-squeezed orange juice. After we return to the hotel, we say goodbye to Raquel and David as they head out for a destination south of La Paz. We head out with Gary, having decided we will spend two nights at a hotel (with a freakin’ rooftop pool!) in La Paz instead of riding in to catch a ferry right away.

Upon arrival, we see there are a few other motorcycle travelers staying at the same hotel. Bingo! We meet a couple from Canada on KTMs, and a ragtag duo from New York who are doing a two-year journey around the world on their DR650s. They’d adopted an Italian on a mid-90s Honda Africa Twin (competitor to our Elefants back in the day) into their team for the Baja leg of their trip.

We chatted with everyone over breakfast the next morning (we said goodbye to the Canadians, who were leaving to head to Cabo), then Gary joined the two of us to walk down to the ferry office to get our tickets for Thursday’s boat to Mazatlán. After checking out the malecón (Spanish word for boardwalk) that evening, we decided to go to a highly recommended pizza place for dinner (the New York/Italian trio were just finishing up when we sat down, so we knew it must be a good place).

La Paz, the evening before our departure.

The malecón was dotted with statues.

The next day we said farewell to the DR650 and Africa Twin riders and hung around the hotel as late as we could, since we didn’t have to be at the ferry until 5:30 that evening. Got some trip research and bike maintenance completed, then made our way over to the port at Pichilingue. Went through customs and paid our port fees, and without hesitation were able to load the bikes on the ferry alongside some semi trailers. While strapping our steeds onto the ferry deck, we met some other bikers from Mexico who were returning home from a trip through the southwest U.S. and Baja.

Gary snapped this one of us getting ready to board the ferry.

We checked in at the onboard reception office, where we were shown our cabin (we opted for one in order to get some sleep and a shower, since it was an overnight ferry), and then made our way up to the cafeteria for dinner (which, along with breakfast, was included in our ticket). After chatting with our biker friends a bit more, we headed down to our cabin to get some sleep.

We’re on a boat!

Gary’s photo of us chillin’ in the cafeteria onboard.

Me and the little captain.

Morning arrives and we head up for a quick breakfast before returning to our room to pack up our things as we are arriving in port at Mazatlán. Once we are docked, we return to unleash and repack our bikes and debark the boat. One of our moto friends is having issues with his throttle so we pull off on a side road in the port to assist him. While that is going on, I decide to rip off my left front fairing to figure out where a burning smell I experienced the previous day was coming from. Carlos, one of the bikers we met, comes over to help me suss it out and discovers a wire that has been blackened by excessive heat. Ehren traces that back to the connector between the stator and regulator/rectifier and discovers it is in the process of melting down.

We’re… still on a boat.

Gary caught this special moment: Carlos, Ehren and I trying to figure out why Fritz continually earns his moniker over and over again.

The meltdown. We’re thinking with all the jostling around on our washboard excursion that something must have come loose and starting shorting out in the connection itself (odd, cuz usually our weatherpak connectors are bulletproof).

The biker crew at port (courtesy of Gary’s phone).

Awesome! We disconnect it and I ride to our hotel on battery power. On our way we meet up with Jim, an expat and fellow rider on ADV who Gary has been in touch with. After we settle in at the hotel, he comes by with his car and takes us to Walmart to get some bike maintenance supplies and water. He then gives us a brief tour of Mazatlán, telling us about how the place has changed in the past 15 years and advises us on where to go and how much to pay for a taxi or pulmonía (VW chassis with golf cart body, popular way to get up and down the 20-mile malecón). He also lends us a soldering iron, which Ehren uses the next day to solder my wires together so my battery can charge once more.

Ehren, Gary and Jim shootin’ the breeze in front of a convenience store.

While I recline on my broken bike. Note that I am also not wearing my riding pants. Typically a big no-no, I had to forego them when leaving the ferry because in my haste to don them, I tripped and broke the zipper. Luckily it was an easy fix once at the hotel!

In this photo from Gary, Ehren gets an assist from Jim (I am in the hotel room being grumpy while this is going on) with soldering my stator and reg/rec wires together. So far, this fix has held up well!

Our first sighting of a Dia de Muertos altar. This one is displayed near the produce section of the Walmart Jim brought us to in order to get more motorcycle oil (which we also changed on both bikes at the hotel).

We are able to meet up with Raquel and David again when they arrive on a ferry the day after us. Their ride was not as nice as ours, as it was more of a commercial barge (but it was much cheaper for them and their Land Cruiser, where it would have been more expensive for us and our bikes—go figure). The previous day we had been invited to a beach barbecue by a vacationing family from Durango who were staying at our hotel, so the four of us joined up with Gary (who had been with them for a few hours at this point, being the social force of our trio).

Gary, David, Raquel and I enjoying some delicious food that our Durango friends were kind enough to share with us.

This was taken with either David or Raquel’s phone. The little girl was the one who knew the most English, so it was fun to help her practice it as well as practice our Spanish with the rest of the family.

Sunset along the malecón. I realize more and more with each photo I see them in that my shorts are ridiculous.

Our crowded pulmonía ride downtown!

We ended the day with the five of us sharing a crowded pulmonía ride to the open-air market downtown, then walked back a few miles along the malecón to our respective hotels for the night. We said goodbye to David and Raquel once again, as they were preparing to head south towards Tepic the next day, while we would be joining Gary on his ride north to Durango along the Espinazo del Diablo, or Devil’s Backbone—a twisty gnarly road that connects Mazatlán and Durango.




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