An introduction to La Paz

We first arrived at La Paz, driving up from our afternoon in La Ventana. We had decided to drive around and park on a sandy spit that goes out into the bay. Our friends David and Katie had parked here recently and said they had seen whale sharks. As the paid tour for this is $100 USD/pp we were all up for the free option. We decided we would try and paddle out on our surfboard into the bay and spot the that way. We arrived in the evening, after driving a while down some rather unpleasant washboard road found a small area we could just about squeeze our two campers off the side of the road. While nothing too special, we were incredibly close to the sea. It would have been lovely to be able to park in the sand dunes further back, but that was definitely a job for a 4×4 and neither of us would even contemplate it in our campers. Shortly after dark, we were joined by Rachel and Ola who had headed back up from filming an event at El Tule. Aimee was still on heat and ran around frantically prerping and stick her bottom in the air, still at least this made her easy to locate, a small bonus for the sleepless nights she was giving us.

It was Wednesday morning, and we still had some time to kill before we met the others in La Paz later. We flew Steve out over the bay and managed to spot a whale shark, while John watched the progress of the tour boats from the top of his bus.

We learnt later that there was only 14 boats allowed out on the water, and that these then had to take it in turns to locate a whale shark, before returning. As a nature reserve, there was some pretty strict rules in place. There was nothing however to saw we couldn’t swim out ourselves. In hindsight, we should have go right there and then when we spotted on the drone, but in actual fact we didn’t go until later. By this point the water was a lot choppier, and Steve appeared to have got sand in his gimbal which was stopping it from working. After managing to get the sand out, we flew him out again to see the direction we should head in, but this time we had no luck. We decided to paddle out anyway and see if we got lucky. The two of us trying to share and paddle on one surf board was not a success, so as the stronger swimmer I ended up swimming, while Lee used the board. We bobbed around in the ocean for a while with no success, and limited visibility underwater before heading back in. If nothing else, it was a good swim, the water quite a pleasant temperature.

The rest of the day was spent fixing a puncture on Rachel and Ola’s van, before cleaning ourselves up and getting dangerously closed to being dressed up too. We drove to a planned parking spot in the centre of La Paz, the former car park of a now abandoned school. It was full of rubbish, but seemed safe enough and was also close enough to walk to Mango Blues, the vegan restaurant where we were meeting everyone else.

It wasn’t quite time head over the restaurant yet, so Ina had set up the beginnings of a cocktail bar in their camper. This featured some very large bottles of spirits that could only be from Costco and several different juices. I still had some coconut cream so first up we made Pina Coladas. Rachel volunteered packet of tamarind flavouring and the three of us experimented with what we thought would make a good cocktail. This ended up being a kind of gin and tonic based event, which was a bit odd but nevertheless quite nice. We got a bit side tracked with our pre-drinks and suddenly realised that it was already 6pm and that we were late. Hastily, we packed up our vans and set off as it was still a 20 minute walk to the restaurant. When we arrived, Luke and Emma were already there and we were also reunited with Danny and another couple (Naima and Joaquin) who had been at La Pastora. Jerome looked pretty surprised to see us all turn up, which was nice and we set ourselves up a big table and went about ordering some food.

The cheapest tacos so far, these were only 15mxp each, so Lee and I ordered one of each to try them all.

He also went to the local shop and bought a bottle of Captain Morgan’s to spice up the fruit juices we had ordered. The tacos were pretty good, and we ordered a couple more in the end as they weren’t as filling as they meat counterparts. Having eaten our fill, it was time to move on and find a bar. We walked just around the corner to another place as it claimed to have a pool table. We didn’t stay here for too long as it was a bit dead, but long enough for a speedy gin and tonic and for some people to have a game of pool. We were a pretty big group, with 13 of us so it took us a little while to get back to the seafront and amble along.

No one really knew where we were going, and it was a bit difficult to co-ordinate so many of us. People stopped off here and there along the way to buy walking beer. In the end, Meli directed us into a bar they had been to before. We sat upstairs on the roof and ordered some rather cheap (£2.50) but very good cocktails. A guy came around and took our picture, and then tried to sell it to us for 100mxp, which was more than buying a drink. In the end, we gave him 40mxp and he left looking a bit disgruntled.

From the left: Danny, Ola, Rachel, Lee, Me, John, Ina, Jerome, Meli, Naima, Emma & Luke. Joaquin – MIA

We stayed here for a while, trying different cocktails on the menu and just hanging out with a cool group of people.

£2.50 Mango Margherita

Slowly people started leaving, in the end leaving just us, John and Ina, Rachel and Ola and Danny. We persuaded Danny that he should move his van round to the same car park as us and we all piled in the back of his camper as he drove us around to the spot. It was a good night, if not a particularly long one, and I definitely think doing a big city is often better with a group of people. This is especially true if you’re there for the nightlife, it’s not the same sitting in the bar just the two of you.

Jerome messaged us to say he was feeling worse for wear the following morning, which probably had something to do with all the birthday shots he had been bought. The rest of us hadn’t hit it that hard so we weren’t too incapacitated. In fact, we had decided to get up early as Danny said there was a whale shark tour for $45 but that we had to be there at 7.45am. even so, it was slightly grudging that I got up at 7am the following morning. Still, we were more organised for this than for the grey whale tour and managed to have the tea and the camera ready this time. We walked to the tour centre, which was only a 10 minute walk away, unfortunately when we got there it turns out that the tour was actually $100 each. This was a bit out of our price range, and while John, Ina and Danny stayed we headed back to the camper. It would have been a nice thing to do, but that price is an entire week’s budget for us and we were trying to save money by being here.

Instead, we settled for the exciting activity of doing our washing. There was a laundrette at the marina, so we got our clothes ready and walked down. We planned to sit in the café and use the Wi-Fi while we waited. The marina itself was quite pretty, and after an hour or so we saw the other leave on the boat ready to go out on their tour and we also watched some fairly big swimming on the pontoon we were sat on.

The Wi-Fi on the other hand was another matter, still we had time to kill and even though it was painfully slow, we managed to get some of the things we wanted done. Our morning may not have been quite as fun but it was pretty productive at least.

It was around lunchtime when Jerome and Meli pulled up into the parking lot. They had come to say goodbye to us as they were heading north for the border. It was at this time that the Coronavirus had just started to become something of a reality that might affect us. Until this point it had been talk of problems in other countries, Italy being hit hard, and the rest of Europe also suffering. There were rumours that the US/Mexican border might be shut down for tourism, and they didn’t want to be stuck in Baja for what would be an unknown period of time. Luke and Emma also had similar plans and were heading off too. So this time we said our goodbyes properly, wishing them safe travels on their 20 hour trip north to the border.  

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