Should I stay or should I go?

By the time we’d left Playa Tecolote and finished our shopping in La Paz that day, it was getting way too late to think about driving anywhere. We are now all parked up back at the car park in La Paz centre. Lee wanders off down the street with a beer to see if he can find the part that fell off our shower. I forgot to fit the valve back on when I was trying to fix it and we think it fell off just down the road. It’s kind of annoying because it means we can’t pressurise the shower properly now. He’s gone a little while and when he comes back he looks kinda pissed off.

“I nearly just got arrested!” He announces. Everyone sticks their heads out of the window to listen. Probably the first encounter we’ve had with bent police, they tried to arrest him for street drinking (bearing in mind that beer bottles litter all the streets here) and put him in a cell. When he refused they wanted money, but he didn’t have any on him and eventually they let him go. This was pretty fortunate really, as he didn’t have a phone on him so wouldn’t have been able to contact us. I’m not sure how long it would have taken for me to get concerned when he never came back, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

After that little drama, we set about getting ready to go into the town. Firstly, we enjoyed the sun set in our little city camp spot.

No one seemed deterred by Lee’s recent predicament, and all left carrying their own beers for the walk in.

We wandered around in the easy indecision that comes from having a lot of people in one group. John and Danny wanted a steak, we wanted vegan tacos and Rachel and Ola had already eaten. We ended up sitting down at restaurant on the seafront, moving all the tables around and receiving menus, before deciding that we would actually walk back the way we had come. The place we had played pool the night before offered steaks and was only around the corner from the vegan tacos. It was therefore kind of disappointing, for John and Danny at least, when we got there to find it closed. We walked around to Mango Blues and that was closed too, so there we were, all disappointed together. We did at least see some cool sculptures on our wanderings.

Hanging our heads in shame, we returned to the previous restaurant only to find someone had taken our big table. In the end we got a seat upstairs and ordered. Maybe it was a sign we shouldn’t have eaten here as the food wasn’t that great, and the cocktails equally mundane. Deciding we wanted another decent drink before we headed back, we went back to the bar of the previous visit that had those rather good cheap cocktails and set about enjoying them instead.

Apparently tomorrow was a Mexican bank holiday, which accounted for the incredibly busy bars on the Malecon. We wandered past several armed police, who were completely unconcerned that most of our party had ‘walking beers’. We also noticed that the sport games being shown on the TV here were being played to an empty stadium, it seemed like the effects of the Coronavirus, now causing havoc in the US was reaching south towards us.

This was supposed to be our final night together as a group, but as the day had progressed it seemed more and more likely that the US/Mexican border would be closed. It looked like we might all decide to stay a little longer. We mostly had dates that tied us to being back in the US. John had work, Rachel and Ola the VanLife event calendar, and us Silverado. It seemed likely that all these things would be cancelled or at least postponed, and there was no rush for US to head back into a country that wasn’t doing so well.

This meant that the next morning, instead of leaving to head north we all ended up drive back south slightly. I think we had all enjoyed hanging out in Todos Santos, and having been chucked out of that private beach last time, we know knew where we should have gone.

We went for a few final supplies, before heading off. Including try to find a new valve for the shower. Not having much luck, we filled up with fuel and headed for San Pedrito. We parked up again in our little square set up, which works pretty well if there happens to be 4 campers. Danny collected some wood, and built a fire pit, only for everyone else to decided they needed an early night and go to bed.

The morning came, and our conversations were still riddled with virus talk. Should we stay? Should we go? Having no idea how long this pandemic would last for made it very had to make any kind of decision. We also couldn’t predict the US or Mexican governments reaction to the pandemic which would have a large impact on what we could or couldn’t do. Regardless of all this going on some things were certain. One of these things was that wherever we went, our leisure batteries were in dire need of some TLC. As we sat there the previous evening watching Doc Martin, we noticed our LED lighting was flashing in time to the fuel pump on the Wallas. Considering that combined, these two things probably draw less than 1A, from two batteries that should have a usable capacity of 115A.h, this is an indication of a seriously unhappy battery. We had been planning to try and properly recondition our batteries on hook up, as the cycle runs for some time, but it was getting to the point where we needed to sort these now. Electrick hook up is a little scarce down here unless you want to pay top dollar for an RV site, around $20 a night. Used to Mexican prices, I now consider anything over 100mxp to be extortionate and avoid it at all costs. Our crummy batteries meant that long gone were the times where we could turn on the Wallas without the engine running, which is incredibly annoying, especially in the morning.

So that morning, after I had awoken to the sound of John enthusiastically crushing empty cans at around 7am, we decided that enough was enough, and we would try to run the repair cycle on our generator. In order to do it properly, both batteries need to be completely disconnected, charge fully, and then put into repair mode individually. John was kind enough to let us use his generator and battery charger which meant we could at least charge both batteries simultaneously. The first battery charged in a worryingly short amount of time, while this might sound like a good thing it really isn’t and just shows the lack of capacity that battery now has. The second one put up a bit more of a fight, and it wasn’t too long until we had the first one set up and running on repair mode. Now all we could do was wait and see if our smart charger really was that smart.

In the meantime we watched this bloke enjoying himself.

Our little spate of productivity seemed to have inspired the camp. As John had taken a bunch of stuff out of his ‘garage’ to get the generator out, him and Ina set about tidying it properly. This meant she found her rings she’s previously lost, so the productive day was going well. I’m not sure what Danny was doing, but there was definitely also some form of DIY going on in the back of his van too.

We had also decided to go for a movie night tonight, and in the spirit of things we had downloaded a few films to choose from. Four Lions, Snatch or Contagion (seemed appropriate) were the choice for tonight’s film night.  

Our generator rumbled on throughout the day, and eventually it seemed happy that the first battery was repaired. This wasn’t the bad one of the pair though, and a bit later than we would have liked we stuck the other one on. According to the charger manufacturer, repair mode can take up to 4 hours to run, meaning by 10pm we should be in business. Not wanting to leave our generator running into the night, we hoped it would make it. The process wasn’t helped by the fact that the charger is normally hardwired to the batteries. Therefore, in order to run it with the batteries disconnected, I had to cable tie the leads to the terminals. We also then had to borrow a jumper cable to extend the wire on one side as the chargers’ cable wasn’t long enough. This over the top setup got knocked, and that meant the whole cycle had to restart.

In the meantime, we got set up for movie night. Danny had a grey bedsheet and some clips, while we had our projector screen. We layered the two together and using clips and some magnets, stuck it to the back of his camper, sheltered from the wind. We moved the fire pit around to the back too, and got it lit. While everyone else cooked, we didn’t really have that luxury, with all our electrics off. We were keeping some things (beer) cold in John’s fridge as ours was off all day but we had also run out of gas so we couldn’t cook on our butane stove. This meant our dinner consisted of a bag of tortillas, ranch dip and some rather odd cheese.

Four Lions was voted for as the film for that night, and we had the projector set up successfully using our table. We had to run the projector through Danny’s inverter, our transformer and then an extension lead, but it worked! It was cool that we actually managed to use it for once, normally it seems either too cold or too much effort, but tonight was perfect. The remains of the campfire burned in the pit next to us and we enjoyed a very black comedy relating to some pretty bad terrorists.

By the time the film had finished, only Rachel and Ola made it to the end. Danny, John and Ina were already in bed and it was time turn the generator off. The battery charger was still not happy that the batteries were fully charged, but it was getting late and we decided enough was enough. We didn’t reconnect our setup as we knew that the fridge would be pulling a load of power. We thought we would give them another charge first thing in the morning, and the reconnect everything with the generator still running in order to offset the draw from the fridge.

That morning, I wasn’t convinced that the charger was running properly, as it kept getting to 100% and then resetting itself. After running it for an entire day yesterday, we were moving on anyway, so we reconnected everything and let the fridge run. In the meantime, I also messaged NOCO the manufacturers of the battery charger to ask about how it was working. The plan was to move over to La Pastora, after stopping off in Todos Santos. We began the lengthy process of packing our van away which took us a while as we had had everything out to access the batteries. Eventually, we were ready to go.

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