Aimee’s heat still hadn’t passed and we spent the whole night having to endure her chirping, pawing at the window in a frantic search for boy cats. We would definitely have to act soon. She clearly wasn’t happy about it either.
As Aimee made sure we were definitely awake at sunrise, I got up and let her out, she would end up inside once we got to La Paz, so I hoped she would tire herself out. She seemed a lot better, hassling the local lizards, chasing them through the surrounding bushes.
Spending Steve up to get some footage of us parked, I had a brilliant idea. Just like the whales at Nine Palms, I could send him out, scouting for the whale sharks. If I spotted one, we could rush out and swim to it. It took me only minutes to find one. Eager to show off my brilliance, I bounded around the camp pointing at my phone.
“Look… I’ve found one!”
As it only took me a few minutes to find one, we were fairly confident that we could just swim out at anytime and swim with one; so we didn’t rush to get ourselves ready. Finally sorted, we strolled down to the beach. Everyone but Willow and me had a board to themselves. Agreeing to share, I popped back to the van to get the GoPro, returning to find everyone already making their way out. Now, I am not ashamed to admit that swimming is not my specialty. I find that for all of the effort I put into moving, I actually move very little. Struggling to catch up, Willow offered me the board. We tried to use it jointly as a float, but made very poor progress. Being a more confident swimmer, she let me use the board, as I was never gonna make it out far enough otherwise. Sadly, my board technique is not much better, and I splashed about enthusiastically hoping to catch up. Watching Willow pull ahead, I realised that I desperately needed practice in water.
Already feeling exhausted, I watched one of the official tour boats pull up to the rest of the group. As I had almost closed the distance, they started swimming back towards me.
“They told us that these are restricted waters. ” Ina informed me. “Us being out here is supposedly endangering the whale sharks.”
I suspected that they didn’t want word to spread that you could see the whale sharks for free, rather than forking out almost $100 for the same experience. Not wanting to be reported, we turned around and made our way back to the vans. Gutted to be denied an opportunity to swim with an amazing animal.
With not much chance of seeing the sharks, we packed up and drove round to La Paz, parking at an abandoned school. We were shortly joined by Ola and Rachel. It felt nice to almost have most of the group back together and I was kind of excited about a night out. Drinking out in town is not something we’ve done often. It’s not always as fun by yourselves. After a few drinks, we always think that we could just be drinking in the van, saving money.
With a Snobs playlist playing, we all enjoyed some drinks whilst catching up. I even played a couple of games of chess with John. Getting smashed everytime. I vowed that I would beat him before we parted ways for good. When it was nearly time to set off, everybody got changed into their best gladrags. I debated going full peaky blinder, but it was way too hot for. Shirt and waist coat, so I settled on just a flat cap.
We were soon heading off to the Malecón, La Paz’s main strip. Full of bars and restaurants which overlook the marina. We had agreed to meet the rest of the group at Mango Blues, a vegan taco hangout. We arrived at the taco shop to find Jerome and Meli, with Danny, Luke and Emma. Mango Blues did super cheap tacos, with most costing as little as $15pesos. That was about 50p a taco! We ordered a selection of tacos to try, along with some fruit smoothies, as they didn’t serve alcohol, I popped down the road to buy a cheap bottle of Captain Morgans rum. It’s not a birthday party without fun beverages!
The tacos came and Willow and I divided ours up, adding extra toppings to make them a little more interesting. The tacos were nice, but not especially filling. We ordered an additional two of our favourites from the selection. Still not feeling satisfied once we were done. It was cheap though, so we could have stayed and continued eating throughout the night if we wanted to. We thought it best to save room for drinks however, and the group set off to a bar round the corner, which supposedly had a pool table.
I don’t think the bar man was prepared for a large group of Gringos walking in, horror visible on his face. He managed to get through the resulting drinks orders and we chilled out, whilst a friendly game of pool was played out on the table. A bar across the road was blasting out Black Sabbath. Apparently, you can take the boy away from Birmingham, but you can’t take Birmingham away from the boy. Now this was my kind of party.
We were soon on the march again, looking for our next destination, walking past crowded bars along the Malecón. We ended up at a bar which Jerome and Meli had visited before. A bar which had been interested style to resemble an American street. It had an open balcony bar on the roof, which allowed us to enjoy a slight breeze from the humid night air.
We noticed many of the guests were drinking elaborate looking cocktails, after browsing the menu, we couldn’t believe the prices. Mojitos and margaritas for only $60pesos. That worked out about £2 a cocktail. Absolute bargain! We spent the rest of our night at that bar, sampling all sorts of delicious cocktails, all made from scratch.
“It would be so cheap to live here permanently.” I commented. The thought even more tempting after a couple of mango mojitos. A night on the town had been long overdue, and it was nice to share the experience with our close friends.
I didn’t want the night to end, but eventually it was time to walk back. We stopped at an Oxxo shop on the way back, to get a drink for the walk. Not completely done.
Jerome and Meli headed back to the hotel they were treating themselves to as part of Jerome’s birthday. Emma and Luke had parked else where in the town, and Danny had parked by a nearby skate park. He decided to move to our creepy abandoned school, giving us a lift in the process. We finished our drinks under the night sky and then hit the sack.
The sound of my alarm stirred me from my alcohol fueled slumber. Considering the vast amounts of alcohol that were consumed the night before, I somehow managed to wake up and drag myself out of bed. A few of us had agreed to wake up early to walk down to the marina to see if we could find a cheap tour boat to take us out to swim with the whale sharks properly. Danny had enquired before, so knew you had to arrive early to guarantee a spot.
The good news was that they had spots available for us all. The bad news was that is was a lot more than the quote Danny claimed to have been told. And at almost $80 dollars per person, Willow and I felt it was too much money to spend on a luxury. So we headed back to Ruby, leaving the others to do the tour.
As we were up early, we decided to be productive, so headed back to the marina, which had an onsite launderette. With a washload in, we bought some non alcoholic drinks in a restaurant so that we could use some WiFi to update our blogs. From the restaurant, we watched as John, Ina and Danny set off on the boat for the tour, a pang of sadness hanging over us, as we were missing out on a memorable experience in order to keep our costs down.
“Maybe when we publish our first book, we will sell enough to be able to afford extra luxuries.” I hoped wishfully.
We had been contemplating rewriting our former blog adventures for sometime, and with all our other attempts at additional incomes struggling, we felt writing was our last salvation in raising our monthly costs enough to not have to scrape by.
“Only if we proof read them!” Willow added.
Back at the van, our clothes weren’t the only thing which required cleaning. The familiar odour had once again started oozing out of our composting toilet, indicating that it was time to empty it. A big hole dug, we buried to contents fairly easily compared to previous efforts. We were clearly getting the hang of it, and could now consider ourselves professional poop cleaners.
We needed some more cleaning products, so I cycled in search of some bleach or disinfectant. Finding some supplies in a nearby petrol station. I had received a text from Willow informing me that Jerome and Meli were about to leave and were waiting for me to return for one final group picture.
From La Paz, they would start making their way back up to the States. Over the past week, cases of the Coronavirus had slowly started to creep up, and some countries were now starting to talk about shutting down and implementing social distancing. Worried that the US border might shut, leaving them stranded in Baja, they had made the decision to start making their way back north. Feeling like they had experienced everything Baja had to offer.
Watching them drive off was hard, we knew that soon, our small family would break apart completely and we would once again be left by ourselves to continue our own journey.
We were due to drive that afternoon to Tecolote beach just north of La Paz, for another Vanlife meeting, but just before we were about to set off, Ola and Rachel received a phone call informing them that the event had been cancelled due to concerns about the virus. We decided that we would spend a couple more days as a group, whilst people decided what they would do next. In a matter of days, concerns regarding Covid19 had escalated quickly, although there wasn’t much sign of it being a threat so far in Baja.
We gladly moved on from the creepy abandoned school, we left everyone to make our own way to a supermarket. We needed a few supplies, and so would meet everyone at the beach later. Being in Baja’s largest town, we had the luxury of a Hypermarket, and walked around amazed by the selection of groceries we now had on offer. Grabbing enough for a couple of days, we agreed to return on our way back through La Paz, stocking up for a longer period. Who knows how long we would have until Baja started following the rest of the world?
We pulled up to the beach, just as the group were walking down towards some bars parked the opposite end to the beach camping. Apparently, there were tour boats for hire, which would ferry groups across to a nearby island. There you could explore and find a cover full of sea lions. They felt it would be easier to negotiate with a larger group asking in person, so we parked up and joined them.
Speaking to the bar owner, Danny and Ina tried desperately to bring the cost down to an amount we would all be happy to pay. The bar owner was having now of it, trying to sell us a trio which included food and beer. We explained that none of that was necessary, but we ignored our pleas.
“Come on… Do it for $4000peso.” Danny bargained.
“$4000peso. Too low. $4000 would pay for just the boat, captain and fuel.”
Despite that being exactly what we wanted, he refused to offer us anything than the complete package. Sensing we were flogging a dead horse, we left disappointed. Driving Ruby down to the other end of the beach. It seemed we were not meant to go on any boat tours during our stay around La Paz.
We parked up just in time to witness an even greater sunset than all of the other ‘best sunsets’ we had seen. We may not have had boat tours, but you can forget any problems whilst losing yourself in the majestic colours.
Whilst sat around enjoying some drinks, the group was visited by a Mexican guy who referred to himself as ‘Big Nose’. And yes… He did actually have a massive carrot where his nose should have been! Big Nose worked down at the bars and in very broken English, we wanted to try and sell us a boat trip for the next day. We assumed that the bar manager must have complained about a bunch of Gringos looking for a cheap ride. Just like before, Big Nose was reluctant to change his price, I mean a group of non-Mexicans must have lots of money right? Frustrated, he left, no-one benefiting from the negotiations.
In the morning, we would explore the nearby area instead. There was another gorgeous public beach within walking distance, with golden sands and clear waters. It was a popular destination with the locals, so surely it would be worth a visit.