Layover in La Paz, aka Cheeseburger in Paradise

(updated 11/29)

We arrived in La Paz on November 20, and took a slip at Marina Palmira just north of town. We are booked at this marina ’til Wednesdayday 12/1. The highs have been in the upper 70s and low 80s and lows overnight have been a temperate mid to upper 50s. There are supposedly some winter storms (just wind and waves, nothing like Seattle and S F is having currently)  coming, so we may stay here a few days longer, but hopefully head out to one of the nearby islands north of here (snorkeling/swimming/kayaking, and it’s just quieter than the docks, the marina workers were jack-hammering for five days and a welder two boats over has been running his metal grinder!).

Within the next couple weeks we will cross over to the mainland for the winter. Probably our first stop will be Mazatlan, which will be about a 24-30 hour run across the Sea of Cortez. The next few months we will transit somewhere between Mazatlan and Ixtapa/Zihuateneho, our current insurance coverage allows us to go as far south as Acapulco. We don’t have an interest to go any further south for some time, there is too much to see in Mexico first.

La Paz has a population of over 200,000 and has most everything a cruiser could want. Costs of groceries and eating out are similar or cheaper than the U.S. First grocery store we have been in had plenty of turkeys, I don’t recall the price but we didn’t have the fridge space either. There’s a local Sam’s Club (like Costco) that is on our agenda while we are here, we are just about out of all the fresh fruit/veggies that we bought at in Costco/Cabo around 11/6. You learn to make things last when the best shopping is not continually a few minutes away.

Buffalito Grill, La Paz (our second visit in two days), 1/4 kilo cheeseburger.

Costs of boat parts/supplies are either similar or much more than the U.S. There are several marine suppliers in the area that have a quite good selection. We’ve bought a new battery here for and are looking at (an additional) small anchor for the dinghy (decent prices), but we have definitely started a running list of “boat items” to buy when we fly back to San Francisco for ten days in January. We will definitely save money by bringing things back from the U.S. (and we have an “import permit” to allow us to bring in replacement parts duty-free) , and some items are simply not available here. Shipping things down from the states is nearly impossible (well, you can ship them down here but receiving them is a different story!)

Two days after arriving, we found the local bread guy in town (well, there must be others but this guy Les promotes himself to the cruisers). We bought a small rustica loaf, some savory crackers, 2 onion bialys, and some killer bar-shaped crispy cookies. We were back again two days later for a loaf of sourdough and focaccia, ALL DELISH! The baker does different things on different days, so multiple visits are fortuitous. Our carb intake is going way up!!! After we leave here we might be on a tortilla diet for a while.

The local cruisers club hosted a Thanksgiving potluck (held at our marina). They provided the (21 we heard) turkeys, gravy and cranberry for about $2 a person, and about 260 attendees. It was sold out by Monday with a waiting list, we JUST made it “in”.  There was more than enough to eat, and the turkey carcasses we given away to those craving some turkey soup. Attendees brought (spectacular) sides, eating utensils and their own beverages. We dug out some nice white wine out of our “cellar” and brought a wild rice/dried cranberry/pignoli salad. (You Minnesotans out there know that I have to have wild rice at the holidays!)

Thanksgiving in La Paz (Julie & Bill are above the red arrowhead), some of the 21 turkeys served. Photo Credit: Club Cruceros La Paz

In addition to hosting social events like the Thanksgiving dinner and fund-raising events for local underprivileged children, the “club cruceros” also hosts about a 30 minute morning radio program on VHF channel 22 each day. The “net” offers opportunities for reports on health and other emergencies (few to none), local businesses who offer services to cruisers, upcoming events going on in La Paz (Spanish or yoga class anyone?), items to swap or trade, general inquiries about where to buy something, who has a mail or package delivery (best way is for someone to physically bring something down for you), and reports on the daily exchange rate, local tide information, and upcoming weather predictions. Channel 22 is also a general conduit for cruisers to talk to one another about anything and everything, sort of like the old “party” lines via telephone, there are no secrets here as anyone can listen in. Two recent questions were where to purchase egg-carton mattress foam (the local Sears store) and where to locate a “piggy” bank (many local gift shops…we saw them from pocket size to life size!). Some questions and answers are very informative to all, other questions let you know that some people have really no clue as to what is going on or they have failed to listen carefully to conversations that occurred five minutes previously. You have to have a lot of patience as a cruiser!

Being tied up at a dock for a few days allows us to catch up on some special boat projects like going up the mast (definitely something to be done when the boat is very steady).
Bill installed some pretty blue LED light bars on the mast, so we can find our boat in the dark in a crowded anchorage and especially after those ubiquitous adult beverages in the evening! In some areas there are also a vast number of (primarily local) boats moving quickly in the dark who do not bother to look up 65 feet for our anchor light. Hopefully this will keep folks from running into us, so we do not have to take advantage of our Mexican liability insurance. Bill is of course happy when he can tinker with some boat projects, sewing up a sun shade for the warmer months is one of the pending jobs on his list.