The jungle, a boat, and some deep fried crickets: Mazatlan to San Blas


Not in that order, however. First the boat:

Getting the rig on a ferry seemed kind of daunting to me at first. Probably because in the mountains of research we did for this trip, I saw a video of a Russian cargo ship in an icy storm and huge seas. It was transporting cars on the top deck that hadn't been strapped down (or had broken loose) in the storm. A few slid back and forth across the deck, and one ended up hanging precariously off the side with only the back tires holding it on. And then slid off the side into the abyss. So! I wanted get to the ferry pretty early. What I thought would be a chaotic afternoon with a frenzy of truckers and a mob of people was actually really relaxed and quite civilized. We think it was because we had tickets for Three Kings Day, which is a holiday in Mexico, and probably not a big travel day.

Not that busy, fortunately.

Waiting for our turn to load

We have also taken to calling the rig LoJo, as a tribute to John's awesome mom, Jo, and our beloved dog, Lola. Both passed away before we left home so we feel like they are our guardian angels on this journey. Also, both were tough old broads. If the truck's half as tough as they were, we are going to be just fine.

Anyway, all day I kept saying we have to put LoJo on a boat today, which would be the first time we didn't have the rig in our sights since we left home. Once we got through customs, John drove LoJo up into the belly of the beast and then out onto the top deck (I would have preferred it go underneath...!) and then we settled ourselves in for the 19-hour journey. We had a little cabin that was actually quite comfortable. John went back to check on LoJo, and saw that the crew had in fact strapped it onto the deck. Whew. I will admit I woke up in the middle of the night to a pretty good rolling motion and had visions of it lurching out of the straps. But the next morning all was ok and LoJo rolled off the boat ready for action.

The man in charge

These big semi rigs get manuvered on with frightening speed!

LoJo on the top deck ready for the journey across the Sea of Cortez

Our little coffin...oops, I mean cabin.

Deep Fried Crickets:

We docked in Mazaltan at around noon, and hadn't a clue where to go or what to do. A few travelers we talked to on the ferry said don't bother with Mazatlan and others said it's a great little city we should explore. We were pretty tired after a less than great night sleep so we decided to stay one night in Mazatlan. We headed up the coast along the malecón to a city campground right on the beach called Mar Rosa. The next morning was lazy. Whenever we have good Internet it's all about catch up, blog posts, and emails. We looked up from all that and saw it was about 1:00 pm - too late to make the 4+ hour drive down to San Blas, our next destination. So we both went for a run along the beach and then made our way into old town Mazatlan by bus. Once in the historic district, we strolled along cobble stone streets, little galleries, cool restaurants, and wine bars in neighborhoods that seem to be a good mix of locals and ex pats. We were pleasantly surprised.

Old town Mazatlan. Very cute.

Abandoned building in Old Town

Old Town felt very reminiscent of Havana, Cuba

After dinner we ran into a Canadian woman we met on the ferry. She lived part time in the area and was with a friend of hers named Juan Paulo (his wife's name is Paula...go figure). He told us he was originally from Baja, but is finishing up his P.h.D in Santiago, Chile. His field of study is desire. No joke. A P.h.D in desire. And what does one do with a P.h.D in desire? Open a gourmet taco restaurant/art gallery called Delirium. After some heavy conversation on wants and desire vs. need, we headed to the bar to taste some mezcal. Seemed like the right thing to do. Mezcal, we learned, is not tequila at all, but derived from a completely different plant. There are 25 different varieties of the mezcal plant, with different traditions in the roasting process and many artisanal producers. Juan Paulo sources from these small producers and hosts tastings in the gallery. All very interesting. What is also interesting is that we learned mezcal is traditionally served with slices of oranges and deep fried crickets. Little meaty morsels in a worm salt rub. Not warm salt rub, worm salt rub. Yuk. I tried one which was enough, but John scarfed down the whole plate. If we were worried about the food down here, those little bar snacks got us over the hump.

Smells like....tequila! Juan y Juan Paulo tasting mezcal.

Sip, slurp and crunch. How this combo came to be I do not know.

Yeah...No thanks.

The Jungle:

As soon as we hit the mainland we could feel the humidity and we knew we had left the desert behind. This part of Mexico along the coast is (or was) all jungle right up to the ocean. When we left Mazaltan, we headed south for a few hours on the toll road, and then turned off the main highway toward the town of San Blas. The drive took us through jungle hillsides where the foliage is so thick in places it creates a canopy over the road.

View on the road down to San Blas

Jungle drive

Jackfruit. These grow everywhere and are the largest tree-bourne fruit. They are huge...the size of your head.

I love the jungle. Our first real experience deep in the jungle was many years ago on a trip to Thailand. We spent a couple nights in a tree house right on the river in Khao Sok National Park. I’ll never forget the how the sounds of the jungle start to rise at dusk. The cacophony of nature getting ready for the night was so loud; John and I looked at each other and just sat in awe. It goes on until dawn. It subsides then, when new sounds start up with the birds and monkeys. There isn’t as much of that sound here because of all the people and towns, but I’m hoping we get that experience again soon. Jungle vegetation is so lush and verdant that it always feels alive to me. The jungle is also wet, buggy, and steamy so as with much on this trip, the payoff comes with a little sacrafice.

We cruised into the little port town San Blas to check things out and then continued south to a hotel/campground on the ocean called the Paraiso Miramar resort. It has beautiful grounds set in the mangroves, with a nice pool & restaurant next to the tiny town of Santa Cruz. We stayed a couple days just hanging around by the pool, and walked down the beach to the town for lunch one day.

Paraiso Miramar camping

Another contender...but too young.

Blogging with a view

lunch in Santa Cruz

oysters straight from the sea...

...from this guy.

Tiny town of Santa Cruz

Next we plan to head down toward Sayulita. It’s a big town with lots of people and we have tickets to a music festival. We plan to stay in that area for a week or two until we head into Puerto Vallarta to meet some friends. But that could change tomorrow – which is how most of our plans have gone so far.

#mexico #Baja #LoJo #yucatan