Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ferry ride to Topolobampo

We left La Paz on October 24th on the ferry bound for Topolobampo. Loading this ferry seems to be quite the ordeal. We were told to be there 3 hours ahead of the departure time in order to go through security (there was more security here than to cross the border into Mexico--X-ray scanners for our bags and metal detectors). Upon our arrival we had to wait another 40 minutes to collect our bags (which were inside a fenced off area surrounded by armed guards and drug-sniffing dogs). The ship, which is about 2/3 the size of the Queen of Saanich (but with less car capacity) leaves daily at 3:30pm, but it seems to take them the entire morning to load the cars/trucks, most of which were backed on. It sounds like the ferry privatized a few years ago, and unfortunately for us this has driven the price WAY up. Our guidebook, which is 4 years old, says the price for a foot passenger was US$23 including a meal. When we bought the tickets the price turned out to now be $75 (no meal)! This is the price of a return ticket as well...they have no option for a one-way ticket. At least we didn't have to take a car on, because those prices start at $150 in addition to the cost per person.
The crossing takes 6 hours, and with about an hour to go we were outside looking at the stars and noticed a small boat powering over right towards the stern of the ferry. It pulled up alongside and a man wearing khakis and a golf shirt and no life jacket hopped off the little boat and climbed up a ladder onto the ferry. As the boat pulled away we saw "Piloto" printed on the side. It seems that there are a lot of big rocks to avoid when pulling in to Topolobampo.

There's a bar right in the middle of the ship, as well as really horrible Spanish subtitled movies on satellite-TV if you grow tired of the scenery outside.

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