Well we did it! We got on a cargo ferry and made the 18 hr journey from Baja to Mainland Mexico. Woohoo!
We (Jamie mostly, I was rendered immobile by my stab-ray wound, read about that here) packed up our camp at Playa Tecolote on Sunday night in preparation for an early departure on Monday. We wanted to get into town and take care of a few loose ends before boarding the ferry that afternoon.
We chose to take the TMC Ferry because of Reina. Oh the things you do for your dog. Our previous plan was to take the Baja Ferries Line across. According to the pictures and other people’s accounts, Baja Ferries is kinda like a cruise ship. There are cabins with real beds and hot water showers. There are even restaurants and bars, yes, barS, meaning multiple. I know, sounds fabulous right? Wrong. Poor Reina was going to be locked up in a cage in the doggy dungeon. We would not be able to visit her during the whole trip, which means that she would have to either hold her potty or go to the bathroom where she slept.
Obviously that was not going to happen. With the TMC ferry there aren’t bars, restaurants or cabins, but you have access to your car and your pooch the entire time. In fact, Reina did not leave our side the entire time. You also get two meal tickets, one for dinner and one for breakfast, and it was about $100 cheaper than the Baja Ferries.
We pulled into the port at around noon and headed straight for Banjercito. We hadn’t gotten our vehicle permit in TJ so we had to pick one up here and put the $200 deposit down. This was fast and simple because we had dropped off our paperwork on Saturday (On Saturday we got lucky and the guard let us park outside the gate and walk through. Monday we had to pay $21 pesos to park and go to the Banjercito. Definitely worth it to try and park outside if you need to get your vehicle permit.). They needed copies of Jamie’s passport (hes on the title), the title, and his visa. We had thought ahead about the copies we would need and didn’t have to make copies there at the port.
After we got our permit, we drove through the aduana gates. We picked the wrong line because we ended up having to speak with a guy at the gate instead of just pushing a button and going through. The man asked us a few simple questions, looked at Jamie’s passport and had Jamie get out of the car to push the button, green light means GO and red means car search. Lucky we got green.
We then got weighed and measured we had a few hours to kill before they started loading the ferry. Reina spent the time sleeping while Jamie and I planned where we were going to go once we got to Mazatlan.
Once we pulled up to the ferry loading dock we asked the guy to put us on the top deck but forgot to ask him if we could be placed outside and not inside by the fans. You see the fans are insanely noisy. You can’t even hear yourself think while they are running and I don’t think they stopped running the entire time.
After the car was parked and locked up we went to explore the boat and picked out a nice little spot to hang out while they finished loading all the semis. I hung out with Reina while Jamie went and grabbed our chairs and a half drank bottle of vino. We spent the next hour watching them back semis up a ramp and into position while drinking wine out of the bottle. So far so good on the TMC Ferry!
Once we started moving we coaxed Reina, slowly, down the steepest stairs known to man and set up shop on the bow of the boat. The car was going to be too noisy to sleep in, so thanks to The Dangerz advice we grabbed our sleeping mats and made a nice cozy bed right there on the bow. It was really an amazing nights sleep. The breeze was fabulous and we were able to watch shooting stars while falling asleep. Not to mention we were sleeping on the bow of a giant cargo ferry that was floating us across the Sea of Cortez, I mean come on! Who gets to do that in their lifetime?
The next morning we awoke to the sound of dolphins jumping and playing at the front of the ship and headed down to the salon for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and tortillas. The food was nothing fancy but it was freshly made right before you eat it. No cafeteria line for the truckers. After breakfast we had just enough time for a quick shower before hopping in the car and hitting the road to San Blas on the Mainland!