With slight fear of being berated, I (Luis) must say I am not a big fan of ferries… there I said it. Most people seem to lay back and enjoy the ride, but I am usually seasick and fairly immobile throughout the ride. In order to leave Baja California and continue our trip through Mexico and further south we had two choices; travel all the way to northern Baja and then east to the state of Durango or ship the truck and ourselves from La Paz to the “mainland.” Even the shipping gave us two choices: shipping to the famous city of Mazatlan or north to the small port town of Topolobampo (try saying that 3 times fast). We happen to know a really cool guy that lives near Topolobampo in Los Mochis, so the choice seemed simple and as a plus -for us seasick types- the ferry ride is a few hours shorter to Topolobampo.
The day of our ride started with a visit to the customs “office” at the ferry port. The customs officer was very polite and he informed us that one of us had to get out of the vehicle and press a button. Said button is connected to a “randomizer” connected to a red and a green light bulb. Green light means go (duh) and red means full vehicle search. Of course red it was… Lacey laughed and said: “Good luck searching this bad boy” meaning: you have no idea how much stuff we have. A male and a female customs agent started the search, but it was a fairly feeble attempt at searching and the guy seemed more and more interested in the truck than the search… after a few moments the male agent was only asking questions about our set up and had completely dropped the search. Pretty cool.
After an uneventful and almost fun search, we proceeded to the ticket lines. Long and slow, but there was some entertainment waiting for us as we witnessed army soldiers try to open the back of a semi trailer for a good half hour, I even though of offering the help of our handy Hi-lift jack, but I assumed they would not appreciated the unsolicited advise of some random gringo. They proceeded to destroy the trailer door with crowbars and anything they could get their hands on in order to get into the trailer (we never found out the outcome of that search).
The ferry we loaded onto was huge. I would say that about 90% of its cargo was semi’s of all shapes, sizes, makes and age. The rest of the ferry was mostly personal vehicles, two RV’s, the french couple we met at San Ignacio and us.
We packed some food and goodies in our backpack in order to avoid the expensive restaurant on the ship; however, our French friends were searched and they were told no outside food was allowed on board even though we witnessed quite a few passengers breaking out their own lunchbags… go figure. In any case we smuggled some food on board anyway.
The trip was a fairly uneventful six hours (outside of my nausea), other than the group of truck drivers that parked themselves at the bar. These rowdy guys hooted and hollered along to mexican rancheras and norteñas all the way to Topolabampo while creating quite a stack of Tecate cans all around the bar. It seems like they specifically requested that the cans be left there, as a matter of pride I guess. By the time we reached Topolobampo these guys were wasted, really wasted. I wondered if anyone would say anything, since these drivers were about to drive their trucks off the ferry and continue on to deliver their loads somewhere in Mexico, but as I was stepping into the stairway to climb the three stories down to the Landcruiser the drunk truck drivers came behind me insulting everyone on their wake and banging on the walls while slurring insults at the ships crew. It was funny and scary at the same time. Most folks were laughing, but avoiding any contact verbal or non verbal with the drunks. It was fairly obvious that they could get more belligerent if provoked. Luckily (I guess) we left the ferry with no signs of accidents or mishaps, but we decided to find a place to camp or sleep as close as possible to the ferry terminal… welcome to Sinaloa, Mexico.