Back in Balandra (Feb 21 2016)

It’s a beautiful bay and the manta ray ballet was amazing, but at 7am, it is already windy so we have to go find somewhere else.

DSC05781We spend some time at the restaurant on their WiFi, slowly sipping their coffee. By the time we are ready to go, the Sunday crowd starts arriving. At first, it’s just a few family groups, then a number of gringo groups with jet skis, kayaks and small boats. We pass a multitude of cars as we leave.

DSC05779“I need to check tire pressure. They feel kind of low,” says Big Dog. Luckily, there is a Pemex just out of Los Planes.

“The back tire has a nail in it!” he announces.

Holy shit.

“As long as it stays there, it’s a slow leak,” he adds.

Well, we should get to a llantera, a tire shop, in no time. They are all over the roads in Mexico, especially near gnarly topes.

DSC05787We go down potholed sections of the road carefully, heading towards La Paz. There are numerous depositos (to get beer) and a few mecanicos (to service other parts of your vehicle) yet we don’t pass a single llantera until we are into La Paz proper. Finally, in town, on one of the biggest roads, we spot a big tire shop and pull in. There are just two guys working there – the main one looks like he’s just a kid – but they are finishing up with a sedan.

DSC05793DSC05791DSC05792They quickly fix the tire (not the one that’s been in Stuckyville twice) for P100, and back on the road you go, first for some lunch.

“Mariscos!”

DSC05797A big, plastic lobster is standing on its tail on one street corner. The open air seafood place is busy with customers – a good sign. We get a big mixed shellfish cocktail to share. Now, the Mexican seafood cocktails are different from the kind you know in the U.S. They are a mix of seafood and chopped onions, tomatoes, peppers and avocado in a kind of cold tomato soup, or juice. Sometimes it’s Clamato. They come with an assortment of bottled salsas and tostadas and soda crackers called Salditas. This one had shrimp, different clams, caracoles, scallops and octopus. Mmmmm.

DSC05796DSC05795We haven’t really seen the center of La Paz yet so we park on a side street and walk around a bit. Even the tourist zone is better here than in the south.

Bars and restaurants line the street in front of the malecón which is decorated with large sculptures, like Puerto Vallarta, but here they are all different styles. The range of quality is also quite astounding – who curated these? Or did they accept all entries? Some of the sculptures are downright strange. The recycling trash bins must be fun for the kids, though, shaped into cute seals and turtles.

From there, it’s out to the beaches. Every one is packed today, a Sunday. Balandra is so full there is no more parking, with cars and trucks overflowing onto the road.

“Let’s try Tecolote.”

DSC05819DSC05820DSC05821There are plenty of people here, too, but Mexicans far outnumber the gringos. Lots of families and lots of groups of young people. Everyone is happy. Everyone is smiling, waving, saying “hello” and “good afternoon” to us foreigners. There are mariachis as well as music escaping from cars. I just love love love this Mexico.

DSC05815DSC05820The beach is nice and long but the small waves are pretty frisky so hardly anyone is actually in the water. A few bars have some gringos, glomming together here like they do in other beach towns, and there are about a dozen campers scattered throughout. There are also climbers on the big rock behind you. For a moment, we consider staying, but Big Dog likes Balandra and we were looking forward to kayaking it, so as the sun goes down, we move, hoping the day visitors are pulling out.

DSC05813

DSC05816Balandra is still busy but people are moving out and we get a parking spot in front of the bay. It is extreme low tide – nearly the entire bay is exposed!

While others pack up and move out, we set up table, chairs and the BBQ. There is a full moon out there in the eastern sky already. Soon we are one of the few vehicles left…

End of Day Miles: 1710 mi.

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Author: ontheroadwithsprockets

I've been traveling since I was born -- the first big trip was before I was two, across the Pacific, from my native Japan to Los Angeles on a cargo ship. There have been many journeys since then, through many continents and cultures.

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