We are in La Paz.
La Paz is a wonderful and warm city. The people are warm and friendly, it’s also hot here. This is the capital of the state Baja California Sur, a city of 200,000, it’s also the cruising center for the Sea of Cortez. The Sea of Cortez is this huge (about 700 miles long by 200 mile wide) marine playground packed with countless islands, secluded coves and magnificent desert landscape. La Paz is the jumping off point for those heading north into the sea. Since every marine service is here, very few mariners come through this area without stopping. Once here, though, most visitors are seduced by this open, walkable and charming city. Some make it their home.
This is home for Club Cruceros. For the last 25 years, La Paz has been the home of Club Cruceros a cruisers club of over 500 members. The club acts as a focal point for expat and visitor activities and while primarily related to marine and boating, there is a robust group of land based members as well. The club house, located on the grounds of Marina de La Paz is the site of a daily hosted coffee get-together, pot lucks, lectures, and a well stocked, cataloged book and DVD library. People meet here.
If the club house is the geometric center of Club Cruceros then the morning net, at 8 am on VHF marine band 22 is ground zero for local information and gossip. People tune their radios to this highly structured, controller run meeting to keep informed, to learn about local resources and informed about other cruisers. It’s the Google for the area’s mariners.
On the net we find who has arrived and who is leaving, where one can find the best coffee beans, a good dentist or a welder. The answer is here, to almost any question to do with services, stores or people. Better than Bing, the amount of collective wisdom and local knowledge is astounding. While it sometimes feels like part soap opera or water cooler klatch there is no better place to get a small amount or too much information.
I came down with a case bronchitis a few days ago. My cough had been getting progressively worse – so I asked on the morning net for doctor recommendations. A phone call later Dr. Fili Sanchez promised to stop by our boat later that day.
After a quick exam, and a diagnosis of bronchitis I was armed with three prescriptions, two antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. The whole episode, house visit, (I mean boat visit) and the meds came to less than $100 USD. Plus, Judy learned how to give me an injection in the butt. I’m not sure Daniel and Roberta R. should have taught her about slapping the cheek – I think she’s enjoying that part too much!
The radio network works really, really well.
But, if the net and club Cruceros is the draw to La Paz, the city itself is the glue. I’ve met people who stopped on their way around the world and 27 years later are still here. Like warn shoes, La Paz is easy to fall in love with easy to live in, Lots of services, many of stores, including big box, restaurants of all types from Sushi to Pizza.
So far, our favorite restaurant is Ranch Viejo, the arrachera place. It’s an easy walk once the sun has set and the temperature has cooled.
The moist, melt in your mouth, flavorful beef is the best I’ve have ever had. Order the kilo – it comes with tortillas , sautéed and pickled onions, grilled peppers, cucumbers, chopped cabbage, limes, and three kinds of salsa (pico de gallo, avocado and spicy hot) – for about $18 USD per person. With A cold beer it can’t be beat.
After dinner we walk down the Malecon, the mile long paved stroll along the water. On a Friday or Saturday night there are many people with the same idea. We see few gringos, but many families, kids on bikes or trikes – Dad pushing, moms with strollers. We see teens practicing scateboard and bike tricks. The Malecon is the place to see and be seen, to enjoy the cool of the evening or drop into one of the ice cream places, restaurants and for the young one of the bars scattered along the length, but on the other side of the street from the beach and the Malecon. The Malecon is also a place for more serious bikers and runners with dedicated lanes for each direction. Many park benches face the water, this evening most are occupied by young people arm in arm.
For the land/car traveler, La Paz is only about 50 miles from the nearest beach on the Pacific Ocean. Nearby there are artist colonies in quaint towns. And for the more adventurous and in winter, an excursion to the one of the many whale calving bays on the Pacific side of Baja. Under strict government regulation, pangas take visitors to view up close and personal the many babies in the bay. If you are lucky, one of the mothers, with her baby will come along side and let you pet them.
But all is not perfect. As I write this I’m waiting for the fuel dock to become free. Currently and for the last three days the dock has been occupied with a “boat” owned by Mexico’s richest man – Carlos Slim – founder of Telcel – the largest telecommunications provider in Mexico. He has some of our money too. Hey Carlos, can we just get 25 gallons of diesel?
We’ve been using this time to get the bright work done. Ron (me), Alfredo and Jocob have been sanding taping and varnishing Cetacean and she now looks beautiful. Judy has been diligently working on and is now finished with her dingy cover project. Our dingy now looks beautiful and is protected from the sun too.
We are armed with our recently procured National Park pass for access to the many islands in the Sea. And we’ve been able to decompress from the trip down the coast and around Cabo San Lucas. We’ve explored the city, on foot and by cab – we have lots of miles on the sidewalks of La Paz. Bought food at the open market, made ceviche with the purchases.
We’ve made new friends, laughed, helped people; they have helped us in turn.
It’s been a great stay, but it’s time to go.
1/4-1/2 lb fish – Mahi-Mahi or equiv; 1/2 lb shrimp – peeled and de-veined; Lots of Limes; 1/4 cup cilantro; 1/4 cup chopped green peppers; one small Jalapeno chopped (remove the seeds); one tomato; avocado as garnish; Lettuce as garnish; Salt; Pepper; garlic (dried or fresh), vineger.
cut the raw shrimp and fish into 1/4- 1/2 inch cubes. Add lime juice – enough to cover the fish and shrimp. Let stand for 12 hours.
A few hours before serving pour off the lime juice. Add the cilantro, peppers, tomato; salt, pepper and garlic, vineger. Let sit in the refrigerator.
Line a dish or bowl with lettuce, add the ceviche to the center, add the sliced avocado around the ceviche – add the juice from one or two limes – salt to taste.
Serve with tortilla chips or saltines.