After an uneventful 270 mile drive north retracing our steps from Mazatlan back to Los Mochis, we arrived at the ferry port in Topolobampo. We joined a line filled with motorcyclists also on tour, a myriad of semi's and delivery trucks, and a fleet of pedestrians. We were hungry and tired and disappointed when the ferry arrived at 9pm and appeared to miss the dock altogether. Once again we should have put aside our assumptions about Mexican incompetence. A guy wire pulled the ship into position, the hatch opened and an equally large and mixed complement of vehicles streamed off.
We were somewhat nervous about getting our rigs in the proper position onboard and rumors flew among us about backing in. As we looked in the open jaw of the ship we could see a very steep ramp up one side and hoped that we would not have to navigate this 25% incline. Wrong again! We were at the end of the line and watched our fellow travelers drive an "S" curve up the ramp to avoid hitting the back ends on the ground as the moved into the ship. Once we got inside we had room to turn around and back in, threading ourselves with literally inches to spare between us. In the meantime, motorized mules whizzed around bringing aboard containers that would be placed back on trucks at the other end.
Once we were parked, we were invited to eat a very late dinner and spend the night in a stateroom, quite nice and vaguely reminiscent of some cruise ships we've enjoyed. After a six hour sail we awoke to very fine weather and a docking in Baja California.
Since we were the last ones on, we were the first ones off and we found ourselves in the leadership position normally assumed by our wagon master. We were stopped and asked to show our passports and an inspection team boarded our trailer. The inside of our trailer is virtually inacessible when the slide outs are in and the inspectors wanted to inspect something, but there was little they could get at. Perhaps they wanted us to open the slides; if so, we made sure we did not understand. After a cursory inspection of our pots and pans, they sent us on to the next postition. A bill was thrust into Ken's hands and we struggled to make it understood that we were not the leaders of the group and would not be paying any bills. It turned out this was to pay for a bug spraying application for the bottom of our rig. We tried to move forward slowly so our leaders could assume the leadership position, but they were hung up at the bank where they had to submit the travel visas we had glued on our windshields when we first entered Mexico. It felt exactly like a border crossing to a new country.
We lead the caravan out of the port and had to drive about four miles before the road had an adequate shoulder for us all to pull off and wait for the wagon master. Almost two hours later he appeared, looking slightly frazzled from dealing with the Mexican bureacracy and we were on our way to Cabo San Lucas, at the very bottom of the Baja. We are done paying tolls on the cuota and will spend the rest of the trip on very narrow two lane roads, some with significant drop offs on the sides.
Our campground in Cabo was built in the '80's and not up to the gigantic rigs we are drivng so parking here, was almost as exciting as getting on the ferry. We have a great pool and laundromat and are about a mile from the beach so we look forward to three great nights here.