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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Loreto to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We were a bit sad to leave Loreto but we were really looking forward to getting to Magdalena Bay to do some more fishing. Everyone that we had talked to both in the US and Mexico had told us that Mag Bay offers some of the best fishing in Mexico. Unfortunately, we were informed and reminded time and time again that road from Loreto to Mag Bay is terrible. It did not take long for this information to be validated as we approached a number of long switchback climbs on a very busy and extremely narrow highway.

We were gaining elevation for the majority of the day and ended up camping under a huge electricity standard which kept us out of view of the road. The next day was a much easier ride as we enjoyed descending back down to sea level and heading west to the Pacific coast. We arrived in Magdalena Bay in the early afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to hear that Steve and Art were on their way to meet up and fish with us. Seth and I explored the town of Lopez Mateos while we waited for the guys to arrive and met some fisherman from California that had towed down two boats and an RV. They gave us the fishing report and we decided to get a room at the hotel they were staying at which turned out to be the only hotel in town. I realized that this was the very first hotel room that we had paid for on the entire trip. We decided to just go crazy and pay for the incredibly expensive room which came out to about $17 a night. We actually needed a room to lock up our bikes while we were out fishing the next day it worked out well.
After we had our lodging taken care of we went in search of a boat that we could charter the following day. We had heard that there was an American named Bob that owned some boats and a guiding service out of Mag Bay called Mag Bay Outfitters. The guys from California told us how to get to his house and Seth and I decided to pay him a visit. Fortunately, he wasn´t very hard to find as he was standing outside his house with a Mag Bay Outfitter´s t-shirt on. We introduced ourselves and explained our ride and what we were doing and Bob was very excited to get us out fishing in one of his boats. After thinking that the only boat we could afford would be a ponga, we were very surprised that Bob was offering to take us out in his 26-foot deep Vee hull cruiser. This boat is a very good and comfortable boat to fish on and significantly better than ponga fishing. We made a deal (which was very generous on Bob´s part) and agreed to meet at the pier at 9AM. As we learned, the most important element of fishing Mag Bay is the tide. Being out on the water at the break of dawn is not as important as being on the water when the tides are moving.

We left the pier at 9AM sharp and headed for the north end of the Bay. As we were leaving the Success, a long range boat from San Diego, pulled up showing off a very successful trip. Steve and Art were both gear fishing so we hit up a shrimping boat on the way to get some live bait. This is one of those rare occasions where the bait actually tastes better than the fish you are catching with it.

When we arrived at the north entrance of the Bay, our guide put the boat about 40 feet off the mangrove shore and suggested that Seth and I make some casts while he rigged up the gear rods. It took us less than 5 casts each to hook up on our first fish of the day. We caught so many different species of fish that day that I would be lying if I claimed to remember what kind of fish they were. As soon as the captain had rigged up the gear rods he backed the boat out of range of the mangroves and over one of his favorite holes. In this area the fish were holding way to deep to reach with our flies so we grabbed a pole and put on some live bait. All four of us were hooking up before we could even get the bait to the bottom. The fishing was pretty much stupid and we caught more cabria, pargo (snapper), grouper, corbina, and bass than we could count. After a couple hours of bait fishing Steve and Art were courteous enough to allow us to move to some shallower water so we could get some more fish on the fly. The captain had taken fly fisherman out before so he knew some very good spots and got us into some really nice grouper and sea bass. We all finished the day very content fisherman and want to thank both Bob and our captain for making this possible. We highly recommend visiting Mag Bay Outfitters website and contacting Bob if you have any interest in visiting the area.

We still had another day to kill before heading to La Paz and catching the ferry to Mazatlan so Steve suggested we throw the bikes in his truck and head north to San Juanico, a small fishing and surf town. We were very stoked on this idea as we had heard great things about this spot but could not include it in our route because it was hundreds of km´s off the highway on terrible dirt roads. The two guys who got us the yurt in San Ignacio had actually just come from their property in San Juanico and said it was a place we had to check out. The ride out there was interesting to say the least and I can tell why this place, which has one of the longest waves in the world, doesn´t have huge resorts all over the beach. We had to cross two separate rivers where the roads had been destroyed by the hurricane and endure many miles of terrible dirt and rock roads. The trek was more than worth it as San Juanico is one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. It is a small town on a calm bay in the Pacific Ocean with about 6 point breaks that produce the longest wave that I have ever seen in person. While I was there the swell was small and I was told that the wave I was seeing was about 1/6 of its normal size when there is a decent swell. We heard many stories guys catching 1.5 - 2 mile rides. This is a place that I most certainly plan on returning to with a board after this trip. Seth and Art did get out and catch a few waves in the kayaks.

The next morning we made the haul back to Insurgentes where Steve dropped us off and sent us on our way south to La Paz.

It took us two days to reach La Paz and after spending an hour trying to find this RV/Campsite I had the idea to give my buddy Anno Buich a call who I knew kept his boat in La Paz. Luckily he answered my call and informed me that his boat was docked at the Marina I was calling from. This was quite the coincidence as you can imagine there are quite a few marinas in La Paz. He generously extended us an invitation to stay on the boat and within a few minutes we were chillin aboard the 52 foot yacht with a cold drink in hand. Not to mention the fact that the boat had AC and 3 full cabins to sleep. La Paz is a great city and this was a perfect last night before leaving the baja peninsula the following day and heading to mainland Mexico.

Parker's shoulder is sore from our second round of Hep A shots so I am taking over.

The next day we hopped on the ferry to Mazatlan for a 13 hour haul across the Sea of Cortez. The ferry was relatively empty so we had no problem claiming an entire row of seats to sleep on. Other than the screaming child in our cabin the ride wasn´t too painful.

As we rolled down the steep ramp leading from the ferry to the dock we were overwhelmed by a very new sensation. Within minutes of exiting the boat our clothes were soaking with sweat and the humidity. The ground was wet from a recent rain and it was all too obvious that the 13 hour ferry ride had taken us into very different place. As we navigated the metropolis of Mazatlan, it began to lightly sprinkle. This was all pretty weird because we had not seen the slightest hint of rain in well over a month.

In Baja we ran into an English bloke who was in route from Buenos Aires. He said that if we planned to stay alive on mainland Mexico, we should head directly to the Carterra / Autopista (the toll road). Not willing to gamble with those stakes, we took heed and quickly made our way to the toll road. Our brief experience on the non toll 15 confirmed the rumors. As we made our way through the outskirts of Mazatlan the sprinkles turned into a light rain. Within minutes the rain turned into a downpour. Every passing car showered us with large clouds of water and every overpass provided us with a temporary shelter, while we devoured food or wrung out our spandex.

There were a few things that we realized quickly about the toll road; there are no services (ie. No water or food), there is a huge shoulder to ride on, and nowhere to camp and the landscape had transformed from arid desert to dense jungle. These two realizations proved to have interesting consequences.

As the rain continued to pour, Parker and I pushed on. As it started to get dark we began the routine hunt for a campspot. Just like magic as we crested a small rise, a potential campspot emerged among the dense foliage. Old roadwork had left a large gravel area adjacent to the roadway that we ended up calling home for the night.

It poured all night. We woke the next morning to more rain and just as we accepted the fact that we were going to have to put away wet gear the clouds dissapeared and the sun emerged and wow did it get hot. The temperature soared and Parker and I both noticed that we were collectively carrying three bottles of water. Unfortunately, the lack of services forced us to budget those three bottles for 70 miles to Rosamorada. Having to budget water in hot weather has got to be one of the worst feelings. On a side note...Parker and I had a 4 course lunch in Rosamorada that cost $3.75 for the two of us.

Being the proactive map reader that I am, it came as no surprise to figure out that the distance markings did not match the carterra km markings. I made the executive decision to exit the highway on a small dirt path that lead to the non toll hwy 15 (aka hell highway). Imagine riding on hwy 37 in California if there was no divider, the lanes were 5 feet narrower, there was no shoulder, and 50 percent of the autos were semis. Yes it's that bad.

Upon our exit from the Carterra, We immediately descended a large hill..which is never a good thing when you're not confident about your direction. After traveling a couple of miles I started to have serious doubts about my decision to leaving the highway. We pulled over to enlist the help of some locals. Man, its tough to get accurate directions from non cyclists. Everything seems to be just a few km in “that direction.”

A number of our blogs have referred to the map reading disputes between us brothers. Believe it or not, this is one of the few things we argue about. Being the clever guy that he is, Parker has resorted to a new technique to avoid conflict in these situations by not carrying any maps whatsoever.

So after an hour of riding back and forth on the hell hwy we finally realized our mistake and we were on our way to San Blas. With about 20 miles to go we pulled over at a small Abarrotes and noticed a road crew taking an afternoon siesta under a tree. As we enjoyed some cold drinks in the shade the crew waived us over and asked us if we wanted to share their Camarones (shrimp) lunch with them. We graciously accepted and before we knew it, someone had purchased a round of beers.

To return the gesture Parker and I bought another round of beers for the crew. Next thing we knew someone bought another round and then another. Most of the road crew left to return to the job. However, the two senors driving the street sweeper stayed behind to continue the festivities. As we decorated the table with empties, my linguistic skills drastically improved and the reality of us getting to San Blas that evening set in. The number of beers on the table are a visual indication of our ability to ride away from this event.
You can imagine how surprised Parker and I were when the two got back onto the street sweeper and peeled away onto the highway, with one of them perched on the back flagging off the oncoming traffic. Those guys are nuts!

Long story short, we ended up camping at the grocery store owner's ranch directly across the street.

The next day we pedaled a hilly, windy, thirty something miles into the small coastal town of San Blas. We made a few rounds over the small towns cobblestone roads in search of a place to stay. As we headed out towards the beach we caught sight of the Stoner's Surf Camp. The funkiness and simplicity of the camp immediately appealed to us and after a brief discussion we pulled in to get a bugalow.

After a relaxing day on the beach in front of the camp, we decided to extend our stay for an additional night.

The next night we camped on Guayabitos, just forty miles short of Puerto Vallarta. It absolutely poured rain all night and when I woke up at 4am I was laying in at least 1.5 inches of standing water. We rolled up our wet tents, sleeping bags and just as we were about to leave the owner of the RV Park brought us Oatmeal and some great coffee. She even told us that she couldn't charge us because she felt bad about our sleeping situation. We reassured her that we were used to it by now. We stuffed ourselves with the hot food and hit the road in the rain.
Knowing that you are pedaling towards a dry house always seem to give you a little peace of mind when you are soaking wet and carrying wet camp gear.

We arrived at the Aureguy's (Craig, Marlaine, Mateo, Isabella) house in the early afternoon. And so started one of the most serious eating binges of the trip. Craig and Marlaine are unbelievable cooks and every morning, afternoon and evening we were treated to phenomenal eats. Parker and I are both walking away from our stay about 10 lbs heavier and I am not exaggerating.

Craig is a master contractor / developer in Puerto Vallarta and his house is a perfect example of his capabilities. We enjoyed every amenity imaginable, from hot tub, to swimming pool, to huge custom custom showers and top of the line appliances. The house is ridiculous and we are both so appreciative that we got to enjoy it for a week.

During our stay we were treated to a day of fishing and a day of bird hunting. The day of fishing did not work out as planned and we only walked away having landed two small fish. Luckily they both fell to flies. Our day of hunting was a bit of a different story.

Neither of us are big hunters but we jumped on the opportunity to join Craig and a few of his friends to hunt dove and teal duck. The morning was a bit slow but once we started walking through the farmlands in search of small lagoons the action picked up. We both enjoyed the fact that instead of hunting dogs the guys hire local kids to run through the lagoons to search for ducks. The kids provided us with constant entertainment. Every time we turned around they were measuring their height against Parker.

Following our outing we headed back to a local ranch where we cleaned the birds and enjoyed some cervezas, tacos, locally picked fruit, and some funny conversation.
During our time in PV we also snuck in a 1 hour radio interiew that we did with a very popular station and we did 3 presentations at a local school. All were extremely successful and very well received. I'm working on getting a copy of the radio interview which ended up being very funny.

We will depart Puerto Vallarta tomorrow for a 700km journey to Zihuatanejo, where will meet a few of our friends including a one, Eliza Veal.
To view photos from this segment of the trip click here : Photos Loreto - Puerto Vallarta
To view photos from our hunting trip and our interviews click here: Photos PV......


Eliza said...

Thank you guys for taking the time to keep everyone up to date on your crazy lives. Your descriptive writing is wonderful and I always get excited when you post a new blog. Not to mention the spectacular pictures that go along with it... I can't wait for Zihuatanejo!

Mallorca boat hire said...

Nice infomation here.

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