DAY. ? REST DAY IN LA PAZ
Well,it was a sort of a rest day but not a restful day. Far from it. Let's back the bus up to the previous afternoon. We thought it a good idea to go out to the ferry terminal and buy the tickets for the ferry to Matazlan. So far so good. Then we went to get a permit for the bike to go to the mainland of Mexico.
The nice customs lady explained that to do that you need a tourist permit first before you can get a bike permit .And where do you get those? Well only from Tijuana she said sweetly and you have to go back there. Well dear reader we have just spent 4 days and travelled 1500km from Tijuana to La Paz so that was not welcome news. No, not at all ! I do believe profoundities were uttered!
Then a solution. The immigration office in town said they would give us a special 30 day tourist permit and this would enable us to get a bike permit. Six hours and many signed forms later we had our permit. As part of this process I was required to write a story in Spanish on why we did not already have this permit and why we needed one Wow ! I did an impassioned story in my very best Spanish The customs officer clearly saw it for what it was as as a work of literary genius. I think I will enter it in a short story competition when I get home ( in the fiction section that is !)
Then after a long long wait we got our cherished 30 day special exemption permits for stupid foreigners! Elation both reigned and rained ! . Back to port customs for the bike permit. "Oh no" said the customs officer. Not so easy gringos ! This 30 day permit is unacceptable for the purposes of allowing the bike on the boat It has to be the 180 day permit ( TPP) issued only by the Tijuana office of immigration. You must go back to Tijuana !
Dear reader, I will not bore you with the next set of events. Suffice to say that several hours later we met a gentleman lawyer in the hotel lobby, money was paid over and the permits were given to us in exchange on the spot. Oh so easy ! But would these permits work? Watch the next days thrilling installment !
DAY. THE FERRYMAN COMETH ,
And he did! We fronted up to port customs for the third time in three days The customs officer looked at our brand new permits and all the other papers. she hesitated. Would she or would she not? Having convinced herself she could not find fault with our paperwork we duly paid our $US 400 bond and lo and behold we had our vehicle permit. We were now allowed to board the ferry !!! Halleluia five fold!
So at 4pm we rode onto the ferry, tied the bikes down in the bottom level of the ferry and got ready for the 18 hour overnight ferry to Matazlan.
The ferry was a tattier version of the Interislander ferry between the North Island and the South Island of New Zealand The passenger list seemed to be about 100 soldiers , 100 truck drivers and about 10 tourists. However we had a nice cabin and a good nights sleep on calm waters. It was sort of comforting to know there was an armed soldier on guard just down our corridor all night but I think he was more interested in protecting his fellow soldiers than us. In the event of a little gunfight I guess we would have been just. "Collateral Damage" as they say in soldier speak!
DAY. AND INTO MATZALAN
What a lovely seaside city oozing old buildings and colonial charm from every corner or from every esquina as I would now say. Actually the language often does become a tale of two languages intermingling a little as we speak. I kind of like it .
We have booked into a lovely old hotel. This was a Lonely Planet recommendation and a good one at that. Lonely Planet is becoming very useful although even they did not explain the customs rigmarole very carefully
Tomorrow it is up to Durango in the highlands so there should be some respite from the oppressive heat. Here is hoping - it sure is hot here!
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