One of the funnest things we did as a family while living in Mazatlan was taking the Baja Ferry over to La Paz. If you are not sure where either of those locations are in Mexico, here's a map of our journey.
We boarded the boat in the evening and got to sail off into the sunset. It was gorgeous! We ate dinner in the dining hall, which also had a full bar, a stage, and live music! People had told me that taking the ferry felt kind of like being on a cruise ship and they weren't kidding! We were only able to get a private sleeping room for the return trip, so for the 15 hour trip over to La Paz, we made our way back to our sala, or living room and settled into our reclining chairs for movies on the big screen. The chairs were not the most comfortable and I think most people in the room ended up curled up on the floor with blankets by the time morning came. The return trip was much more comfortable snuggled into our private room with 4 bunks, a window and a private bathroom.
While in La Paz, we stayed at the Paraiso del Mar Resort. It was amazing and perfect for our little get away. When we arrived via ferry in the morning, we took a taxi to downtown La Paz where the manager for our vrbo (vacation rental by owner) condo met us and escorted us across the bay in the resorts free water taxi service.
Our condo was 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms including a bathtub and came fully equipped with everything we would need for our stay. The bathtub was a big deal since our rental house in Mazatlan only had showers. Apparently bathtubs are not as common in Mexico as they are in the United States, so having one, even for just a few days, was a treat. Our amazing outdoor patio spaces overlooked the pool, palm trees and the ocean. We relaxed at the pool, enjoyed drinks with umbrellas in them at the swim up bar, walked the private beaches in front of the resort collecting some of the biggest sea shells we've ever seen, and even did a little kayaking with the boats that are available to guest to use free of charge.
Most days, we would take a short shuttle ride back to the water taxi, take the fun 10 minute boat ride over to the mainland and explore the cute city of La Paz. Similar to Mazatlan, they also have their own Malecohn or boardwalk, although theirs is much shorter than the one in Mazatlan.
Since we were essentially worldschooling our kids while we wintered in Mexico, the Museo de la Ballena (Whale Museum) seemed like the perfect educational activity while we were there and it did not disappoint. After paying your admission, you are given the choice to take a self guided tour, or be guided by a local that will speak to you in your native language. We choose this option and our guide was very fun and informative, although slightly difficult to understand at times. From what I gathered, the guides are just volunteers so we tipped him well at the end for all his effort.
We were able to see many full size skeletons of sea life including turtles, whales, dolphins and sharks. Some were reproductions, but many were real bones. If fact, all the bones and teeth in the pictures seen here are real! We learned about the differences between a whale, shark and dolphin and about many of the different types of each. We also learned about behaviors, what they eat and similarities they have with humans and other types of animals.
Our final night in La Paz, we had hoped to eat at this cute little hamburger joint that some other vacationers at our resort had told us about, where they grill the burgers underneath the hood of an old truck, but unfortunately it was closed that night, so we ended up at The Dock Cafe, overlooking the marina, with a nice sandy outdoor play area where the kids were given a whole box full of toys to keep them occupied while we waited for our food to arrive. There was live music and dancing and the place was obviously popular with the expat crowd. The dance floor was full of retired Americans... usually not our first choice of ambiance... we prefer to mingle with the local crowd when we travel, but the food, drinks and service made the evening worthwhile.
It was sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful little piece of planet earth, but we will be back, hopefully for a longer stay next time. If you have never considered La Paz as a travel destination choice, I would highly encourage you to check it out. They have their own airport, and if you live in Southern California and can walk across the border to TJ, I've heard you can find some amazing direct flight deals.
We love to answer questions and hear from you, so please feel free to reach out if we can help you in any way!
So for those of you who have followed our adventures as they've unfolded over the past year - we just last Monday arrived back in the States from our "winter in Mazatlan". We will be staying at my dad's property in North Idaho for much of the summer - and it's only about an hour and a half from the Canadian border - so on our 4th day back I decided I was going to surprise the kids with a weekend get away to Canada.
Because seriously how cool is it to say that you've been in three different COUNTRIES in the same week!
The drive from rural Clark Fork, up north through Bonners Ferry and eventually crossing into British Columbia is stunning! Here are some of the amazing vistas we stopped to photograph along the way. I love that my girls are getting the "photography bug" just like their mama.
Once we crossed into Canada, we stopped at this cute little vineyard so the kids could stretch their legs and I could pick up a delicious bottle of the local Pinot. Then we continued on to our destination... Ainsworth Hotsprings. If you haven't been, you really should! It's a natural hot springs but the blend of minerals is such that it doesn't stink like sulfur like many of the naturally occurring hot springs in the Pacific Northwest. Also, it has this awesome cave that you can walk through... definitely the highlight from my childhood memories!
The trip was such a last minute thing that I didn't even bother to make hotel reservations. Such spontaneity almost turned dismal when I learned it was a holiday weekend in Canada and all the hotels near Ainsworth were booked. Airbnb to the rescue! I jumped on the app, found a cute little place about an hour away, chatted with the host, and booked it within an hour of arriving at Ainsworth. Then we spent the afternoon relaxing in the hot pools and exploring the caves.
Here's a few pictures of our airbnb in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia and a link to their listing in case you are ever in the area.
The next day, we drove home - making a loop through customs so that we could get both our US and Canada stamps in our passports (they hadn't stamped them on the way into Canada the day before and my older girls were terribly disappointed.)
Fellow moms - this was soooo out of my comfort zone to take such an unplanned, last minute, international road trip - alone with my 3 kids. But we did it! And it was amazing! I had such a great time and made some memories with them that will last a lifetime. If you are on the fence about traveling with your littles... JUST DO IT!
The kids have been doing home school with these two amazing teachers for the last couple months. Today was their last day with them (sniff, sniff) so we all went on a fun trip to explore a new beach and collect sea shells!
Wade and Teri, thank you so much for all the time, love, and teaching
that you have poured into our girls over the last few months.
We love you!
My "office" today was another great cafe here in Mazatlan. Sole Mare in Centro (near the Cathedral) has a great atmosphere and plenty of tables. Today when I wandered in, they even had Adele playing on the radio. She's pretty much my favorite singer ever so I felt right at home... well except for the fact that everyone was speaking Spanish and I was probably the only gringa in there.
If you are looking to practice your Spanish, this is a great choice! Unlike Looney Bean in Olas Altas and Rico's in the Golden Zone, Sole Mare seems to have mostly Spanish speaking waiters, and locals appear to frequent the cafe far more than English speaking tourist and expats.
Today, I tried to have a conversation with this gentleman:
But alas, I am still not very good at understanding Spanish.
Así que Tony, si está leyendo esto, por favor dígame en los comentarios lo que estaba tratando de decirme en Sole Mare esta mañana. Entiendo el español escrito mucho mejor que hablar. Gracias y mucho gusto :)
Before our family moved here to Mazatlan, we got rid of at least 75% of what we owned (you can read more about our downsizing adventures here), so I'm a little picky about the kinds of "souvenirs" we buy to take back with us.
In other words, I hate buying cheap crap from China.
Unfortunately, that's what many of the vendors sell here. But that's not what this post is about today.
A friend of ours told my daughter about this man who sells handmade journals in Plaza Machado, so last weekend we headed out to find him.
The girls each picked out a journal for only 50 pesos (about $2.50 USD) and even had the backs custom engraved for free.
If you are in Mazatlan and looking for gifts to take home to your family, come see this gentleman at Plaza Machado. He is usually there Thursday - Sunday evening and sets up his table around 7pm.
Oh and be sure to tell him you heard about him here on the Be Photography Blog!