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Taking the Bus to La Paz


La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Bus Station Photo

LA PAZ BUS STATION--The ABC-Aguila bus station in downtown La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, 21 hours and 15 minutes from Tijuana. Photo by Gene Kira.


By Gene Kira, February 9, 2004, as published in Western Outdoor News:

Having boarded the ABC bus going from Tijuana to La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico) at noon, I fell asleep shortly after dark near El Rosario and pretty much snored my way southwards for the next four-hundred miles.

I was aware of passing through Cataviña, but my only moment of real wakefulness came at about midnight, when I suddenly realized the bus was stopped and someone was standing beside my seat, talking to me.

Not knowing where we were, it took a while to understand that he was asking me for something, but I was having a devil of a time with his Spanish. I handed him--in turn--my bus ticket, baggage claim check, passport, fishing license, right shoe (just kidding), and finally, my tourist card--which satisfied him.

Then I realized why I couldn’t understand him--I was still wearing my ear plugs, which I always use when driving down Mex 1, in order to avoid ear damage from the long hours of drumming road noise.

That problem fixed, I looked outside and saw that we were already at the Guerrero Negro immigration checkpoint! I had slept right through Punta Prieta, Rosarito, and Jesus María!

Determined to note arrival times at our remaining stops to La Paz, I closed my eyes “slightly” and tried to stay awake, but the next thing I knew, it was daybreak, and we were pulling into a parking lot on a completely unfamiliar city street. To my surprise, this turned out to be a back street in Ciudad Insurgentes. I had slept through San Ignacio, Santa Rosalía, Mulegé, and Loreto! Ay, ay, ay!

Anyway, by 7:04 a.m., we were on the final leg to La Paz, heading south at a tremendous clip, on the tremendously long, lonely straight-aways that lead to the even lonelier, winding stretch that I call the “badlands.”

This is probably the least attractive part of the entire 1,070-mile length of Mex 1, but it has some of the most interesting turnoffs--left and right--leading to two different worlds on Baja’s Pacific and Cortez sides.

Being a passive bus passenger gives you time to enjoy the ride, to savor the experience and let the ghosts come out and wander. As we neared Santa Rita, I could see the fog-skirted islands forming Magdalena Bay on the right, and on the left, the mysterious land that borders the island-filled Juanaloa sea between La Paz and Loreto, home to more strange legends than perhaps any other part of Baja.

I looked out the window, so far above the pavement that even with your face pressed against the glass you could only see about four or five feet of the opposite lane. The coming buses and trucks flashed by in a shock wave of color, as we passed each other in opposite directions, with a clearance of only about 24 inches and a relative closing speed of over 120 miles per hour. Way down below, passenger cars flick by like high-speed bunnies, just barely visible.

Using the opposite edge of the road as a guide, I test the driver’s skill at holding a perfect line, and suspicions are confirmed; on this stretch, at least, he his wandering left and right a maximum of only four to six inches. Incredible at this speed.

At 8:05 a.m, El Cien. Sixty-two miles left to La Paz.

At 8:47 a.m., we crest the mountains above Bahía de la Paz! There is Punta Mechudo, and Isla Espíritu Santo, and the bay where Hernán Cortés landed almost 500 hundred years ago. The long pods of the tamarind trees are green. The air is lovely and moist, and the sun is bright. I’m home.

(Related La Paz articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main La Paz information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the La Paz area in "Mexico Fishing News.")