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(Courtesy Baja Pony Express)

8-21-06 Baja Ferry Pets/Permits: We took the ferry from LaPaz to Topolobampo on August 14. It was 102F when we left LaPaz. Passenger vehicles are loaded on levels 1 and 2 below deck. It is very hot with no ventilation below deck and one dog left in a car soon died. Passengers are not permitted on the vehicle decks when underway. The ferry leaves LaPaz daily at 3:00pm and arrived at 9:00pm exactly!

We purchased our Temporary Vehicle Import permit at the ferry terminal. The office is in the same building as the ticket office (end far right). It cost $27.00USD. Foreigners need one copy and the originals of:

  1. FM-3 (photo and signature page),
  2. Passport (photo page)
  3. Driver's license
  4. Registration and Title
  5. Insurance

The official explained that a change in law requires that we return the permit ONLY at a border town. The permit expires with our FM-3 expiration. The permit can be renewed at this office but not returned! He said there is nowhere in BCS where the permits can be returned. Failure to return the permit involves serious consequences. see for more. Anyone having more information please post on BPE. Gracias - Peter y Linda, Cabo Pulmo - Courtesy Baja Pony Express

New Discount Program at La Pinta / Desert Inn Hotels - Also want to pass along news of a new program at the La Pinta (now Desert Inn) hotels for holders of FM-2 and FM-3 residency permits. The La Pinta Savings Travel Card entitles you to receive 40% off their published room rates, and a 10% discount off food and beverages at any of the Hotel's bars and restaurants. The discounts apply to the Cardholder and immediate family.

This program is a much better deal and replaces their earlier promotions where you you could get a 20% discount as an FM-2/3 holder, or could pay $320 per couple to buy a visitor's pass four nights at any La Pinta. Ask for the application form at the desk. They will give you a temporary card to use immediately. La Pinta / Desert Inn is going through an identity crisis so some of the signs may have one or the other name.

La Pinta Hotels can be found in Ensenada, San Quintin, Catavina, Guerrero Negro, San Ignacio and Loreto. Reservations: 011 800 026 3605. - Alan, alan ( -a t- )

03-05-2011 - Pet-Friendly Motels on the Baja Penninsula, Mexico:

1-04 BAJA FERRIES - Many people asked me to post what I learned about the ferry. I have traveled on Baja Ferries Information is on their website regarding times, fares, etc. and it's up to date. You cannot make a reservation in advance with them. You show up in La Paz or Topolobampo and buy your ticket then. It helps to show up at least 4 hours before departure. In Topo we had to wait an extra night as we have a 29 foot fifth wheel and the boat was already full of semis by 2 p.m. that day for a 10 p.m. sailing. Pets are permitted riding in vehicles between La Paz and Topo as it's a 6 hour run. Pets are NOT permitted on the longer ride to Mazatlan, as it's around 15 hours. No people can remain with their vehicles, but the California Star offers staterooms for $760 pesos so that you can sleep on the overnight trip going west. It takes approximately 5 to 6 hours to drive between Topolobampo and Mazatlan. We paid $9,350 pesos for a one way passage with cabin between Topo and La Paz. A car and driver costs $1760 without a cabin. To Mazatlan it is $2760.

TRANSPORTACION MARITIMA DE CALIFORNIA: TMC ferries website: The schedules between La Paz and Mazatlan are not posted online. I did find an email address for reservations: reservaciones ( -a t- ) I sent an email on December 30th and got a response today. The Director of Commercial Transportation, Alberto Montemayor wrote me personally, and his letter was amazingly gracious. In Spanish of course! He sent me the schedules and 2007 fare information. If anyone wants this information, please email me and I will forward it on to you. They are Excel documents. There are 2 ships and they depart daily (except Monday) from both La Paz and Mazatlan. Departures are 4 p.m. in both cities with arrivals at 8 a.m. the next morning. They have airline type seating, but no cabins. There is one charge for the vehicle plus driver, based on the size and type of rig, and an additional charge for an extra person. Our cost for a one way passage between La Paz and Mazatlan will be $10,280 pesos. A car with driver is $1800 pesos. I was able to get a confirmed reservation via email and was told to arrive at Pichilingue no later than noon to pay there via credit card. We are crossing on the 10th and I will write from the mainland and report on the trip. Ann Hazard cookbaja ( -a t- ) (Courtesy, Baja Pony Express)

2-3-07 VERY HELPFUL INFO FOR NOVICE BORDER-CROSSERS - Sent to me by a thoughtful BWO Reader: Assuming you mean to cross at San Diego, (this works at Nogales too, although the migracion office is in a different location there), just after you drive through the customs pass/no pass light, pull to the right and park, move a bit if someone is waving at you that you can't park there, ask where parking is ok, then lock your car and walk to the right through a passageway in the building that runs parallel to the street you were on and turn right and walk back across the border into the US to the Migracion office on the left at the end of the path (they are open 24/7, if the office is dark, walk in anyway, they will wake up for you),.

Fill out the FMT forms, walk back the way you came, to the bank window facing the customs area, pay about $20/head, walk back with your receipt to the migracion office, get the final stamps, and resume your trip. This may sound laborious but it is actually pretty fast and I think it is the only place where you can do this 24/7 and the bank and migracion are within 100 yds of each other. - Hetta Malone

2-15 IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN LORETO... - and need a place to stay, there's a hip little hideaway with a Euro flare...Hotel Luna. Straight from Switzerland, owner Alberto Besoni and his wife Karla built the three room hotel, and opened it last August, a block up from the Malecon on the northern end. The rooms are immaculate, with a 60's flare with flat screen TV and wireless internet. There's a great bar on the roof and you can order food from the Giggling Marlin restaurant next door.

Alberto arranged for a fabulous massage for me, newly transplanted mainlander, Sergio Chavez. The rooms are 650 pesos a night and the massage was 300 pesos for an hour! Ask for directions to walk over to the brand new La Biznaga Galeria for hand painted clothing and fabulous natural and organic products.

I also recommend a great place for breakfast or lunch that most tourists would never find on their own....Cafe Sagitario, on the grounds of the Rivera del Mar Trailer Park. They offer a breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, potato, pancakes, and toast for 45 pesos! They offer chile rellenos, shrimp tacos, and hamburgers too. The most expensive items on their menu are rib eye and t-bone steaks for 110 pesos. Mother and daughter run...such sweet people...

Hotel Luna:

Sergio Chavez, massage therapist: 613 114 9691

Cafe Sagitario: Francisco Madero #100, 2 blocks from the beach in Colonia Centro - Wendy Rains, wendyrains ( -a t- )

Mexican Travel Insurance - Costco now offers Mexican Travel Insurance. We have not used them and in fact found out after we returned to the states from our trip down Baja. The insurer is Bonita West, they give 15-35% discounts to Costco members. It might be worth checking into. Go to: - Kristen Blake, deankris ( -a t- ), 760-720-9251

One place I can highly recommend is the Estero Beach resort at the south end of Ensenada. Very nice, clean and quiet, gated with security guards, on the water, restaurant and bar on premises. If other readers will send us their lodging recommendations, we'll print them here in the Onion. - Alan

Baja Road Report - Just completed a three-day return trip from the US border to Todos Santos. Roads were in good shape most of the way, with some rough spots North of Loreto. Watch out for any lighter colored, sandy spots on the roadway. They're a dead giveaway you're heading toward a pot hole. Also, use caution and slow way down when entering and exiting the desvaciones (detours) around the new bridges under construction. There is some very rough road and deep potholes at the entrances and exits of many of them. There was also some evidence of rain in the area from Loreto to Santa Rosalia so use extra precaution on slick pavement. As always, avoid the gas station thieves in Santa Rosalia and Mulege. Gas up in Loreto or San Ignacio.

On a lark, I stayed at the Old Mill in San Quintin for the first time and found it a decent value at $35 per night ($45 for 2). Rooms and furnishings were old and funky but clean and servicable. The clientele can be a little noisy for some, and many rooms are targeted for groups with multiple single beds. The restaurant and bar next door at Don Eddy's landing was lively, mostly filled with sport fishers and Baja off-road drivers. Don Eddy's also has rooms but the Old Mill is more "dog-friendly." To get there, watch for the large billboard south of San Quintin on the West side of the highway. Use care driving in and out. The road is wide, graded and gravelled, but there are some huge rocks and pot holes in some places. Also there are a couple of random unmarked topes that can really surprise you.

I also stayed at the La Pinta in Loreto and got a discounted room for $650 pesos (see discount article below). This is an older hotel/motel on the beach just North of the Malecon. There are certainly nicer rooms and hotels in Loreto but La Pinta's rooms were passable, the restaurant and bar were clean and well lit, there is wireless Internet access in the lobby and bar, they are dog friendly, and the beach is right outside.

Access to the motel rooms was not well thought out. Although you can park right in front of your room, to reach it you have to walk around to the entrances at either end of the building or step over a 2 foot wall. There was cable TV in the room but most US cable channels were dubbed in Spanish audio. Some of the air conditioners have wirless remote controls but I had to use a chair to reach mine. Note: This hotel is undergoing renovation, and other reviews on the Internet noted that service here has been downright terrible, with reservations cancelled or not honored for no good reason. Hopefully, the ownership will get it together and make this a nicer hotel in the future.

We have also stayed at the La Pinta in San Quintin, which is a newer hotel with good rooms and better service that sits right next to a beautiful shell beach with miles of low sand dunes. It's off the highway and a little harder to find but look for the huge Los Pinos farm co op building South of San Quintin on the West Side of the highway. Turn there and follow the paved road West toward the beach. After you pass through a section of the road lined by overhanging trees, turn where the dirt road Tees to the left and you see the Desert Inn sign with the left arrow.

As with any stop in Mexico, use caution to protect your car and belongings. The La Pinta in San Quintin is in a remote area, dumpster divers have been seen rummaging through the trash cans, and a car near the far end of the front parking lot had been broken into the last time I was there. - Alan, alan ( -a t- )

TROPICANA, SJC - Thanks to the generous readers of BWO who gave us rich suggestions on where to eat, etc in SJC. We stayed an extra night, Thursday, at the Tropicana to hear Daniel Siqueiros with his world class violin and guitar. Armida Castro, owner of the Tropicana generously gave us a discount because we'd come over from Todos Santos to hear Daniel in his regular Thursday gig. The hotel was great, the show was great, Daniel and Ellen were fabulous. If you're going to be over that way on a Thursday...well then...Warm regards, Janel - janel beeman, janelb3 ( -a t- ), 145-0213

SIMPLE GAS SCAM - We had heard about the crooks working the gas stations in Santa Rosalia and Mulege but I had never seen them in action until our last trip. Here's how the scam works;

Your friendly attendant "looks" like he starts the pump but really doesn't. All he does is punch in some numbers but does not press the "go" button. Even if you're standing there watching, he'll lean up against the pump and engage you in conversation. He puts his arm up to block the pump display so you can't see that the numbers are not changing, as no gas is being pumped. He may also try to distract you by asking if you want your windshield washed and points to his partner in crime behind you who has already started washing your windows.

When he finally pulls his arm away and removes the pump nozzle like he's finished, there is 50 or 100 pesos showing on the pump display, regardless of what amount you had asked for. When you point this out, he acts surprised like he didn't understand your request and offers to restart the pump, but mentioning that he will add the amount for the phantom gas he's already "pumped." This time he'll start the pump correctly and walk away.

Don't let these criminals get away with this. Anytime they attempt to restart a pump on you, know that you are being scammed. Offer to call the police if they insist.

Finally, he may even try to short change you if you do not pay with exact change. Always know in advance how much change you're supposed to get, smile and keep your hand out until they fork it over.

TAKING THE FERRY We will be traveling down through Nogales to take the ferry from Northern Arizona, if anyone wants to tag along, email me at treaturfeet ( -a t- ), I speak fluent Spanish, and can help anyone who may want to travel along with us. We plan on leaving beginning of December. If you are in the states and want some more info on the ferry, the trip is from Nogales, down the main Mexico Highway 15 to Topolobampo and then across on the ferry to La Paz....

The ferry hold many cars, trucks and RVs, and sails from Topolobampo to La Paz. Takes about 5 hours on the crossing. Your ticket includes a meal, and cabins are available for about $70. Your ticket without a vehicle is about $62, and your truck, car or RV is measured and you pay according to length. My huge SUV(Lincoln Navi) last year was about $150. That included my ticket for the truck and myself to cross and a free meal onboard. After you are on board, and you are settled in for the night, you wake up to the mountains and the shores of La Paz...sure beats driving all of the Baja....I had two dogs in the back of my SUV and they were kind enough to let me leave truck and dogs on upper decks away from all the fumes of the huge transport trucks.

If you would like more info and you are in the states and want to travel down to La Paz and points south contact me by phone or email treaturfeet ( -a t- ) or 928-282-5969, usually home in the evenings, Mountain Standard Time....Sylvia

(Courtesy, Baja Pony Express)

The Baja Ferry honors the ensen or "old-age"card but you have to present it at the time of payment. If you are taking your car you should try to be last on (wait outside) and then you can be first off and avoid a lot of fumes inhalation. bajadove ( -a t- )

FYI on all border events and GN checkpoint, travelers should be careful with overdoing the importation of goodies and keep the documentation & visa regs tight beginning with the year end holidays. The customs guys will be looking closer, also immigration, it happens every year. Patrick, TS.

PEMEX RIP-OFF - Beware of the Pemex in the center of Santa Rosalia. Last year they directed me around the line to the empty pump closest to the office then brought the nozzle around from the other side of the pump. This year they sent me to the same empty pump started it then shut it off. I checked my gauge and had received no gas. I threatened to call the police and they as much as admitted the scam. This is the older station on the left as you are going north near the center of town. Had a great trip otherwise. - Tom Tate, ttatecon ( -a t- )

BAJA LODGING - A collection of places to stay up and down the Baja peninsula. - Don Humphrey, donhumphrey ( -a t- ), 01-646-155-0107 (Ensenada)

TODOS SANTOS BUDGET RENTAL CAR - Todos Santos has Budget Rent-A-Car. The price from Todos Santos to the San Jose Airport (or SJD to Todos Santos) including drop off is $90. This is much less than the $250 cab fare. - Susan, susanleigh55 ( -a t- ), 612 111 6195

There are some rumors about car jackings near Cataviña. My advice anywhere in the Baja: If you see someone "broken down" tying to get you to stop, keep your doors locked and keep driving. If it really is a break down, then let the locals take care of the locals. They can probably do a better job of it than you can anyway.

RE: Rumors of Carjackings near Catavina - Highway 1 is regularly patrolled by the Green Angels who provide service and assistance to stranded motorists. The Green Angels are a part of the Dept. of Tourism and there is no charge for their service, parts or labor. There is no need to stop for others' breakdowns, let the Green Trucks handle the problem. - Paul Shortell

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