In order to get the best rate at the marina, you must stay at least 6 days. We were already going to be paying for at least three days with our Copper Canyon trip, so we figured we might as well pay for one more day and get to stay for six days (beside weather was snotty). Although not quite as nice as the marinas in La Paz, it is about half the price. Once we figured out that you had to flip the breaker to make the hot water heater work the shower was much more pleasant. Unfortunately there are no laundry facilities at the marina, but being resourceful cruisers, we have simply starting taking our laundry to the shower with us and doing a few pieces by hand every day. The water on the dock is not potable, but the marina staff will take your fuel and water jugs and have them filled for a small fee. Wi-Fi is available, but only within about 50 ft of the office. When the office staff see you coming with your laptop they run out and set up a little table with folding chairs.
Perhaps these small inconveniences, along with fact that no English is spoken by anyone here are why we are the only gringos, and Anjuli and Konami are the only sailboats in town. The dock is filled with high-end motor yachts registered in Wilmington, Delaware, a known tax haven. We did meet a Frenchman who stopped by the dock– apparently he is working in Los Mochis building a nitrogen fertilizer plant. No matter where we go in the world, we always seem to run into French people. Kind of makes you feel stupid – this man started speaking to Dan in Spanish, but after encountering that blank look switched to perfect English.
As Topolobampo is a pretty small town with limited provisioning opportunities, we decided to take a bus into to Los Mochis, about 15 miles to the north. If it wasn’t for the palm trees, blaring mariachi music on the bus, and the occasional passing pickup load of young men with automatic weapons, you could almost convince yourself you were driving through farmland in the USA as we passed field after field of corn. Turns out that on Friday mornings a giant farmers market takes place in Los Mochis. We purchased farm-fresh radishes, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots and strawberries (good as any Oregon berries) for ridiculously low prices. I even picked up some pickling cucumbers and made pickles – seems odd making pickles in January, but whatever!
After the farmers we went to the supermercado (a big US-style grocery store) where we saw people crowded around a TV. Apparently El Chapo, the notorious head of the Sinaloan drug cartel who had escaped from a high-security prison had just been re-captured – in Los Mochis! Maybe that has something to do with all the sirens we had heard earlier and the truck loads of armed personnel … We also heard that the hunt was on for Sean Penn who has been in Los Mochis secretly interviewing El Chapo so as to make a movie of his life. You can’t make this stuff up!
Back in the sleepy town of Topolobampo, we have been enjoying walking along the newly refurbished malecon. Similar to La Paz, the main street which runs along the waterfront has wide sidewalks, benches, sculptures, and exercise equipment. Topolobampo has been compared with towns in the Greek isles- the town climbs steep hillsides which front a lovely bay filled with islands. The La Paz ferry stops here and it looks like tourism is taking hold – ten years from now it will probably look a lot different.
Sunday afternoon is when the town turns out to stroll the malecon, to see and be seen, or enjoy dinner at one of the many small open-air restaurants and food carts. Live music plays, hot rods cruise, and it feels like a carnival. We visited Mariscos Chicho’s, a roof-top palapa with a stunning view of the bay. Imagine our surprise when a young man came up to the table and said “I will be your waiter this evening” in perfect English. Jose had been raised in southern California, but was deported (without his mother) as a young teen and ended up here in Toplobampo where his uncle owns Mariscos Chicho’s. Jose said we were the first Americans that he had ever seen in the restaurant! The menu was translated in English, but with some loss in meaning. I got lucky – I ordered “seafood mess” which turned out to be the best seafood stew I have ever eaten, loaded with local shrimp, crab, clams, scallops and white fish.
We have really enjoyed our time here. Tomorrow we will head to Mazatlan, which will probably seem a bit overwhelming after Topolobampo.