Oct. 31/Nov. 1: Día de Muertos in La Paz

On October 31st (day 31), MinEssa and Danielle and I left Juncalito beach where we'd stayed the last couple nights, and headed towards the capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz. We'd specifically planned to be in La Paz for the beginning of November in order to be in a larger city during Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead. Although the 'best' Dia de Muertos celebrations take place in other Mexican cities, La Paz was going to be as good as we were going to get.

While in Loreto a day or two before, Danielle and I had decided to book a hotel for our time in La Paz, basically as a change from camping, to have reliable internet access, and to not have to drive into town each day. We'd found a reasonable price at the One Hotel La Paz, which looked to be one of the newer buildings in the city, included free breakfast, was aimed at business travelers and thus had very fast wifi, and also had a rooftop pool. Given all this, we were pretty stoked. However, this meant a temporary separation from MinEssa.

The drive to the capital was long and trying. We had to leave the coast for the great majority of the drive, and for the most part, the road was nothing but mind-numbingly straight. The monotony was finally broken when we approached the outer limits of the city, where a police checkpoint had been set up.

Throughout the Baja, military checkpoints were abundant. Manned by young guys who normally possessed adequate English skills, we got through all but the first without a search or a hitch. This police checkpoint was our first, and the two officers holding the fort acted as stereotypical Mexican police do; asked for a bribe.

It started out with the 'good cop' asking, in very broken English, to see my license. I handed him my fake license, as well as a photocopy of my international license, and he walked away. Enter the 'bad cop'. This officer knew a few English words, but not nearly enough to hold a conversation. We played the ignorant tourist and pretended to not have any knowledge of even basic Spanish vocabulary. For about twenty minutes we battled back and forth, him trying to tell me I was speeding (I wasn't, nor could he have even seen how fast I was going given the checkpoint was behind a hill and well signed prior to it) and needed to pay “ummmm $100?”, while I insisted we'd pay any fines at the police station in La Paz, as opposed to paying him the outrageous bribe. Eventually we frustrated him enough to have the 'good cop' return my fake license and send us on our way. Rob and Danielle-1 Crooked Cops-0.

After winning the bribe game we drove into town, stopping first at Walmart to resupply our food. After stocking up, we drove downtown towards the hotel. The drive took a while and was hectic. Along the main road there was a mix of 4-way stops, traffic lights, stop signs, and a plethora of speedbumps. For the uninitiated, driving in La Paz would be an absolute nightmare. However, at this point I was well adjusted, and actually found it fun. In the city, Bilbo demands a commanding presence, so forcing your right-of-way is more of a game than a challenge.

Once we arrived at the hotel, we settled in and went hard on the computer work, with a few stops up to the pool. We stayed up until midnight working on our laptops. Then went to bed.

The next day (Nov. 1) Danielle and I got up and enjoyed our included breakfast. We then again went HAM on the computers basically all day, with a few breaks to enjoy the pool. Around 17:00 we left the hotel to grab some early dinner at Rancho Viejo. I got some tacos, Danielle got some fried tacos. They were pretty good and inexpensive, but nothing extraordinary.

After dinner we walked towards Teatro de la Ciudad where there was to be a Día de Muertos celebration. We arrived an hour early because of some confusion over the time change when we crossed into Baja California Sur and daylight savings, but regardless we got to watch the booths get set up as well as the stage get prepped. As the light began to fade, and the candles and lights begin to glow, the festivities began just as MinEssa found us in the growing crowd.

We then spent the evening watching the various dance and musical performances on the stage as well as admire the Catrina costumes. After spending a few hours at theatre's courtyard observing the party, the four of us grabbed churros and walked back to our respective hotels.

Sunset over La Paz from the roof of Hotel One.

Danielle enjoying the rooftop pool.

Danielle enjoying dinner at Rancho Viejo.

The biggest display for the Day of Dead celebration at the Theatre.

Locals face-painted and ready.

The displays accompanying the stage.

One of the various performances we saw on the stage that night.

This was probably the best dance I've ever seen; it was hilarious.

There was a best Catrina contest going on that night, and throughout the night the contestants would walk around showing off their costumes. At the end of the night they paraded the stage.