Friday, August 31, 2012

Cleaning Your Car - La Paz Car Washes

After a week of rain my car was looking a little bit dirty, to say the least.

Normally I wash my car myself however I was pushed for time and didn't feel like changing out of my work clothes and washing my car in the 40C sun.
I decided to try a relatively new car wash called Quick Wash.  It is located on the Malecon road, Abasolo, just after the Malecon ends when heading towards the airport, and it is on the left side of the street with the ocean on the right.

The car wash has a number of basic options, all of which include the car being washed by the automatic car wash system as well as touch ups by hand to make sure it comes out looking like new.

I am cheap so I chose to go with the basic option at first, which cost only $60 pesos ($4.50 US).  This option doesn't include any wax etc, however I was pleasantly surprised at how shinny it came out only 5 minutes later.

Whilst you wait they have a really nice seating area with a little coffee store.  This wasn't too much use for us as we were only there 5 minutes however as their full service includes vacuuming, waxing and a chassis clean.

All in all the service was great, and it was really easy to simply drive up, pay, have a coffee and drive off with a shinny new looking car.

Interesting Legal Tip:
If you plan on washing your car at home then bear in mind that it is actually illegal to wash your car using a hose.  This is designed to save on water.  Certain businesses have authorization to use hoses to clean however if you are seen washing your car then you might get a telling off, although it is unlikely, best to stick on the right side of the law.

Check out more information and contact details for Quick Wash La Paz at their Facebook page: Quick Wash Car Wash Facebook Page

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Virtual Walking Tour of La Paz

I took it upon myself to create a virtual walking tour of downtown La Paz.

The majority of the streets in La Paz are grid like in nature however the oldest area of town, the El Centro (or Downtown) area is not grid like, and has many different callejons (or small streets) within it, often occupied by small markets of sidewalk cafes and restaurants.

I hope that my tour brings out the best of these in a slightly artistic fashion.

 My vision is that these streets will one day be beautifully finished in all areas however my tour aims to take people on the sidewalks with the best finish and the most interesting sights, as well as some useful places such as department stores, the pharmacy and the banks.

I would love to hear what you think about my newest project and please by all means use it when promoting La Paz and places to stop and visit. 

Guide to the Virtual Tour

"Start at the Malecon Kiosk, walk up 16 de Septiembre (Bank Street), turn right at the end of the banks to make your way up to Dax the pharmacy.
Turn right to follow the road down past La Perla department store until you reach Santander and Banamex. Turn left here to see the La Concha Mujeres (Shell Ladies) where you can cut through back to the Malecon.
We can now see the Lighthouse and Illusion Port of La Paz and the fantastic malecon Mural. We then turn right to walk along the Malecon and back up to Santander.
Next we make a left and walk along past Callejon La Paz (The street with the bars and restaurants and Hotel Playa Real). We follow this road along back to where we started at the Malecon Kiosk here in La Paz, Baja Califorina Sur, Mexico."
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

La Paz Water and Rainfall

After reviewing a few resources I have compiled the following information about rainfall and water in La Paz and across Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Rainfall Statistics

They show that La Paz receives on average 6.7 inches of rainfall per year.  With the rainiest months being August and September, with 1.2 and 1.4 inches of rainfall on average.

February and December are also notibly "high" months for rainfall with 1.1 inches of rainfall per month each.

March to May being the driest with 0 inches of rainfall on average.

At first view these numbers do not seem accurate as a hurricane in August or September (typical hurricane months in La Paz) bring in much more rain than a small rain in February or December.  This is caused by consistency.  February and December see small amounts of rain every year, at least once, whilst August and September can go a number of years with next to no rain, only to receive up to 6 inches all in one downpour during a large hurricane.

These statistics, as shown in the graph below, are recorded at the La Paz airport.  Typically this area receives rainfall in line with the city itself, however temperatures recorded here can be a few degrees cooler than the city (based on personal experience).

La Paz Water

These rainfall statistics are not, however, a reflection of the rainfall which is experienced in the mountains surrounding La Paz.  Therefore they are not a true reflection of the water situation in the city.

Due to the design of La Paz, your eyes are typically directed towards the Sea of Cortez, however if you cast your eyes behind the city, or use google maps, you will see a large range of mountains, which experience significantly more rain than the city.

The satellite image below clearly shows the vegetation differences in the lower half of Baja California Sur.

Sierra de la Laguna

The largest and darkest green areas of this map, cover approx. 1,000 square miles, are known as Sierra de Laguna (Literally translated as Saw Lagoon).

"The area holds an eclectic mix of landscapes. The mountains provide a rugged home for an incredible diversity of animal and plant life. It is an ecological treasure house where cacti, palms and pine trees grow side by side and rock pools form underneath towering granite boulders.

The dry forests of Sierra de la Laguna are home to some 224 species of plants, half the reptiles and amphibians in the entire Cape Region(the land to the east of the mountains is known as the Cape or the East Cape), and 96 percent of the region's mammals.

The highest elevations of the Sierra de la Laguna are blanketed in pine-oak forests, merging with tropical dry forest at about 2600 ft. in elevation.

At about 950 ft. in the Cape region the tropical dry forest gives way to the Sonoran Desert. During the long dry season of this eco-region, many of the trees loose their leaves".
Extract from

Canyons of the Sierra de la Laguna 2
Canyons of the Sierra de la Laguna 2
The photographs below show the impact of regular rain on the geography and the plant life. For more information on Sierra de la Laguna in particular and visiting this region please visit Summit Post's website.

San Juan de los Planes - Water Basin

Closer to La Paz is a smaller mountain and hill range, which although not as high and large as Sierra de la Laguna, still provides a large water run off on a regular basis.

Fortunately for La Paz this run off does not take place straight into La Paz, and in fact runs off to the other side of the mountain range into an area known as San Juan de los Planes.  Many know of this area as it is on the drive to El Sargento and La Ventana, as well as Bahia de los Suenos (or Muertos).

The satellite imagery below shows clearly the mountain run off from the hills just behind La Paz.  Out of the 12 large, and clearly visible, river beds only one feeds into La Paz, and this is predominantly only flowing during hurricane seasons.

The remaining 11 river beds feed from the large hill top and mountain areas surrounding them, and they subsequently deposit their water into San Juan de Los Planes.  This area as you may be able to make out from the imagery is largely an agricultural area supported by the rainfall run off.

To be continued...
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Guide to Visiting Todos Santos

Todos Santos is a Magic Town.  This is a classification given to towns of cultural and historical importance here in Mexico, of which Todos Santos was the first in Baja California Sur.

With a large number of art galleries, artists boutiques, and quaint cobble streets, it is no surprise that Todos Santos earned this award.

The following guide will ensure when you visit the town you make the most of your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What time of year is best to visit? - This is not too important, particularly as temperatures are a few degrees cooler in Todos Santos, making it pleasant all year around.

What day of the week is best to visit? - I prefer week days and Saturdays. However try to avoid Sunday if you want to visit the art galleries as the majority are closed.

What if I don't speak Spanish? - Todos Santos is set up very well for tourists and as such the majority of business owners and waiters speak a good quality of English.

Great Photo Opportunities
Which parts should I visit? - Good question.  This fantastic map below produced by Got Baja Maps, a local company who make fantastic paper maps for tourist, helps highlight the important places to see.

My preference is to stick to the light blue colored streets as these are the picturesque streets which make great photos.  Then the main "strip" is just below this where tourist sights such as Hotel California and the souvenir stores are located.

Honestly this is the area of Todos Santos I dislike the most as it is too touristy for me, however many people love it.

Picturesque Streets
Next you can follow their route on the map to visit the different art galleries.

Having walked this full route myself I would advise missing off the furthest gallery, N.E. Hayles as it is a pretty long walk, particularly during the hottest months, however if you have a car, then it is an easy trip.

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Check out the full map at: Got Baja's Todos Santos Map

Where should we eat? - Todos Santos has a number of great restaurants.  We like to eat at one of the restaurants in the cobble street section (light blue streets on the map above).  There are a number of great choices, from Italian, French, Mexican and even a great Chinese dumpling place, all within a few blocks of each other.

Is the Hotel California from the Eagles song? - Unfortunately, and in contrast to popular belief, it is not related at all to the Eagles song, although it is nice to pretend that it is.

The Hotel has undoubtedly benefited from the rumors and is set up almost like a Las Vegas hotel, with souvenir store selling branded shirts and other curiosities.

I personally didn't enjoy the Hotel, particularly after I found out there was no connection, however as I say many times, each to their own.

Should we visit the beach? - We like to take a trip to the beach as it is different from the La Paz beaches, with its big crashing waves.  They are generally quiet and therefore make for great photo opportunities, however they can be tricky to get to.

Please do not swim at these beaches however as the waves and undercurrents make it very dangerous.

The best route is behind the cobbled street section.  We tried through the hills one time and will never try that route again (tight, winding roads, 4x4 only).

With the above guide I am sure you will have a great trip to Todos Santos

Please have a great trip to Todos Santos and don't forget to tell me all about it!

If you would like to recommend another place to visit whilst staying in La Paz, BCS, Mexico then please let me know with a comment below.
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La Paz Gold Cup 2012

La Paz Gold Cup 2012
La Paz´s biggest Black and Blue Marlin fishing tournament, La Paz Gold Cup 2012, is back for the 6th year!

On Friday and Saturday, 14th and 15th, of September 2012 over 50 boating teams will take to the waters of the Sea of Cortez to catch some of the biggest Black and Blue Marlins.

They will all be hoping to break records, and bring in some fantastic fish, and we of course wish them all a great deal of luck.

The La Paz Gold Cup event is an annual fishing tournament which raises large amounts of money for local charities, here in La Paz, BCS, Mexico, and we thank you for the work that goes into the event and hope it will be a huge success.

Over $2,000,000 pesos of prizes over 2 days!

Black and Blue Marlin:
1st - $1,400,000 pesos
2nd - $300,000 pesos
3rd - $150,000 pesos
Winning Team Captain - $150,000 pesos

A team of 1 to 4 anglers can take part in the La Paz Gold Cup from as little as $12,000 pesos with an additional $3,000 persons for additional anglers.

For budding anglers registration opens on the 13th September and you can make your reservation online at:  La Paz Gold Cup 2012 Reservation Form

All net profits will be donated to the following local charities, who year after year undertake fantastic work with the residents of La Paz, Baja Sur.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Gray Whales at Lopez Mateos

This March my parents from England made their first visit to La Paz.

My wife and I, having never been, took them on a trip to see the Gray Whales at Lopez Mateo.

Each year hundreds of whales congregate along the coastline of the Baja California Sur penninsula, and one of their favourite spots is the shallow, warm and nutrient rich waters of Magdalena Bay.

They spend between 2 and 3 months here, slowly moving north, after they give birth to their calves, as they train and nurture them until they are able to make the long trip back to the waters of Alaska where they spend the majority of the year feeding.

Gray Whale Migration Route - Courtesy of
The Gray Whales have the longest migration route of any known mammal, and we are lucky enough to have their breeding grounds so close to La Paz.

We made the trip with our friends at Choya Tours who for a very reasonable fee took us all the way there and back, and fed and watered us throughout the day at two different local restaurants.

As it was our first time we chose to go with an organized tour guide.  They took us to Lopez Mateos as in March this is the best place to see lots of whales.  It is the last of the bays before the whales reach the Pacific Ocean, meaning this is their last chance to learn and grow before bracing those cold Pacific waters.

We were at the bay in around 3 hours after a quick stop for breakfast, and we were right out onto the water as soon as we arrived.

The whales are very close to the shore and we could actually see the splashes of the whales clapping their tails on the water.

We were on the water for 30 or so minutes with many close encounters but no up close and personal experiences

Then out of the blue, literally, a baby whale (remember these babies are the size or large SUVs), started to play with us and our boat.  The baby and her mother, who arrived shortly after, stayed with us for over 30 minutes, giving us an unforgettable experience.

I decided to bring my smaller camera as I couldn't risk dropping my nicer one, however the photos still turned out fantastic, and I even took a few videos.

The tour operators are well regulated, and only about 10 boats were allowed into the waters at a time, meaning that it was never too crowded for us or for the whales.

There must have been 50+ whales in the area at any one time, however the majority shied away from the camera lens.

I caught the video below after about 10 minutes with our two new whale friends, and my mother was having a great time patting and stroking the baby whale, when all of a sudden it decided to squirt her in the face as it blew air and mucus out of its blow hole.

As well as whales there was plenty of other wildlife in the area.  We saw many many peregrine falcons, magnificent frigate birds, blue and gray herons and much much more.

It was a fantastic day out that I will certainly be recommending to anyone visiting La Paz between January and March.

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