Beachcombing Part II
Trip Start Dec 17, 2005
6Trip End Jan 08, 2006
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Where I stayed
The owner of the Hotel Yeneka looks over his glasses and offers us a choice. Along with the room we get a free coffee or a shot of tequila. "Or coffee with tequila in it," he says. Behind him, the lobby of the small hotel is an awesome collection of junk.
Walls, shelves, even ceilings are draped with painted bull skulls, dolphin bones, lanterns, sombreros and straw hats, bicycle and auto parts, shells and other oddities. The chassis of an ancient Model-T rots in the leafy central courtyard, a dusty, stuffed spider monkey straddling the vehicle's dashboard.
The waterfront in La Paz is less inspiring, the tepid, shallow water and beach mottled by green seaweed. Shuttle buses run tourists and locals from the town centre out to the better beaches, and it's the morning of New Years Eve when Amanda and I stroll onto Playa Balandra.
At low tide the shallow cove is exposed and the surf is a decent walk across densely packed tidal land to where a flowerpot rock formation stands out against the horizon. Called El Hongo (The Mushroom), the rock is a famous landmark, but the impression of natural wonder is slightly ruined on close inspection. Cement and mortar were used to patch the thing up when it toppled over a few years ago.
Still, the beach is a gem, the water-crowded with starfish, sea urchins, coral, and listless, belligerent looking puffer fish-is shallow and easily waded through in search of hidden coves and small, secluded beaches. We add Balandra to Playa del Amor and Bahia Santa Maria as the best finds on our Beaches and Bars tour, and hitchhike back to town for the late afternoon bus to Loreto.
La Paz has been great, but on a gamble and with a touch of foreboding we're following the advice of our bartender friend, Roberto. He promised gorgeous, white sand beaches, quaint hotels on the shore, and a good party. We cross our fingers and head for the bus station. It's a five-hour ride to Loreto, and just six hours before the New Year.