Sat 21/03-2020 Day 511

Pos: 25.5990,-109.0584

Loc: Topolobampo
Acc: Ary and Hermes’ house
Dist: 57,0 km
Start: 6:35 End: 17:20
This will be our last paddling day of the trip…?
I had good eyes on my most times better than Google maps satellite images downloaded on my laptop. I had spotted a chance of a mangrove connection channel between Rio Fuerte and The large estuary leading to Topolobampo, where we could avoid completely paddling the last long day offshore. At first, I was mistrusting that this mangrove channel really is connecting both estuaries, and when we saw last night the seas and exit of the Fuerte River flattening out on the rising tide completely, we decided to paddle offshore until the bottom entrance of the estuary corner leading into the bay of Topolobampo.
But this morning, the wind was already so strong and again more out of the west straight onshore than following from North-West, and despite the tide was still quite high, the wave action offshore looked anything than inviting.
So we decided to take the chance with the mangrove channel – what could happen when we get stuck? We would just make a detour of 15 km or such, getting back to our old campsite, and would lose at least one day. I just haven’t made waypoints for these channels, so fully ready to go, I had to dig out my laptop, mouse, cable, and GPS, and on the kayak as an “office”, I quickly made our necessary orientation waypoints, not to get lost
We smiled when we set off in the sunny last early morning paddle when this channel will work, we are all fine and will likely reach Topolobamp this late afternoon. We so much enjoyed even the first small mangrove channel leading into a large round body of water. Many new birds were sitting and singing in the mangrove bushes, and inside here, barely any trash spoiled our nature view. We crossed the shallow lagoon leading to the tiny connection channel and saw a bunch of fishing boats on the for them likely marginal water depth.
We found the entrance with my GPS waypoint, and it looked and felt very promising! The water in the channel was deep and had a strong current. This water must flow into the other lagoon! It was so quiet, pristine and peaceful in here, a perfect final of our last paddling day! The sun was shining, the water was warm, and the wind was (mostly) in our back.
We got out on two small meadow-like spots without mangroves, to have a look in the hinterland, and found salt-pans with no animal tracks or any signs of human use. So nice! But we better washed our sandals from a bit of mud before getting back into the kayak…
The most narrow part was not an overgrown tunnel like I was almost suspecting, but any motorboat could also have passed this one. The strong current kept the water deep. We smiled at each other, feeling blessed our last paddling day would be long, but so nice and feeling safe!
The wide body of water we had to cross after the exit out of the winding mangrove channel was about 13 km, and the wind was building even here some waves, which were wonderful to surf We switched music on and powered along. I was flying along on many wave trains in some wonderful surf action, and smiled and waved at the occasional fishing boat. I’m quite sure the guys saw my fun on paddling this! After the successful crossing via the mangrove channels, this was even some more icing on the cake for the last paddling day in Mexico. Even when I had to wait quite some minutes for Marg, I was pretty relaxed and so thankful for this blessed last day, and thankful she has been a good safe paddling partner all those last days. But surfing along with the still heavy kayak in these conditions with my pace, for that, I’d need a male paddling partner with some experience, what Markus would have been if it would have happened. Now we are flying out where he’d have been flying in for April…
The next connection mangrove channels were clear to see on both satellite images, and we saw also boats coming out and going in. One was passing us inside. We spotted some “wildlife” of many cows living peacefully on the northern beaches and thoroughly enjoyed also those channels. Twice, we probably took the less deep channel around small mangrove islands and had to watch not to get stuck in the shallows there. But all good!
When we entered the last body of water leading now northeast to Topolobampo, a huge ship sailed into the bay for loading concrete or sand from the quarries further north. We passed the beach village of Play Huatabampito and had to avoid to run into four kite surfer speeding along in the now twenty knots following wind. We also needed to take care not to get too much into the shallow banks on now low tidewater.
Especially one bank lading into the main shipping channel was from some very shallow water where we had to get out and drag the kayaks a bit changing within few centimeters into deep blue water with an according to strong running over fall. It looked like we had to float straight into the underworld
We slowly enjoyed the village of Topolobampo unfolding, with the concrete loading terminal first, then came some Navy place, a sportfishing club, the main fishing harbor for maybe a hundred large trawlers, and then the first marina where we thought we might get out?
But this marina was so much looking like a posh place with maybe twenty HUGE motor yachts of millions of $$ worth. Not a single sailing boat around! We felt out of place and decided to look around the corner to the second of three possible marinas. This one also had motorboat only, but in some reasonable sizes, and felt appropriate for us to land on their concrete ramp. A friendly guard was asking about our whereabouts and wishes and allowed us to unload here, to use their water hoses to rinse gear and their hot showers to rinse ur bodies. They would even store our kayaks for at least one night. They helped us call a taxi which would take us with all lour gear bags up to the Tortuga Hostel where Elizabeth had reserved us space.
After our shower and before we called for a taxi, I tried to reach our contact Hermes in Los Mochis, which my Mexican kayak friend Victor Leon had given me this morning, but he didn’t respond yet. So it was the hostel for this night.
We realized from the satellite maps, the hostel would be located somehow in the village center, but seeing the small mountain in the center and their announcement of all rooms being “with sea view”, he hostel must be somehow on the high end of the mountain! The taxi drove us up some narrow winding road, but stopped suddenly in the middle of the road and said it would be here…? No hostel sign or a building to see which was looking like one and Google maps showed a different location one road up…here was just a very narrow, very steep, very uneven and partly broken staircase leading even more up the mountain between buildings clinging close and interlocked to the walls. Is his the back entrance, and is there really no other obvious entrance with at least a sign of the hostel further up?
The taxi driver said this is the right spot, called the hostel with his phone, and passed it on to me to talk to the hostel owner in English. He told me there would be a woman coming soon guiding us via the staircases to the hostel building…ok! We dared to trust this, unloaded the gear bags, paid the driver and soon we were standing on this narrow road between other houses between a shitload of heavy gear bags quite helpless by ourselves. But at least this road was well-lit in the already dark night. Still, if the taxi driver had just talked to his brother…and someone strange would collect us now…our mistrust grew with the minutes we had to wait for the lady who was supposed to pick us up and to guide us upstairs. If there would have been at least an obvious hostel sign somewhere…!
After about ten minutes, I finally called the hostel owner myself, and thankfully got the same person on the line confirming the same thing, and that Reina would be on her way to guide us. and there she came! Thank goodness…now one of us just had to follow her with the first bag on the shoulder upstairs, while the other would be waiting with the rest of the gear. I climbed with Reina, hoping we would really end at the hostel – and we finally, thankfully did after some long huffing and puffing climb, loaded with my heavy gear bags.
The hostel had only one female guest from the UK, a “homeless” full-time traveler living on online work, a single lady named Dani. She felt a bit lonely and desperate where to go now and what to live on in these days, having no place to go back “home” to, and she was close to tears talking to us. Well, Corona hits us all in some way or another…
The hostel itself was owned by a US-American guy and was clean and well-build for local relations. Thank goodness, we had the six stock-beds room for ourselves and our gear, while Dani lived in another four-beds room. The hostel owner had offered us previously to store our kayaks at least also for the night at the hostel – LOL! It would have been quite an effort to get them up here, and actually probably impossible to get the 5,60 m/ 8 feet long kayaks through the narrow staircases…
We spread out the gear to dry and were hoping, it would be safe within the prison-looking metal gates and windows…but anyone keen to be bad would be able to make his way via the different level roofs…
I finally was able to call and reach Hermes, and he and his wife Ary were even willing to pick us up the same night, but as we were now already here in this acceptable hostel, and dead tired, we agreed on a pick-up next Sunday morning.
Neighbors here in this hostel were pretty close in any direction, and their music noises we could here still at 2 pm, plus many roosters starting to sing at 4 am…I was long-time online for researching the situation, and finally called home in early morning time/ their late afternoon, and made my choice of flight-out booking.
I fancied a direct flight from Mexico City to Europe, without one or two stops in the USA, and the unavoidable, now very nasty and long-time taking immigration process in the USA, though still possible for us coming from Mexico. The only reasonable priced flight leaves only on Sunday 29th in the evening, from Mexico City, via Amsterdam to Hamburg. Oh well…
I will take my utmost care on the trip, to stay healthy!
Sunday at 8 am, we packed our gear and tried to guide Hermes and Ary in the same way to the spot where the taxi had driven us. I had looked both up on Facebook the night before, and we felt thankful to have the chance to be hosted and looked after us and the kayaks by a young, handsome and all right well-off couple! Hermes and Ary are both working here in the ever-present agriculture, where Mexico is growing and trading a huge part of the fruit and veggie needs of the US and further abroad. They both are busy in the trade and administration, and I understood Hermes is also a qualified engineer in the genetic modification of the growth. Thanks to both of them to look after us and my kayaks and gear!
Communication goes via Spanglish and Google translate and goes better by the minute
Unfortunately, they came with a truck with a very short truck bed, so we had to drive twice to Los Mochis, first taking the gear bags only, but Hermes quickly organized a larger truck where we were able to transport the kayaks on the truck bed sticking still out long. Marg and I were sitting on the back on the stern of the kayaks, to keep them weighted down.
The drive to Los Mochis took us along many, many large farms growing all kinds of veggies and fruit, plus many large logistical buildings. All seemed to be in good shape, well-off and in working function with people still around and street restaurants still open, despite also here, schools and public buildings were already shut down for prevention due to the virus. But if they shut down the food production, our supermarkets won’t be filled for long any more…
They gave us a room with a large double bed in their nice house, and as Marg and I had spent already the last weeks together that close and are very, very likely healthy, we were also here sleeping head to toe in the large bed. We appreciate a lot that Hermes and Ary took up the risk to take us home at all, thank you so much! As a well-educated couple, plus their student daughter Priscilla, they must be aware of the general international situation. Thank goodness, Mexico is still on the far end of the statistics, but it can change pretty quickly…
Thanks so much To Ary, Hermes, and Priscilla! And to Victor Leon to have organized this contact. And thanks so much to look after us in their own home, and finally to store my kayaks and gear for next year to continue!
They treated us on Sunday afternoon with a typical endless-feed from the barbecue, with shrimp, nice lean meat, corn, clams, home-made cervice, and other goodies. We were happily digging into these treats! Thanks so much!