The libre from Tepic to Mazatlan is unusually good.
Driving through Culiacan was as awful as I remembered. Next time we will bite the bullet and take the cuota bypass.
For some reason the “libre” from Culiacan to Los Mochis charges occasional 20 peso tolls.
After our night at the Bel Mar in Mazatlan, we hit the road, hoping to make it to Alamos in time to camp for the night. However, the sun started to drop over Los Mochis. Feeling optimistic, we drove out to the coast to look for a beach camp spot. Playa el Marivi, near Topolobampo, proved uninviting. The area is pretty enough in a stark way, but by the time we arrived, the cluster of seafood restaurants was deserted and a cold wind was blowing in off the sallow gulf. I wanted to ask around about camping to get a feel for the place and assess potential peligro, but nobody appeared. If we had been in Jalisco or some area that I know well, we would have just pitched camp without talking to anyone first, but I haven’t spent that much time in Sinaloa, and of course it’s not exactly known as Mexico’s safest state. Also, the stiff wind was making the thought of cooking rather daunting. After watching a pretty sunset, we headed back to Los Mochis, where we drove around endlessly, marveling at the profusion of hideous American chain restaurants and box stores. We eyed some seedy “no tell Motels” but finally discovered the Hotel Montecarlo (Flores 322 Sur, on the corner of Independencia), which was reasonably priced (420 pesos or 34 USD for three people) and offered secure parking. The pretty colonial-style hotel was completed in 1931 and, in addition to rooms, once housed a movie theater and a cock fighting ring. Our room was well-appointed and extremely clean. We ate dinner across the street at a seriously excellent unnamed taqueria. In the morning we breakfasted at the hotel restaurant, which was surprisingly good, with huge portions and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
There are a profusion of military, police, and zoosanitario inspections on 15-D from Los Mochis to Navajoa. Most of them just waved us through, but once we got searched rather thoroughly.