12/20/2009, Mazatlan, MX
We're now in Mazatlan, "land of the deer" in the language of the pre-Spanish Nahuatl. The crossing from La Paz to Mazatlan, a 250 mile journey, was not without it's challenges. We left less than an hour before dark, as planned, so we'd arrive Mazatlan in the morning 40 hours later. But the seas were choppy and uncomfortable, and the wind was stronger than we expected or than was forecast, so when the sun went down with no moon, we lost our visual cues and peripheral vision, and with our bodies not acclimated yet to the motion of the rocking boat, we began to feel seriously queasy, a rare event for both of us. It was an uncomfortable first 10 hours with broken sleep, until the next morning, when the sun came back up, the seas calmed a bit, and the wind provided a great 13 solid hours of 6-knot sailing across the southern Sea of Cortez.
It's not uncommon to have bird hitch hikers on board, as many cruising blogs will reveal, and the second night at sea we were joined by 2 frigates. One laid claim to the very top of the mast, where he remained unsteadily for at least 4 hours into the night. The other looked like he was new at the whole flying and landing thing, and we had a complete frigate air show watching him circle the boat, come in on final approach, swoop up toward the spreaders, pull into a sharp stall, grab hold with his beak, and quick get his feet on the spreader. Then, as the boat rocked from side to side, he'd flap furiously trying to keep his balance, his little feet sliding on the flat metal spreader until he'd slam into the mast, at which point he'd give up and try again. Around the boat, swoop up to the spreader, open beak ready to grab, whoop! up on the spreader, flap flap flap flap, slide, slam, jump and try again. Sometimes he'd aim for a different landing spot, none of them really making much sense. Numerous times he thought he could get some rest on the steep forestay, which was wrapped by the furled jib sail. That never worked, but he tried repeatedly. A few times he made low passes over the bird on the top of the mast, squawking angrily. The poor little guy tried valiantly for hours, until finally it got dark and we lost him.
After 39 hours, Allan, who had the watch from 4-7am, woke me an hour out of Mazatlan. I blinked into the bright sunshine on deck, anxious to see the beautiful coastline of mainland Mexico, and was greeted instead by en eerie, skyline - hazy and smoky, spooky, ugly -- like the whole city was on fire. A quiet Armageddon, a gray, flat-looking horizon with the dark contours of huge hotels and buildings, all faceless in the haze. I wanted to turn the boat right around and go back to La Paz. I felt betrayed, whiny, and behaved like a nap-deprived little kid for the next 2 hours.
So I'm grumpy and pissed off because it's icky, Allan is confused because the harbor is nowhere in sight and the GPS display doesn't seem to be accurate, and to top it off, the marina, who we're talking to on the radio, is having trouble answering our question as to where they want us to go. We find the entrance and get the news that our slip will be ready in a few hours, and they direct us to a temporary slip.
We tie up, shower, me moping and nagging, feeling hot and disliking the smoke that is choking my lungs and, most annoyingly, I'm not able to decide what to wear. We call our friends Orlando and Linda on Cuba Libre, who have been here a month. He suggests we hop the little water taxi to the other side of the small marina and come visit. By the time we get to the other side, I'm feeling better, with a little help from food and a nice shower. A quick stop in the marina office to check on the situation reveals that a slip will not be available for a few days. One of the reasons we all love Mexico is that people are a bit more relaxed around here, and in that vein, we know that a few hours can mean a few days, and a few days can mean, what? No telling.
We discuss the issues at hand: First, temporary dock doesn't have electrical hookup. Okay, not a big deal, that's why we have a generator and solar. Second, temporary dock is across from all the stuff -- showers, laundry, food, buses, pools, people we know. Okay, not a big deal, the little water taxi goes back and forth on command and takes 30 seconds. And last, temporary dock does not have water hook up and we have a very salty boat and a very salty bed due to a little snafu -- one we can both claim 100% fault for -- that let gallons of water in the forward hatch during that first rough night at sea and soaked the entire mattress and everything on it, including the clean laundry I had folded and not yet put away. ("Never done that," several people say with guilty smiles as we later relay the story.) So ultimately it's the water thing, and we discuss the idea of going to a different marina. The manager, Geronimo, and his assistant Gladis have a conversation in Spanish that we can't follow, and then tell us confidently that they'll work on it. "No worries," we say, (I love the Aussies for that one) and head down to see Orlando and Linda.
Linda hands us glasses of cold lemonade, and Orlando puts us right at ease about Mazatlan. They have loved their month here, and love the marina. We get reinvigorated, and when we return to the office, they have a slip for us, 2 boats down from Orlando and Linda. All settled.
So we wash the salty boat, take the wet, sopping bedding and clothing to Norma in the laundry, who does a fast and fabulous job of washing, folding and packaging our stuff for only a little more than if we'd done it ourselves. We take naps, and then head for a Cuban meal at Carlos and Lucia's with Orlando and Linda. Orlando is Cuban, and we'd read in Last Resort's blog (Dick and Sharon Drechsler) that on their stop in Mazatlan they went with Orlando and Linda to a Cuban restaurant. I love Cuban food, maybe from all those Miami layovers in the 90's, and so we happily follow in Dick and Sharon's footsteps and tromp off to meet Marty, the Cuban waiter who grew up in Texas, and speaks with a Cuban accent in Spanish and a thick Texas drawl, possibly exaggerated for effect, in English. The food is delightful, especially the fried plantains, the best ever. I could go on and on but I'll leave the food reviews to Sharon, who writes for Examiner.com.
The capper to the long and partially grumpy day was a much-longed for soak in the huge hot tub. You see, we are in a 5-Star resort here at Marina El Cid, which is part of a 4-hotel complex including 2 pools, a hot tub, spa, gym, 18-hole golf course, beach, and restaurants and bars, of course. All available to us as part of our reasonable slip fees. So we're not really suffering out here in the wilds, in case you were worried.
Sunday, we had breakfast at Brujas Beach up coast with O & L, our tour guides for the moment, followed by a lazy day since it's Sunday. At breakfast, we met Captain Rita, who was full of fabulous local stories and has an interesting history as a 100-ton Master, with over 30 years of sailing experience, among other things. Walking back from breakfast, we were approached by one of the 13,752 Time Share Salesmen here in northern Mazatlan, who are like evil pests, relentless, sticky, unshakable. I, in the short few hours we've been in Mazatlan, had had enough, and barked sharply at the guy from across the street. He pursued, and I barked even louder. "Don't be grumpy, senorita!" he said sweetly, as he peeled off.
Just before leaving for breakfast, we saw friends Mary-Ann and John on Old Moon, who had just pulled in from La Paz, and were engaged in doing what Mary-Ann called "the Mexican Cha-cha-cha," driving around in circles for an hour waiting for the temporary slip to clear, because the regular slip they reserved was not available. Sounded vaguely familiar.
We visited with them later and ended up at the busy pool for a late lunch, where I, feeling bold, ordered a martini. Martini's are not one of Mexico's more popular drinks, and so, after a little bit of discussion over the matter, I was invited behind the bar to show the bartender how to make one. There's a photo in the gallery of me in that capacity. Later, they offered me a job. I told them I'd think about it.
Tomorrow we'll get busy with a few more honey-do's, (the boat is a bigger nag than I am) and start exploring Mazatlan a bit. Wednesday we leave on the bus for Los Mochis, where we catch the train Thursday morning to Barrancas del Cobre, the Copper Canyon, to spend Christmas with John and Mary-Ann.
It's a good thing we don't fear change, (okay, maybe just a little) since that's what this cruising life is all about.
12/16/2009, La Paz, BCS
Last day in La Paz, and it's sort of strange, like leaving home again. I have the feeling this life will consist of lots of farewells. Tomorrow we cast off the lines here in Slip #434 in Marina Palmira, our part-time home for the last almost 6 weeks, and head directly for Mazatlan, a 40-hour trip. We've made some good friends, some of them mobile like us, who we will no doubt see again as our cruising paths cross, others who live here in La Paz who we will look forward to seeing when we return sometime.
One person we enjoyed spending time with, and will definitely miss, was our UAL friend Rick, who splurged us on Sunday with a taste of something we thought we wouldn't see for 2 years -- flying. Rick has a Cessna 182 here and offered to get us airborne, and please don't think for a minute there was any hesitation to our response. None. He originally offered his plane for our trip to the Copper Canyon, which was quite generous, but we declined due to scheduling issues and other complications. But we took him up on the offer to fly. N8837E was a solid, comfortable and familiar-feeling plane that we both settled into quickly for a delightful round of touch-and-go's, making both Allan and I now single-engine current again. We loved the view of The Sea from The Air. We had some radio issues and couldn't quite go as far as Isla Espiritu Santo, but we cruised up the coast and took photos of the marina and the coast to the north. We felt whole, complete, happy after it was all done, and went out for pizza at Rustico's to celebrate our renewed status as actual pilots.
Today was provisioning day, and last-day-to-look-for-the-bead-shop day (didn't find it), a get square with Guillermo the Travel Agent for the Barrancas del Cobre trip day, a day to pick up the custom bathing suits I had made (!!), and to buy copious quantities of groceries -- enough to get us to Guatemala, should we catch some wind and forget to pull into El Cid Marina in Mazatlan on Saturday morning.
On my jaunt around town today I did a photo essay, it's in the gallery along with some other photos of La Paz that Allan's dad took. I am fascinated with textures and patterns, and this place is full of them. Crumbling walls, cobblestone streets, ficus trees cut in geometric shapes, rusting cars. I found a fabulous little hotel in downtown, owned by a serious collector of junque and a true collage artist. Everywhere you look -- the walls, the floors, and the sky above the courtyard were adorned with an impressive and humorous array of can openers, keys, old tools, umbrellas, colorful bicycles, even a rusted jeep with a stuffed monkey at the wheel.
The grocery shopping has proven to be fun, finding old things I thought I'd be without for 2 years -- Basamati brown rice, Pumpkin Flax Cereal Bars, Mountain Dew (Allan's vice) good red wines ( Alison's vice), and finding new things I have learned to love -- Manchega cheese, tiny limes, cactus. Then there's the fun of getting it all stowed. I still think I have a 22 cubic foot refrigerator and a double-wide pantry, but I get back to the boat and try to cram 46 clowns into a Volkswagen.
This is a short blog (whew!) -- just wanted to let everyone know we're moving on. Back to the galley -- I still have 16 clowns who refuse to cooperate.
12/12/2009, Caleta Partida, BCS
Today we say goodbye to Grant and Phyllis Gabel, Allan's dad and his wife, after a perfect, if too short, 5-day visit. In that 5 days, we managed to hit all the highlights: breakfast at La Panga here in the marina, lunch at Rancho Viejo, a local favorite with excellent carne arrachera tacos, a coffee hour visit to the cruiser hangout Club Cruceros, a walking tour of town, 2 perfect days in Caleta Partida, the small gap between Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida, and a fabulous final dinner in La Paz.
We were pleased to see the anchorage of Caleta Partida peppered with boats we know, including the Iron Maiden, who we haven't seen since we waved goodbye in San Carlos over a month ago. Across the anchorage was Stray Cat, our next-door-neighbors in Marina Palmira. Others from the Baja Ha Ha rally and folks we've met since we've arrived in La Paz were all around us, and we had fun waving enthusiastically as everyone zipped by in their dingies, en route to fishing or diving. The weather was perfect, as it has been for the last month. There's a reason the locals and cruisers call it paradise -- this time of year, especially, there are few bugs, no rain, the temperatures range from low 60's at night to a perfect, breezy 80 during the day, and the sunsets are remarkable.
Allan and Grant were fishing maniacs, with perpetual grins on their faces. In all, they caught 3 tuni's, 1 beautiful orange roughy, and 10 sierra mackerel. Combined with some mahi mahi gifted to us by Iron Maiden Bill, we had a good dose of fish. We fileted a few of the mackeral for ceviche, and the next morning we climbed in the dingy and took the rest from boat to boat and shared it, sort of Fish Santas, which gave us a chance to visit and officially meet some of the folks we'd been waving to.
Allan's 49th birthday was Wednesday, celebrated on board while a fiery orange sunset blasted the western sky in Caleta Partida. Bill and Laurie from Iron Maiden joined us, and brought a fabulous homemade German pound cake and the perfect gift: a fishing lure.
Thursday morning we met Rod and Elizabeth from Proximity for a hike up a rocky river bed on Partida, a steep and challenging climb up gorgeous red boulders and peppered with spiky plants and vines. We started as a unified group, but after 30 minutes of hard climbing, we began dropping off like stages of a rocket. Grant & Phyllis gave a valiant and determined effort but finally fell back while Rod and Elizabeth and Allan and I continued up at a fairly fast clip, forging a trail where there really was none. When we realized the top was hours away, and the rocks were getting bigger as the water quantity got smaller, Allan and I turned and started back down to join Grant & Phyllis. Shortly thereafter, Rod and Elizabeth were spotted in retreat, and when they caught up we learned that a nest of snakes sunning themselves on a rock had changed their minds about continuing the climb, at least without other companions.
We also had a snake encounter, aural, not visual -- the shake of rattler. Although I grew up hiking through rattlesnake country, I've never seen nor heard one. I wasn't quite sure what it was, it sounded more like steam escaping from a small vent, but the rattle at the end was unmistakable. We gave the bush he was hiding under wide berth and warned Rod and Elizabeth as they neared the area. Not 5 minutes later we spotted a huge, pale green scorpion trying to escape our thundering approach. Allan coaxed it out of it's hole with a stick. (Check it out in the photo gallery.) It was about 4 inches long and looked like something from the rubbery Creepy Crawler set my neighbor Frank had when we were kids.
We managed to escape land with all our toes and fingers, free of any debilitating venom, and returned to the safety of our snake-free boat for lunch. I should mention that the night before Bill spotted a yellow sea snake off the stern of his boat, so I guess it's not safe anywhere ...
We celebrated whatever else needed celebrating by having a wonderful meal back in La Paz at Tres Virgenes, (Three Virgins, although none of them were in evidence) joined by our UAL friend and La Paz resident Rick. Dad Grant treated us all, and it was a truly excellent meal in a fairy-like garden courtyard.
So farewell to the last of the visitors for awhile, now we'll plan the next step in our journey, which will include a splurgy trip to Mexico's Copper Canyon, some time in Mazatlan, and then on down the coast. In honor of the season, I've dutifully decorated the boat with our tiny fake Christmas tree and some ornaments I brought along, but we're just not feeling in the spirit of it all. Maybe spending Christmas in front of a roaring fire at 8,000 feet in chilly Copper Canyon is what's needed. Meanwhile, keep sending us those photos and descriptions of the rain falling, the snow blowing, the ice jamming the car locks, the the icicles draping off the eaves, and we'll keep wearing our shorts and flip flops and tank tops.
12/06/2009, La Paz, BCS
And now we head back to La Paz after our delightful week in The Sea, to clean and scrub and ready the boat for Allan's dad Grant, and his wife, Phyllis, who arrive Monday. We have, as always, a list that flutters to the ground in it's length of things that need fixing, buying, reworking. We'll have a busy few days, then back out, we hope, to Isla Espiritu Santo with Grant and Phyllis.
We decided to stay an extra night in Agua Verde, and were invited to join 2 other couples on a walk to town the long way -- up the hill and around by the valley and over the crag and down to the town, for supplies and freshly made goat cheese.
We stocked up at Maria's little tienda on onions, eggs, bananas, cookies and cold sodas, then headed off in the warm, dusty afternoon to the goat farm for cheese. Goats roam about untethered and unrestrained, spotted and mottled, big and small, sleeping in furry goat piles under trees, climbing over logs, with long floppy ears and that endearing goat curiosity. They are so sweet, especially the babies -- what girl can resist a baby anything, but I am especially fond of soft, fuzzy baby goats and their tiny little bleat, and the way they butt their heads into your knees.
The goat cheese is soft and fresh, made that morning, quite a gourmet treat. Our next stop: the tortilleria, which is a local family's small kitchen. We are graciously offered chairs in the shade by the host, and rest comfortably while 24 tortillas are hand patted one-by-one to perfect uniformity and fried in the cast iron pan. We while away the 45 minutes it takes to make the tortillas, sipping sodas, talking flying ("There I was ...") with Russ, a retired pilot with an encyclopedic volume of stories from his career. He and his wife Jodey share their life with 2 miniature guard dogs, Lucy and Taco on Smoke N Blues.
On our walk back we took the beach route (the "short" way) which was actually long and slippery on the moss-covered rocks, but fun, followed by a little boat-envy visiting, a common past time amongst boaters. Come see ours, we'll check out yours --mutual appreciation and oohing and aahing at the features and the ingenuity and creativity of each unique boat and it's occupants. Then Russ and Jodey joined us for wine and goat cheese with salsa on those still-warm tortillas, and we shared more flying stories as the evening melted to dark.
We readied ourselves for a morning departure and did some reading, then slept well until the wind kicked up at around 1am, which always gets my head out of the hatch to check our position and make sure the anchor is holding. So far, no dragging.
We passed behind Smoke N Blues as Russ enthusiastically waved us off with a cheerful flurry of Navy hand signals, then raised our sails and headed south. The sail downwind from Agua Verde was very satisfying, we've been doing so much motoring due to little or no wind, or a direct headwind, that it was gratifying to get the sails up, set the whisker pole, and watch the speed climb to over 8 knots. (Pilot friends are saying, "8 knots? EIGHT?) A slight norther was blowing, so the seas were big, up to 8 feet at times, and the wind was gusty, but we loved it. Once inside the San Jose Channel, the seas calmed down, the wind settled to 18-23kts., and it was a nice slide into The Hook at Isla San Francisco, where we joined a mini- cruise ship thing with multiple jet skies, a tender almost the size of Fly Aweigh, and a nice party going long into the night.
We are trying not to fall prey to the lure of our extensive DVD collection and our recliner chairs, to develop other ways to spend our time, but we're weak. So we watched "Seven Pounds" and I think I cried seven gallons of tears. Great film. I went to bed wondering what organs I can donate and still lead a happy life...
3 hours to go to La Paz, and Allan is a fish-catching-maniac today, 3 in a row. Just as he cleaned up the last drop of blood from the previous catch, another would bite. Maybe by the third I'm not so squeamish, but I admit I'm such a baby when it comes to fishing and blood all over the transom and the sound of the poor bugger flopping for all he's worth as Allan tries to numb him with Scotch (Black Velvet, no less) and whack him with the fish bonker. We looked in the fish book and decided they're Mexican little tunny, also known as a black skipjack. Next, I'll figure out how to cook them. Dark red meat, much like a rich-looking tuna, the book says it's good eatin'. Allan's happy -- providing for his family so we don't have to resort to canned tuna from Trader Joe's.
I'll post these blurbs from the last week, Allan will update the photo gallery, and we'll send an update the next time something fun happens. For now, Happy Holiday season to you! Today I think I'll put up some Christmas decorations, all the little boat-related ornaments I saved from our collection before storing them away, and a little Christmas tree I can stick down with tacky gum stuff. Fa la la la etc.!
12/03/2009, Agua Verde, BCS
It's a Where the Wild Things Are kind of evening here in Agua Verde, on the inside of the Baja Peninsula, about 90 miles north of La Paz. The full moon is rising behind small, soft gray clouds tinged with pink from the last of the sunset, and 4 tiny boats with multiple masts and numerous sails are curiously meandering through the bay, dream-like, surreal. The wind is so light, they're rowing with their sails up, passing by like colorful ghosts. The sky color intensifies -- the salmon and gray contrasting in large patches as the sailboats finally give up in the dying breeze, drop little anchors while they reef their sails, pull anchor, and row slowly back to the beach.
The little beach on the north side of this anchorage is something from a movie -- it's so picturesque, it simply can't be real. A tiny thatch-roofed building, which looks partially completed or temporarily abandoned, sits off to the right with a short fence all around and a small pickup truck parked under the carport. Colorful panga boats line the shore, parked at angles to each other, as if each panguero coordinated with the others to create a visual balance of perfect and imperfect, just for those Sea of Cortez picture-taking opportunities. I find it impossible to decide which photograph to use for this blog: the imaginary sailboats at sunset, sailing off to the land of the Wild Things against the rising moon; the beach with the palapa home and the panga boats; the beautiful Sierra de la Giganga range, rugged and green from the recent hurricane and rivaling Moorea in stark, craggy beauty.
The Sea of Cortez is starting to take it's magical effect on us. We're shedding our former selves, layer by layer, paying attention to the clock a little less, planning fewer things in each day, feeling a little more in the moment and not so concerned with the next. Last night, anchored in San Evaristo, I awoke at 3am, clambered into the cockpit and took in the beauty of the moonlight reflected on the still ocean, joined by the mast lights of the other sailboats sitting peacefully in their watery spaces, confined only by the radius of their anchor chains. Wow. Fantastic back porch, I thought. Fantastic view. People pay jillions of dollars to have an ocean view like this, and here we are. We can stay and enjoy it, or move on to the next place, and be surprised by a dream-like sailboat regatta in slow motion at sunset. Soon, according to the guide book, the local goats will make their way into the hills, the bells around their necks clanging as they climb.
Really, now. Is this us? Are we here? Is this real? How can I possibly write about this without sounding cliche, or seriously deluded? Allan says he still can't believe this is his life. Not just a 2-week vacation that will end soon.
Sometimes, I'll admit, I worry I'll get bored. How many incredible little harbors can we sail into, dropping our anchors into perfect sand, swimming in warm water with fish all around, eating home-made tortillas from the teeny towns, so teeny, the tortilleria is someone's home, the tienda is in a garage? How many books can I read, crosswords puzzles can I do, blogs can I write? But so far, boredom is not an issue, and seriously, it never will be, for us. The people we meet, let alone the staggering scenery, make each day interesting. Impromptu potluck beach parties or hikes to town, the invitation usually delivered in person by kayak or dingy. Boat cards exchanged over rails as we swap stories and plans. Everyone has a boat card out here, with the boat name, far more important than your actual given name, your HAM radio call sign or boat radio call sign, your pertinent emails and phone numbers, and often a photo of either the owners or the boat itself, usually the latter, although the former is extremely helpful when you're going through the stack you've collected in the last weeks, trying to remember which cool couple was which.
And everyone wants to know your "plan." Puddle Jump or Sea? 6-on-6-Off? Z-Town? Canal? As creative as you might think your plan is, someone else has done it. So many someone's that each "unique" plan has a name, or a general reference to it's nature. Crossing the Pacific to the Marquesas and beyond? The Puddle Jump. Staying north of Mazatlan in the Sea of Cortez? Doing The Sea. Going to Mazatlan and points south? Crossing Over or Gold Coast. Staying in Mexico for the sailing season, then going home for six months, then back again? 6-on-6-Off. Headed for Zijuatenejo? Z-Town. Now, if you're going through the canal, I don't know what they actually call it because so far I haven't heard a term for that one, unless it's ultimately to Cross the Pond (Atlantic crossing) which few people we meet are planning to do. Oddly, we've discovered that if we use the words "going through the canal" in a sentence, most people get blank looks on their faces, rather like if you told them you were in the Waste Management business; they really don't know where to go from there. It's just enough out of their frame of reference that they politely excuse themselves and move on. It will be interesting to see how that changes as we sail south, nearer said canal ...
But for now, we're in The Sea, which is rather like sailing through the Grand Canyon, or past the Sangre de Christos in New Mexico, or through parts of Utah. All around, it's gorgeous. Red, brown, pink, and green stacked and layered strata, craggy mountain-tops, incredible vistas, and here we sit -- not on a dusty plain or down in a hot, stagnant valley, but on a beautiful ocean, with a perfect breeze, moving past the vistas like passengers on a Disneyland ride.
I used to wonder what was wrong with me, that I compared real life to Disneyland. "Wow, it's a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-Sky!" I'd remark. Or, "This is better than the Submarine ride at Disneyland." How, I thought, could the flawed real world compare to the perfection of Walt Disney's inventive and meticulous mind? But now, I know better. Walt was a keen observer of the real thing, and knew just what he was doing.
12/01/2009, Isla San Francisco, BCS
I have a new name for this irregular, irrational, irreverent missive I seem impelled to create: Blurb. My dear friend Carol recently remarked that she had just finished my latest "blurb," and I, generally being a non-conformist, and somewhat uncomfortable with the clumsy word "blog," felt a connection to the word and with the concept. I am not a writer -- I'm a blurber. It's perfect. And so, I am officially renaming the email list of names to whom I send the link to this blog as "Blurb People."
This blurb begins as we leave La Paz for the second time since we arrived 3 weeks ago, this time to spend a week in "The Sea." Around here, they don't call it the "Sea of Cortez." They refer to it, as if it were a magical dreamland, as well as a dear friend, as The Sea. "They've gone off into The Sea," someone will wistfully remark, or, "They'll be in The Sea for the season." Previously, our experience in The Sea has been our brief 3-day jaunt across the short slice of inland ocean to Isla Santo Espiritu with my mom, Margy, where we swam with sea lions, and where, as you may recall, I was nipped by a curious sea lion. I have subsequently discovered that a blog is a very public thing, and it seems enough people here in The Sea have been reading this one and then chatting amongst themselves, ever-so-respectfully, and now that nip has made it into the local morning radio Net, in an informational sort of way. My my, what a world.
Today we head north, planning mostly to stay in anchorages and small harbors on the inland side of the Baja Peninsula. There are so many places to stop, so many islands, coves, dive outcroppings, that it's impossible to decide. We just plan to head north.
Along the way, The Sea is so calm it's like a lake. We hear a large exhale right beside the boat, and turn to see the arc of a small whale as it eases back into the water. It comes as such a surprise, expletives, (nice ones, Holy ones) flow from my mouth quickly, repeatedly. We leap from our repose and search the water for signs of more, or the same, or offspring. A few minutes later, it resurfaces, and now Allan is sliding into his wet suit, searching for his mask and snorkel, and readying himself for a swim with a whale. We slow. We wait. The air is silent, the wind calm, the sea glass. An exhale, directly behind us. A few minutes later, beside us. And then again behind. Allan finally jumps in, and I scan the water for the telltale shine on the surface for a whale. There he is, 20 feet away: I holler, and Allan turns and ducks beneath the surface. Soon, another breath, now beside us. Then, in front of us. It seems there are several, but they are not going to let Allan get close. Unquenched in his quest, he swims back to the boat and we head back out, glad, though, to even have the incredible chance to think about swimming with a whale.
We decide to stop the first night at Isla San Francisco, although the winds picked up in the last third of the sail, gusting from the wrong direction for the main anchorage, The Hook. So we round the corner and settle on the east side, in time for a fantastic sunset -- one of many in the next 18 months, no doubt. The next morning we laze. I make French Toast. We hang out. We take it slow. Allan reads, I string beads and do crossword puzzles. We let time fly. These are concepts unfamiliar to us, yet we are slowly getting the feel for it, both grateful and willing to rest for awhile.
In the early afternoon, we explore the beach, and take advantage of the opportunity to do some yoga poses on the deserted rocky shore, our backs gasping in relief. Around 2pm, we head to the next place, San Evaristo, on the Peninsula. Along the way, we pass the tiniest little island, more like a rock, with a little fishing village precariously perched on it's itty bitty little shore and climbing it's teeny slopes. Isla Coyote. Incredible.
We slice between rocky outcroppings, the gorgeous Sierra de la Giganta mountains on the Baja Peninsula looming in a sort of Lord of the Rings kind of way, the early stages, maybe The Hobbit part of the story. Up the coast, we slip into San Evaristo, and end up anchoring next to a couple we've never met, but feel we know: the couple who was supposed to bring our repaired AIS radio (which fritzed the day before we left for Mexico) to us from San Diego to La Paz. Turns out, someone else was leaving sooner, so it arrived on another boat, (thank you, Delos) but now here we are anchored next to Wytie and Sallie on Reality Check. We join them the next day for a short outing to town, to what might be called town, and a perfect walk over the hill and past the small cows with the big ears, to the salt ponds, which seems a bit flooded from the hurricane, and not so salty, but we imagine they'll dry out, and white, hand-scooped piles of sodium will emerge soon enough.
Back at the boat, our floating haven, we settle into our cabin, eat spinach fritatta, snuggle under blankets because it's a chilly 61 degrees outside, and watch "The Queen." It strikes us as such a strange juxtaposition of lifestyles: the formality and heavily steeped tradition of the English Monarchy, of cashmere, palaces, and formal gardens, next to the unfathomable freedom of our current life, our reduced-stuff life, our 400 not-so-square feet of floating home and all the blurb-inducing stories on Fly Aweigh.