Boobies, Boobies Everywhere
15 June 2010 | Isla Isabella
No, we are not in St. Tropez, yet! But I did get your attention, didn't I? Ben is working on coming up with more interesting titles for his compositions so I thought I would practice what I preach. Thank you Calvert School for inspiring me! Now, back to the boobies... that would be blue footed boobies on Isla Isabella. Who knew? Like a little Galapagos right in our backyard. (If you live in California, Mexico really is practically in your backyard.) Let's back up though, let's see...where did we leave off? Oh yes, Cabo Expensive. A whopping $250 a night got us a slip in one of the boating mecca's of the world. We had barely pulled in our slip and we had someone washing and shining our boat, all for a price of course, but we were happy to have someone other than our tired bodies to wash the salt and grime off. You can find someone to do anything for you in Mexico. This is a "service" country. I love it. No one is standing at a red light, or a freeway off ramp, holding a sign asking for money. Everyone is doing something to earn a living. Whether it be drawing your picture, playing you a song, washing your windshield at a red light, keeping an eye on your car as you shop, then load your purchases then blow a whistle and back you out (yes, this was even done for us early one morning when there were not even any cars around!). I have to admire this. I know times are tough, but are too many people looking for a free hand out in the US? Even the dogs don't beg here. They are just very cool and nonchalant, and if a treat happens to make its' way to them, they are grateful. Okay, so let's get back to Cabo. We no sooner pull in, stock up at the grocery store (go figure), and realize our fridge and freezer are out. A couple of days and a $1000 later, with a new compressor we are back in business. Cabo was fun for a few days, but everyone begging you to come to their restaurant, or take their tour 24/7, or the very young child selling you Chicklet's gum, just gets old. We understand, but everyone just wants a piece of you. So far, we've only seen this in cities where cruise ships land. Hmmm.... And as we travel further into Mexico, we now realize that Cabo is not a particularly attractive town. So, we scoot up the Sea of Cortez, about 30 miles to the quiet little marina in Cabo San Jose. The grounds are meticulously groomed, the rocks are all placed in a distinct pattern (the dirt is even swept), colorful bouganvillia, palm trees, a beautiful beach and a wonderful meal at Habanero's in the quaint town. Here, is where we start to get a feel for boats/people/money. I just never really put a lot of thought into the fact that we would be meeting, and getting along with, the crew who work on boats. In my world, I just never thought about owning a boat and having a crew live on it full time, to bring it and have it ready, wherever I want, at my beck and call. This one crew/couple we met, even kept the family's dog with them on the boat. (I hated leaving my dog even if I went away for the weekend!). Not that I'm saying anything is wrong with this, I just never thought that we wouldn't necessarily be making friends with fellow boat owners. Frankly, we were so late leaving in the season, I'm beginning to wonder if there is anyone out there like us. What is us? We're not old, we're not young, we're not poor, we're not rich. We have no real schedule to keep. But, we are responsible for educating our nine year old, so we're not exactly free to do whatever we want, whenever we want, because the school thing is always looming it's head over our shoulder. And, as I'm finding out, Ben doesn't learn on my schedule. As Mrs. Price (one of Ben's favorite teachers) always told me, you sometimes have to teach them the same thing 14 times before they get it. Why can't he just get it the first time? I guess I'm trying to say, that we just haven't found where we fit in, in all of this.
Two days later we take off, to head a little further up into the sea on the Baja side before we make the leap across to Mazatlan. Los Frailes here we come. There are only three coral reefs in the United States and this is the only one on the west coast. Known to have giant manta rays and whale sharks. We CAN'T miss that! What a miserable ride though, beating into the wind and short steep waves. Larry kept saying it was just "the cape effect". That is when the wind whips off the end of a piece of land. I don't know, whatever it is it beats you up quick. So, we go to raise the main sail (in the short steep seas and howling wind) because this helps keep the boat from rolling so violently, and when the sail reaches the top, Larry, who is standing at the mast hears this, "Ping, ping."...Oh SH__! He starts screaming orders at me (I think I even heard an F word in there which in 19 years I have never heard from this man's mouth!). That's when I knew this was serious...and my knees start to tremble and buckle. The goose neck broke on the boom. As I reflect back now, it amazes me, that we had all of these things worked on, several times before we left on this journey, and no one knew there was supposed to be a cotter pin in there to prevent THIS EXACT THING FROM HAPPENING?! The seriousness of this is that, if the boom pulls out and swings wildly (in the short steep seas/howling wind) it could put a hole in the top of the boat, knock one of us over the side, etc...you get the drift. Amazing Larry just happened to have a bolt in the cockpit pocket for instances such as these. He has me hold the boom (yeah right, like I'm really gonna be able to hold this if it pulls all the way out!) but I make a valiant effort, while standing, balancing the short steep seas with trembling legs, while he lashes the boom to the mast and fetches his tools. Can I just say that he hammered a bolt back in for at least an hour, never giving up. Amazing. We motored on to Los Frailes, now our genoa AND main sail out of commission. (Thank God our engine still works...knock on wood!) We still have not been able to figure out the problem with the genoa since our harrowing experience just past Ensenada. Anchoring at Los Frailes is nice, quiet, but I have lost my sense of humor. How many more of these scary moments can I take? It's exhausting! It just knocks the wind out of you. Thirty years in the fire dept. must really have prepared Larry for this. It's traumatic for me. We sleep good and are up early the next morning to load our snorkel gear and ourselves into the dinghy and round the corner to the reef. We are the only ones there. (I can do this, I can do this, I'm telling myself as I am still battling fears of just jumping in the water anywhere with no one around!) And we do...and it's beautiful...and no...no giant manta rays or whale sharks, but lot's of colorful fish. Ben is so awesome. This kid is truly more comfortable in the water than he is on land. It is hard to get him out of the water. Success! We feel like we've gone somewhere and seen something that most people don't get to see. (As I look back now I realize that this will be the case with many things along our journey) But, there is always this nagging feeling in your stomach, wishing you could be sharing this with family and friends. Even though the three of us are sharing this together, you would think that would be enough, but it's not. Which is why I write, this way I can share.
So off we go, tootling across the Sea of Cortez. This will be a day, and a night, and a most of the next day trip. It's warm, and there are whales, and dolphins, and we've been seeing these rays (baby manta rays?) jumping, no flying out of the water. It is hilarious! Someone has since told me that they are trying to get off something that is stuck on them? Anyway, the sea is calm, there is no wind so you don't feel any pressure that we should be sailing (we actually could now if we wanted to because Larry fixed the main sail while we were at anchor), and it is just so pleasant. You can walk around without having to hang on for dear life. You can cook without getting sick below. You can read and write and watch TV, and lay on the deck in the sun, listening to music and having a brewski. Oh, and there are birds sitting on turtles, just floating around. Funny. But, I have to say, there is just this weird thing that comes over you, when you're a few miles away from land, on the water, and like I said...it is WARM. You just want to take all of your clothes off! Poor Ben. Not so poor Larry. (Isn't this every man's dream?!) NOT about ME! I don't mean that! I mean, don't most men wish their wife/partner/whatever you're into ran around naked? (Boobies, boobies everywhere)...that's right, I already said that. Just for the record, I keep my underwear on, for Ben's sake. (Nope, no Britney Spears here.) I go lay down around 8 PM, to rest before my 11 - 2 AM shift, and I hear Larry, around 9 (just as I'm dozing off), ruffling around down in the cabin. Turns out the auto pilot went out. Yep...deader than a door nail. And we drove in a complete circle before Larry figured out there was something wrong because the "motion of the ocean" felt different! Hand steer all night?! Heaven forbid! (How did the explorers do this with no modern conveniences?) AND, the power switch that feeds the circuit breaker that feeds the air conditioning (heaven forbid!) and our water maker (okay that is important) failed. Ho hum...another punch in the stomach. Now, let me tell you, we have made the all time fatal mistake of setting a schedule. The mistake of having to be somewhere by a certain time. The mistake of meeting someone who is flying in to stay with us, somewhere where we are not at yet! The THING that we said we would never do! Jessica is flying in to meet us in Puerto Vallarta, IN A FEW DAYS, AND WE NOW HAVE ALL OF THESE THINGS THAT WE HAVE TO FIX AND A HOLIDAY WEEKEND IS COMING UP! (Yes, I'm yelling.) It was cool, hand steering all the way across the Sea of Cortez. I put on the ipod and sang and danced the whole way. (One hand on the steering wheel of course.) The engine is so loud that it's kind of like singing when you vacuum. You actually sound good! So we pulled into Mazatlan (whoa...moist, tropical'ish, screeching jungly birds) thinking we were going to pull into this marina at a resort called El Cid. There, we would have use of all the amenities (pool/waiters who bring drinks to you by the pool!), but nooo, no room. Boo. Up this narrow, VERY shallow inlet a little further and we settled at Marina Mazatlan. Lo and behold we look across the way and there are some old friends from Ventura, John and Maryann on Old Moon! (We also run into more friends, Mike and Lisa on Blue Aweigh, who were lucky enough to get a slip at El Cid, and Stan and Val on Pax Nautica.) Now, let me just tell you, this feels like your childhood, when you run downstairs early Christmas morning and see all these new presents under the christmas tree. It is THAT much of a gift to see a familiar face! (Did I mention it feels very lonely out here?) This is the first time in about twelve weeks that Ben sees another child! There are two families here, both unfortunately heading north up into the Sea of Cortez, as opposed to south like us. Each family has a ten year old girl, which cheers Ben up some, but he still really misses his Fremont buddies. There are cats everywhere in the marina and two adorable kittens. Believe it or not, there is an organization here that spays and neuters and tips one of their ears when their done. But there are just a gajillion of them. It is so cute watching these kids build little kitty condos for them, keeps them busy all day, sweeping up, feeding, and just plain old rearranging. So, let me tell you our new nickname for ourselves, "The Pool Crashers". Because that's what we're getting really good at, hanging out at hotel pools that we are not officially a guest at. Don't worry we order lot's of food and drinks, we're not total moochers! This is where Ben makes friends with Tyler, who is visiting from Minnesota with his two moms. What a blessing this is and what a good time the kids have together! And this is the family we celebrate Easter with, hosting them on our boat for dinner. We like Mazatlan. Everyone, everywhere we have gone in Mexico, has been so darn nice. We start riding the public bus here. It is so convenient, easy, cheap, and appears to be very safe. What a treat to ride a bus to a big grocery store and get real food! Not just tortillas, a few tomatoes, onion, and avocado! Lettuce, cheeses, broccoli! Yeah! The marina we're at is eerily empty, but there are lovely restaurants (where you hardly ever see a soul eating at), and high rise condos built around it. In one of these restaurants is where I have a very interesting meal. Who knew that when I ordered the "seemingly" safe crepe with corn and truffle oil, that it would come stuffed with something black and mushy. Hmmm..."What is THAT?", asked Larry. "I don't know", replied I. However, I proceeded to eat half of it. It didn't particularly taste bad, nor did it taste good. BUT SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE I'M STARVING HERE! (Yes, I'm yelling again.) Have I mentioned how much I like to eat? (Trust me, wherever you are right now, I'm sure YOU can go out and get whatever YOU want to eat right now!) So, when the nice waiter returns to our table to check on us, I politely ask him, "What exactly is this?" He says scratching his chin, "Howz doooz we saiy?...Ummm, ahhh yezs, rotten corn." (You should have seen the look on our faces.) There was an awkward moment of silence, a quick look around for a camera, just in case Ashton Kutcher thought it would be funny to "punk us", and then we politely said, "Thank you." Turns out there is such a thing. It's called corn smut. Google it, I did. So, I survive. Nope, no Montezuma's revenge here! We change our daughters' flight to Mazatlan, instead of Puerto Vallarta. What's a few hundred dollars in the grand scheme of things? We need to get our boat fixed, and this is the place to do it. Service is great and very reasonable. It took four guys, two days (several hours each day) to fix our autopilot, and the total bill was $70.00! Our electrical issues are taken care of (again another one of those things we had had worked on for months) AND something that should have been changed back in the states wasn't, and we could have had a fire on board! So, Jessica carried in the necessary parts from the states. All fixed up and Jessica on board, we head south to Puerto Vallarta, via Isla Isabella.
Again, one of those places you would never go to unless you were on your own boat. We travel all night, knowing this could be a risky anchorage at Isla Isabella (known as "the anchor eater") and if the swell came in from the south we wouldn't be able to stay at all, so arriving first thing in the morning at least might give us a chance to set foot on this uninhabited island known to be a frigate breeding ground, and blue footed boobie nursery. Our 22 year old daughter, Jessica, bravely takes the 2 AM to 5 AM shift. How empowering, for this young woman to be responsible for the boat's and our safety, while we sleep below. Until you're alone, at night under the stars, just you and the ocean, I'm not sure you really know yourself. We are just motoring (no wind), and we have auto pilot, and a chart plotter, and radar with an alarm set if anything comes within a certain range, so it's not like you really have to DO anything, but you do have to keep an eye out...because anything can happen. She does a great job, and really enjoys it. We anchor the next morning at Isla Isabella, an uninhabited island with the exception of a few thousand frigates, and a few hundred blue footed boobies. We dinghy around the corner to a beach that is easier to land the dinghy, and come across a small fishing camp with a few families that are there over the Easter holidays. We trip along a rugged path, full of baby frigates perched in their nests in bush/trees at about eye level. Iguanas were all around our feet, and nothing seemed afraid of us, because they don't know any better. Frigates are those sea birds, that when you look up, they sort of form a W. They can fly for up to a week before touching down, just scooping up fish, on the fly. They care for their young, longer than any bird. The males puff up their bright red necks in courtship, mating with the same female year after year. We were told the Boobies were at the top of the hill, but the path sort of ended in 5 ft. tall grass that I just wasn't real comfortable walking through. We retrace our steps and come across a young Mexican teenager sitting with his Mom in an abandoned building. "Azur?"...and I mock flapping wings with my arms. (Yes, my Spanish charades' continues, although now, a month later, it has progressed a bit more to like "Tarzan meets Jane"!) The boy jumps up and motions for us to follow. At our request he takes us all the way to the top. We were sweating and out of breath, but lo and behold we saw Boobies! Their feet are the most unbelievable blue, kind of a Tiffany blue, and they were mostly in pairs and they really do, do sort of a dance. Our spontaneous guide pointed out the nests with eggs in them, that were so well camouflaged you wouldn't even know they were there if you didn't know what to look for, just before you stepped on them! Success again! We came, we saw, we conquered! We feel like we are getting better at this...this...sailing adventure stuff! So, with a $$ tip and a mucho gracias, we spend the rest of the day kayaking and snorkeling around the island. We lift anchor at 4 AM and make way to La Cruz, a small fishing village just north of Puerto Vallarta. How charming this village is. When you walk the streets, you literally feel like you are on a backstage lot at Universal Studios of some cool, funky, slightly rugged Mexican village of days gone by. Colorful, unique, interesting architecture, tropical plants, dogs running on the cobblestone streets, peoples' front doors that are right on the street are open, babies crying...I know you can picture this. Out of the many unique restaurants here, our first night we find a pizza joint. PIZZA...YEAH! With live music, which even included an old guy playing the washboard! (Yes Freddy Wachter, THE WASHBOARD!) What a hoot! Puerto Vallarta, Just a six peso ride in the bus, has it all. Quaint old city, newer modern areas, surfing towns, green mountains with lush vegetation, and it is very well protected for hurricanes. Yes, this is where we decide to plant ourselves for the upcoming hurricane season. Will we be covered by our insurance if a named or numbered storm hits? No. But, we will be so protected where we will stay that we should be just fine. I am excited to immerse ourselves in this city. There are so many places to explore, out of town as well. If we rushed through Mexico, chances are we would never come back and have this opportunity. With Jessica gone, back to her real life, and with friends waiting for us in Barra de Navidad, we head south again. Our sail is uneventful (thank God!) And as we near our destination, with a quick call on the radio, our very good friend, Dave from Bella, and his dog DJ meet us at the harbor entrance in their dinghy and give us a personal escort into our slip. Wow, what can I say about The Grand Bay Hotel and Marina? Just google/drool over it, and you'll see. This quiet, secret, little get away in Mexico that we never would have known about if we were not on a boat. Ahhh! Within thirty minutes, we were poolside, sipping margaritas, Ben splashing in the multi-tiered pool with water slides, and we're planning dinner with Dave and Renae. The little town of Barra de Navidad (it was discovered on Christmas day and was built on a sandbar, hence the name) is just a short water taxi/panga ride away. Cobblestone streets (cars only appeared here about six years ago), restaurants with colorful tablecloths, waves crashing on the beach, a gentle Mexican breeze yet still so warm. Every morning the French baker drives his panga over to your boat with fresh baguettes and croissants. This is where we stay for a month. (We just pulled away yesterday, and it's almost hard for me to talk about without getting choked up.) We spent a little over four weeks on Isla Navidad, and I know we've made several friends for life. We've been touched by some of the staff at the Grand Bay Hotel like no other. We've also found an Irish coffee in one of the hotel's restaurant here like no other (Buena Vista eat your heart out!). We found an English speaking church in the nearby town of Melaque. God is good. He always knows just the people to put in your life at the right time. San Patricio by the Sea (yes, you can hear the waves crashing during the service) is in this sort of palapa style building, that is rented for less than a $100 per month. The pastor is only here for part of the year, and whoever would like, just kind of fills in the rest of the time. It's a small group right now, during off season, but it reminds us of why we go to church. We go to church, not to find God, because God is around us all of the time. We go to find people. "Church" is not a building. "Church" IS people. There are quite a few Americans and Canadians that live down here full time. What a treat it was to be invited into their homes for meals and friendship. We even took a road trip one day, with our new friends, to a little town called Villa Purification, with the third oldest church in Mexico. A mere 500 hundred years old! Followed by the best pizza we've had in a long time, in a lovely little restaurant on the square. Almost every Mexican town is built around the town square, which has the church on it, and an assortment of restaurants and shops. We visited a coffee farm/co-op run by women. The coffee just sort of grew wild in the shade of trees in a national bio-reserve, where these women would hike and pick the beans, sort them by hand, then roast them. It is delicious coffee by the way. No Folgers here! On our two hour drive home, going around a corner I ask, "Why is there a guy sitting in a little truck waving a flag out the window?" (Silly me!) "There's probably something around the corner." was the reply. Yes indeedy there was. COWS! And lot's of them! Running straight at us! On this highway! And they had big horns! And at the very last second they split and ran around the car. Geez, talk about running with the bulls! Needless to say we were all speechless. Ben said, "Cool." Yes, there are still real cowboys here, that apparently move their cattle on the main roads. We've seen horses loaded in the back of small pickup trucks, riding along just like a dog. Families of four, riding on the equilivent of a Honda 90 dirt bike. It seems we're always chuckling and shaking our head over something. Family is king here. That is what is important to the Mexican people. It is very endearing. The average income is 14K annually. Now, I realize with an average there is a huge range, but I would say the local people we meet are on the lower end of the spectrum, and they are happy. There is a universal healthcare plan of some kind. We have heard rave reviews from numerous people about the medical and dental care they have received here, all at a fraction of what you would pay in the States. Many of the Mexican people we meet have lived in the United States at one time or another, but have no real desire to go back. The school children I've met consistently tell me how much easier school was in the States. Hmmm... During our stay in Barra, one day we decided to hire a tour guide to take us to an active volcano, about two and a half hours away. Let me just add, there are very serious topes (speed bumps) everywhere! Apparently this is the only way they can get people to slow down. So this constant speeding up and slowing down to go over these (not always so clearly marked) bumps, adds a considerable amount of time to your day. (Not to mention, serious wear and tear on your car.) It was a long day but our tour guide, Ray (a total Jack Nicholson look alike!), of Ray's Tours in Melaque was just terrific. This is the way to go. Everything was planned out perfectly. Breakfast outside on the square in Colima, museums, an outdoor park/zoo displaying native birds and animals, a tour of the ex- Hacienda of Nogueras in Comala, where the late artist Alejandro Hidalgo lived and now left as a museum was incredible, a late afternoon drive up to about 5000 feet for the best view of the volcano (bummer, it didn't "puff" for us), and finally a meal in Comala (again, on the very picturesque town square) where you just pay for your drinks and they bring all the food for free. It was delicious! Have you ever heard of the "no tell, motels"? They are for real! (I'm so naïve sometimes.) They are these motels, on the outskirts of towns, with a wall built all the way around so you can't really see in. Each room has a private attached garage that you can pull into and close the door so no one can see your car. They are rented by the night, or the hour, and we hear they are very nice and clean. The exchange of money and/or room service is all done via a lazy susan system to guarantee privacy. I know it sounds sleazy, but think about it. If you were living under the same roof as your multi-generational family in close quarters, you would want some privacy. I'll leave the rest to your imagination! So, as I reflect back on the past year of our "new" life, it is still with mixed emotion. It has been really hard. Hard on Ben, hard on Larry, hard on me, and hard on our relationship. And I know you must just want to roll your eyes. We know how very lucky we are, but living on a boat, in very cramped quarters where if several things are out of place it looks like a bomb went off, where you have absolutely no privacy, where you can actually hear the other person think, is tough. The foods we love either don't exist here, or are extremely hard to come by. I get very creative with my cooking. If I just ate meat, my life would be so much easier. It is strange, but we have eaten less seafood, living on a boat. I don't know if it's because we feel karmically (is that a word?) connected to the fish, or if it's just the smelly fish we see swimming around in the sewage water that just kind of makes it a turn off. We have driven our boat through such large schools of fish that the "fish" smell is overwhelming! We've thoroughly enjoyed the evenings of phosphorescence in the water, tootling around in our dinghy. We marvel at all the different, colorful jelly fish. (When I make it to those big pearly gates in the sky, that is going to be my first question, "God, what's with all the jelly fish and cockroaches?") Ben has graduated from lizard hunting to gecko hunting, and is about two thirds finished with fourth grade. But, I believe he has dramatically improved academically being boat schooled. There is no day dreaming out the port hole with a class of one. Poor Larry still continues to get beat up on this boat. He is always bleeding from somewhere on his body that he has banged. He suffers so much from back pain that most days are a struggle to get through. The smallest wrong move can be a real set back. He has come to know our toilets intimately, on more than one occasion. (Yes, it's time for potty talk.) I have finally convinced him that NOTHING should go down our toilets except what naturally comes out of you. Nope, not even the expensive marine grade toilet paper. I can't even begin to put down in words what it is like to have your heads (toilets) all backed up in about 100 degree weather. As I help Larry to hold the mattress back, or whatever is in the way of wherever he needs to get to, to work on (and believe me, on a boat whatever you need to work on is in the most inconvenient spot!) I just go to my happy place. Sometimes I pretend I'm a contestant on the TV show Survivor, and it's one of those challenges that you have to climb a pole or something, and be in a very awkward position, and whoever can hold on the longest will win. Just so you know...I would win that challenge. The stench often brings me back to reality, but at least I went somewhere alone for a few minutes. A boat is essentially a city within itself. The water, the power, the propulsion, the sanitation system, the refrigeration etc... and then yes, there is the navigation. Speaking of which, we've been slowly navigating north, up to Puerto Vallarta. We thoroughly enjoy anchoring in Tenacatita Bay. We are the only ones there, of course, except for the resident dolphin Nick, and three of his buddies. Nick, has a huge nick out of his dorsal fin, hence the name. They came daily, often scratching themselves on our anchor chain. Tenacatita is famous for it's jungle cruise. A small sometimes hairy to enter inlet, depending on the waves, that once you're through the surf line, you are floating in this mangrove jungle. Very cool. At the end you reach a small village where you can tie up your dinghy and eat at one of the many (always empty) palapas. And feed the always adorable, mangy dog who comes to visit at your table. (Yes, I even order bottled water for the dog.) Maneuvering the dinghy out of the jungle cruise, through the now heavy surf, to get back to our boat is no easy feat. As hard as we try to time the waves, eventually I just have to become one with the front of the dinghy to weigh it down enough so that we won't flip over completely as we climb the incoming wave. We make it. I don't melt when I get wet. Ben gets slightly traumatized (here this kid has swam with sharks yet put him in a dinghy in the surf and he loses it!), but he survives. We try to anchor in front of this beautiful resort called El Tamarindo (google this little gem too, especially you golfers!) but the conditions just don't permit it, but we add it to our list of" things to do" on our way back down in November. Next stop we're hoping, is the little sea side village of Cayeres. Yes, Heidi Klum and Seal just recently renewed their wedding vows there. We pull in, in awe, over the bright, beautiful colors of every condo and home. There are also some incredible homes built up on the cliffs. Nope, no safe anchorage under these swelly conditions we're experiencing from the northwest. Sigh...onto to Chamela, where we know we can safely pull in. All of our travels are carefully planned out for circumstances such as these..."Well, just in case we can't stay here, where can we safely make it to before dark?"...and so the conversation goes. But we're disappointed. We leave Chamela around six at night, in order to come around Cabo Corrientes early the next morning to avoid the "cape effect". We take a beating with steep waves until around midnight when the swell finally calms down. Just remember, faith that is never tested, is not real faith. Tomorrow is Ben's birthday, and I promised him he would wake up in paradise. And paradise is now where we are at. That's Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta. This is where we will spend the next five months, waiting out hurricane season.
With a quick note I would like to add, we have felt great sadness here for the Mexican people because of how they have been affected by the lack of tourism. Between the swine flu scare, the economy, and the drug violence, they have suffered a dramatic decline. I can only share with you our experience for what it is worth, but we have not been sick once this year. There are beautiful, dramatic, interesting places to see, and have never felt that our safety has been compromised in any way. If you are considering a vacation this summer, don't wipe Mexico off your list! Adios dear friend, until next time.