We have been on the move. We left Tenecatita on the morning of the 19th, heading further south down the coast of Mexico. We were buddy boating with Carol and Ned in Franny B. Planning to go all the way to Bahia de Navidad that day, but they were stopping in Cuastecomate (Secret Anchorage). We decided to slip in and take a look. It was very inviting, much like the little towns in the south of France. We put on our snorkling gear and gave it a try. The water was really cold and there wasn't much to see. For some reason, I kept going in circles, try figure! Carol and Ned went out in their kayak and pulled me back to the boat. They explored in their kayak and had a great time. We are really convinced we need to get an inflatable kayak too. They are really easy to manage for exploring.
They stayed the night and we continued on to Barra de Navidad. What a magnificent setting. There is a lovely hotel and marina. The town itself is charming; they were smashed by a hurricane a couple of years ago and are still repairing. We stayed a couple of nights in the marina to get laundry done, take a shower, get internet, etc. We played in the pool and visited the little town. Each morning a panga arrives with, "The French Baker". He comes to the boats and sells beautiful pastries and bread. He will even take orders (baked or unbaked) for cruisers to take with them. What a treat! There is a lagoon where many boats anchor free of charge. We may try that on the way back up the coast. (The French Baker goes to the lagoon in his little boat, too.)
Our intention was to get to Santiago or Las Hadas next, but we had gone so far out to get wind, that we found we had to head for shore and another anchorage before dark. We joined Carol and Ned who had stopped at Ensenada Carrizal. What a beautiful little spot - kind of a Mexican fjord. Both Carol and I thought it really resembled the anchorages in the Pacific North West. Some boaters had a bonfire on the beach that evening. We were invited, but chose to stay on the boat to make an early departure in the morning. It was a rocky shore and required another dinghy landing in the dark - with surf! This was a little more than we wanted to try.
Santiago was just around the bend, so we skipped it and went on to Las Hadas. Carol and Ned had been to Las Hadas before and chose to go to Santiago, one of their favorites. The coast here is really just one bay after another. Las Hadas is one of the places you want a picture of. It is where Bo Derrick made the movie Ten. This moorish architecture resort sits above the anchorage. Quite picturesque. For 200 pesos (about 17 dollars) a day, you can dock your dinghy and use the hotel ammenities. It is beautiful. I see why folks choose this anchorage. We were able to connect with our friends on Dodger Two before they headed north. We had great time in the pool and lovely meals before they took off. It was good to see them. They had told us about the lovely inland towns of Colima and Comala. We decided before leaving this area to take the bus and see them.
What an experience! It happens it was the one day in the year where they host a rodeo/bull fight/fair. Our Best Western Ceballos hotel was right on the old city square. We had hot water, shower, and a king size bed - What a treat! The square was where the action was. In one hour, there was to be a parade right in front of us. How is that for timing? The bellman was also a tour guide. He got us started with information on the where and when.
We taxied to the event and really got to be one of the crowd. They seated us gringos (we were the only two we saw.) in the front row. The matadors placed their capes on the rail right in front of us, and the action began. Horses dancing, bulls being ridden and roped, bulls being fought (but not killed), incredible horsemanship by the charros. It was amazing. We stayed for hours. The fair had rides, food, and housewares of all kinds. this is where people wait all year to come and buy clothes, undies, shoes, kitchenware, pottery, art, etc. We were overwhelmed - I think that you'll enjoy the pictures. Back to the hotel to enjoy the music and people on the square, have a light dinner of chicken enchiladas, and watch a Mustang Club Rally as they paraded their cars around the square. A second parade in one day. Whew! People still walk with their families here, enjoying the beautiful evenings. What a delight.
Salvador, the bellman, met us at 9am Sunday to take us for a walking tour of Colima and to drive us up to the town of Comala. We were in for a treat. As we left the city he took us to visit local churches and tell us a bit about the culture. He stopped and bought us local drinks (I can't remember the names) made from pineapple, corn and palm oil (tuba). Then on to an archeological site from the time of the 400 BC to 1000 AD. Only 1% of the area has been excavated and it is huge. We were able to just pick up pieces of ancient pottery in the dirt. We looked directly into a tomb with its bones, carved animals, etc. We saw the places of worship and living quarters. These ruins were amazing, and there are no controls on them. People can walk wherever they want.
Then on to the special town of Nogueros, just outside Comala, and the hacienda of artist Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo. He is known for the pictures of angels from many countries that have been used on UNICEF Christmas cards. In this locality, townspeople collected and gave him ancient artifacts they ran across for many years. He worked with Colima University and made an exhibit in his home that continues to be maintained after his death in 2000. The pottery exhibit is finer than anything we have seen anywhere and presented in such an artistic manner. This was really a treat. I've put several pictures of this ancient pottery in the blog. We couldn't take pictures of the paintings, but maybe you are already familiar with them.
Finally, we went to the center of the little town of Comala, "The White City". We didn't have much time before we needed to get back to the bus station, but we took time for a cold drink, and the restaurant people brought plate after plate of food. It was free. For the four of us, the bill was $11. Mariachis sang, an old man played a tune on a leaf, an accordion player entertained and we watched families spending their Sunday afternoon together in the square and enjoying a meal. At the table next to us, a mom was filling her son's sippy cup with Corona. No wonder he didn't give her any trouble. Back to the beautiful Mexican bus (really) and a 90-minute trip back to Realtime. We had left her at anchor here (a first) with friends Ron and Cheryl Roberts from Long Beach in Lazy Days watching her. All was well.
We had previously visited the town of Manzanillo (industrial) and found a repairman for the SSB, so Monday morning we motored over there to have him take a look at it. It's a pretty cumbersome arrangement with us anchored out in the harbor, and Bob has going ashore in the dinghy to pickup and deliver the serviceman, who speaks no English. It was an all day thing. A chance for me to work on the blog. The north winds are picking up and we won't go far tonight. We are headed north.
Unfortunately, the previous negative results of my biopsy weren't really mine. There was an error in the wrong direction. I am heading back to Puerto Vallarta as soon as the winds subside to consult with a plastic surgeon regarding surgical removal of another melanoma from my face. It has developed since we left and looks just like the others looked. It is on my left cheek. I'll talk with him and then decide if I will have it removed here or go to the US. Since it grew so quickly (I was thoroughly checked the week we left), I don't want to delay. If weather doesn't get us north soon enough, I'll go on the bus. We'll see. It is "in Situ" so if they get it promptly things will go well. I'll keep you posted.
We do well. This really does feel like home now. We had a king size bed in Colima, but were still happy to return to Realtime's little quarter berth. I will get to work on downloading some pictures now - also some videos of the Rodeo/Bullfight. We are so lucky to get to explore so much. When I imagined cruising, I didn't really think about all the incredible places we would visit. What an experience!
We have decided not to do the Pacific Puddle Jump this year. We still have issues with our refrigeration and power use (they are connected). We will go north to La Paz in the Sea of Cortez and spend the hurricane months/summer there exploring the sea. We didn't have time to see much of it when we were in the earlier part of our trip. The end of the summer is extremely hot and folks do not stay on their boats, so we will come to the US and pester our friends for a while. Our thought are to rent a small RV and spend a couple of months exploring on land and visiting family and friends. There are many places we haven't seen and we miss everyone. That is fun to look forward to. Most cruisers need a bit of land time every now and again. that is something we hadn't thought about before either. We are living and learning.
We are waiting for winds to calm down and then heading north early on Friday morning. We will travel as far as we can each day, ending up back in Puerto Vallarta. Please post comments and let us know what you think of this blog.
02/18/2012, Now in Tenacatita
We finally left Banderas Bay on Sunday the 12th. We anchored in the bay at La Cruz and filled up with fuel, then left about 7pm, heading south around Cabo Corientes. We were very fortunate with the weather and had an easy rounding of that cape. Then some nice sailing for a while heading south in following seas, sailing with just the jib. Bob even got "Hank", the wind vane, working for the first time. Hurrah! That is a story all it's own. Several of the cruisers have formed a Hydovane Society as they negotiate their new equipment. There was also a lot of motoring as well, as we headed for Chamela, arriving in late afternoon the next day. I'm always a little nervous on passage on a regular night. This night I was extra nervous, not knowing how to operate the windvane. Bob was understanding and stayed on deck until I had myself together to stand my watch. We met our friends the Backus' in Chamela. They had arrived earlier in the day and had already gone ashore. We were bushed, not wanting to get the dinghy and motor launched, so we stayed on the boat and took it easy. It was a rolly anchorage, so sleeping wasn't the best. The four of us left the morning of the 15th for Tenacatita. We tried stopping at Paraiso as we had heard it was magnificent. Unfortunately, with the NW winds it was not a good place to anchor. So - on to Tenacatita. What a beautiful bay. Others have told us about it, and we have just loved it. Lots to do, and people are really friendly. Unfortunately to go ashore, you have to make a surf landing and reentry through the surf in your dinghy. We were indoctrinated. Three dry crossings and one wet one. Live and learn:-) We took the dinghy up the estuary into the mangroves to see the wildlife. (Bob swears he saw a crocodile, but no one else did.) Several boats stay here for very long periods of time. They arrange social things like volleyball and raft-ups. We had dinner with other cruisers on a beautiful catamaran last night. It was like being in a seagoing condo! Wonderful, freshly caught fish and lots of good conversation. Lots of book discussion in this cruiser world. Today we hired a panga to take us across the bay to La Manzanilla. Wonderful little town. Very clean, got nice vegetables, had a nice lunch under a palapa on the beach. Unbelievably it was Indonesian food (owned by a Dutch couple who came here 9 years ago and stayed to start their restaurant). Haven't exactly decided where to go next, but think we will leave tomorrow morning. Tried to call Parker on his birthday, but was unable to get through. Maybe tomorrow when we are in a better spot. I've got a lot of bug bites; we have had mosquitos and various other minute pests that are hard to fend off. We also find ourselves struggling with "whose the boss when" issues. (This being a captain is heady business :-). We are learning a lot, meeting lots of interesting people and seeing many wonderful things that we would never have seen wothout this trip. Communication still seems to be the biggest challenge we face. What would we do without our Banda Ancha for internet. All our family has to be very understanding. Aloha from Mexico. More later.
It's been a few days since I updated this blog. We have been here at Paradise Village Marina for a longer than we had intended. We have had some more mundane experiences as we get ready for the next move. It was time for my dermatology check-up. I found a great young woman doctor who did a very thorough check. She of course found things to burn off and biopsies to take. Fortunately is was only Basal Cell and not Melanoma.
We are trying to get the boat ready. It is decision time. Insurance requires that we are above La Paz, here in Banderas Bay or into the South Pacific by hurricane season. We feel that by the time we continue south for a few weeks, we will have seen a great deal of Mexico, both on the coast and inland. We are leaning towards the South Pacific. We have gone to a seminar for the Puddle Jump. This is a rally of boats that leave from many places at many times, but all head for the South Pacific. It would require finding at least one crew member to divide the watch. We have a couple of possibilities. It's a big step. Mexico is very hot and humid in the summer, both in the Sea of Cortez and here in Banderas Bay. Without airconditioning (we could put it in), we would be uncomfortable. It's a big decision because then you have to decide where to go next. New Zealand makes the most sense.
There have been many chores to do, but we feel we have made some big strides ahead. All 10 portlights are finished and gleeming in the sun. You can see some pictures on the blog. This has been a two year project. Anyone who has replaced portlights knows just how challenging and time consuming it can be. Then it was time to varnish. If the portlights gleem, the rails need to do so too:-) She looks very pretty.
The Vallarta Yacht Club has lots of interesting things to see and do. We have gone to hear a jazz concert and a presentation on the humpback whales that are mating in this bay a this very moment. You can see mothers and babies and lots of activity. The presenter was terrific. They even had super bowl so all of us boaters who don't have TV could enjoy it.
A real joy was the turtle release. They lay their eggs on the beach here in this bay. They had been endangered, but through the work of volunteers they are carefully relocating the eggs and allowing the turtles to hatch away from predators. They keep them up to 24 hours and release them at night when the birds can't see them and the fish don't see their shadows in the water. It was a great experience. Once again, check the blog to get the whole experience. Here are the two url's for the videos: http://youtu.be/DMjeRgFHPFw and http://youtu.be/b9SXup8vAms It was really lots of fun. We will be leaving in the next couple of days for points south. Probably not farther than Manzanillo. Mostly will be at anchor so internet connections will be limited. This is a big month, as Parker turns 3 and Jim and Cathy have an anniversary. Congratulations all around. Lots of buddies in this boating community. The Watsons left last week to go south, the Reeds and the Backus' leave tomorrow. We will follow soon.
Several of us cruisers have been talking about wanting to see Guadalajara. It was often mentioned in Micheners "Mexico" and sounded interesting. The Watsons joined us on a bus trip up the coast and into the interior. We were surprised by dormant volcanos and lush valleys. Many were filled with Agave plants (they make tequila from them) and corn. Stands on the side of the road offered avacados, bananas, corn, tomatoes, etc. The city itself has 4.5 million people. Leif found us a historical hotel, the Morales. It was right downtown and in it's early days was where the bullfighters celebrated after a fight. We tood a city bus tour and were enchanted by this lovely place. We walked, enjoying museums, government buildings, markets and plazas. Jackie and I were captivated with all the stores full of ball gowns for young and old alike. We wished we were 20 and could go from store to store trying them all on. We had a lovely afternoon in Tlacapaque (the artists district). Bob bought me a moonstone necklace that I will treasure at the gallery of Carlos and Albert. We went to a university production of The Magic Flute. This was definitely a student production! He was a good sport, even when the forest fairies wore space suits! Singers did their arias in German and their dialogue in Spanish. Whew! Playing a little pool and then a great bus ride home on Premiere Plus. They give you a little bag lunch to take with you and show movies on little screens. Very comfortable. Back to the marina with many chores to do before leaving this marina later in the week. Two portlights to go and non-skid to glue, oil to change, revisions to the sun cover. We enjoyed our little time off the boat and are ready for what ever comes next. Two couples coming over tonight to celebrate Carol getting her "general" ham license today.
There is a lot going on around Banderas Bay. From our marina at Paradise Village, we take a bus trip to nearby Bucerias for the Blessing of The Pangas. Pangas are small boats used by locals for transportation and fishing. Since I did the blessing for the transpac, I wanted to see how they do it down here. Well it was full of surprises. Boats were highly decorated and filled with participants. They came from all over the bay and skillfully (most of the time) ran them up on the beach. Then they unloaded their passengers and went back out for more. All these folks walked up beside the square to the church for a mass (blessing). But this was alot more about the "party". The square was full of people, drinking beer. There were three "banda" bands playing at the same time. Shops were set up everywhere. It was really an important day for this little city. One of the things we enjoyed the most was the competition of dancing horses. The "banda" stood right beside them blowing trumpets and playing drums. The horses and their riders danced to the beat. It was incredible. These are fairly small horses. They were very rhythmic. Copy this URL to see videos of the horses: http://youtu.be/ME7oSyMRAZE and http://youtu.be/HFdQ1Xo7Sv8. It was a great day. We went with the Watsons and met several other boaters from other towns who had come from other anchorages around the bay to see this special event.
We are spending an extended time here in the Paradise Marina in Puerto Vallarta. We are waiting for the new rudder from the Hydovane company in England. Also doing some maintenance, another portlight installation, getting measured for a sun cover before the hotter months, etc. Also were able to get our mail sent from Florida. This marina is beautiful with all the amenities. We went to a jazz concert at the Yacht Club that was great and Saturday there was a free classical guitar/harp/tenor concert at the hotel. It was really top-cabin. You couldn't have found better anywhere. We check the tigers twice a day and enjoy the beach and pool. This marina is very isolated from the town. It takes a couple of buses and about an hour to get anywhere. Yesterday we took three buses to go to the Botanical Gardens. The buses were as much of an adventure as the gardens. You will see that these mintrals that jump on the bus to make money are a common thing. The gardens were wonderful. Very natural with hikes of varying difficulty. We pretty much covered the whole park and had a great lunch. It was a nice day. We are going tomorrow to Bucerias to see the blessing of the fishing boats "Pangas". They bring the boats up on the beach by the church. It is supposed to be quite a sight. I'll try to get some pictures to share. Wednesday we are going to Guadalahara. Several interior cities are a bus ride away from Puerto Vallarta. Currently we are evaluating where to spend the summer/hurricane season. The insurance demands either here in Banderas Bay of above La Paz in the Sea of Cortez. We are listening to everyone we can before making up our minds. Hope you enjoy the pictures. You all know how much I like taking flower/plant photos. I had a wonderful time.