Driving in Mexico
04/05/2011, La Paz, Mexico
On Sunday my girlfriend Sharon, who goes by the nickname Shaybo, came down to La Paz to visit for awhile, we're not sure how long because she forgot to get a return ticket, but hopefully she'll be here through April (or until I drive her nuts).
I wanted to be there at the airport when she got here, which was not an easy task, first there are no buses that run from town to the airport, second, a cab was going to cost around 700 pasos, so for 598 pasos I was able to rent a car to get Shaybo, and I was also able to run a few other errands at the same time. Everyone that knows me knows that I am a very nervous driver, my kids friends even nicknamed me Mr. Pokey due the fact that I drive like an old lady. I really wasn't looking forward to driving here, kinda funny that after sailing somewhere around 1000 miles through some of the most hostile environment on earth, and I was more nervous about a 20 minute drive to the airport. The car rental company wanted to upgrade me to a Jetta, but I settled in on the economy model, which I felt would blend in with my fellow drivers better than the shiny Jetta. Before I left to pick up the car my daughter gave me a little advice, she had just returned from Mexico, and she said " Dad you gust have to step on the gas and go for it, and everything will be fine" I decided that I would follow Amber's advice, and turns out she was right, I hauled butt around La Paz dodging in and out of traffic, passing the Mr pokeys as I went and tooting my horn whenever someone pissed me off, I never did figure out why I got so many funny looks but I got Shaybo, ran my errands and now feel good about driving in Mexico.
La Paz, Mexico
04/03/2011, La Paz, Mexico....Duh
La Paz is the largest city and the capital of Baja California Sur, it is a working class city with a population of around 300,000, and is true to it's name, which translates as "the peace." Know for its casual, easy-paced and peaceful lifestyle, La Paz is a "real" mexican city, there are no high-rise hotels or time share salespeople here, in fact, other than my fellow cruisers, who stick mostly around the waterfront, there are virtually no tourists here. There is the beautiful palm fringed malecon (boardwalk) that runs the entire distance of the waterfront, but the real city center is several blocks inland, and is bustling with activity, there are many shops, restaurants, and of course a large cathedral located in front of the Jardine (town square).
Although the American media portraits this to be a horrible place my experience with the honest, friendly mexican people continues to amaze me. The other night I was walking down the malecon when I came across a place called Rin Rin Pizza, a restaurant with a small street cart out front selling slices. Since I haven't had any pizza for over a month, I decided to get a couple of slices and watch the sunset. The young girl, who spoke no english, and myself, who speaks virtually no spanish, agreed that the price was 20 pasos a slice, which is around 1.80 USD. I took my two slices across a busy street and woofed them down, deciding that it was so damm good, I was going back for more. As I approached the cart for round two the young girl quickly handed me 16 pasos and said two was only 24 total I had overpaid for the first two slices, and here was my money back. So now not only did this delicious, spicy mexican pizza only cost about $2.25 for TWO slices, but I was once again treated to the warm, friendly attitude of the mexican people, as this girl could have easily pocketed the money and I would never have known. I bought two more slices and woofed them down too.
Shaybo's flying down today, and I can't wait to continue exploring La Paz with her.
04/02/2011, La Paz, Mexico
One of the cool things about cruising is the people you meet along the way, both fellow cruisers and others. Upon our arrival here at Marina Palmira we ran into (not literally) Santosha, the large catamaran that we were holed up with at Los Frailes waiting out the weather, and the boat in the slip next to us was anchored near us in Ensenada de los Muertos, it's always fun to see people you've met along the way, and compare stories (most of which are true) about your passages. La Paz is full of fellow cruisers coming and going from all over the world, the cruiser community is a tight knit group of which everyone is willing to help everyone else, we all share in the fact that as nice a life as this is, at any moment all hell can break loose, and we are all willing and able to come to the aid of our fellow cruisers, there are many stories that would bring tears to your eyes of someone helping out someone else, there is no money or expectations involved, only to know that someday we will also be in the position of needing a hand.
Before coming into La Paz we anchored overnight in a beautiful cove named Puerto Balandra (pic), Balandra is about 6 NM (nautical Miles) from La Paz harbor so you can be sure we'll be dropping the hook here again soon.
First big leg complete
04/01/2011, La Paz
Yesterday afternoon we pulled into our slip in La Paz where we will spend the next month, we will be coming and going out to the islands for few days here and there, then coming back to the marina for a few days. Around the end of April I will continue up the Sea of Cortez anchor hopping as I go.
When I think back on the past month it's been pretty amazing, all of the places we've stopped and all of the people we've met, it's hard to imagine that it's all happened in a one month period. Our leg down Baja was pretty hard core, even the adventurous Peter commented that it was MUCH more intense than he thought it would be. Since we rounded Cabo we've become cruisers, no real plans, no real agenda...anchoring in bays and coves along the way, watching the weather and deciding when we would move along to the next piece of paradise. I would say again to people that are thinking about cruising "IT'S NOT THAT DIFFICULT", and to anyone with a dream, whatever it may be, set your goals, make your plans and do it, it's nice to dream, but it's nicer to "live the dream", remember that I'm just a regular dude, I'm a decent sailor (not some crusty old salt) and I've learned to do some basic repairs in an emergency (not a mechanic), but that's it, I set goals, I planned and I executed the plan...and here I am.
Soooo.....still no horror stories to tell....and still no fish.
Ensenada De Los Muertos
03/29/2011, Ensenada de Los Muertos
Ensenada de los Muertos has a few surprises. After nearly a month in wild places with only a few stops in marinas it took us by surprise to stumble onto, of all things in this remote bay, a model train museum. The entire area is slated for development with a golf course and a hotel already established. Thereís an open air restaurant on the opposite side of the harbor with a dingy dock nearby. The hotel is exquisitely designed with pools, artwork, fountains and the unexpected train museum on the mezzanine of the restaurant. The hotel and grounds are laid out with so much thought given to the details of comfort and beauty that it is simply stunning. Roads, lagoons, cliff side homes and shopping centers are planned, but for now it is economically stalled.
With all this going on it would seem that something as simple as a dock for dinghies would be a somewhat stable affair. It is not. Assembled from large snap together plastic pieces it looks deceptively friendly like a Playskol product. We tied the dingy up and jumped onto the platform which is when the fun began. The innocuous plastic dock held an unexpected surprise. The surge sent it slamming it into the rock wall it was tied to, knocking us off our feet. The only safe way to traverse it was on all fours, which none of us were willing to do. We simply could not have successfully sailed down the notoriously difficult Baja coast only to discover the most difficult passage turned out to be fifteen feet of plastic gangway. Big tough sailors cannot exactly walk into a local bar with their heads up after crawling up a kiddy dock. We had merely a moment of warning, when the surge tugged the dock away from the wall, to prepare for the next jolt, arms flailing, knees bent, as it careened into the rock wall. A rubber fender or a few old tires would easily cure the problem, but in a billion dollar development complete with a mile of tiny trains and scads of marble water features it must be have been considered an unnecessary expense to ensure the safety of transient sailors. The surge swept the dock away from the stairs making the leap too far to risk between them. Timing was everything. Missing the chance required bracing for impact, then waiting for the next wave to shove the dock toward the wall, altogether quite challenging for a toy dock.
The steep stairway leading to the path to the restaurant must have been constructed by the decedents of ancient pyramid builders or they were an afterthought chipped randomly out of the vertical wall. I love Mexico, this would not be allowed north of the border and it was actually quite amusing after the initial near dunking when the dock first revealed its crafty little secret. The molded plastic ladder attached to the end of the dock, a modest convenience for the people who have been launched into the water, proudly displayed the logo EZ Dock, which is insultingly oriented toward the person climbing it soaking wet.
World record on Si Bon
03/27/2011, Ensenada de Los Muertos
We finally got out of Bahia Los Frailes yesterday, we had planned to spend 2-3 days and ended up being there a week, we are now anchored in a medium sized cove called Ensenada de Los Muertos, which translates to Cove of the dead. On our way here we trolled a fishing line, as we have most of the time since leaving Ensenada. Last night we all marveled at the fact that despite all of the time we've had a line in the water, we still have not caught a fish, and we are pretty sure that that is some kind of world record for not catching fish. You have to be aware that we are currently in some of the best fishing grounds in the world, so we feel that we are now experts at not catching fish, we have not caught some of the largest marlin ever to be not caught in these waters, we have also not caught very large yellowtail, dorado, sailfish and just about any other kind of fish here. We have not caught fish with every type of lure, jig and cedar plug you can imagine, we were given some squid by a local fisherman who assured us we would catch fish with it...but still no fish, we've trolled in Si Bon, we've trolled in the dinghy, we've fished off a dock and of the stern of Si Bon at anchor...and still we've not caught a fish, and in fact we are so damm good at not catching fish that we haven't even had a nibble, or strike or whatever it's called. We decided last night that not catching fish is actually a lot more fun than catching fish, we can still play out the line, open a can of beer and turn on some country music and we can still BS about large fish we haven't caught, but we don't get all tired out pulling in some hapless fish, we don't get fish blood all over our boat and our fishing equipment will last forever without the stress of actually catching a fish, plus our refrigerator doesn't smell all fishy. Well I gotta go now I heard the fish aren't bitting this morning so I'm dropping in a line, opening up a brewski, and turning on some Tim McGraw.