12/07/2011, Mazatlan countryside
In our constant quest to become submersed into the local culture we recently decided to take an organized tour of a Tequila factory. OK....I know what you're probably already thinking....maybe Steve-o and Shaybo are getting a little carried away with the drinking part of the Mexican culture, but this was to be a day of education. As our tour van left the city limits and wound it's way through the beautiful countryside of Sinaola, our guide Chilly was giving us a detailed lesson on the local culture in general and the Mexican Tequila industry in particular. Once arriving at the Tequila Factory we were surprised to find not what you would think of as a factory, but more like a winery, there were lush grounds and beautiful old buildings and spread across the rolling hillsides were the Blue Agave plants of which Tequila is made from. This pic is Chilly explaining how the plants are grown for 7 years before being harvested by hand. We were taken through the complete process and Chilly explained why you want to make sure that the Tequila is not only 100% Agave, but that the very best tequila is 100% Agave Azul. Once Chilly finished showing us the process of making Tequila he sat us all down and we began the tasting process, we learned that you shouldn't really gulp down a shot, but you should savior it by slowly sipping the fine Tequila. So after we savored a couple of shots we boarded the van and headed to our next destination, the small town of La Noria.
I always find it interesting that no matter how many small Mexican villages and towns we visit, they're all so different. Each little village has it's own unique characteristics and La Noria was no exception. La Noria's main industries are leather works and pottery and we were taken in several leather factories and a pottery makers home to see first hand how they still carry on these old styles of craftsmanship. One thing that was both funny and sad was that when we first arrived in La Noria we were greeted by three boys, Daniel, Daniel and Miguel. The boys dressed in their school uniforms began handing out small hand picked flowers to the tourists as they got off the van. Most of the paranoid tourists shunned the youngsters for whatever reason. Sharon and I gave them a few pasos. They made great efforts to speak to us in english, and they did a pretty decent job of it while following us around town to the different places we were taken. Before we got back on the Van, Sharon and I took them all over to a tienda and bought them each a soda. I would encourage other people who are visiting foreign lands to interact with the local people, don't become a paranoid American tourist, but try to leave a good impression on someone who may be somewhat less fortunate financially then you are. It may become the highlight of your trip.
El Salvador meeting
One of the nicest things about not working is not having to go to meetings. I can remember that the work meetings all seemed to start about the same way, get up early, rush off to the meeting place, eat some stale donuts while waiting for the people that didn't get up so early to arrive. Most of the thousands of Mortgage and Real Estate meetings I attended in my 30+ years in the industry had about the same content and I always wondered why we had to be there in the first place.
Today there was a meeting for an up coming cruiser rally to El Salvador. Sharon and I had been looking forward to this meeting since we arrived in Mazatlan. We woke up super early (7:30), grabbed a cup of coffee, put on our freshly shined crocs and headed out to Marina Mazatlan, which is about a 30 minute walk. The meeting started the same as the business meetings in that we sat around waiting for late people and eating stale pastries. We were able to reconnect with some of the friends that we've met along our way and catch up on what everyone's been doing, so the wait wasn't totally wasted time (like what do we have to do anyway).
"The Cruisers Rally to El Salvador" is now in it's 5th year, unlike the recent Baja Ha Ha rally, you do not all go together to El Salvador, but instead the participants meet in El Salvador sometime between March 10 and April 29. The sponsors put together activities and parties and help you get somewhat acquainted with the lay of the land in El Salvador. Because there will be 50-75 other cruisers heading that way we are hoping to buddy boat with a few others, something that I feel is important once leaving the safety of Mexican waters. In order to get into the estuary where the rally is held it is necessary to "cross the bar", this means that you have to take your boat across a sand bar and through a surf zone where they say you will surf at least one wave on the way in....cowabunga dude! The rally sponsors send out a pilot on a jet ski to guild you across the bar...definitely another BIG plus.
Unlike the old Real Estate meetings, this meeting was very informative, we learned many things about El Salvador and it's neighboring Central American countries. We talked about land excursions and safety, about the visa requirements and transportation choices, and of course they pointed out all of the fun adventures and parties that we would be able to attend. As a cruiser you don't like to plan to far ahead, so we still have not fully decided on wether we'll sign up for the rally or not...stay tuned for a future blog on our final decision....subject to change of course.
Last night we decided to continue our Mexican cultural experiences and attend a beisbol (baseball) game. Mazatlan has a triple-A rated team called the Venados, the Venados play in the Mexican Pacific League and although they are not having a great year this year, they have historically been one of the top teams in the league. Not really knowing what to expect we arrived at the 14,000 seat stadium just as the game was starting, we found our way to our seats which were between home plate and third base at just above field level (pic)....and thats when the fun started. The fast paced action was non-stop, there were many different mascots from various companies wondering the stands and roaming the field performing their antics, there were venders selling all kinds of weird food and silly trinkets and souvenirs and there was a beer vender that was standing in the aisle next to our seats selling 20 paso ($1.75 USD) Pacificos. The players, whom we are pretty sure make nowhere close to their US counterparts, play an exciting and fun to watch game. This level of play is just below Major League Baseball and I really couldn't tell much difference between the two levels of play. As we all rocked out to the constant and funny choice of music we marveled at how much we were loving Mexican Beisbol. So The Venados (Deer) ended up winning the game with a score of 2-3, and we joined our fellow fans in cheering them on with the call of "VAMOS VENADOS".
Ohh and the cost..... well our fantastic seats were 100 pasos ($8.50), as mentioned earlier beers were about $1.75, you could get whatever kind of baseball food you wanted for next to nothing and I bought a cool Venados shirt for about $9.00. I Guess when the players don't get paid millions of dollars to play, the fans can actually afford to go to a game. No wonder all the fans were in such a great mood.....VAMOS VENADOS!
11/28/2011, Marina El Cid, Mazatlan, Mexico
You may have wondered where all the exciting blogs have been the past few days, when living the life of a resort cruiser you have very little time to squeeze in blogging. So tonight I've cleared my social calendar so I could update all of the blog faithful. Since attending our wonderful Thanksgiving evening feast we've had plenty going on....let me see, on Friday our neighboring dock ( "B" dock) had a dock party, dock parties are basically a pot luck dinner where other cruisers share information (B.S.) with each other while eating and drinking. We cut out early and some of our friends on "A" dock came back to Si Bon and continued sharing information (B.S.) and drinking while listening to a free concert and fireworks show courtesy of the wedding reception across the harbor channel. On Saturday Sharon and I headed out early to walk to a local marine store, we walked for a total of about 4 hours and finally found the stinking store....which basically had none of the things that we needed. Saturday night we were invited over to S/V Victoria Dos, owned by new friends Keith and Donna from Canada, we all brought along some food to share and enjoyed a fine dinner of lobster, steaks and hot dogs while listing to a free concert and fireworks show courtesy of another wedding reception across the harbor channel.
One thing we have discovered here in Mazatlan is that there are a TON of Canadians. On Sunday the Canadian Football League (CFL) played their Superbowl...which is called the Grey Cup, since we have grown fond of most of the Canadians here, we decided that we would go with them to a place called "The Saloon" and support the team from British Columbia, The Lions. It was a pretty easy decision for me as the Chargers were playing at close to the same time and since The Saloon has about 20 televisions I figured I could watch the hapless Chargers take the last breath of their dismal season while supporting my Canadian friends at the same time. Well I gotta tell ya that the Chargers stink and CFL is pretty exciting to watch, the refs let the players play and the fans get very excited...similar to a college game, The Canadians even all stood up and sang their National Anthem at the beginning of the game, when was the last time you saw that in a bar in the states?
I know that the above experiences are not nearly as exciting to read about as our death defying experiences on the high seas...but ya gotta take a break from the life of a real cruiser every once in awhile. Tomorrow we will be attending a Bon Voyage party and dinner for our neighbors and friends, Bill and Trish on S/V Kwinhagak, who have taught us many things about living the life of a resort cruiser.
Happy Thanksgiving from Mexico
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!
As I think back on the past year I have so much to be thankful for. There is the usually stuff, my family, my kids, my health, the fact that I am on perpetual vacation, but this year there are a few other things. I fell in love with a wonderful woman and her family, I was able to untie the dock lines and begin a major sailing adventure and while on this adventure God has blessed me with such a safe and problem free beginning.
Soooo where do you have Thanksgiving dinner while living in a third world country? We could cook up a turkey in our small propane oven, but I think it would probably have to be a baby turkey and even then I'm afraid it would probably take until Christmas to be fully cooked. We could forgo the turkey and have something else....but then I'm afraid that I might not be able to take my traditional Thanksgiving nap after pigging out on turkey. Lucky for us we just happen to be in a resort that caters to gringos and they have arranged a Holiday meal for the poor unfortunate cruisers that are basking in the sun away from their loved ones. So once again I ask you not to feel to sorry for us, we plan on going to the pool or the beach for awhile then hop on a Pulmania (open air taxi, see pic) and head over to the cruiser feast for dinner and drinks. There is one question that I am having some trouble with; do I have to wear long pants and shoes to the dinner?
Marina El Cid
What a difference a week makes. Last week at this time we were on the Baja peninsula at Puerto Escondido getting ready to leave for Auga Verde and then on to La Paz. The Baja peninsula is a rather dry, dusty, barren place. Puerto Escondido is home to a kinda clicky group that call themselves the "Hidden Harbor Yacht Club". Although we sorta enjoyed our time at Puerto Escondido...even though the showers were cold, the internet didn't work and "Hidden Harbor Yacht Club" members weren't all that friendly.... we were happy to be moving on.
This week we are here at the mega resort of El Cid. El Cid is a 5 star resort with three different hotels spread throughout Mazatlan, there is a free shuttle that runs between the different hotels and as marina guests we are able to use ALL of the facilities at ALL of the hotels. Just at the Hotel Marina El Cid there are two pools (pic), five restaurants, a decent tienda, showers that are hot, there are beautiful lush gardens, a shuffleboard court and a miniature golf course. We can even....get this....order room service to our boat. Within the group of resorts there is a Country Club with a PGA-rated par 72 (whatever that means) which is home to the Canadian Tour and Mexican PGA, there is also a 5000 square foot gym, a beach club, tennis club and many stores and shops. The many bellmen wear fancy white uniforms and the maids are attired in sexy (???) little maid outfits. Each morning they put out the days activities list full of things like, poolside bingo, pool volleyball, water aerobics, poolside blackjack and on and on...very cruise ship like I would say. I always wait to give my full approval on places until we are leaving, but so far this appears to be a nice place to spend the next 1 1/2 months. Ohh and one other thing, the internet wifi actually works here.
We've already taken a couple of jaunts outside of the confines of the resort and Mazatlan also appears to be a neat place to explore. My kids are going to be visiting me here the week before Christmas and hopefully Russ and Frank will be booking their trip for early January later today. If you would like a nice getaway, this might be a good place to visit me, the air and hotel packages are cheap ($700 for 5 days from San Diego) and there are many GREAT "Hora Feliz's" through the resort and the town.
At this time the only real drawback I see is....I hope I don't become to comfortable here as it will be hard to get room service to Si Bon once we leave and head back to sea.