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Sirena
"Sail fast and live slow"
Mazatlan Carnaval, Feb. 2013
cool, daytime 70's nighttime 60's
05/13/2013, Mazatlan

Mazatlan Carnaval, Feb. 2013
It's time to get this blog up and running again. We were in Mazatlan in Feb. for Carnaval. The Mazatlan Carnaval is such a big event that the city has an influx of over 300,000 people from all over Mexico for the week. It had many different activities going on for an entire week, and was a lot of fun. Every night there were street parties that went until the wee hours of the morning. The music and crowds created a very exciting atmosphere. There were about ten different bands playing along the street with hordes of people dancing in the street, some in colorful costumes. Each band played different kinds of music and they were all up on big stages with lots of colorful spotlights on them. There were also lots of food vendors and other vendors selling masks and wigs and many other things.

One night there was a spectacular fireworks display staged like a sea battle. We watched it from a friends' boat out in the bay. A navy ship came in the bay past us and anchored. They would shoot fireworks towards the shore and the shore would respond by shooting fireworks back at the ship. At the end, it appeared like the ship was blowing up with one explosion after another until the whole ship was engulfed in explosions (white fireworks) and smoke.

The theme for this years' Carnaval was the movies. There were huge paper mache statues of actors all along the malecon (waterfront sidewalk). There was a 40 foot tall Marilyn Monroe in the well known pose with her skirt being blown up in the air. Many people were having their pictures taken while standing under her skirt and looking up!! Also Marlon Brando dressed as the Godfather, Charlie Chaplin, Cantinflas (Mexico's comedian similar to Charlie Chaplin), and several others I can't remember. The parade followed the theme of the movies as most of the floats were from one movie or another. The parade was big with many, many floats beautifully lit up (it was at night). Between the floats were many different children and adult groups marching to music and often dressed as characters from the movie. The final 2 floats were most eagerly awaited for because they had Brazilian women scantily clad in bikinis and big headdresses dancing and gyrating to the music. A few hours before the parade we went to a hotel for a buffet lunch and then we had seats in bleachers that the hotel had set up just for the parade. All afternoon we watched from the second floor dining room windows, while thousands of people kept arriving on the street for the parade. I've never seen so many people in one place at a time before, not even in Pasadena for the Rose Parade!

The last event we went to was the bullfight. Besides the regular bullfighter, there were two other types of bullfighters which we had never seen before and which were quite interesting. One was a group of ten young men. Their goal was to stop the bull with their bodies, sort of a big "hug the bull". They would line up single file facing the bull and when the bull would charge, the first man in line would get his body on the bulls' head between the horns and wrap his arms around his neck, then the rest of the men would surround the bull and hang on. When the bull stopped moving, one of the men would grab his tail and pull it and the bull, from side to side. When they were done, they immediately scattered away from the bull in all directions and the bull stood looking around trying to figure out what had just happened. The other bullfighter was on horseback, but not the typical horse you see covered with a big padded blanket. This bullfighter used his horse to tease the bull, as a bullfighter uses the cape to tease the bull. It was amazing to watch, like a choreographed dance between the horse and bull. The horse could spin and change directions on a dime while the bull chased him, often running in such tight circles that the bullfighter could lean back and touch the horns. The horse could run sideways and backwards almost as fast as he could go frontward. The man started the horse running frontward with the bull chasing him, then the horse gradually turned sideways so the man could reach out and touch the bulls horns, then the horse would spin a 360 to confuse the bull and then continue running. A truly amazing thing to watch!





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Agua Verde to La Paz
Connie, low 80's
12/10/2012

Agua Verde to La Paz
We stayed in Agua Verde 2 more days after Thanksgiving to enjoy this beautiful place. We went ashore and walked around the village. We went to Maria's tienda (store) and bought some fresh goat cheese. She pulled out a big piece of cheese and I cut off how much I wanted. The store was about 15' by 15' and had a variety of dry and can goods, and some fresh produce. Outside she had some old refrigerators lying on their sides in the dirt. They were not plugged in, but had ice in them to keep food cold. Some of the villagers have a herd of goats and make the cheese themselves. We've often seen the goats climbing the steep hillsides around the bay.

The next destination was Los Gatos and we all met up there (s/v Gladys, s/v Grace, and s/v Windsong). Gladys got there first and spoke to a local fisherman named Manuel and asked him for some lobsters. Manuel gets lobsters for cruisers as a way of supplementing his income. Every time we've been to Los Gatos, he has come by to see if we wanted lobsters, and other cruisers have had the same experience. In the afternoon he came back with 9 lobsters! Ed cooked them on the bar-b-que and everyone brought some food and we had a delicious lobster dinner on board Sirena. Los Gatos has beautiful red sandstone on one side of the harbor. The low bluffs are smooth and rounded with shadings of reds, pinks, and creams, and reminds me of saltwater taffy that has been poured out on a pan and hardened in soft mounds.

The next day we all left for San Evaristo, which is another small fishing village like Agua Verde, and has a calm, protected bay. We enjoyed relaxing, swimming, walking on the beach, and eating together at the palapa on the beach. This is the only "restaurant" in the village. Last year this palapa just sold beer, but this year they've enlarged it and added a kitchen and another shaded eating area. She prepared food while her young boys played around the palapa and on the beach. She made a good fish dinner with rice and a salad. Unfortunately, by the time we got our food it was dusk and the Bobo's were swarming us, so we ate as quickly as we could and returned to our boats for the night.

When we left in the morning we parted company with the other 3 boats. They were making one more stop and then going to La Paz. We wanted to stay out a few more days before we went to La Paz. We went to Isla San Francisco, which is one of our favorite anchorages with its half-moon shaped bay, white sand beach, and turquoise water. The water was crystal clear and we could see the sand ripples on the bottom in 20' of water. I took a picture of the anchor chain to show the clarity of the water. For the picture I stood on deck looking down at the bottom with my toes in the picture as a reference point, and took a picture of the anchor chain and the boats' shadow on the bottom. When we raised the anchor and began leaving I looked down at the boats' shadow and was surprised to see a school of fish swimming as fast as they could to keep up with the shadow. They must have been under the boat using our boat as a safe haven when it started moving, so they followed until they couldn't keep up any longer. Pretty funny!

We went to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida, which is another one of our favorites. It also had the crystal clear water, which is convenient to be able to see if your anchor is dug in good. We enjoyed 2 days here; swimming, walking on the beaches, exploring in the dinghy, and just relaxing and soaking up the beautiful scenery. Finally it was time to raise the anchor and head for the "big city" of La Paz.


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Thanksgiving in Agua Verde
Connie, sunny and warm, in the 80's,
12/03/2012

Thanksgiving in Agua Verde
This year there were 8 of us for Thanksgiving dinner aboard Sirena in one of the prettiest bays in the Sea of Cortez. It's named Agua Verde for its beautiful emerald green water. We got to Agua Verde 2 days before our friends. The first night the bay was pretty full with 8 boats anchored there, but by the time our friends arrived the other boats had left and we had the bay almost to ourselves. The day before Thanksgiving we hiked up a "road" (washed out in places, full of piles of rocks, and undriveable) that had a beautiful view overlooking the anchorage and took many pictures. The days are warm (low 80's) and the nights are cool (high 60's), just about perfect weather. However the water has also cooled off about 10 degrees from a month ago when it was 85-88 degrees. It's 76 degrees now but still is refreshing in the middle of the hot day. We've gone swimming several times, but I much prefer the warmer water over 80 degrees.

Our friends arrived by noon on Thanksgiving day, then we started planning our meal. Everybody brought part of the meal and we had the usual feast: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, and pumpkin bread. Our party included Paul and Judy on s/v Grace; Andrew, Anne, and Nick on s/v Windsong; and Dana on s/v Gladys. After finishing our feast we cleaned up on Sirena, then we dinghyed over to Grace to have our dessert. Paul and Judy had bought pumpkin and peach pies in Loreto, and they were a delicious end to our Thanksgiving feast.

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12/07/2012 | Lisa and Leif
Oh how wonderful it all looks! Thanks for posting so we can also enjoy your travels. Love all the green, would hate the bugs! Buen viaje
Mission San Javier
Connie, in the 70's and overcast
12/03/2012, twenty miles from Loreto

Mission San Javier
While we were in Puerto Escondido we decided to take a road trip and visit Mission San Javier, which is about 20 miles away from Loreto and up in the mountains. It was a beautiful drive with the road winding up through the hills and canyons, and following the river. The hills were green with a variety of plants and trees, including lots of different wildflowers. There was still quite a bit of water in the river and we had to ford the river several times as the water was flowing over the road instead of under it. There were areas where the road was partially washed away (with only 1 lane instead of 2) from the flooding from Hurricane Paul. In some areas the road was just dirt and rock and you could see where the force of the flood washed rocks and boulders across the road and down the canyon. When we got up to the top of the hills it opened up into a large valley with several ranchos (one of which had its own small church). We had to watch out for cattle walking alongside the road and crossing the road in front of us. They seemed to be very curious about us as they watched us go by. We left the valley and started down the other side of the hills, still following the river, and in the distance we could see the mission and a small pueblo (town) next to the river. As we came near the entrance of the town there were men and women of all ages along both sides of the road, pulling weeds to keep their road into town neat and clean. The town of San Javier had dirt and cobblestone roads and the mission was at one end of it. It's a pretty little town with compact homes that are neat and tidy. There's an elementary school, with students' work displayed on the windows, and across the street is the high school with an outside covered lunch area and a basketball court with a high cover for shade. The mission was over 200 years old and made of blocks of rock. On one side was a small, old cemetery with casket shaped cement tombs on top of the ground. The mission is very pretty inside with high, arched ceilings. The front wall behind the altar is painted gold and has pictures and statues on it. (see the pictures) The location is beautiful in this narrow valley alongside the river surrounded by mountains. It's amazing to think about how the missionaries (like Junipero Serra) walked all over these mountains looking for a site to build a mission on. Then once a site was found, how difficult it must have been to build a mission in these remote locations.

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Heading South 10-18-12
Connie, sunny, warm and calm
12/03/2012, Santa Rosalia to Santo Domingo

We left Santa Rosalia the morning after Hurricane Paul went by. It was a calm, windless morning (I guess Paul took all the wind with him) and the seas were flat. We had to motor all day because the wind never came up. We had to dodge a lot of debris in the water from Paul. There were logs, palm trees, sticks, shrubs, and big clumps of brush. The birds enjoyed all the floating debris because it gave them a place to land and rest. However we didn't enjoy it when we ran over some and it hit the prop with a loud THUMP. Ed checked the engine and everything seemed to be fine so we continued on, but we could feel a vibration and the engine was running hotter than usual. So we reduced our speed and the engine didn't overheat. When we got to the anchorage (Santo Domingo) we grabbed our masks and snorkels and jumped in the water to check out the prop. There was a HUGE clump of grass and brush (it looked like hay) stuck on the shaft and prop. No wonder the engine was running hot; the prop had to spin all that brush round and round! After we cleaned off the shaft and prop, we stayed in the water and enjoyed swimming in the 85 degree water. The afternoon was hot, the anchorage was calm, the water was refreshing and it felt great to be back on the water again. The sailboat in the picture is a replica of the lifeboat that Shackleton used to sail hundred's of miles to find help for his marooned ship on Antarctica. There's an adventure tour group (for leadership training) that takes people sailing along Baja in these boats for 1-2 weeks at a time and they stop each night to camp on the beach. There's a group of 4 of them that came sailing/rowing into Santo Domingo. When there's no wind, they can be rowed, as you can see in the picture.

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Baja is Green
11/13/2012, Puerto Escondido

Baja is Green
Within a few days Baja has changed from brown to green. Baja has had so much rain this season that it is amazingly green everywhere you look. It's been 45 years since Baja had this much rain. There were several monsoonal rain storms in the summer that were followed by rain from 2 hurricanes, Miriam and Paul. So there has been 2+ months of rain that has caused so much green growth. Not only is there grass that is 2 feet tall, there are a large variety of plants, shrubs, trees, cactus, and wildflowers. The green combined with the red rock formations of the (Sierra de la Gigante) mountains is stunning. As we were sailing down the coast, looking at these rocky mountains that looked soft and velvety green, it made us think of the Na Pali coast in Kaui, Hawaii. It was easy to imagine that we were somewhere in the south pacific. There are even large amounts of vines covering the shrubs and trees that give it a tropical appearance. There are rivers and streams running that are normally dry. With all the water and plants around, there has been a population explosion of insects! The mosquitoes have been especially bad. We try not to go out of the boat at dusk. Most of the restaurants are open air which makes it difficult to go out to eat without the mosquitoes eating us for their dinner. There are so many mosquitoes that they're out during the day also. Many people here at Puerto Escondido carry a small towel with them to constantly swish around their face and head to keep the mosquitoes and gnats away. It's kind of comical to watch everyone swishing their towels around their faces. Normally there are no mosquitoes on Baja because it's such a dry environment. There have been 1000's of butterflies, white, yellow, and orange and black, that are beautiful to see. Also, 1000's of grasshoppers have appeared, jumping and flying around. After Hurricane Paul, there were grasshoppers all over the water, swimming and trying to fly away, but mostly they drowned. If one was lucky enough to swim close to our anchor chain, it would crawl up the chain. When we wanted to sit in a chair at the marina we would have to brush off about 20 grasshoppers in order to use the chair. Every time we drive to Loreto and back (15 mi. each way) we have to clean our windshield because it has so many butterflies and bugs splattered all over it. Last year we didn't have any bug screens for our hatches and we didn't need them. This year we bought bug screens and we're sure glad we did because we've certainly needed them. At least inside our boat is a bug free environment.

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