18 March 2017
The French Baker delivers fresh-baked goods to the Barra lagoon and marina by panga. It is one of the highlights of this area. Unfortunately, (for us) he is wanting to retire. His business is for sale. I am afraid Barra without the French Baker would be like La Cruz without Philo. It just wouldn't be the same.
French Baker, Part One – “Does Anybody Know What Day It Is?”
March 8, 2016
A call comes over the radio. “French Baker, French Baker. Are you on twenty-two?”
“The French Baker is off on Wednesdays. The next day he comes is Thursday.” A woman replies, but her connection is scratchy.
“What?” The man asks.
“The French Baker is off on Wednesday. He will be here on Thursday.”
“Oh, okay.” A long pause. “What day is it? Is this Tuesday?”
“Today is Wednesday.” She answers, laughing.
“Got it. Today is Wednesday. The French Baker will be here tomorrow, Thursday. Sorry. I’ve only been cruising for four months. I don’t know where I am or what day it is.”
“That’s okay.” She says with a smile in her voice. She, and everyone else who is listening, completely understands.
French Baker, Part Two – The Addiction
March 12, 2017
It is early morning. Jay and I are sitting in the cockpit, sipping our tea and coffee. A voice comes over the radio.
“French Baker entering the marina.” The man speaks with an authentic French Accent. I pick up the radio.
“French Baker, French Baker, Cadenza.”
“Yes, Cadenza.” He answers.
“Could you please come to D-Delta dock when you have a moment.”
“Can I save you something?”
“Yes, please. One chocolate croissant, one almond croissant, and one baguette.” He repeats my order. This produces a flurry of activity and suddenly several boats, both in the marina and in the lagoon, are calling him to place their order, fearful he will run out of goodies.
We watch as he goes to G dock, then B dock, then C dock. We naturally think D dock will be next, but no. He goes back to G dock. Jay eyes him anxiously, awaiting his breakfast. “He’ll come here next.” I say
A few minutes later, Jay stands up. “Where is he going? He is leaving the marina.”
“He is probably going to one of those big power boats.” I assure him. “He has our order. He will come back.”
Jay’s shoulders slump as he sits back down. “It’s like crack.”
The French Baker arrives on D dock. His panga is filled with fresh pastries, breads, pies, and quiche.
“Hello, lady.” Every morning, this is how he greets me. His inflection is exactly the same. English words, spoken with a French accent, sound like music. Even two words can sound lyrical.
He puts the two croissants in a brown paper bag and with a pair of long, silver tongs, he hands me the baguette. It is soft to the touch. As I walk back to Cadenza, I lift it up to my nose and inhale. If left alone, I would eat the entire loaf in one sitting. I hand Jay his croissant. It is rectangularly-shaped with just enough chocolate to leave you wanting for more. Today, I decided to order the almond croissant. It is in the traditional shape of a croissant and covered with slivered almonds. I take a bite. “Oh! There is almond cream in the middle.” I say, surprised. “Oh, my. It is so sweet and buttery.” The cream oozes. I lick my lips. I lick my fingers. I look at Jay. “We have to leave here.”
Tenacatita to Barra de Navidad
17 March 2017
Sunrise over Marina Puerto de la Navidad
March 3, 2017
We are on our way from Tenacatita to Barra de Navidad. After 10 days at anchor, we are ready to tie up to a dock and clean the boat.
Our body rhythms have slowed down considerably. The last couple of days at Tenacatita have been lazy and relaxing. It's good for the heart. It's good for the mind. It's wonderful for the soul. I will miss being at anchor, but look forward to exploring more of Barra de Navidad and the surrounding area, including a visit to La Manzanilla.
March 5, 2017
I awaken before dawn. I slip on a dress, put on my glasses, and grab the camera. I begin my walk. Only today, it will be a short walk. I go over to the hotel, (It sits behind the marina, nestled in the hill.) and ride the elevator to the top floor. The mountains rise up behind and around the lagoon. Slowly, the neighborhood awakens.
The birds and rooster begin their daily ritual, announcing the start of a new day. Hundreds of birds hide in the trees. Their song is no longer individual, but has become a concert performance. The roosters join in. They, too, are hiding, somewhere up in the hills.
One by one, the pangas arrive at the fuel dock. They are filling their tanks for another busy day of work. They are our taxis, back and forth, between the lagoon, marina, and the town of Barra de Navidad.
Twenty anchor lights swing, gently, as the morning brings no wind. I imagine the cruisers to be cuddled below, fast asleep, waiting for the sun to rise. As I join them in wait, it occurs to me that the sun is a promise we take for granted.
Paraiso to Tenacatita
16 March 2017
Sunset over Tenacatita
March 1, 2017
First thing, when I woke up, I went to Jay. He was in the galley. "How about we leave right now?"
"What? No. I have some things to do."
"Okay." I was disappointed. It had been a long night of rocking and rolling. The waves were relentless and hitting us on the beam. It was getting old. After a few more hits, not even five minutes later, Jay came to find me.
"Okay, let's go."
A sigh of relief escaped my lips.
In hindsight, as beautiful as Paraiso is, I would suggest boaters make it a day stop. It's a great place to anchor, early in the day when it is calm. Go kayaking, swimming, have lunch. Then, weigh anchor and sleep somewhere else.
1530 - We are in the bay at Tenacatita. It is a very large bay and there are ten boats anchored here. Sometimes there are as many as thirty. It is a very popular anchorage with cruisers. Every Friday during high season, there is a coordinated raft-up. Just before sunset, everyone gets in their dinghies and a couple throw down an anchor and we create a circle. Everyone brings a dish to share and their own drinks. We pass the food from dinghy to dinghy and share stories. It is quite the festivity. Good fun.
There is a long stretch of white sandy beach with only one restaurant by the lagoon entrance and a large hotel on the far side. The beach is fairly empty today. Not much going on.
We will stay for a couple of days and then go over to Barra de Navidad, only 14 nm south.
A Chance Encounter
14 March 2017
Kayaking in Paraiso
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
We arrived at Paraiso around noon. It is another small anchorage, but, oh, so sweet. The cove is in the shape of a horseshoe with one colorful little boutique hotel on the shore. The grounds are covered with palm trees and a dash of bougainvillea. The water color is a mix of turquoise and teal and the air smells of sage from the dried brush that fills the hills. We anchored in seventeen feet on a sandy bottom. For about an hour, we were the only boat. We were hoping to have this little gem to ourselves.
"Don't worry. That boat has at least ten people on it. They won't be staying overnight." I said, noticing another sailboat anchoring in front of us. Jay took out the binoculars.
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is. I can't believe it!"
I took the binoculars from Jay. Sure enough, it was Gadget, a 64' Hinckley, from Edgartown. Our Edgartown! We pass it every time we sail out of Katama Bay and here it was, so many miles from home.
We introduced ourselves to the captain and first mate, excited to tell them that we, too, are from Martha's Vineyard. Chris and Elise have worked on Gadget for several years. In the summer, they sail her around the Vineyard and in the winter, they usually take her south to the Caribbean. This year, their boss asked them to bring it down and through the Panama Canal, up to Barra de Navidad, and ultimately, to Careyes where there was to be a wedding. (That is a lot of miles just for a wedding.) They left in November, and arrived in February.
We watched as, one by one, the guests jumped off Gadget and into the water and swam over to a small beach, tucked into the side of the cove. The gentleman who hosted the wedding had arranged for his guests to have a catered lunch there. Evidently, he has a staff of ten at his villa and they brought tables and chairs to the beach by the hotel. Another man in a panga, picked up the supplies and carted them over to the side beach, as you could only get to there by swimming or boat. At 1600, they were headed back to Careyes, after a beautiful afternoon at Paraiso.
As for Chris and Elise and Gadget, we made arrangements to meet up with them again in Barra.
NOTE OF INTEREST: Gadget was previously owned by Walter Cronkite and called Wyntje. The current owner is one of three creators of the animated television series, "Inspector Gadget."
"Our" Private Beach on Isla Cocinas in Chamela Bay
13 March 2017
13 March 2017
Hidden Beach on Isla Cocinas in Chamela Bay
Sunday, February 26, 2017 (Woops! This one is a day out of order.)
"Where are they all going?" I wondered out loud. It was Sunday morning and one after another, the pangas were loading up with customers and headed for the islands that lie inside Chamela Bay. They are small islands, designated as National Parks which protects them. We know of a small, private beach on Isla Cocinas, but it couldn't possibly hold that many people. "There must be over a hundred people." Jay added. Immediately, it was decided. We jumped in the dinghy, (It was already down.) and followed the pangas.
The islands are one of the highlights of this bay. The water surrounding them is clear and the rocks are filled with sea life for those who want to snorkel. Some boats even anchor near these shores. We prefer to take our dinghy.
The pangas kept passing us by, back and forth, back and forth. We passed Isla Pajarera, then Isla Novilla. About twenty minutes later, we arrived at Isla Cocinas. We passed "our" private beach. Nobody there.
"Do you want to stop here?" Jay asked. "Or, do you want to follow the pangas?"
"Let's follow the pangas. We've come this far. We can stop here on the way back."
We went around the curve of the island, sure to see their hideout. Nothing. We kept going. Finally, after another curve, tucked deep into the hill was a beach. Bright umbrellas were scattered across the sand. Over a hundred people were lying underneath, or swimming, or walking along, dipping their toes in the surf. Some were kayaking. Others snorkeling. A large palapa sat back against the trees. Presumably, the place where the tour guides keep their equipment.
The Mexican work week consists of six days. Sunday is a holiday. Family day. If they are anywhere near the beach, that is where they spend the day. Now we know where they go. Satisfied, Jay and I returned to "our" little private beach for a walk and a swim.