For the past month or so, we've been hopping around the Costalegre region from Chamela to Manzanillo, with stops in Tenacatita, Cuastecomate, Barra de Navidad, Melaque, Carrizal, Santiago, & Los Hadas. Finding it hard to pull ourselves away from this beautiful area, we decided to skip the long trek to Zijuatanajo this year, giving us freedom to really take it all in.
We've enjoyed all of these uniquely different stopovers, but we have our favorites. The very top on our list of course is Carrizal. We will forever compare all future snorkeling excursions to this. We were also pleasantly suprised by how much we enjoyed Santiago Bay. We had skipped this stopover when we were in the Manzanillo area last month due to the nasty red tide. It's located only 4 miles from Carrizal so we decided to break away for a few days and anchor around the corner in the bay. This gave us an opportunity to provision up, enjoy a long walk on the beautiful beach, and sample some quacamole at one of the palapa style restaurants. It was a picturesque setting and perfect location to help our friend Terry celebrate his 60th birthday...in the rain! Yes, winter reared it's ugly head and settled in upon us on the 6th of February, bringing with it torrential downpours and much cooler temperatures. It was only in the 70's during the day, getting down to the upper 60's in the evening! We almost had to put blankets back on our beds! I had almost forgotten how constant grey skies can zap my energy. I have to admit, the cooler temps were a nice change, but we were so relieved to see the grueling 10 days of winter finally pass!
We hung out in Carrizal and Santiago for a few weeks before heading back to Barra. I do believe someone had ticked off Neptune, because he did not make the 20 mile passage from Carrizal a pleasant one! High seas and a consistant 25knot wind at our nose caught us totally off guard as everything down below ended up on the floor when it was all said and done. We had gotten too complacent having had consistantly benign seas since leaving La Paz! It took us a bit longer than anticipated but we arrived Barra a bit tousled & exausted but quite safe.
Aside from being a cool little town, Barra is a somewhat central location making it a natural hub for most of lifes necessities.....decent provisioning, funky tiendas, laundry service that will pick up and drop off at your boat, diesel and propane, awesome cafes, icecream (Sydney), and THE BEST Carniceria (meat market) we've found. If we're lucky, I reconnect with the rest of the world via the somewhat reliable internet service at the cruiser friendly Sands Hotel while the kids swim in their pool. Oh, and the French Baker! Yes, we have our own resident french man who tours the marina and lagoon every morning in his panga making us all fat with his freshly baked pastries and baguettes! My personal favorite is his blasted almond croissants! Can't resist!
Keeping with the topic of tasty food, usually when we come to Barra after being in a more remote anchorage such as Carrizal, we're grateful and somewhat desperate to go in to town and let someone else do the cooking and dish washing. We've enjoyed some great eats at Mexico Lindo, Pepi's, Bananas, La Officina, Fortinos, and that cool tree house restaurant that I can never remember the name! They all have something a bit different to offer in menu and ambiance, but all are worth going back to. Pepi's is a sidewalk cafe with only 3 or 4 tables offering deliciously cheap 25 peso burritos; follow that up with a stop at the icecream store around the corner and everyone is happy! La Officina is a favorite for great burgers and margaritas, owned by a young gringo and his wife along with their friendly brindle boxer dog, Homer. Fortinos restaurant, located on the beach in Colimilla, is easily accessed by dinghy from the lagoon. They have the best fish tacos and coconut shrimp we have found with a charming setting and great service! It is not uncommon in Mexico for meals to be prepared and served one or two at a time, with several minutes in between. But at Fortinos, our meals were served fresh, hot, and arrived at the same time. Lifes simple pleasures!
This was our 4th and final stop here in Barra. We're heading back north to Bandaras Bay in a few days, with stops in Tenacatita, Paraiso, and Chamela before arriving La Cruz the first or second week of March. We're looking forward to returning to La Cruz and we anxiously await the arrival of our close friends from home, the Buck family!!! James misses his buddies and talks about them constantly, and I'm giddy with the thought of spending a week with my Rhonda!
We probably won't have internet until we're back in Banderas Bay, but look for a long overdue blog post from James sometime in March, and maybe, just maybe one from our captain as well! He keeps promising and we'll hold him to it! Until next time....
I had always wanted to travel to Manzanillo. In my minds eye I saw rustic fishing villages, a few small hotels, endless white sand beaches....in fact, this is where the movie "10" was filmed! When we rounded the west corner into Bahia de Manzanillo with the white stucko of Los Hadas wrapping itself around the sloping hillside, it had the look of a Mediterranean village. Beautiful! The anchorage was tucked in a small nook of the bay just outside of the Los Hadas marina, surrounded by what seemed like one sprawling resort with a beach here and there. Larger hotels and more beach continued it's way a few miles around to where it merged gradually with the industrial life of Manzanillo. When dreaming of visiting here, I must have been in denial about the large commerical port located at the east end of the bay!!!
During our stay here, we enjoyed great times with friends, swimming in the pool everyday after school, playing volleyball, and the close proximatey to laundry facilities and grocery stores were convenient. Rick & Sydney even went on a zip line excersion into the jungle with a few other boaters! But after a week, we were anxious to leave the constant smog and red smelly water that had rolled in and made the bay uninviting. A quiet cove was calling our name.
We found one of those places where you can just be. The book you can't wait to finish sits on your lap unopened and without notice. No commotion from the boat. Everyone is in their own personal space. I am noticing the color of the water, the swell of the ocean as it gently lifts our boat up, and puts us down, before continuing on & eventually I hear it crash against the steep pebbly beach and surrounding rocks. We swing subtly, back and forth on the anchor chain, giving us a changing perspective from the cockpit. This is Carrizal. An isolated, uninhabited cove just around the corner from Manzanillo. It reminds us all of a favorite gunk hole in the San Juan islands, with a few obvious exceptions. No wet suits required to jump into the 80 degree water. On opposite sides of the cove are magnificent coral reefs, providing us with the most vibrant colors and vast array of sea life we've seen so far. We shared the cove and enjoyed snorkeling & happy hour with our Washington friends aboard Pearl, Harmony, and Wades Away.
It doesn't get much better than this!
01/27/2012, La Cruz to Manzanillo
It was a pleasure to have Amara on our boat for two weeks. We enjoyed some of the best stops we've had so far. On the first Monday after she arrived, we took a taxi to a cool surfing beach in the town of Sayulita. Amara and I swam in the waves for quite a while and watched several surfers enjoying the perfect size waves. The drive to the Sayulita was cool too because it took us basically through a jungle where we saw lots of exotic plants.
On Tuesday we spent the day in Puerto Vallarta where we went into a lot of shops, had lunch, ate icecream, and visited the Cathedral.
After three nights in La Cruz, we made our way down to Chamela. It was quite the adventure! We sailed out of Banderas Bay and saw porpoise, dolphins, whales, and one dead whale. Dead Whale? Yah, you heard me right! There was a dead and decaying Humpback Whale floating on the surface of the water in the middle of the bay. It was gross, but sad, and extremely smelly!
We stayed in Chamela for two nights. It was a blur of snorkeling, swimming, eating, playing games such as Phase 10, UNO, Yahtzee, and Scrabble. We also watched movies. We made our way over to the islands for the 3rd night and snorkeled the heck out of our day there! We saw coral, tons of fish, and a small octopus.
The next stop was Tenacatita. We stayed there for two nights and played in the surf, swam off the boat, and went on another Mangrove tour.
On Tuesday the 10th, we arrived in Barra de Navidad where we stayed in the marina for two nights. The marina was located at the Grand Bay Hotel, so we were able to use a their big pool which was really nice. The next morning we went to town and shopped around a bit. Amara and I split off from my parents and poked around the little shops by the beach. At the end of the day, we all went to the pool again.
One of the highlights for me of our trip with Amara was when we went to town the next night and walked down the malecon and passed the turtle conservation. This is where they keep the turtle eggs safe from predators within a fenced environment. We walked up to the fence and saw a big kiddy pool full of baby tortugas! They were so cute! We asked them when they were going to be released and they told us it would be that night at 7pm! So after dinner we came back to watch. There was a man who talked for a while in both spanish and english, explaining their organization and about the preservation of sea turtles. We were all excited to watch, but when he told us we got to take one of the little babies in our hand and release it on the beach, we were extremely excited! So we all released one, but not before naming them. I named my turtle Celia, Mom's was Jim, James's was Goliath, Amara's was Ray, and Dad's was Turtle. They slowly crawled down the beach until the surf pulled them out. Only 1.7 percent will survive their long trek out into the world, then back to the same beach to where they were born.
Our last stop was Manzanillo where we spent the remainder of our amazing trip. Amara and I hung out on the beach and savored our time together.
I had an awesome time with you Amara! Thank you so much for comming! We love you!