The Melville Boutique Hotel
While Rick was retrieving a new auto pilot in San Diego, the kids and I went on a little adventure of our own into the historic El Centro of Mazatlan. After dad left for the airport, the three of us grabbed a pulmonia, an open-air golf cart type taxi, and made our way to the Melville Boutique hotel where a room reservation was waiting. The Melville was built in the 1870's and first served as the telegraph office and then for more than 60 years was a Carmelites nun's school. It's definitely old but they've done a pretty good job with renovations, maintaining the 19th century flavor. It's very affordable and perfectly located a block from Plazuela Machado.
Plazuela Machado is one of the oldest plazas in Mazatlan and is the center for cultural arts. This beautiful tree lined plaza is surrounded by renovated 18th century buildings with sidewalk cafes, a theatre and museum, and live entertainment throughout the year. After we checked in and explored a bit, Sydney and I left James curled up on the couch with his book and headed out with our map in hand to check out the art galleries in the area. Our favorites were the Casa Etnika and LOOK Gallery both offering traditional Mexican artisan handcrafts along with modern paintings, sculptures, and other home décor items. So much fun. Before too long we were back with James enjoying some ice-cream trying to find a program on the TV that wasn't dubbed in Spanish! Oh well, we hadn't really missed watching TV anyway.
James was invited, but he declined, so Sydney and I had a date planned for the evening. We had purchased tickets the week prior to the ballet, Don Quijote Suite, to be performed at the Teatro Angela Peralta. Named after a famous opera singer, this gorgeous theatre was built in the 1800's, becoming a significant part of the plazas history. The three of us had a fabulous meal including a decadent desert at the Molika Bakery, which we all highly recommend, before Sydney and I headed to the theatre. On our way we escorted our boy back to the hotel for him to enjoy a few precious hours of alone time. He was happy and the girls were elated! The ballet performance did not disappoint! It was colorful, playful, and the dancers were outstanding. Oh we didn't want it to end.
After sleeping in the next morning and lazing around a bit, we made our way to another amazing meal with great coffee at the Alegro café. We still had one more stop on our agenda before checking out of our hotel and heading back to the boat. We brought two bags full of clothes that needed to be donated so we hopped a taxi to the Orfanatorio de Mazatlan, the orphanage. What a place. We were welcomed at their big iron gate by two happy little faces who escorted us into the office where we met Rafaela Cornejo Valdovinos, the administrative director. She graciously gave us a tour while answering a million questions. At the moment they have 2 babies and 25 girls. They have been placed there by the government who declared these parents, for different reasons, unfit to care for their children. Receiving no financial assistance from the government, they depend solely on charitable donations. The organization was founded by a 15 year old woman, Romanita de la Pena, and from her great effort this facility was built in 1921. You can read more about the orphanage on their website www.orfamaz.org.mx . It was a beautiful place with lovely & caring people. Upon our departure Rafaela invited us back "to their house" whenever we want to return and welcomed us to "play with the children." We'll definitely take her up on that when we return next year.
04/19/2012, La Cruz to Mazatlan
Adios La Cruz!
We had a good weather window before a nasty northerly was due to blow, so with our fingers crossed that the timing of the forecast would prove correct, we said goodbye and headed north. Oh yea. It feels good to be out once again. We anticipated about 29 hours to make the 175 mile passage. Piece of cake. The day turned out gorgeous with humpback whale sightings and dolphins swimming in our bow waves. The night was breath taking with the stars illuminating the sky for us until the moon took over in the early morning hours. I would call this a stellar passage, except for the fact that Auto, our beloved auto pilot, decided he'd had enough. He couldn't take it anymore and pooped completely out on us. We thought we had a workable spare drive, but turns out the spare that came with the boat doesn't actually go with this boat. Bummer. So, from 6pm until we arrived in Mazatlan the next morning, we hand steered. Hand steering is no big deal if you're out sailing in the bay for a few hours, but it makes for an exhausting overnight passage. It worked out just fine though, taking turns every few hours throughout the night. When the sun came up and we were getting closer to Mazatlan, we were shocked to see thick fog had rolled in and the air temperature was much cooler, bringing back memories of our trip down the Oregon and northern California coast! We had made really good time and were ready to head into the marina shortly after 8am. We got the binoculars out to locate the marina entrance. It's really hard to spot but we were pretty sure we were looking in the right place, but all we could see were big breaking waves. The closer we got the clearer it became. Yep that's the entrance. Hold on kids!!! I felt like we were preparing for a beach landing in our 49 foot sailboat! Here...we...goooooo....bam! Evidently low tide is not an ideal time to cross. Our captain, who is cool, calm, and collected, hardly reacted when our hull touched the bottom. He just waited for the next surge...ok then the next one... and yes! We were off! No worries! We leisurely putted the rest of the way, past El Cid Marina and into Marina Mazatlan where the kind marina attendants were there waiting patiently to take our lines on dock 3. Welcome to Mazatlan!
We do love La Cruz! The picturesque setting, traditional cobble stone streets, the town square, the "Green Market" & bi-weekly fresh produce garage, Huanacaxtle Café and their amazing family, Tacos on the Street & the Red Chair sidewalk cafe, fresh fish market, Sunday market, neighborhood dogs, the crazy loud birds, musica from Ana Bananas, kids playing in the street, Amigos de La Cruz, the friendly local and cruiser community, the yacht club and beautiful malecon that runs along the marina and bay. I could go on and on about what we love about La Cruz. We've had such fun here and have felt a sense of belonging that makes us want to stay. La vida es buena aqui!
We arrived back in La Cruz on March 5th and found it a bit livelier than the sleepy town we left in early January. Our marina had been transformed into a focal point of activities surrounding the Regatta Copa de Nayarit, Banderas Bay Regatta, Tiangus Turistico, which is Mexico's annual tourism fair, and preparation for the arrival of el presidente Calderon (see the picture in our photo gallery Rick captured of him waving as he passed Endeavor in a large power boat on his way out to Banderas Bay.) There are some fabulous websites that explain the different events if you're interested so I'll spare you the details. I will say the atmosphere was energizing and the influx of revenue and positive media attention was priceless for the community. It was fun while it lasted, but after the 3rd week of March, things were slowing down and reverting back to the peaceful norm.
During it all, we still enjoyed the simple things we love about La Cruz, also taking in a few adventures inland with our friend April. Sydney posted about April and our field trip to the petroglyphs in Alta Vista and what a great day we had. The following week she took us up into the hills of Sierra Madre to the historic town of San Sebastian, which was the mining capital founded in 1605. What an incredible history this place has. We toured the Hacienda Jalisco, which was the original ore processing factory and now is a gorgeous inn and home of a small museum. We had a fabulous Mexican lunch at Comedor La Lupita, toured the quaint colonial town of San Sebastian with loads of historical information from April, and then we finally hiked up to where the old mines were located. Some still had small openings, one we actually ventured into about 30 feet. I didn't stay in there long. Couldn't stand the spiders! We ended our day there at the "coffee plantation", which really isn't a plantation at all. It's a where they process and roast the beans. They don't actually grow the beans on sight; they purchase them from various farmers. The coffee was delicious and we left there with a few kilos of Café de Altura. I took some pictures on our way up to San Sebastian and I have to mention the fragrant pine trees and amazing transformation as we went up in elevation. It reminded us of some places back home. I definitely encourage a visit to San Sebastian and highly recommend April as a guide. She is done for the season, but we look forward to more adventures with her next year.
The photo gallery is somewhat up to date and I will post a blog regarding Mazatlan soon. Adios for now!