The picture shows us firmly at anchor in Chacala probably on the highway somewhere! This is how off the Mexican charts are from the GPS position. They haven't updated their charts in many many years and they were surveyed in the late 1800's and early 1900's. So when navigating in these waters, you have to be very prudent and not rely on your chartplotter. Thankfully there are lots of Guide books written for cruisers and they often will have the GPS coordinates of some of the more dangerous rocks and reefs.
Chacala is a beautiful place with lots of sand and palm trees. 15 years ago we were there with friends Lynne and Harvey on their boat. Then there were a couple of small palapas on the beach and the town was one or two streets with a couple of small stores to buy basic supplies. There was one hotel at the very end of the beach. Now it is very different with many big palapas on the beach and the street behind the beach is store after store of anything you might need to get you through a day on the beach. There are many small hotels and the shoreline for many miles has beautiful homes built for the gringos mostly as they are very luxurious and the average Mexican would not be able to afford these places. Actually I don't think the average Canadian would be able to either!
The interesting thing about Chacala is that it is a laid back community and really only gets hopping at Christmas and Easter as it is a destination for the Mexican during these holidays. About 30 big busses a day come in the morning full of people from the various inland towns and cities and they spend the day having fun on the beach swimming, eating, playing and enjoying the day. Then around 6pm they all return to the buses and once again the beach becomes quiet. I guess the rest of the year the gringo population must help to keep the economy going somewhat. It's a definate place to visit if your looking for some peace and quiet away from the tourist scene - just not at Christmas or Easter.
We hope to stop in there again on our way north when it is a little quieter. It was fun to see everyone enjoying themselves but the blaring music gets a bit much.
Just a quick blog here as I'm in an internet cafe at 20 pesos for 10 minutes! Just wanted you to know Ian has not lost his touch after all. He caught this dorado about 5 miles before Chacala. YUMMY!
12/26/2010, San Blas
For the last 20+ years, Ian and I have spent Christmas with a wonderful group of people in Vancouver. We have for all of these years maintained certain Christmas traditions that brought much hiliarity and fun to Christmas day. One of these traditions is making a Christmas hat. This is usually done with the bits and pieces left over after everyone has wripped into their presents. So in the spirit of it all, Ian and I decided to carry on this tradition here in Mexico. You can see the results for yourself in the photo. Although we couldn't be with our friends this year, we were there in spirit and we did send them the photo.
It was a very different Christmas for us being here with out our family and friends. On Christmas Eve, we decided to go into town and see how the Mexicans were celebrating. The streets were full of people but that's not unusual as they often are, but there were lots of family gatherings going on and parties. As we got to the town square, there were lots of people there, the stalls were open for last minute gifts and people were just out and enjoying the evening. We walked down to a restaurant that had live music going on. We were the only gringos in the place it was full of Mexican families enjoying a nice Christmas eve dinner and entertainment. The music was beautiful Mexican folks songs that the audience seemed to be very familiar with as many of them broke into song.
As we left the restaurant, we heard the church bells ringing. It was 10pm and there was a service about to begin. We were looking into the church and listening to the beautiful singing as the priest came by and invited us in. We sat at the back of the church for about a half hour of the service and it was quite nice.
Christmas day was very quiet there were no fisherman going up and down the esturary, the town was very quiet as well. We spent a nice morning reading and making our hats, and then we cooked a chicken curry to take to the pot luck over at the marina. We met some very nice people at the pot luck and will no doubt run into some of them again along the way.
All in all is was a pleasant experience and now we have New Years festivities to look forward to.
We finally caught a fish! It was on the trip from Isla Isabella. We actually caught 3 fish that day but only kept the Dorado. The first 2 were Crevalle Jacks which are not a nice fish for eating. The Dorado was small but was very delicious. Actually when Ian caught it, he pointed out to me that it's mate was swimming along side the boat. I was depressed for about an hour afterwards. I wish he hadn't pointed that out to me. But it didn't stop me from eating and enjoying the fish. The photo was taken after the fish had lost all of it's beautiful green and yellow colours which happens when they die (that's depressing too).
We are still in San Blas and quite enjoying this small Mexican town. Yesterday we went on a Jungle Tour (see photos in the photo gallery). There were so many birds flying and turtles and crocs it was really great. The trip included a stop at a fresh water spring that you could swim in. The trip back, our guide sped through the water which was both frightening and exhilarating. Frightening because the river is about 12 feet wide and full of twists and turns and with the mangrove trees you can't see very far. There are other tour boats coming and going so you just have to hope that they are able to stop in time which they always seem to be able to do. Maybe they have supersonic hearing and can hear the boat coming towards them!?!
Today we went into to town for breakfast and to provision. Shopping in small towns is an experience as you always need to visit at least 4 different stores to get everything you need. First we went to one store that had good bacon. Then to another which only sold Banana bread, then to the market for veggies and fruit which meant going to 3 stalls to get what we wanted. Then to the hardware store. All in all, it takes about 3 hours to get 40 bucks worth of groceries but it is all a part of the experience. I enjoyed it much more that I ever did going to Safeway.
Tomorrow I think will be a beach day and there is a rumor of a Cruisers Christmas Potluck at the marina on Christmas day. So that is looking like the plan for now we will see how we feel in the morning...
Merry Christmas to everyone!
What an amazing place Isla Isabella is. You walk on the island and there are birds everywhere! Thousands in the trees and in the sky. And the Booby birds are on the ground as that's where they nest. The Frigate birds are in the trees or flying. If a Frigate bird lands on the ground it will die as they are not able to launch themselves from the ground they have to be on a perch or a trees or off the ground on something. When you walk around the island you see quite a few dead ones on the ground as they were unable to fly and there fore starved to death. We went for a hike with a guide while we were there. It was great because he spoke fairly good english and was really good at explaining the island to us. At one point we saw a Frigate on the ground and him an Ian were able to pick it up and launch it into the air. You do have to be carfull of the 6 inch beak!
We also loved the snorkling there. Fantastic! So many kinds of fish and in vast quantities. There were some small jelly fish though that managed to sting me in about 4 places. I'll need to find a licra suit I think for snorkling.
We were in the south anchorage with 3 other boats. Each evening we were there we all got together on one boat or another and had an evening happy hour. It was great fun.
We are now in San Blas we just arrived in town this morning so I'm getting my internet fix. We will stay a few days and then who knows where our next stop will be. We are living it day by day...
Merry Christmas to all of you and our thoughts are with you for a great Christmas season and happy New Year.
That's service for you. Ian is getting a haircut and a neck massage by this fellow who comes down to the docks every couple of day. All for the price of about $5 bucks.
We have been here for going on 5 days now. The time is just flying by. We went into Marina Mazatlan for 2 nights after our first night out at anchor. We had some boat chores to do and it is so much easier when you are tied to a dock with shore power. We had a small window in the V berth to re-bed as it leaked during the gale. The other thing we did, that made me quite anxious while doing it, was to replace the lip seals on the shaft. They are the things that keep the sea water out of the boat while allowing the shaft to exit the boat and turn the propeller. Ours were about 6 years old and had started to leak. We had enquired into having the boat lifted out of the water for the day, but the price was $400 bucks!!! So Ian convinced me he could do it while in the water. What this meant was water would be coming into the boat while he did the job. First he showed me how much would come in by loosening the seal. The bilge pump was keeping up no problem.
So while Ian worked away doing this job and the bilge pump kept pumping along, I sat in the cockpit and tried not to fret. I did however have the handle in the manual bilge pump ready to go if need be. It took about 45 minutes to complete the job and we now have a non leaking seal and 400 bucks in our pockets! It sure is nice having Ian able to do what ever needs doing on the boat. And nerves of steel too. Me it just made me feel paniky to see all that sea water coming in. The bright side is the bilge has been flushed really clean!
Today we took a bus to Wal-Mart to look for some things we need. We didn't find any of the things we were looking for. From there we headed to the Central Market which is like Granville Island but way bigger and way more people and way noiser and way cheaper too. We went up to the 2nd floor and had a great brunch for 7 bucks total and that included two big glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice.
We are presently anchored out in the old harbour just off of the Waste Water Treatment Plant which you can smell when the wind blows from a certain direction. Ian says it's the smell of money! (For those of you who don't know Ian, he spent the last 12 years of his working life working at the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Vancouver)
We will hang out here for a few more days. We want ot go to Isla Isabella but we need really calm weather while we are there because the anchorage is not really that well protected and there are lots of rocks. The attraction to this island is the birds and the iguana's. It's supposed to be the Galopago's of Mexico. We will let you know.