04/29/2012, La Paz
While I have nothing in particular to write about, I just couldn't resist this photo of a baby Frigate bird that I took on Isla Isabela a few weeks ago. It really is the most amazing island to visit here as you can walk among all the birds and babies and as long as you don't get with in more than a couple of feet, they just don't seem to care too much. I'll try and get a photo gallery up of some of the baby birds. We were lucky enough to see some newly hatched Seagull chicks as well.
Presently we are in La Paz and the wind has been blowing for a steady 2 days now. It has actually been quite chilly the last few days although if your north of 30 (degrees in latitude) I'm sure you think I'm making it up when I say chilly. It has been 17 celcius on the last two mornings when we got up. With the wind chill factor added in it's brrrrrrr out there. I know poor us... (it has warmed up considerably since this morning and now it's 27 celcius out there)
We are planning to leave La Paz in a day or two and set off to explore some more of the coast and islands between here and Loretto. Probably be out of internet range for a few weeks or more. The Ham radio really comes in handy then as we use it to stay in touch with friends and family as well as post the occasional blog. If you are planning on cruising, I would say don't leave home without a HF Marine radio and a pactor modem it is a very useful piece of equipment. Plus you can download weather information and check in with various nets to stay in touch with the world when your cell phone and internet are unable to pick up a signal.
Guess I've rambled on enough this morning so hasta la vista.
04/20/2012, Los Frailes, Baja Mexico
Well it's been a very busy couple of weeks. Our friends Pat and Les arrived in Puerto Vallarta on April 6th to spend some time with us and to make the passage to the Baja. Since I'm hoping for a guest blog I won't go into to too much detail but we left PV on the 9th with stops in Chacala, San Blas, Isla Isabela and Mazatlan before crossing the Sea of Cortez to San Jose del Cabo which is where they got off and flew home from. It was an awesome 2 weeks and we thank them for their company and help on board Kasasa. It's so much more fun to do a long passage with extra people to do watches and help with cooking etc. So stay tuned to see what they might have to blog about the trip. So here we are back on the Baja side of Mexico. The water is a stunning blue colour on this side and I think that's because there are very few estuaries to muddy up the water. At least that's my theory. On the mainland side of Mexico, it's one estuary after another all the way down the coast. It's not that the water isn't clear it's just darker in colour not as pretty. It's a shock to see the barren landscape of the desert again after the lushness of the mainland. But that's part of the beauty here, the stark contrasts in colours between the rocks, cactus and the sea. So I'm sure some of you are probably asking yourselves why are they still in Mexico after a year and a half - were they not planning on going further south maybe? Well the truth of the matter is that we are at a crossroads and are not sure where our travels will take us from here. Ian would like nothing more that to set the sails and head across the Pacific ocean towards the South Pacific islands. While in theory I think it is a very alluring idea, the reality is that I have discovered that I don't really care for the long passages and often feel anxious and stressed when we are about to do one of more than 10 hours or so. It's a disability and we haven't figured out how to deal with it. How to satisfy both our needs when they are 180 degrees apart? There are options like Ian sailing the boat (with crew) and I meet him there via airplane but it's not how we both imagined the trip while we were still in Vancouver dreaming about it. So for now the plan (or lack thereof) is to stay in Mexico and in July put the boat to bed for a couple of months and take a trip to BC to visit friends and family and just take a look around at our various options. We are hoping that some distance from our day to day life aboard Kasasa will give us a perspective or an answer that we can't see from here. It's a strange existence living day to day with out a plan past the next few months. It's sometimes scary not knowing what comes next but it also holds a hint of excitement in the 'anything is possible' kind of way. We will continue to enjoy Mexico as it has so much to offer. We love the climate, the people are both friendly and kind, the food is yummy, the ocean is warm, awesome sealife and living like a gypsy going from place to place is still something we love. So having said all that, the next couple of months the blogs will be coming from the beautiful Baja.
04/06/2012, Nuevo Vallarta, Banderas Bay
As you can see from the above photo I've been grocery shopping. This is the produce we just bought this morning from the little town of Jarretaderas. Reason for the photo is I wanted to show you what you can but for only 12 dollars! Try getting anywhere near that for 12 bucks at home. Granted a lot of the produce is grown right here in Mexico which should make it cheaper to buy here but still can't beat the prices.
While we were walking back from Jarretaderas we came upon a religious procession this being Good Friday after all. There was Jesus bearing a cross and wearing crown of thorns while being whipped by Roman soldiers, with weeping followers all dressed in complete costume. Right behind this was the townspeople walking on the street and sidewalks singing and chanting a hymn of some sort. We had been standing on the sidewalk as the procession approached and were caught up in it having no choice but to walk along until we quickly stepped into an open shop to let everyone go by. Just another reason we love Mexico!
(We didn't have the camera with us which is really too bad).
04/05/2012, Nuevo Vallarta, Banderas Bay
Looking at the calendar today I was shocked to see that we have been in Banderas Bay for almost a month already! It's been a lot of fun as we have seen so many friends we've made since we started cruising. Besides going to parties, concerts and dinners, we have gone on a few tours inland and sailed over to Yelapa for an overnighter.
But now it's time to work on the ever lasting list of chores on the boat. We had been anchored out in the La Cruz anchorage for a few weeks, but we find it hard to do much because the boat is constantly rolling and pitching as it's a very open roadstead anchorage with lots of wind every afternoon. So this week we are in the Marina Nuevo Vallarta which is the cheaper marina in the bay area. It dosen't have the glam of La Cruz marina or Paradise Village but the price is right and we find it suits us as well. There is also a neat little Mexican town that is in walking distance from here called Jarretaderas. There are virtually no tourists there it really is just everyday life in a typical Mexican village. There is a great fruit and vegetable store there that we like both for the super fresh produce and the super cheap prices.
Some of the jobs we have been working on include: replacing the forward bilge pump and sump pump, replacing the shaft seals, cleaning the hull (waxing still needs doing), washing various ropes, sewing projects for the boat, fixing the windvane (still not fixed need a part), window latches, etc etc. Just regular boat maintenance and since we have been cruising full time for 18 months now it's just a part of the lifestyle. We are just fortunate that Ian is able to fix most of our stuff himself because having to hire people all the time would pretty much eat up our whole cruising kitty.
Tomorrow our friends Pat and Les are coming and they will spend a few weeks with us as we make our way to La Paz. They must like it because this will be their 3rd time doing a passage with us. We really enjoy their company and their ability to become part of the Kasasa crew. Les is a great help with the watches and Pat is a great help in the galley and she also spoils us by serving us tea and cookies while we are on watch.
We will spend a few days here with them doing some sightseeing as they haven't been to Banderas Bay before and then hopefully on Monday we will be able to start heading north and across to the Baja. I say hopefully because I still haven't received my FM3 visa yet and am told I might have it Monday morning. Ian's came in last week but for some reason even though the forms were submitted together, mine has been delayed. So once we have that we are good to stay in Mexico for another full year.
Picture above is Ian working in the aft bilge behind the engine.
03/28/2012, San Sebastian
On Monday we planned a trip into the mountains to a historical town called San Sebastian. 8 of us piled into the van of a local woman called April who is starting up a small tour business. She is a great tour guide because she speaks English and Spanish as well has a lot of knowledge of the area.
It was a beautiful day with a clear sky and not to hot as we drove up into the mountains with various stops along the way. Our first stop was to admire the view of a bridge that we would be crossing. After that we stopped at Hacienda Jalisco a few miles before San Sebastian. This Hacienda was once a Silver Mining operation and was built in the 1800's. It was really interesting to hear how they mined the silver and had to melt the rocks into a kind of sand and then sift through that for the silver. When you hear how it was mined and processed its no wonder that it is a valuable ore. The Hacienda is now a hotel and would be a beautiful place to spend a couple of days.
From there we drove into San Sebastian and it was lunchtime. We stopped at a wonderful little restaurant as you come into town and was that ever a treat. The name of the restaurant is Cocina de Lupita and I highly recommend it. When you sit down you are served a jug or jugs of juice, followed by dish after dish of wonderful food. We had about 3 different meat dishes including the BEST chicken Mole, rice, beans, tortillas and as much as you wanted they just kept bringing the food. What a treat for 100 peso's per person.
From there we wandered around the town on foot looking at the various buildings all beautifully restored and the gardens in town full of flowers. The streets are all very narrow and made of cobblestones. This is a place that has remained mostly unchanged in the last century so as you wander the streets it's not hard to imagine the horses and people in the streets going about their daily business.
Because it was a silver mining center, it was prone to bandito's frequently trying to rob the silver. There are bells throughout the town and when any sign of danger appeared, the bells would ring and all the women and children would go into the church where they could barricade themselves in. The men would barricade themselves into the building where the silver was kept and were able to defend themselves from inside. You can almost see it as a movie set it is so perfect.
After spending some time in town, it was time to go to the mine. We drove out of town a few miles and then hiked up a road a bit. When we got there, a few of us opted not to go in but those who did said it was as dark as can be when they turned off the flashlights.
From there we returned to the town and our last stop was at the Coffee Co-op. It's a very small operation and organic. We were able to purchase some coffee and other related items there. Although I haven't yet tried the coffee it smells wonderful.
By now it was time to head back down to La Cruz as it's a few hours drive. We arrived back in La Cruz around 6:30pm all tired but in a good way. It was an excellent trip and I would highly recommend it. For us it was great to go with a guide because I think we got way more of the historical background than we would have if we had gone on our own.
I've added a new photo gallery of our day in San Sebastian if your interested in having a look.
03/27/2012, La Cruz
This week there is a big Tourism conference going on in Puerto Vallarta. The opening night party was held in La Cruz right beside the marina on Sunday night. The set up for the event took over a week to complete as stages and big screen tv's and bars and whatnot were erected as well as the elaborate light displays and music. So when the big night came, Ian and I decided that we would hover in the shadows and watch the show as the entertainment was supposed to be top notch. Around 9pm we were standing about 60 feet away from the due in a place where we could see the main stage pretty good. As the evening progressed, we slowly got closer and closer. Eventually the waiters started offering us hor' derves. We got to the point where we just decided to find a place to sit amongst the 'invited' guests (the fact that we were in shorts and flip flops while everyone else was in semi formal wear didn't seem to faze anyone). Well all this good eating was making me thirsty and so I walked up to the bar and ordered a glass of wine and a rum and coke. They sure were pouring the booze generously as I'm sure I had almost a half a bottle of wine poured into my glass and Ian's rum had a splash of coke in it.
It was a fun night and we noticed other cruisers scattered about here and there throughout the party. I have to say that is one thing I love about the Mexican's. They just don't get uptight about stuff like that. It seemed to us that they were just as happy to serve us as the well as anybody else.
The entertainment went on until midnight and then ended with a 20 minute fireworks display. It was a beautiful event and we really enjoyed the hospitality - thank you Mexico.