27 December 2010
We awoke to blue skies as usual this morning but by noon the sun was gone and there were gray clouds with rain in them. There is a 20% chance of rain (actually sprinkles) tomorrow. If it really does rain I'm going to go out and stand in it. I just went outside tonight and discovered stars in the sky. The only clouds were to the south so I guess no rain. Oh well.
We had a nice Christmas although I really missed our family. Some of the cruisers in the marina put a potluck dinner together which was nice. Instead of Christmas dinner with family, we had dinner with 60 or so of our new friends. (Outside of course, which is the only way people eat here.) We had a nice time although I had baked bread and roasted half a turkey all day so I was kind of tired.
This morning Greg & I took the shuttle into town to take care of some business. We had bought another month of internet service from Telcel just before Christmas but for some reason it didn't work so we had to go back to the Telcel store. The sign says they open at 10 a.m. but we have learned that they really mean 10:15 or 10:30. The shuttle gets us into town at 9:15, so we had coffee at the Cruisers Club and chatted with people until it was time to walk up to the store. The girl couldn't help us so we had to kill time until noon when the manager came in. Greg had bought a watch for me for my Christmas present and the band broke so we hoofed it over to the other side of town to get it fixed. We went right by The Bread Guy bakery so of course we had to stop and buy some cream puffs and scones. They make the best cream puffs in the world. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch but they were still only serving breakfast at 11 a.m. After we ate we walked back to the Telcel store. We do lots of walking here - I must say I'm getting pretty shapely legs. By the time we took a taxi back to the marina, it was 2 p.m. It really takes a big chunk out of a day when we go into town.
Our friends Ken and Ruth on Misty Blue left yesterday morning to go up into the Sea of Cortez for a couple weeks. Wish we could have gone with them but Greg is watching 4 boats for people who are back in the States visiting. We are planning on a trip north after the first of the year when Shawn on Althea can go with us. I am in a real quandary. I want to get out and see some stuff but I also want to stay here in La Paz until after the Ducks championship football game so I can watch it on TV. I'm afraid this is a once in a lifetime thing and after being a Duck fan for 40 plus years, I would hate to miss it. One day last week there was a cruise ship in town and I couldn't believe all the Duck tee shirts people were wearing. Wow. It must really be something back in Oregon. Go Ducks!
Off to the islands
02 December 2010
The north winds have finally died down today so along with a couple dozen other boats headed to various destinations, we are leaving La Paz late this morning to go to what are know locally as "The Islands". There is a national park about 20 miles north of here comprised of several islands. There are lots of coves and bays to anchor in and explore. We are anxious to get out of town again. Shawn on Althea is also going as our "buddy boat". Shawn has been a great friend to us. I like it when he goes into town with us as he has a great sense of direction and keeps us from getting lost.
We have been keeping busy exploring La Paz and relaxing on the boat. We have become quite social too making friends with lots of other cruisers. We seem to kind of group together based on where you came from. Most of the people we visit with are from Oregon and Washington.
We will probably stay out in the islands until Dec 8th-Dec 12th, depending on the weather. When the "northers" blow, it really gets rough out in the Sea of Cortez so our schedule will be dependent on when the next one starts.
I heard a rumor that you can connect to the internet out in the islands if you have Telcel. If not, I will post again when we get back. If you read this Veronica, we will be monitoring channel 16 and the cruisers network on 22. Sure hope we can meet up again.
Our trip to town
26 November 2010
We decided to take the 9 a.m. shuttle into town this morning. We need to get our annual park permits and I want to find some of the shops I have heard people talking about. We get dropped off at Club Cruceros (Shawn went with us too) and go to the agent's office across the street to get our park permits. The marine parks cost 50 pesos a day per person or you can get an annual permit for 360 pesos. We figured one week out at the islands will pay for the annual permit. Next we go to the coffee hour at the Club. I bought a Club tee shirt and we sat for a bit but there weren't many people there this morning.
We decided to go up into town and find the American bakery we've heard everyone rave about. We soon find it and buy some bread, some cookies and two cream puffs. We immediately eat the cream puffs as soon as we are out on the street. Let me tell you, that was the best cream puff I have ever eaten. Next time I think I'll buy two just for me. We made turkey sandwiches with the bread for dinner tonight and the bread was excellent also. We will definitely be back to this place. We then walk up the hill a couple more blocks to the fabric store. As soon as you walk into the store a young man with a measuring stick meets you and asks what you want to buy. If you buy fabric they unroll the bolt, measure the quantity you want and tear it off the bolt. No cutting tables like in the States. I told the young man who greeted me that I didn't speak Spanish and he left and soon brought a man who spoke some English. I tried to explain I was just looking but I guess people in Mexico don't just window shop. He was quite put out with me. I quickly looked things over and went back outside to wait for the guys.
The next place I want to go to is the bagel shop. It is several blocks over from where we are so we window shop as we walk. The sidewalks are something else in this town. Definitely not handicapped accessible. They may be cobblestone for awhile, and then switch to concrete, many times with big holes filled with dirt and debris sprinkled about. Then if there is a hill, part of the sidewalk converts to steps (usually the steps are not a consistent height) and part of the sidewalk becomes a ramp up/down the hill. Pedestrians don't have the right-of-way either.
One of the large buildings we pass has been converted to a Christmas store selling decorations and presents. Outside the building are some Christmas trees stacked against the wall. I check one of the tags and discover they are from Mulino, Oregon. Small world, huh? I always wondered where those truck loads of trees ended up that pass through Woodburn this time of year. We pass by a bookstore and I see a large map of Baja for sale so I go in and buy one for my Mom so she can track our travels on it. Now I have to figure out how to get it to her.
We eventually find the bagel shop. We order a cup of coffee and a bagel sandwich to make sure they are as good as we have heard. There is no Starbucks in La Paz so we need to find a place to buy our coffee. We buy a pound of coffee (actually 500 grams) and a couple bagels for tomorrow's breakfast. This will also be a place we come back to. By now we are tired and head back down to the main street on the waterfront, hail a taxi and go back to the boat. Time for a nap, a little needlepoint, dinner, another installment of Centennial and then off to bed. Another day in paradise.
25 November 2010
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We are attending the cruising club's (Club Cruceros) Thanksgiving Dinner this afternoon. Greg and I also volunteered to help. We get to serve turkey and gravy on the second shift. They have reservations for 200 people so we will be surrounded by friends if not family. I will call the family on the phone and maybe try skyping them again later today.
We are settling in quite nicely here in La Paz. We rented a car with our friend Shawn for a couple days and explored the city a little bit and then also spent an afternoon driving back out the channel the way we came in by boat. It was very interesting seeing some of the coves and bays from the shore side. Puerto Balandra where we anchored the last night before coming into La Paz even has another lagoon inside the bay that we didn't even see from the boat. There is a taco stand there and a couple people selling souvenirs in the parking lot. I bought a carved wooden pelican as a memento of this place. It will sit on our bookcase when we return home. We also drove further to Playa Tecolote which has a long white sand beach, several restaurants and a RV park full of Canadian RVs. The park is pretty rustic and has no services (power, water, etc.). This beach is on the San Lorenzo Channel so you can look out and see Isla Espiritu Santo across the channel. I'm looking forward to next week when we will go exploring this island. I will actually learn to snorkel again.
We drove even further along a narrow paved road and came to a housing development being built on the hills above the water. Beautiful homes in a gated community way out in the middle of nowhere. We didn't see any electrical lines, solar panels, wind generators, or water sources. How do they power these very large expensive homes? Generators? Do they truck their water in? It is something I would like to research. Unlike the homes we saw at Muertos Cove, the roads here are all paved. When we left here we turned up another road that was farther inland. It ended at what looked like a church (It had a cross on top of the building), but it was fenced in and the gate was locked. There was a small travel trailer just inside the fence and I saw the curtain move but no one came out. Hmmmm...what would a church be doing way out here with no one around? Driving back to the main road we passed a dozen or so burros which must range free here. I also made the guys stop and take my picture standing next to a cactus.
I almost forgot to mention that when we were exploring La Paz we ate lunch at a French restaurant, La Boheme (ironically, located right next door to another French restaurant) and had the best crepes. I definitely want to go back there. You enter the building through a small nondescript doorway, through a small area of inside seating, and into a large courtyard filled with large trees and plants and tables scattered all about. This is more like what I imagined "Old Mexico" to be like. Greg found a barber shop and got a very good haircut and beard trim for 50 pesos each (about $4.50 each U.S.).
We also went to the Club Cruceros coffee hour in the morning. The clubhouse is located right by the Marina de La Paz in the downtown area. Lots of cruisers were milling about. Lots of new people like us trying to get information. There was a woman sitting at a table selling tickets for a fundraiser and I sat with her for awhile asking her questions.
My big thing right now is cockroaches. I have seen two dead ones on the docks so I know they are here. Shawn said to spray Raid on our dock lines to keep them off our boat which I did immediately. This lady said to put chalk on your lines and buy boric acid to set out if any get on the boat. I looked all over the Soriana store (like Fred Meyers) but could not find chalk or get anyone to understand what I was asking for (so much for my Spanish/English dictionary). The one thing for sure everyone says and I have read in my books is to never bring any cardboard on board. The cockroaches like to lay their eggs in the glue on cardboard boxes of any sort. The women I was talking to (more had joined us by then) seemed to think they weren't that big of an issue if you were careful about what you brought aboard. Maybe they don't climb up the dock lines, but I'm not taking any chances.
I also met Mary and Ken (Misty Blue) from Friday Harbor, Wa. They lived in Mulino, Oregon for 17 years so they even know where Whiskey Hill is. How ironic to travel over 2000 miles and meet people from your home area. They are on the same dock as us so they said they would drop by for a visit which they did a couple days later. Mary told me she found a fabric store in town. I suggested we get some women together for an excursion to town to check out some of these places which she agreed sounded like fun. I forgot to mention that Club Cruceros has a quilting group!!!! They didn't have a meeting this week but next week on Tuesday I plan on attending. I don't have a sewing machine with me and probably can't contribute a whole lot but it would be nice to just soak up some of the atmosphere. They make lots of small projects to sell and raise money for their various charities. The club does lots of work for the children in town, providing school supplies, clothing, etc. I would like to get to know more about their activities and maybe organize help back home too.
We are back at the boat this evening after attending the Thanksgiving Dinner. What a feast it was. The club provided the turkey and gravy (20 turkeys) and everyone brought a side dish or desert. Because Greg & I were helping serve the turkey and gravy on the second shift we were able to eat right away. The food was delicious and it was fun serving the gravy. Some people had a little bit of food with their gravy and others didn't want any or just a drop or two. Some wanted the gravy poured all over their plate (even their salad) and others were very specific about just on the turkey or just on the potatoes. I don't know how they did it but we ended up with only about 2 cups of gravy left over, after serving 200 people. All in all, it was a good day today.
Finally a wifi connection
19 November 2010
I have been having a terrible time getting the wifi to work here. I think they have been having trouble with it as the boat next to us can't stay connected either. I forgot to load our pictures on the computer so I will have to send some later.
Greg's brother, Rocky left yesterday so we are back to just the two of us. It's been almost a month since we've been without company. (Very enjoyable company I might add.) The first day here we went with Shawn by taxi to the ferry terminal where the office is located where we have to apply for our Temporary Import Permit. This is the last official requirement (I hope) and we should be good to go from now on. I have heard so many stories about how difficult it can be to deal with the Mexican officials. We used an agent in Cabo San Lucas to get us checked in, so this is the first time we have done it ourselves. The young woman that waited on us spoke pretty good English and the process went quickly and smoothly. We also were lucky that we had copies of all the documents she needed and we had the serial number for the boat engine. I guess if any of this is missing, you have to come back the next day. The taxi ride was $20 each way (he waited for us though) so it could be a spendy proposition if you aren't prepared. This took most of our morning and then I spent the afternoon doing laundry. Again the laundry here at the marina takes American quarters but I had a bunch left over from Cabo.
Yesterday Greg and Shawn went to the grocery store in La Paz so I can start cooking again. Yesterday afternoon we took the shuttle into La Paz to attend the last Baja Ha-Ha party. It was quite nice. We ate tacos and drank sodas for dinner and the La Paz tourism council put on a show of young traditional dancers (I spotted a Joe and Sophia, although I don't think Joe would be caught dead dancing with a girl and Sophia would have loved dressing up and wearing makeup and false eyelashes, I think). There was also a mariachi band performed. Greg won a door prize of one week free moorage at the next marina to us, so all in all it was a pretty good night. We were tired and not used to being out after dark (we're old, you know) so we took a taxi back to the boat.
Today I made breakfast for Greg and Shawn and worked on cleaning the boat. Greg worked up on deck cleaning and I worked down below. This afternoon is kick-back time with books and a nap and tonight we are going over to the 300 dock for a casual dock party. This is fun.
Arrived in La Paz
16 November 2010
We left Puerto Balandra around 11 a.m. and motored towards La Paz. There isn't much wind and we are only 1 ½ to 2 hours away from La Paz so Greg doesn't even bother putting up a sail. We pass El Merito Cove which Captain Rains has an interesting story about in our Mexican Boating Guide book. A few years ago, he and his wife anchored there and went for a swim after dark, enjoying the phosphorescent sparkles swirling around their bodies and the dazzling stars in the sky. The next morning they snorkeled the shoal again and to their horror, 8 baby sea snakes (poisonous) raced out of the reeds and poked repeatedly at the glass in their facemasks. With my snake phobia, I don't think you will be reading about me snorkeling in unfamiliar coves any time soon. No way Jose.
We pass several more little coves and a larger bay where the ferry terminal is located. There are great big ferries that run from here to Mazatlan every day. Greg and I are talking about maybe going on the ferry (22 hour ride) to Mazatlan to check it out before we sail there in December. It might be nice to get off the boat for a day or two. Maybe we could stay in a hotel and watch the Oregon/Oregon State game on TV even.
We also pass a Pemex oil refinery and I notice the highway from Balandra goes right through the refinery. Right where the oil tankers unload their oil is where the La Paz channel starts. We go right by the end of a tanker to enter the channel. (I don't think they would have this kind of setup in the States.) The La Paz harbor has a very shallow shoal running through it so you have to hug the shore in the (I assume) dredged channel for several miles to reach La Paz. We pass a couple resorts and a huge water slide complex but everything seems deserted. We see very few people on the beaches at the resorts and no one using the water slides.
We are staying at the Marina Palmira which is only a little way down the channel and about 5 miles outside the downtown area. Shawn has called ahead and reserved a slip for us also. It is a pretty nice marina filled with lots of boats flying their Baja Ha-Ha flags. There is one more official function here in La Paz for the Ha-Ha which is a party on Thursday so there are quite a few Ha-Ha boats here as well as at the other marinas in town. Someone later told Greg that a month ago there were only 8 boats in our marina and now it is full. Not only from the Ha-Ha boats but the cruising season has begun this month also. When the hurricane season ends the first of November, there are lots of power and sail boats that come from California to spend the winter months here.
We are happy to be back again to shore power, water, laundry facilities, internet and of course, showers. Shawn and I go up to the marina office to get checked in (I remember to take all our paperwork with me this time.) The marina has 6 docks and where they connect to the shore is a long tiled promenade with planters of coconut palm trees and flowerbeds along the water side filled with hibiscus and lots of other flowers I forget the names of at the moment. There are also shops along the way but almost all of them are empty with for rent signs on them. There is also a hotel and two restaurants within the marina. We get use of the hotel swimming pool. We might even use it while we are here. At the north end of the promenade is where the office, laundry, showers and a small mini-market are located.
After showers we eat dinner at one of the restaurants in the outdoors section. There is a cat begging for food at our feet so of course Greg and I slip her nibbles. The next night when we are eating at the other restaurant there is a half grown orange cat begging for food and when I feed it, it is so hungry it claws at my hand. I think orange cats are more aggressive anyway. I remember my sister Sylvia's cat, Tucker.......After dinner back at the boat I try to get on the internet but for some reason the marina's wifi keeps denying my password. Guess I'll just have to wait to tomorrow.