We arrived in Cabo San Lucas on Feb 17. Two day, one night sail from Mag Bay was gorgeous and mostly uneventful. Leaving Mag Bay was a quiet 1 hour motor out of the bay, passing again the posse of whale tour pangas, scurrying about after more (or the same) 10+ whales hanging out in the mouth of the bay. I finally had read in one of our travel books that it was gray whales migrating season and not uncommon for large group sightings around where we were (ah ha!) So expect to hear about more sightings as we continued further south!
Both days were incredibly calm, with same light N, NW winds about 10kts, gusts up to 15 and literally glassy seas, with bright warm sunshine. Might be the first time we enjoyed a sail that I didn't need to wear my RX patch, which was a big accomplishment within itself. Since we bought our boat almost two years ago, I have battled sea sickness most every time we went out. Sometimes it would be for our entire trip, other times it would just be the first 24 hours and then I would be fine. Jay had told me once that for new pilots in the military, who suffer from motion sickness, they will send them to a special school to "train" their bodies out of it. (Sounds just delightful, right? Screw band camp and sign me the heck up!) Well, hearing this, I figured, I too can "train" myself to overcome it...and sadly, it's still obviously a work in progress without military grade training. Regardless, I have a large supply of Transderm patches to help me out and not render me completely useless. Mind you, this is after trying everything else under the sun that hasn't worked--the shock bracelets were especially terrible for me. These mini torture devices, as they should be aptly marketed as, you wear around your wrist like a watch. They send out small shocks in second intervals-you set strength of shock and interval timing - which are supposedly directed to specific pressure points in your wrist thought to eliminate motion sickness. And at a pretty penny of about $120 each. My god, those things are medieval torture devices--I can literally see that company laughing all the way to the bank. I should write them hate mail in the form of Arabian camel fleas socks or Florida fire ants underroos for the two hour sail trial run I withstood) Anyway, I have been selective in wearing the patches, allowing myself just enough discomfort to force my body to adjust, but not so much that I'm in the fetal position, in a sleeping bag, eyes closed and focusing all my energy on not feeling so awful. Anyone that gets sea sick, knows exactly the feeling I am taking about--its plain awful. So, the first real full day of both me feeling great and enough winds that we could enjoy a nice day of easy sailing-BRING IT ON!
Enroute day one, I am looking out into the great watery expanse and see a brown object off in the distance to our portside. I sit up to get a better look; kinda looks like a rock or maybe floating cardboard? I check radar and our various charts -nothing is showing up as random rocks where we are even despite being a good distance offshore and in over 2,000ft depths....what the heck is that?! I take the binoculars out, not wanting to wake Jay from his siesta, bothering him with floating trash sightings, assuming that's what it would be.
so, I wake Jay up :)
For the rest of the day, we came upon tons and tons of turtles! They just float at the surface, shell exposed, looking like small and large floating rocks. I sadly didn't get a good picture of a single one as they are quite shy. As soon as we would get close enough to one for a good Kodak moment, they would dive down and go out of sight. But man, we saw some HUGE ones!! Getting the bino's out, we could watch them sunbath, some would even lift their fins/feet out of the water and sun their "arms" for a bit too, in a sort of synchronize swimmer dance like twirl. But mostly they just did the Deadman's Float, warming up their shell and likely snoozing.
Man, I love turtles and maybe just as much as dolphins. I was kind of hoping that one would be curious enough and want to come with us. How cool would that be? A pet sailboat turtle. Obviously, we would name him "Turtle" and he would naturally have an Aussie accent, like all turtles supposedly do per Finding Nemo and he would want to come surfing with me all day everyday. And he would subsist on pizza, so low overhead to keep. #winning
So Cabo. Wow...where do I begin? We arrived to the mouth of the bay in Cabo around late afternoon, racing the sunset. As we approached the bay, you round this point (where the famous arch is, showcased by many picture/travel books:
this one. But rounding this point is a bit of a blind bend--and holy jesus the traffic of boats coming in and out of the bay. Imagine Heathrow/JFK/Los Angeles/Tokyo/De Gaulle airspace all packed into one complete sh*tshow of boats. All going every which way, with no apparent rhyme or reason of due course or rules of the road, so to speak. You have massive powerboats/sportfishing boats, sailboats, dinghies, pangas, booze cruise catamanrans, water taxi's...you name it. It's basically a free for all in whoever makes it first coming in and out. Like oil droplets on a hot frying pan or taxi cab drivers in NYC--makes no god damn sense.
Alas, even Mexican pirates have succumb to the tourism business, being more lucrative then booty hunting in the Sea of Cortez, I guess? They now are offering arch tours (now crossing 'becoming a pirate of the high seas' off my list of potential new careers)
Now usually this isn't as shocking to come upon such chaos of boats when entering a big bay, but keep in mind we had barely seen towns or villages, let alone people in groups for the past few weeks. The biggest activity we experienced in a day was a handful of whales, or dolphin pod sightings. So coming up to this was a bit of a culture shock. Even Ensenada, a major major port wasn't this busy! Jay and I just kept laughing and repeating to ourselves "damn ....people everywhere" Also, drunk people on booze cruises are hilarious to watch.
The cruise books we had been following (Charlie's Chart and Cruising Mexico) all suggest the best anchorage as being tucked just into the north of the bay, beyond the swim areas beaches, right along the hotel strip and basically just beyond all this mayhem. (We had no desire to rent an overly priced slip and after seeing this mayhem coming in and out of the bay, we didn't really want to continue into the harbor anyway) So, we knew this was going to be a loud anchorage. Well, let's say our guesses were not wrong. You literally drop your hook, about 200 yards away from the massive strip of hotels jn downtown Cabo. Im going to equate it to popping a campsite tent in the middle of the Vegas strip. It was a fun (temporary) change and we all got a good kick out of how different this anchorage was than any of our previous spots. Here is a video of something we common saw pass by us, oh about every 15 minutes for the three days we were here.
At nights, you can hear a cacophony of competing club music coming from all the nearby hotels, bright spotlights from clubs in downtown Cabo dancing across the skyline, as well as the beaches teaming with tiki torches, fire pits....and you guessed it, drunk (in love) vacationers. On one particular night we heard this beautiful opera music coming from the hotel nearest us, competing with a mashup of heavy beat club music and a DJ directing dance moves (in loud spanglish)..followed by an excited boom of "BAILA BAILA BAILA" (meaning: "dance, dance dance")
For Jay and I, getting to Cabo was a big first milestone for us, outside of entering Ensenada and foreign waters. Cabo, for us was an accomplishment of rounding the entire west coast of Baja and a marker point for completing the first major leg of our long trip. We had made it and without major incident. BOAT was in great shape, we had managed to (mostly) handle all of the issues that arose and were still happily married (horray!) We fist bumped and toasted our milestone with a cocktail watching the drunk beach goers and beautiful tequila sunrise colored sunset our first night. The fruits of all our preparations the months leading up to our trip and actually leaving our dock back in CA were finally starting to sink in.
We spent about three days in Cabo, taking the time to catch our breath, relish in reaching our milestone waypoint and enjoying the opportunity to explore Cabo. Being the first major city we had visited since leaving Ensenada, we want to take advantage of nearby stores for reprovisioning and getting random items we needed (one of the cars on our mainsail broke in Mag Bay, so we needed to find a chandlery to see if we could get a new one to replace AND laundry!)
Day One, we picked up our friends on LAMANEE and headed into the Marina dinghy dock to explore town, and get lay of the land for future shopping trips (with a dinghy as our "car" and space for a few large shopping bags and only one large dry bag, we needed to plan our trips carefully, avoiding too much back and forth from dock to boat with supplies and survive the trip dodging all the traffic in and out) Main interest, besides checking out the town, were to get fuel and to plan a trip to local mercados and Costco for restocking of meats/fresh veggies. Side note: we had read and been told that you cannot bring red meat into Mexico. If boarded and found, they would be confiscated. Based on the "if's" and not wanting to donate to the Federales nighttime dinners (yes we are slightly pessimistic they weren't taken only due to country regulations) we brought only a small amount from the US..which we were already out of. AND all our fresh produce was now gone too.)
For those that know me well, I am pretty finicky when it comes to food (God bless you Mom and Dad for putting up with my weird, vegan/vegetarian/it-has-a-odd-texture-then-I-wont-eat-it multiple phases I went thru as a kid/teenager--still haven't grown out of that as an adult either). One of my biggest fears, outside of encountering massive seas like in a Perfect Storm, having a major medical emergency and needing to use the sutures in our medical kit, or having a Titanic like run in with an unseen and highly unlikely massive floating object in the middle of the night, was the idea of having to subsist on canned food (Spam--vomit!), Kraft Mac and Cheese and other processed non perishable, DInty Moore dinners for the next 6-8 months. No freaking way! However, I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised at being dead wrong in this thinking. Thankfully BOAT is equipped with a great size fridge and freezer and substantial storage space being dedicated to food. And AMAZON, you were a major life saver! I spent a good amount of time in the months leading up to our departure researching healthy/delicious alternatives to processed non perishable items that we could pack and bring. THANK GOODNESS I DON'T HAVE TO LIVE ON MRE's!!! Glory Hallelujah (and despite what any of you military people think--that stuff is gross. and yes, I know when you are THAT hungry you will eat everything and anything. I'll chew on my rubber Havianas instead thank you very much.) Check our MRE's HERE
if you don't know what the heck I am talking about...and be thankful for that blissful ignorance of not knowing....
Cooking and creating meals has actually been hugely enjoyable for me and I am finding that I am becoming more creative and spontaneous in cooking, playing with flavor, spices and texture combination. With limited space and the art form of provisioning (it's seriously is an art form--I can't tell you how many blogs and books I read, downloading spreadsheets, calculating how much food two people eat over a period of x number of days, taking tips from others on how to plan and shop for food when you cruising) So many factors you don't even think of, such as not necessarily having a store nearby to grab extra ingredients, if they even carry them in foreign countries, space being limited and fresh items having to be consumed first to avoid waste. Needless to say, its a challenge in getting creative in multiple uses and combinations of few items/ingredients to create variety in meals AND make it tasty and healthy. Needless to say despite all these fears and seemingly daunting task of trying to best prepare ahead of time, we are actually eating better and healthier than we both ever have. I don't think we have eaten a canned dinner yet and with an extremely varied menu every night. MRE's are still safely tucked away with our ditch bag and will remain as such, thank you sweet baby Jesus.
So with all this being said, I was excited to take a trip to the local mercado and find whatever fresh produce they had to work into our meals for the next few days. I was also really missing some of my favorite staples: a nice crispy head of romaine lettuce and apples!
So here is the funny thing about directions in Mexico--no one person can agree on specific sets of directions to get you to a desired location....the same grocery store can both be only 1 km away down a specific street as well as 60km away down a series of twists and turns of differing roads. That or they had no clue what their neighboring store was. Common exchange:
Me: Do you have a grocery store nearby?
Them: Uh, I don't think so.
Me: Oh, so there s no nearby place to buy fruits and meats?
Them: Oh yes.
Me: ok...? Can you tell me how to get there?
Them: Go three blocks down this street, turn left, go four more blocks and its on your right
Me: (repeating directions back)
Them: Yes, or you can go straight and its on your left
Them: Yes easy very close
Me: Uh ok, thanks...?
Also, everyone we asked for help, assumed we only wanted Walmart (After third time, I started my inquiry by prefacing with NO ME GUESTA WALMART.... I can count on one hand how many times I have been in a Walmart in my life in the States...and I definitely didn't want a Walmart for meat and fresh produce.....
So we all set off on day one to find a local mercado for meats and veggies. Well Explorer Bob we did and we went on the most "Where's Waldo" hunt of our lives. We must have asked about 5 different people where we could find a local mercado, each time explaining in succinct detail what we were looking for and each time, being sent on a wild goose chase up and down back roads and dirt hills in the countryside of Cabo looking for a damn local supermarket. One time, we were even sent about 20 minutes outside of the city (walking up steep incline hills in both directions in the sleet, snow and hurricanes...ok I might have embellished just a bit on the sleet and hurricane part) BUT we ended up at a store that is a combination of Staples and Costco..weirdest store ever! and no freakin produce at all! Just aisle of office products backed up against aisle of weird and unusual Asian spices and cleaning products (seriously where the heck were we?!)
After two roaming-the-Cabo-countryside hours, we gave up the search temporarily and found ourselves at a super Americanized bar to have marguerites and reassess continuing with this epic hajj or abandon all hope and return to the boat empty handed like Columbus' First Expedition. But, naturally drinks would solve our woes! Thankfully the bartender was able to aptly explain and give directions to places other than the one Walmart in town where us gringos could find a local market. Well, three (strong) marguerites each in and the power of tequila coursing thru our veins we, like Don Quixote and Pancho Villa set off again to find our holy mercado! (Actually more like Carl from Idiot Abroad, and if you don't get my reference, look it up now and watch!)
And lo and behold, would you imagine the damn store was a block away from the marina we started from. A block away! Well, my butt appreciated the stair master work out regardless, even if my strength was tequila powered for the second half.
Arms full and fresh meats and veggies we returned to our boat day one to cook up some yummy meals.
Day two, Jay and I set off to find Costco to buy some bulk meats and restock on some snacks and potential electronic equipment we needed. Our Go Pro case had broken and without the attachments we aren't able to video without hand holding anymore--big time bummer.
With plans to take the bus from the Marina to the Costco that the map showed being a few miles outside of the city, we set off out of town. We drop laundry along the way, after reading a few promising reviews of a quick and easy fluff and fold service just outside of downtown. Deciding half way after the laundry stop, we changed tactics and wanted to walk the full distance, enthused about the walk and stretching our legs for a second day. We would then take the bus back from Costco once we had arms full of groceries. Walking along the main street as you get outside of town, you begin to notice the devastation from the hurricane that hit Cabo a few years back. Full strips of land are lined with abandoned buildings, some boarded up but completely dilapidated. Other buildings, like the Ford dealership, had windows and walls completely knocked out and sand filling to almost the ceilings of the remaining cement structure. Work was still being done on some places (like the dealership) to restore and repair. Other buildings completely abandoned and with "For Sale" signs sadly hung.
hilarious hot dog restaurant with clever marketing. Zoom in to see the name --just above the Red car . When you see it....
With about a mile to go, we decided we are hungry and using our noses, find this great little restaurant along our route. Its open air and with beautiful, simple and authentic Mexican decor: dark wood tables, brightly colored napkins and tablecloths, pictures lining the wall with both family and local artists and a delicious aroma as topping to the beautiful ambiance. An open kitchen in the very back, showcases the made to order meals being prepared, fresh tortillas being ground and made by a little Mexican woman standing barely above the tabletop, smiling away as she labors over the grill and hot plates.
I cannot tell you how yummy the food was here. It was the first authentic, real Mexican meal we had eaten since getting to Baja. Deep spices, fresh produce, non americanized meal--amazing! We eventually met the owner and chatted with him at length about the restaurant, how it came to be and how he now runs it with his British wife and his extended Mexican familia. (His extended family and children were eating at the table next to us.) A real labor of love and a beautiful story! Naturally, since we are gushing about the food and an experience we had looked forward to since getting to Baja but hadn't found, he asks if we would mind shooting a short promotional video, so he can post on his Facebook page.
DONA NATA VIDEO LINK HERE
After finishing our meal and a promise to return the following day we head out to Costco, which happen to be just across the street.
Costco, as expected is the absolute anthesis of what we just experienced. A large bustling Costco filled with predominantly white Americans shopping around. Signs are in a mixture of both English and Spanish. The location itself sits high atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and just 5 miles outside of the tourist downtown area--not bad! We rush thru and in record-never-been-done-before-in-the-history-of-Costco-shopping (or Target shopping for that matter) are in and out in under 30 minutes and with only spending $100! Big time bust on the meats tho, as surprisingly all the meats were extremely expensive and with leaner cuts than we were looking for (Being the prima donna that I am and newly venturing into enjoying red meat after a 20 year stint of being a solely chicken-and-fish-eating odd person, I only like Try Tip cut meats....go figure, their tri-tip was incredibly expensive and limited in remaining selection)
We hike it back to the bus stop which is just at the entrance to Costco. Arms filled with random and useless snacks and beverages, the bus system is super simple and straight forward. 5 minute ride and we are back to the marina! We get back to the dinghy dock to see two huge pelicans sitting on the bow of our dinghy and had apparently decided to use our dinghy as a latrine. If you aren't familiar with Pelican poo, their digestive system turns seafood diets into grey cement waste. Mercy on their digestive system as I have no clue how this stuff is processed and passed thru without solidifying in the transit out (If karma does exist, then I wish it on these two As*holes Of The Air to have horrendous constipation for a week) But regardless, its beyond disgusting and near impossible to remove. Of course, they decided the outhouse area was where my seat is and maybe thought it nice to decorate my seat with their cement like Jackson Pollock style butt artwork.
(Side note: Mom/Dad, if you are reading this, I am really sorry that I just spent an entire paragraph describing Pelican Poop, using descriptives such as "butt artwork" and "as*holes of the air" Ladylike, of me, I know. Hopefully, you can think of other proud parenting moments with me and let this one slide....What can I say, bodily functions, they are funny to talk about and coming up with euphemisms for them is a fun, creative outlet for me.)
Anyway...enough locker room talk. We load our bags and ourselves into the dinghy and head back to the boat (me gingerly avoiding messing up the "local artwork") As we exit the harbor, we see that winds have substantially picked up since we arrived and are now white capping in the bay and seas have picked up to about 2ft swells. Awesome....and now is when we realized we also forgot our dry bag. Selfie time before we are totally wet and very sad:
10 long and windy, wet minutes later we arrive back at our boat. We are both completely drenched soaking wet, the cement pelican poop art is now a sludgy slimy grey mess or finger paint looking art and amazingly our groceries are somewhat dry (most importantly my 3lb bag of tortillas is unscathed in this wet debacle, I really didn't care about anything else beyond my chips not getting wet or poo soaked. Priorities, man!)
I never thought I would say this (amoungst, many, many other things in this post I never thought I would type), but in that moment after return, I briefly missed the simplicity of the traffic hellhole of Los Angeles; driving 1 hour to go grocery shopping at a store 5 minutes away. No wind, waves. mexican directions or cement Pelican poo to worry about. Seriously, who worries about Pelican cement-poo ruining their otherwise perfect day?
Also, yet again another sentence I never imagined I would write....
Last Passage Distance: 150 nm (Mag Bay -> Cabo)
Cumulative Distance to Date: 975.6nm
Days since last donating to Posideon: 2
Items donated: Our favorite and super lucky Fishing Lure Senor Mexico (RIP while enroute to Cabo, sorry Stan :( we think he was taken by either a Marlin or Shark. He went down with a fight tho, the fishing line was THRASHED when we pulled it back up.