Creatures of Land and Sea
27 December 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
You have to admit; Jay is a good sport.
It was Christmas day and we were at Las Animas, a beautiful cove on the south shore of Banderas Bay. You can only get there by boat or by foot. This was our second time at Las Animas as we spent last Christmas there too. (See "A Very Different Christmas.") Several boats came from the Vallarta Yacht Club (VYC) carrying a multitude of passengers, along with another cruising boat, Cool Change, with Rick and Cynthia on board. Every year the VYC invites guests to join them at the El Coral Restaurant for lunch and a day at the beach.
We had barely sat down when a gentleman walked up with his pet iguana and offered him to Jay. First, he put him on his shoulder, but quickly removed him and put him on Jay's head. We had a few laughs. I took a couple of photos. Jay gave the man a few pesos. And off he went to collect from other gullible tourists.
This isn't our first experience with iguanas. They frequent many areas in Mexico. A few of them have made the marina their home and are boat-surfing. One was on our anchor platform the other day. I got out my camera and took some pictures. I kept getting closer and closer, thinking he would move. Nope. He just stared at me. Finally, I shook the anchor chain and he jumped into the water. I watched as he swam away using his tail. I turned around and found he had left a little present for us on the deck. Grrr!
Considering a swim, I went off to change into my bathing suit. When I got back to the table, Jay had already ordered me an ice-cold Negro Modelo and Zaran Deado. For two days, we had been talking about this fish. It is a Mexican specialty made with Red Snapper. They filet the whole fish and season it with a base made from carrot juice, add spices, and then grill it over a wood fire. It is absolutely delicious! It is served with the traditional sides of beans, rice and tortillas. We added guacamole.
While we waited for lunch to arrive, the beach vendors came to sell their goods. First, the pie lady stopped by our table. Jay said, "Thank you, no, not yet. Maybe come back later." Carol said, "Wait! I want one. Coconut, please." She explained that if she didn't get the coconut one then, they might be gone later. Next came a man with jewelry. "Do you have any anklets?" I asked. "Yes. Just wait one Mexican minute." (Mexican minutes are much longer than NY minutes.) He fitted one to my ankle. Three Mexican children, a boy and two girls, came by with a basket full of candy. "Merry Christmas! It's free." Carol took them up on their offer. (I'm thinking she has a sweet tooth.) A few minutes later, someone else came by with jewelry. She sold me a silver starfish necklace. I smiled. "Christmas presents." I said to Jay, justifying my expenditures. "For me."
Seven of us shared two orders of the Zaran Deado (see photos). It was more than plenty. We sat back and enjoyed our meal while watching boat after boat dropping off tourists. Most everyone on the beach was Mexican. Very few gringos. "They come from Guadalajara." Javier, our hotel waiter, told us when we asked him about the visitors. "Mexican tourists. They come from the city."
After lunch, I took a walk along the beach. Loosely translated, I learned Las Animas means The Spirit or The Soul. It was particularly poignant because this was Christmas day. A day in the year that we celebrate Jesus's birth. I wondered if the Holy Spirit had gathered all of us here, to this special place, to share in the beauty of His gifts.
I thought about this as I looked around. Children were laughing and screaming, running back and forth into the water. Their joy was contagious. A little girl sat at the water's edge. She was covered in sand but didn't seem to mind as she was intent on filling her red bucket with sand. A wave came up, maybe in the hopes of washing her clean, but no. It only left more sand. Still, she didn't seem to mind. Such a simple pleasure like filling a bucket with sand, and then dumping it out, will keep her busy for a while.
Behind her, a little more inland, was a very intense game of volleyball. Not two against two, but the regular size team you would find on a court. Some of them, too, were covered in sand, having fallen trying to hit the ball. They didn't seem to mind either. It was all in the fun.
Further along, I came upon the para-sailors. Two men had suited up a young boy about twelve years old. They were giving him instructions. He was very serious and listened carefully as they explained the whistle commands he must follow. I watched as they ran with him and lifted him off, the boat pulling him up and off the beach and into the air. Maybe someday, I will do that, I thought. Then again, maybe not.
At the end of the cove, I saw two sets of two horses tied up under the shade. Two Mexican men, fully dressed, stood in front of the first set, having a quiet conversation. So there is yet another way to get to Las Animas; by horse. A sensible solution to navigate this mountainous terrain.
On my return, I spotted the boy para-sailor. He was on his way back to the beach. I was amazed how the boat moved through the tall masts. How he did not wrap the child around one of those masts, is a mystery to me. But he didn't. The whistle blew and signaled the boy to follow the directions he was given. He was a good student. Only to me he seemed to be coming in too fast but the men caught him and the boy landed on his feet. All who had been watching sigh in relief.
Back at the restaurant, our friends, Yoshie and Larry, were playing a game of Bocce Ball. Ann was sitting on a lounge chair visiting with Cynthia and Rick. Everyone else was relaxing around the tables and talking with friends. Evidently, the pie lady returned as Jay munched on a slice of chocolate pie. He smiled to me. "Want a bite?"
I looked to the sky and notice dark clouds beginning to gather over the mountains. I mentioned this to Jay. He, of course, had been observing them, as well. "Let's leave no later than three." He told me and went to let the others know.
The day was getting later and the clouds were getting darker, so we made our move to leave. The young boy on the panga picked us up on the pier. It is a bit precarious getting on and off but no more so than backing into shore through the waves - which he tried, when bringing us into shore. We were all a little leery about that, especially me, after my accident. Jay or Dick, or maybe both, quickly negated that idea and told him to bring us up to the pier.
As I was stepping into the panga, I asked the man from El Coral (who kindly walked us over to the pier), "Habla English?" "A little." He answered. I then asked Jay to explain to him how we wanted to be released from the mooring. He jumped into the panga and came to help us out.
They were simple instructions. We had a bridle using the port and starboard dock lines. I was to untie the port side first and then hand the starboard side to the man in the panga. He would use that to pull us out and away from the mooring. (The moorings lie close to the beach, practically in the wave break. And, by the way, there was no mooring ball, per se. Just an old orange life vest attached to a line that hopefully was dug in deep at the bottom of the ocean.)
I went to untie the port line but it was snug tight. The panga guy yelled to Jay to come up to ease the line. Jay shook his head no. He wasn't going to risk wrapping the prop with the line. Voices were coming from all directions, but I can only listen to my Captain for directions. Unfortunately, I could no longer hear him because I had taken off my "marriage savers" (head phones) so they wouldn't fall off while I was fussing with the port line.
The cacophony of voices was getting louder. I decided to go over to the starboard side. I untied that line but before I knew it, another panga showed up and he had the entire line in his hands. He threw it to me. Now, he can no longer pull us because the starboard line is not attached. I blame him. Later, I realize this is my fault because how could he have the entire line without me untying both ends?! Why did I do that?!! Stupida!
The voices raised to an even higher level, including mine. I don't understand them. They don't understand me. It was chaos for a minute or two but finally we got free of the mooring. I looked up and saw that Rick and Cynthia on Cool Change had just witnessed the whole ugly mess. I went back to the cockpit embarrassed and defeated. Jay smiled at me and said, "It's okay. Everything is fine." Even his warm smile couldn't mend my bruised ego.
On our way back to the marina, the looming clouds threatened to break over us until the NW wind came up and kept them hovering over the mountains. That is where they will stay. The rain clouds visit the south shore often, creating an incredibly lush and green landscape.
The only disappointment of the day was that we saw virtually no sea life. Dick spotted a dolphin and a ray. No whales or turtles, though. A few days prior, we did see two, huge Ridley turtles when we had gone out for a test sail. Jay and I decided they were the mama turtles saying thank you for helping their babies last week.
It was early morning and were walking along the beach by the hotel. We ran into a group of about twenty people who had found a nest of baby turtles. They must have just hatched. There in the sand were hundreds of them, in a circle, about three feet in diameter. They were frantically going in all directions. One pour soul was digging himself into a hole. "Whoops! Wrong way!" I said, as I picked him up and took him over to the water.
For about five minutes, Jay and I joined in with the other twenty or so people and took the turtles, two at a time, to the sea. You are supposed to take them to the edge of the waves and let them find their way to the ocean. "This way, they will know where to come back to." Ann told me. She worked with a turtle sanctuary a few years back. "Those that make it won't come home for at least eight years." She also explained how they taught her to first put her hands in the sand and then rub them together to get all the human oils and scent off. The turtle specialists think this might be better for their survival.
Back home, we said goodbye to our friends. Later that night, Yoshie and Larry invited us over to their condo for Christmas dinner. Larry barbecued a delicious meal of pork and chicken wrapped in bacon. Yoshie provided us with her homemade wine. They've got talent, those two.
Jay and I, we slept well Christmas night.
(See Photos in Gallery.)