17 April 2022
Hacienda Labor de Rivera
Not to confuse you with the title, this is not a cliff hanger. It is a summary of the amazing season we have had this year sailing on the west coast of Mexico’s mainland.
We weren’t sure what to expect when we got back to Cadenza. It had been two long years. Fortunately, she was in good shape and after a couple of weeks putting her back together, we took her out for her first sail. Banderas Bay is perfect for day sailing. Practically every afternoon the winds pick up between 15 and 20 knots and the seas are flat. Humpback whales come each winter to have their babies and there was rarely a day we didn’t see at least one. We couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to our sailing season.
Our friend, Eunice, joined us early in January. Over the first few weeks we showed her around Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and La Cruz. She spent a week in La Cruz and continued to explore the area. She went surfing and met some interesting people. She returned to our boat in late January and we took off for parts south.
It was so much fun introducing her to our cruising lifestyle and she and I had some fun times playing in the surf, jumping off the boat, kayaking and paddling. We spent several days at anchorage in Punta de Mita, Ipala, Chamela Bay and Tenacatita. Our final destination this season is one of our favorite towns, Barra de Navidad.
Barra is more than a town we visit. It is community. Not just between the cruisers but with the local Mexican nationals. We have made many friends over the years and follow their lives, hear about their children, their health, and share lots of laughter.
Some of my favorite things to do: ride the water taxi to and from town; order from the French Baker who delivers by boat to our boat; water volleyball; watch as the town comes alive at night; enjoy dinner and music; and watch the sun rise over the lagoon from the sixth floor of the hotel.
While in Barra, we participated in Cruise-In Week. This is where the cruisers get together and help to raise funds for the local schools. It’s a fun week filled with sailing, music, parties, games and a race. There is usually a work day where we paint or clear brush or whatever the schools need but with Covid still hanging around, the organizers felt we should skip it this year. Jay and I really missed that opportunity as we felt less of a connection to the children than we did the first time we participated in the event. Still, we are proud to have been a part of the group who raised over $15,000 US dollars.
Two weeks after we arrived in Barra, Eunice left to explore more of Mexico. Next up was our friends, Gail and Steve’s, arrival. Gail had sailed with us to Barra a couple of years back and loved it so much, she wanted to share it with Steve. It was a great visit.
We stayed for a couple more weeks and then headed back north. The day before we left, I fell down the companionway steps and bruised my ribs. Ouch! Six weeks of slow-moving. It put a bit of a damper on our journey back. I couldn’t jump off the boat and swim or paddle board. Bummer. I was able to get in the dinghy and go ashore to swim. The beach at Perula (Chamela Bay) is absolutely beautiful.
Every season, we try to take a road trip. We chose the town of Tequila this year. Mostly due to its close proximity to Vallarta. It is about a four-hour drive. We invited Alison and Allan from sv/Fly Aweigh (and dear friends from California). When I learned that the Guachimontone ruins were only an hour’s drive away from Tequila, I added another day to the trip. Jay and I had been there before and it was so interesting, we wanted to share it with Alison and Allan. (For more info on the Guachimontones see my blog, https://www.sailblogs.com/member/svcadenza/390217).
I happened to stumble upon a great hotel just outside the ruins, deep amongst the sugar plantations. After driving down a long dirt road full of bumps and holes, we came across a walled entrance. No one knew what to expect. (Except for me, as I saw the photos on the internet.) “Uh, Terri…where are you taking us?” Jay asked. “You’ll see.” We pushed a button and the concierge buzzed us in. The gates opened to reveal a long stone driveway with trees on either side. To the right was a pond with two ducks and a turtle sunning itself on a rock and to the left were some of the many horses they keep, grazing in a field. The hotel was a hacienda built in the colonial style and stood stately at the end of the driveway. When we got out of the car, we instantly felt a sense of peace.
The property is located on several acres and was originally used to process sugar. Besides the pond and the ruins of a mill, there is a restaurant, a spa, stables to house the horses, and even has its own chapel. It was quite special and we have thoughts to visit it again.
In Tequila, we stayed in the center of town. If the hacienda is what you would call old Mexico, the hotel was modern Mexico. We arrived late Sunday afternoon. Sunday is the family holiday in Mexico and there were throngs of people wandering the streets holding terracotta cups full of tequila. Some people were tipsy. Many were obviously drunk. Jay likened it to a Tequila Disneyland. Needless to say, our first impression wasn’t so great. But then on Monday morning when the streets cleared up, the town showed off its charm with its beautiful architecture. We found one small distillery just outside of town. There we took a tequila tour, learning how they make it and how to properly drink it. The next day, on the way back to Nuevo Vallarta, we stopped at the hip community of Sayulita for lunch on the beach and to celebrate my birthday.
One of the highlights for us this season was when Talia and Alex came to visit with Robby and Lilly. We took them sailing and to Rhythms of the Night. Rhythms of the Night is a great tour given by Vallarta Adventures. It is an hour boat-ride to the south shore where we were taken to a tropical paradise. We were led up the mountainside along winding paths with torches lighting the way and characters dressed in costume. Some were dressed like iguanas and were perched in the trees. Others were dressed as Indian natives announcing our arrival with the constant beat of drums. The entire setting is a magical fantasy. We were shown to our table that was on the beach just a few feet from shore. We ate dinner with the sea breeze caressing our bodies and the soft sounds of waves breaking. Afterwards we were treated to Savia, an amazing Cirque de Soliel show performed in an amphitheater under the stars.
Cruising isn’t all play and margaritas and since we have been back in Nuevo Vallarta (They are actually changing the name to Nuevo Nayarit – with some backlash from the locals.) Jay has been working, working, working, taking care of Cadenza. She is an old boat and needs some TLC. We have had some water intrusion from two years of rain which he is patching. We also decided to purchase a stack pack for the main sail. The stack pack is a cradle that is used to capture the main sail when it comes down. It just got too dangerous for Jay to be up on the cabin top tying the sail down while the boat is swaying back and forth in the waves. He actually almost fell when we were at sea and then did fall when we were at the dock. I told him, if we are going to continue to do this, we must make it safe. After all, we are getting older too.
On our last sail of the season, our friend, Carol, pointed out a tear in our main sail that ran along the seam. Not really wanting to spend the money, but realizing the sail was thirty years old, (Yes, I know!) we decided it was time for a new one. We are also going to put some non-skid on the cabin top. There is lots of upkeep to do on a boat and I’m grateful Jay is on it. Cadenza is a beautiful boat who has taken good care of us. We need to take good care of her too.
In a few days we will leave Nuevo Vallarta and head home. After our long absence due to Covid, I have a new appreciation for all that we have. This is a beautiful place and we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to live this lifestyle.