Christmas in Barra De Navidad
28 December 2014 | Barra de Navidad, Mexico
We’ve been in Barra for about a week now. If you asked me what we have done with our time, I would have a hard time answering that question. Time can really fly by on the boat with boat projects, shopping, and socializing. Keep in mind that because we don’t have cell phones, cars, or internet (most of the time,) everything that we do, like grocery shopping, takes far longer than it would back home.
I do know that we went to a great Christmas pot luck. The Sands Hotel, more about this hotel later, allowed the cruisers in the area to use the outdoor bar area for a pot luck Christmas party. We each brought a side dish and the hotel, for 50 pesos (about $4) each, supplied turkey and ham. With nearly 80 cruisers attending, many of whom are friends now, it was a great afternoon of eating drinking, and catching up with people.
I can’t think of a better place for this cruiser party to have happened than at this hotel. Although, I wouldn’t want to stay there, it has a very special place in my heart. The Sands came to be nearly 80 years ago and is still in the same family. It is large for a family owned hotel, with about 40 rooms. Outside is 360 degree bar, set right beside the large curved pool which follows the shoreline of the lagoon. The grounds are covered with small paths, numerous gardens, palm trees, quiet sitting areas, and a seawall where the owners allow us cruisers to dock our dinghies when we come into town.
Sounds pretty swanky, eh. Well, it must have been incredible when it was built. There was almost nothing else in Barra at the time and this hotel would have been fit for movie stars withs it amazing amenities and large curved lagoon front setting.
Now, turn all this around in your mind.
Picture that the Sands has had very little effective maintenance or improvements for the last 40 or so years. Picture a place nearly completely overgrown with vines and other plants, a bar with it’s tile counter breaking off in places, a pool with large cracks in the walls where roots are forcing their way towards the water, and a seawall with sections starting to fall into the sea. Get all this straight in your mind and you will have the Sands Hotel in Barra. Yes, it is very run down, but it still has fantastic charm and is definitely the cruiser mecca for the area. The bar opens at noon everyday and has some of the cheapest drinks in Barra. They even make a great spicy caesar that will set you back all of about $2 after the all-day, two-for-one, permanent special. That caesar gets us there many afternoons. As dutiful Canadians, we’ve also introduced a few Americans to our Canadian drink and some have converted!
Out in a particularly overgrown area of the waterfront courtyard, with a staircase that is falling off the building and windows that are missing, is an area lovingly referred to as “Beirut.” In Beirut you will find a 12’ round cage with a very lonely spider monkey in there. Supposedly he has been there for 10+ years . His mate escaped several years ago so he is left here alone. It is kind of sad, but we try to brighten up his day by bringing him fruit. As you would expect, he particularly likes bananas and is very adept at manoeuvring them through the chain link surrounding the cage, and even better at peeling them.
But, don’t piss him off! I was shown a scarred finger that his super long arms grabbed, pulled in, and bit through. He is also known for doing what monkeys do best, shooting pee and throwing crap! We’ll keep being nice to this guy and do hope that he escapes for himself some day.
Although here in the lagoon behind Barra de Navidad has been convenient, and very calm for sleeping, it is still a lagoon that means bugs in the evening and no swimming. The water is pretty murky which makes it not inviting, but the word is that there are also a few crocs around from time to time. Later today, we will head north 15 miles back to Tenacatita Bay, one of the nicest all around anchorages on the coast. We can swim, make water, and enjoy walking on the sandy beach. A bunch of other cruisers are also heading up there so we can also expect daily swims from the boats to the beach, bocci, and dinghy raft ups on Fridays. As surprising as it sounds, we can also get internet in remote tenacatita from a hotel on the beach about a mile and half away. What else could we need!