Monday, January 16, 2012

PV to PE

Dear Blog,
Since our last update we have crossed from the pleasant and friendly northern half of Mexico to the dreaded and scornful south… Our first such unpleasant anchorage was Bahia Tenecatita. In this hellhole they only have two bays and one is protected by the other. The outside anchorage had a snorkeling spot called ‘the aquarium’. I thought it was impressive but I think Jacques Cousteau would have turned his nose up at the place. We got to so bored with snorkeling that we moved over to the other anchorage to see how much worse it could be. It was horrible. There were two sailboats and four powerboats. When I saw all those powerboats I said something like “Sylvie, I want to go home.”
Anyway, it actually seems like the second half of Mexico is better than that first, contrary to the above stated drivel.
Ummm, we actually sailed first to Chamela Bay and then Tenacatita, not that the order matters to you. But I know it matters to you, guy following the blog with detailed maps looking for holes to expose our story with. Well not this time!
The thing I wanted to mention about Chamela is that we entered the anchorage at night using our radar. Very sophisticated, I know. We were both crapping our pants but we eventually found our way in. Friends of ours did the same thing a few weeks later but managed to hit one of the many wooden fishing pens throughout the bay, leaving an ugly scar on their hull.
Our next destination was Barra de Navidad, for, you guessed it, Christmas. On that sail to Navidad we caught a big Yellow fin Tuna. Mmmmm, I bonked him on the head to death and then ate him for lunch.
There was also another incident along the way where we were trying to get our dinghy back into the water after having left it on the beach for a while. The trick is to wait for a lull between breakers and then gun it. Well I waited too long and the better part of a wave soaked our groceries and us, all to the great amusement of the onlookers at the beach. As we finally got away I noticed one lookey-loo filming us, so I did what any respectable citizen would do and I gave him the finger. La piece de resistance for his short film.
We had a wonderful little Christmas at Barra de Navidad. On Christmas eve our friends aboard Saltbreaker showed up after having hustled down the coast from the Sea of Cortez, a beautiful and undeveloped slot of ocean up north. Needless to say they were exhausted but happy to be in much warmer weather. We both needed
some gasoline so we cruised over to the Pemex (the federal monopoly on gas/diesel) but they were sold out of gas. Another boat seeking gas was playing music and enjoying themselves so we went to say hi. There were a few moments of hesitation between the time they offered us some of their champagne and to come wake-boarding with them in the nearby lagoon. But we soon accepted. Would we be kidnapped and held ransom, would they shot us at point blank like all Mexican drug lords do? You’ll have to ask us in person for this one. The details are just a bit too juicy.
Christmas day was delightful. The Saltbreaker fellas came over and we did secret santa. I got all things that are coconut. Heaven! Included was a 2-foot machete for cutting my own.
Early the next morning we rushed out of there for Zihuatenajo. Jeff Appelbe, our good friend and smuggler of boat goods was due to arrive on the 27th and it was going to take us two days to get there, leaving Jeff to fend for himself for a night in scary old Mexico. We motored at top speed burning diesel like it was free, due to the ever-present lack of wind. Our time in Zihuat shall be described later by the aforementioned visitor.
We had been planning some land travel to Mexico City for a long time and Zihuat seemed like a good jumping off spot. So we ever so hastily moved the boat over from a remote anchorage into one that was predominantly occupied by Canadian sailboats and Mexican fishing boats. We asked a nice couple from BC if they could “keep an eye on the boat for about 5 days”. They said sure at about 3pm and we were on the 7am bus the next morning.
We first crashed with an old traveling companion of Sylvie’s named Benjamin. An interesting, jovial, slightly insane dude but probably one of Mexico City’s finest residents. He showed us around, fed us and entertained us while taking care of his flu-ridden girlfriend. After doing typical touristy things we jumped couch for some of my friends. We stayed with Jeroen, a charismatic 7 foot Dutchman that I studied with in France, Anna his girlfriend and his parents who were in town. “Oh no, we don’t want to impose”, but impose we did. After a lot of sight seeing, great food, old friends and indulging we hopped back on the overnight bus back to Zihuat.
The next morning we were to depart for Puerto Escondido. But when I went to test the batteries I noticed they were dead. Would we make it to PE? Would the engine start? Did I get the flu on the 3.5-day sail? Was Ustupu unscathed after being abandoned with all those scary fishermen and Canadians??????

Tree and stockings

Star cookies are not to be eaten with hands


Guess who's rowing

Ice skating in Mexico City.  

Diego Rivera

Messing with the locals

Old Grenoble amigos.  From left to right:  Jeroen's Dad, Sylvarita, creep, Elena, Alvaro, Alvaro's brother, Ricardo, Dianne,
Anna, Jeroen, Jeroen's Mom.  

Jeroen trying to look cool


Benjamin, Carmen, Aglai

Los Hermanos, grande y pocito

River trip we took in our dinghy.  It was beautiful but kinda smelled like poo!

Alex's panga

White Christmas

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Crocodile slides, tennis & one Pina Colada for 2

We decided to stay in our first Mexican marina after six weeks of commuting to land to get supplies, water and to simply go for a walk.  We also decided to stop at not just any marina, but Paradise Village Marina in Nueva Vallerta (outside Puerto Vallerta).

We stayed for an indulgent three nights and took advantage of everything on offer: a pool with two big crocodile slides, tennis (the court backed onto the two tiger cages), clean water to fill our tanks with, daily showers and a dock for boat projects.  All of this for the amazing price of just under $20/night.

We also decided to really treat ourselves and splurged on sushi at the mall, one virgin Pina Colada by the pool and attended a Mexican celebration at the adjoining hotel.... if you count standing on the outskirts of the party watching musician's backs and drooling over the desert table.  Otherwise, we were there!

Before leaving Bahia Banderas (the big bay that houses Puerto Vallerta) we spent a week swimming in quiet bays, walking to waterfalls up horse paths, snorkelling and enjoying the sweet serenity and beauty of a less developed Mexico.

After all of this excitement, we once again hit the liquid highway feeling rested, clean and ready for quieter - less developed - little paradises.

Frequent visitors

Tigers, Parrots, Tennis Courts


More Mexican investment properties


Gifts for local orphanage

Sponsors are taking note

Our own personal waterfall

The snake we asked the maitre d' to remove from the waterfall.   (Dan's bravest face)

The croc