On to La Cruz!

IMG_0258
Just coming into the marina

An uncomplicated entrance to the marina put us in a pretty good mood. Security was there to help us dock in the light air, an offer that is never refused regardless of conditions, and all was relaxed. The sweet ladies in the main office checked us in and during our stay took great care of us.

IMG_0249
Ivette and Sugey will take great care of you and are a delight!

Another catamaran, Sky Pond was already docked on the side tie.  There was just enough room for us to squeeze in.  In such close proximity, it’s natural to wonder  who your neighbor is.  Our first impressions were positive.   Sky Pond is a Seawind 1160 Deluxe, and if I may be so bold… it’s beautiful.  Carl and Roxy were amazing neighbors, even  keeping a vigilant eye on Reverie for us as we entertained family in nearby Puerto Vallarta.  We were invited aboard Sky Pond, and we took in her many enviable features.  One of my favorites is the trifolding door system that effectively opens the main saloon to the outdoor cockpit area.  I couldn’t help imagining the impact that would have on the spontaneous dance parties my girls and I enjoy.  If you are in the market for a catamaran and like to dance or entertain, this is one to keep in mind.

We hopped off  the boat and onto the dock just as quickly as possible.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of hitting land after being on the water for an extended period of time.  It’s thrilling in a way that defies explanation and this particular land side exploration was unique.

IMG_0260
Where a lot of the action takes place!

What if… I were to tell you there is a place.  A place where you have access to an awesome boatyard, boat resources, groceries, perfect weather, night life, and an epic  KIDS CLUB??????????  No, I’m not talking about heaven.  This is La Cruz, baby, as close to cruising heaven as it gets.

Seriously, this place worked for me.  After a few days, though, we discovered that our dock was hot.  My husband reported his findings to the office, and they called out their electrician, who confirmed the electrical issue.  We were promptly relocated to dock 4.  Luckily there was space for us, given all the work we needed to have done, the anchorage just wasn’t a viable option.

IMG_0256

While moving wasn’t our preferred solution, there were significant upsides.  We were closer to town and got to share the dock with Baja Fog, who we had met in the boatyard in Napa, California prior to departing for our trip.  Our reunion with John and Monique was welcome and joyous.  As they were not strangers to La Cruz, they showed us around and gave us the lay of the land.  John was particularly keen to pass along little tips like how to cross the highway.  It’s a little intimidating and not something you want to dive into uninitiated.

Also on the dock was Profligate, the flag ship for the Baja Ha-Ha.  Richard and Dona are a delightful couple to hang with, and we enjoyed our time with them immensely as they sashayed in and out of La Cruz.

When evening descended,  the town came alive with music.  Traditional mariachi mixed with classic rock, and the streets were host to an epic nightly party.  We met up with John and Monique at the local sushi bar.  Coincidentally, the owner was celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary.  Which one, I couldn’t say, as I couldn’t hear over the live music, but we were happy to be a part of the festivities.

Children took over the square with their energetic play, likely fueled by the next door ice cream shop.  The excitement was just a little too much for us, so we retired for the night, keen to further explore our temporary home base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Follow Us!

Hello there!

So we are sitting in the La Cruz anchorage, as ready as we’ll ever be to head off for the South Pacific.  Our first destination is Hiva Oa.  Unfortunately, that means that I’ll be away from wifi and cellular networks for a while.

IMG_0258

If you are keen to know where we are RIGHT THIS  SECOND, you can track us and come along on the journey.  Updates from our handy dandy Iridium Go! will post our position twice a day.

Our tracker URL is: https://cruisersat.net/track/Reverie

there is also a blog https://cruiserat.net/blog/Reverie

It’s going to take about three and a  half weeks for us to get to Hiva Oa, and we are currently configuring our Iridium, but it’ll be up shortly.  Once I hit land, I’ll post here the events of the passage.

In the interim, I have a few posts scheduled to be published during my down time.  Fingers crossed I have enough books to read!

Be well,

Michelle

 

San Blas Jungle Tour

So, who can get enough of mosquitos?  Not us apparently.  We packed up, found a cab, and headed to a jungle tour.  When we arrived, we coated ourselves shamelessly in sunblock and bug repellent and hopped into the waiting panga.

IMG_1472

The sure manner of the driver’s steering was a clear indicator as to his familiarity with the narrow waterway through the jungle.  We saw crocodiles, exotic birds, and loads of lovely turtles.

 

IMG_1498IMG_1488IMG_1489

At the end of our tour was a café and crocodile farm.  A gated off area of the water was available for swimming, complete with a rope swing.  The water was full of calm looking fish, clear and inviting, with not a croc in sight.  Our girls wanted to swim so badly.  The parental units discussed the issue in brief, with eyes on the crocs lurking in the distance on the other side of the fence.

“Um, not today.”

It turned out, braving our offspring’s disappointment was an action of wisdom.  While nothing happened during our visit, I heard later of a woman who had actually been attacked by a crocodile at a similar location.  This was after she had visually inspected the fenced in area and the shore line.  She had coincidentally, just finished reading a book in which a character had avoided death by crocodile by holding its mouth shut.  In emulating that action, she staved off the attack long enough for help to arrive, miraculously saving her own life.

 

IMG_1499

 

IMG_1483

The Bells of San Blas? No, the BUGS of San Blas

IMG_1507
San Blas Shore

While there is a marina in San Blas, we decided to anchor out.  The perfect spot was found just outside the marina and near the fuel dock.  Being warned of unusually vicious mosquitos and “hay hay nays” that plagued the town, I pulled out the citronella candles, and we kept the boat closed up.  Stories of tourists who had been bitten so badly they required a trip to the ER reached our ears.  Perhaps it was true, maybe it was a myth, either way, we were alarmed into a state of vigilance.

IMG_1505
My view while doing yoga.  Not a bad spot to anchor

I got up early and hit the deck with my yoga mat.  No bugs.  hmm.  Breakfast consumed, we decided to explore the town.  Street dogs roamed the dirt roads, and the air was still.  The town itself had an authentic Mexican feel.  We were the tallest, whitest people, and my daughter asked why everyone was staring at her.  With natural, bleach blond hair, she kind of stood out.  I explained this to her, but she was dissatisfied and made her annoyance well known to my ears.  Still no Bugs.

IMG_1482
To the left, the Bells of San Blas.  To the right, the new build.

We had ice cream in the square and looked up.  There were the Bells of San Blas, the subject of Longfellow’s  last poem.  He had never actually cast eyes on them, inspired instead by a picture in a magazine.  I don’t think he had heard of the bugs, as there is no reference in his writing.  We went back to the boat, read the poem, and did a study of rhythm and meter.  Taking a cue from Longfellow, my older daughter was inspired to write a Haiku about the street dogs in San Blas.  It’s actually pretty good.

This experience in San Blas brought out in my older daughter a love of poetry and writing.  Rather than teaching formalized English lessons, we reviewed her writing together and discussed the grammatical and punctuation errors.  The grassroots approach to learning seems to resonate well with her; teaching through her interest and direct applicability.

Unfortunately, we missed a local celebration, but as we heard of the eyebrow raising use of fireworks and the injuries that frequently occur as a result, we were happy to have some distance from the festivities.

Ah, but there was more to San Blas than the square, two cathedrals, and dangerous pyrotechnics.  The next day we packed for a short hike and made our way in the direction of a hill pointed out to us by locals.  We paid a tiny entrance fee to a sweet, elderly couple, and continued up the path.  To our right were the bare bones remains of a cathedral.  This was our first encounter with the flying blood-thirsty demons of San Blas.  Figuring there must just be some standing water in or near the ruins, we skeedadled up towards the fort.  Nope, the kamikaze, blood-crazed nasties pursued us en masse.  Suddenly, every mosquito on the planet knew our whereabouts, and they were scarily ravenous.

We retreated to the old Spanish fort, hoping to take refuge and launch some sort of counter attack.  It was locked.  The buzzing grew nearer, and our anxiety grew with the volume of the sound.  We were suffering bites and about to be eaten alive by enemy reinforcements.  But wait, one of us was blessed with foresight.  One of us was possessed a rare wisdom of immeasurable value. Yes, one of us was packing a secret weapon.  Unlike OTHER people I know, I packed bug spray and wipes.  I quickly pulled my arsenal out of my bag, directed my daughters to hold their breath, and went nuclear on the SOBs (the bugs, not my daughters).  My husband decided to do himself.  He coated all exposed skin.  When he turned around, I saw the back of his shirt was completely covered in mosquitos.  Clothing was not enough to fend off their assaults.  He asked me why I had no bugs anywhere on me.  I responded, “I sprayed my clothes.”

I pointed my weaponized spray at his back and fought off the hoard.  They instantly dropped to the ground in a heap.  Another pass with the spray, and my husband was effectively protected as if by a magic spell.  Just call me Galadriel of DEET.

IMG_1513
The outside of the Spanish Fort

A friendly guide with nothing to do was sitting outside.  He was happy to take us around the grounds.  Since he spoke no english, my poor recollection of high school Spanish was put to the ultimate test.  I understood a fair bit, but can’t remember a thing.  It took all my brain cells to translate his words, leaving none left for memory.  I’m sure he was a wealth of knowledge and am grateful for his time and the opportunity to expand my Spanish vocabulary.

IMG_1514
Amazing view from the Fort.  Can you see the cows below?

The mosquito attack we had suffered was worth the view.  We lingered in the safety of the fort’s courtyard knowing we would have to make a final stand against the waiting winged terrors.  I sprayed my family down with bug spray in anticipation of our last stand, rejecting visions of having to abandon the fallen.  We would make it out together, or not at all.  A breath, a moment, a locking of elbows, and we stepped out of the safety of the fort into the battle field.

As quickly as we could manage without sacrificing our dignity, we hustled down the hill.  Buzzing clouds took to the air, but could not break through our defenses.  We left them behind and made it back to our boat having been schooled in the true nature of the Bugs of San Blas.

Chacala- A Sacred Spot for the Ancients, and Petroglyphs

IMG_1548

 

Prior to our arrival to Chacala, I did my homework.  Specifically, I was interested in anything with educational value for our homeschooling.  After all, there is only so much we can learn hanging out on pristine beaches.

During my research of Chacala, a potential field trip emerged.  Whispers of ancient petroglyphs caught my eye.   The reviews were mixed, but we decided to give it a go.

We walked down the main dirt road, stopped at the kayak and surf board rental shop in town, and asked for Chuey.  After negotiating price, we settled on a meeting time.  Chuey would only take us in the morning, advising us that the jungle tends to get really hot in the afternoon.  That certainly made sense to us and we reluctantly agreed to get out of bed at a scandalously early hour to meet the ideal time frame.

IMG_1531

The next morning found us bleary-eyed, but punctual.  Chuey was waiting for us with a car all set to go.  We set off, somewhat uneasy with our unusually quiet guide.  It didn’t take much time for him to come out of his shell, though, and when he did, we found a delightfully sweet and knowledgeable person.  We wound through the countryside, realizing this was the furthest we had been from the water since we embarked on our trip.  Coastal plant life gave way to forests of mature trees strange to our eyes.  Exotic livestock placidly gathered in pockets of shade, and we were beginning to experience a sense of anticipation.  I really hoped this would not suck.

IMG_1538

 

Chuey pulled off the dirt road in the middle of nowhere and parked.  He quietly informed us,  “From here we walk.”  The girls bounced out of the car, and we all fell into step behind our guide.  After a few minutes, we came to a tree.  He cut the bark, gave some of the milky substance that leaked out to each of us, and explained it was essentially a type of gum tree.  As the substance reacted with our saliva, it transformed into the blandest gum I have ever had.  The kids were stoked.

IMG_1529

 

Our guide pointed out other items of interest, fruit trees and animals only found locally.  And then we came to the coconut tree.  It’s a tree that only grows locally and produces coconuts about the size of a lime.  He showed the kids how to crack them open, and they proceeded to nosh on the extra firm flesh.  As the girls were engaged in cracking and eating coconuts, Chuey told us of how the ancient natives used to make an oil from them through a very complicated process.  When the Spanish Conquistadores came and enslaved the population, they forced the populace to manufacture the oil.  A few natives escaped to the mountains, however, and  they resolved to never make the oil for anything other than their personal use.  Now, only a few families still have this knowledge, and they guard it, and the product, in memory of their ancestors and continued act of defiance against the vile actions of the Spaniards.

IMG_1530

The jungle canopy closed over us, promising sweltering conditions and torture by insects as the earth awoke.  We proceeded along well-worn paths, not realizing their age until we encountered the first of the petroglyphs.  Once our guide pointed them out to us, we saw them everywhere.  The oldest of them dated back 2500 years.  He taught us how they were created and some of their meanings.  The girls traced them gingerly with their fingers, instinctively understanding the dedication required to complete each one.   Deeper into the jungle we continued, winding our way through massive decorated stones.  Chuey pointed out the ruins of an Aztec wall above us that had been partially pulled apart by the Conquistadors.  It was the source of the gigantic rubble.

A large slab lay in our way.  It turns out that was a sacrificial stone.  Part of me wanted a picture on it, but that seemed disrespectful to the deceased.  We continued on, until we reached a spot that can only be described as mystical.  Our eyes widened to take in the scene of a natural mountain spring, gushing out from the earth, and peacefully flowing from one serene pool into another.  The water was clear and cool, surrounded by stones smoothed by ancient hands.  This had once been sheltered by a temple, and used to ceremonially cleanse people prior to their sacrifice on the nearby slab.

We rested for a bit, dipping our feet into the pools, and appreciating the undeniably sacred feel of this spot.  It was easy to understand why ancient people placed so much value in this place.

IMG_1579

Our guide explained, native people still held ceremonies here, and pointed out other holy sites in the surrounding hills that are closed to the public.  Respect for their religious beliefs held my curiosity in check, but I couldn’t help wondering about what was in those caves.  Chuey instinctively knew my thoughts.  “There are more petroglyphs and cave paintings.”  He would not elaborate on the ceremonies themselves, except to say that outsiders are not welcome.  Even outside tribal members are rarely allowed.  We made our way back to the car with an expanded understanding of the locals, and deeper appreciation of their heritage.

IMG_1521IMG_1519IMG_1517IMG_1516

Let me know if you liked this post.  Feel free to share and follow us.

Chacala- The Food and Caldera

IMG_1534
Sunset in Chacala, beach side.

 

We headed south and anchored without incident off of Chacala.  The dinghy was dropped into the water and we made our way to a tiny launching beach.   It didn’t take long to explore this little town.  It consists of a dirt road, open air restaurants, and shack-style shops, and is all of a couple of blocks from end to end.  This is where locals come for some R and R, and I can see why.  The views are stunning, the water is warm and clean, and the beaches are nearly pristine.

The restaurants serve food that is typically rustic and authentic.  They’re the kind of places where your tortillas are freshly made only after you have ordered your meal.  One place had us pick out a fish from the daily catch, which they then cooked over an open fire pit.  I think that was the best red snapper I have ever had, and the kids were quite literally sucking the flesh from the bones.

IMG_1532
I don’t know the name of the place, but this lady makes AMAZING tortillas!

Restaurants in these little places tend to not be open every single day, or for hours we are used to in the states.  It’s also not standard practice to post hours of operation. This can be frustrating when identifying favorite haunts, so just be aware that you need to ask, keeping in mind the schedule is always subject to change without notice.

One of the greatest surprises I encountered was ecologically friendly straws.  In this tiny, out of the way location, the locals had made a decision to reduce single use plastics any way possible.  Upon my query, I was informed that the waste on the beach had reduced significantly.  They were motivated to do more.  I found their awareness and dedication inspiring.

We had the good fortune to meet some other travelers.  They were not boat people, but we don’t hold that against anyone.  After some pleasantries, they offered to show us how to get to the caldera.  The promise of a jungle walk and a beautiful view were too much to turn down.  We accepted the offer and arranged to meet up.

Donkey
Could he be any cuter?

Approaching the jungle, we passed an adorable donkey, and local settlements.  The jungle walk was blessedly lacking in insect life.  We followed our new friends, only finding out later that the husband, who was leaving us in the dust, was over 80.  That’s a little embarrassing.  We were rewarded, though, with amazing views, and cool stories of both the locals and their environment.

 

 

La Isla Isabel- The Galapagos of Mexico

 

IMG_1464

Doesn’t every park want to be  “the Galapagos of…” ?  This is one place that did not disappoint.  As we approached, rock formations rose out of the water.  The sky looked odd, though.  We sailed closer, until we could make out the strange aerial objects.  A massive tornado of frigate birds crowned the island.  We stared, transfixed, at the living Mobil in front of us.  If you haven’t seen frigate birds flying, they look positively prehistoric.  We anchored with relative ease, disturbing a great deal of sea life in the process, and prepared ourselves for our very own “Land of The Lost” experience.  (the good tv series from the 70s, not the remake)

Immediately upon making our way to shore, we knew this place was unique.  Normally, wildlife scatters away from us as make landfall.  Here, the creatures simply looked at us incredulously.  The girls instantly were caught up with interacting with the fearless wildlife.

IMG_1476

Making our way along a path, we passed along trees laden with nesting frigate birds.  To be so near wildlife was surreal.  We wanted to find the caldera, but had difficulties until a local fisherman offered to take us.  The guy was a mountain goat!  Not one of us could keep up with him.  I guess we aren’t in as good of shape as we thought.  We made it to the caldera, which did not look inviting for a swim, and continued on to the other end of the island.  There, a harsh, black volcanic beach challenged the sea, and our shoes.  We noted its beauty and turned back the direction from which we had come.

Iguanas in our path had no knowledge that they should scatter from our footpaths, bringing a special delight to our hike.

IMG_1470

There was one odd observation.  The ground was littered with dead frigate birds on the far side of the island, yet the side we had anchored on seemed devoted to nesting.  In the absence of any natural predators, we found this a pattern noteworthy.

Isla Isabel was one of Jacques Cousteau’s favorite spots.  I can see why.