Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cabo San Lucas to La Paz: A Community of Crusiers

Our Christmas Card shot Dad took in Los Cabos

“Goooood Morning La Paz and Good Morning Cruisers!” is what we heard blaring through VHF channel 22A as we entered the La Paz entrance channel at 8am sharp. A cheery male voice rang out, hailing all yatistas, and hosting the VHF version of “Problem Corner: You’re on the air…” ¡Bienvenidos a la “Cruisers Mecca:” La Paz! After a calm night sail up from Bahía los Muertos, we made it into the bay just in time to hear the entire Cruisers Net, a La Paz yastista community connection, including tides, weather, general announcement, arrivals and departures (I called in an announced that we had arrived from Juneau!), local advice and “swaps and trades.” It was a highly entertaining broadcast: with questions ranging from “What time is women’s dominos this week?” to “Can someone returning to the states bring my grandchildren their Christmas presents?”
(We are definitely the young ones here.)

One of our favorite aspects of cruising is meeting the cruisers themselves. We had interacted with more sailors this side of Cabo San Lucas, than we have the entire journey. So many people from so many walks of life: some with lots of money, some with very little, but everyone making it work and living on their boat. The first couple we met was in San Jose del Cabo, just shortly after my Dad left us, bound back for Seattle. We had a great dinner of tacos and sailing stories with Chris and Alena, off their 34’ Colombia, S/V Green Panther. They started in San Diego, almost around the same time we did, and are planning to cross the Pacific this coming spring. We were rejuvenated and inspired by Chris and Alena’s excitement and enthusiasm about their upcoming “Puddle Jump” and look forward to spending more time with them in La Paz.

In San Jose del Cabo we also caught the bow and stern lines for S/V Mandalay, a big 55’ catch hailing from the Bay area (originally from Seattle). We ended up leapfrogging each other up the coast and enjoying a nice breakfast and morning margarita with them in Bahía de los Muertos. Anthony, the captain of Mandalay, has a wealth of cruising knowledge, especially in the Sea of Cortez, so we followed him (along with Green Panther) up the last stretch of coastline into La Paz on a following current and enjoyed radioing back and forth through the night.

A little about Mexican transportation…

We’ve had a couple of humorous, but enjoyable experiences on the mainland since we’ve slowed down a bit. It was goals of ours to not only explore the Baja coastal waters, but also the land Baja itself! In San Jose del Cabo, we had our first public bus ride into town from the marina, which went very smooth (thanks to a Mexican family waiting at the bus stop with us). The bus pulled up, what looked like a school bus, and up we hopped, depositing 10 pesos each in the driver’s hand. The bus had school bus seats, but they had been rearranged to be facing each other, with polls installed through out, similar to a subway car. We rode the bus with school children, families grocery shopping, hotel workings and not a gringo in site.

Catching a ride back to the marina seemed self-explanatory: just catch the same number of bus at the same stop heading back toward the marina. So, we did just that. We realized that something was wrong maybe about 15 minutes into our bus ride… we were definitely going the wrong way… on a highway. Where were we going? The cable-car-like school bus was crammed with people now. I had a small 3-year old Mexican boy pass out asleep on my shoulder, while his mother next to me watched music videos on her phone, passing the time (as if we were in it for the long haul). This was no quick bus circle. Somehow, we made it onto a bus that went completely out of San Jose del Cabo, almost an hour out of our way. We waited to ask the driver until we were the last of four people on the bus, recognizing that we were probably not headed back to the marina anytime soon. He looked as us, un-phased, pointed to a bus that was passing on the left side and opened the school bus door. We ran across the street, hopped on the same number of bus (Are all these busses labeled #5?… it could quick possibly be so) and rode back the exact same way for another hour, back into town and stopping, finally, at the Puerto Los Cabos Marina.

Needless to say, I got a scoop of ice cream after the whole ordeal.

Our next stop of was anchoring in Los Frailes, a specific anchorage for boats wanting to access the Cabo Pulmo State Park. Cabo Pulmo with well-renowned for excellent snorkeling, diving and kayaking, but requires a little bit of a hike from our quaint beach anchorage. We had to get into Cabo Pulmo village to schedule any scuba diving, so we opted to hitch hike on the one dirt road that connected the coastline. It was hot that day, we were rationing our drinking water, slathering on the sunscreen and hiking with snorkeling gear in tow. You would think… that Clif and I would be the MOST likely to be picked up as hitch hikers. Two young white kids? Clearly, American backpacker types…I was even wearing a skirt. But we watched multiple cars, trucks, jeeps, you name it, go by with just a wave, most of them looked to be Americans on their Mexican road trip getaway.
Clif, face to face with a meandering bull in the raod.
We walked to the first snorkel site, which was a little chilly in these winter temperatures, but fun to finally see some marine life (the dive master in town said the water temp. was around 80 to 81 degrees). We had fun diving and filming some of the fishies with our underwater GoPro camera. No mater how little sea life we saw, it’s still spectacular to swim in clear, turquoise waters.

Go Pro camera fun.

As we walked away, a dark rain cloud set in, we were contemplating finding some shade and trying to wait out the rainstorm, but instead had a young family from Hood River, OR (small world) finish their snorkel outing and ask if we wanted a ride into town! We lucked out. Our way back was a little less hiking. We still had to walk a ways, but had a truck-full of old surfer dudes from California ask if we wanted to climb in the back. Riding in the back of that little white Toyota truck: surfboard strapped on top, empty Pacifico bottles rolling around in the back, the desert mountains racing by and the red dirt kicking up behind us—it was a Mexico Kodak moment for sure. We thanked the guys immensely when they dropped us back off at the beach, just in time to row back to the boat and escape the rainy weather that was really setting in for not just an “afternoon shower.”

We did end up scheduling some scuba dives through a dive shop in Cabo Pulmo, but due to high winds and rain the following day the trip was cancelled. All dressed up in our wetsuits, we ended up snorkeling just near our boat on a little rocky wall area within the Los Frailes Bay. The fish were plentiful, but what was more beautiful was being able to hear the whale sing underwater. We heard big long sighs, singing back and forth, all while we snorkeled and free-dove around the area.

We’re hoping to get back down to Cabo Pulmo, possibly with just backpacks, scuba gear and a tent, and actually get to do some good dives. However, that will most likely be a post-Christmas adventure.

Tah-dah! We took an underwater couples picture... Brownie points!

Snorkel gear around cockpit.
 Back in La Paz…

The weather, both the wind and the chop, has picked up since I opened my computer to write this blog. We heard for the past several days that the weather was going to get nasty for a couple days, so we high tailed it up to La Paz, along with several other sailboats avoiding this weather. I’m glad we did! It looks like not much fun. We are safe and snug, anchored up on a warm boat. I suppose we can take a couple days of winter weather to pay for all the sun we’ve been soaking up. J

Going to stick it our here in La Paz to reprovision, meet new people, and wait out the weather… maybe do a little Christmas shopping before we head back to the states on the 19th.

I saw this at a gringo bar/cafe and instantly loved the mantra.

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