Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Little Haven on the Eastern Cape: Cabo Pulmo

“It’s like a drug,” Libby described to us, as the truck bounced its way along a freshly groomed dirt road. “You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it.” A CD mix of American and Mexican techno music (her son’s music) trails out the windows behind us. As the sun sets, Libby drives faster; kicking up dust while the color of the sky makes its transition from blue to a light purple. “We got to make it before the sun sets, so you can see the bay.” The windows are blown out on one side of the truck, so I covered myself with our thick, cotton Mexican blanket (newly purchased in La Paz) to keep me warm.

Lord of the Wind Kiting Competition, Los Barriles
We met Libby just the day before. While sitting on the beach in Los Barriles, observing a kite boarding competition (“Lord of the Wind”), we overheard a group chatting about Cabo Pulmo, our intended destination for the week. We introduced ourselves and couldn’t believe our luck. Libby, an American woman, not only had a home in Cabo Pulmo, but raised both of her children there. Seeing our backpacks with snorkel gear attached, she offered us a place to stay that night and a ride to the pueblo (town) mañana after the completion of all the kite boarding events. While Libby wasn’t in Cabo Pulmo full time anymore, her 84-year-old mother, Nancy, still resided there and ran a restaurant.
Clif, Nancy and Libby laugh at the fire place.

Nancy's restaurant prepping for dinner time.
We didn’t pull into the restaurant parking lot until after dark. Even in the dark, the stone work and large arched windows were visible.  We left our backpacks in the bed of the truck and walked it, greeted immediately by Nancy, who was awaiting our arrival. Her silver hair and tan slender body revealed many years of hard work, adapting to the rural Baja life. She held a glass of El Jimador (tequila) on ice and proudly displaced her Sirius XM radio that was provided the mood music for the evening. Frank Sinatra sang “Autumn in New York” while we sat down to a candle lit, wood table. During our drive, Libby had told us of the small stone fireplace that was lit every night, customers or no. The small wood fire gave off most of the light for dining and preparing meals. Without hesitation, or worrying about being cliché, I’ll say: it was magical. I felt transported.

The inside of our palapa-roofed casita at Nancy's.
We ended up staying with Nancy and Libby for three nights, in one of two casitas that Nancy rented out behind the restaurant. We had breakfast each morning, prepared by Nancy, and in the afternoons, we’d help prepare the fire, and enjoy a margarita made with love by Libby, who declared her margaritas the absolute best (and we agreed).

Cabo Pulmo is a national marine park just 60 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, up around the eastern cape of the Baja. The town of less than 100 people, is mainly supported by diving tourism. Cabo Pulmo is home to one of the only hard coral reefs on the west coast. We took four dives during our stay and saw many, many fish. Large schools of fish that were not phased by our presence. We were happy to see coral growing strong and regenerating. We loved our local dive master, Roberto (the best of the best), who took us out to some great spots and made us feel very comfortable on and off the dive panga.
Giselle listens intently to Roberto's description of the next dive site...
A large school of fish loom in front of me, while I swim around with the GoPro.

Clif absorbed himself from time to time in helping Nancy get just a little more power out of her solar panels (cleaning, dusting and trimming back a tree that had started to shade part of the panels). I enjoyed listening to Nancy’s stories about her young days as a musical theatre star in Chicago. “I was always the lead,” she said, “ and I played every part.” If she was cast in a supporting role, she would be convinced it was a mistake by the director: “Directors ALWAYS make mistakes.” Once, she was put in a chorus, she hammed it up so much on stage, stealing the show every night, and the theatre never put her in the chorus again (Well… that’s one way to do it!).

Reluctantly, Libby drove us back on our third day, after we finished diving and took a siesta. She wanted us to stay… and do did we! We chatted about helping her mother with the restaurant and getting our dive masters. It seemed to us the Cabo Pulmo would have a place in our future… maybe not this year, but soon there after. The romance of the little village, living off of well water and solar energy, reminded me of Tenakee (a Mexican version of it, at least). Hikes through the mountains, horseback riding and turquoise water keep many coming back, and some even build their own little casita for a more permanent stay. It would be the perfect place to sit down and write a book… I’ll keep that in the back of my mind.

We took the bus back from Los Barriles to La Paz in the dark: back into the city lights, back to our own bed (which Clif was most excited about). We don’t have too much more time down here before we begin our journey up north to Guaymas and dock the boat for the summer. However, I think we might squeeze in a little visit to Cabo Pulmo for Nancy’s birthday on February 14th, which we heard, should not be missed! Connie will be with us there, and we will get to share our little Baja heaven with her as well: geckos, las cucurachas, bird songs, turquoise waters, beach and all.

Showing off!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Week on Isla Espíritu Santo

Mexican “Island Life”: Journey Up Isla Espíritu Santo
An on-going journal of our week out at the Islands.

Quick Note: I did update our schedule page with a calendar and notes for those interested. We will be back states side at the beginning of April and start working in Juneau in May.

A Little Geography to Start You Off…

Caleta Partida (View from our hike)
Our boat has been in La Paz for the past month, on the eastern side of Baja, within Bahía de La Paz. Isla Espíritu Santo lies about 15 miles north of La Paz. It’s comprised of two islands, although a skinny, sandy shoal connects them: Espíritu Santo and Partida. The islands are frequented by many Sea of Cortez cruisers.

Some Unexpected Visitors…
When cruising down the Pacific coast, all that filled our heads was the though of reach Cabo San Lucas. If we reached Cabo, we were footloose and fancy-free. Sea of Cortez was cruiser country. Great sailing, beautiful turquoise anchorages, small Mexican cantinas… right? What we didn’t anticipate (or look into, for that matter) was the amount of North wind the Sea experiences after Dec. 1st. These strong north winds are affectionately called “El Norte,” and can set in for several days at a time, making any passage north, virtually impossible. These north winds force most cruisers south to Puerto Vallarta and beyond. The La Paz marinas are full of sailboats, just enjoying their winter while waiting out the wind.
In one of the many pristine anchorages.

Our trip across to Isla Espíritu Santo was beautiful, the perfect amount of wind. We actually sailed right into our first anchorage until the wind died and we lay suddenly still in the clear calm water. We put away the sails very casually, turned on the motor and found ourselves a nice spot to anchor.

The first night, we fell asleep in a perfectly calm boat. Around midnight, we woke to a bow bashing into large waves: the wind whistling above us. Where were these large wind waves coming from? We were bouncing up and down in the v-berth, when we realized we weren’t experiencing an El Norte, but rather the much talked about south and southwesterly Coromuel Winds that churn up as night in the spring and fall. The whole entire Bay of La Paz had time to build before it hit our anchorage. Clif and I took turns going outside and securing anything that moved or crashed about. We checked our anchor holding constantly until around 4am, when the wind died off and the waves abated. We hoped that the Coromuels wouldn’t be a normal occurrence during our island visit.

Stuck on the Boat…

It is rare that we ever get stuck in a non-inhabited anchorage because of weather. In fact, I can’t remember a when we have been truly stuck. The majority of time we are waiting out bad weather in a port, nestled into a nice comfortable slip, with the ease of coming and going on and off the boat as we please. We had such fabulous weather in Alaska and BC, that we didn’t even run into “weather window” problems until we reached Campbell River, on the inside of Vancouver Island. Sea of Cortez, similar to Southeast Alaska and Coastal BC, has a wide variety of anchorages to explore with few villages or amenities.

Our first day in Bahia San Gabriel, carrying the Walker Bay ashore.
Our second night on the island, to avoid the Coromuels that left us sleepless that first night, we moved north to a smaller cove, less exposed to the south. We anchored in our own private Ensenada de Gallo, just around sunset... just in time to feel the north wind begin to blow. And blow it did. This El Norte was not going to be a smooth ride. Throughout the entire time the wind gusted from 0-40 knots about once a minute. Some of the gusts were smaller than others, but every gust would catch our boat side on, because we were swinging back and forth so heavily on our anchor. The wind funneled through canyons on the island and directed all its force onto our little home. Night two: no sleep. I played Sudoku for three hours in the dead middle of the night, checking our GPS occasionally to make sure we weren’t dragging anchor. There was no sleep for me.

In the morning, we convinced ourselves that the wind had calmed down enough to find a new anchorage, somewhere a little bit more protected. We made for a spot less than 4 nautical miles north, but the strong wind and waves didn’t even allow us around the first exposed point. We were making less than one knot motoring. We had to turn around and go back to our spot. We anchored up in the same spot, hoping for a little relief, and hunkered down.

Being stuck on a boat at anchor is like being weathered out in a small winter cabin. You embrace the small cozy space; find joy in relaxing activities, and nap. Clif and I have passed our time with (and gotten especially good at) Sudoku, Solitaire, cleaning house, reading extensively, practicing ukulele, cooking, washing dishes and planning our next year.

Our third day out on the island was perfect. Early in the morning we plowed our way upwind to a small caleta (cove) that promised shelter from the north winds. Our guidebook warned us that there was only room for one or two boats, so we were shocked to find NO boats anchored in the perfect getaway. Another boat joined us less than an hour later. The wind lay down in the afternoon and we took the opportunity to row ashore and hike up the arroyo (brook or stream… or in most cases like ours, a dry stream bed) of a long canyon. We heard that there was a spectacular view waiting at the top of this hike, although “hike” can be a very relative term in cruising guidebooks. We were bouldering, hoping from rock to rock, using our bodies like we haven’t been for a long time. The view was indeed spectacular, but the heat and the wind at the top of the canyon drove us back down quickly, in time for a cold swim before the sun set.

El Mezteno, view from the beach (Sound Discovery is that white dot on the horizon)

A Word About Desert Hiking…

El Mezteno.
The desert is a prickly place.

While I grew up in Juneau, hiking over streams and fallen mossy logs, I have had experience hiking in hot, dry places. However, none of my Arizona hikes compare to the bush-whacking that ensues on some of these so-called “trails.” Long pants become a must, even with the heat; otherwise, you sacrifice the skin on your ankles and calves. Shoes that are close-toed and strong are a necessity, something I don’t have on the boat. My barefoot gel-soled shoes took three steps off of the beach and were covered in spinney stickers that I could feel protruding through both the bottom and top of my shoe. On our first full day-hike out of Bahía San Garbiel, I had to carry a rock with me to scrap the painfully strong stickers off the sides and soles of my shoes.

Most “trails” listed in the book are dried up creek beds that wind into the mountains. While the scenery is phenomenal, no trail is ever maintained, so we spend time searching for the path of least resistance. The amount of water we’ve consumed during and after these hikes is astonishing… especially when your drinking water is so, well… regulated.

But after all that gripes, a couple cactus battled wounds and a little blood is worth getting to really experience the wilderness. We got to see wild goats climbing the hills yesterday, spooked from our presence, and more picture perfect vistas to count.
View from the top of our canyon/arroyo hike
More Thoughts on Cruising…

As a cruiser I have come to feel once in a while a lack of purpose. I don’t know if it’s just being around a lot of retired Americans or not knowing what is going on elsewhere in the world, but I know, personally, I need more of a purpose than just hanging out. So many people call themselves cruisers, yet they’re living on their boat in a La Paz marina for 8 months out of a year: cozied up to the dock, plugged in with TVs and Internet. Is that really cruising?

When we were coming down the coast, we had such a strong purpose and destination. I always felt like we were on an adventure, making it day by day, slowly further south. Now that we’re in the Sea of Cortez, I feel antsy. I can relax into the retired lifestyle for maybe a day or two, until I get bored stiff and want to see a new place. Because that’s what cruising is about, right? The problem is, constantly moving around at a fast rate is exhausting… exciting, but exhausting. I need a purpose to be on this boat, or I feel as lazy as a sea cucumber. I’ve been excited recently at the planning of making our way north, not only because I get to see Juneau again in April, but because we get to actually start moving again: having a destination and places to see along the way.

Is it because I’m a little too young for the cruising lifestyle? I don’t think so. I think it’s my instinctive nature of being busy. I have been a busy girl and a busy young woman. Maybe it’s a good change for me not to be busy for a while? Clif was certainly not born with the same “keep busy” gene. However, I do think my busy schedule at home keeps my energy up.

If the boat is our mode of travel, we have to find a nice balance between both: exploring and covering new ground, and spending time relaxing: really getting to know a place.

Back in the Blue Sea of Cortez…
I kept this shell... a good find on the playa of San Gabriel.

My absolute favorite part about the Sea of Cortez is the remarkably clear turquoise water. Every anchorage we can watch our anchor drop down, dig into the white sand, and pull the anchor chain perfectly straight. It’s a luxury most Southeast Alaskan boaters couldn’t even imagine. The Isla Espíritu Santo anchorages give new meaning to a Southwestern color scheme. The turquoise water against the pink-orange canyon walls, with bright accents of green cacti and agave plants, make me dream of canvas and oil paints. Oil paints might be the only medium to give this vibrant landscape justice… and maybe Photoshop. Alas, oil paints are not the medium for boat life, but Photoshop most definitely is.

Swimming seems to cure my nautical version of “cabin fever” instantly. I can stick my head in the still water, hearing only the faint sound of popping coral and a panga (fiberglass skiff) passing in the distance. I watch Clif gracefully kick across the sandy bottom beneath me… oblivious of the wind whipping above the water’s surface. This El Norte seems to be sustaining itself very well, more so than usual. Or maybe it’s just felt much more out here than deep in the La Paz Bay.

We did dishes tonight (our fourth day out) while listening to the north wind pick up again: each gust growing stronger and stronger. We shut all of our windows to avoid the sound of rattling outside and inside. Will it ever let up?

We were invited over for snacks on our neighbor’s boat, and asked them (a more experienced cruising couple) about the constant wind. They said, “Out here [Sea of Cortez], when the El Nortes aren’t blowing in, expect a southern wind at night… hands down, year round.” Sounds like it might be a rough ride in March, working our way up to Santa Rosalia and then over to Guaymas.

Bathing in the Sea

We spent our sixth night out in Ensenada Grande, which offers three small anchorages. We picked the smallest of the three, closet to the north to protect us from the availing winds. The wind calmed down in the morning as we sailed north, but picked up heavily once we made it up this far, so we turned in and anchored, hoping for a calm morning to approach Los Islotes, the farthest north islets with a large sea lion rookery.

The water in our anchorage is shallower, therefore, slightly warmer. Clif immediately jumped in after we anchored. However, what was more important to me than swimming was bathing! I’ve learned that taking a quick dunk off the boat does not do much for actually getting my skin clean. A good scrubbing is in order. I situated myself on the bow of the boat with our special seawater soap and new backpackers’ bucket to dip over the side. With the wind blowing in my face, I bravely scrubbed all over my body vigorously with a wet washcloth: a full body exfoliation. I then dosed myself repeatedly, becoming cold enough that my swim would actually feel pleasantly warm… and it worked! All clean. Can’t say that much for my hair. It’s a lost cause as sea. I can brush it every day, but it still will have layered of caked salt, making it even thicker than usual.

New Friends (Marine Life)
Clif meets a new friend!

Sea lion pup playfully slips by my camera.
Our last two days on the island held some pretty magical moments… as far as snorkeling goes. The wind calmed down (finally) which meant we were able to get in the water swimming quite a bit more. We motored the boat up to Los Islotes, two small islets on the north shore of Isla Partida. Los Islotes is famous for its large sea lion rookery, and vast amount of sea lion pups! During the wintertime, many tourists flock to these rocks to snorkel with the sea lion pups, who are friendly and curious. Clif and I swam around with a swarm of four or five pups for over 20 minutes, mimicking their bubble blowing, spins and somersaults under water. The sea lions come straight up to your snorkel mask and stare at you with their wide eyes, looking for a playmate! They also are very well known for nibbling at your fins, trying to attract attention. What an experience! The GoPro photos we took don’t do it justice, but the videos are pretty awesome. I will work on compiling some video footage and making it small and easily accessible.
Showing off for the GoPro.

A great group of pups hang out with Clif and I for a while...
This morning, before leaving our anchorage at Cardoncito on Isla Partida, we swam out to a reef close by. The reef was full of fish, but poor visibility (we had to dive down to really be able to observe the marine life). We didn’t expect to see anything spectacular, and because of the murky visibility, I didn’t bring the GoPro camera. We poked our heads up out of the water to chat, when we started to hear load slaps echoing across the sea surface. This slapping sound belongs to the manta rays, jumping high out of the water and belly flopping hard as they descend. We could see the manta rays very close, thinking it was possibly a cluster of two or three. We put our masks back on and began to ever so slowly fin forward, towards where the rays were jumping, when suddenly, through the murky, plankton filled water, a school of manta rays appeared underneath us. There was not just a couple… there were at least a hundred or more black 2-3 feet long manta rays effortlessly gliding only feet below us. They were layered in a formation that wasn’t phased by our presence. I held Clif’s leg, keeping completely motionless and quiet, watching the creatures pass, so crisp and clear… and SO MANY! They kept coming! How big was this school of rays? Finally, the last of them receded off into the green water beyond. It was incredible. Such a high. I have never seen anything so spectacular in my short snorkeling/diving career. I was so glad that I opted to put on the cold wetsuit this morning and dive in with Clif. I was kicking myself for not having the camera, but honestly, clicking away on the GoPro would have taken away from the mystic moment. It was only less than a minute. The sea is full of such wonders and we have only begun to explore.

A New Home

We motored back to La Paz this afternoon and managed to snag a coveted spot in Marina de La Paz, a harbor right in the heart of downtown La Paz. There is a large cruisers community, morning coffee and cookies at the cruisers club, DVDs to rent and many wonderful Mexican restaurants within easy walking distance. The grocery store is close (what a novelty) and there are excellent showers… and I mean good. You can only imagine how it feels to wash my thick hair in a high-pressure shower after a week at sea. It was divine.

So, now that my hair is washed, I’ve got some limonada in my belly (still going no alcohol for a while), and I’ve updated the blog, I’m ready for an extremely restful nights sleep.

Sunset tonight at Marina de La Paz, the new home for our boat... at least for the next 30 days.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thoughts on the Cruising Life: La Paz

The Cruisers’ Life

It has been said that the only difference between a boat owner and cruiser is that the cruiser chooses to fix their boat in a foreign country. Spending time around Marina Palmira in La Paz has only enhanced my gut feeling that we’ve all raced down here, as fast as we could, just to work on our boats. Living on a boat, especially a boat that moves frequently, requires a great deal of maintenance… that is for sure.

I almost had to laugh today as I scrubbed the cockpit of our boat, while one slip over, a woman toiled over some boat part: both on hands and knees and both in work gloves. This isn’t a site you would conjure if you thought Mexican vacation, but it is a very normal scene in the life of a cruiser. The physical labor of emptying our lazerette and quarter berth/stern storage space, with the mid-day heat and dry air, makes me thankful for siestas. Our to-do list is never endless… similar to buying your first home, expect this home is tiny, snug and open to the elements.

As a mode of exploration, it’s quite slow. I’ve had to mentally come to terms with cruising as a way of seeing the world. It requires so much maintenance and patience… it makes backpacking sound like a dream. Were I am on solid ground, relying on my own two feet to keep me standing, not a fiberglass hull.

But then, when we’re out on the water, moving gracefully through the waves, perfect warm wind: I know why people do it. It forces you to slow everything down. We cruise at jogging speed (4-5 knots on a good sail). We kept a quick speed walk down the coast. It’s daunting to think of all the couples and single-handers who keep up this pace all the way around the world.

We are open to the weather elements, but also have another force at play: the sea. Every day on the water is humbling, but also elevating. A day on the water can bring your mind into great calmness: a state of meditation, but can flip flop and become stressful and high-strung. It’s a life many love. It’s a life Clif loves. I am still learning to embrace many things about being on the boat.

I’ve been having vivid dreams of hiking, camping, swimming in fresh water, climbing mountain peaks, hugging trees (I know, you’re thinking… “Wow. It’s bad.”). However, I am extremely thankful for my journey at sea. A journey that still continues with more lessons to learn: more growing to do. I can always go back to the spruce trees and muddy trails… I know where they are, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.

While there are always infinite to-do lists, I somehow find myself antsy. My whole life I feel like I’ve been working towards something very specific. I’m used to jumping through hoops, completing papers and classes, grinding away rehearsal after rehearsal. Cruising has challenged me to do the opposite. What do I do with myself?! Write. Read. Do Sudoku. Clif and I really are retired. We’re getting old fast (Just kidding…. Not really.)

It will be nice to take a break this summer and work. (Ironic, no?)

The Anchored Life

Clif and I never intended to spend most of our Mexican time in marinas, mostly because they are so gosh darn expensive. The “anchor life” is a lifestyle chosen predominately by young cruisers, cruiser families and those who just don’t have stores of retirement money to spend in a harbor slip. However, we were glad to have our boat safe in a harbor while we traveled the past month. Marinas give peace of mind, security and the plush-ness of free showers.

Today we took off from Marina Palmira to anchor out, right off the beach of downtown La Paz. We purchased drinking water to store on the boat, completed a huge grocery run to resupply our dry goods and fridge (that is now running), and did every chore imaginable that required a hose attachment, electricity or a secure dock. We sailed gracefully downwind towards La Paz (Marina Palmira is just slightly north of the town center) and cozied our way into anchorage.

La Paz’s enormous year-round cruising community gives a whole new meaning to “anchoring up.” There are many boats anchored out, attempting to live as cheaply as possible, driving their outboard dinghies back and forth from the dinghy dock. Finding your own spot can be especially challenging, and requires a day, if not more, to watch your anchor and watch how close your boat swings towards others. The “La Paz Waltz” is a phenomenon that is happens in the Bay when the current and the wind are opposing, causing some boats to gently spin and touch one another if they are anchored too close. It can be a guessing game as to where other anchors are holding, how many chain or rope they might have out and how long the boat as actually been sitting there.

All that said, I think we found a good spot.

Being at anchor changes your life on the boat. There is more wind, more sounds, and more water flowing under the boat and lapping at the bow. Our Walker Bay had to be set up, sail kit and all, to sail into the closest marina and dock our boat while we ran a couple of errands. Grocery loads have to be small and simple, and anything in the dinghy needs to be able to get wet. No Internet or showers again… at least for now.

I liken anchoring to homesteading… although I’m not growing my own veggies (I should be though!). We are electricity conscious, water conscious, and cooking most meals on the boat. Now all we need is a chicken. My boat chicken dream still hasn’t manifested itself.

The most wonderful aspects of life at anchor are both the privacy and time it creates. It gives you the adventurous feel, while still being able to run in to the grocery store. We’re sitting on the boat now, brewing our new jamaica tea (hibiscus flower) and listening to a Mexican boy band sing in spanish on our All-band battery powered radio. The sun goes down, and so do you… unless you have a high powered, motorized dighy that you don’t mind running in the dark. Rowing in the dark isn’t quite as romanitic as in the daylight.
We still get to feel connected to the community without paying rent. It is also a lot easier to hoist the anchor and sail away, which is our plan this week! We made the decision to base ourselves out of La Paz for a bit, feel like we know the town, but still be able to get out and explore the islands. In late February we will leave La Paz for San Carlos and Guaymas, where we will keep the boat for the summer.

Our tracker will be on in the next week, and we will start sending “We’re OK” messages every night, once we are out on the water, outside of La Paz. If you need to contact us, message us via our InReach Delorme. We will most likely be back in La Paz next Sunday for a sailing swap meet, and then take off again for another couple weeks.

Until then...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Family Vacation: A Visit to Loreto

Our month of stay in Marina Palmira is almost up, here in La Paz. It's been a speedy fours weeks, starting with kiteboarding in La Ventana, a trip back to the states, a bus ride up to Loreto (a 4.5 hour drive north of La Paz on the Baja and a week long visit with Clif's parents, Rob and Barbara, as well as some of their friends. We have three full days left in the slip that we paid for, and quite a lot to do before we enter into the next phase of our "cruising season." We have made a couple decisions about the spring, while some are still up in the air, but once thing is for sure: we will be in the Sea of Cortez for the rest of the spring and we will put the boat "on-the-hard" (aka dry-dock... or out-of-the-water storage) starting in April. This process of choosing a "dry storage" spot for one's boat is more of a chore than we thought it would be, so some of our time will be consumed looking for the best prices and availability in marinas farther north in the Sea of Cortez.

We did bring a new fridge down to Mexico for our boat, which means the next couple of days will be all about installing the new compressor and making it work. After the fridge is installed, we will work are to clean and re-provision the boat for some longer periods of exploration. The thought of having a fridge is exciting and gives us a little more freedom as far as diet goes. However, it will not be consumed with any cervezas for me, as I am giving up all cervezas or alcoholic bebidas (drinks) for two months as my beginning of the new year resolution. I'm also giving up caffeine for that time as well. Clif and I are attempting to be more heart and blood-pressure conscious after spending Christmas with Dad and checking blood pressures daily.

Cultural Experiences in Loreto...

Ken and Rosie's House in Loreto
Loreto is a small Mexican town that makes money off of both tourism and fishing. It is now accessible by Alaska Airlines Horizon plans, which has created a major boom in the amount of homes owned by Americans in the area. It has a nice malecon by the harbor (the main street along the water), a large city square full of restaurants and shops, and many homes of bright colors and lush plants, fueled by their increasing economy.

We were lucky enough to meet up with Clif's parents and stay with their Reno friends, Ken and Rosie, who own a home on the water very close to the town center. We had a full house, but enjoyed the company and the great meals made (one in particular, which we had on the top deck while the sunset). We spent three full days with Ken and Rosie, having several awesome cultural experiences that we wouldn't have done if we had explored Loreto by ourselves.
Clif, the caballero.

We spent one full day driving out of Loreto into the mountains to deliver groceries to several families of caballeros (cowboys/homesteaders). We drove in Ken's Land Rover through small winding dirt roads, over rocks and shallow springs, passing cows, pigs and many... many.. catci, before arriving at a group of homes far out in the Baja desert. The families were generous, social, offered us coffee and sweet fried tortillas. The children played with a donkey, and convinced Clif to take a ride and channel his inner caballero skills. It was almost surreal to be conversing with these families, that live without electricity, plumbing, and have dirt floors. The walls of one home were made out of an old sail with a palapa roof (grass hut rood). They had goats, cows and many vegetables that they would grow and then sell in town. They preserve a way of life that is very foreign to many of us Americans.

Clif with the baby turtle...
The next day, we were taken to a long beach, far away from any tourist access and did some shell collecting. Rosie, Barbara and their friend Julie (another Reno-ite living in Mexico) managed to find a baby sea turtle on their walk of the beach! It was still alive, barely hanging on. They walking the turtle back to where Clif and I sat near the cars, dowsing the turtle with water every couple of minutes, giving him rest in the palm of their hands. We were shocked to find him alive, since so many baby turtles hatch and never make it to the sea. Clif commenced sea turtle rescue mission, setting the turtle gently on the paddle board with brought and slowly paddled him out beyond the surf. He let the turtle free and watched him begin to spring into action, flapping his fins on the surface, showing great potential. Later, after Clif's successful return, we walked the beach to make sure he hadn't washed up with the tide. Thankfully, no, he was still swimming strong (or so we hoped)!
I can't post enough baby turtle photos! They're too cute.
Clif Paddling the turtle past the waves (Do you see it on the board??)

We also had the chance to attend a local Sunday market before leaving Ken and Rosie in Loreto. We ate gorditos (fat tacos), drank himica juice (hibiscus), and got a treat of fresh Mexican churros, which I remembered fondly from the first time I was in Mexico with my Juneau Girl Scout Troop.

Sunday Loreto Market

Clif and his parents buying veggies and fruit at the market in Loreto.

Carnitas: Roast pig... the whole pig!


A Little Outing in the Bay...

Back in La Paz, after a long afternoon drive with Rob and Barbara, we all cuddled back into the boat at Marina Palmira. It felt good to be back in my bed again, falling asleep soundly with all the windows open, as to let the heat of the day escape while we slept.

The next day, we took off for a day sail in the La Paz Bay, hoping to view some wildlife, and decided instead to find a little cove and anchor for the night, creating our day-sail into a sleepover. We had plenty of food for dinner and breakfast, and anchored early enough to take the dinghy off the bow and row shore, exploring the mangroves that surrounded the cove and shells the littered its tiny beach. What a prefect surprise. Great weather, a little sun set, some casual star viewing and a full nights sleep! We woke up in the morning lazily. I rowed back into shore to check out the mangroves again and get a little morning exercise.

We sailing out of the bay, downwind, all the way back to the La Paz channel entrance, which took us a couple hours. It was an easy, breezy, no-nonsense sailing outing. No motor troubles and perfect wind... the way it should be. It also gave Clif and I a chance to get back into the swing of things, rekindle our excitement for leaving the marina and start exploring more around La Paz.

Later that afternoon, after arriving back in the slip, we said goodbye to Clif's parents and waved them off as they headed down to Cabo, to catch their flight in the monring.

Just Us Chickens...

So here we are again, just the two of us. Ready to recharge and regroup for our spring in Mexico. We have 3 months of play with before we really need to get the boat our of the water and head back to the states. We will have a couple of friends visiting in that time, which will be fun and encourage us to plan a little better for the months to come. We've got plenty of sunscreen to last us for a long while, we just need a little more food to give us the freedom to move around a bit more. We will also fill the propane tank, fill up the diesel and water tank.

Other then that we're ready to go! Go where?! We don't know! We have a guidebook, and Mexican charts. Looking forward to seeing some new landscape and meeting new cruisers down the road.



...and...MORE PHOTOS!

A hat we found on our drive into the mountains...

Laundry and vegetables at the caballeros home.

My new amigo, Jesus, on his donkey. Note the cowboy boots :)

Look who decided to keep the hat!

We found a baby hammerhead shark head! With it's baby jaw attached.

A lone starfish on the beach... which remarkably resembled....

My tattoo!! Crazy! It's almost identical coloring. Pretty neat.

One more of the baby turtle...