Again, my Mom is blogging for the few weeks she is visiting us on Moment. Enjoy this week’s installment!
Passage to Chacala
Shelley woke up today and displayed her bug bites. We estimated she had over two hundred! She is very sensitive to bites so she took some antihistamine and conked out, barely making it through school. The rest of us were fine – very few, if any bites. Now I know why she was so freaked out by the bed bugs in Cabo!
Today was very calm so no sailing. In 4 hours we motored to Chacala where we immediately jumped into the water for a swim. Shelley had checked in on the radio with the Capitanio (Port Captain) with her prepared message in Spanish. She sounded so good that he answered her at a hundred miles an hour in Spanish. When she said ‘mas despacio por favor‘ (slower, please) and ‘no comprendo’ he answered her in perfect English asking the captain to report in the next day with all our passports and the boat entry permit. She was ready for a swim after that!
There were 5 other sailboats anchored in the bay which is quite small. There is a small surf on the beach where swimmers were abundant. We could hear the music from our boat. A paddle board appeared carrying a woman from one of the boats. They were from Eugene, Oregon and she filled us in on what was here. She told us about the free wifi available in the bay so we all plugged in! It had been over a week since we were connected to the outside world. It was a weak signal and only available in the cockpit so I managed to get a few bug bites as darkness descended. After we put the kids to bed we stayed up until 10pm watching Sherlock Holmes. Our usual bedtime is right after the kids go to bed at 8pm, so this was late for us! I am now working on my third book. No Netflix here!
Last night was pretty rolly so, first thing, we moved the boat to a more protected spot (also closer to the cell tower!) nearer the dock. After school, we rowed the short distance to shore and registered with the Port Captain. We walked up a cobblestone street enjoying the colourful houses perched on the hill surrounding the village. As we went down again to the ‘’Main Street” we spotted small restaurants and tiny markets with some fresh produce. The beach entry was through an open air thatched roof series of cafes (palapas), catering mostly to Mexicans. The kids were thrilled with the surf so they jumped in, clothes and all, laughing and jumping the waves. That, of course, gave us an opportunity to sit in the shade and order food and drinks with a great view. Our menu was in Spanish and our waiter only spoke a little English but we managed to order our food but didn’t quite know what to expect. As it turned out, it was very good and the drinks were frosty cold. Shelley says breakfast nachos (chilaquiles) are delicious!
It was now time to pick up a few provisions for the boat: fresh fruit, veggies, eggs and bread. The kids were fascinated with the souvenir shops and had fun stating each item they would buy (if they had money). I spotted little Panama hats and couldn’t resist buying one for Spencer but then I thought, wouldn’t it be cute if Steve had one too? This store had a no bartering policy so I forked over the 150 pesos ($7.50) for both hats. I promised Paige I would buy her something as well but we couldn’t find any flip flops that she liked (she had forgotten her old ones at the beach in San Jose Del Cabo). We returned to the boat with our groceries and Shelley took the kids for a dinghy ride to visit other boats in the bay while Steve and I enjoyed the peace and quiet. When they returned, we all jumped in for a swim, soaped and rinsed ourselves off and settled in for a nice quiet evening. Thanks Linda for that shampoo – it really does suds up in salt water and we all smell quite wonderful. It’s so nice here that we will spend another day, boogie boarding on the beach.
Beach Day in Chacala
After school and lunch, Shelley, Paige, Spencer and I all paddled to shore. I was the slowest one, but I made it! Steve took the dinghy with our beach needs and met us there. There is a little bit of a surf so Steve was teaching the kids how to boogie board. I assisted with my air mattress that actually worked quite well. They got some pretty good waves and took a few tumbles as well. Steve, of course, was the master.
The water was teeming with thousands of tiny fish. It’s a bit disconcerting at first and you can’t really ignore them because we were surrounded by hundreds of pelicans who dive bombed steadily right amongst the swimmers! Shelley sat on the beach working reading and writing and being driven crazy by the ice cream man who played the same song continually as he walked back-and-forth all day long.
We had met a nice couple from Kelowna in the morning who were paddling in the bay so the kids met up with them on the beach and played with their dog. She was a great fetcher and digger so they both announced that when they get bigger, they’re getting a dog. No comment from Shelley or Steve!
We paddled back to the boat for our rinse off and lo and behold, it was happy hour! Today was Margaritas with ice even! Poor Steve is not feeling well. He has a sore back and a sore throat. We sure hope he is not getting strep throat. Jen had it very bad while we were in Cabo so we are keeping close tabs on him. Because I have now made friends with the stove, I made chicken fajitas for dinner and quesadillas for the kids. All in all, another lovely day in paradise (except for poor Steve!).
Travel to La Cruz, Banderas Bay
Our plan had been to stop along the way to La Cruz for snorkelling but Steve was not well at all. There was little to no wind so a-motoring we went. We saw two whales less than thirty feet from the boat which is a sight that never gets old!
It was a pleasant and uneventful trip until Steve spotted some long line markers. These are long fishing lines that are deadly for boaters. If the lines get caught in your propellor, you are in trouble. We actually crossed one line but we were in neutral so got through that one okay. One of the (dreaded) long line fisherman actually boated over to us to ask for agua (water)! Being polite Canadians and in Mexican waters we generously obliged, all the while cursing those lines as a boating hazard! We really enjoyed the coastal scenery – much more lush and tropical compared to the Baja.
We arrived in La Cruz late in the afternoon and spotted our friends, Westy, so (as Shelley says), we stalked them and anchored near their boat. There are a ton of boats anchored here and quite a large marina. This whole bay is very different from what I have seen so far: towns only a few miles apart and huge resort hotels dotting the shoreline. We can see La Cruz, Bucerias, Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta. La Cruz is quite small in comparison to the others where most of the amenities are.
Steve was still sick so we decided to give him a break. Shelley had paddle boarded to the marina and spotted a Sunday market that she thought it would be fun to visit. We told the kids they could have 50 pesos ($2.50) to spend but it couldn’t be junk. On the way, we ran into the Westy crew and chatted with them for a bit. They were heading to Chacala (which we loved) and we also recommended the jungle cruise. We entered the busy market with the understanding that it was a gringo market and the prices reflected that. Spencer was attracted to anything colourful or that resembled a toy. Paige was attracted to the intricate beadwork and woven baskets. Needless to say, apart from food (a giant Italian sausage panini for $4 that took two of us to eat), there was nothing worthwhile to purchase (neither Shelley nor I are shoppers!).
We bought some cinnamon buns as a treat for Steve and walked around the town for a bit. It didn’t take long for us to find out that: (a) It was Sunday and many shops were closed, and (b) Bucerias is the nearest town for shopping, cell phone plans, etc. It is only 3 ½ miles away. We did manage to snag some cold beer (12 for $7) to bring back to the boat where Shelley immediately jumped into the water to cool off. I, on the other hand, quenched my thirst by guzzling a few beer and having a siesta!
The next day, Steve cooked us another of his delicious breakfasts. He does breakfast every day, including my coffee and Shelley’s tea. His repertoire includes pancakes, eggs, toast, yummy hash browns with bacon, oatmeal with fruit and all the trimmings and cereal (when he wants a break). We have a big breakfast about every three days and porridge and cereal in between. I feel quite spoiled and have a hard time thinking about making my own food when I get home!
After brekkie, we listened on the radio to the Banderas Bay Boaters’ Net. Everyone who was new to the Bay was asked to check in. The winds and tides were reported on. They asked for any lost or found goods and what services people might be needing. Others in the know would provide that information. It was really interesting and we heard more about the La Cruz Kid’s Club. Shelley found out that there were three activities for this week; a movie night, organic gardening and working in a sushi restaurant (what!). The kids are the right age for all activities so on the 10th (Shelley’s birthday), we will deliver them to their job. They will be given their tips and then they will be asked if they wish to donate to a local charity – stay tuned for that one!
Steve woke up feeling much better today so Shelley suggested a trip to Bucerias for groceries. I offered to do school with the kids so they could have an unencumbered trip – thumbs up from Shelley! Off they went and we whizzed through the schoolwork. Paige finished all her grammar for the whole week so she was happy about that (compound subject, compound predicate, blah, blah blah – lol). Of course, she’s very good at school but gets in her own way sometimes! Spencer whizzes through math (loves adding but NOT subtracting) and his reading and spelling are coming along nicely. When they are motivated to do their school, it’s easy because they are fast learners. At other times – no need to say more.
Currently, I am sitting on the boat enjoying the breeze and listening to the kids play below. I have just started my fourth book and I’ve never slept better. I think this is the chosen life for me – winter in Mexico!
As I was settling on the bow for a little sunbathing, Shelley and Steve arrived with a big load of groceries (including many drinks – a person gets thirsty in this heat, you know!) Steve estimates that they carried over 100 pounds between them from Bucerias on the local bus.
Time for a swim – wait a minute, we had still not inflated Pirate Island yet! Spencer and I watched from the water as the island took shape with help from Paige, Shelley and Steve. Once in the water, cold drinks in hand, we again saluted ourselves for making such wonderful choices. Well, that was short lived. It turns out that the image of lounging on a floating island, relaxing with a cold drink is only without kids. Spencer loved bouncing up and down. Paige was in and out of the water splashing us gleefully. I guess our noise attracted another kid boat as we saw four noodles paddling towards us. Two adults and two kids (11 & 12) from Washington state were on the second year of a four year sailing cruise. They were full of advice about the Sea of Cortez, not all good news either.
On the Net the next morning we heard about a Spanish class at the La Cruz Yacht Club for beginners. I couldn’t be more of a beginner, especially compared to Shelley but I was game for a new adventure. The class was conducted in Spanish and it was obvious that some had been there many times. I was actually able to say a few sentences. I am especially proud that I could say ‘Me gusta bebe cerveza’ but then she asked me if I liked all beer or just Mexican. I was able to tick off several brands of beer which got a good laugh. Shelley told them she likes Margaritas. When we told Steve, he asked if they all thought we were alcoholics!? We actually learned quite a bit for one hour so it was 100 pesos well spent.
Steve had finished school with the kids when we got back so we spent the rest of the day relaxing, playing in the water and watching the kids try to stand up (unsuccessfully) on Pirate Island. I managed (with help) to bake a birthday cake in that dratted oven. I was amazed that it actually turned out!