Monday, May 31, 2010

5/29/10 - La Paz

I’ve been procrastinating on this entry because I don’t have any real inspiration to write. We’ve heard a lot about La Paz and were really looking forward to arriving. It has everything we heard about, open markets, grocery stores (even a Walmart and Sam’s club), beaches and cruisers. But I have to say, it’s just a regular place. I think I may have worked it up in my mind too much based on the many recommendations we’ve heard over the years.

With that said, we have had a lot of fun since we arrived. We’ve ridden the local buses to the open air market, we’ve taken a taxi to Walmart, walked endlessly downtown and eaten the local food. One day Jake and I ventured out on our own to the local Anthropology and History Museum. Everything is in Spanish so you can picture me sitting on the floor in front of the informational plaques with my English/Spanish Dictionary trying to read to Jake and pretending that I’m understanding what the very nice man was explaining to me (over and over and louder and louder). Luckily, it wasn’t a very big museum. From there we walked (and walked and walked) to a local pottery place where everything is hand painted and fired on the premise. We followed that up with some very bad Chinese food and some very good ice cream enjoyed under a polka dotted tree.

One very important event that has occurred since we’ve been here is Andy’s 40th Birthday! I think it hit him like it probably does most people…special day, strange feelings, checking for more gray hairs. We enjoyed a nice dinner out in town overlooking the harbor with all of the sailboats. We ended the day with a homemade pecan pie (his favorite). Here's Jake pointing to Andy's stomach after a conversation on how much we all ate...

We’re docked in a pretty cheap marina (i.e. zero amenities) until Wednesday where we’ll head out to Isla Ispiritu Santos. We’ll be back in our element there with lots of sandy beaches and great diving/snorkeling. Until then, we have plans to hang out with some of our new friends and I’m looking forward to visiting a weaving place where they turn hand painted fabric into various different treasures (I’m personally looking for a rug). Jake wants to find the pool we’ve been hearing about and Andy, well, I have no idea what Andy wants to do. I think he’s having diving withdrawl and is wishing Wednesday to come very fast .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5/25/2010 - Puerto Balandra

We left yesterday morning for Puerto Balandra.  In our guide book, this looked to be a beautiful place.  We were not disappointed.  After a very bumpy ride (maybe our worst yet.  We actually had water in the cockpit), we dropped anchor yesterday afternoon around 4:00.  This place is straight out of a magazine advertisement for an expensive vacation.  Clear blue water and white sandy beaches.  

After breakfast this morning, we packed a lunch, launched the dinghy with the kayaks in tow and set out for our day.  We anchored the dinghy in about 3 feet of water and got in our kayaks.  We found the entrance to the mangroves and paddled back until we came to a nice big opening at the end.  This was exactly what Andy and I were looking for, but it wasn’t really exciting enough for Jake.  He kept going back and forth between our kayaks and asking, “can we go swimming now?”  Evidently, I don’t paddle fast enough.  Or maybe the big wave in Cabo set his expectations too high?

After taking a bunch of pictures, we turned around and went back to the beach.  The closest beach had quite a few bugs and absolutely no shade.  But it was so shallow, Jake could walk out to the middle of the shoal without even having to swim.  Eventually we headed back to the dinghy in search of another beach.  We ate our lunch, explored the beaches and swam for another hour or so….and planned our bonfire!

For Christmas, Jake’s grandmother bought him a telescope.  This place looked like the perfect place to take it ashore.  It turned out we’re missing a very important piece - the eye piece.  We don’t know if we’ve lost it somewhere on the boat or if it didn’t come in the box.  Either way, we’ll have to order another one.  But the night was not lost!   We had our first beach fire and Jake had a blast.  He even learned a little bit in the process so I got to check it off as our science lesson for the day.

Tomorrow we wake and go the next 12 miles to La Paz.  It’s been nice to have some family time, we just don’t get much of that out here (ha), but I am really looking forward to seeing other people.  And we’re out of beer….

All play and no work?

Someone commented and asked me with all this play, surely I was working hard too.  Yes, but I didn’t think anyone cared J.  So, since I was prompted, I thought I would share my latest project that almost sent me (and the sewing machine) over the side of the boat.  Note:  If you're looking for a tutorial, this entry is not for you.

Before we left San Diego, we bought yards and yards of no see ‘um net.  For anyone who doesn’t know what no see ‘ums are, they’re tiny little bugs that are hard to see (go figure) and bite you.  They usually come out in the morning and at night in warm, humid weather.  Well, we’re far enough south now, that we’re starting to see both no see ‘ums and mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes in Mexico are known to carry diseases so we’ve been advised by every doctor and person we see to wear lots of bug repellent (not the kind that’s regulated in the U.S., the big daddy strength they sell down here in Mexico) so as to prevent things like Malaria and the Dengue Fever.  I was supposed to sew screens for all of our hatches (nine of them) before we left.  For anyone who has followed this blog from the beginning, you’ve learned that I do own a sewing machine but I’ve only used it twice – once when I was pregnant and felt I should sew something for my new baby, and once when we bought the boat and I was too cheap to pay someone to sew curtains.  So here we are again.   Non crafty Monica trying to be crafty (red lights should flash and sirens should go off here).  I started the screens when we were in Cabo (I think, can’t remember).  In Los Muertos, I decided to take another poke at it.  I got four of them done.  They’re awful.  Really.  Ugly, not straight, ugly…did I mention ugly?  I put a picture here to prove it.  I had a near meltdown. 

The problem is I have no useful skills on this boat.  I may have mentioned this before, but my only real asset (from a working perspective) is my ability to make order out of chaos, plan, get people to talk to each other that wouldn’t normally do so, project management stuff.  Well, this is fine when you’re getting paid for it and dealing with a bunch of people that have been told they need to listen to you.  Not such a useful skill when you’re dealing with your husband and a 4 year old.  I had the chance to show I had a useful skill, right?  I really thought I could pull this sewing thing off.  Andy tried to help me by offering suggestions and all it did was work me up (why am I the one doing this?  Of course he would have better ideas and be able to pull this off…HE HAS SKILLS!)  Just as I was about to crack, he saw my tears and told me they looked like they would keep mosquitoes out so it looked good to him.  Nice guy, huh?

So, for the safety of the crew, I’ve put my sewing machine away.  I know I have five more screens to sew, but I’ve decided to wait for a day when there’s not so much fun to be had J.  

Sunday, May 23, 2010

5/22/10 - we found paradise!

Terri gave me a book about a couple going from Seattle to the South Pacific back in the 80’s.  They did it with a sextant and a 60 gallon water tank.  Aside from assuring us that we could do it with our three GPSs and watermaker, the book also provided us with a lot of humor.  One saying that stuck with us is, “I wonder what the poor people are doing today.”

Today was the first day we got to use our new phrase.  The day started somewhat typical with pancakes, dishes and laundry.  Then we decided to go up to the hotel we had heard so much about and have lunch, the Grande Suenos.  We found the place and were met at the door with a warm welcome by Armondo.  It’s decorated beautifully and if you look up you see a HUGE train set covering the second floor.  The first thing Jake and I did was go up and explore the train set.  Let me preface this with, we’re no train dummies.  We’ve visited numerous train expos and extravagant Christmas displays.  But nothing prepared us for this.  There was a small town set up, complete with a gas station and McDonald’s.  There was a fair, with a carousel and jolly roger ride.  On the far side was a race car track like we had never seen before.  After much coaxing, I got Jake to go back downstairs and we had a nice lunch with Scott and Terri from Ulalena.
What I haven’t mentioned yet is the pool outside the door.  It was a fairly small infinite pool, but it had a table at one end under a little palapa and a water slide leading down to another level.  Following our lunch, they let us swim at this little pool.  Terri looked over at me and asked, “I wonder what the poor people are doing today?”  I couldn’t help but laugh because it was the most appropriate comment anyone made all day.

After hours of swimming at the pool, we went back to our boat for a nap (yes, we have all adopted the much talked about “Ciesta” in Mexico).  James from s/v Pyxis stopped by to let us know he had speared a Wahoo today and the restaurant we went to last night was cooking it up for everyone tonight for $65 pesos a piece (with rice, beans, veggies).  What better way to end the day.  So here we are about to set off for our supper, update the blog and make a few phone calls back home.   We’re thinking of heading out tomorrow to round the corner towards LaPaz.  There won’t be any wind though, it seems all the weather is on the Pacific side this weekend.

Enjoy more of our pictures knowing this is what these poor people are doing today. J

5/21/10 – Bahia los Suenos (Ensenada de los Muertos)

Remember when I said we were sitting in the middle of a National Marine Sanctuary?  Did you know you can’t fish there?  Apparently the two gringos sailing this boat had to have a park ranger tell them.  We just thanked the Lord that the fish Andy had already caught and lost wasn’t flopping around in the bucket when they pulled up next to us.  Thanks to a lot of “Lo Sientos’” and a perfectly timed entry by Jake, we were given a very strict warning…NO FISHING HERE.  Got it, thanks.

So here we are in Bahia los Suenos (Bay of Dreams), formerly known as Ensenada de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead – catchy, huh?).  They have a nice restaurant we visited today complete with Wifi and phones for calls back to the states (free of charge!).  More to come tomorrow….  There’s a hotel down the beach with a train room (if rumor is correct) and free use of their pool. 

I forgot to mention that there were manta rays jumping out of the water...EVERYWHERE.  Enjoy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

5/20/10 - Bahia Los Frailes

We arrived here at Bahia los Frailes Monday evening and stayed three days.  It’s a beautiful anchorage with a clean, white sand beach and a rocky hill to climb overlooking the ocean.  We’ve spent most of our time swimming, diving/snorkeling, and going back and forth to the beach.  Andy has gone diving twice and taken lots of good pictures. Jake even got to get in the water with him and “snorkel” around using the regulator.  He’s becoming a regular fish in the water.  He wanted to go swimming yesterday and he told me that he couldn’t breathe out here in the air because he was a fish and he needed the water so could we please, please, please go swimming before he died.  How do you say no to that?

Our friends Scott and Terri arrived on Wednesday. Terri took Jake to the beach and I was finally able to make a dive with Andy and Scott.  We’re sitting right in the middle of a National Marine Park.  While we didn’t have time to dive the reef here, there are tons of boulders on the bottom with a variety of different fish.  Mostly really small ones.  We also saw lots of starfish.  Surprisingly, only one lobster.  There are supposed to be some turtles here but we didn’t see any.

There are about six other boats here, all heading north (no surprise there).  There was a potlock  dinner on s/v Mandalay Wednesday night where we were able to meet everyone beyond the casual wave in the dinghy.  Anthony owns Mandalay.  He was a very gracious host on his beautiful ketch.  He even made Jake a little sail boat out of a water bottle, skewer, fishing weight and some extra fabric.  He keeps bugging me to make another one so we can have sailboat races.  He still hasn’t figured out his mother is not very crafty.  We also met Judy and Hugh from s/v Freebird, Kristen and Ned, and Alisia and Tom.

After a nice dinner with Scott and Terri last night, Andy and I were marveling at our life again.  We thought not only is it cool that we’re technically “doing nothing,”  we have friends that “do nothing.”  We swim, dive, chat, play and do more “nothing.”   We ponder whether to stay on the boat and watch the manta rays jump out of the water or go to the beach and build a bon fire.  How cool is that?
The next anchorage is in Bahia los Suenos.  We heard from another visitor here (via car from San Diego) that it’s one of the prettiest places in the Baja.
Here are some pictures Andy took while diving his first day.  I'll load more from the other days tomorrow.  Hopefully in La Paz I’ll finally be able to get his website up and running and we’ll load all of his pictures there for public consumption J.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Still in Cabo

Can you find Savannah?

We're still here in Cabo San Lucas.  Yesterday we decided to bite the bullet and come into the marina for a night.  It seemed worth the money to be able to shower as long as we want, do laundry (lots of laundry), and wash the boat down.  I have two more loads to do this morning and then we're headed back out to anchor by the beach.  Tomorrow morning we'll leave early for Bahia los Frailes, about 45 nautical miles north of here.  From what our guide says, it's not much of a town, but is really good for snorkeling and diving.  Just north of there is Cabo Plumo National Marine park and it has the only coral reef in the Sea of Cortez.  We're going to try to do some diving there if at all possible (i.e. find someone to watch Jake while we dive).  At the very least, Andy will dive and take some pictures while Jake and I explore the park.  From there we'll head to Ensenads de los Muertos (Bay of the dead).  However, I think they now call it Bahia de los Suenos (Bay of Dreams) :).

While at anchor here, we had an exciting time getting to the beach.  I can only write about it now as it's been a few days and I've decided that hopefully I'm not the world's worst mother in the world... We decided to take our kayaks in and land on the beach right in front of the boat (and a very large out door restaurant).  The plan was for Andy to help Jake and I get into our two seater, then he would follow.  He would pass us and land first, then help us in.  Well, he took a little longer than I expected getting into the kayak.  The current and waves were kind of swooping us in.  I tried to stay back a little ways and wait for him, but being inexperienced, I guess we got in too close.  A huge wave came and swooped us right onto the beach. But not before dumping both Jake and I out.  Evidently (according to bystanders - remember the large restaurant?), Jake never really went under, but I hit the bottom and the kayak flipped over on top of me.  Then the current kept me under for a few more seconds.  By the time I got up, I was panicked that something happened to Jake.  To my great relief, not one, but five of the local life guards had come down.  One had Jake in his arms, another had the kayak, one was checking on me and the other two were getting our paddle and dry bag.  Jake recovered nicely, but I can't say that I did.  Andy built sand castles with him while I layed for an hour and a half fighting back tears.  All in all, it turned out fine.  Jake says he'll get back in the kayak with me if there are no waves.  (for those of you wondering, Jake and I took a water taxi back to the boat).  We spent the rest of the afternoon jumping off the back of the boat and swimming around (well, technically, Jake just sat around naked).

Entertainment on the beach

It will probably be a few days before we update again, but it looks as though wifi might not be too hard to find in the next stop of two.

Friday, May 14, 2010

5/13/10 - Cabo San Lucas! At last!

Well, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer at exactly 9:40 last night and had high hopes of warmer weather.  Today we got our wish.  As we rounded the cape at Cabo San Lucas, the water temperature finally rose to a respectable 70+ degrees and the air got hot enough for me to finally take my jacket off!

We had a great ride down.  The winds stayed up as promised and we made well over a hundred miles yesterday.  Today the wind slowed down but it turned out to be a good thing because we caught a VERY large yellowfin tuna before 8:00 this morning!  I swore I was going to quit posting fish picture but I just can't!  This one was big enough though that we won't be putting out our lines for a while.  We even gave some away this evening.  We're going to have to freeze some of it (next to the abalone) for later.

We pulled into Cabo San Lucas around 1:30 today.  I'm not sure what I expected...maybe a Panama City, FL on steroids?  or perhaps a cleaned up version of Tijuana?  Oh no.  This is full fledged Miami... or Vegas by the sea.  We had to weave our way through the bay to make sure we didn't hit any parasailers, booze cruisers, pirate ships, racers, jet get the picture.  We were really hoping to pull in here and get a nice slip with fresh water, laundry, wifi, etc.  We pulled into the fuel dock as no one answered my call on the radio (side note:  I think I would rather do one of my old presentations to 30 people than call up someone on this darn VHF...I got hives).  When we asked for a slip for the next four nights they were more than happy to oblige.... for $158 a day!!!  We picked up our jaws and went to the next marina and were given a price over $200 a day.  So we promptly went out to the beach and anchored where the rest of the sailboats are.  It's not bad at all, we were just hoping...

After landing our dinghy at the dock for $3, we set out to find a cold beer and margarita.  Not hard to do as there is the biggest tourist trap I've ever seen right in front of the dock.  After hopping around these little villas for the last three weeks and talking to 10 people total, we were overwhelmed and overstimulated.  We had our drink and nachos (I know, HA) and hopped back in the dinghy.  We decided to go out of our element and say hi to some other cruisers anchored next to us.  We're really glad we did.  Jesse and Shanna on s/v Jesse's Girl invited us aboard to give us a brief run down on the Sea of Cortez.  They're on their way back to San Diego after spending the winter cruising the area.

We've watched fireworks off our stern, watched the pirate ship shoot it's cannon, played a good round of Battleship and now we're considering catching up on some much needed sleep.

As I've said before, I'm not real sure what people want to read, so drop me notes anytime I start to get boring.  I know play by plays are usually only interesting to family, so all suggestions are welcome.