Saturday, January 2, 2010

Run, shiny boy!

A cloudy morning greeted us as the sun rose this morning. Another rainy day in paradise- a curiosity these days, as Banderas Bay is not used to heavy rainfall. Locals have told us they haven't seen rain like this in decades, and it's quite obvious. The streets and tree leaves that are normally caked with dust have been cleaned regularly from the heavy rains and everything seems clean- and green!

After the arid, tree-less scenery of the Baja, it's fun to spot the beautiful flowers and trees that make this area so beautiful...

Our trip over from Cabo san Lucas was an uneventful one. For the first day that we sailed, the seas were a mirror, with not even a hint of wind. Sea turtles and dolphins broke up the glassy water occassionally as we read our books on "How to Sail Around the World," by Hal Roth. Eric regualrly mumbled about the lack of wind and we juggled sails in and out of the cockpit as clouds dumped their rain showers. It was only on our third day of motorsailing that the wind picked up- from the south.

The sail to La Cruz had no wind, some rain and was a pretty uneventful three-day crossing...

Within a half hour, the seas began kicking up from two different directions and Nanu flopped around in them. The wind was irregular- from 0-35 knots every half hour, which made for alot of sail changes and uncomfortable sailing. In the end, Eric gave up and we sailed with a double-reefed main and 150 jib going between 6knots to 6.8 past the three prison colony islands. At one point in the frustrating conditions, Eric lost the main sail halyard and the two of us spent about half an hour on the foredeck with the gaff hook trying to catch it as it swung around in the crazy wind and seas...!

Sailing into Banderas Bay at night was a little nerve-racking. We had two different cruising manuals with two different sets of directions to go through the Tres Marietas islands. The GPS maps are about 1.5 miles off so at one point, it looked like we were sailing on land... We had another good scare with a whale once we got through the islands as he popped up to get some air- right beside us.

We anchored in La Cruz at around 1:00 in the morning on the 23rd and have been enjoying the slow Mexican lifestyle ever since.
La Cruz is beautiful. Cobblestone roads make up the majority of the streets that weave in and out of traditional mexican houses and small tiendas. The town hasn't seen too much american-influenced development yet so the traditional Mexican restaurants and feeling still lingers in the air. We already see hints of development here though, so it won't be long before it loses it's charm to time-share sharks and party-hungry tourists...

La Cruz is still a small mexican town, relatively untouched by the tourist industry and resorts that make up much of Puerto Vallarta

Christmas was lovely. We went for a brunch at Ana Banana's and enjoyed live classical music by several amazing bands. We were invited by our friends on Pacific Jade to go to Punta Mita and enjoy christmas afternoon on the beach with a group of expats who now call la Cruz their home. The company was wonderful and we enjoyed meeting up with old friends and meeting new ones! We went to the local community center that evening, and over a few drinks watched about 500 local kids recieve gifts from "Santa." The line-up of kids stretched down the block...

Children line up at the door to Phyllo's restaurant to accept a bag of gifts from santa on Christmas eve...

Eric's bamboo tree served as our christmas tree and christmas carols echoed through the length of Nanu! We opened some splendid gifts from friends and family and slurped on egg nog! That night Eric got on Skype and talked with his family in Foster city and I got to say hello via telephone to my family up in snowy Kirkland Lake.

After christmas, when immigration re-opened, we sailed to Nuevo Vallarta and checked into the country. Despite horror stories of bribery, crooked officials and just general unpleasant experiences, we decided that we would assess the situation for ourseleves rather than hiring a "paperman". We were greeted by friendly port captains, english-speaking agricultural and customs officers and a team of immigration officials that had Eric and I smiling the entire time that they went through our paperwork. We arrived at around 9am, and were checked in with visas and on our way back to La Cruz by 2pm, only short of all of our fresh produce.

Me standing outside the port captain's office in Nuevo Vallarta. The officials were english-speaking and courteous!

Since christmas, we've been taking life in the slow lane. I've gone to a few jam sessions at the Brittania pub and played with some extremely talented musicians. Eric seems to know just about everyone here and we're often busy catching up with old friends. Eric's managed to go surfing right on the beach at La Cruz. I paddled around, but didn't catch anything. Not only did Eric catch waves, he also caught a sea urchin- in his foot- which has been giving him some painful grief lately, as the spines slowly come out.

Eric and I have shown up to the jam nights at Brittania's and have become fond of the exceptional music and fun company that gathers there...!

We spent New Years' eve at a couple of different local bars, enjoying live music at both Phyllo's and the Brittania pub. I'm still feeling the after-effects of that night!

Eric and I bumped into an old friend from Marina La Cruz while at a New Years' party at Brittania Pub...

Yesterday Eric and I committed the majority of the day to climbing up into the forested area around La Cruz. It was lovely! Eric suggested we follow a dried up river bed up into the surrounding hills. Four miles later, we were surrounded by lush greenery. Trees with massive trunks were hosts to green vines that hung right to the ground. Wild papaya trees grew in abundance and other odd trees were spotted along the dirt road that we eventually ended up walking along. Beautiful birds and butterflies accented the already beautiful flowers and- eventually- we even ended up at some real flowing freshwater! When we got to the end of the road, looking around, we were smack dab in the middle of the green jungly hills that surround the area...

It's hard to explain the look of satisfaction on Eric's face after we caught up with some freshwater (which he had sworn up and down would be there...

The scenery was splendid in the backwoods and kept us gawking in one direction or another...!

After our hike, we found ourselves at Yaya's. Yaya (or grandma in english) owns a small restaurant in La Cruz that Eric and I have been regular visitors at. On top of fresh-squeezed orange juice that she makes right in front of you, she's got everything from cheeseburgers and fantastic sandwiches (on awesome fresh-baked buns), to traditional spanish skewers and some entertaining company!

Jose, Yaya and Eric in Yaya's restaurant. She's a wealth of information about the surrounding area...

We've already been into Bucerias and done our main provisioning, so we can move on south. After being at Mega, both of us agreed that most of the basic foodstuffs we got at Mega could have been obtained at the small tienda's here in town- for much less! Today we're planning on getting five more gallons of fresh drinking water, tooping up our water tanks and getting some more veggies to top up our veggie hammock.

One of the simple things we take for granted back home is healthy drinking water. Eric is walking through La Cruz on a mission to find potable water... It ranges in price from 25 to 30 pesos for 5 gallons.

Eric has a couple of things he would like to do with the engine, but other than that, we are at the mercy of the wind. Neither of us are exceptionally fond of motoring anymore, so we've aggreed that from now on, we go when the wind blows- and we stay when it doesn't. From here we're off to Tenecatita. It's got a jungle river trip that everyone raves about...!

As much as we dislike motoring, when Joe and Deb from Pacific Jade offered us a tow on a windless day, we welcomed it. We hadn't taken out the oars until that day.

We'll try to say hello soon!

Happy New Years' to everyone! We hope this year brings you endless opportunity and good health.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

Hey there,

We should be coming your way soon, and are looking forward to seeing you guys!

Also, I notice that the sailing rig is back in effect for the dinghy, so maybe we can get a little match racing going?

Jacob & Julia