Monday, March 8, 2010

The Flame-Throwing BBQ...

"Baby! Look at the BBQ!"

Eric points to his flame-thrower of a barbeque with two pieces of chicken sizzling on the grill.

Such is life these days- always an exciting mix of washing machine ocean and gourmet meals while listening to "you might be a Redneck if..." while enjoying a sunset in Mexico...

We always claimed we were cultured, didn't we?

"Tranquilo, Tranquilo!"

I had just jokingly hailed M/V Tranquilo on the VHF when Mike called us back and told us that their motor boat was in hot pursuit of our bubbles- but we had won- we had already anchored at Isla Ixtapa by the time Tranquilo materialized on the horizon and Froatzy, their dog started barking at us.

The sail down from Manzanillo to Ixtapa was wonderful.
Although we had intended to stop at anchorages on the way down, when we pulled in to Marijuata we got spooked by the breakers swirling around and ricocheting off the beach to the "protective" rocks of the anchorage and abruptly did a u-turn and high-tailed out of the sketchy anchorage. If anything positive could be said about it, it was sure a really pretty beach!

Sailing further on, we realized we would not make the next anchorage before dark, so we sailed through the night in light, favorabe winds. By the morning the winds had eased, so we pulled up our big red, yellow and orange spinnaker and let it pull us the rest of the way to Isla Ixtapa.

After the frightful winds and rain of the last storm, Ixtapa was plagued with muddy water and debris that littered every single beach in the area. Wary of the 1-ft visibility in the water, we didn't step a toe in it, and spent most of our time in the Fatty Knees sailing the small bay and playing frisbee on Playa Linda beach. Tranquilo's company added a fun twist to the island and we spent a few nights lighting the charcoal barbeque with blowdriers, and poking fun at each other for one reason or another!

We pulled anchor on the calmest day of the year, we think. Zijuat was a nice 2-hour motor boat ride. It was only when we were preparing to drop anchor in the murky water there that the wind picked up- from the north!

"It looks like someone torched the hill," I groaned as we chugged through the brown water in the shadow of Zijuat. On first take, Zijuat looks "only slightly better than Tijuana (says Eric)."

Really, it's not that bad though...

Our first day wandering the town we were delightfully surprised. Cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops and bars crowded with locals and gringos alike beckoned you in with signs saying "Thirsty? Yup! Cold Beer? Yup! Beer- One American Dollar!" Small mom'n pop restaurants with frienly hosts offered meals cheaper than eating on the boat. At our favorite place, a bowl of soup, a salad, chicken wings and a beer could be bought for 42 pesos. We both stuffed ourseleves with 9 peso tamales. Really, it was quite a cheap little town.

Exploring further past the "touristy" part of town, we found ourselves at the mercado.

If you were willing to search, you could find just about anything your heart desired in there. The same store selling wheel rims offered us "Bimbo" bread, while a refridgerator stocked with dairy products at a different vendor also showed off it's fine collection of floor mats.

Cows hung from butcher hooks as friendly butchers beckoned us over to check out the "finest meat in Zijuat." Chickens- with their heads still on- rested on countertops while women looked into the crowds for interested buyers. We bartered with the best of them, and walked out the proud owners of some beef cuts, chicken and freshly baked buns...

The fruit street was splendid. Bananas hung on string swayed in the wind, while a store on one side of the street offered tomatoes and papaya for 1 peso cheaper than on the other side. We spent 52 pesos on enough veggies to stock our fruit hammock for a good week or more...

Tranquilo (die-hard Americans) had to duke it out with a crazy Canadian at the final Canada VS USA Olympic hockey game. All four of us met with game faces on, dressed in the appropriate colors at a local sports bar and joined the throngs of (mostly Canadian) supporters as the overtime game played out. There were ALOT of happy Canadians high-fiving each other at the end of the hard-earned game! GO CANADA, eh?!

One morning we woke up to news that Chile had been hit by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake and had caused a massive tsunami that was heading up the coast. Nervous radio talk on both VHF radio and the HAM provided little information about whether it had actually materialized or not and CNN and Fox news on our Sirius satellite radio did a really great job of trying to scare everyone. We picked up our stern hook and contemplated our situation- it would have been smart to head out to sea, but we hadn't heard that Acapulco had been washed away into the ocean. For two hours we stood watch, waiting for a wall of water (or even a lump) to come racing at 500 mph into the bay but it never materialized. Bored, we headed to shore.

We later found out that indeed, the water level in the bay dropped about 4 ft and then raised high enough to wash out all the tables at Los Gatos beach, a little tourist area on the far end of the bay. Everyone went home. The tides were kind of goofy after. One minute we'd be loading the Fatty Knees in knee-deep water, and the next it would be high and dry and the water 10 feet away. Most peculiar, but nothing worrisome. Nobody was hurt, and in the end, we sighed in relief and sipped on a beer to "surviving the tsunami."

We got to meet all the parents in Zijuat. We spent a hilarious evening with Ohm Shanty (Heather and Shawn) and got to meet Shawn's awesome dad. Mike (Tranquilo) had his mom come and visit and we spent several nights cavorting both onshore and off with them!

We found the Tim Horton's of Zijuat while walking back from the Mercado one day. We did a u-turn and walked back to the wonderful scent of fresh-brewed coffe. After being dared inside by a white-haired Mexican man, we emerged sheepishly with devilishly good coffee. We spent a good half hour bantering amongst the locals while we sat on the sidewalk sipping our tasty treat...!

We left Zijuat craving some swimmable water and did an overnighter in Isla Ixtapa.

Heading north from Ixtapa, Tranquilo stayed within sight of us until wind VS motor got in the way. We followed our own tack while they beat their way up north. We had a lovely sail. 18 knots from the north kept us busy tacking, but we were really pushing ourselves up the coast! Nightime was a diffeent story, with strange currents pushing us around and a lack of wind...

We stopped in Caleta de Campo the next day and Eric came down with a high fever and sore throat. I doctored him up with Ibuprofene, chicken soup and cool towels on his forehead while he snoozed in and out over the next two days. When his fever broke, we took a walk into town. Very, very peculiar. The beach was beautiful, but when we headed towards town, unfriendly locals greeted us with suspicion. We gathered a few provisions (tomatoes, cauliflower and some beef) and high-tailed it bak to the comfort of Nanu. We think we got that kind of greeting because of all the strange drug activities in the area. Other cruisers we talked to got the same strange reaction from the locals.

We motor-sailed north from Caleta de Campo and by mid-afternoon, dropped anchor at Cabeza Negra. We could finally swim in the water! Both of us jumped into the water and practically drooled the entire time we had our hop-in-hop-out saltwater showers! ...But the anchorage sucked.

By 9pm we were holding on for dear life as the boat bucked and rolled in the tumultuous waters. We finally gave up trying to sleep and pulled anchor. It was a wild ride along the coast until around 1:30am. The boat swayed and rolled with the crazy seas and the lack of wind did nothing to stabilize the boat. We pulled back into Manzanillo exhausted, just in time to wave goodbye to Tranquilo.
Nobody saw us all day- we were fast asleep.

Emerging today, we eneded up provisioning at Soriana's, and by evening we had hauled 22 gallons of fresh water to the boat. Only 60 more gallons to go!

From here, we're heading north to Tenecatita. We're planning on taking a vacation from the dirty water of these towns, and the busy streets that often make us want to scream for some enchanting scenery and clear ocean water.

Next update might be awhile, but I'm sure we'll be full of new and exciting stories of the non-city life!

P.S. The chicken this evening was great!


Mark said...

Hola Eric y Rachael!
Nice post. Sounds like you had good adventures down south. We've been in Mazatlán for a week now, getting some canvas work done and generally enjoying everything in this wonderful city. Hoping to cross over to La Paz Saturday. See you in the Sea!

Christie of s/v Kaleo said...

Hi Rachael and Eric,

We don't know each other but we have a lot in common.

My husband, Matt, and I are in full preparations for throwing off the bowlines in pursuit of our own dream of cruising about the world within the next year.

It's encouraging to see other young, successful cruisers out there living this dream. We admire your drive, tenacity, and resourcefulness along this journey and are learning from your experiences. Thank you for sharing them!

Would you mind if we listed your site as "other cruisers we follow" on our site?

Fair winds,
Christie and Matt Butcher of s/v Kaleo