Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Tubac Villager Article

The Tubac Villager is the local newspaper who published this in August  while we were still adventuring in Central America and our plans were to cross to the Atlantic Ocean. 

So many times we heard the saying “there is no better time than now”.   My husband; Matt Beemer, my daughters; Samantha and Trinidad, and I took it seriously.   Confronting all the fears and anxieties we jumped into a long-time dream; the dream to go sailing.

A weak economy and the age of our two little girls; Samantha 7 and Trinidad 5, is what it took for us to set sail. Finding the boat was a challenge, a very intense and emotional search, after all this was going to be our “new home”. We found the right boat in California; a Morgan 38 sailboat, equipped with some important gear and spacious enough to accommodate all of us with no real danger of suffocating each other.

On November the 10th, 2009, all of the contents of our home in Tubac, AZ were reduced to a pick up truck full of our most necessary belongings and things we couldn’t detach ourselves from, such as “Purple Baby” (Trinidad’s doll), “Beeni” (Samantha’s stuffed animal) and those that seemed important at that time, but later got in the way. We prepared for a month living aboard our new home; s/v “Endurance”, before leaving the safety and the comforts of a San Diego dock. On December 16th I woke up to the sunrise on Mexican waters. Matt, our captain, had taken the most difficult step of the adventure; he untied the lines!.

In the past six months we have sailed the entire Pacific coast of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and now Costa Rica. The adventure over all has been beyond our expectations.

We have seen nature at its best; incredible colors in the sky, full moon, sunrises and sunsets, the perfect combination of sand, palm trees and cobalt blue or turquoise green water, the amazing rock formations sculpted by wind, water and sometimes volcanic activity, the intimidating movements of the ocean, the beaches that glow at low tides, the mangroves that lure us into exploring, the spray of the break as the waves smash onto the rocks, the endless shades and sounds of the jungle and best of all, the sea life. Nothing could ever compare to the excitement of the girls when a school of dolphins come to play around the boat or when the whale blows, breaches or slaps its tale, or when a booby bird observes the world go by in the middle of the sea while resting on a turtle’s back. Nothing compares to the emotion of seeing a light show presented by the interaction of dolphins and bio luminescence at night or the girls’ giggles of seeing these microorganisms find their way into the bathroom and revealing themselves at the moment of flushing.

We have met people at their best; cruising families, couples, single handlers or groups of friends all looking to fulfill a dream, to test their endurance, to live differently. We are all eager to share our experiences, to help each other and naturally to enjoy a margarita during sunset. We have met the locals who with the little they have, opened up their doors, shared their food, toys and time to assist us.  

We have been socially and culturally immersed with the people; their traditions and lifestyle.  We have learned about their food; “tostilocos”, “mangos con chile”, “tacos de camaron en rajas” in Mexico, “Papusas” in el Salvador,  “Patacones”, “Casados” and “Gallo Pinto” in Costa Rica. Just to name a few. We have learned about their art, their dances, their ways to meet basic life demands; transportation, health, shelter, hygiene, work and education. I will never forget the impression on the girls’ faces when we had to fill a bucket with water to flush a toilet in Mexico, or Samantha’s, excitement when she was invited, along with Matt, by a local fisherman to go and lift the fishing nets at 6 in the morning or when she went around the tables of a restaurant selling mangoes or when Trinidad wanted to know how to say “May I have a tour of the house” in Spanish while visiting local children who lived in a house with dirt floor and tin walls. Experiences like these make me think that they will never take for granted the “luxuries” we have at home.

As much as I would like to pretend it’s all wonderful, as wonderful and easy as we planned, it is not. The sweet flavor of the adventure lasts until we are confronted with fear; fear of not having the money, fear of being isolated, fear of loosing our good health and, most importantly, the fear of death. We have been tested by the weather, by the tight spaces, by the solitude, by the inconveniences of unorganized and/or corrupted nations, by nature, by rough living, by mechanics, by technology, by our own bodies. Yes we have been tested.

 One moment of great concern was the night when Matt asked me to make sure our ditch bag was in place. It was night time, I remember well the motion of the ocean, I could see the shapes of the waves over Matt’s head and the speed we would reach while surfing down these enormous waves. I quickly prepared the bag with our survival items including chocolate and peanuts for a sweet distraction to disaster. However, I had plenty of confidence in Matt’s ability to maneuver wisely and faith that it was just not “our time”. Another one was the time we had to return to Mexico because there was water coming into the bilge.. ALARMS!! This could potentially put the boat under water or the time in Acapulco when we found that our dinghy (inflatable boat) was gone. Horrible feeling!. We did find it with the help of a marina employee, but had to pay a “rescue fee”, or the time when we were warned of a possible tsunami wave coming our way after the earthquake in Chile or the time Matt had to be hospitalized as a result of complications with parasites.  The worst moments of all have been the times we have had to say goodbye to friends to follow our own journey.

There are plenty of challenges in this lifestyle; not only having to deal with contingencies, such as weather, illnesses, unforeseen expenses etc., but those we assumed the moment we decided to buy a boat to travel overseas; space, provisioning, water, bathroom and sleeping arrangements.

Regarding space, it did not bother me to reduce a large walk-in closet to just a cubby, but it does bother me that at the moment of cooking, I must move all the ingredients to side B to get a bowl from under side A and then back to A to get the butter from under B.  The moment of real frustration comes when I realize I forgot something from under A.

Provisioning is always fun; fun to see what we can find at the local stores. All essentials are easily available; sugar, coffee, eggs, milk, flour with or without weevils, the difficulty is not finding food, but getting it into the boat while at anchorage. We must load the dinghy, push it through the break and jump in without getting the groceries or the kids too wet (they hate that) and without flipping the dinghy over the break (they hate that more). 

Making the water last is critical; “Endurance” can hold 100 gallons that must last from one port to the next one with potable water, not as easy as it sounds. Most typically, we ended up buying bottled water to refill the tanks. The rationalization of the use of the water can be difficult, but we have managed to conserve it by brushing our teeth without leaving the water running, by not using the shower as a SPA, in fact, we have learned to wash in salt water and spray a little fresh afterward, same procedure for washing clothes and dishes. In some instances we were unable to use the bay water due to its questionable cleanliness so we had to use only fresh or look for showers elsewhere.

 As far as the bathroom goes, I look forward to being able to flush a toilet with the minimal motion. Most marine toilets consist of a handle that must be pumped up and down at least 20 times to flush. It is a real work out! Plus there is always the issue that if someone leaves a valve open the boat would sink. I have walked into the bathroom (AKA “head”) and have been surprised by the “splash” my foot makes as I step into it. Oops!

The sleeping arrangements in our boat are disarrangements. We rotate beds according to weather conditions or who is on watch. No matter where we sleep, it is always uncomfortable to have to hold on while asleep when the seas are rough and the boat slams the waves or rolls furiously from side to side. On the other hand, nothing compares to the cradle motion when the seas are calm.

Most people have asked me about schooling for the girls; Samantha was in first grade when we left and Trinidad was not in school yet. I made sure I had enough material to continue a somewhat “formal education”. I purchased a few curricula on math, plus Samantha’s school gave me the books she was working with when we left. We finished 1st grade and are currently working on 2nd. Trinidad is working on kindergarten activities and she loves it as long as we don’t do “school”. We combine the book work with art, reading, practical life and first hand experiences in geography, history, language and natural science to hopefully, educate them well.

Our plans for the next few months are to explore the Pacific coast of Panama, go through the Panama Canal, and sail the Caribbean side all the way North to reach the coast of Texas. However, our plans tend to change with the weather and the circumstances. It’s all part of the adventure in which we decided to take part.

As I have written before in our website, we may experience fear and trepidations, but there is no worse than the one of not living our dreams. I feel extremely blessed to be here and grateful to all those who encourage and support us one way or another.

If you would like to follow our journey visit us in www.sailingendurance.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crossing the US-Mexico Border

On Friday the 10th at 7:05 PM,  we were presenting our documentation to the immigration officer at the US-Mexico border. I wanted so bad to tell this nice man in uniform about my feelings of pride with a statement like “we just did the craziest thing in the world”, but I knew it would not be taken the way I meant it. Instead, we limited ourselves to answer his questions with a very casual look on our faces. No big deal! We are coming from Mexico and we are heading home! 

After a short stop for dinner we drove to my mother-in-law's house; Karen Wilson where she and her husband Earl Wilson have been waiting for us for a while. The girls run to their arms. Their happiness was contagious. We sat and chatted for a while before going to bed with a glass of wine on our hands in a cozy and comfortable sofa. So cozy and comfortable it was that we have extended our stay at their house a few days giving us the chance to visit, go over paperwork delegated to Karen prior of our departure and that she is happy to hand back to us and given the girls the chance to receive a well deserved (or needed)  SPA treatment.

Thank you Karen and Earl for the hospitality!!

Packing the leftovers of a voyage

We are at our final destination, no more provisioning, no more radio calls, no more route plotting, no more fear of storms, no more anticipation to see who we’ll meet at our next anchorage. Endurance is stripping its sails, the deck is clear of all obstacles; no liferaft, no dinghy, no water jugs, no kayaks, no snorkeling gear, no shells drying, no flip flops left behind,  the covers are empty just barely a left over coffee, a pineapple, a beer in the fridge. Our friends are all gone, some went south and some went home. We had just finished packing the leftovers of a voyage, she is coming out of the water and we will let her rest for a while. 

She looks beautiful, she gave herself life by taken us as far as Panama and back, by delivering us safely to every port, by surviving every storm, swell, currents and the hits and bumps of floating logs, by sailing smooth through pods of dolphins, breaching whales and floating turtles, by looking always gallant as we moved forward. She gave herself life by being our home and by her ENDURANCE.
 It will be 7 hours before we cross the border and make just a memory of the most amazing experience of our life.

I refuse to hurt the dentist feelings!

A visit to the dentist was never my favorite activity. I was traumatized as a kid; the pain, the sounds, the smell, the tools and, worse of all, the constant threat of taking my candies away. They were all the perfect combination for the most terrifying nightmare. As I got older and dentists became more sensitive to the comfort of their patients, I must admit, there were times when I look forward to sitting in that reclining leather chair with the soft tunes in the background, no matter how hard they drilled into my teeth I felt relaxed especially because I had a nice break from tending to the needs of my adorable family. Unfortunately, yesterday my dentist experience took me back to the years of terror and this time I did not have my mother holding my hand as I used to.

A few blocks away from the marina was his office, the dentist’s office. I met him a couple of days ago when he checked the kids in the hallway to his office, he seemed nice, his prices were reasonable and I was not too concern about the quality of his service, I just needed a cleaning. For US$20, why not?... well, after my experience today, I have many reasons as to “why not?”; possible attacks, torture with pain, exposure to 100 different kinds of germs, possible breaking of the teeth or ripping of the gums and certainly, the doubt of “are my teeth clean now?”  

I walked to his office at the end of the dark alley, open the door, hoping to find a room full a patients and a secretary holding the sing up sheets and offering a seat. Instead, I found him with his head down, his arms crossed and the signs of active dreaming. It was a few seconds until I startle him and realized it was too late for me to leave. The room was quite, bold and dark. No much in there to keep anyone awake and no one there to make me feel more comfortable with my decision to visit ”any” dentist.

He was so happy to see me, as if I was the first or only patient in a while, he thanked me for coming back and invited me into the examination room where I found the old leather chair with the crusty stand for the tools. They looked sterilized. He made me open my mouth, placed the mirror and the probe and started to dig into my gums. “Nice, nice… very nice” he says. (I would never expect those words from a dentist). As he cleans he talks to me in his broken English despite knowing that I am a native Spanish speaker and that it would be impossible for me to reply with tools in my mouth. I did manage to smile for a while, until I told him my gum was sensitive and he dug deeper, I repeated it and so did he; he dug even deeper. I realized it was better to forget about sensitive gums and let him finish quick. I needed to run out; especially after I let my brain dragged me into the deepest paranoia. It was only me and the dentist, in a room inside the room, all doors were closed, I was buried in a leather chair with sharp poky tools, I was vulnerable! 

The final step of the cleaning was the polishing; he walked a few steps to the back shelf, grabbed a white jar of paste and scrapped the corners of it with a little brush that connected to a drill. He placed the brush onto my teeth and realized it didn’t work, therefore he must finish the job manually, by moving the brush up and down hard, hoping I wouldn’t notice.

“Beautiful!” he says, I stand quickly and paid the bill. “Please bring your kids and your husband!”… mmm “Ok” “I will see”, I said “Never” I thought.

Although I wanted to run from the moment I stepped into that office my heart fell sorry for the man, I trusted my fate.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good bye to good friends!

Our friends from Ceilydh hoisted anchored in the morning and sailed down to La Paz.
I am grateful to them for making our time in Guaymas so memorable. Samantha got to celebrated her 8th birthday on board their boat which included another sleepover, a tasty cake, games and fireworks.
Thank you for the fun, the good talk, the good plays, good meals and of course, the projects.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The grass looks greener from here; Mexico is a good place!

The media is scaring my family, they tell me to please exit Mexico as soon as possible, they try to warn us about the violence, but the truth is that not only I feel safe, but I am very comfortable! In the whole time I have been in the country and of all the places I have visited, I have never felt slightly threaten and never seen signs of a possible conflict.

I know the number of people that have been killed this year is more than 20K, which is about 20 times the population of the town where we live. It sounds atrocious!! But proportionally, how big is this? How this percentage does compares to cities in the US? Canada? Chile? England? Japan? China? I don’t know. Does anyone wonder? I am not going to doubt the numbers given, or the potential dangers, but out of 100,000 people 11 died due to drug related violence in opposition to, for example, El Salvador or Honduras where more than 50 people die for every 100,000. 

Mexico in general has been a wonderful experience, from a cruiser’s point of view it is amazing; beautiful bays, nice anchorages, good medical, inexpensive provisioning, delicious food and very refreshing drinks!!! I still consider Mexico a safe place to wander.  

There are sad sights to experience such as the lady in a wheel chair selling "chicle" for $1 peso, the 4 year old kids selling lady bugs with bobbling heads, mentally disturbed people walking the streets, animals in precarious state with no owners. There are, also, annoying situations such as; the merchant who when foreigners approach, inflation hits, or the lack of regulation on the acoustics of every event. Did I mention that there are events almost very day in Guaymas?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Pearl Farm

If the royal families have enjoy the pearls why wouldn’t I?  They are simply outstanding!
Knowing the stories behind them, the growing process and the demand for them make the “black pearls of the Vermilion Sea” extremely appealing, but… slap, slap! The price tags say $2000 or more.. pesos?.. No, dollars.. ouch!

History tells that pearls of the Sea were found on the graves of Aztec emperors. Also, that merchants and pirates would trade all valuables they had for some of these pearls. They were in such a high demand that the Spaniards created pearl fisheries in the continent. After exploding the resource for years and some political issues the oyster was not longer easily found and therefore… no pearls for the girls!

Today the “Rainbow lipped Oyster” is grown in aquaculture in  Bacochibambo Bay in Guaymas, Sonora. The process is fascinating and the results are… well… beautiful. The girls and I enjoyed visiting the farm, dreaming about pearls and a nice cup of coffee with one of the partners.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Visit to the Tianguis

Sunday morning we all headed towards the neighbor city of Empalme to go shopping for good deals to take back to where they came from. Isn’t it ironic? For $10 pesos (less than a dollar) we could have a new piece for our wardrobe (or, if lucky, our old wardrobe).. aah! The life of a cruiser!! It was fun digging through the piles of clothing to find a piece of Patagonia, Gap, Express or simply a no brand item. But better than clothing was the search for the most unusual display or item.

My special find were the sparkled red, platform shoes with the carving knife beside them. “Le femme fatal en rouge”

The town of Empalme was another surprise. We have been there once before and I got a completely different perspective of it. My friend analyses my improvement on the way I see the cities concludes that after traveling, my standards have lowered, my expectations have lowered. What a great accomplishment that is! I can see beauty easier and enjoy more with less, which was the idea… right?

Our day continued with fish tacos in “El Pescadito”, they were delicious and generous in size, then a “paleta” (popsicle) down the block and rides at the local park. The kids enjoyed the challenges of a broken monkey bar and a burning hot slide. 

A new word for a new day

“T-i-a-n-g-u-i-s…” “what?, spell it again!” I asked Diane, “T-i-a….” At that point I was completely lost. I had never heard of it, so I assumed she was trying to spell something different, I had to google the term and there it was a brand new word.

Tianguis is the term given to an open market in Mexico and Central America. The origen of the word is from the Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. It means “day market” or “harvest”. As we know it, a farmer’s market. Although, not much of a farm is brought to this place any more. Most of it comes from garage sales and thrift stores from across the border and what is new, comes from the so productive country of China.


I had been in Guaymas before, but never by boat. It is a nicer experience this way. The bay is beautiful and the marina is conveniently located in the center of town.

As I am walking into town to find a good place to provision I find myself surprised as I see its beautiful architecture; magnificent churches, nice plazas, sculptures, monuments and commerce. This town has more history than I had expected and more attractions than I have been told.

There are two plazas; one is called 13 de Julio, nicknamed “Plaza de los Flojos” (the lazy people’s plaza) with enough benches for a good number of “siesta-takers”, or at “non-siesta” time for a good number of couples to express their love to each other despite the existence of a pretty notorious church; "San Fernando". There is a kiosk in the middle, currently being repaired, a monument to General Jose Maria Yanes who fought the French with success and apparently there is a man who for the last 55 years has been selling home made ice-cream, but we have not yet seen him. The second plaza is “Plaza de los Presidentes” There are 3 statues of 3 presidents who were from Guaymas or its surroundings; Plutarco Elias Calles, Adolfo de la Huerta and Abelardo Rodriguez.

Then, there is the Malecon (a wide sidewalk by the water). It is really fun to walk, specially at dusk. The food vendors set their friers to mass produce “churros” (sweet fried dough in a stick shape, covered in sugar and cinnamon), they lay out the bags with Tostitos for making mixes with corn or beef or veggies, or you name it, they all have names accordingly; “tostilocos” “tostielotes” “tostisapos” ok, not this last one, they light up their fires to prepare “carne asada” tacos, the set their jars with “aguas frescas” (Juices of Jamaica, Horchata or Cebada). If one happens to indulge too much with food, no worries, every other day, a Zumba class is given to all public; from the very young to the very old, from the very skinny to the very fat, from the very gracious, to the very stiffed, from the very coordinated to the very lost. I must say that no matter what shape this Latin women are, they sure can move and have fun!  

 On a more personal level, I am very pleased to be here because of the people we have met in particular the crew from Ceilydth; Evan, Diane and Maia. Like glue, the kids have become inseparable. The count is already 2 sleepovers in their credit. Diane has been a good inspiration to me, she is a successful travel writer who not only has shared some insights of the trade, but has also entertained me with fun and well research stories. They all have been a lot fun to follow around!!  They have introduced us to many of the places they know, such as “Pancho Villa” where we celebrated Diane’s Birthday with refreshing margaritas, the “Tiaguis” (flea market) in Empalme, and the Pearl Farm.

Matt catches a ride to the US

I am excited for Matt, in just a few minutes, he will get picked up by Barry and Sue from Wind Glider (Our buddy boat in the Rosalia- San Carlos crossing). and taken home.  They were extremely kind to modify their route back to Colorado to drop him off in Tubac, AZ. It has been more than a year since we left our home, family and friends and in just a few hours he was going to be there! I wished for seconds I was in his place, although, I am really enjoying Guaymas. He will be there just a few days, he will unload all the stuff we left on the back of the truck the day we got on board, drive it empty back to Guaymas and fill  it up again. I wish we could just step in and out with what we are wearing (or with out it), and start all new, but we get so emotionally attached to those cute drawings the girls did for me or dad or the books we have read over and over or the shorts that have stains and holes, but fit us so well. So we are moving back with them!

Matt is back with our car, it took him only 3 days to perform the operation, not bad! What a weird feeling it is to have an available car. We were used to catching bus rides, dinghy rides, walking and figuring out how to get from here to there and back and how to carry 20 grocery bags on our backpacks and hands. Now it is all so easy again.

Thanksgiving; a borrowed holiday

Being a Chilean citizen, Thanksgiving has no emotional meaning for me as much as it has for my husband. I understand the significance, I enjoy the celebration and I want my girls to make it theirs, I was happy to know there was a potluck organized at the Marina by some cruisers this day, we just needed to make a dish; carrot raisin salad was my choice. The feast was extremely successful. Mexican families and American cruisers conformed the crowd, but the food was authentic American cuisine; Turkey, Ham, Pies, stuffing, cranberries in different styles, apples and nut, salads, matched and scalloped potatoes, etc., etc. It was a good feast, there was no need to fight the first spot in the line to fill a plate and there was plenty for seconds. I love how the cruising community organizes.

Guaymas, our final destination

Thanksgiving day was the day we have picked to move from San Carlos to Guaymas,  despite the warnings of strong winds blowing from the north 20 knots or higher. As we are moving along and the wind had not yet picked up, I am thinking “yeah! We got away with it” We made it pretty close to Guaymas before encountering high gusts of wind and swell, but at that point we felt pretty safe.

We entered the bay, got a slip in the Marina Fonatur and met Evan from Ceilyth at the dock. He helped us with the lines and made the girls’ day when he mention a 9 year old daughter on board his boat; Maia. We met her and Mom, Diane, at the thanksgiving potluck that afternoon.

Where are our jackets, hats and scarves!!

It’s cold and windy here in Sonora, I should hate it, but after a year in the sun, dripping foreheads, sticky and always pushing away from each other, it feels GOOD! It is cozy and inviting. Now in which hole did all our winter clothing go? It’s all mildew! It stinks, despite all the “ziplocking” I did! The problem is quickly solved with a wash and a heavy rinse in Soft. Now we are all set!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crossing the Sea

There are strong winds coming from the North Thanksgiving day, we must leave either Tuesday or Wednesday, that is when we met Barry and Sue on Wave glider who were preparing to cross. It is somewhat comfortable sailing with the knowledge that someone else is experiencing the same seas as we are and that if there is an emergency they could witness it and maybe offer help and vice versa.

Tuesday 3 AM both vessels are doing the crossing which was bumpy at first, long and with more heeling than I desired, but, oh well, after a few hours we are used to its awkwardness. Not too many times one gets to cook in a 45 degree angle and that uniqueness factor I secretly looove!

We were doing our last long passage of this voyage and I wondered how I could write about such a meaningful step, we are moving East, our home is actually getting closer not further away, we are sadly closing episodes of a rich and aggressive adventure. Sadly because it was overall amazing and truly sad because when we started we had a year to look forward to new places, new cultures, new foods, sun, water, beaches, palm trees and money to spend and now we are looking at finding work and broke…haha. Not really, we are sooo blessed, we have friends and family we look forward to see, we have a good place to live in, we enjoy the work we do and look forward to it and we feel richest than ever!

Red Tide

 I was thinking that most of the learning was over, but nature managed to throw us a new subject to explore; RED TIDE. What an amazing phenomenon! It is almost unreal.  Like arteries, spreading and interconnecting, moving fast to have the whole harbor covered in red. I expected to see dead fish on shore, but no. Apparently the red tide not always is a maligned event, it all depends on the kind of algae that multiplies and the amount of it. Sometime it could get to such extent that it will kill fish, shellfish and all it could make breathing for human difficult. Ok! But today, that it is not the case and we all, including seagulls, fish and shellfish have survived.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Santa Rosalia

We recognized a couple of boats as we entered the harbor. I called one of them to announce our arrival, not expecting a big cheer, but with the intention to get some information on services around the town; laundry, stores and internet. That is when I met Meri from Hot Spur who came up to my rescue with the info I needed.


There are two, one belongs to Fonatur (government run). It is a modern, new facility and the other is Marina Santa Rosalia, smaller, older docks, run down, but with lots of character given by the people who hangs out in there, the cruisers that come and go and the old building that serves as the club house also known as “The Palapa of knowledge” It was in this marina that we would tide our dinghy to every day to join the crowd at the palapa, do our internet, our showers and to access the town. We met wonderful people, interesting characters, we enjoyed so much being there, it was hard to cut those roots we started growing there.

The Anchorage

It was tight, it took us a long time to find the right spot for Endurance and even then we were forced to move not once, but 4 times; we were too close to other boats, the mine was bringing a large barge and the needed room to move and the last time we have dragged. After all these incidents we felt we deserved tying to the marina dock for a night. Lovely! There is nothing like having abundant amount of power, water, internet access and easy access to solid ground.

The Town

One block to the left and the up is the main street with a plaza, restaurants, pharmacy, Pepe’s Tacos, La Michoacana, The Famous Bakery, The Famous bacon wrapped hotdogs, the clothing store, the other clothing store, the other and the other and the other, the shoe store, the bank, the museum, the movie theater ($3 adults, $1 children.. what a deal!) the fabric store and the bead store (our two favorites),so on.. everything you ask for you will find. The streets are narrow, the buildings are old, but well care for, cute! There is definitely a style, supposedly French. In the early 1900 they developed a great part of the town as they came to run the mine operation. Even Eiffel had his hands in the town designing the church. The future of the town looks promising as the mine has reactivated its operations, maybe we should stay…or maybe not!

The small world this is

We were highly recommended the tacos at “Tacos Poblano” for $14 pesos a taco you get the most amazing “carne asadas” or “al pastor” tacos you will ever have! I could only compare them with the ones we got at the beginning of our trip in Turtle Bay. So similar in falvor, so similar in size, so similar in the level of satisfaction one gets and so similar operation; a mom and her sons. It was so similar that it must have been the same, sure enough, business was not good in Turtle Bay so 4 months ago they decided to move their stand to Santa Rosalia. Life is good to us, it gives us second chances to enjoy these exquisite pleasures! More coincidental than this was that when we were eating our Tacos, this man sitting at a table next to us with his family, asked us if we, by any chance, where in a sailboat? and if we were anchored in Turtle Bay a year ago? Trinidad and Samantha played with his niece at the beach then. What are the odds? Running into the same people who we have barely met and with a tight margin of space from missing each other? What are the odd that they see us in the way in and now in the way out? I entertain the idea that there are more reasons to it? I entertain the idea that we do see people more than once, we just don’t realize it. So here is the moral to the story “smile at everyone, we never know when they will cross our path again” in the same token “look your best”, “don’t say good bye” and “pay your debts”…hehe

Punta Chivato

The morning was calm, it was a beautiful day to head towards to Punta Chivato a point in between Bahia Concepcion and Santa Rosalia. We were encouraged to stop here to collect shells. It is outstanding, not so much for the variety, but for the amount of them and the type that are not easy to find elsewhere. We spent the afternoon filling plastic bags with these natural souvenirs and checking out some million dollar homes built along the shore. Some of which have been abandoned in the construction phase..

What a waste! All that labor all that material, ALL THAT VIEW!

Bahia Concepcion and Mulegé

We made it safe after our 3rd attempt to pass Pulpito. It was a 7 hour sail with no where to stop in between, if the weather got bad again the options were to turn around or just put up with it in misery and fear. After about 3 hours we were already used to the “up and splat” motion, Matt regained the confidence and the ocean looked as if it was going to behave for us. We enter Bahia Concepcion with an incredible amount of relief and excitement to see all the new places.

Today is our 3rd day here, we anchored in Playa El Burro in front of Bertha’s Restaurant where we have found an amazing amount of hospitality and good food! The restaurant is run by Celia, a super friendly, warm and fun lady. She gave us a ride yesterday to the town of Mulegé and today she just lent us her car to go back to town and run important errands. We must be pretty trustworthy individuals! I guess it is one of the perks of traveling with children.

Mulegé is a very cute town, we really enjoyed walking its streets, the town matches our lifestyle; simple, Matt can picture himself and his house here. This town has a lot o character, old buildings, narrow streets, a stone block mission, a lighthouse, taco stands here and there, little markets, a friendly pharmacy, a bank, a bookstore, a little plaza and lots of tourism. Unfortunately, nature has made progress a hard concept. Mulegé had been hit by hurricanes three years in row, this last summer they got a break, but they are still recovering from such tremendous amount of damage. One can clearly see the path of destruction mainly by the river that runs through that carried away homes and its contents with no mercy. I can almost feel the hopeless emotions of the community seeing their beauty and any signs of growth flow down.

Our last day in Bahia Concepcion we moved to Santispac where we would be able to get more water, take a shower and go to their Saturday special night of ribs, DJ and dancing. We couldn’t get any water, the shower was horrible, didn’t make it to the ribs, but manage to dance a few songs. I believe we were the youngest in the crowd.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Leaving Juanico towards Santo Domingo

Another fearful passage, 47 miles to go from one place to the other, 9 or 10 hours should be the most it would take us… or so we thought. A few minutes before 8 AM Matt is putting the dinghy on deck, I am hoisting the anchor, the sun is shining and there is a nice breeze that promises we would have a pleasant sail. The anchor is all the way out, I turned on the motor, circle a couple of times around our friend’s boat “Ulalena” saying goodbye. “Now we are leaving” I announced to them and I headed out of the bay. I had it all planned. Today was Matt’s Birthday and I have been saving a pack of bacon for this occasion, I was going to cook bacon and eggs for brunch and a plate of cereal to start the day. I got as far as the cereal. The swell was getting bigger, the wind was picking up, the white caps were making their way to us and pretty soon we were in the middle of chaos, river rafting would have been a more peaceful adventure for today. It was then that Matt made the wise decision to turn around and find refuge in “Punta Pulpito”. In spite of going South in the right direction with the wind, the sail was uncomfortable. Samantha had to put her face in a bucket a couple of times.

Usually it is best to stay in the cockpit with fresh air if one is seasick, but today I felt it was not safe, Matt needed to focus completely in steering the boat and I certainly didn’t want anyone washed away. We made a comfortable spot in the V-birth. I had Trini on one side and Sami on the other, the computer on my lap and karaoke software going. We sang our first song and Matt called me to give him a hand putting the main sail down. To put the main sail up or down, the boat has to be turned into the wind. I pushed the laptop forward, away from the girls and told them not to touch it until I came back. Matt turned the boat around, I yelled to the girls “hold on tight”!, bang, bang splash, horrible sounds and feeling as the boat seems to be out of control for a second. I felt my head spin, my legs turning jell-o and the panic from down bellow; both girls screaming from the top of their lungs. I knew what happened. I rushed down bellow and find both of them with their hairs flat down over their faces dripping water and sitting on a puddle. They were not hurt, just in shocked. Although, the hatch was closed it was not latched all the way and somehow a wave made its way in. I could almost “cartoonized” the moment in my mind.

The computer had water on top, I don’t know how much went in it and how long it will last, as I am typing I can feel the salt over the keys. As I write, I pray that if it will decease, it will happen slowly, giving me enough time to back up my photos. It is really a terrifying though!

Once we made it back to Pulpito, I took all our linens, clothing and mattress to dry, I looked at the bacon and the eggs and decided that they will taste much better tomorrow. I let dinner take place of brunch.

San Juanico

After spending a night in Salinas we sailed to San Juanico. On the way there we were encountered with an incredible amount of dolphins. I have never seen a pod this big, hundreds of them going in circles, pushing their preys. I felt like in my best years of childhood jumping with excitement upon such a display.

Oh San Juanico! I could stay here for a while! It is a popular cruiser’s destination. It is well protected, the snorkeling is excellent and the hiking fun. Cruisers have built a shrine tree at the beach. Every vessel leaves a mark, some are very creative with theirs, and some may just leave a pair of shorts or a shoe. We made ours with aluminum pieces; abundant material among cruisers, it usually comes in a cylinder shape and its full of bitter, yeasty liquid. (beer cans). We found the shrine of our friends from Tenacious Grace.

I enjoyed so much my alone time here, kayaking in the reefs, being pushed gently over the rocks, taking pictures of the osprey’s nest, the star fish that was left uncovered when the tide went down. I could spend hours and hours just drifting, but it is not all floating and dreaming I also paddled and felt the muscles working,

In my way back to the boat I saw two new vessels coming into the bay, there is always hope it will be someone we know. Sure enough, vessel “Ulalena” with Scott, Terry and dog named Boson. We met them in the marina in San Diego before we left a year ago. The girls enjoyed very much babysitting Boson one morning and an evening having hotdogs with them by a bonfire at the beach. It was nice to see them! We also run into vessel “Just a Minute” Patrick, Laura and Jack; we met them in Tenacatita several moths ago. We spent a few hours here before they had to continue south.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Las Salinas, Isla Carmen

Of all the ghost towns I have seen this is the best set up! Hehe.. It is very interesting abandoned salt mining operation. Today only parts of the original buildings are standing, it almost happens that closing your eyes will take you to the times when the company was making noise, the workers running around, some of them taking a siesta, some visiting the doctors office and others getting in the boats that would take them back home for the weekend burned by the almost criminal sun of June and their skin suffocated by the layers of salt. It must have been miserable. We walked all the way back to what remains of the salt flats, took a few pictures and run back. I felt overwhelmed by the desolation, dryness, the heat and the rusted metal, what is left of the old machinery.

Bye Savannah!

Savannah’s anchor is up, Monica at the helm and Andy at the bow, Savannah is making her turn to head south. Matt hoisted the last 50 feet of anchor chain of Endurance, he secured it, I put the boat in gear, turned up the throttle. Endurance makes her turn to head north. It used to be a decision when we were going south, but today, as we are going north, is an obligation, we must go home. We separated with friends painfully not knowing if it was a forever goodbye or just a long time. Although I certainly hope we see them again, I find myself and my girls being emotionally better prepared for these moments. They were meant to come and go, we were meant to enjoy them and let them continue!... we were meant to have dinners at their boat, eat their fish, drink their wine…haha (Just kidding!)

Are we nuts?

Most cruisers here in Escondido are preparing to go across to the main land and then south or across the Pacific, but not us, we are going the wrong way! Matt wonders what it would be to say “we are going across, we are going to do the Puddle Jump” (the name given to the crossing to the Marquesas) instead of “we are at the end of our voyage, we are heading home” At the same time we are challenged with the opinions that life on land is so much more expensive, that the economy and the way the US is going is so out of control, that there will be hardly no work, that the world is under stress. Life on board is easier, safer and wiser… really? It may be true, it may be not. I believe life balances between the positives and negatives wherever one chooses to live. Traveling is a wonderful thing, but I can’t say it is all bliss, I have had my tears of frustration, of fears and anger as much as laughs of joy, contentment and love; traveling as a family in a boat is amazing, it keeps us close together, but it is the same closeness that suffocates you at times. Visiting new places all the time is fascinating, but constantly moving is a tiring pastime. Not having to get up and work every morning is an enviable situation, but not having the money is limiting and dangerous too. No matter how we put things into consideration for whether to return or not, it is pointless. This is our time to rebuild… it all.

I know Matt and I have different feelings about this, but I am excited to be back home, a large kitchen to cook, a washing machine to keep a clean wardrobe, a shower to get into every morning, a birthday party to go to on weekends, a day of shopping for unessential things, a library day with the girls and so on. I am aware that all these things I can live without, but it’s sure nice to have. Living simple is a skill that I have not achive to master yet! On the other hand, I am sad to end this trip, naturally. It has been so rich in so many ways, especially because of all the people we have met. Would I do it again?

Puerto Escondido

As we are making our ways into the mooring area we spotted a dinghy heading in opposite direction with our friend from Savannah. We met them at the beginning of our cruising life in San Diego. At that point Andy was a few months away from retiring as an underwater video/photographer for the Navy and Monica was about to call it good on her job too. They were going to go sailing several months after us, we were not expecting to see each other for at least 5 years, but.. oh well we changed our plans and now they see us end the trip as we see them start theirs.

There is no town in Escondido, just a marina and a hotel nearby were we will go swimming. There is a well organized Cruisers Club that meets in the marina every day. It seems like a good place to hang out. We stayed longer than expected, partly because of weather and partly because it was comfortable and the kids had other kids to play with.

The highlight of our stay in Escondido was the celebration of Halloween. A potluck and costume contest. Samantha dressed up as an Indian, Trinidad as a Gipsy and I as something like a beer girl from the Alps. We all won a prize and the girls had more candy than a parent should want their kids to have. It was a fun evening!