Friday, April 30, 2010

Profesor Miguel

Disfrute muchísimo su clase, aprendí y recibí una tonadita de músculos que necesitaba. Gracias por dejarme participar y por dedicar parte de su tiempo para que me pudiera llevar unas clases extras en video. Ahora debo buscar en quien usarlas o, prefiero decir, con quien practicarlas. Gracias ademas por acogernos en su casa y presentarnos a su hermosa familia. Espero recuerde que tienen su casa en Arizona!

My Martial Art experience

I found the cultural center of Huatulco and discovered that they offered a discipline of Martial Art called “Limalama”. Having already experience and loving Karate in the US, I was curious and eager to take this class. I met the instructor and he invited me to join for the time I was going to be here. Twice a week I went and tested my abilities. Today was my last day and the instructor made a reference to my departure to the rest of the students, they all clapped… was it because of my departure?, nooo.. they were all happy that I participated… really. They all approached me to say goodbye, asked for one of our cards and the Instructor even demonstrated over 15 techniques for me to videotape and practice with uninvited attackers or other annoyers. I am sad to leave behind people that have been so generous and friendly to me. I always get the feeling that I didn’t do enough for them. On the other hand I believe that you not always can expect to have retributions from those who you give, the retributions may come from other sources and it is basically the though that you must do good things just because they make you a better person.

Running out of time

We are only a couple of days away from the arrival of Richard, (Matt’s brother-in-law) who will help us make our next crossing. Matt has been studying the weather for the last few days. It doesn’t look good! Hurricanes are developing already, the rainy season has started in Central America and we still have some miles to go to the safe zone. I am faithful! I trust my husband, the boat and God’s will. (I should repeat these words if the wind picks up to more than 20 knots).

Chachacual and India

We moved over the next bay for a little more exploring. No restaurants in these bays, just us and a few minutes later a single “panga”. A “panga” with maybe 6 people on board, 6 people that moved fast enough to set up a whole restaurant in minutes; umbrellas, tables, chairs, coolers with beer, sodas and Juices, tacos and even the jewelry to be sold to tourist on the beach. The tourist came later, big catamarans with music, full blast as always, with mainly, local tourist exploring the bays.
By 4 o'clock everyone was gone, it was just nature and us, a solitud almost frightening, but amazing, we dinghy from beach to beach unable to determine which one was more perfect. The one with emerald green water, the one with more emerald green water and hermit crabs (great kids entertainment) or the one with Coral on the sides, cristal clear emerald green water and snorkeling paradise.

“Organo” Beach

Its name refers to the organ pipe cactus found in the area. It’s located on the south side of Maguey, close enough for us to just dinghy over, but not all the way. We had to swim to shore again, but this time for a safety reason. The surf was rough and the possibilities of flipping the dinghy were high. It was okay to swim, but I had to leave my camera behind missing, of course, the best shots ever. (the ones I didn’t take). There, Matt found a possible treatment aging, we though!, clay!! Good clay!!, Jo and I applied thick layers on our faces, arms and legs for the “just in case”, the kids did it for the fun of it in the same manner and Matt also did it to show us how to have a good time. Later that day, back in the boat we shared dinners with Rob and Jo onboard of Endurance.

Maguey Beach

We anchored next to vessel “Blue Moon”. Rob and Jo. who invited us for cocktails in the evening of our first night there. (It must have felt like an invasion to them having us as the two active little girls in a boat, especially when they are not use to having kids around) I enjoyed very much meeting them and listening to all the stories that they have accumulated in their 15 years of sailing.

The next day we dinghy over to the beach, anchored the dinghy and swim to shore. I took a walk through the restaurant area and a nice man invited me to come in to his place.. no he didn’t offer me candies, he just wanted to show me the restaurant and the palapa’s second floor where I could get a more panoramic view of the bay. I climbed upstairs, he unlocked it for me and I went in… As I am writing I am thinking if one of my daughters ever tells me she did something like this, I would give her a lecture, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I felt very safe. It was safe. I took a couple of pictures and he said the floor was good to dance, to lay on the hammocks or enjoy a “mota”. I had to ask what that was, even though I had an idea. He sort of blushed as he discovered I was not the kind to smoke marihuana. It must have been my Rastafarian look. From now on I am combing my hair everyday.

Exploring the Bays

We spent three days at anchorage in the bays of Maguey, Organo, India and Chachacual. The prettiest bays so far since Tenacatita in the North. Great snorkeling!! Samantha has had some good experiences already and Trinidad is just beginning to feel comfortable with looking under water. Swimming with big fish was a very threatening though for her. Now, She is excited to see how colorful it could be down bellow!.

The anchorages were a little rolly, but bearable, I figure out that sleeping sideways in the v-birth (the bed in the front of the boat) the undulated ocean can be quite pleasant. Being here for these few days is a reminder of what cruising should be about!. I love this, there are no temptations for spending money, getting up knowing that if it gets hot you can just jump in the emerald green water is an energizer, the desire to exercise increased, the food tastes better, the inspiration is enormous and I manage not to feel guilty for sitting to read a book. There was nothing else to be done, no calls to make, no errands to run, no closets to tidy up, not vacuuming, no laundry, etc, etc.. Every place we visited was a brochure perfect picture!

Still around

We have been here for two weeks already and it doesn’t seem that long, Matt is just starting to put the boat back together, I have washed all the cushions or didn’t I?... WHO STEP ON THEM!!! I see little foot prints. There are still pending ventures, such as dentist, visit the surrounding bays, load every little space with those Mexican items we would miss dearly, load the water tanks with water, get some fuel and blablabla.. and then check out of Mexico.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Huatulco Bays

Monday after Easter we departed Pto Angel towards Huatulco, AKA Bahias de Huatulco. It is our final destination in Mexico at least for now. Our plan is to stay here for a few weeks waiting for Matt’s brother-in-law, Richard Chellemi. He will help us survive the crossing of the Tehuanapec Gulf and fight the possible and undesirable "Papagayo" (Nasty, storm like winds, stronger than the trade winds, blowing up to 40 knots regularly that affect the West Coast of Central America). As far as we know we will be residents of this area until May 4th, at least.

There is not much of an option for anchoring so we opted to stay in Marina Chahue, tied to a dock in the secondary channel. In other words, not in the main part of the marina, but in a channel adjacent to it, with no utilities, but complete use of their facility..well there is not much; one bathroom, only one outdoor shower with two heads and one plastic chair, about to break, that moves around the marina for those who wish to use the internet (My neighbor carries his 5 gal. bucket to sit and do his online business, I will have to adopt his style). On the other hand, a lot is being invested on the landscaping and it looks beautiful . I must say also that for the price we paid we shouldn’t complain much. It has been the cheapest Marina by far, it is safe and the staff is friendly.
Huatulco is a town being developed by Fonatur (The government agency in charge of the tourism development). Apparently many years ago, the government took over thousands of acres of land to make of Huatulco the Cancun of the West. The locals were given a house in a different area in exchange of their property. Today the town offers an incredible amount of green areas, the plazas are embellished with beautiful water features, nicely maintained grass, shade trees, kiosks, nice benches, handicap access etc. It is very clean! There are different areas being the main ones; La Crucecita and Santa Cruz. La Crucecita is the downtown and La Cruz is the main harbor, were the cruise ships make their majestic entrances bringing the hopes up of all the vendors. The amount of hotels under slow construction is suspicious; the amount of vacancies in the fancy hotels is even more. The roads are elegantly bordered and divided by palm trees, grass, flowers and bridges. The mopeds are a common way of transportation. A very practical too, here, one moped is good for a whole family or a whole group of friends. We had fun one day just observing and photographing how these machines are put their weight limits and the risks taken by these people as well

Taking a break

Considering the amount of time we will spend in this town it will be an opportunity to catch up with some boat projects; go up the mast to lube, to change, to modify, to replace, to install, to view something..jaja. My poor husband has been there four times already. I am the one pulling on the lines to hoist him up and his life is in my hands. He must trust my grip and my love. The last time he went up he ask me: do you love me today? Other projects are; fixing a leak in the dinghy, check the sail condition, remove and re-calk deck hardware (preparing for the rainy season, soon to come) wash the seat covers, run an inventory of provisions, etc. I have some personal projects as well; find a class for the kids to join, to increase their exposure with the language and promote their interaction with the culture. Last, but not all, find a dentist for Sam and Matt.

The town has a center called “Casa de la Cultura” with many interesting and fun activities for them to join and for me as well. They let us try Hawaiian dancing and the art class for the girls. They had to choose one. Samantha enjoyed both, but opted for art. Trinidad opted for none. I opted for Martial Arts. Everyone is happy!

The easy going and friendly spirit of the sailing community continues.

We keep meeting wonderful people with fantastic stories and willing to help in any possible way. There is John, better known as “Pelican John” because of his vessel’s name. He has been here for a year, he has taken good care of the marina property by adding a few trails and takes care of sailors who need help finding, moving, carrying, delivering, you name it. Just the other day, I had a chance to ride in his van over to La Crucecita trying to find a dentist, the meat store, the veggie store and ice. He has seen many boats come and go and I am in no doubt that many of them have received help from him. He lives by himself with two cats, for whom he fishes every night at 6. Samantha and Trinidad have enjoyed being near him, Samantha, because she gets to fish sometimes for the felines and Trinidad because she gets to visit John for hours. As it happened this morning, she asked if she could board his boat and spend some time with him until it was lunch time, she ate with us, took 3 cookies to share with John and went back. When I went to get her, the cats were exhausted and John?... well he was too nice to say anything.

Then there is the vessel “Paesano” with Margarita and Ventura on board. We have enjoyed so much meeting them. They are a couple from Uruguay, nationalized Canadians. We shared some common roots and experiences of living and raising a family away from the place where we grew up, our family, our friends and our traditions. Their wisdom and outcome of their life have been an inspiration to me.

The second night we visit them was to watch a video clip of a whale encounter with “Paesano”. We have seen several whales in our trip, but they all seem to keep a comfortable distance from us, at least the ones we have seen. Maybe I am not paying attention to the ones that swim under our boat.. I guess that way is better, if I don’t see, I won’t fear. We sat down in the salon, asked for the popcorn and prepared to watch. AMAZING! The whale, full of curiosity put out a show that made our friends see their whole life in fast motion. This all happened in Bahia San Quintin in only 15 feet of water where they were anchored.

We are still running into some sailors we’ve met along the way.

Not many are rushing down the coast as we are, most have turned around or are staying longer in the Sea of Cortez. Ganymede with the 3 little girls is right behind us at the same dock. The girls have had several tea parties, dancing performances, Polly pocketing, sawing, get togethers, crafting, reading, movie times and treasure hunts. Ben delighted us last night with an amazing dish of curry. Ganymede and us are going through the Panama Canal, so I picture us spending a lot of time together.

Bahia Conejos (Rabbit bay)

Too hot one day, we decided to take a taxi to the beach making the mistake of letting our driver choose our destination…haha. He didn’t abuse our stupidity too much, just a little. He took us to Bahia Conejos. He said: “this is a great beach for the kids!” we believed him. He charged 65 pesos..mmm. Completely sure that he was charging too much, but we failed to ask before. Why? maybe to teach the kids the protocol of taking a taxi. Samantha now reminds us all the time, “ask how much it will be” she says before we put a foot inside. We walked down a dusty trail of thirsty trees to get to the beach and when we arrived we noticed we were the only ones there, with the exception of the owners of the palapa with cold beer. The beach was intimidating! I didn’t want to submerge any further than my knees and of course I didn’t want the kids to venture much more than that either. There was a confusing tide, waves and current.

But, when life gives you lemons.. get a Cold Corona!! We enjoyed a drink, picked some coconuts, watch the local use his machete to cut it open and after drinking the milk, we ate it. The girls benefited of having our full attention, they had a good time.

The temperature has really played against our desire to discover the towns and bays around. Its hot, but worse of all, humid. There are fantastic beaches around, I would hate to miss seeing them. Matt must finish with the boat projects soon and then we may do some day sails to explore more of paradise.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Puerto Angel

It is a very small bay with good anchorage, crystal clear water, clean. It was hard to find an open spot in the protected area of the bay to anchor since it was almost fully occupied by the fishing “pangas” and another sailing vessel “Ganymede” (the vessel with the three little girls on board). The girls are happy to see that their friends are here and they are already planning visits to each others boats and trips to the beach. We are set, we have our bathing suits on and we are ready for the instant cooling performance. 1-2-3 Splash!

We planned to stay here for a couple of days, but tomorrow it will be a week. Considering that we still have one more month to spend in Mexico before going across the famous and not very friendly Golf of Tehuanapec, we decided to take it easy and spend time here with our friends from Ganymede.

There are two beaches in the bay, “El Panteon” (the cemetery) and “Playa Puerto Angel” the two connect by a nicely built stone wall. They both have good places to hang out and swim, but have mainly enjoy “El Panteon” because one of the restaurant owners has gone
out of his way to serve us.

Omar and his family, owners of restaurant “Citlali”

It is the first palapa on the left at “El Panteon”. We spent several hours sitting under his place enjoying a cold Coronas, the shade, quesadillas, fried fish and a wonderful shrimp ceviche. Omar also let us fill a couple of 10 liter jar with fresh water for showers. The most valuable gift of all was the experience he provided Matt and Samantha of going fishing with him and his 13 year old son, Danilo. Omar goes out every afternoon to set the nets to catch the fish that will be served at the restaurant the next day and every morning at 6:30 AM he goes out again to retrieve the catch.

Para Omar y su familia
Muchas gracias por su generosa atencion, disfrutamos mucho sentados bajo su palapa y las conversaciones que tuvimos con su familia. Esperamos en algun momento volver a Puerto Angel y compartir un poco mas.

Samantha goes fishing

Its 6:30 in the morning, Matt is up he barely touches Samantha to tell her it is time to get ready and she jumps up, puts her clothes on and is standing outside ready to be picked up. Her excitement is contagious. They packed a couple of apples and some water and hopped in “Caracol Purpura” Omar’s boat. I got up energized as well and prepared a couple of pie shells for quiche that I had ready when they got back. When they returned she was able to describe the experience and named a few of the fish they caught.

Samantha sells mangoes on the beach.

We were sitting on Citlali one afternoon and a nice woman with her daughter, nine year old, Rocio are selling mangos, I couldn’t resist to buy a bag. I established a conversation with the mom and was moved by the hard work she does and how her daughter helps to make just a few pesos every day. Samantha was intrigued too. I asked Samantha if she would be up for the challenge of going around in the beach selling mangos and she was all for it. I asked the nice lady if she could tag along and she was happy to take her. Samantha carried the bag of chile, the lady carried the mangos and Rocio a bucket with more supplies. She was gone for approximately 30 min. I followed them with my eyes all the way. When she returned she told me that the sale was unsuccessful and there, another 10 pesos came out of my pocket to make the last purchase of mangos. I figure it was a win-win situation, I get to see my baby grow and I get to enjoy another bag of this delicious fruit.

The beaches in Puerto Angel

I enjoyed it for the most part, the surge is really strong, you get pushed out really quickly and sucked in quickly as well, so by the time you make your final roll up to the beach, you get rolled right back out, but now with your bathing suit converted into a sand bag, very, very flattering. The exfoliation is intense. The good thing is there is no one to impress, no one really cares. No one really cares how you dress for swimming either. I saw lady of all ages swimming in their bras and skirts, kids swimming in their birthday suits, others in their underwear, others fully dressed. I saw couples expressing their love openly and explicitly. Well not to a full extent, but pretty close. I would have to keep my kids in the PG section of the beach. Interesting also was seeing the military and navy walking the beach in their uniforms with their weapons. I guess it is all normal. All this scene made me picture one of those activities for children “mark what doesn’t belong”.

Easter in Mexico

We tried to distract the girls from the candy and chocolate idea of Easter, but it was simply impossible, they started asking a few days ago how much longer until then. It would have been unfair that sailing kids don’t get the yummy treats. However, none of the stores here carry anything related to this holiday, I didn’t see a single bunny, egg, pink and yellow sign, plastic junk, cookies… nothing. The eggs here in the boat were little candy bags with yummy Mexican candy that you find every day at any store. I realized how privilege our kids are to get anything at all. This morning in church, I ask a lady who had a boy to her side, about Trinidad’s age if he would get any candy today, she had no idea what I was talking about. Now I feel sorry for us, we are suck so deep into consuming, no wonder money its not enough even though we make much, so much more than people here.

I remember growing up when Thursday before Easter arrive, the party ended, no loud music, no pop music, no games, no going out with friends at night, no fun. It was a time of reflection; it was time to remember Jesus and the events. I don’t know how much it has change in my country, but here in this part of Mexico I expected to see a lot more of that. Quite the opposite; fishing contest, huge speakers on the peer, salsa, meringue, cumbias and even a bikini contest, fireworks on Friday and loud “cuetes” (fireworks). All of it sponsored by “Corona Extra” the cool beer. Last night the music went on all night long… simply put…awful.

Its time to go

I have found that if we stay too long in one place the boat becomes smaller, the sun becomes hotter, the beach vendors more insistent, the people trying to take advantage of us more abundant and the sailing life a little rougher.. I guess its time to move on. We run out of propane, the hammocks of fruits and vegetables are swinging empty, the freezer is just making ice and keeping a fish that Omar gave us this morning, the can’s compartment is only hiding dirt, we have almost depleted our can supplies, well, at least the most useful ones. There is a can of SpagettiOs.. that no one likes, a few cans of tomato sauce, evaporated milk, condense milk, chicken broth, some tuna and some chicken. I guess we could survive on those for a while, but with no propane to cook, we are in a little bit of trouble.