SUNDAY, MARCH 11, 2007
Jacaranda Passage Notes #13: Volcanoes and Birthdays
The last Passage Note left off with Jacaranda in the Barra Lagoon ready to head south. Its been almost 2 months since our last note and we have lots to tell. We left Barra in the RAIN (imagine rain in the winter!!) and sailed all day long in rain and very light air the 20 miles down to Santiago Bay (Manzanillo). Last year we did not experience one drop of rain from Dec to June and this year we have had 7-8 days of rain! So unusual!! Late afternoon we anchored in one of our most favorite spots - Carrizal, a small fiord-like finger with cliffs rising up almost vertically on three sides just west of Santiago Bay. Great snorkeling!! Later, Walkabout (Luders 33) sailed in making two Allieds anchored together in one bay a pretty rare occurrence since there are so few of our make of boat. Monday morning friends radioed us from a nearby anchorage and invited us on a day trip to the City of Colima, capital of Colima state. They had organized a van with a guide; we quickly accepted and moved Jacaranda to adjacent Santiago Bay to join them later that day.
Early Tuesday morning, we dinghied in to the beach with TenTen and White Star where we met our guide, Alejandro, in front of a local palapa. The one and a half hour drive took us south along the coast past urban Manzanillo, Mexicos busiest port, and its huge inland lagoons, and then east through fertile agricultural lands and the valley of Tecoman, the Lime Capital of the World. Lining the road was palapa booth after palapa booth each selling the same things - limes, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, bananas, tamarind, and bags of sugar. With no differentiation, we always wonder how all of them manage to stay open for business! A short while later, the twin volcanoes that form Colima's dramatic backdrop came into view. El Volcan de Fuego, lazily puffing away, is Mexicos most active volcano while Nevado just sleeps these days. We spent the morning walking around Colima, City of Palms, with its beautifully landscaped central zocalo surrounded by a number of outstanding colonial landmarks, remnants of the impressive architectural heritage that has been slowly eroded by volcanic eruptions (last one in 1941) and earthquakes (last one in 2003). Colima is one of Mexicos oldest cities and we enjoyed a photographic exhibit entitled Colima Then and Now with comparative views around town. There are several museums and we opted to go to the Museum of Folk Art. (Museo Universitario de Artes Populares) which had excellent displays of all kinds of arts (basketry, masks, ceramics, shellwork, textiles, tin work, and mojigangos-giant paper mache puppets) not only from Colima but from all over Mexico.
A real highlight of the day was when Alejandro took us to Villa de Alvarez to see a most unique bullring - a one of a kind structure called a "petatera" erected for 2 weeks every February for an annual celebration and this was the 150th year anniversary!!! This bullring was built of wood planks, tree limbs, and woven palm frond mats (petates) lashed together (no nails). Each section is owned by a different family who stores the wood and then can sell seating during the festival. OSHA and U.S. fire marshals would have heart attacks!! Afterwards, climbing in elevation, we drove to the village of Suchitlan for lunch in an outdoor garden shaded by coffee trees (another local crop). We concluded our sightseeing at a small town called Comala - known for its wood furniture, whitewashed buildings, and botanero custom (snacks eaten in restaurants located under colonnades around the plaza). We also enjoyed going to Hacienda Nogueras, now a University of Colima Museum but originally the home and studio of artist Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo. He was known for his gouache paintings of Mexican-themed child angels used as UNICEF cards for many years. There was also a terrific exhibit of archeological items found in the ancient shaft tombs nearby - including the most beautiful Tepezcuintle dog we saw all day. The Colima region is famous for these clay dog figurines sculpted by the nahuatl culture who believed they aided the spirits passage in death.and there are actually real dogs that were used as models - one of the oldest and rarest breeds in the world (strange looking hairless dogs with back skin and blond tufts of hair on their heads that we saw in Zihuatenejo). Replicas of these clay figures are EVERYWHERE - even 2 giant dancing dogs erected in the town's main traffic roundabout.
We left the Las Hadas anchorage a few days later heading south to Ztown. As we exited Manzanillo Bay, close to the southern point of the bay, we landed a large (30lb+) mahi mahi our favorite kind of fish to eat! Its a beautiful fish also bright yellow in color that flashes gold in the water. It totally filled our freezer and we immediately put the fishing line away, satisfied we had done our duty to the Jacaranda food supply. Ceviche, fish tacos, fish sausages, fillets cooked a hundred waysso many delicious meals with plenty to share with friends!
The direct 180 mile shot down was in light air and we motored sailed about 60% of the time. We had arranged to meet our friends Alex and Sue on Mai Tai Roa at Isla Grande, off of Ixtapa, a few miles before Ztown. We hadnt seen each other yet this cruising season and wanted to catch up before they headed north and we passed each other like proverbial ships in the night. We arrived just as evening fell so Alex talked us into the small anchorage in the dark. We had a great visit for a couple of days sharing dinner, Valentines Day mimosas, and lunch ashore at a palapa on the beach. The next day we moved the 10 miles over to Zihuatenejo Bay and anchored near other friends on Masquerade and Bold Spirit off La Ropa beach close to the spot we were in last year.
The next evening we met San Diego friends Saundra and Hersch at their gorgeous hotel for dinner. They have been returning to the same room at Casa Que Canta for the past 17 years and we could immediately see why. This sophisticated upscale resort straggles a rocky promontory jutting out into the Bay with multi-leveled rooms, lounges, vanishing edge pools and the most incredible views. Their villa was something right out of Conde Naste Travel Magazine.
On Feb. 17 friends Elise and Jerry from Salt Lake City arrived for a 10 day visit. It was great to see them and get the goodies they brought Lindas new laptop computer to replace her old dead one, our mail, some boat parts (of course), and some special order gourmet items. Beach walks, excursions into town, a visit to an indian school, carnival festivities in the zocalo, morning swims to the beach, good cooking, reading and talking time, and movies in the cockpit the time flew by! We went back out to Isla Grande overnight for some great snorkeling and lazing around. Anchored back in Zihuatenejo Bay with a balloon-festooned salon, we celebrated Lindas birthday at a fabulous restaurant called Amuleto high on the hill overlooking the ocean and bay. Incredibly gorgeous, terrific food, sunset views, and an atmosphere that was muy romantico! Thank you Jerry & Elise!