April 25, 2009

Jacaranda Passage Note #32: Zihuatenajo

We last left off with our return to the Mexican mainland (Barra de Navidad) from Socorro Island, a 3 day trip.

We arrived safely in the Barra lagoon where the saying goes: Its better to be in a bar in Barra than on the bar in Barra because so many boats run aground in the shallow entrance. It was great to see many friends and catch up with folks we havent seen for 3-4 months. Besides socializing, we were quite busy with cleaning, laundry, and food provisioning to be ready for our friends Dan & Beryl who were flying to Puerto Vallarta from San Francisco and then taking the 4 hour bus to visit with us on Jacaranda for a week.

Linda and I dinghied in from the lagoon and were sitting in a street corner café finishing lunch when Dan and Beryl got off the bus and started to walk to our designated meeting place at the nearby Sands Hotel. They did a double take when they walked down the street, turned the corner and saw us sitting there! Well, Barra isnt that big to not bump into whomever you want to see!!

We got them settled on Jacaranda, poked around Barra and Melaque for a day, and then sailed to Tenacatita, catching a small mahi mahi on the way. Fresh dorado for dinner!  we were all excited except for Beryl who is a vegetarian. We stayed in Tenacatita for a few days, just long enough to get in plenty of swimming, beach walks, the mandatory jungle trip up the mangrove estuary, and snorkeling in the Aquarium before heading back to Barra for a farewell dinner with a big table of friends, good food, and music by a wonderful singer. Sunsets, star watching, reminiscing, and listening to Dan and Beryls camping and travel tales.the week went very fast and they were on the bus heading back to Puerto Vallarta and a few days in Yelapa before we all knew it!

Next on our agenda was a 2 day nonstop trip south to Zihuatenajo to meet more company! We were greeted at the entrance of the large Bay by two whales and then anchored off La Ropa beach alongside brother Bill and wife Sue onboard SunBaby. They had been in Z-town for more than a month entertaining consecutive visits from their 3 children. We missed two of them and their spouses but got to spend some time with my oldest niece, Erin. Shortly afterwards, SunBaby headed back north, slowly making their way to the Sea of Cortez in anticipation of returning to San Diego in June for the birth of Bill and Sues first grandchild (Kerry and Brownies first child).

Now the big day of February 20 came  Lindas birthday and the much awaited arrival of her cousins from the frozen north of Philadelphia. When we met Chuck and Ros at the Zihua airport, they were tropically dressed in their finest flip flops and were ready for some relaxation in the warmth!! They spent the first night aboard Jacaranda and we celebrated Lindas birthday at a restaurant overlooking the Bay with Chuck, Ros, Bill, Sue, and Erin, and good friends John and Sandy from s/v Masquerade. The next day Chuck and Ros moved into the magnificient Casa Que Canta - a boutique hotel built in several levels over a rock outcropping jutting out into the water. Each bedroom suite includes a sitting area and patio (and even the bathroom) with a beautiful view of the Bay.

Weve never met anyone who stayed here and didnt return for repeat visits  in fact, Lindas friends Saundra and Hersch have been coming for the last 18 years except for this year because they relocated to San Diego. We thought it only fitting that Chuck and Ros take their place this year in Room #8. Since our usual location in the Bay was very rolly this year, we moved into the harbor in front of their hotel. Everyday Chuck and Ros would exclaim  What a gorgeous view! and we would reply yes, and we live in the view!.  The entire week felt like a celebration thanks to Chuck and Ros visit and included a cooking class, guided visit to the farmers market, swimming, snorkeling at Isla Grande off Jacaranda, relaxing under a palapa on Los Gatos Beach, a spa treatment for the girls, and dinners/breakfasts galore. Well see if they succomb to the Casa Que Canta spell and return to meet us next year!!!

We had no sooner bid them goodbye back to the snow when Louise, Lindas sister, arrived from New York to thaw out with us on Jacaranda. We met her at the airport and caught the local little bus back into town. Considering Louise has been known to suffer from motion sickness at times, she did wonderfully staying with us for the week, repeating the mantra The waves are my friends when she felt a little movement. We took a cooking class from Monica together, preparing Fish a la Talla. We each gutted and cleaned a fish bought early that morning from the fishermen at the pier by Monicas father. Monicas husband helped us prepare the fish and then we painted  it with a spicy marinade and grilled on a banana leaf over the open fire. Shopping and swimming and relaxing was the order of the day. We know she returned to the cold of winter with a mellow and relaxed attitude which we hoped would linger for a while.

After Louise departed we began to work our way north, eventually reaching Banderas Bay and anchoring in La Cruz. We were surprised to see how sophisticated the new La Cruz Marina looked since we had not seen it finished. Rafael, the former manager of the Puerto Vallarta Yacht Club had been hired as the new marina manager and is doing a great job of being cruiser friendly. Of course there are changes to the town of La Cruz  its not as sleepy as it was a few years ago  and there are some great upscale restaurants but we caught Latcho and Andrea at Black Forest playing their last flamenco gig of the season. We stopped to visit friends in PV and do some much needed maintenance in the old Nuevo Vallarta Marina. Ahh the joys of having a fresh water hose to give everything a clean scrub. It had been almost 6 months since we had pulled into a marina.



When we departed PV we again went north and stopped for the night at Jaltemba, followed by a few days at Isla Isabella, and then into Marina Mazatlan to have the mechanics give the new engine a check-up. During the week that we stayed there, news came of the Swine Flu scare which began in Mexico City. People kept a low profile and all the waiters at the restaurants were wearing surgical masks. We were very vigilant at the time, not knowing how serious this potential pandemic was going to be. Since Linda and I had gotten sick with a flu before we left Zihuatenajo, we were cautious to not tax our immune systems again. All the more reason to hurry and leave mainland Mexico for the isolation of Baja and the Sea of Cortez where will spend the summer again. We left Mazatlan with La Ballona, had a calm and comfortable crossing, and put the hook down in Caleta Partida (Isla Espiritu Santo) where we are now. That first night we sat out in the cockpit in the desert warmth, looking over a glassy sea and sighed to each other Its great to be back in Baja!.