Saturday, March 21, 2015

Illusion, Friends, Lips, Hearts and Sunsets

Happy Spring Equinox! It's already starting to feel like summer here in La Paz.

The good life! La Buena Vida.

I don’t know why it’s always more fun to run into people from home when you are in a foreign country, but we always get very excited when we have the chance to rendezvous with people from the SF Bay Area here in Mexico. It’s not actually that odd, considering many of us are sailors/cruisers, but we were really surprised when we got an email from my ex-boss/now-friend Sally saying she and her husband Stan had left California, had sailed across the border and were hanging out in Turtle Bay having fun meeting other cruisers. 

When I first met Sally in 1998 she and Stan were “getting ready to cruise”, but one thing led to another, year after year, and they were never able to break away.

OK, to be fair, Stan WAS running a company, navigating mega-yachts, winning Volvo Cups, and creating viewing technology for the America's Cup. And he DID get me this great gig managing the antenna on top of the GGYC, where I got to watch the awesome AC action.

 But my, how time flies. And finally here they are in Mexico!

They let us know when they eventually arrived in Cabo San Lucas, so Tom and I decided it was a perfect opportunity for a road trip. We packed a few extra clothes just in case, hopped into the Tundra, and enjoyed a gorgeous drive down the west coast of Baja.

 A surprising Concours d'Elegance on the way to Todos Santos

We know that Sally and Stan take great care of their Cal 40, but we were still amazed to see that she was in pristine condition after her trip down the coast.

With Stan and Sally next to the beautiful Illusion.

We were having so much fun walking around Cabo that I almost forgot to take pictures!

I did remember to pull out my camera at the Dolphinarium,  where we were impressed with the parrot cage and their dedicated trainer.

The trainer was fantastic! He's giving her a High-5.

We mooched a bunk aboard Illusion for the night, and then spent the next day sightseeing and running errands.

Would you believe this great restaurant was at the food court at Walmart? Best  Mahi-Mahi burrito so far!

At the end of our busy day we said goodbye to our friends, who had plans to arrive in La Paz in a couple of weeks.

That night we looked for a campground that I had read about, but couldn’t find. We asked for directions at a tourist booth, and one of the local guys said he’d be glad to jump in our car and show us the way. REALLY? Was this going to be a set up for highway robbery? He asked us to promise to drive him back, which made us feel a little better…until we turned down a dirt road in questionable condition that went past a sketchy looking beer store with guys hanging around spitting and scratching their huevos. Hmmmm…  But our guide kept chatting amiably trying to sell us a timeshare, and soon he directed us into what appeared to be a dusty campground. We’d made it! Not quite to the place I was looking for, but it would do. We drove our guide back, tipped him which he greatly appreciated since he was unable to sell us a timeshare, and stopped at the scary beer store to stock up on beer and cookies for the night.

We pitched our tent in the dust under a huge cell tower that had survived Hurricane Odile, and were kept company by the owner’s two frisky Chihuahuas and one cat. Even though it was kind of sketchy, the place had GREAT showers!

Our campsite!

The next day we were skunked in the wind department, but we happened to stumble upon a famous surfing spot, Monuments, and after talking to some friendly locals who were departing, Tom had the whole place to himself.


We continued up the East Cape through the wind-lovers mecca of Los Barriles (yes it means The Barrels). As we drove north, Tom remembered that El Triunfo is the home of a bakery famous for its authentic sourdough bread. So far we have not been impressed with Mexican sourdough, but this place made the real deal, almost as good as SF Sourdough. It smelled so good I wanted to stick my face right into it!

OMG real sourdough at last! Not SF Sourdough but close, very close.

We got back into La Paz just in time to hit commuter traffic, which gave us plenty of time to talk about what a great trip we’d had.

Typical commuter traffic in La Paz.

The rest of February was filled up with Super Bowl…

Enjoying super bowl with our neighbors Manny and Lola.

Valentine’s Day…

Susan of Ross Marine wishes everyone a happy Dia de Amistad y Amor.

And of course our Valentine's Day fiesta.

Good-bye celebrations...

Farewell party for John of Time Piece; he got a great job with Caribbean Cruise Lines.

And Carnaval…

At the end of the month we got some insane Southerly winds...

Blue over gold means the Capitania de Puerto has closed the port!

...and as luck would have it Sally and Stan were heading to the East Cape from Cabo. Instead of trying to go into a rolly anchorage, they continued up on a spinnaker run with the favorable winds at their backs, and rolled into Marina Palmira during a morning calm.

We had a great time showing them around La Paz…

In front of my favorite statue on the Malecon, The Old Man and the Sea by G. G. Macias.

...and they introduced us to a fantastic couple they had met in Turtle Bay, Barry and Judy aboard Kiwi Three.
Happy Anniversary! So much for your romantic evening.

We invaded Barry and Judy’s anniversary, but it turned out to be a special night filled with jokes and laughter. Judy gave us our best quote of the month.

Tom: What were you before you were a cruiser?

Judy: Well, I was a child.

During the meal at a lovely outdoor patio, my watch alarm went off, reminding us that the ISS (International Space Station) was just about to pass directly overhead, and as we watched it we were awed to think that this extremely bright thing over our heads had humans in it.


More Pictures in our: February Album

And Happy Anniversary to our friends Nancy and Rob aboard Shindig, enjoying the beautiful Mexican mainland. 

We miss you guys!!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Lucky Friday The 13th! (OK, Posted Late So Happy Pi Day!)

Our Friday the 13th started off with a bit of excitement. Apparently a man tried to steal/borrow our kayak just after 6:00 a.m., but our neighbor's dog barked so loudly that she disturbed the crime in progress. The crook managed to get the kayak into the water, sans paddle, and he was seen paddling around behind our boats using his hands. But either he decided it was too much trouble, or maybe he was thinking to steal the paddle on the back of our neighbor's boat (which he boarded!), or too many people were poking their heads out of their boats thanks to Pancha the wonder dog, but he parked the kayak, climbed back onto the dock, then eventually departed empty-handed. Dumb Crook. We're all going to keep our eyes open though, and lock our stuff up, just in case. And our kayak is now tied to the side of the boat that faces the water. And Pancha got a chicken dinner as a reward.
Pancha is on duty 24/7!! She's sweet, but can be a bad-ass.

I met a woman last week who asked me if I live in La Paz. 

"Ermmmmm, yes. Yes, I live in La Paz." 

I guess so, since we've been here over three months, save for a couple of road trips. Tom and I were feeling like a couple of lazy loads for dragging our feet and never making it over to the mainland. But Tom really wanted to improve his kiteboarding skills, and he has been having a blast doing it. That's our excuse and we're sticking to it! Anyhoo, it's fun here and the weather so far has been mostly fantastic.

OK, so maybe we've had a few rainy days.

But check out this sunset that same evening!

La Paz is still recovering from hurricane Odile. Many lights and cell towers remain bent, crunched, and inoperable. A bunch of boats in the marina's boatyard blew over, and it is the responsibility of the owner to get them upright again. So as you can imagine some of them just remain tipped. So sad.

Boat likely damaged beyond repair.

However on this day the lovely boat Indara was being put back into the water after her bottom job. She looked like a gem compared to some of the wrecked boats in the yard. I was fascinated by how the yard splashed her, using a tractor to ease the trailer down the boat ramp. I took quite a few pictures which are in our January album (link below).

Indara gets lowered down the boat ramp.

La Paz is a hub for people traveling from far away places, and going to and from mainland Mexico. There is always someone interesting passing through. In January this couple rolled into town, literally, on their home built bamboo bicycle, looking to hitch a ride on a boat to the mainland. They had ridden through Europe, flown to Oakland and rode all the way down to La Paz!

Nico and Marki became popular very quickly.

They were absolutely charming, she from Czech and he from Argentina, and they had no trouble finding a boat willing to take them and their bicycle to Banderas Bay, where they will continue riding through Mexico bound for South America.

Unlike all the media hype, Mexico is generally a safe place to travel, but even La Paz has seen an increase in drug-related crimes. Fifty new police cars were added to the force in January, and it is very common to see Police and Military trucks patrolling the city.

Our favorite bartender and now friend, Conchita, was held up at knife point outside her house early one morning. She escaped with her life but the thief stole her money and her smart phone. She had worked long and hard to earn the money for that phone, and was always using her English translation app. We felt terrible for her, so Terry from the boat Cetus talked about starting a collection, and we all thought it was a terrific idea. A representative from each dock gathered a few pesos from each boat and we ended up with quite a lot of pesos, more than enough for a new smart phone! We decided to present the money to her a few days before Super Bowl Sunday, so one afternoon we all started trickling into her bar one by one. 
The ladies Mexican Train group starts off the gathering.

Conchita was a bit confused, because we don't ALL normally go there at once, unless there is some event going on. Finally, Terry presented the card to her, with a message written in Spanish by our neighbor Lola, explaining that Conchita is like family to us, and family sticks together, and by everyone putting in a little, it ended up being enough for her to buy a new phone. 

Terry (left) presents our card to Conchita.

Conchita (and friends) with her new smart phone!

Later, Conchita and two other victims were able to identify the perp, and he is now in jail for 5 years! 
Album: Surprise for Conchita

More pictures from January (yes I know we are already in March, but so what?). Album: Starting 2015 in La Paz

And yes, I know that it is now the day AFTER Friday the 13th, (also unlucky in Mexico). In fact it is Pi day! 
Pot pies and quiche for sale at the marina every Wednesday.

And tomorrow will be the Ides of March, "Beware!!" so maybe we'll go out and have some Caesar salad somewhere.

Coming Soon: Road trip to Cabo, Red Lips, Foggy hike to the cross.