Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas starts in La Paz - Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe and Noche Buena

12 December - Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe

When I used to watch telenovelas to help myself learn Spanish, I was frequently confused by the characters constantly praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Not being Catholic I had to wonder, was there more than one version of The Virgin?  

I finally got around to researching La Virgen de Guadalupe, and discovered that nope, it was the one and only Virgin who, in 1531 (more or less) appeared to Juan Diego, a native Mexican, on the hill of Tepeyac.  Long story short, she spoke to him in his Nahuatl language asking him to build a church on that site. These things are typically easier said than done, and after a few days of running around, tending to a sick uncle, and trying to convince the local archbishop of the verity of his vision, the Virgin assisted Juan Diego by imprinting an image of herself onto his tilma (cloak). The archbishop became convinced on December 12th and the church was eventually built. That very tilma (supposedly) is now kept at the third most visited religious site in the world, the Guadalupe Basilica which was built in her honor at Tepeyac, north of Mexico City.

The original tilma with the supernaturally imprinted image.(from Wikipedia)

The Virgin of Guadalupe's nickname is La Virgen Morena, The Brown Virgin, and she proved to be an important and convenient liaison between existing native religions and the conquering Catholic church. She was named the patron saint of Mexico and the Americas, and her feast day of December 12th is one of the most important religious holidays in Latin America. La Virgen Morena is seen as the champion for the poor and downtrodden, and is available to all her "children" (all people) who pray to her and ask for her help. That's why she is the most accessible and popular saint to many Mexicans.

The Dia de Guadalupe is the official start to the Christmas holidays in Mexico, and on this night all of La Paz was out in in force; numerous tianguis (open-air markets) had set up shop all over the city, and the Christmas village across the street from our marina was packed with families.

Noche Buena

For the Cinnabarbarians, the official start of Christmas is the release of Bohemia's delicious, limited edition, amber beer. It's called Noche Buena, which is also the name for the poinsettia plant as well as Christmas Eve. Turns out that Noche Buena is cheaper than water! Recently, a new, local brewery started coming to our marina on Wednesdays to sell their beers, which includes a coffee chocolate porter. So Noche Buena for Tom and a tasty porter for me. The porter is called Energía Oscura, or Dark Energy. And yes, it's definitely expanding my universe.

Holiday Amber and universe-expanding Porter

I think we are ready for the holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Adios California - ¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias! (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Our last days in the U.S. consisted of cramming in visits with friends and family, and madly ordering boxes of boat parts and supplies to carry back down to Mexico.

Our annual N. Coast AbDab with the McGuires and special guest dive legend Lee Walton (right).

Our annual Bacchanalian weekend and clambake in Inverness with the Warrens and the Bentsens.

Army of Darkness? Nope, we visited my cousin and chopped down trees and brush for four days.

We finally left San Jose on November 15 in the pouring rain and checked in our four, huge (and now soggy) bags filled with boat parts, 40 yards of Weathermax fabric, and numerous other items we are unable to purchase in Mexico. We met the challenge of arriving to the airport on time and making our flight. The next challenge would be to go through customs in Mexico and avoiding paying import tax on all our stuff. If customs happened to question our import of gear, we were prepared to legitimize it (and no duty payment) with the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for our boat. But we hear stories all the time about people still having to pay import tax on expensive items, including some folks who brought boat fabric into MX still on the roll. Which is why our fabric was folded up tightly into a suitcase.

We arrived in San Jose del Cabo and while waiting to retrieve our luggage a cute little inspection beagle became interested in one of my bags, not sure if it was the Clif Bars or dirty socks, but I got the dreaded yellow tag signifying my bag should be inspected. Drat! But as soon as security moved on Tom casually put my bag on the cart, then placed his suitcase on my bag, thereby covering the tag. So far so good.

Because of our mountain of luggage we were directed into the x-ray line. Double Drat! But luckily there was a delay while the inspectors were all gathered around somebody's box, so Tom and I sidled into the next line, in which you press a button that shows a red light (stay and get inspected), or a green light (free to go without inspection). I pressed the button and...GREEN for GO!!! Hooray, no inspections! We hurried out of there, found our shuttle, and after a cold beer loaded up our bags and began our long ride from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz.

When we finally arrived at the marina that night we opened up the boat, unpacked a few items, and went straight up to our favorite bar for a giant Margarita and to get re-acquainted with some of our friends. 

Even though we had a terrific summer and enjoyed the hospitality of many of our friends, it was wonderful to be back in our own space. That, along with being warmly greeted by so many people in La Paz really made us feel like we were home.

The only down side to our departure from the bay area is that we would miss Thanksgiving with family and friends. 

We missed the Belton/Seaberg annual turkey hike.
(Rancho San Antonio, CA)

We especially missed the munchkins Ava and Kellen mugging and munching their chocolate turkeys.

Tom missed his annual hog jog run, but he hiked up to the top of Mount Palmira with boat neighbor Manny. (our marina is in the background)
The hog joggers back home in Los Gatos, CA. For 24 years, a 5 mile hill run in the AM followed by pints at The Black Watch pub before resuming familial celebrations.

Every year our marina (Palmira) hosts a huge Thanksgiving pot luck, so I signed up to help with managing one of the food tables. 

It was a large but civilized crowd.

The award for Unclear On the Concept: "In all my years of doing this, this is a first!" says Jeannie of Eagle. Somebody brought bags of instant mashed potatoes, unprepped! 

Even though Tom helped clean and set up chairs and tables for this event, he had no intention of enduring enjoying Thanksgiving in a crowd of 170 people, so when our dock neighbors invited us to join them on their boat we jumped at the opportunity. 

I had a long day of cooking in the morning (including making homemade onion strings so we could have the infamous green bean casserole), working the pot luck until everyone was fed, and then joining Tom and our friends aboard their beautiful, air-conditioned boat. (It was a hot, windless day.) This year's Thanksgiving was different from how we usually celebrate it, but it was still a great holiday for us. 

Amber and Richard of Vagabundo invited us to a lively and delicious dinner. 
(We met 3 years ago in P. Vallarta racing our boats in the Banderas Bay Regatta. Home-based in Portand, OR, they've been coming to Mexico for 30+ yrs.)

Since arriving we have been working on the boat, repairing/servicing systems and getting her seaworthy. But we've also found time for some fun. We've had many days of strong winds, and Tom and his friend Rob on Shindig dinghied out into the bay to do some kiteboarding.

Tom ripping it up (w/Rob's kite) with La Paz Ctiy in the background.
(our marina is just left, out of the picture)

I know it sounds like all we do here is hang out with friends, go kiteboarding, and drink cold beers and Margaritas, but of course that's not true. More later on some of the work we do to get Cinnabar ready for living aboard and for sailing.

Album: Adios California - Hola La Paz

Where did we stay while we were in California this summer? Here are the stats:

39 days - house-sitting Palo Alto
25 days - house and kitty-sitting San Carlos
17 days - staying with M and T in Sunnyvale 
11 days - aboard Windjammer in Nova Scotia
9 days - camping CA and OR
8 days - Marblehead, MA
7 days - sailboat Alchera in Alameda
5 days - Gualala AbDab
5 days - Rich's in San Jose
5 days - sailboat Eyrie in SF
4 days - cousin's house in Feather Falls
2 days - Inverness
2 days - Airbnb Portsmouth, MA
1 day - Dayna's in Salinas (driving home)
1 day - Chico, Hotel Diamond (cousin's wedding)
141 days Total