Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 19, 2015 - La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

We left the Tres Mariates east island by 9am and motored for 2 hours to the La Cruz anchorage.  We were surprised and shocked to see so many vessels in the anchorage.  We had thought it might have been quieter but found there were more here than when we were here 5 weeks ago.  The "Pacific Puddle Jumpers" (the nickname given to people sailing 2,5000 miles across the Pacific ocean to destinations in the South Pacific) may leave from here and we understand a group may leave in about a week (  We knew we would see some old friends here and we were excited about that.  Two vessels from the "Umbrella Dumpers" group were here, sv Astraea, sv Tappan Zee, and a third vessel, sv Namaste was due to arrive the following day.  It will be great to see some of the people we traveled with for 1000 miles down the outside Baja coast!  We had one nice night in the anchorage and the following morning needed to come in and stay a night in the marina so we can have a local canvas worker make some window coverings for us.  We need to battle the greenhouse effect that our large windows are providing during these hot days.

Our canvas maker Evette, her helper, and her 8 yr old daughter Valentina came early in the morning and spent a couple hours working on the patterns for the exterior window covers.  The kids had the pleasure of visiting and playing with Valentina and then she stayed with us through the afternoon. Valentina has an American father so her English was awesome.  We should have made her only speak Spanish to the kids.  If we were staying here we would certainly make this a weekly event and have her work with the kids. Our friends Earl and Louise on mv Serenity (who spent about 5 years in Mexico, ending last spring) had stated that our kids would not get a lot of opportunity to learn Spanish down here, as most of the destinations are dominated by American and Canadian English speaking cruisers.  This has turned out to be very accurate.  It is surprising to us how well you can get by with virtually no knowledge of Spanish.  Cindy and Kevin are primarily playing with American and Canadian kids and not the local children.

Cindy, Valentina, and Kevin

Kevin in the hammock on the boat deck
Playing games with Valentina
Cindy, Valentina and kitty Zappa are out for a walk on the docks.
Weather was forecast to be coming through the area so one night quickly turned into four nights.  We had not been to a marina in 40 days.  Quite a few vessels came into the marina as the winds and swell made the anchorage quite uncomfortable.  In the span of 30 hours the area received somewhere around 4 inches of rain.  We were here for the last major event 6 weeks ago that also dumped similar rain fall in a short period of time.  I met a gentleman on the docks who has been down here 5 years and he stated this type of weather never occurs this time of year, and it was more typical of the weather in August, September and October.   We survived the storm with one last water leak at the hatch in the bow which Steve resolved as the storm continued.  There is one small leak left now in a port pilothouse window so we are in good shape.

The La Cruz marina
We left the marina after 4 days of being tied up, we went out to the anchorage to set the "hook".  The weather is still a bit threatening, but winds are not expected to be high.  Quite a few other boats are also headed back out to the anchorage area.  Within a half hour of anchoring we hear on the radio from one of the local business owners that the bridge to P.V. is closed due to huge flood waters from the surrounding mountains that have received nearly 30 inches of rain in 30 hours. There are two bridges and the old one has supposedly collapsed.  The afternoon was filled to concerned people as they have guests coming in on flights or need to head to the airport to fly out.  The only method to get to P.V. is the highway that has the two bridges, one for each direction.  One fellow motor yacht had guests coming in this afternoon and headed toward P.V. Marina and had offered to have any other guests visiting be transported back here to La Cruz this evening aboard his vessel.  I know they have 5 or so people in the plan.  The La Cruz marina has set up a panga for people needing to head to the airport (for a price) and it would have been faster than trying to take a car to the airport with the bridge issues for the following day.  The bridges re-opened, both of them, so all was fine later that day.

Movie night Thursday night had the movie "The Imitation Game".  We went ashore early to get produce at the awesome Thursday evening produce market.  After stocking up on all sorts of goodies we went over to the amphitheater in the marina to watch the movie.   We met our friends from sv Namaste there and the movie started promptly at 7:30, half an hour late.  Everything down here seems to operate on a looser schedule that we are used to back home.  With about 45 minutes left in the excellent movie raindrops started to fall.  The rain gradually picked up until they had to stop the movie to protect the audio and visual equipment.  The DVD had started to skip and pixelate, so maybe they were too late?  We didn't get to see the last 30 minutes of this movie.  Bummer!

While we were shopping at the produce market we started talking with a Canadian women and ended up walking back to the dinghy dock with her.  She and her husband are on a 34' Catalina sailboat and are from Gabriola Island near Nanaimo in the Gulf Islands.  They are leaving Saturday, from La Cruz, and will be sailing roughly 30 days non-stop, transiting more than 2000 miles of open ocean, perhaps hundreds of miles from the nearest human.  Their first landfall will be the Marquesas Islands in the south pacific!  They then plan to spend more than 8 months exploring the south pacific, including the Cook Islands, and of course the islands of French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora, etc).  This couple isn't much older than us.  They retired a bit early and know what it is they want to do now that they aren't punching a clock anymore.  We also know a large catamaran called "Family Circus" is leaving La Cruz this weekend for the Marquesas.  They are a family of 7.  Yes 5 kids onboard.  Another "kid boat" Apropos is also leaving Saturday for the south pacific.  There are several other boats leaving for the Marquesas, and even a few headed for the Galapagos, 700 miles off the coast of Ecuador.  It is so inspiring to meet these people.  People that are not afraid to have an adventure.  Not afraid to break away from the norm.  They are not afraid to follow their dream.  Not afraid to LIVE!!!!

From our anchorage we saw several whales flapping their tales making huge waves.
This went on for about 5 minutes, that we were aware of.
Another amazing sunset from the La Cruz anchorage
At the dock, Steve did some bicycle maintenance.  4 bikes lined up for gear-train maintenance.
We have not had the bikes down for a while and the salt water and air is taking it's toll on them.
Zappa cat has some funny ways to take a nap on the floor.  We did not curl
that tail.....
Riding bikes around towns is EXTREMELY bumpy!  Almost every road
in La Cruz is this bumpy.  The bikes have not seen much use in Mexico.
Riding along the marina waterfront, nice smooth concrete.  The anchorage is
in the background.  There are more than 50 cruising boats anchored here now.
A lot of these boats are waiting for the right conditions so they can do the "Pacific
Puddle Jump" crossing the Pacific in order to get the amazing south pacific.
John, Journey, and Cindy (sv Namaste) getting burrs out of Nanuk's fur.
This dog is a lucky dog!
After the rains and the runoff from shore brought brown water
 and debris all the way to the anchorage
A beautiful rainbow
One day we hopped on a cambio (a large 12 passenger, Nissan, minivan-type bus) and went to Bucerias.  Bucerias is the next town over and seems to be a very tourist-driven town.  The streets are filled with vendors selling everything imaginable.  But, it's not strictly and american tourist town, most of the tourists are actually Mexicans.  There is a fabulous statue on the waterfront that a local spent a few minutes telling us about.  Bucerias has been a seafairing town for centuries, and oysters have played a major role in it's formation.  The statue commemorates the oyster divers of Bucerias, and the importance they played in the creation of this thriving town.

Great sculpture in honor of the Bucerias oyster divers

Bucerias, the little town located between La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta

Vendors are colorful, and plentiful in Bucerias

A few days later we jumped on a bus to go to the Puerto Vallarta airport to rent a car for the day.  This was the day after those big floods we already mentioned.  We were concerned that we might have some problems getting across the bridge, or perhaps we would end up stranded on the wrong side if the flood waters returned.  Fortunately for us, and everyone else down here, the flood waters had receded and both bridges were back in service with no discernible impact on normal life.  We rented the car so we could do a lot of provisioning.  We shopped at Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, AutoZone, Office Depot, Mega, Zaragozas Marine, and a few other small stores in a mall.  As you can see, shopping in Mexico (Puerto Vallerta) can be a lot like shopping back at home.   We filled the trunk of our car twice.  We made the most of our 24 hours with the rental car but really missed using it to visit inland.  Next time we will plan to have time to hike or visit some of the remote towns/villages here.

Cindy has been messing around with her recorder, trying to figure out a song she learned in band last year.  She spent a few minutes teaching Steve the song and here they are playing a duet.  Kevin playing along in the background with his favorite instrument, the whoopee cushion.

Steve and Cindy on recorders, Kevin on whoopee cushion

We are headed over to Paradise Village as family is coming this weekend.  We are really excited.  Also, we know that sv Stochastic is there with a friend for Cindy and Kevin to play with.  They are looking forward to seeing Sophie again.  We had hoped Chandro and Matero on sv Kenta Anae would be back from Canada when we were in La Cruz but they are not due back until next week so we will catch them in La Cruz in about a week after our time in Nuevo Vallarta at Paradise Village is over.

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