Mexican Revolution Day Parade

The theme for the day was Mexican Flag colors.

The point of this post is the wonderful parade we saw in La Paz for Mexican Revolution Day, but our attendance at the parade does bring up a another point.   La Paz has a great community for cruisers, with a VHF radio net six days a week, four or five marine supply stores, multiple marinas and even a club for cruisers.  You can find assistance with most boat projects, get parts, and just socialize, all with no need for cultural immersion.  The new store that just opened, aptly named Mega, even has a row of familiar sounding Kirkland brand products.  Granted, we’ve had some challenges asking for some products in the store, but we have managed to even find enough familiar food to put together an almost traditional Thanksgiving dinner we are heading back to the boat in a bit to cook up and enjoy (and much, much thanks to Jenn for tackling her first ever Thanksgiving dinner several thousand miles from home in a foreign country – she really is a catch). And yes, I wrote this awhile back and haven’t gotten around to posting it.

A local onlooker enjoying the parade.

The point of this that I feel like the leadership of the cruising community here did the cruisers a disservice by not encouraging us to go see the parade.  Overall, I feel like a lot of the cruisers that have kind of stalled here have just chosen to live in a comfortable environment with an English speaking support group and not experience the culture available to enjoy. The primary message about the holiday was to be prepared because businesses would be closed on Monday.  There was little mention of the parade, and zero encouragement to go see it.  Fortunately I have enough world travel experience to know if there is a local holiday, you should get out and experience with the locals.  So we did, taking the dinghy ashore and and walking towards the Malecon where the La Paz residents were collecting.

It wasn't all children and sports clubs in the parade.

One of many colorful outfits.

We did our part to support the local economy, first buying a serving of fresh sliced fruits with yogurt, topped with toasted oats and raisins, than really diving in and discovering Tostilotes (detailed in my previous post).  We wandered along the route looking for a good observation spot, pausing to chat with a family sporting a Washington State University hat and Gonzaga t-shirt, visiting with their daughter for their 30th anniversary (“But this is it” joked the woman”.

She will hurt you, but smile while she is doing it.

We staked out a spot to watch from, taking advantage of the fact that I am substantially taller than average here. Some police vehicles proceeded the parade, moving the people to the sides of the road.  The first participants were groups of mentally handicapped  revelers, suggesting a level of caring and support to me.  Maybe my view was incorrect, but I found something refreshing about not trying to hide this segment of the population, but rather leading off with it.  As they passed by, there was wave after wave of children, mostly in brightly colored outfits.  The colors tended toward a red, white and green theme to match the Mexican flag, but there were other colors as well.  There was vehicle after vehicle playing music for the paraders following it, I even spotted a DJ in the back of one of the pickup trucks.

Not just the pose, but the scream to go with it.

That is a lot of skirt twirling!

As the parade moved by, the participants grew older, with groups of teens dancing in cheerleader outfits, pseudo military outfits and colorful period costumes from Mexico’s past.  Music blared, skirts twirled, pompoms glittered in the sun and the vibe was one of fiesta and culture pride.  More than one shout of “Viva Mexico!” rang out as we watched group after group parade by.  The youth dissolved into sporting groups, representing local clubs for cycling, martial arts, futbol, baseball, archery, kayaking, even some older volleyball players.  I didn’t catch the sailing club, I must have just looked away for a moment as I can’t imagine their wasn’t one!

The band was into it.

I think they could kick my ass.

A show if military force.

The parade continued with a show of government groups, police, firefighters, military groups marching by and giving demonstrations of their skills.  The firefighters made pyramids atop ladders on their trucks, while soldiers dove over a pyramid of their fellow fighters.  Mixed in were several floats of people in historic outfits, appearing to reenact moments of the Mexican revolution, which I admit I’m very ill informed about.  Finally the parade drew to a close with various people on horseback, in colorful and authentic costumes, the women riding side saddle in colorful dresses.  There were even a few horses dancing to the music, and my hero, a middle aged Mexican man riding his horse with reigns in one hand, a local beer in the other.

Is this OSHA approved activity?

Military exercies.

During the course of the parade I worked my way into several decent vantage points and kept firing with the camera, my first real use with a digital SLR, a decent telephoto lens, and a multitude of subjects.  I probably got a bit carried away not having to worry about film and snapped off around 500 pictures.  I’ve edited the collection down to about 160, and I suppose even that is a bit much.  On more than one occasion a participant

Mexican Flag theme skirt twirling

saw the telephoto lens point at them and hammed or posed for me to get a shot, the DJ on one of the sound trucks even flashing me a peace sign.  For those of you that are friends on Facebook I’ve uploaded the pictures there, and I’ll get them posted on Picasa soon and post a link.  Overall I had a great time, finding some new food treats, hearing Mexican music and watching a waves of color and dancing parade by.  I hope we are lucky enough to stumble on more local celebrations as we continue our journey.

One of many colorful outfits on horseback

My parade here, yes that is a beer in his hand.


Going out for Mexican Food

The best 25 Peso burger I've ever had

Would you believe you can consume an unbelievably tasty hamburger at a hot dog stand for about $1.90? The woman cooked them fresh, toasted the buns, added a Kraft single, grilled onions, avocado, tomato, salsa, lettuce and a grilled jalapeno on the side (although that might have been extra and she just decided to let it go for the Gringos). Throw in a glass of agua fresca for 10 pesos, and you have a wonderful lunch for under $3.00 US and a much better culture experience than the places that cater to Americans.

We also have discovered several dishes we were unaware of. While Jenn was familiar with them, I had not had Chilequiles for breakfast. I’m now addicted, and fortunately Jenn can make them so I don’t have to eat out every time I crave them. We have discovered some treats, such as Tostilotes, which is small bag of corn chips cut open sideways, filled with salsa, corn, crema and queso fresco. You then eat it out of a bag with a spoon. We also observed something similar where a styrofoam cup was layered with the same ingredients, minus the corn chips, the corn for both dishes being steamed in large metal washtubs with a small fire underneath them, all typically on a large three wheeled bike.

Breakfast of Champions!

A very tasty $1 Tamale

I have had to google several items I’ve seen on menus, and there are still several dishes we have not tried, such as Gringas (if I’m reading right, it is a taco made with a cheese quesidilla – kind of like the burger we had in Portland made with grilled cheese sandwiches for buns), Hurrachas and several other dishes I’ve never heard of. I’m eager to try them, while continuing to enjoy the discoveries we have made. We have consumed more than a couple street tacos, and are curious about the Papis Rellenas some of the taco stands serve. They bake a potato in foil over their grill, then mash it up and stir on corn, carne asada, crema and queso fresco and serve it with tortillas. At the small table set up next to the grill, there were bowls of toppings to add, ranging from cucumbers to roast peppers, grilled and fresh onions and a variety of salsas. We have also tried some familiar sounding items that are much better here, such as the amazing $1 tamales we bought on the beach at the second stop of the Baja Haha, with a surprise green olive in them.

Minion helps with the laundry while we take a break from eating.

Sometimes it feels a little more adventurous than others. If I heard right, I ate a cow tongue hot dog a couple days ago, and it was beyond delicious. Jenn and I have both taken an brave approach to food, trying any little stand we stumble across and taking our chances with the consequences. So far neither of us have had disastrous results, either taste wise or stomach wise. I will admit we didn’t finish the cup of tamarind with peanuts she bought, it was unique and tasty but a bit strong after a few bites. The funny thing is I don’t think either of us have had a burrito, enchilada or fajita since we’ve been here. I’ll have to eat one just to see what the local version is like someday, but with so many new and unique choices it is hard to eat something that seems so familiar and boring.

Immortalized on the wall of The Shack

Jenn and I did get called out yesterday on a food related incident. As we walked the Malecon to find a bookstore that carried a cruising guide for the mainland, we stopped outside of Burger King and were both reading a giant sign listing their combo meals, honestly just out of curiosity, not any desire to eat there. Suddenly we heard a scooter honking, and looked over to see Travis, the owner of the very popular with the cruisers establishment The Shack riding by. He called out to us “I know where you can get a better burger!” which is very true. While not 25 Pesos, The Shack serves up HUGE burgers, so big couples often split one. Coupled with their 15 Peso Happy Hour margaritas and 100 Peso buckets of ice cold Pacifico, this new business appears to be well on its way to becoming cruiser central. They encourage boats to sign their walls, and have an old mainsail hanging over the pack patio as a roof. While not active on busy nights, they also have a wood fired pizza oven, and are bringing in a chef so they can always have pizzas, not just when they aren’t too busy.

Is Frito Pie a tradtional Mexican dish?

It is also interesting that La Paz has several Chinese restaurants, multiple sushi places (although the one we ducked into for a snack was a disappointment both on timely service and bland flavor), pizza joints, Italian and French spots. I’m sure there are other places we haven’t seen yet, and while we will sample the ethnic cuisine from time to time, I suspect the bulk of our eating out will center on exploring the Mexican cuisine.

It’s the people

We’ve just crossed the two month mark of departing Seattle on our cruising adventure, and so far despite some learning experiences and a bit of a continuing battle to keep the engine running at the desired temperature, we are having an amazing adventure. As we sit in La Paz anchored in a fairly protected bay, we are recouping a bit from the push to arrive here and slowly moving back into boat project boat. There is a routine to the cruising life, the morning VHF cruisers net, visiting or being visited by other crews on dinghies for chats, the constant quest for information on the weather and trips into the marina to fill water jugs and wander around town. It certainly isn’t going to work everyday, but there is a routine to it. We are both working on adjusting to darkness at close to 6:00 pm, and laughed when someone referred to 8 pm as “Cruiser’s Midnight” the other day. It is kind of true, by 10 it is almost hard to stay awake even though it really isn’t that late and we don’t need to get to sleep so we can get up the next morning. But with dawn also coming near 6:00 am, we often are awake earlier than we would think to arise with nothing we have to be doing.

So far the most impressive thing about cruising has been the people. It started on the trip down the coast, as we ducked in and out of the harbors on the Oregon, then California coast. It wasn’t just the fellow cruisers we met, although they were certainly wonderful people. Starting in Newport, we were given a ride to the gas station by someone we just met. In Eureka, we were given a ride, loaned a car, and given fresh tuna by one of the fishing boats. A boat I just met in Oxnard gave me a ride to the local West Marine, and turned out to be a fellow Haha boat that we’ve hung out with since. Another couple gave us a ride back to our anchored boat in Cabo after we miss timed the last water taxi to the anchorage. Just the other night when we closed down a local eatery the crew of Double Diamond invited the group out to their Lagoon 440 (or something like that) catamaran to continue hanging out. When we have heard calls for assistance on the VHF, other cruisers have volunteered help, advice and parts. Everyone shares information about their discoveries, be it a great little bay to anchor in, overall advice on a particular cruising route, or a cheap tasty local establishment (although I do find it amusing that one of the pro’s of a restaurant a couple we met were walking to was “We’ve eaten there three days and not gotten sick”). I suppose there is a bit of an attitude that we are all in this together so we better stick together.

I’m sure we’ll run into a few people that we don’t enjoy hanging out with, and there are a few cranky ones out there. It feels like there may be a couple people in La Paz sitting with their hand on the VHF ready to offer corrective comments for radio usage they don’t agree with, although so far their “advice” is more amusing than annoying. And the boat ahead of us yelled at us on our first anchorage attempt here, but while gruffly issued his information that a boat near us was moored, not anchored, was important. At a somewhat crowded anchorage with some building weather, a late arrival with children on their boat came in, dropped anchor and radioed to see if their location was okay. The boat behind them protested, which I suppose was their right as they were there first. The boat that had arrived sounded almost cheerful about pulling the hook and moving, and several boats jumped on the radio with advice about locations near them they could move to.

I’ve been thinking about writing about this for awhile, as the people have been the most pleasant, unexpected surprise of
cruising. I was inspired to write this today after yet one more incident last night. Jenn and I had finished up what I believe is the last official Baja Haha event, a welcome to La Paz party. As we walked back to the boat we swung by a little convenience store to pick up and 8 pack of Pacifico, something we had done there several times. Sadly, they were out of Pacifico, and we aren’t that thrilled with Modelo or Tacate. Since The Shack, the place we had enjoyed tasty burgers and 15 Peso margaritas a couple nights before was just a block away, and the owner was American and obviously spoke great English I suggested we duck up there to ask if they knew another place nearby for Pacifico. The owner not only knew a place, but volunteered to drive us there. We protested, but he insisted, and on the way informed us this was the best place for tacos, so good that when they closed down for the night they headed there to hang out. After we grabbed some beer, he drove us back to the marina where our dinghy was tied up. We had already been telling our friends we should meet up for margaritas at The Shack, so we will definitely set that up now. And while I feel slightly guilty, we can’t wait to try the tacos at the place he took us to, even if it is just a little cart grilling meat out front of a convenience store.

So if anyone is reading this with the dream of going cruising, just know that the people you will meet and support you will receive are wonderful. The friendship and communal spirit have really enhanced our cruising experience, and we are eager to continuing meeting new people and experiencing new kindnesses, and hopefully we are doing our part to contribute to the community.

In the careful what you wish for category, a fairly famous DJ- Tiesto for those of you who follow such things, was playing on the 9th at a resort on the beach in Cabo San Lucas.  We hadn’t really meant to stay in Cabo that long, but between weather and some lethargy, we weren’t leaving till the 10th.  So we ran the dinghy into the beach after dark on the 9th to see if we could catch the show for free from the beach.  Apparently a few others had the same idea as small clumps of people were strewn around the beach, and multiple police officers lined the area that transitioned from the beach to the resort.  Due to hearing about several dinghy thefts during our stay in Cabo, we couldn’t leave the dinghy and there was nothing to lock it to on the sandy beach.  The DJ hadn’t started yet, and what music we could here was mostly just booming bass since we were kind of behind the speakers.  I went up to the resort to inquire about tickets and found they were now two for one, so Jenn and I could see the show for $90 – a little rich for our cruiser blood.  And the show wasn’t really starting till somewhere around midnight.  Our plan was for a fairly early departure the next morning, so we decided to just bag the whole thing, the logistics just weren’t working out to catch it for free and the tickets weren’t a serious consideration.  Even if we had the money, I’m not sure we still own the clothes I saw on the people entering the show.  Jenn figured we could just hear it from the boat as we were anchored about half a mile from the resort. So off we went back out to the boat, and as it got later I dug out one of the last beers in the cooler (which by the way was a epic sailor fail since we were about to embark on a three day sail with no beer), laid out in the hammock we had finally deployed in Cabo, and gave listening to the show my best shot.  I actually could hear fairly well, but realized that just laying in a hammock listening to techno played half a mile away wasn’t really the experience I was seeking.  While I can listen to electronic music on headphones, when  it is being blasted over massive speakers you need to be in front of those speakers, feeling the music and dancing to it.  So, somewhat disappointed to have actually stayed in Cabo long enough to be there for this show but unable to actually experience it, I headed to the v-berth for sleep before a 5:00 am alarm so we could stow the dinghy, prep the boat and head to the Los Frailes anchorage about 45 miles away.  One problem – the music, while not really loud enough to pulse through me for dancing, was too loud for sleeping.  And it went on for hours.  And the anchorage was a bit rolly.  And it was hot.  I’m still not sure if the alarm was mis-set, or we slept through it, but after finally dozing off after a very fitful night, we awoke to Dodger Too circling our boat and calling us around 6:30 am.  We scrambled and had the boat prepped in an hour or so, and set off, somewhat groggy but happy to be sailing again and out of the less than flat Cabo San Lucas anchorage.

Minion checks out the flaked main sail

Our joy lasted a few hours, just until an unforcast wind and sea state arose.  We were soon beating (sailing upwind) into an estimated 20 knots of wind, with 4′-6′ swells. While the swells weren’t huge, they were very close together, and steep, not long period gentle ocean swells we grew accustomed to coming down the coast.  The conditions were almost reminiscent of our first attempt to round Cape Mendocino.  I will say, being sprayed by a wave slapping the boat is much easier to deal with when the water is warm than when it is 50 degrees.  We were both a bit incredulous, we had sailed 2200 miles, had some great sailing in the Haha, and as soon as it was back to just the two of us and we were headed into the renowned Sea of Cortez cruising grounds, we were getting the proverbial “stuff” kicked out of us.  I offered to spin downwind and head back to a marina we had passed about 8 miles ago, but Jenn was game to continue on.  She seems to finally either adjusted to the up and down of the boat in waves, or the wrist bands she started wearing really work, but she didn’t have any issues with sea sickness on this trip which really improved her mood and enthusiasm for tackling the sailing challenges.

The first shore we had to be nervous about when the winds picked up

Although we had told ourselves the Haha was the end of motoring, overnight sailing and night entrances, we found ourselves motoring the last stretch of the trip into Frailes in the dark. It was supposed to be a fairly shallow anchorage – but we found ourselves motoring around in circles wondering if our depth sounder had quit working since we couldn’t find depths under 100 feet.  Finally, we wove between anchored boats, around 35 in the anchorage, and found a spot around 30′ deep and dropped the hook.  Looking at an older chart a day or two later we found that we were probably weaving around an underwater canyon that I kind of knew about but didn’t really think about clearly after our long days trip.  Once the anchor was set and we had waited a bit during dinner to make sure we weren’t moving around, we crashed out.  While it had been pretty bumpy out in the Sea of Cortez, it was quite calm in the anchorage and we got a good nights sleep.  We again overslept a bit, and found Dodger Too had left when  we woke up, so we decided to try and keep up and set off after them. We didn’t really explore Frailes, but we will probably be back as it is a good jump off point for the Mazatlan where we’ll be heading in few weeks, on our way down to Puerto Vallarta to meet my sister Ahmis and her boyfriend Chris near Christmas. Our leg from Frailes to the Ensenada de los Muertos (also know by the developers of a resort in the bay as Bahia de los Suenos – maybe vacationers prefer a bay of dreams to a bay of the dead) was just a fairly normal sail – in fact a couple days later I can’t really remember it.  Jenn says we motored for a few hours and sailed upwind for most of it.  I think I don’t remember because the next couple days provided so many memories it crowded out something that didn’t stand out. I do remember that Muertos was another night entry, and as we move around another anchorage, this time with only about 20 boats, Dodger Too radioed us to let us know they thought we were in a great spot just in front of the mooring buoy off our bow.  Thanks, Dodger Too, since neither of us had seen the bouy we were about to run over.  We spun around and put the anchor down and again got a good set on the first try.  I’m loving the Manson anchor so far, while the Rocna was my first choice it was about $150 more and the Manson has tested with pretty similar performance.  After a couple night anchorages Jenn and I are working on some hand and flashlight symbols while I’m on the bow raising and lowering the anchor and she is at the helm doing a great job of driving the boat.  It is a work in progress, but we are doing a good job and getting better, and considering we keep learning with multiple boats around us rather than in quiet little bays all by ourselves I’m pretty happy with our progress.

No more dropping parts overboard!

We slowed up and spent a day at Muertos, and spent the day.  I jumped in for a sailor shower, and after washing in the salt water I swam over to the wind vane to see about flipping the blade out of the water. There is no anti fouling paint on it and there was a little growth starting to appear on it.  Being careful as I pulled back on the spring loaded piston that held the shear pin in place to avoid having it pop out, it promptly popped out, missed my desperately grabbing hand and sank.  I called for Jenn to toss me a scuba mask, and started free diving towards the bottom, about 30 feet below us.  I was not having much luck as I only had a few seconds near the bottom to look for it.  So, hoping I had some air left in my tank, I broke out the scuba gear which took quite some doing since the tank is under the v-berth bed and the gear is in a heavy case at the bottom of the lazarette.  I managed to remember how to hook everything up, checked the tank and found it was actually full, hooray!  Hoping I actually remember how to dive since it has been a couple years, I rolled backwards off the dinghy after gearing up, settled everything, and submerged.  30 seconds later I had the part in my hand, but I spent a few minutes swimming around and remembering just how much fun scuba diving is.  I surfaced, put the part back in place and again began to move the mechanism, and promptly popped the part out again, missed my stab at in, and got in my second dive of the day.  I’m going to have to rig a little piece of line to this part so this doesn’t happen again, as I was lucky to have dropped it in relatively shallow water, while anchored in very clear water. After rinsing, drying and storing the scuba gear, we deployed the dinghy for a trip to the beachfront restaurant for a couple cold beers (so tasty after several days without, this over site in stocking up for this  trip was really getting to me) with Leif and Jackie.  I launched the the kayak to paddle around a bit and poked over some shallow rocks that the dinghy couldn’t get over and then paddled over to Good News to say hi and chat for a bit.  I was started to get bounced around a bit sitting in the kayak, and Jenn waved me back to Ventured so I paddled back over and we stowed the boat as the waves began to build.  We got stowed just in time as we heard several boats chatting on the VHF about not being able to bring their dinghies aboard.  Soon we bouncing around just as much as we often do at sea, and trying to deal with frazzled nerves of not being comfortable at night. Of course the wind was blowing inland, creating a lee shore that we were closer to than I wanted to be.  I stayed up, watching from the cockpit to make sure we stayed in place.  The anchor seemed to be holding, so I dozed fitfully in the cockpit, and a bit down on the settee.  With the wind blowing, and the warm night, I never really achieved deep sleep.  Midnight came soon, and we hauled anchor to catch the tide through Cerralo Channel, and hopefully also through the San Lorenzo Channel just at the end of the flood tide.

Sunrise making a 12:00 am departure worthwhille

This was a great sail on this leg, hoisting the jib after motoring out of the anchorage and cruising along on a beam reach with just the jib out under moonlit skies.  As we approached the entrance to the channel which took as between Punta Arena de la Ventana and Isla Cerralvo I expted to tack and start beating up the channel but the wind shifted right with our course and I just kept sailing along on a port tack, hardly having to touch the sail trim.  Midway through the night I glanced over my shoulder and Dodger Too was suddenly much closer than they had been, and then sailing past us.  I told myself it was okay as they had both sails up and we were under jib alone, but when Jenn came up for her watch I hoisted the main.  After that they stayed about one mile ahead of us on the radar, feeding the racer in me a little more than the cruiser. As we passed by Isla Cerralvo, we began to head west for the narrow San Lorenzo Channel.  Accoring to the chartplotter the to navigation lights we needed to pass between were just over a mile apart, which of course signaled the arrival of a 300′ or so Mexican ferry flying toward the entrance too.  Despite some trepidations, no one got too close together, and the feared large

Dodger Too, holding one mile ahead of us

wake never materialized.  We did finally have to tack, and began sailing towards Puerto Balandra which looked in our guide book to be prettier than imaginable.  Finally being one of the early boats to arrive in anchorage we had a much easier time finding an open spot for the boat, and set down the hook in 20′ of water so clear we could see the bottom.  Dinghy deployed, we set off to explore a bay that became quite shallow not far from the our boat.  We visited the famous El Hongo mushroom rock, did some snorkeling on a small reef, helped a local push is Boston Whaler off the beach back into deep water, rowed back to check out the beach visited by locals rather than us Gringos (although there was still some t-shirt and jewelry vendors but they actually did not approach us) and did some beachcombing with Leif and Jackie.  Although we didn’t have the typical blue skies and sunshine, it was still a very scenic bay.  But then… the wind picked up, and the clouds in the sky began to deposit strange drops of water on us, a phenomenon I remembered from my distant non cruising life in Seattle.

A seagull waits for us to quit checking out the puffer fish it caught

El Hongo, squint to see Ventured in the background

Not what you want to see also approaching a 1 mile wide passage

Having not slept much the night before, and skipping a nap when we anchored, I was really having a hard time staying awake.  Luckily Jenn was feeling less tired than I was and volunteered to watch the boat.  We were soon bouncing around almost violently in the anchorage, and were only a couple hundred feet from some very shallow water which of course the wind was blowing directly towards.  I missed the heavy downpour, but it did a nice rain that rinsed off the boat.  Unfortunately, the fresh water rinse didn’t last long because Jenn woke me up from a rather fitful doze in a bouncing vberth around 5 am with the news that she thought we were dragging anchor.  Looking at other boats and some topography I had lined up our position with, I agreed, and we began to pull anchor.  I went to the bow and managed to get the chain I had wrapped around the cleat free.  This was another lesson learned, I am deploying a snubber on the anchor chain from now on, something I should have done in the first place.  I suspect we were dragging in part because the boat was pulling on the anchor chain without much shock absorption, and it may have jerked on the anchor enough to cause it to loose traction. As the waves hit the boat, I found myself looking down from a rising bow at the water, seemingly 12 feet away, but then rapidly approaching till I was at sea level with the bow buried in the trough between the waves.  The spray recovered the boat with salt water, undoing the effects of the cleaning rain.  And in my haste to dress for the weather, I had actually thrown on my foulies, clothing I had thought I might not wear again for years.  I’m still quite upset I had to put them on, but the water was warm enough I was able to still remain barefoot.  The anchor came up with less drama than expected, but we had fallen off to starboard and as I finished bringing the anchor onboard I looked back and saw another anchored boat uncomfortable close as Jenn worked the helm trying to bring us back to port and towards the head of the bay.  I was just about to scream to spin to starboard and go around the the other way, but hesitated because that would have pointed us towards the shallows when Jenn got the boat turning and we started driving out of the bay.  As we exited we noticed Dodger Too was gone and saw them just ahead of us, they had sawed through a line in their anchor system and had also pulled out of the anchorage.  We slowly crawled to windward, for awhile trying to use a scrap of jib rolled out to help but eventually rolling it back in because the wind and waves were not lining up to sail a comfortable course.  We basically just idled around trying to keep the boat from rolling excessively, not always successfully. Several other boats streamed out of the anchorage and also seemed to be kind of aimlessly wandering, and although it was very uncomfortable, it was a lot better than stressing over the shallows mere feet behind us while anchored. We consulted our guide book and found an anchorage that looked protected a few miles away.  It was not a pretty bay for tourists, but rather a commercial harbor for ships and ferries, but the guide book mentioned a spot we could anchor.  We were just about to hail Dodger Too with the information when the morning cruiser net out of La Paz began on the channel we were going to hail them on.  This was our first listen to the cruiser net, and while it was interesting it was frustrating to not be able to radio another boat during it.  However, as it continued both Dodger Too and us slowly passed the entrance to the bay in what felt to be lessening seas and wind.  By the time we could make contact we both agreed we were going to try to make it into La Paz.  It turned out to be an uneventful entry, and after a four mile long channel we were in calm water with light winds, out of the Pineapple Express we had just been hammered by.  The foulies came off, and we set about finding a place to anchor.  We found a small hole in the myriad of boats not far form the marina with the dinghy dock and cruisers club house, and about six or seven attempts later finally had the hook set so that we weren’t too close to anyone else.  And we didn’t even yell at each other, much. Finally in quiet calm water, Jenn got a much deserved nap.  I’m not sure when that transformation occurred, but she was suddenly super sailor on the last couple legs, even volunteering to go forward to free a fouled jib sheet when I thought she was going to tell me it wasn’t safe for me to go forward.  She is even claiming she can back the boat up better than I can, but she is going to have to prove it in a narrow waterway, not a wide open spot of water.  Still, she is doing a great job driving the boat during anchoring and handled some serious stress with aplomb coming out of Puerto Balandra under nasty conditions. Rested up, we went into La Paz for dinner with Leif and Jackie, and on several people’s advice (including some random guy we met on the street while looking for the place) hit up The Shack, just in time for 15 Peso (just over $1) Happy Hour margaritas.  All they were cooking on a Monday night were hamburgers, but they were huge, tasty, and while not cheap, pretty reasonable.  They also had fast wifi so during dinner we were able to download a couple TV shows.  We headed back to the boat, picked up and 8 pack of Pacifico, and caught the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother while enjoying a nice cold beer.  We then finally both got to sleep in a quite v-berth that was not pitching around with crashing waves, enjoying our best nights sleep in what seems like weeks.

Jenn is happy with her purchases at the Mexican version of 7-11

Today we went in search of a Farmers Market we did not find, I finally got a haircut, and after visiting a branch of the store where we bought our internet modem and the Telcel customer service office have our Banda Ancha internet access modem working.  And we still have some time to head back into town this evening for a happy hour if we want, although we may just relax on the boat and give Minion some pets since he was left alone for much of the day. We are enjoying La Paz, it is a large town with out the tourist vibe of many cities in Mexico that most people visit.  There is a huge cruiser community here, and great support for questions and problems.  We’ll stay for at least a few days, then probably head north to an island with lots of beautiful little anchorages for some exploring.

La Paz Pause

Made it to La Paz.  Having some internet issues so just wanted to let everyone know where we are.  Look for the updates about very rough anchorages, a great early morning sail and getting to La Paz.  It looks like the Spot may have been a little spotty – but here we are regardless of the tracking.  We’ll be here for a few days, then maybe go explore some anchorages north of there on an island.

Manana, Hoy, Ayer

Minion needs his passport for a night out on the town.

We are ready to leave Cabo, but Minion has insisted we stay as he has taken to hitting up El Squid Roe and Cabo Wabo late at night, coming home at dawn barely able to drive the dinghy.  We aren’t sure if that is because he is a cat, or the heavy drinking.

Actually, we stayed in the marina the first couple nights to make it easier to accommodate our crew and friends visiting, and once we moved out to the anchorage the weather forecast called for a bit more wind than we cared to leave in.  I think we also just needed to stop for awhile, as the end of the Haha marked the first time since our departure we had no deadline, goals or commitments.  While I think both of us were ready to leave a day or two ago, we have been able to track down a few things we needed, chill out a bit and recover from our trip to Mexico, and get off the beaten path and explore Cabo San Lucas a bit, mostly on the streets away from the tourist hordes.  And I tried my first plate of Chiliquiles, which I can promise will not be my last.  What a bargain breakfast for $4!

Tomorrow, manana, we are planning to leave. We are hoping to day sail to an anchorage called Cabo Los Frailes, about 45 miles from here, about a third of the way to La Paz.  There is a cruisers party in La Paz on November 17th we would enjoy being at, but we aren’t going to push to make it if weather and desire to move on don’t cooperate.

Today, hoy, we made the pilgrimage to the holiest of Mexican locations, Wal-Mart.  We took a local bus for 8 Pesos apiece (the exchange rate is 13 Pesos per Dollar right now), and were dropped off on the wrong side of 6 to 8 lanes of highway, but with lucky timing crossing was not an issue.  This Wal-Mart would disappoint the folks who take pictures for the People of Wal-Mart web site, nary a food stained sweatshirt or pair of stretched elastic waist band sweatpants to be found.  It was in a shopping plaza and may be the cleanest Wal-Mart I’ve seen.  There was a fresh bakery with a delicious assortment of Mexican desert pastries, many of which were less than 50 cents.  So far the two we’ve tried have been delicious!  The prices on avocados were less than potatoes, about $1.50 for 2.2 pounds (if my math is right).  We stocked up on some groceries for the next leg, and some items we needed like collapsible water jugs for bringing fresh water to the boat when we can find it.  Due to the bus trip back and carrying everything, we skipped buying beer which I’m kind of regretting  at the moment as it is still quite warm at almost 7:00 PM.  The bus back went smoothly, and we loaded our purchases back in the boat, swung by Dodger Too in the marina to deliver a loaf of bread and fill our new water jugs, then dinghied back out to the rolley anchorage.  I discovered the downside of carrying 16 gallons of water near the back of the dinghy, it wouldn’t get up on plane so we had a bit of slow trip out to the boat.

Rock near Lands End

Yesterday, ayer, we heard some chatter on the radio by another boat  about hiking out to the arch at the tip of the peninsula for snorkeling, so we asked for some additional information and said we would try to catch up.  We did a quick dinghy inflate and deployment, and as I got it on the water I noticed the waves in the anchorage had calmed down.  Glancing up, I found we had a cruise ship breakwater about 300 feet away that seemed to be helping block some of the swell that was moving us around so much.  Just in time for us to leave, of course!  We dinghied in (blog post coming about why we started taking our dinghy rather than pangas (water taxis), it wasn’t just the cost).  We reached the dinghy dock about the same time as another couple from a boat anchored near us, and met Dave and Steph who were also headed to snorkel.  We wove our way through the throngs of tourists from the cruise ship and the locals trying to sell them fishing trips, parasailing, and a variety of cheap souvenirs.  Finally free of the masses, we caught up with the other cruisers headed out to the beach.  Rather than take a panga, we did it the cruiser way and walked, even though we had to wind around a couple rocky headlands and rock hop around some sections of rock and sand where we waded up to our waists in warm sea water.  After two tricky stretches it turned into all sand for walking, and we headed out to the end of the point, where Dave and I continued out and ducked some rather large waves to wind out way under the large arch that is a bit of a landmark of Cabo San Lucas.  We found a little arch on our way back where we had to crawl for a couple feet and then popped back out on the beach where the girls were waiting.  We tried some snorkeling, but thete wasn’t really many fish to see.  Dawn and Patrick showed up with their dinghy and we walked from Lovers Beach on the harbor side to the Pacific side to see Divorce Beach and watched the waves crash in for awhile as young local boys skimmed out on boogie boards and tried to catch the waves, with mixed results.

Local surfing from the beach

Not wanting to get back too late, Jenn and I started the return hike when we came across an area filled with people in the water

Pelicans never get old

that had been empty when we walked by earlier.  I stopped Jenn and grabbed the snorkel gear and jumped in.  Bingo – This is where the fish where.  There was a large variety of colorful and shiny fish, some darting around, others hanging around the rocks lazily.  Since Jenn was waiting I only scoped it out for about 5 minutes, but it was a great time checking out my frist batch of tropical fish on the trip.

We managed to work our way back to town, rewarding ourselves with some bargain beers and chicken wings at one of the marinaside bars.  As we returned to the dinghy we saw one of the cruisers on the dock and ducked down to say hi and realized we were next to Dodger Too, where we were invited aboard for a couple sundowners and some appetizers.  After a pleasant visit, we headed back to boat to wrap a great day of just playing tourist and enjoying the sun, sand and surf.

Shades of Utah rock formations