Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day at Yelapa

We finally pulled anchor from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and sailed south across Banderas Bay to Yelapa.

Beautiful Yelapa

We buddy boated with Talaria and we both took moorings in the small harbor. They say it is possible to anchor here, but not advisable as it takes the northerly swells head on. We tend to agree with this assessment.

The panga took us ashore and we went exploring.

                            Yelapa has a beach, harbor, village and lagoon on the other side.

       The beach was lovely and the water was warm. We swam with the dozens of gringo
                                           vacationers here on a day trip from Puerta Vallarta.

We then headed up to explore the little village, which is built vertically up into the tropical rainforest. Our mission was to find the waterfall above the town.

                             Yelapa is not accessible by road and has no cars! The entire town
                       consists of winding cobblestone streets and staircases like the one above.

           We were enchanted by this adorable little village. Each home, while simple,
                               was tended to lovingly and with care.

                              Walking up through the winding streets and staircases, we felt we
                                               were somewhere in the Mediterranean!

Horseback is one of the few modes of transportation available in charming Yelapa

Not a bad view, eh?

Chris on the path to the waterfall above town

Captain Chris in full immerson mode


Deena and I took full advantage of the privacy behind the waterfall to catch up on girl talk.
Me: "And then he said WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?" :-) 

                          In a word, we were enraptured by lovely little Yelapa, and highly
                               recommend a stop here if you are in the Banderas Bay area.

We dropped the mooring at 10PM and headed into the darkness for a moonless night sail south. We left at this hour because we would be sailing around Cabo Corrientes, which is sort of the Point Conception of this area. It is not to be traversed during late afternoon hours, which can bring gale force winds.

The night sail went well, with winds about 20 knots around Cabo Corrientes. We arrived at our destination of Chamela Bay the next afternoon.

Chamela Bay, where the water is blue, warm and clear

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family and La Cruz

                              "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, 
                                     as you are to them." -- Bishop Desmond Tutu

"I can't breathe. I CAN'T BREATHE!" 

Chris bolted out of a deep sleep at 2AM last night crying out those fateful words.

In a panic, he bolted out of bed and into the pitch black main salon, and I followed close behind.  He leaned over the sink and coughed and wheezed, muttering "I can't catch my breath..." 

This was so shocking coming from my husband, my captain. Mr. indestructible. Mr "Walk it off." Mr. 10-times-the-energy-of-everyone-else-in-the-room. Mr. "I don't need no stinkin' doctors." 

We were both scared to death.

Slowly his breath returned, and after much discussion and diagnostic detective work, we deduced together that he had regurgitated some of last nights tamale in his sleep, and it had lodged, Janis Joplin-like, in the back of his throat, obstructing his larynx.

Whew. Crisis averted. But this was our second family medical emergency in less than a week.

Captain Chris and my mom in Puerta Vallarta

Just a few days ago my Mom came for a very short visit to La Cruz.  This 70-something force of nature named Charlotte is even more larger than life than my husband. She could take Betty White in a heartbeat. I fully expect Chris and my mom to outlive me, and the rest of the family, for that matter.

My adorable, spunky Mom taking photos on the Puerta Vallarta malecon

When the three of us play hearts, in reality it's Chris vs. Mom. Clash of the Titans. They are two of the most competitive people I know. I'm only included in the game because they need a 3rd person -- I'm merely a useless appendage.  It's sad, really.   (LOL) 

We took Mom to the thursday night "Movies under the stars" in the La Cruz marina amphitheater. After the movie, she tripped and hit her head, knee and both hands on the cold, dark rocks. 

(As an aside, if we were in the U.S. and not Mexico, we would have the lawsuit every lottery ticket buyer wishes for -- no lighting, no handrails, dark, steep, unmarked, sharp, hard rocks for stairs. But alas #1, this is NOT the U.S. And alas #2, we are not the lawsuit type.)

Fortunately her head, right hand and knee were all bloodied but without apparent broken bones. But her left hand zigged where it should have zagged. We offered to take her to the American hospital here in the Bay, but she blew us off with her wilted, swollen hand and we took her back to the boat where we wrapped her mangled limb with ice and an ace bandage, loaded her with Advil and tucked her into bed.

Thankfully, the next morning she was laughing and ready for another Gladiator-type hearts game. Thank God her head was OK!

Before returning to California, Mom surprised us by pulling a miniature "Wilson" from her suitcase (made famous from the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away"), made from a tennis ball instead of a volleyball.

Little "Wilson"

I had made this for Mom at an Oscar Party I threw the year "Cast Away" was nominated for several awards. She had kept it ever since.

Mom and "Little Wilson" where we fastened him permanently near the companionway. He will be our 3rd crew member, and we're certain, will bring us very good luck!

We suspect Mom promptly removed my professionally applied ace wrap and tossed it into the trash the minute we left her at the Puerta Vallarta airport.

So -- it's been a shaky week! Family. Watcha gonna do? 

And speaking of family -- tomorrow we're pulling up anchor and finally heading south from La Cruz after more than a month living here. 

We leave behind in La Cruz Anon, Cyclides, Damiana, Glory Days, Final Escape, Grace, Jace, Lorelei, Jean Marie, Mlawu, Ponderosa, Woofie, Younger Woman, and so many more -- and a special hug to Interabang, Island Bound, Marionetto and Talaria. XOXOXOXOXOXOXO 

You have literally been our family over the past weeks. You've cared for us, laughed with us, encouraged us and basically taken up the job of being our family while we're away from the one back home. It's tough to leave!

But leave we must. So, as Willie Nelson says, "We'll see you on down the road..."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Boca Tomatlan to Quimixto Waterfall

We went on an amazing and arduous hike through some of the most picturesque areas in Pacific Mexico. Our friend April of Wavehouse drove a group of us south from La Cruz, through Puerta Vallarta, and into southern Banderas Bay.

South of Puerta Vallarta, to the isolated parts of Banderas Bay

We drove past the spot where they filmed the classic Richard Burton film "Night of the Iguana."

It's a crazy movie, if you've never seen it. It's very Tennessee Williams. Well, that's cause it IS from a Tennessee Williams play.  It's dramatic AC-TING with a capital "A." It's a bit over the top. But worth seeing nonetheless.

Anywhoo, we arrived at the start of our hike, an adorable little village called Boca Tomatian.

The starting point of our hike: Boca Tomatlan

Our trail went right next to the water as we headed south

No, this is not Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland, this is a real rickety little suspension bridge we crossed during our hike. How cute is THAT? :-) 

We stopped for a break at a gorgeous isolated beach.

Chris and I went for swim #1 at this lovely pristine spot

Refreshed after our swim, we hit the trail again, which continued along the waterfront. 

We stopped for lunch in the adorable oceanfront village of Las Animas. We "pre-ate" a peanut butter and honey sandwich we had packed out on the beach, and then split an entree in the palapa restaurant. (We're big on "pre-eating" before going into a restaurant as a money-saving trick -- that, and "post-eating," which usually consists of cheese and crackers back on the boat.) Then after the meal -- swim #2.

After lunch we hit the trail again -- and even more rickety bridges

There was a 20 foot drop under this thing -- YIKES!

Spectacular views abounded. But we were getting pretty tired -- the entire hike took about 6 hours!

We kept pinching ourselves on the beauty of the trail. The ocean to our right, the forest to our left.

  We then turned inland, for the last leg of our hike up, up, UP through 
the ranching village of Quimixto to the mountain spring and waterfall.

Um, OK. No, that is not a 5th leg. Oh. My. Lord.

A group of wild horses ran right past us! Wow...

We continued ever upward

We finally made it to the Quimixto spring and waterfall!
We swam and swam (swim #3)...AAAAHHHHHHH.

What a day! We were completely exhausted but really happy. The trip ended with a panga ride back to Boca Tomatlan. The driver of our boat was 14 years old. Ha! Bienvenidos a Mexico! 

Chris, April and Tricia enjoy a speedy panga ride back to Boca Tomatlan

Well, after a month in Banderas Bay, we've definitely seen the place and experienced it. We're really leaving. Honest. Soon...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top 10 reasons anchorages are better than marinas

We're getting fat and happy in the wonderful La Cruz anchorage -- which only means one thing: it's about time to move on. But it got me thinking about this list:

Top 10 Reasons Anchorages are Better than Marinas


If the weather is hot and the air is still, it's exciting to know that we've got at least two high-speed dinghy rides each day, going in and out of the harbor. It's a short little burst of high speed fun where we know we will have the wind blowing through our hair -- and hopefully there is a little "Whoop!" or "Yee-haw!" uttered by one or both of us. In the marina, the dinghy is packed away, resting up for the next trip.


OK, OK, we haven't done much fishing YET, but it's nice to know that if we want to, we can throw a line over the side at any time in the hopes of catching dinner. Or we could even pull out the speargun! You can't do that very easily in a marina.


We have no problem or fear washing dishes or cooking with the salt water pumped in from the anchorage. Needless to say: you can't do that in the marina.


We've noticed here in La Cruz that on boats in the marina are much hotter in the cabin. The breeze is blocked by the jetty, which makes life just a bit more uncomfortable. In the anchorage, you're always head into the breeze, and if you open the hatches, the cool air just blows right in!


Let's face it: one basic joy of life you give up when you enter a crowded marina is privacy. Your neighbors are right there, and everyone knows everyone else's business -- and can hear each others arguments, too! Out in the anchorage, you've got the space to make as much noise as you want. Or to play the fiddle for countless hours a day without fear of bothering the neighbors. (Welcome to my world...:-)


Espiritu in the peaceful Mantachen anchorage

Another uncomfortable fact of marina life is the fact that it can be really noisy. And if you're one of those who likes to go to bed at 8:30 (yes, sadly, I'm talking about US), make sure you're slip is not right next to the marina bar and restaurant, where the music tends to be loud, late, and blasted out into the marina.  But out at anchorage, we hear nothing but the birds and the gentle lapping of the water on Espiritu's hull.


I think this is one of the best advantages of the anchorage over the marina. Jumping into the water for a refreshing swim when the heat gets oppressive is such a joy! And it does so much for mood and morale. I have a feeling when we're summering in Central America we will be doing this a few times a day. And why not? You've got God's swimming pool right out your window! And the water's 85 degrees! Anyway, needless to say, for several reasons, you most definitely cannot do this in a marina.


OK, OK, you can still see the spectacular tropical sunsets from your boat in the marina.  But out in the anchorage, we can usually see the full horizon. And we're closer to nature out here -- the fish swim right up to Espiritu and relax in her shade, protected from the heat of the sun. The pelicans and Muscovy ducks bob and dive off of all four bows. For we are taking temporary lodging in their actual home. We are literally in their living room. And the show never stops.

2) ES EL DINERO, ESTUPIDO!  (It's the money, stupid!)

It's free out here, people. Unlike the marina, where we fork out our hard earned pesos for the privilege  of tying off on her docks, we're on God's dollar out here. It's all ours! For as long as we want! For FREE! We could stay right here in the perfect La Cruz marina FOREVER!

But we won't stay forever. The Call of the Wild is's calling...YOU.


OK, you guys in the marina have your hot showers, your Wi-Fi, your 24 hour security, your flat, calm sea state. And that's alright -- for SOME people. But us hardy anchorage types like it out here. Because anything can happen!

Natalie Wood could fall in the water and drown going from her boat to the dinghy in a drunken stupor, and Christopher Walken or Robert Wagner could or could not be responsible (as really happened in the anchorage on Catalina Island). We could get rammed by a whale (like our friends on Jean Marie) or our anchor can drag, sending us careening towards the rocks (like our other friends on Interabang!).

But it's kinda boring in that marina. Such exciting events simply do not happen there.  So we'll keep watch out here in the anchorage. Waiting...for something, anything, to happen! :-)