Thursday, February 23, 2012

Las Hadas to Zihuatanejo

After a slightly squally two night passage from Las Hadas, we're comfortably anchored in heavenly Zihuatanejo.

Stormy weather can be beautiful too. This photo was taken on the passage to Zihuatanejo

We were boarded by the Mexican Navy during this overnight passage. Well -- it was more a "drive by" than an actual boarding. The PT type gunboat with 10 fully armed men powered up next to us.

We gulped, put on our friendliest smiles and cried "Buenos Dias" with a happy wave.

Fortunately they replied in kind. They asked us a few simple questions across the 10 feet of water between us. Our answers -- and our demeanor -- evidently appeased them because with a quick "Buenos Dias, adios" we were on our way without a problem.   

Speaking of cats, I've gotta introduce you to "Snowball" the salty sea cat on board our buddy boat "Talaria:"

You don't mess with Snowball. But she's got a heart of gold... :-) 

We've been in Zihuatanejo for about a week now. Zihuatanejo. That sounds like the t-shirts you can buy in Honolulu gift shops with "Kamanawannaleu" emblazoned on the front. 

But the locals call it "Zijua" for short. 

The view of Zihua from our boat

A charming Zihua waterfront cafe

In Zijua, you drop off your dinghy to Jose and Alfonso, who for 10 pesos will watch our dink on the beach all day for us while we go into town.

Jose the dinghy security guard provides my first installment of a series called: "Innocent, trusting Mexicans who wear donated American t-shirts which say completely offensive and tasteless things in English, but they have no idea what it says." 

Trust me -- Jose is most definitely not a "Pharma Freak!" 

The question is, who was the person in the states who actually had this t-shirt printed up in the first place? Is "Pharma Freak!" a punk band or something? The mystery continues...

Anyway, in other news, there is a beautiful beach here in Zihua bay called "Playa Ropa." 

Playa Ropa in Zihua Bay is one of the prettiest beaches in Mexico

We walked over with Rick and Deena of "Talaria" and actually spent the entire day on lounge chairs, sitting under coconut palms, dozing, reading, laughing and swimming.

We had to pay 50 pesos each for the privilege of sitting on these lounge chairs for the day!

Believe it or not, after almost four months sailing Mexico, this is the very first day we have actually rested on a beautiful beach and lounged all day. (It's true -- check the record!)   

We also snorkeled amongst colorful fish and vibrant coral reefs at Playa Gato, another white, sandy beach here in Zihua. We also saw a sea snake snoozing under a rock, and several barracudas which were patrolling the area.  

The key, when one comes upon such creatures, is to exude CALM...

I believe we were successful as none of us were bitten, attacked or gnawed on by any of these slightly horrifying undersea creatures.

In other news -- the temperatures rising, folks. Slowly but surely, as we get closer to spring and summer and as we tick off the degrees of lattitude and head farther and farther south, closer to the equator...

...the heat is on.

So we're making minor changes in our daily lives aboard Espiritu. For one thing, we're doing our chores earlier in the morning and heading ashore earlier, and returning to Espiritu for lunch, with the plan of resting during the hottest afternoon hours.

Then, in the evening, we can return to town. For the evening is the most vibrant time in the tropics. The sun is down, the heat evaporates, yet the gentle ocean breezes caress. The famous Mexican "siesta" makes perfect sense. Work in the morning, rest in the afternoon (in fact -- barely move!) then come on out again after the sun sets.

Kids are out playing happily well until 10 PM. And why not?

During our evening strolls through town, we often dive into the famous "Central Mercado." Every major Mexican town has one.

The fresh beef arrives at the central meat market

The butcher proudly displays his wares (these shots just never get old)

By all accounts, I should hate these central markets. I've always felt claustrophobic and even slightly nauseous by crowded U.S. shopping malls. 

But there is a vibrancy in these Mexican central markets that is missing in the U.S. shopping experience. Yes, they are packed with people. But there is a palpable sense of joy and community. Children are running about playing happily. Musicians stroll and play. Scents of chilis and fresh tortillas mix with newly sliced pineapple and mango.

True, there is no air conditioning, but there are skylights, and fans whirr noisily from every corner.

It's impossible to explain. But the bottom line is, the people simply seem happy to be there. And this is contagious...

Anyway, after a steamy evening in town amongst the music and the market (and the library -- they have a small English language section and they happily checked out a book for me! It was a book about women exploring nature...), we return to Espiritu.

Lately, it's even hot when we return to the boat well into the evening, so I've taken to going for a night swim just before bed.

The other evening, there was no breeze. The heat was stifling. The night was black and the water was blacker. But it was as still as glass.

I gently lowered myself into the water over the side of the boat and heaved a sigh of pleasure. Slowly treading water, I looked down at my hands through the water to find that my movements were creating waves of phosphorescence!

A rare photo of underwater phosphorescence, created by algae blooms which light up in response to movement

I felt like Tinker Bell. I smiled up at Chris, who emerged from the darkened cockpit and watched, amazed at the sight.

As I gently moved my hands and legs through the black water, you could almost hear the silent tinkling, crystalline melody as the sparkling lights flowed from my hands, arms and legs. 

You know, the Christian tradition speaks often of the "Living Water." And this was a reminder that the water in which I'm privileged to swim really is alive.  I want to drink deeply from it. 

As we continue ever south, the water will become warmer still, and the air balmier. 

Our plan is to leave Zihua in a week or so, and buddy boat with Talaria (and possibly others) for the overnight sail to Acapulco. 

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