Monday, February 8, 2016

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

As we motor sailed into La Cruz from Punta de Mita I had the feeling that we had completed a circle – and, indeed, we had.  Five years previously we had sailed out of Banderas Bay on our way to Hawaii and eventually back to BC.  Now we were back.  The intervening five years had flown by in a haze of hard work, then preparation for our open-ended voyage, where I felt I hadn’t had enough time to even catch my breath, let alone reflect.  I guess I have to believe that “to everything, there is a season” and that the time for slowing down may someday come.

Boats at anchor at La Cruz - Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta in the background
We counted more than forty boats in the anchorage and the marina at La Cruz seemed ¾ full.  This area is cruiser central – for some, the end of the line, for others, a pause before continuing south along the coast, or preparing for the “puddle jump” across the Pacific Ocean.  When we left Comox last summer, we expected we would be in the third category by the time we arrived here.  However, somewhere down the coast of the Baja we began thinking that maybe we were moving a little too fast.  We started exploring the possibility of staying in Mexico for at least another year and teased out what that might look like.  We knew we would have to do some research and consult with our experienced cruiser friends. 

We were falling in love with Mexico all over again and realized that we had only seen a very small part.  We were especially intrigued by the Sea of Cortez and the countless pristine and undeveloped anchorages found there.  However, we also wanted to enjoy the warmth of our first winter outside Canada in a few years.  So we decided when we left La Paz to cross to Mazatlan and continue down the coast as far as Manzanillo before returning to the Sea of Cortez to explore in the spring.  We have decided we will leave Ka’sala on the hardstand in the Guaymas/San Carlos area for the summer and return in the fall to continue our investigation of the area when the water and air temperatures are more comfortable.  The Sea of Cortez is blazingly hot in the summer with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis, so most cruisers head back north.  We intend to return to Comox to housesit for friends who will be away in Europe, then continue on to Ontario and the Maritimes to visit with family and friends before returning to Ka’sala in October.  We still have to work out so many details  - such as how we will get from point A to point B, but as time progresses, the answers seem to be presenting themselves.

A typical cruise in the Sea of Cortez  - note Guaymas in the north
Our primary reason for being in La Cruz was to have a safe place to keep Ka’sala while we visited with Comox friends who were vacationing in the area.  They had rented a sumptuous villa in San Pancho, just north of Sayulita, and had invited us to stay with them for a couple of days.  

We took a series of very inexpensive local buses and were delighted to reconnect with Phil and Jan, Wayne and Marina, John and Judy and Dave and Julie.  We had lots of fun catching up with them and the news from home, as well as joining in on their holiday activities.  

Doug and Phil
We had some lovely meals and margaritas in the funky village and on the beach, as well as in the enormous villa.  

Judy, me, Jan and Judy
Marina had found a pickleball court at the local community centre and a bunch of us went down to play.  This was the first time I had tried my hand at the sport and I am grateful to Marina for teaching me the game.  (Played on a miniature tennis-like short court, with badminton-like rules, with an oversized pingpong –like graphite paddle and a bouncy oversized indoor golf ball-like ball!!!   It is a load of fun!) 

Pickleball court in community centre - the net is not up yet
 Before we knew it, our time together was over and it was time to return to Ka’sala.  We are grateful to this wonderful group of friends for welcoming us and spoiling us so generously.  Thank you!

Thank you to good friends
The next day we took a trip by bus into Puerto Vallarta to look around some of the places we had been before to see how much had changed (not much), and to check out Zaragosa Marine.  Doug had a few things on his list, but none could be filled in this very expensive marine store.  We stopped at Walmart on our way home and stocked up on a few items.  The bus ride back to the marina was excruciatingly hot, though very inexpensive.  It was a hot day and it stopped all along the way.  We cooked without the air conditioning.

At the docks we were happy to re-connect with John and Sue aboard Valkyrie.  They had sailed down from Mazatlan and intend to stay here for a while.  We also ran into Sara and Peter aboard sister ship Riki Tiki Tavi who sailed here from La Paz and will also make this there home for an indeterminate amount of time.  Al and Lindy, aboard Enchante, followed us into the marina as Lindy’s sister, Erin, would be flying in from Canada to spend some time with them.  We recognized the names of several other boats we had seen either along the way, or when we had been here five years ago.  

RTT - Stretch Coast 36

Lindy and I trekking to the waterfall at El Cora (Al photo)
We have not found many changes in the little village of La Cruz. 

Maybe a bar or coffee shop has closed, but they have been replaced by others.  The live bands still play just about every night and the rock and roll drifts invitingly over the evening air.  Our favourite tiendas are still in operation and the famous Sunday morning market is still spectacular.  (I was able to find a cute little dress and a lovely silver and amethyst ring, as well as some gourmet treats such as fresh ravioli, pesto, olive bread, croissants and fresh basil).  The fish market is still amazing – a little more than ten Canadian dollars will buy you a kilo of large, yummy shrimp.  Generally, it seems to us that the people of La Cruz may be a little more affluent than they were – a wonderful thing to see. 

Market along the breakwater
Made by Argentinian silversmith Matias Brustle
Doug has taken the opportunity of being on a stable dock to do some engine maintenance – checking the transmission, the exhaust, combiner pipes and aligning the engine mounts.  It is filthy, necessary work that tears the boat apart, but when he is through, the engine just purrs. 

Are we having fun yet?

Imagine an engine in the middle of your kitchen!
The maintenance and logistics of living on a sailboat remain the same – they are vital and time consuming, often involving looking for things you will never find, long walks with heavy packages, laundry by hand, purified water that needs to be poured into your water tanks by hand from 20 litre bottles, sprinting to the toilets onshore (or using your holding tank – yuk!), washing dishes by hand, and living in space the size of a guest bedroom!  But who’s complaining?

Love the market! (Lindy photo)
Margaritas - yum! (Lindy photo)

We plan to leave the marina Wednesday, after we provision at the once a week, local transient veggie/fruit market and head out into the anchorage for a night.  Thursday, weather permitting, we will sail to Manzanillo, about 150 nautical miles south.  The trip should take about 36 hours.  

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