Friday, March 18, 2016

Mazatlan Redux

We have been fortunate to spend another week in Mazatlan.  Well, that was no hardship, believe me!  What an incredible place!

Last night in Barra de Navidad, celebrating Doug's birthday complements of Mom (Thank you, Mom!)
We left Barra de Navidad, as planned, right after breakfast on Saturday, March 5 and spent 56 hours making our way to Mazatlan.  Conditions varied from no wind, to moderate northwest winds which we were able to comfortably beat through, to brisk south east winds we flew through.

Wing on Wing
The seas were also variable – from flat calm, to confused, to a 4 foot wind chop accentuated by a continuous low southwest swell.  For the most part we were comfortable and Ka’sala managed without difficulty. 

Typical sailing on the Mexican Riviera

Unfortunately we saw very little wildlife and were far enough off shore that we did not see much of the landscape as well.  However, the no-moon, star-lit nights were magnificent to behold.  Our trusty Yanmar accompanied us for 2/3rds of the way and, by the time we had reached our destination, we were very happy to not have to listen to the pounding of its pistons anymore.   

What made this journey interesting was how it ended.  Our last few hours we were bouncing along in 20 knots and a four foot chop.  The tide was at its lowest point and we had to navigate the narrow opening of the bar into the Mazatlan marina lagoon.  As we approached, we saw the waves heaping up on both sides of the breakwater, but in between, there was a clearly visible slot.  Doug slipped Ka’sala through this crack and within seconds we were in the calm waters of the lagoon.  It wasn’t until later that we found out the entrance had been closed by the harbour authorities.  Gulp!

We headed straight for the Pemex fuel dock to take on more diesel, but not before we skidded along the bottom as we approached its dock in the negative tide.  Luckily we did no damage.

Mexican charts aren't all that great.  As you can see it shows Ka'sala well on shore - we didn't go that hard aground!
We were incredibly pleased to discover our friends Lindy and Al from Enchante had arrived in Mazatlan the day before from Matanchen Bay.  They were docked at Fonatur and we tried to join them there, but it was full.  We moved over to a smaller marina resort in the lagoon where we were happily ensconced for a little over week.  Lindy and Al joined us there for a few days at the end of our stay. 

Can you see Ka'sala?  (centre back)
Pool at marina resort
We were pleased to get the bicycles on the road and ride the malecon again.  In addition to recreation, we were able to use them for provisioning and other errands.  The laundry lady got quite a kick out of me arriving with my large parachute bag stuffed full of clothes and bungied to the rack on the back of the bicycle.  We also had the chance to walk along the magnificent beach to Cerritos and enjoy ice cold  cervesas at a palapa at the end, running our toes through the hot sand. 

He flies through the air with the greatest of the rigging!
On one day, Al, Lindy, Doug and I caught a local bus to visit the town of Concordia.  For about 80 pesos return each ($6 USD) we travelled about 35 miles along an assortment of roads, watching locals getting on and off, noting their clothes, their way of speaking, their family groupings and imagining what their lives might be like. 

 We passed the many villages and towns where they lived.  Every place was a hive of activity with all sorts of things going on.  At every intersection it seemed someone was out there to entertain or provide a small service for a few pesos - from jugglers to gymnasts, from windshield washers to flower sellers, the roads were alive with people.

Our bus to Concordia
We wandered around Concordia, previously named San Sebastian, a place that has seen regular human habitation since long before the conquistadors.  It was a spotless town.  We did not see litter anywhere.  The houses were all painted in a variety of sandy hues and it was obvious that the townspeople took enormous pride in their hometown.

Concordia street scenes
We visited their renovated, very old church in the town square and, above the altar, its gruesome statue of the patron saint and martyr San Sebastian, pierced with arrows.

Facade of Iglacia San Sabastian
San Sebastian
We wandered down side streets searching for the furniture makers Al was looking for.  However, first we found the town museum and were warmly welcomed by Vicki, its curator.  She regaled us with stories of the town, especially the French occupation in the mid 18th century.  Vicki was very passionate about her subject and it was amusing to note the more enthusiastic she became, the less English she spoke, but we understood her.  The museum was in the old jailhouse and we could see the bones of the cells as we passed through the various well crafted displays, photographs and artifacts dating back hundreds of years.  Al eventually found several furniture makers and we were especially taken with a multi-generational Mexican family who were enjoying their Sunday family feast while the various pieces of their wooden rocking chairs dried in the sun.  We had a lovely lunch in what was likely the best restaurant in town, El Granero, tucked away near the old monastery.

 It consisted of several well appointed rooms and a large central courtyard that had been decked out for a wedding.  The lunch was in mammoth portions which began with complimentary local panela cheese, refried beans, salsa and tostadas.  Afterwards we waddled out into the hot, empty streets, as the sensible locals were digesting their comida in siesta!

In the town square is an enormous rocking chair - an icon of Concordia's most famous product and obviously a great photo opportunity for the tourists.  Perhaps in this sequence of photos you can figure out what I am trying to convince Lindy to do!  What a lot of fun!

Our time in Mazatlan was quickly over and we found ourselves looking for the weather window that would take us across the Sea of Cortez and back to the Baja.  We slipped through the bar at El Cid at 7am on Tuesday, March 15 to begin our 48 hour passage to La Paz, arriving on Saint Patrick's Day.