March 28th, 2012
Last year we bought “Pacific Mexico A Cruiser’s Guidebook.“, by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer. It was a smart purchase. The information inside contained places to visit, restaurants to eat at, transportation available and other services that boaters would find interesting.
On our cruise south, we planned our stops according to the anchorages listed in the book. Notes were made concerning what side of the anchorage provided better protection from the winds and weather and whether or not the anchorage was exposed to sea swell/rollers. What we didn’t gather from our guidebook was how hard the wind blows DAILY in Banderas Bay along the coast of La Cruz.
Last Sunday we left Punta De Mita, the Northern Tip of Banderas Bay, because of the large rollers that came in the anchorage during the night. We had to wait for daylight to pull up the anchor and head to a better anchorage. We had decided on La Cruz because the guidebook noted that the town was located outside the marina where a dingy dock was provided with security .
After the anchor was set the guys went ashore to check in with the Port Captain. I was invited to go but thought I better stay behind to keep an eye on the anchor. No sooner were they out of sight, the wind began to gust and each time the gusts were stronger. We had white caps and rollers in the bay. The anchor held beautifully, but I was a bit worried as the wind continued to get stronger. I decided to get a beer to calm my nerves and put on some music while I watched the kite boarders and racing sailboats breeze by. When the guys returned, they were surprised to see how quickly the weather had changed. After sunset, the wind calmed down. We later learned that this is a normal weather pattern for this area.
A trip into the small town of La Cruz is a special one. The town has an old charm. Many or most of the streets are cobblestone and red dirt. The buildings are close together with very unique uses of building materials. I had never seen a garage roof made of bricks before and the pattern was rolling and not flat. Ceramic tiles placed in creative patterns that gave you the desire to stop and look at them for awhile. A small park was located in town. It contained large huanacaxtle, pronounced “wah-nah-KAHSH-lay.“ , trees that were seriously huge. Not only tall but bumpy and wide. Black tropical birds with long black tail feathers squawked back and forth with high pitch voices. A concrete center was built in the middle of the park with metal supports in a circle. Beautiful timbers were used to connect the supports to a common place in the center of the circle. Park benches were placed close together around the park. The wood used looked to be shaven from a reddish wood that looked like rosewood. It looked “too nice” to be used for the general public. It was obvious that the community respected their park due to the condition these benches were in. They looked like fine furniture.
Just like other places I had been in Mexico, when you are walking around you best keep your eye on where your next foot is going to land. If you are looking around and walking, you can very easily miss a hole in the sidewalk or street, or a step up onto the next section of sidewalk just happens to change abruptly. Unlike the United States, you are responsible for yourself. If you fall and hurt yourself while walking around, it is up to you to pay attention. Law Suits aren’t as popular here in Mexico.
Advertised on the VHF this morning was a Jazz concert being held this evening in order to raise money for a film that was made of the locals in the area telling the general public that La Cruz is a safe place to visit. Once again the Media in the United States over exaggerates the crime here. The logic most people live by is that there are bad neighborhoods anywhere in the world you go. That includes in the United States. Unfortunately the news that we all hear is selective and bias. Something we all seem to overlook at times.
We decided to go, sounded like fun. There were four different sets of performers. We learned that many Jazz performers that made a decent living on the west coast of the U.S., retired here to La Cruz. What a treat for the locals to have these musicians that are willing to continue to play for enjoyment of the public.
The day is spent running errands and picking up supplies. We had been walking everywhere up till now. We knew we needed to take a cab to the ATM to get pesos but had no idea where to find one. We stopped at the security check point at the marina and asked the guard where we could find a taxi. The guard turned and faced the woods and began screaming at the top of his lungs ‘TAXI! TAXI!”. We started laughing and then a car zips around the corner and a man rolls down his window and says “You need a Taxi?” He drove us maybe 5 miles and charged us 80 pesos.
Today was The Cruisers Swap Meet. Actually it was a cruisers Yard Sale. These events are fun to go to. You never know what people are getting off of their boats. Michael bought Night Vision Binocular , A oil change kit, some shackles and a surf board for Mike. Mike was excited to go off to the beach at Punta De Mita to meet a friend of his and do some surfing. It was a wonderful diversion for him. Staying on the boat with his folks drives him insane some days, which is understandable.
Last night we attended a “get together” at the marina. On the way I met two men that were carrying guitars. They asked me if I’d like them to sing me a song and of course I couldn’t refuse. The younger of the two smiled at me and said he had a special song for me. He called it “Kiss Me All Over.” I’m sure I blushed at the title of the song and fortunately it was sung in espanol, so I didn’t understand many of the words. Both of the men’s guitars were chipped and broken in places. The older man played his guitar in a classical fashion. He was the musician of the two.
The “Get Together” was for cruisers to socialize and meet other cruisers that were traveling in the same direction. Many of the people here were waiting for the perfect weather window to do what they call “The Puddle Jump.”. These people are headed across the Pacific Ocean to the small islands that lead over to Tahiti. There were suppose to be other people heading south, but we didn’t meet any.
We did meet a man, a gringo, at the bar as we first arrived that seemed to be real friendly. But as the night progressed, he ended up coming across as very strange. Alcohol was his issue, I’m sure of it.
My crew ended up going to a nice restaurant for dinner. We had barbecue ribs that were made with pineapple and mango sauce. They were delicious. After our meal the guy from the “cruisers get together” came in “only to have a beer. “ he said. He told the owner he was kicked out of the last place he went to. Then he sat at the bar and chatted up about us and how he had met us previously. He then told the Owner “to sit back and watch, things were about to get strange.” He picked up a pocket knife the owner kept at the bar and was opening it up and waving it around. At that point, he was asked to leave, as he took the knife from him and put it away. I felt uneasy when we left the restaurant to head back to our dingy. Then I remembered that both my guys knew Judo one of which is a brown belt in Judo. In this case the trouble maker wasn’t even Mexican. We had a nice walk back to the dingy dock and safe ride back to our boat.
Big day for vendors selling goods they have made along the malecon (A walk way that runs along the waters edge) at the marina. I had heard about this market from the locals and wanted to check it out. As we approached this morning we saw people everywhere. My first thought was to turn around and head back to the boat. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds. But since Michael and Mike were with me I didn’t want to change my mind on them.
It was a good thing we went because there were so many nice things that people had made. Things like tiny beads made into designs that had to take a long time to do. Jewelry of all kinds with pretty stones, paintings of local scenery, pottery from the area of Oxaca with gorgeous glazes, ice cream made with coconut and carrots, marlin empanadas, fresh bread., organic coffee and vegetables. Many of the people wore festive garments of bright colors and beautiful embroidery with large sombreros.
What I was looking for was art work done by the Huichol people that live deep in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. It is said that these people are one of only a few tribes people remaining in North America. Once a year they harvest the peyote cactus. They believe this helps them communicate with their gods. Their artwork is the product of their beliefs. I did find a vendor with many pieces to choose from. We haggled about the price and eventually I was able to purchase a beautiful piece that I liked. It is said that if you don’t haggle over price you are considered weak and are disrespected. I still find it hard to do.
As usual the afternoon wind was blowing hard as we rode back to the boat in the dingy. It was a real challenge to keep my purchase dry. Somehow, we made it. The rest of the day was spent putting away clean laundry and helping Michael with tools while he did maintenance on the boat. For dinner I made a shrimp scampi with white wine, garlic and lime juice. It was a hit. J