We left Mazatlan and headed off south making overnight passages to arrive in Puerto Vallarta in time for our daughter and son-in-law's planned arrival on Nov. 15th. The seas were calm and fairly smooth while the night skies were brightly lit with stars and the water luminescent and reflective. Helen is no longer hesitant about night passages with so many of nature's night lights showing her the way. A few turtles, incredible dolphin shows, and a few bites from medium fish kept us entertained and fed. A pair of spouting whales was sited off Punta de Mita just before we dropped anchor and we celebrated the joint return with a toast.
A day or two later while pulling the anchor up, Dave managed a repeat of the Canadian accident of catching a finger in the anchor chain…it healed with no infection and without stitches. We were prepared and ready this time. But we feel we may need to add more supplies to our first aid kit when it comes to finger injuries.
November 15th Kelsey and Jeromy arrived and we had a relaxing evening with two other boats, The Cat's Meow, Martin and Robin, and Coastal Passage's Michelle and Terry. Sunset, conversation, and comradeship filled the time. Sunday we toured the grocery store and ate street tacos. Monday morning we pulled anchor and went out to Punta de Mita and fished along the way. By Tuesday we had worked our way to Chacala where you swim from the boat to shore and rest under the umbrella of palms and drink cool ones. Wednesday night we met a couple from Endless Summer, on a catamaran, while having cocktails with Destiny's John and Gilly. Our daughter and son enjoyed the cross section of people and conversations that spanned many decades of experiences. That night we ate dinner at Isabella's and learned more about her life and life in Chacala for a widowed woman. Isabella is a lady who opens up her house to travelers and cooks dinners for between 3 or 4 couples. Meals are served on her patio and included shrimp chili rellenos, chicken enchiladas, with rice and beans as sides. You bring your own drinks other than orange juice and she does this all for less than $5.00. It was a fantastic meal and we enjoyed the after dinner conversation. During the days we snorkeled and fished seeing much sea life, a few manta rays, and too few bites.
When we returned to the boat, Panchita with its emergency crew had arrived. Ted, the owner of Panchita, had had a heart attacked in San Blas and three buddies were moving his boat to Paradise Village for the time being. John, from Mystic Moon, along with Tom Collins and Mike Meyers, invited us over and we spent the night swapping stories. While drinking tequila we caught up with John's adventures and became acquainted with two new to us salts of the ocean. We learn so much from those who have traveled before us, and they relive events through storytelling and watching our expression of awe.
Needing to move on, we went to Guayabitos and enjoyed a day walking and seeing the shore life of a Mexican resort destination---very few gringos were there. Daniel's Italian Restaurant opened just for us so we could have a taste of his brewed beer and enjoy the scene. Daniel has lived on many continents and has lived a life of many opportunities-five languages, I believe, and as many wives. We were there with Cirque (Lou and Laura) and Amizade, Andrew. During our stay Andrew's dinghy was "liberated". We went ashore trying to follow up on making a report and learning if there might be a chance of recovery. No chance, and due to the weekend no reporting. Monday we sailed to Tres Marietas, a snorkeling paradise in Bandaras Bay. Kelsey, Jeromy, and Helen went in first and found the visibility to be great, the sea life plentiful, and the stinging jellyfish to be oh so bountiful! Dave had taken the dinghy back to the boat so we almost walked on water to get away from the schools of jellyfish surrounding us. We had a few stings but nothing unbearable. Dave then moved our dive site and before long Jeromy braved the waters and was snorkeling through caves, tidal surges, and on a reef with BIG fish and an under current. Next we went around the other side of the anchorage and experience the big surf and waves. The height was 5-7 feet and our dink sits about 2 feet high-it was a short trip. That night we stayed out there, alone and peaceful with the universe and the anchor chain dragging on the rocks.
Tuesday morning we traveled to the south end of Banderas Bay to Yelapa. There a panga man named Molie and Dave negotiated the rental of a mooring ball down to $20.00 for 1 day. Ashore to the right was a town that weaves it way vertically upwards towards a small waterfall. The path is narrow, allowing two way foot traffic. Some of us were on our own feet, others on donkeys and horses. Along the path are homes, small businesses, cafes, and stands with local treasures. Everyone was friendly and hopeful that you would want to purchase their wares. Near the top we passed a group that had come off a tour boat and were now headed down laden with bags of treasures and dripping wet from their dip in the falls. The falls were spectacular in the mid day sun and the beer stand sold cold beers for the thirsty visitors. We settled down and kicked back a round before heading down to tour the other side of the bay. Wandering and weaving downward we passed by many vacant looking palapas, the owners not yet here for the winter. Many were built years ago when gringos discovered this land lock paradise that has no roads in or out. Everything comes and goes by boat. We needed to cross a river and the bridge was under repair so we followed it until we saw a crossing that the locals use. There the water was only 1 foot or less deep. Once across we were once again weaving and wandering through palapas and homes in various stages of readiness for living. At the end of the walk we were on the palm lined beach and near the small hotels for tourists. It was heavenly and everyone looked so relaxed and content with life. No rush, no yelling, no worries. Another crossing of the river got us back to the dinghy and back to our boat to watch sunset.
Wednesday morning we awoke early to see if we could catch whales at play, no luck but we did get to Paradise Village and tied to a dock next to our newest friends Tom Collins and Mike Meyers. They gave us the lay of the land information and we headed out to explore Old Town. The bus took us to the center square and as we exited the bus we entered the tequila factory tasting room-what luck! Kelsey was celebrating her 27th birthday with a taste of this and then that. Tearing ourselves away was difficult. We walked down to the waterfront, and the main street called a malecon. There the beach is on one side and the road is on the other. We passed the tourist ship shops and found a Cuban cigar shop. Jeromy and Kelsey went there, we headed to the attached Cuban bar for Mojitos--fresh ground mint and lots of cold ice sounded perfect to us. Our next stop was the massive and ornate cathedral and the hill climb to our dinner restaurant. We climbed over 100 stairs for this location (Betty, the Santa Barbara stairs were easier than these) and the pictures explain it all. Ed and Cornelia from A Cappella joined us for the sunset and a superb meal of local recipes. The staff lowered the lights and made a parade to serve the birthday girl her dessert. One of the staff had her cell phone playing the background music. The mood was so right, we all sang and few of us had the notes right but who cares, it was the act, not the quality that counted.
Thursday, Thanksgiving morning arrived and we all agreed to take the day off. We sat on the beach, sun bathed, the ladies had a massage/facial and the guys had Happy Hour 2 for 1. Near sunset we walked to the turtle preserve and helped to release the day old turtles to the ocean. Three out of a hundred will return in 8 to 10 years to this beach and repeat the cycle started that night. Dinner was Brazilian and heavy on the meats-seven different cuts and kinds, complimented with salads and wine. We returned to the boat to let them pack as tomorrow was back to reality. Friday morning came early, 4 o'clock to catch the 7 am flight. We walked them to the cab and hugged goodbye for the time being. Then we went back to the boat and bed. Puerto Vallarta and the areas north and south have so much to offer, it is without a doubt our favorite civilized spot so far.
Having spent enough time tied up to a dock, Friday we headed back to La Cruz in the northern part of the bay planning to lay low for a few days before returning to a social boating life…of course plans can change.
We reconnected with Debbie who lives in La Cruz, Herb and Juliet on Synchrony, Martin and Robin of Cat's Meow, Michelle and Terry on Coastal Passage, Destiny, Cirque, Armizade, Dream Seeker's Karen and Tom, Hooligan, Beach Access, and Two Pieces of Eight. Saturday was street tacos and music at Le Reve. Monday and Tuesday the men went downtown to get parts. Tuesday was the jam session at Britannia and ribs. Wednesday was a party with the Banderas Blast(a sailing race) group, and dancing at Philo's. A trip down town with the ladies gave Helen a larger view of the true "Old Town" so another trip with the spouses and bags for shopping was made. A grocery store, across two rope bridges, carried gringo food. A jar of real maple syrup was $15.00 and a small bottle of lime juice was $6.00. We bought 3 items that fit our budget. Then we had lunch at the world famous Vegetarian Buffet. Every dish was delicious and so flavorful. Another full day of adventure and site seeing was seasoned with a group of 4 men hanging from ropes, wound around a mast 75 feet above the ground, and twirling their way back to the ground (while playing flutes and drums) of the malecon. The street was filled with tourists filming the event. Friday was happy hour on our boat till after 10 PM. Saturday was the chili cook-off fund raiser event and a run across a six lane freeway to catch the connecting bus home-we felt like illegal border crossers as we dash between traffic. A commercial bus stopped and picked us up-the model with executive seats, air conditioning, and a movie in English playing. The ride was 22 km. and cost 90cents fare! We almost missed our stop on purpose just to stay longer. This was not our usual intercity bus.
Boat Life is not dull, and we are yet to be bored with the cruising lifestyle we are living. We are now off to remote areas and no internet cafes for about two to three weeks. Our best we send to all of you. May the end of this year be good to you, and may the next year bring you many moments of awe and wonderment.
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