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Feb. 7, 2008: It felt like mass exodus today; I lost track of how many boats left the bay, but a quick count indicated between 25-30 boats currently anchored. Jim spent a quality 30 minutes diving on and scrubbing the stern anchor line after breakfast; I scraped the dried growth off the broken flopper-stopper that is currently residing on deck waiting for repair and smells awful (like dead fish). Jim met with Ernesto in the morning, who indicated that the brackets would be ready to be picked up at 1500. At 1430, we both headed into town. First stop was Rick's for a book exchange and then we hopped on a combi. I got off at Comercial and picked up last-minute vegetables and a baked chicken for dinner while Jim continued on to Ernesto's. We agreed to meet back at Rick's. I got to Rick's at 1550, surprised that Jim wasn't already there. So I had one glass of wine while I waited. Another hour went by and there was still no sign of Jim. Rather than start worrying, I decided to have a second glass of wine (what a lush, huh?)! Jim finally showed up around 1730. Apparently Ernesto had given the task of our brackets to his assistant, who is paid by the hour! It was difficult to say good-bye to our new friends, Marta and Memo from Rick's and Nathaniel. This is always the most difficult part of cruising. I often wonder if it would be easier to be a hermit and not make friends. At least it wouldn't hurt when it came time to leave. With Nathaniel's help, the brackets were re-installed on the dinghy. One worked fine; Jim will need to redrill one of the holes on the other. The boat is basically ready to go, with the exception of figuring out where to stow our bargain sink!
Feb. 6, 2008: The first thing this morning, Jim removed the dinghy wheel brackets with the plan that we would take them to a shop and have them braced with another piece of welded aluminum. These particular dinghy wheels are cheap pieces of cr*p and extremely user UNfriendly (made by Davis and sold by West Marine)...if we only knew then what we know now! We gave up waiting for Ismail and finally headed into town at 1100. Murphy's Law...we passed him on our way and made arrangements to catch up with him tomorrow -- we have asked him to deliver 4 cases of cerveza. Jim stayed at Rick's helping to burn DVDs of photos taken during Sailfest 2008. While he did that, I took off in search of a cheaper farmacia. What I discovered is that the price of most medicines is set by the government and it appeared that we would have no choice but to pay ten times (!) what these particular pills would cost in the States. Oh well! Jim says this price is enough to give someone high blood pressure! Our thoughts about how to repair the dinghy wheel brackets went to Plan B, so after lunch, we took a combi out to the recommended shop and talked with the owner. Our thought was to replace the light-weight aluminum brackets with stainless steel. Ernesto told us he would have to visit his supplier after 1600 (many stores and shops close for siesta between 1400-1600) and then he'd call us with a price. We returned to the boat and discovered 4 cases of Tecate on the side deck. Ismail had delivered the beer after all, although we have not paid him -- he is obviously a very trusting soul! Ernesto called back indicating that he could not get the required materials; however, he had an idea on how to repair the brackets. Between his limited English and Jim's limited Spanish, it was decided that Jim would return to Ernesto's shop in the morning to make certain everyone knows what is needed. Carnival started last night. One of the benefits is that we get to listen to the concerts that are held in the plaza along the malecon. We picked up our packet of mail -- mostly year-end paperwork. We are mentally ready to head north but little last-minute items keep cropping up. We're finding that it's almost as difficult for us to raise the anchor and head north out of Zihuatanejo as it was for us to untie the lines and head south out of Ensenada 2 1/2 months ago! Jim called his dad to wish him a very happy birthday. He has agreed to sponsor us in the Orcas Island Yacht Club -- that way we will have reciprocal privileges when we begin the trek north out of San Diego.
Feb. 5, 2008: We stopped at Aurora for a little while so Jim could fix the AIS system on their navigational software...then he fixed their vacuum bagging machine! Jim's not happy unless he's dickering with something! As a thank you, Sheilagh fed us a slice of home baked key lime pie, complete with whipped cream. Mmm, mmm GOOD! By the time we left Aurora, it was lunch time and we were hesitant to do our grocery shopping on a (relatively) empty stomach, so we stopped at the Sanka Grill for a loaded baked potato. No calories there! The potato included butter, sour cream, 2 types of cheese and grilled steak (all for 50 pesos). After that we felt we were safe to go shopping! Supposedly we have provisioned for about 2-3 weeks although I held out buying any fresh fruits or vegetables. The original plan was for us to leave today, but that didn't happen. And we won't be leaving tomorrow because Jaime is going to service Jim's dive equipment. So now we hope to leave here on Thurs. We attempted to buy some of Jim's blood pressure medicine -- the farmacia wanted 50 cents per pill -- NOT! Guess my mission over the next day or two will be to try to locate a cheaper farmacia! We returned to Aurora after a light dinner -- Sheilagh wanted us to help them finish off the key lime pie, and of course, we didn't say no! We sat in their cockpit talking, slaughtering a couple of bottles of wine and laughing until almost 2200.
Dinghy Landings Can be Fun!
Feb. 4, 2008: I had the boat to myself until 1400 because Jim went diving with Carlos. While he was gone, I ran the generator, made water and polished the stainless davits and swim ladder. Then at 1800 we headed to shore for our dinner out. The wind had been blowing 10-15 kts. all day from the NNW and the swell was coming in from the SW so the bay was one choppy mess; staying dry was a huge challenge! We took the bus to Ixtapa and found our way to La Malinche. What a wonderful find! The food was delicious and the duo (Luna Rumba) that played at Coconuts in Dec. was performing (this time we bought their CD). At one point in the performance the waiters ran around depositing a huge Mexican sombrero on everyone's head and we were given moraccas (? sp). Of course, this set off a case of the giggles from the customers! Then one waiter came back to Jim with a special hat...a beret that said Viva Mexico, but attached to the beret was what looked like long black hair, fake of course. The waiter popped it on Jim's head quickly and then put the sombrero on top of it. Well, where was the camera when we needed it? My case of the giggles turned serious so that both the waiters and performers were now laughing! Always the good sport, Jim played it up to the max! We got back to Zihua after 2100. The surf break was still running quite high and it took a few minutes before we could launch the dinghy. Thankfully Nathaniel was there to push us off the beach and the dinghy's engine caught on the first try.
Grand Finale Party
(can you find us?)
Feb. 3, 2008: We spent the morning burning CDs with the pictures that we'd taken during our stint as the mark. Jim burned one copy for each boat that had participated in the race. At 1300 we began running around the anchorage, delivering the CDs. Everyone was very appreciative of Jim's efforts. Sailfest's finale beach party was held at Playa Madeira beginning at 1400. There was a very large crowd. Unfortunately we didn't realize that we had more of a choice for lunch than chile rellenos or pollo until after we'd eaten! Awards, thank yous and lots of raffle prizes were given out. After matching contributions by two charitable organizations, Sailfest's total came to about US$50,000. Not too shabby, but still, half of what was raised last year. Le Gato gave us a picture of Mañana underway as we headed to the mark. That's the only picture we have of her dressed. When the party ended we headed to Rick's to watch the Superbowl game -- the Patriots vs. the Giants. I don't need to say who we were rooting for! It was a very good game and with 2 minutes left in the game as the score stood, Jim and I were about to receive 50% of the pool. Then the Giants scored a touchdown...and the Pats lost and we lost. But we really didn't lose because Jim located the guy who bought the beautiful ceramic sink at last Thursday's auction. After the auction Jim told him that we'd had a communication breakdown and Jim was sorry that he hadn't bid on it. Well, the guy was having second thoughts about having bought it (he'd had a bit too much to drink). He was trying to figure out how he was going to get it on the airplane and home in one piece. One thing led to another and we were able to buy the sink from him for 300 pesos (US $30). What a deal! It's a beautiful sink, navy background with white calla lillies on it. We will stash it someplace and will install it into our home, when we finally have one. Additionally, Jim asked Rick how much a bottle of his tequila sells for -- 250 pesos. So Jim bought a bottle for 1/2 of what our opening bid was. Definitely a win-win for Mañana!
Sail Parade 2008
Feb. 2, 2008: The parade committee had asked that all boats that were going to be in the parade be ready to accept passengers by 0915 so we were up early sweeping and wiping down the flybridge. When our name was called, we made our way to the pick-up destination and our 7 guests were brought out to us via dinghies. Once everyone was on board, we headed out to the head of the bay where we were to meet up with others in our group. The parade began at 1100 led by the Port Captain. Twenty two boats headed back into Zihuatanejo bay briefly before heading over to Ixtapa. The port captain peeled off to one side and the remainder of the boats passed by him, waving and saluting him as we went by. Seeing as we were the last boat in the parade, Jim decided to salute the port captain with a couple blasts of our horn. The port captain returned the salute with a few blasts of his own, plus his sirens and a hearty wave! The return trip to Zihua was a free sail back, except for the 3 power boats. But it was a beautiful day on the ocean and we had a great group of guests (from British Columbia) on board. By the time we were entering Zihuatanejo, half of them were asleep, lulled by the warm sun and the gentle motion of Mañana! Well, it's always good to know we didn't scare anyone to death! We hailed the committee boat as we were approaching the drop-off spot and within a couple of minutes, two dinghies were there to return our guests to shore. They had been warned that the surf break was up and they might well get wet. What they weren't warned about was the 6' crocodile that decided to pay Zihua bay a visit! All told, we were underway for about 6 hours, the longest since we arrived! Re-anchoring was a matter of letting the boat ahead of you get settled in place before you went. We were able to stretch our anchor chain enough to back up and snag the dinghy, which we left with the stern anchor again. At 1730 we decided to have dinner at La Sirena Gorda (the fat mermaid). The food was wonderful...we can see why it comes highly rated. Jim ran the Sat. night southbound net and then we climbed into bed. All in all, a great day!
Mañana is "the mark"
Feb. 1, 2008: Where did the month of January go to?? There was a virtual meeting after the morning net for tomorrow's parade, after which we headed to the beach for the skippers' meeting for today's race; we were told that the buns judge would not be on our boat. We stopped by Rick's very quickly and picked up a bunch of soda and water for tomorrow's parade. We dressed the boat with our parade flags before Jim ran to pick up Steve and Kathy. As we were leaving the bay at noon, Le Gato came on the radio and gave us the coordinates for where we were supposed to anchor. Unfortunately Le Gato was off the depth of the spot by 100', making it impossible for us to anchor. Jim did his best to keep us where we were supposed to be. The course was for all the race boats to pass us on their port side. While hanging out, we watched as a huge turtle swam past us (the first to pass the mark). Our next sighting was a yellow bellied sea snake -- beautiful with its black and yellow markings, but highly venomous! There were 9 boats in the race and it seemed like there were 4 mini races within the 1 race. Scarlett O'Hara delivered 4 delicious cinnamon buns this morning and they were the first boat to go by us. Our other boat neighbor Ed (Gambit) was #8. Two boats showed us their buns, but thankfully with bathingsuits on, and no hairy butts were seen! As the last boat passed us, they shouted out, "You can go home now, Mañana!" and so we did. On our way back into the bay, we nearly ran into two very large hump back whales. This was most definitely a camera opportunity, although they never showed their flukes. Reanchoring was not difficult -- Jim had recorded the lat/long when our bow pulpit was directly over our bow anchor. When we returned to our spot, Jim was able to get right up next to the dinghy and Steve was able to climb into it (we had tied it to our stern anchor line). Then we manuevered Mañana up to the original lat/long and dropped anchor. In the meantime, Steve had started our dinghy and brought it and our stern line to Mañana. Piece of cake! Our original plan was to go to Ixtapa for dinner tonight, but we were both exhausted -- a late night last night and a long rolly afternoon in the sun. So we stayed on board, relaxed and hit the sack early.
Jan. 31, 2008: We went into town at 1400 to partake in the street fair and silent auction at Rick's Bar. It was a happening place! We still don't know if we are the buns judge, but Scarlett O'Hara informed us that they will be delivering their bun entry to us early tomorrow morning. Since Rennie mentioned something about rising yeast, I'm thinking her entry may be in the form of cinnamon buns -- the judge(s) can definitely be bought!! We have invited Steve & Kathy (Psyche) to join us. Both Steve and Jim say their cameras will be primed and ready for any shots of good-looking buns! We touched base with Roger, who is in charge of Saturday's boat parade. He says our boat will be full and he's asked that we be the last boat,, which is actually a good spot because we get to see all the boats in front of us. Now I guess we'd better make sure we have 8 life vests on board. The participants have been told to supply their own food and Rick's Bar received donations of Coke and water so all I think we'll need is room in the holding tank. We returned to Mañana for a little while and then returned to town. We had a pier burger for dinner and then headed to Rick's for the live auction. Again, there was a good crowd. Rick gave everyone a free glass of his tequila, just to get us primed! I'm not a tequila fan, but his goes down really smooth. Jim & I successfully bid on dinner for 2 in Ixtapa. It includes 4 drinks and we got it for 400 pesos. Given that the menu prices in Ixtapa are tourist prices, I think we got a good deal. We tried bidding on a bottle of Rick's tequila. We opened the bidding at 500 pesos and no one was upping us. Then someone came up with the bright idea that those people who donated 100 pesos would get another glass of tequila. Yeah, sure, it's for the kids, but the kids don't drink tequila (I don't think, anyway!) and we're going to have a L-O-N-G bash north come July. Oh well! Lights weren't turned off until midnight.
Jan. 30, 2008: We spent a quiet day on the boat reading. I talked with Peter and Babs in the evening and we watched the movie "Kiss the Girls" with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Jan. 29, 2008: The first day of Sailfest and there are now about 60 boats here. During the morning net, both Aurora and Masquerade checked in. We met John & Sandy (Masquerade) 2 1/2 years ago when they spent a month in Chula Vista in the slip next to us. They are out of Bremerton, WA. Aurora is another of Starfish Marine's customers and we became friends while they were in Chula Vista. So it was with a very light heart that we were able to swap hugs and catch up on where folks have been. I left Jim, Sheilagh and Jim (Aurora) at Rick's and went to Josef's for a haircut. Rumor circulating Rick's Bar is that the "lady" who cut my hair is Josef... When she cut my hair last month, Jim and I both wondered because she isn't feminine looking and has a deep voice. I returned to Rick's and joined the group for lunch. Jim & I spent the afternoon on the boat, he reading and I sewing. Jim would like to get another dive in before we leave but was told the water clarity hasn't been good the past two days. There have been some very big swells coming into the bay for the past week. Later in the afternoon we were asked if we'd like to be a mark for the pursuit sailboat race, scheduled for Friday at 1300; Jim said we would. This is a good way to include the power boats in the sailboat race. There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, with a special prize for "best buns". We aren't sure whether the buns judge will be on our boat or whether we are the judge. In any event, I'm thinking that I'll immediately eliminate any hair buns that are shown my way! Sailfest officially kicked off with a party at Rick's at 1900. The dinghies were lined up 3 deep. Poor Nathaniel was going crazy trying to figure out where to put everybody. The navy is not allowing any dinghies to be placed in front of its building, despite Rick's request for a waiver for the next 5 days, and we could not block the pangas. To top it off, it was high tide. There was a good crowd at Rick's. We stayed until 2100.
Jan. 28, 2008: According to this morning's net, there are now 50 boats in the area. VHF channel 22 is always busy and dinghies are running back and forth. I was invited to join Jim, Lou and Laura in search for the holy grail...er, I mean in search for the holy new battery bank but traipsing around Zihua and Ixtapa looking for someone else's batteries wasn't my idea of fun today. Instead, I stayed behind and vacuum bagged meats that were purchased yesterday...definitely more exciting! I also brought my turtle applique project back out and decided to take another whack at it, this time using invisible thread. Between the rocking boat, the wind blowing, invisible thread and hand work, this was not a particularly fun project, but I made good progress and I'm pleased with my results thus far. Jim didn't return until 1815, mission supposedly accomplished. I cooked a pork roast for dinner and we had a salad with real lettuce!
by Eric Stone
It's just here for a little while
Loving every mile
Always underway to the very last day
Enjoy life before it passes you by
Because it's permanently temporary.
Jan. 27, 2008: Jim spent the morning helping Cirque remove their old start battery and then went shopping with Lou to buy a new one. He returned to the boat for me in early afternoon and we both returned to Cirque. Jim and Lou installed the new battery. From there we met Frayed Knot at the dinghy landing and taxied out to Comercial. Comercial is owned by Costco so every week we find something new and special. Today's find was salami and lettuce! Paul and Susan had brought along a huge dry sack for their food and Paul had all he could do to carry the loaded sack out to the taxi. The taxi's little trunk was packed and Jim ended up having to hold his backpack in his lap for the return trip. We returned to our boat at 1610, late for the 1600 volley ball game, so only the foods needing to be kept cold were tossed into the refrigerator. We did a quick change into our bathing suits, hopped back in the dinghy and headed to Playa La Ropa. The surf break didn't look too bad so we headed into shore. As we were approaching the beach, we looked behind us and saw a large incoming wave. Jim yelled for me to get out quick, which I attempted to do. Unfortunately I had one leg in the water and was just swinging my other leg out of the dinghy when the wave came under us, catching my leg. And that's all she wrote! I went down backwards, the wave washing over me! A cruiser has to be able to laugh at himself when he falls out of the dinghy! I received lots of sympathy in between people laughing! Thankfully I was planning to go swiming anyway...! Yesterday Ron (Lazy Days) had suggested that we head to one of the beach palapas after the game, so we were prepared with money and beach coverups. However, when the game ended, Ron headed out, leaving a bunch of us on the beach scratching our heads! Oh well! Instead, we joined Paul and Lin (Beaudacious) for dinner in town. The plaza comes alive on Sunday nights with a variety of food booths and entertainment. Lin mentioned a stall that sold empenadas that was reported to be delicious, so that's where we went. One lady flattens the dough (we think it is a maiz mixture; it's definitely thicker than a tortilla), then you pick what you want in it (pork, chicken, chorizo, beef [the meats are mixed with potato chunks], mushrooms, cheese, spinach). One half of the dough is filled, it is folded in half, sealed and then placed in a huge drum of boiling oil and deep fried for 5-10 min. When the empenada is cooked, it is removed from the oil and placed in a tin where another worker wipes off the excess oil, cuts it open to see the ingredients (so you get the one you ordered) and then it is topped with cream, shredded cabbage, cheese and picante sauce. The empenada costs 20 pesos! We ended up standing in line for 1 hour before we were able to eat. In the end, we all agreed that the empenada was good, but we wouldn't stand in line for an hour for another one. We finally returned to the boat around 2100 and were greeted with the groceries that still needed to be put away.
Scenes from the public market
Jan 26, 2008: Another quiet day on the boat. Jim downloaded some of our beach music onto a CD for Scarlett O'Hara. John and Rennie stopped by in the afternoon to pick up the CD. We like to invite sailboaters up to our flybridge; they are always amazed with the view from high up! At 1600 we dinghied over to Playa La Ropa, dropped the anchor and swam to shore. We chit-chatted with other cruisers for a while and then walked the beach with Scarlett O'Hara and Elusive to one of the hotel restaurants for a soda. The beach was being groomed for a sunset wedding -- rows of chairs were set up, the sand was swept and rose petals were tossed making a path towards the canopy. Jim and I left the group early as we had invited Ron (Lazy Days) for dinner. As Rennie said, "Ah, it's your turn to feed the bachelor!" During happy hour on the flybridge, we noticed sunset weddings at two different hotels. Later on, we watched a great fireworks display, most likely from one of the weddings. Jim ran the Sat. night net and we talked with Greg and Nancy (Festima Lente), who are currently in Mazatlan for carnival.
Jan. 25, 2008: Augustino showed up this morning with 3 lobsters...3 very SMALL lobsters, all of which I'm sure were not legal size-wise. To his credit, he did tell Jim that they were small but because they were wrapped in a couple plastic bags (supposedly caught fresh last night and frozen), Jim did not check them out. But even if we had realized how small they were, what would we have done? They were already dead. Afterwards, we headed into town and went our separate ways...Jim went to Rick's and I went off in search of a few supplies. We enjoyed a burger and fries at Rick's and then Jim was roped into chairing the "flare shoot" part of Sailfest. Jason, the chief engineer on Orion, stopped into Rick's briefly and said hello to Jim. (Jim met Jason when Jim was working on Orion in San Diego.) They chatted for a few minutes and Jim told him that the aromas coming off Orion last night drove our taste buds crazy! We picked up the laundry and headed back to our boat. Bocci ball and volley ball were scheduled for 1600 at Playa La Ropa and we'd hinted that we'd be going ashore. The surf break was pretty mild so instead of taking the dinghy, we pumped up our 2-person inflatable kayak and rowed ashore. The upper arms and shoulders are definitely out of shape!! We played a game of bocci ball with Susan and Paul (Frayed Knot, a 40' DeFever out of Phoenix) and won...12 to 11. Must have been beginners' luck! The surf break began picking up as we were on shore -- we wondered what kind of fun we'd be in for when it came time to leave, but in the meantime, it was fun being in the water with the large waves. We returned to the boat at 1815; both cats made no qualms in telling us that they did not appreciate having a late dinner! We cooked our mini lobsters and were very disappointed with the results. Guess we learned a lesson on that one.
Jan. 24, 2008: Augustino, the local diver and boat bottom cleaner, swam by and Jim nabbed him and requested that he clean our anchor chain and flopper stopper lines, which were very grody. Augustino does not have a dive tank -- he free dives. It took him about 1.5 hours but he did a great job. Before he left, he asked if we like lobster. We negotiated a price (150 pesos per kilo) and supposedly he will return with the lobsters tomorrow. Once he left, we headed into town to run errands. We dropped off our laundry, exchanged a dress that I bought when Babs was here and then we registered for Sailfest. We also signed up to take people out on the boat parade which goes from Zihua bay to Ixtapa Bay and back. People pay 250 pesos for the ride; all monies donated during Sailfest go to building/improving schools for the indigent Indian children. These children do not speak Spanish; the goal is to get these children into school, teach them Spanish and then mainstream them into the Mexican school system. With luck, they will earn an education and won't spend their lives peddling Chicklets on the streets. Projects for the day: Jim replaced the bulb in the anchor light and I took an inventory of what's in the freezer (everything except chicken). Orion, the large motor yacht in front of us, was grilling something that smelled delicious! We wondered what they would do if we dinghied over and invited ourselves to dinner! Naturally, we would have brought a bottle of our finest wine with us ... Two Buck Chuck!
Jan. 23, 2008: We decided we wanted to have dinner at Emelio's in Ixtapa (they serve pizza and ribs) so we put an invitation on the morning net for anyone who wanted to join us to meet at the dinghy landing at 1700. Someone was putting together a game of volley ball on Playa LaRopa at 1500 so we donned our swimsuits and dinghied over to where the game was going to be played. Because the surf break was very large, we had decided that we would drop our dinghy anchor outside the surf break and swim into shore. That worked fine going in...it's very easy to roll over the edge of the dinghy and drop into the water. We were there for 1.5 hours and then it was time for us to head back to Mañana to get ready for dinner. However, I wasn't 100% positive that I was going to be able to climb back in the dinghy because the tubes on this new dinghy are much larger than on a regular dinghy. So Jim came up with a plan that he would swim out, climb on board and then bring the dinghy in to me. I was then to hang onto the side lines and he would back out into deeper water and then he'd help me climb aboard. All was going according to plan until he leaned over the side and grabbed me under the armpits to drag me into the dinghy. I had a picture in my mind of what we must look like to the folks on the beach and came down with a serious case of the giggles! So there I lay, half in and half out, laughing too hard to move! Eventually I was able to swing my legs up and into the dinghy. Graceful was NOT the word of the day! Ten of us made the trek to Emelio's. Neither the pizza nor the ribs were disappointing, which helped alleviate the fact that the place wasn't cheap. Guess we should have figured it would be tourist prices as it was in the heart of Ixtapa. But everyone had a good time and thanked us for the invitation. On our way back we stopped at Rick's Bar. He had a great band performing and had warned the morning net that the place would be packed...and sure enough, it was. So Jim and I continued on, stopping for a few minutes to catch a volley ball game at the plaza. We returned to the boat at 2130.
Jan. 22, 2008: Another quiet day on the boat. We ran the generator and made more water. I took advantage of the generator running, dug my iron and sewing machine out and attached the binding to a wall hanging that I started when we were stuck in Bahia Magdalena. Unfortunately now that I've put all this effort into it, I can't decide if I like this wall hanging! Jim and I talked about when we think we'll leave here. Originally we thought we'd leave before Sailfest because we didn't want to be in a crowded anchorage (in the past, Sailfest has drawn about 100 boats to Zihuatanejo). However, as of right now, there is no crowd, which has everyone scratching his head. We're told that normally this time of year there should be about 50 boats at anchor. To date, there are just over 30. So unless another 70 boats show up within the next week, this year's Sailfest is going to be a bust. Anyway, we're thinking we'll hang out here and see what Sailfest is all about but we're drawing the line at volunteering for it. We had BBQ'd chicken for dinner and then watched a movie. We were in bed early making up for last night's late night.
Jan. 21, 2008: It was cruise ship day but I needed to pick up a few items at the public market, so we headed into town early before the crowds and heat got too unbearable. In walking around trying to find the cremeria where we bought the cheese a few weeks ago, we stumbled across a tortilleria that sells whole wheat flour tortillas and a store that sells pollo de carbon (roast chicken). Hopefully I will remember where they are when we are needing more groceries. The surf break had really picked up by the time we returned to the dinghy. Nathaniel and Jim held onto the dinghy as large swells broke onto the beach and then curled under the dinghy. Jim and I hopped in as quickly as possible and Nathaniel gave us a good push out. We were thankful that the engine started on the first try and Jim was able to back us into deeper water before the next swell came in. We were spending a quiet day on the boat when someone put out a call to the fleet asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of the owner of the blue sailboat that was dragging its anchor and headed for the rocks. No one seemed to know; the boat had just come in this morning. But at least a half dozen dinghies came to its rescue. Someone boarded the boat hoping to find the keys in the ignition, but in the meantime, they tossed us a line and we attempted to tow the boat, to no avail. It wasn't more than a minute later when a dinghy came zooming to the boat and two guys got on board saying the matter was in control. Neither guy offered thanks to the group -- guess someone should take the guys aside and teach them the anchorage rules of etiquette! As a note: Mañana's engine keys are left in the ignition just in case this should ever happen to us. Ed (Gambit) joined us for shrimp (in tequila and lime juice) and pasta dinner; he is in bachelor mode since Caroline returned to Calif. and work. We sat up on deck talking until nearly 2300. It was a beautiful night -- the full moon was glistening on the water and it was so peaceful.
Jan. 20, 2008: It seems like we left Ensenada a long time ago, but in fact, it was 2 months ago to the day. The day promised to be a hot one so we got an early start to the grocery store. We returned to the boat with all kinds of goodies and in the process of putting everything away, my domestic diva personality kicked in. I boiled up a few eggs and made us egg salad sandwiches for lunch and then made a large batch of poor man's salad, which will most likely last us for the week. Jim started the water maker up as we were down to 4" of water in the tank. In mid-afternoon Ed (Gambit) shouted over to us that he was able to get the Charger/Patriots football game on his TV. Jim headed on over and I stayed on board Mañana; the galley was a disaster and we didn't want to leave the generator and water maker running on their own.
Aerial shot of Zihuatanejo
Jan. 19, 2008: After repositioning ourselves on the LaRopa side of the bay, we went to Lazy Days at 1000 for a blueberry waffle and bacon breakfast. Crew members from La Sirena and Sea Star were also there. What a treat! I don't think we've had waffles since last May, when Peter and Babs made pecan waffles for us! Chris (Sea Star) made Jim and I a bloody Mary, the first one either of us has ever had. I always thought a bloody Mary consisted of tomato juice, alcohol and a stick of celery, but Chris put in a bit of tabasco sauce, horseradish and worcestershire sauce. In lieu of a celery stick, Cheryl had purchased marinated green beans. Very tasty, indeed! We didn't leave Lazy Days until 1300, and by then we were well into a lazy day of our own, so we returned to the boat and flaked. We are becoming quite the pros when it comes to flaking! We received email from LaVita telling us that our friends on Gael Force are still in Ensenada. I'm not sure why they didn't leave but I know first hand that it takes a huge leap of courage to leave Ensenada harbor.
Jan. 18, 2008: A layed-back day. Jim read while I updated the website. Occasionally on this side of the bay we have free wi-fi, but the signal strength is usually very low and thus the connection is very slow...which I find very irritating when I'm "on a mission"! Jim talked to his dad; they made it home just fine and both managed to avoid the airplane flu. I talked with Colleen; she has accepted a new job that will afford her a heftier paycheck and quite a challenge. She'll be in charge of reorganizing a department that has become stagnant and is now in transition. I have no doubt that she will whip them into shape! The position even comes with an assistant! Congratulations, babe!!
Jan. 17, 2008: Miguel, the taxi driver, offered to take us to the bus station for 90 pesos. Despite it being 10 pesos more than we were charged on the 15th, we agreed and we had a very sedate ride to the Estrella Blanco bus station across from the parque de Papagayo. This was not the same bus station where we had arrived so Jim asked one of the employees if the bus to Zihua would stop here. And the answer was "no." We were told that we needed to be at a different station which was a 10 min. taxi ride away. So we paid another 50 pesos, hopped into the back seat and had the ride from hell! The driver was extremely aggressive and impatient. He had people honking at him from all directions. At times I had to close my eyes - ay! ay! ay caramba! I haven't had damp palms since driving I-5 in San Diego last July!! The DVD player broke during the first movie so almost all but we 2 gringos slept the remainder of the trip (we were admiring the scenery). The bus was pulled over at a security check point and we were boarded by a young man wearing an Army uniform. All carry-on bags were searched (including our 2 backpacks). He was polite, efficient and we were on our way in less than 10 min. The bus stopped briefly in Petatlan, where a blind guitar player boarded the bus. He felt his way down the aisle and stopped next to me. I asked Jim if he thought the guy could smell gringos?! (Jim didn't think so!) We finally pulled into Zihuatanejo 4 hours later and then had a 20 min. wait before hitching a ride with some cruisers heading back to their boat. Ron & Cheryl stopped by yesterday and today and fed the cats; all was well on the boat. Would we recommend a vacation in Acapulco? Yes. If we were to do it again, we would stay on the opposite side of the city because it is closer to several of the tourist attractions. Unfortunately we didn't know about, and therefore, didn't see, the old city, the square, the flea market, etc. Would we recommend the Hyatt? Yes. Psyche reciprocated and invited us for appies on their boat along with Gabriella from Point Zero (out of London).
Cliff Divers in Acapulco
Jan. 16, 2008: After breakfast, we hopped on the "jello" (yellow) bus to the Fuerte de San Diego. The fort was built in 1615 to protect the port of Acapulco from attacks by the many pirate ships that attempted to pillage the city; it is now a historical museum. In the 1700s the major trade route was Acapulco - Phillipines - Acapulco so the museum featured artifacts from that period. We were impressed with how well maintained the museum and the fort were. Afterwards we returned to the hotel, but not before we visited the super Walmart which was across the street from the Hyatt. We spent a couple of hours lying under the palm trees out by the pool, reading and people watching in the afternoon. All age brackets were well represented! We noticed an abundance of Jewish people at the hotel, but weren't sure if they were attracted to Acapulco as a whole, or perhaps the Hyatt caters to them. As I wrote yesterday, we had lunch in the kosher restaurant and a synogogue is on site at the hotel. At 2015 we met our tour guide in the lobby and were chauffered to dinner at the La Perla Restaurant, which overlooks the cliff divers. We were the only couple on this particular tour and therefore lucked out with a table at the lowest level of the restaurant (the restaurant is built into the hillside and has several levels, each with 6-8 tables). The table was ours for the evening. The La Perla Restaurant is where the rich and famous (as well as peons) come to watch the cliff divers show. It has an autograph wall dating back 50 years. Some of the names I saw were: Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, Eddie Fisher, Eddy Arnold, Julio Iglesis, Brooke Shields, Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan, etc. We caught the tail end of the 2030 show and then stayed on for the 2130 and 2230 shows. The price for this tour included a 3 course meal, 1 drink, the show and round trip transportation (US $65 pp). The food was pretty good but the best part was, of course, the cliff divers. We were told that the divers range in age from 16-35. The newer, less experienced, divers dove from mid cliff; there was only 1 diver in each show who dove from the very top, and it is very high up (reported to be between 125'-150') and they dive into a very small basin. Therefore, the diver must time his jump to coincide with an incoming wave, which maximizes the amount of water beneath him (normally about 16'), but the wave cannot be too large because too big a wave will turn the basin into a frothy pool which could allow the diver to be tossed into the cliff walls. During the 2130 show, the lights illuminating the cliff face opposite the diver were turned off and shredded magazine pages were set on fire for the top diver's reference (the blur in the right hand picture is the diver). At the 2230 show, all lights were turned off and the top diver lit 2 hand-held torches, which he dove into the water with. He was not able to see the incoming waves or the cliff opposite him when he dove off. Magnificent! We don't know how/if the divers are paid. On our return trip, our guide told us that about 2 million people live in Acapulco and that in Acapulco (and maybe all of Mexico?) the minimum wage for a worker is 52 pesos PER DAY -- that's less than US $5.50 PER DAY! I can't imagine having to figure out how to live on $35 per week.
Jan. 15, 2008: Michelle taxied us to the beach at 0800; at 0900 we were on the bus heading south. What a great way to travel! Travelling by bus allowed us a glimpse of Mexico that we can't see by boat. The road to Acapulco is 2 lanes, 1 lane in each direction. In between villages and without traffic, the bus could easily do 55 mph. But those spots were rare. Per the norm, buildings in the villages were painted pink, orange, purple, lime, turquoise, yellow, red and of course, white. Burros, horses, cows and goats grazed on the foliage while chickens and roosters ran around and dogs slept in the shade. We passed grove after grove of mango trees and coconut palms. Four hours and 2 1/2 movies later, we arrived Acapulco, or the land of the beetle...VW Beetle, that is! The VW Beetle is the standard taxi. Our trip to the Hyatt was uneventful; the driver's English was very good. We checked in to the Hyatt as 2 tour buses loaded with people unloaded. The room rate for a double standard room was listed as $350 and we were a bit nervous as the travel agency had charged us only $125. However, not only were we given a standard double room, but we were upgraded to a waterfront room WITH a bathtub for no extra charge -- YES!! After lunch in the kosher restaurant, we walked along the malecon for a while and then returned to our room where we read, watched TV and flaked. Surprisingly, it was very cloudy and we both felt it was too cold to go into the pool :-) One of the hotel's restaurants featured an all-you-can eat spaghetti/pizza w/1 drink for 130 pesos. Our table was outside overlooking the beach. The city's beauty is most apparent at night. One of Acapulco's nicknames is "bowl of diamonds" and at dark, thousands of lights in various shades of whites and yellows twinkle and it does, indeed, resemble a bowl, as houses are built up the side of the mountain that surrounds the bay. I don't have to tell you how much I enjoyed my bath -- ah, life is good!
Sunset in Zihuatanejo
Jan. 14, 2008: Jim met Hernan at Rick's. While they were off hunting down a battery and engine oil, I was hunting down treasures. I purchased a gorgeous black onyx turtle whose back is made out of lapis, sunstone and abalone shell. Did a bit of haggling over the price, too! I've come a long way, baby! Then I visited a jewelry store where I bought a lapis teardrop shaped pendant which matches my earrings. Hernan helped Jim get the new battery onto the boat, into the engine room and hauled the old one away. We returned to Rick's and joined friends for lunch before picking up our laundry. The generator was turned on as soon as we returned to the boat. The plan was to get the batteries completely charged and hope they hold while we're gone. Jim hooked up the new battery and all seems fine -- and that's a good thing! Lazy Days stopped by and gave us some pointers of things we should see while in Acapulco; their recommendations are greatly appreciated. We packed for our upcoming adventure.
Jan. 13, 2008: Jerry was very hungry and thirsty this morning; we were both encouraged. I fed him every couple of hours and he seems to be back to normal. Thank goodness! A large motor yacht entered the bay in mid-morning. Jim recognized it as one of his customers (Orion) and hailed it to say hi to one of the crew members he had worked with. The owners are expected on board next week but we're hoping that we'll be able to get together before then. This was errand day; we went ashore, meeting up with the crew of Michelle on the way so we decided to join them for lunch. We tried a new restaurant that had been recommended. Jim and I had chicken tamales and the meal was excellent and extremely reasonable. From there we dropped off the laundry, which was an oversized load due to extra towels and sheets, and then took a taxi to the bus station, where we bought our tickets to Acapulco (Tues - Thurs). Round trip tickets for 2 of us was $48.00 -- not too shabby! Comercial was only a short walk from the bus station. We stuffed our backpacks with meats, cans of tonic water, several of the potato pancakes that Babs and I discovered last week, etc. Another taxi returned us to the port captain's office. We invited Psyche over to dinner. They spent the last 4 days touring a village and we wanted to hear about their trip. They told us of their mistake in taking a bus that the bus ticket labeled as "local". The local bus stops everywhere and it took them 7 hrs. to get to their destination! After they left I checked our tickets and both buses are labeled "local". Great...
What is this??
Jan. 12, 2008: Jim was beginning to come down with a cold so he canceled his appt. with Hernan and slept in. We left the marina at 1030 and took the long route back to the anchorage, as we were running the watermaker. We anchored on the municipal side figuring it is a shorter ride to the beach when hauling the battery, rescheduled for Monday. Jerry hasn't been feeling well these past few days so we aren't sure about going to Acapulco. We will lose our money if we don't go. Seeing turtles has made me want to attempt a wall hanging that I purchased back in 2005 called Herd of Turtles. I've had the material on board for 3 years but hadn't been able to figure out the directions. Last May I brought the pattern with me to Orcas, but Lynn couldn't figure it out either! Fortified by a glass of wine, I dug the pattern and material out, and went with my gut instinct as to how to transfer the pattern onto the fabric. I did so by pinning the two together and then taping them onto the window glass, using the sunlight to illuminate the lines. The process worked very well -- just hope it was correct! Then I spent the rest of the afternoon basting two fabrics together. Jim ran the Southbound net -- he has officially been assigned Saturday nights.
Babs and Peter
Jan. 05-11, 2008: We returned to Zihua Bay where we spent 5 days in La Ropa enjoying sunny days with the temperature hovering in the mid-80s. Babs, Peter and I did laps around the boat while Jim scraped the barnacles off the boat bottom. We also read, caught up with life and enjoyed one another's company. Babs accompanied me to the grocery store; she had a wonderful time going up and down the aisles checking out the various Mexican food products. Mañana hosted happy hour on Monday with Gambit and on Tuesday with Psyche and Lazy Days; it was a nice way to introduce our friends to the folks. Unfortunately on Weds., Jim discovered that the engine start battery had died a premature death; time will tell how many hoops we have to jump through to replace it. We went ashore Weds. afternoon and checked in with Rick regarding how to go about getting a new battery, did some shopping and had planned to dine at La Sirena Gorda (the fat mermaid), but the restaurant turned out to be closed on Wednesdays, so we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Casa Elvira instead. We were delayed heading to Isla Grande on Thursday; we had to wait for Hernan to come by and take a look at the battery. Thank goodness he was prompt -- the "full" light on the holding tank sensor came on mid-morning! Jim and Hernan will meet up Sat. morning and shop for the battery. On the way over to Isla Grande, a humpback whale put on a tremendous show of rolling over in the water and sticking its flippers into the air several times! We had the anchorage pretty much to ourselves in the afternoon although we still had to deal with the jet skis from Playa Linda. We were eventually joined by 3 other sailboats and one mega yacht. That evening, the wind changed direction and we rolled all night long. Definitely not comfortable, but not a whole lot we could do in the dark. We returned to the marina after breakfast on Friday, had a late lunch at a marina restaurant and then took a taxi to the airport. Jim paid the driver 20 pesos extra to put the air conditioner on! For some reason, taxi rides always turn out to be an adventure -- Jim tips heavily if we make it to our destination in one piece! We said good-bye to Peter & Babs and caught a combi back to Ixtapa. We hopped off the combi at the bus station, figuring we might as well buy our tickets to Acapulco while we were here. Now all along, we thought we were going to Acapulco on Monday for 2 days -- Jan. 15-17. We suddenly realized that Jan. 15-17 is Tues-Thurs! Needless to say we didn't buy the bus tickets until we confirmed the hotel dates.
Scenes within Marina Ixtapa
Jan. 04, 2008: Brrr! It was down right cold last night -- 69 degrees! Jim climbed out of bed in the middle of the night and retrieved the quilt that we had just stowed away. Alfonso did a decent job washing the boat; now it's up to me to polish the stainless rails...ah, mañana! Jim went to the office and inquired about the wi-fi connection. It turned out that their wi-fi is broken so he ended up purchasing a card for 2 days' wi-fi use from Performance Marine. After lunch we hopped in the dinghy in search of Poncho, the crocodile. We ran up stream towards the golf course. How people can be playing golf in 85 degree weather is beyond me! Saw birds and iguanas, but no crocodile. We returned to the marina and went through it, stopping by G dock to say hi to Rick on Michele for a couple of minutes before continuing on with our search. We had a lovely tour, saw plenty of mega yachts (one named "Sin or Swim" -- I wonder how that boat got its name?!!) and more iguanas, but no crocs, so we gave up and headed back to our boat. As we were approaching Mañana, I saw something in the water...figures that the crocodile that we were looking for was right off our boat! (someone told me that they can smell cats). `Our laundry was returned late in the afternoon; pricey but I still maintain I'd rather pay a few more dollars than hang around a hot, and usually dirty, laundry room. Peter and Babs arrived 3 hours late...a major storm in the San Francisco area held them up.
Jan. 03, 2008: We passed on an invitation to go snorkeling with Surf Ride and Wingstar; Jim was anxious to head into the marina. We arrived at Marina Ixtapa at 1100 but had to wait our turn at the fuel dock. When it was our turn, we took on 1547 liters of diesel @ 7.09 pesos per liter (408 gallons @ ~$2.48) -- we had one very thirsty boat, but not bad at all given the fact that we topped up in Turtle Bay (WAY back when!!). We'd been warned that it would be unbearably hot in the marina, plus we were told not to allow the cats on deck. Apparently Poncho (the resident crocodile) has a nose for boats with cats. Therefore, we decided to limit our stay to just 2 nights. No sense in spending money when we can sit at anchor for free and DC and Jerry can roam the decks. We turned on the air conditioner and every fan; still, it was 88 inside the cabin. After lunch we took a walk taking in the lay of the land. There is nothing here except 4 or 5 expensive restaurants and a couple of shops that sell bathingsuits. Jim hired Alfonso to wash the exterior of the boat tomorrow morning. Once the sun set, we were out on deck putting things away and Jim cooked the poblano chilis on the grill. There's nothing like company coming to make us straighten up the boat! The marina offers free wi-fi but the signal strength is so low that neither of us can get hooked up. That is what you call a worthless benefit!
Bullet hole compliments of Mexican Navy
Jan. 02, 2008: Ed (Gambit) rowed over early and requested a ride to the beach at 0945 as they are going on an overnight trip and didn't want to leave their dinghy on the beach unattended. This worked out perfectly for us as we had plans to visit the public market for last-minute vegetables. We picked up our passengers and headed to shore. Caroline hopped out of the dinghy when we reached the beach, lost her footing and went over backwards onto the sand! So Jim took her and Ed back to their boat so she could change and Rhonda and I waited on shore. When they returned to the beach, the guys wouldn't let Caroline get out of the dinghy...they carried her onto the beach so she wouldn't fall in again! We said our good-byes to Doc Alex and Rhonda; they fly back to Sacramento on Sat. Jim and I picked up most of what we needed (forgot the cabbage) and then stopped at a travel agency. We made reservations at the Hyatt Regency in Acapulco (la-ti-da!) for 2 nights after Peter & Babs leave. The Hyatt is definitely an upscale hotel; Jim just might have to put shoes on! We returned to the boat, stowed the groceries, dinghy and flopper-stoppers and headed out to Isla Grande for the night. We need to make water and had heard this is a nice spot. On our way there we passed 2 whales. The anchorage was crowded with luxury motor yachts, jet skis, banana boats, dinghies, etc. In other words, the anchorage was an absolute zoo and we couldn't figure out what the draw was between this vs. Zihua Bay. In hindsight, we probably should have just moved over to La Ropa. As Jim was lowering the port side flopper-stopper, he called me out on deck and pointed to our new rub rail. I followed his finger and saw a 1/4" round hole on the flat surface of the rail and the edge is splintered...BINGO! We just found the bullet. Unfortunately from our position on the deck we couldn't tell whether the bullet was still lodged into the wood, but there's no doubt in our minds of what caused it. The scarey part of this is that the indentation is on the other side of where our pillows are. Guess we had an angel with us that night...thanks mom! The yachts were gone by 2000, leaving the anchorage peaceful with only us and 3 sailboats.
Jan. 01, 2008: Felix Año Nuevo! 2008 was ushered in with fireworks and bullets -- what a combination!! Today's project was for Jim to tackle the heating loop for the furnace; there was a small leak somewhere and I decided it was time to fix the problem. After all, the leak has been with us for 5 years!! (ah, mañana!) The heating loop is the easiest and quickest way for us to make hot water for the day, as opposed to running the generator for over an hour. In the process of fixing that, the generator stopped running (again) so we then had to deal with that. Jim discovered one of the relays was bad; hopefully that is the entire problem. At 1800 we rowed over to Psyche for dinner with Kathy & Steve. We spent 3 hours talking and laughing, confirming our cruising experiences. Because the wind had kicked up, Jim decided to start the engine to get us back to our boat, rather than rowing "up hill". We talked to Colleen and Peter -- it's always good to hear a loved one's voice.
Dec. 31, 2007: After lunch we headed into town as I was in dire need of a haircut. I was given a recommendation for Josef's salon, next to where we had dinner last night. The price was 150 pesos, expensive, but much better than the salon that had quoted me 540(!) pesos. The gal gave me a pretty decent haircut, after which she put a waxy goop on it. This waxy stuff was nasty! I washed my hair twice when we returned to the boat and I still didn't get it all out. We headed back into town at 1830 with Ron and Cheryl. The hamburguesa cart that they had raved about was open for business so we all got a burger. Yes, it was muy delicioso and only 30 pesos per burger! The burger contained oaxaca cheese, american cheese and a grilled slice of ham on a toasted bun, topped with avacado, diced tomatoes and onions, chilis, lettuce, mustard, mayo and ketchup. We sat on a bench on the pier watching the fishing charter boats come in as we ate. Cheryl had brought along a bottle of champagne, so that's what we washed down the burgers with! From there we walked downtown and ran into Bob (Scoggins), whom we'd met in the Sea back in 2004 and Steve & Kathy (Psyche -- yes, they are both shrinks), who are anchored behind us. We grabbed a couple of tables at Rick's and enjoyed the jam session. At 2230 the 6 of us headed back to the anchorage.
Dec. 30, 2007: The report on Peter is that it was not a compound fracture but he broke his ankle in 2 places. He and Elaine have checked themselves into a hotel for a while. Ron & Cheryl stopped by and we made plans to hang out together tomorrow night. None of us wants to be out at midnight -- we've already been forewarned that the bullets will be flying at midnight. Jim and I decided it was time for a great adventure. We walked to the main drag in search for the bus to Ixtapa. The first challenge to overcome was where to catch the bus. We asked one man and he pointed in 3 different directions so we decided to write his directions off! It turned out we were on the wrong side of the street; somehow we'd gotten ourselves turned around as to where, exactly, Ixtapa is! Ixtapa is a 20 min. bus ride from downtown Zihua. It's a relatively new city, basically created for the tourists and the 5 star multi-storied hotels. We deboarded at Playa Linda and immediately went to check out the crocodiles down in the stream. There were 7 or 8 good-sized crocs (~10') lazing in the water. Egrets hung out in the tree branches and a couple of iguanas were on the land. I wondered if the crocs considered the iguanas lunch. From there we walked over to the beach, which was very crowded with Mexican families. Colorful umbrellas dotted the beach; you can rent the umbrellas and tables, chairs or chaise lounges. As with Zihua, the banana boat was popular, as was the parasail. Horseback riding was also available. We stopped at La Palapa for lunch. Jim had grilled jumbo shrimp and I had chicken fajitas; both meals were very tasty, although a bit pricey. After a while, we headed back to Zihua. Groceries needed to be purchased. Surprisingly we haven't been able to find flour tortillas. This is Mexico! They've got to be sold someplace! But we found eggs, some delicious Oaxaca and Chihuahua cheeses and a half dozen rolls. Around 1900 we saw a bright light at our stern and a shout "Ahoy Mañana!" Gambit (Ed and Caroline) and friends (Doc Alex and Rhonda) were headed into town and wanted to know if we would join them. We met them at the dinghy landing a few minutes later. This was our first time in 2 weeks that we had come into town after dark and the place was packed! We watched a dance performance that took place along the malecon, then we walked to a restaurant where we had shrimp tacos (yum!) and margaritas. After that we walked to Coconuts, another restaurant, for an after-dinner drink (which we needed like a hole in the head) and music. Two men played guitar and bongo drums, singing Mexican songs; they were very good, the music definitely placing us in Mexico although with Ed singing "one ton tomata" on one side of me and Jim singing "ey, ey, ey, ey, I am the frito bandito" on my other side, I didn't have a prayer in learning the real words to the songs!! Coconuts was most definitely a gringo restaurant with gringo prices. Returning to the dinghy, we passed under a tree and noticed bats, as in LOTS of bats, flying around. Jim was fascinated; I thought they were creepy -- there's your venus vs. mars personalities!! We returned to the boat at 2300, very happy with ourselves and today's happenings!
Dec. 29, 2007: My debut on the VHF and I don't think I did too badly given the fact that we never picked up the cheat sheet from Rick's and I was going solely on memory of the categories (difficult because 1: I'm over 50 and 2: I've got cruiseheimers)! Received lots of "atta girls" and one person even offered me a full-time position -- no thank you! We headed to shore afterwards, not really certain what we were looking for. We found one eye doctor, but he didn't speak English, so we continued walking around (we have a very good walking map courtesy of Rick's that identifies everything we could possibly need. It even identified an English speaking doctor). With a little help, we found the doctor. Although I had no appointment, he took me right away, did a consultation and a quick ultrasound of my internal organs and heart. What that had to do with an eye infection, I have no idea, but he pronounced me healthy and said there was no charge for the ultrasound. He wrote me a prescription and I was able to obtain one of the medicines at his pharmacy. Total bill for everything: 400 pesos (or less than $40). We walked around the block to the pharmacy that he recommended and I bought 2 more medicines for an additional $38. All in all, not a bad experience whatsoever! We detoured our way back to the boat, realizing that we should have stopped at the public market for tortillas and gin, but we were both too hot. We spent the afternoon reading. I discovered that the free wi-fi site was back; I updated the website and received email but could not send. There was a medical emergency in the anchorage around 1800; Peter (Elainium) fell into an open hatch on his boat and fractured his ankle. He was lucky that Gambit is an EMT and just happened to have a guest on board who is a doctor. They assisted Peter and got him into a dinghy and to shore, where a taxi was waiting to transport Peter to the hospital. It's times like this that we give thanks that the cruising community is made up of just about every occupation and everyone is willing to chip in.
Dec. 28, 2007: Today's Zihuatanejo cruiser's net was in need of a net controller for tomorrow. No one spoke up and Jim convinced me that I should do it, so...! Hopefully I won't be the day's comedy routine! Cheryl (Lazy Days) stopped by and we traded bags of books. We're still in good shape when it comes to reading material. She and Ron have been to Acapulco a few times so we picked her brain. What we learned is that available slips in the marina are hard to come by and if you manage to get one, be prepared to spend $4.00/ft -- yikes! Maybe we'll look into taking the bus down for a day or two. We would both like to see the cliff divers, something Cheryl confirmed was worth seeing. We stayed on board reading, but I've noticed that my eyes seem to have a problem...by late morning, my eyes are continually filled with "sleep". Although I hate the thought, I'm going to have to find an eye doctor to see if I have an infection (had this problem several years ago and needed eye drops).
Dec. 27, 2007: After yesterday's washing machine torment, we decided to move back to the municipal anchorage. In Zihuatanejo you can have clean water but be over run with tourists on jet skis or have yukky water, but relatively few crazies; but you can't have it all! There are definitely pros and cons to both anchorages. At Playa Ropa, you are bow/stern anchored, so you're always bow into the sea swells and comfortable. You can put up a sun screen and not have to move it. In the municipal anchorage, you get to watch the bird life, but here, it's bow anchor only, so sometimes you have to deal with the rolls and we are frequently moving our sun shade from one side of the boat to the other. Oh well! We had a burger at Rick's for lunch and then caught a taxi to the Comercial supermercado -- air conditioned and heavenly! We took our sweet time shopping, stocking up on canned goods, wines and even found tonic water. Decided to wait to buy the fresh fruits/veggies at the public market. We caught another taxi back to the beach. The driver actually dropped us off at the port captain's office, so the walk to the dinghy was minimal, which was very nice because we were ladened with heavy backpacks and bags. Around here, many people's wages are dependent upon tips, so, of course, we tipped the waitress, then tipped the first taxi driver, tipped the bag boys, tipped the girl in the paqueteria, tipped the young kids who helped carry our bags to the return taxi, tipped the return taxi driver and finally, tipped Nathaniel, the guy who watches the dinghies. We were both wiped out from our trip to the market and actually climbed into bed early. I think last night was the first decent night's sleep I've had in a long time. I guess you get tired enough and you will eventually sleep!
Dec. 26, 2007: We spent a quiet day on the boat, although the bay around us had us feeling like we were in a washing machine. Other than that, it was just another day in paradise!
Dec. 25, 2007: Feliz Navidad! The Mexicans greet the holiday at midnight with gun shots, and lucky us, the Mexican Navy is anchored a short distance from us. So we were awakened quite rudely by the pop-pop-pop-pop of automatic weapons coming from our port side (the Navy) and from our starboard side (the town). In the middle of all the pops was a thunk. Mr. Newton hit the definition of gravity on the head; what goes up must come down, and a bullet came down on our boat. Talk about scaring the sh*t out of us! The gunshots went on for about 20 minutes. We searched the decks at daylight, looking for the bullet, but didn't find it (yet), nor did we see it imbedded into the cabin. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!! It was another beautiful day in paradise. Jim talked to his folks and brother, we had lunch and then hopped in the dinghy and headed to Playa Las Gatas, yet another area in Zihua's bay. It was a bit challenging getting the dinghy to the beach because of a dead coral reef that stood in shallow water and in the end, Jim ended up rowing us to shore. We walked the beach, which was teeming with families enjoying the holiday. Our Mexican steak wasn't bad (our experience has shown Mexican beef to be hit or miss) and I paired it with couscous and stir-fry veggies, to which I added a little hot sauce. A lovely merlot from Jeff P, a former DMJM co-worker, rounded out the dinner.
Dec. 24, 2007: We had a very productive morning. Jim installed the floor moldings only to discover that we were 1 strip short. Oh well! He did a great job and it's nice to see the job (mostly) complete. Afterwards he jumped into the water and started scrubbing the boat bottom while I swept and washed the main salon floor. I, too, hopped into the water while the floor dried. It felt SOOO good! Neither of us dared to swim too far from the boat because the jet skis sometimes use us as target practice, but the coolness of the water felt great. I grabbed a brush and gave the exterior of the boat hull a salt water wash while my bathing suit dried. Of course I needed to go back in after the exertion, but didn't. We headed to shore around 1330, dressed for our Christmas Eve dinner at Rick's. I wore a skirt that came well below my knees and realized the problem with this as soon as we hit the beach. If I'm lucky, Nathaniel (the dinghy attendant) will pull us far enough up on the beach so I don't have to step in the water. He calls me la reina (queen)! So I lucked out going ashore this time. On the way to Rick's we passed by the local pet shop where a tiny orange cat sat in a cage crying. At first we thought he was busy scratching himself as he meowed, but we quickly discovered that his back right leg was deformed -- it was too long! Oh, my heart sank -- how I wanted to take that little kitten home with us. Jerry and his brother Ben (now deceased) both are missing part of their right rear leg. This kitten would have been a perfect fit for our boat. Jim walked away praying that I wouldn't say anything. I know that if we didn't have DC on board I would have walked away with a new crew member. We sat at a table with boats Michelle, Psyche and Gambit; the food was unbelieveably delicious and the company was enjoyable. When we returned to the dinghy at 1745, the surf break was a bit higher than earlier and I was forced to hike my skirt up. Ah, the joys of trying to be a lady!
Lots of Little Fish!
Dec. 23, 2007: Jim wasn't feeling that great so we spent a quiet day on the boat. We ran the generator and put 24" of water in the tank; I always like it when water goes into the tank. I'm very stingey about taking it out! Today didn't seem as crazy in the anchorage as yesterday -- perhaps because it's Sunday? Lazy Days is all lit up for Christmas. We were admiring her lights and I commented, "Wow! That must be costing them a pretty amp!" Yes, what I'd like for Christmas is 200 amps, please! Both cats are shedding BIG time. DC started tossing up fur balls, so I've been brushing them daily. Jerry loves it. I swear he will be bald before the end of the week! I run the brush over his coat and with one swipe, the brush is full. I'm not getting that much fur off of DC, but he, too, is enjoying the attention. DC hates the jet skis, but more than that, the boat behind us has a little yipper schnauzer on board that also hates the jet skis and barks whenever one passes by the boat. I think DC is annoyed to think that we are in the middle of no where and there's a barking dog nearby (he has a healthy respect for dogs)!
Dec. 22, 2007: Jim ran errands in one direction while I headed off to the public market. We agreed to meet back at Rick's. Despite the fact that today was Saturday and a couple days before Christmas, the market wasn't very busy. I purchased a few vegetables at a couple different stands; the limes were better at one, the tomatoes better at another. I also purchased 6 rolls and 2 steaks. I'm a bit uncomfortable about the steaks because they rarely refrigerate anything and these were up on the counter with no covering, etc. But the shop looked clean and the meat looked good. We rendezvoused at Rick's, had a soda and then returned to the boat. Shortly thereafter, we headed out of the bay for a few minutes and re-anchored at La Ropa. The boats on this side of the bay use both a bow and stern anchor. We've done it a couple of times, but not recently. Jim reported that the new stern anchor that he purchased is much easier to handle than the old one and it seemed to grab on the first try. The water is supposedly better over here, but this side of the bay is where the nice resorts are -- nice resorts having all sorts of beach toys for the vacationers to rent. We felt like we were in a washing machine for the majority of the afternoon and wondered whether we should have stayed where we were. Additionally, we don't have access to the free wi-fi site that I had been using. I guess time will tell how long we stay over here.
Dec. 21, 2007: We headed into town early in the morning and dropped the laundry off. Unfortunately it won't be ready until tomorrow, which means we'll stay put on this side of the bay for now. We returned to the grocery store and picked up a few items, and then walked to Waldo's, a store that sells just about everything, for additional items. We like Zihua. It's definitely smaller than Ensenada or LaPaz; the people are friendly and helpful. We haven't seen evidence of the poverty that exists up north, although I'm sure it's here. One thing that we have noticed, however, is that the drivers do not stop for pedestrians. This is the first city we've been in where it is that way. Another difference is that the streets are paved with paving bricks, which is a huge help in keeping the dust down. I had originally planned to finish putting the Christmas decorations up once we got here, but with the temperature 90 degrees, I'm having trouble convincing myself that it is winter, much less that it is Christmas! Jim & I have agreed not to exchange gifts or stocking stuffers. My one concession is Christmas music.
Dec. 20, 2007: Jim signed up for a couple of dives and was gone until mid-afternoon. I sat up on the flybridge reading a Ken Follet novel, enjoying the shade and slight breeze. A Carnival cruise ship is in port and the bay was foamy with crazy gringos let loose on jet skis. Sometimes I feel almost embarassed. Jim had a great time diving and left his gear at the dive shop, with full intention of going again while we're here. He saw sea horses, moray eels, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and an octopus. I talked to Lazy Days this morning. They are anchored over on the other side of the bay. It sounds like it is a different world over there, so after running errands in the morning, we'll re-anchor. The thought of being to hop in the water to cool off is very appealing right now.
Panganeros at Sunset
Dec. 19, 2007: Woo hoo! I found cans of black beans! Jim and I were out walking around town, still acclimating ourselves and actually looking for a light bulb. In addition to finding the light bulb we also found our favorite low cal powdered drink, black beans AND tonic water! Talk about scoring big time! We also bought a new chip for the cell phone, but a call to Peter made us realize that we are hooked up to the wrong plan. That will be addressed tomorrow. There's another algae bloom (or perhaps it's red tide?) in the anchorage. The water, normally pretty grody looking, is now seriously grody! For the past several days, small dead fish have floated on top. Still, the panganeros continue to fish. I wouldn't eat anything caught out of this side of the bay -- in fact, I won't stick my feet in the water! However, Zihua is doing its best to clean up the pollution caused by 20 years of ignorance, but they have a long way to go. Jim has arranged to go diving tomorrow so he spent most of the morning getting the camera and his gear together.
Dec. 18, 2007: On the thought that cruisers should do one, and only one project a day, Jim put non-skid on the entry step into the cabin. We each have slipped several times and we didn't want Dad or Babs slipping. It only took about a year to do...Mañana living up to her name! We went back into town for lunch. I brought a bag full of paperbacks and we traded them out at Rick's. We signed up for Xmas Eve dinner -- all you can eat turkey and fixings. It's a bit pricey, but we've decided not to exchange gifts. We then went to the ferreteria (hardware store) where Jim bought some paint and a piece of PVC pipe for upcoming projects. I really wanted to find the supermercado but had left the map back on the boat and the location I remembered turned out to be the public market. Interesting, but not where I was going to find a can of black beans! We walked side streets back to the beach and returned to the boat claiming it was time for a siesta. A cruise ship was in port today. It took up a good chunk of the harbor, but was on the other side of the bay and ferried people over to this side. It left at 1400, so not too bad of an intrusion. Interestingly, the cruise ships would like to build a cruise ship dock in the harbor. The locals are against it, although they realize that their livelihood depends on tourist dollars. Given what we saw in Ensenada, we don't think it would be in the best interest for Zihua, but that's just our opinion.
Dec. 17, 2007: A restful night, but a hot one. After breakfast Jim climbed into the lazarette to check out the generator, which had stopped working on our trip south while making water. He couldn't find anything wrong with it, although it was a little low on oil. He changed the oil and then started the generator; it ran fine, so he turned on the air conditioner and it still ran fine. We don't know if the low oil was the cause of it not running; I guess time will tell. Just before lunchtime we lowered the dinghy and went ashore. First stop was the Capitain de Puerto for our entrada de Zihuatanejo. So painless(!) and the port captain confirmed that we will not need to redo our paperwork to show additional crew when Peter & Babs arrive. From there we made our way to Rick's Bar; his restaurant's motto is "where cruisers meet". We each had a burger and fries for lunch -- not as cheap as a fish taco, but very good! Then we went in search of what REALLY brought us down to Zihua -- enamel-painted wooden plates! Yes! That's right! Lazy Days has 2 and I fell in love with them the moment I saw them. It really would have been much cheaper and easier if I had just purchased one on Ebay, but truth be told, I looked and none were offered! We made our way to the back of one of the bazaar stalls. The saleslady was more than happy to take down just about every wooden plate she had for sale, and such a deal she had for us, her amigos! Jim and I eventually settled on 2 plates; one a very Mexican looking painting and the other a brightly-colored fish on a yellow background. The plates weren't cheap (550 pesos for 2 and that was after negotiating) but I'm happy with the purchase, although I'm beginning to wonder if I would have been better off buying a platter or a bowl instead of a 2nd plate. Well, I know where the shop is if I change my mind! :-) Zihua is not at all what I thought it would be, but I like it. Jewelry stores are everywhere, Taxco silver being very popular. Supposedly a cruise ship comes into port but I don't know when and I don't know where it anchors. I'm thinking it would take up the majority of the anchorage if it comes inside. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. There's much to explore; we will easily fill our time. Although it was hot and muggy, there was a comfortable breeze. We haven't noticed any bugs, which makes sitting up on the flybridge after dark a very good thing!
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