Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Feliz Ano Neuvo

Happy New Year from Philo's here in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dragons in the Trees

A few days ago we were walking down by the plaza and noticed a local looking up into the trees. We followed his gaze and discovered several huge iguanas lounging in the afternoon sunshine. He came over to us and pointed out many more iguanas. There were at least 30 in one tree and a few of them were almost 6' long. Two of those really big ones were displaying aggressive behavior towards one another; head bobbing, open mouths, lunging at each other. Finally one of them lunged too far and fell out of the tree. He didn't seem hurt and scrambled back up where his competitor was to continue the contest.

The photo above is one of the medium sized ones; only about 4' long. The video below is of him enjoying his lunch of mesquite leaves.

http://youtu.be/5p0Libley6s

For anyone here in La Cruz who wants to visit the Unofficial Iguana Preserve, it is in those trees in the middle of the photo, just southeast of the plaza. You can see them from the sidewalk next to the bathroom building of the loncheria there, or from the road into the marina

Friday, December 26, 2014

At The Fish Market

We felt like having tuna for dinner. Do you think this will be enough?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pescado a la Veracruzana

The town of La Cruz has a lively fish market just steps from our slip. The pangas come in every day with Dorado, Tuna, Red Snapper,  Lobster, Crab, Octopus, Squid, and Shrimp. We recently bought a 2 lb. Huachinango (red snapper) to make Pescado a la Veracruzana.
We felt like we were having Gourmand Night in Mexico. The ingredients were all easily found here in town: red snapper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, green olives, capers, and I added a little squash.

First you roast the jalapeño over the fire and set it aside to cool.

Then you sauté the vegetables, add the spices and olives, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Finally you sauté the fish fillets, top with the sauce, and serve.
You can easily find a recipe online. If you can find really fresh snapper fillets, give it a try; I think you'll like it.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Farmers Market

There is a Farmers Market every Sunday here in La Cruz. It starts about 10:00 am, so we walked over after breakfast to see what they had.
There were one or two stalls with fresh vegetables, but mainly it was handicrafts and prepared food stalls. We bought frisée lettuce and baby zucchini at this stall. We also bought some Italian sausage and some salami. We are trying to stock up the boat again for our trip south. We spend a lot of time thinking about, planning for, shopping for, and preparing meals.

And here is today's lunch: frisée salad with roasted beets, orange slices, and pecans.

Thank you Frank and Judy for your contribution; the mandarin orange flavored olive oil was perfect in the dressing.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

An Evening in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

We had an interesting evening last night here in La Cruz. As we walked out of the marina gates and past the plaza we realized the Posada was forming up. There was a young girl dressed as Mary on a little burro led by Joseph. Behind them were assorted angels and children from the town, and around the edges were the proud parents. As we walked towards Philo's Bar (where all the gringos hang out) the parade swarmed around us. Obviously, they were headed there too!

When the parade arrived at Philo's, Mary and Joseph stopped to seek shelter. The children began the singing by asking for lodging for Mary. The adults answered (in song) that there was no room. Again the children asked for shelter and were denied, so finally the parade moved off to another home to try again. It was so cute to see the kids and all their families participating in the Posada.

Eventually we got settled in at Philo's, had dinner and drinks, and enjoyed the live music and dancing.
I am posting this video especially for our friends Larry and Trudy on their boat Sun Song II in St. Augustine, Florida. The music reminded us of them and all the good times we had together in Mexico all those years ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Little Adventure

Yesterday we decided to go to Servin Yacht Service to pay for our new batteries. So we walked up to the main road here in La Cruz and hopped on one of the little buses labeled "Nuevo Vallarta".

Some buses are large like the ones back home, but these little buses are 10 passenger vans and go a little faster. After bouncing along for about 10 miles we got off and took a taxi the rest of the way to Paradise Village Resort, Spa, Marina, and Zoo. Yes, they have two tigers and several parrots to amuse the guests.
This place is amazing; it's like Disneyland or Las Vegas! Not only is it elaborately designed and constructed, but it's impeccably maintained.
And we were going here to buy batteries?! Yes, tucked into a little building on the waterfront, right next to the Harbormaster's office was Servin Yacht Service where we found Jorge. He is wonderfully kind and patient and speaks fluent English.

After finishing our transaction we crossed the harbor in the water taxi and had red snapper for lunch at Ochos Tostadas.

Ochos Tostadas is close to the Dolphin Adventure (where you can swim with the dolphins) and the Sea Lion show. We actually saw one of the sea lions walking down the sidewalk on its way to work.
 
After saying "Adios" to the exotic birds, we took a slightly cleaner version of a little bus home (I don't think they allow the dusty ones near Paradise Village), stopping at the Mega store to get cash from the Scotia Banc that's right next door, and picking up a few groceries as we walked back to the marina. It was a very expensive day, but a very interesting day too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Things Cruisers Deal With....

That They Don't Usually Post About


NETS & FISHING LINES
Sunday morning as we were motor-sailing along just out of Chacala, the captain suddenly put the motor in neutral and said, "We caught a fishing line".

We got the boat hook and after a few tries we managed to push the 3/8" yellow nylon line down and off of our rudder skeg. Unfortunately we were still caught in a monofilament line which was attached to the nylon rope. It was smaller and much harder to see, so we finally launched the dinghy to get a better angle. After a few more tries we pushed it off the skeg and went on our way.

These fishing lines and nets are quite common down here. Some boaters just cut lines like this, but we would rather try to extricate ourselves without damaging anything because what we damage has to be replaced by the poor fishermen.


PAPERWORK
Paperwork is one of the things that I get real tired of doing. In America you can sail your boat anywhere, anytime, no paperwork required. But here in Mexico you must check in and out of every port at the Port Captain's office. It reminds us of filing a flight plan, so it's not totally impossible, but you have to go to their office to do it; you can't just call on the radio.

They want to see your Vessel Documentation, your Temporary Import Permit, and sometimes your Passport. You fill out a form telling the length of your stay and where you will be going next.

Hey, we are retired! We have no idea how long we will be somewhere or where we are going next. But we usually come up with enough answers to satisfy them, and we can always go back and change the details if we change our mind.

REPAIRS
So far on this trip we have dealt with recurring refrigeration issues and now battery issues. It seems our seven year old batteries are reaching the end if their lives so we have ordered new ones which should arrive next Monday. They aren't cheap, but, Merry Christmas to us.

As I understand it, when you are on shore power your battery charger keeps the batteries up near 100% power. When you are on the hook your engine's alternator (or solar panels) just don't keep them topped up, so you are constantly drawing them down into the 50-80% range and that shortens their life. We were lucky to limp along as long as we did with these. When the new batteries are installed we will be more diligent about tracking charging/discharging cycles and keeping them topped up with the generator.


So those are just a few of the things cruisers deal with but don't usually post about.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Approaching La Cruz

If every passage was like this, everyone would be out cruising. Sliding along at 6-7 knots in 12-17 knots of wind. Lovely!




Friday, December 12, 2014

Chacala

We arrived here in Chacala Wednesday afternoon. After checking in with the Capitania de Puerto yesterday, we wandered over to a palapa on the beach and had a nice lunch of Camarones a la Diabla.

This morning we awoke to clouds and a large surge from the southwest. We had put out a stern anchor the night before so it was easy to let out a little more rode to keep our bow into the surge.
Because of the dreary weather we thought it would be a "stay at home" day and I made heuvos rancheros for breakfast.

Then I sewed a little project I've been wanting to do for a long time. We have these nice teak seats on the cockpit coaming and the stainless steel rails make a perfect backrest, but the rail starts hurting after a while. So I bought a pool noodle in La Paz and made two little backrests and covered them with Sunbrella.

This is the first time I've sewn anything in a lumpy anchorage, but it went okay and I'm glad I brought my sewing machine.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

La Tovara

When we were in San Blas we went on a boat tour to a park called La Tovara. The tour took us through the mangroves and to a natural spring where there is a little restaurant and a place to swim.

Along the way our panga driver/guide stopped and pointed out animals. We saw lots of birds and I got a few good photos; like this Great Egret,

a Great Blue Heron,

a Bare-Throated Tiger Heron,

a Boat-billed Heron,

and a White Ibis.

We also saw turtles and.....

Crocodiles!

After our tour we had lunch at Garza Canela a nice hotel that often arranges birding tours for tourists. (Garza Canela means cinnamon heron, which is what they call the boat-billed heron here in Mexico.)

The food was delicious and reminded us of some of our gourmand dinners back home.




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Riding the Buffaloes



Click on link below to see our ride on the buffaloes.
Sailing downwind in a "Norther".

Isla Isabel


On our way to San Blas we stopped at Isla Isabel which is a Unesco Bird Sanctuary. We enjoyed the unspoiled character of the island and the way the birds were unafraid of humans.

By moving slowly we were able to get quite close to these blue footed boobies.


There was a raised patio area where we could observe the frigates on their nest sites from above. This male frigate bird is puffing up his throat to attract a female. It was nesting season, so we noticed many frigates carrying twigs and grass up to the trees to build their nests.

I found a nice website about the island that includes a great video. I hope you enjoy it. Isla Isabel adventure.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Flowers of San Blas

Here in San Blas the climate is more tropical than Baja and many interesting flowers grow. Here are some we've seen on our walks around town.





Yesterday we ended up at a palapa on the beach where we had lunch: camarones al mojo de ajo, or shrimp in garlic sauce.


This was our view out across the beach.




Sunday, December 7, 2014

San Blas

We arrived in San Blas on the mainland yesterday afternoon. Our chart plotter shows our position.
Apparently our boat is capable of traveling overland! Actually, this just illustrates how lame the charts outside the US are.
San Blas has two rock jetties protecting the entrance to the harbor. There are red and green channel buoys too. Yet none of these are shown on the chart plotter. Luckily we are old river rats, so nosing our way over the bar and up the river to the marina wasn't too nerve wracking. Well, maybe it was a little nerve wracking when the depth sounder was showing only two feet under the keel!
We are at a dock for the first time in three weeks and we will stay here a few days so we can wash the boat, do a little laundry, and reprovision.

Added later:
Here is our actual position shown on my iPhone driving directions. Maybe I should use that program to navigate Mexico's harbors.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Goodbye La Paz

We are leaving La Paz today to head to the mainland. We intend to stop a little further South (maybe Isla Cerralvo?) before we jump across.
         La Paz Christmas Decorations

It has been a pleasant stay in La Paz, and we will miss our friends here, but it's time to move on. Some of the "Ha Ha" crowd is heading across this week, so we'll have buddies when we arrive.
(Don't expect any posts for at least a week or so.)