Saturday, February 19, 2011

Feeling Like We're Home

We pulled into the marina in La Cruz in Banderas Bay (near Puerto Vallarta) at approximately 11:30 a.m. today after having been followed by a pod of dolphins and having had a mama and baby whale duo breach about a boat length off our starboard bow.  This after a relatively uneventful 19 hour overnight passage from Tenacatita Bay.  The timing for our arrival had to be just right in order to round Cabo Corrientes in early morning; at any other time the seas and winds can be extreme.  We couldn't have planned it better:  the seas were flat calm as the sun rose, with a full moon still behind us.

It really feels like home here.  After all, we spent at least 3 months last season in the area so we know it well.  We heard the usual characters over the morning VHF net even before we docked.  We saw some familiar boats and some friends that we hadn't seen for a while.  We'll spend the next 4 days here getting ready for our trip to California for a bat mitzvah and a bar mitzvah, as well as some re-provisioning.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a great little town that has both benefited and suffered from this relatively new marina.  It used to be a sleepy fishing village but now boasts several excellent restaurants and some marina services.  However, many of those with beachfront property soon found themselves facing a high cement wall, landfill, and the ominousness of condos that will soon go up. On the other hand, business is good for the residents of this town, and the fisherman have a beautiful new Mercado de Pescado (Fish Market) to sell their catches.  The whole place felt magical to us as we walked the streets this evening discovering what was new since we left last spring.

And it feels much like home.

Marina Riviera Nayarit
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico

Friday, February 18, 2011

Paradise Shattered by 10-Day Cleanse

IMG_0227 We are currently anchored off the Tamarindo Resort at the very south end of Tenacatita Bay.  If I thought that other places along the way were paradise, I was wrong.  This is it.  Gorgeous homes and bungalows for rent at a high price, gorgeous grounds, IMG_0236gorgeous pool, great (but PRICEY food) and nothing to do but relax.  There are hammocks and hammock beds through out the grounds.  And there is barely anyone here.  This is where I want to come when I want peace and tranquility in my vacations.

Did I say the food was great?  I actually wouldn’t know much about the food.  I’m on Day 9 of a 10 day cleanse.  The Master Cleanse.  The cleanse to end all cleanses.  The drink-only-lime-juice-mixed-with-water-maple-syrup-and-cayenne cleanse.  And try-to-fit-in-3-to-4-bowel-movements-(NOT)-in-between-with-the-help-of-herbal-laxatives cleanse.  The create-a-situation-in-which-you-alienate-your-entire-family-with-your-bitchiness cleanse.  No food.  Oh, but you can also indulge in herbal teas if you want some variety.  How thoughtful.

I decided to do a cleanse to see if it will help my headaches, migraines, food sensitivities, bloating, constipation (see blog It's Time to Address the Stick), and other maladies I tend to kvetch about.  What better time to attempt this experience when you have no work responsibilities.

For the first three days, I thought I was dying.  I had no desire for food because I was nauseous all the time, and felt fluish.  I wondered if this is what chemo felt like. But I kept at it.  Day four I awoke feeling energetic and good.  Michael has stepped up and helped with most meal prep, and for the most part, I use meal times as alone time since it’s a bit too hard to watch people eat really good meals (actually, any meal looks good), and too hard to smell it.  I have definitely lost the bloatedness, so that I am no longer being mistaken for a pregnant woman, but I don’t know if I’ve lost pounds as I don’t have a scale.  Actually, other than the bitchiness, it hasn’t been all that bad. 

And bitchiness has been a HUGE problem.  Beginning Day 6 of the cleanse, the spelling of my name has changed from Barb to capital B-I-T-C-H.  I have ragged on my kids about school, about chores, about  just about everything except breathing (wait, I complained about bad breath).  Michael has been pretty patient with me, bless him, until he lost it with me yesterday.  They say that there are some side effects with the cleanse, including Irritability. No shit.  And it’s a full moon.  Harrison actually asked me to please stop using swear words.   

As an aside, they also say that the cleanse will bring up interesting things over its course.  For example, people who haven’t smoked for 20 years may taste nicotine in their mouths, as their body’s tissues rid themselves of all the toxins.  I had an interesting experience on Day 3:  My right hip was really aching me and I couldn’t get comfortable as I slept.  I couldn’t figure out what I’d done to have it ache, and then I realized: I had injured it in a bike accident in 1996.  Maybe it was just cleaning itself out? Not sure if it’s just pure coincidence, but I guess it’s possible that the two are related, no?

Anyhow, yesterday, after an early morning blow out over homeschooling, or chores, or who knows what, I went to shore to do some yoga led by my friend and yoga instructor Tammy Finnerty (s/v Santosha).  We started with a  silent meditation walk along the beach followed by a meditation in which Tammy did a great job guiding us through intention-setting.  It was at that time that I reconnected with my Future Self (how I see myself in 20 years – designed through a coaching exercise I do with clients and have had done to me – my Future Self is my most positive self, with all the traits I value, and it can be quite a powerful tool in overcoming just about anything you need to overcome).  I was able to return to the boat in true calm and patience, and the kids and I had a great rest of the afternoon.  Michael, however, needed more time and personal  space, and who can blame him? My apologies felt so empty given that I keep going back to the same yuckiness.  I’m hoping my Future Self will help me through these last couple of days of this cleanse.

Our 15th wedding anniversary is today, and all is peaceful on the homefront.  But I still can’t wait to eat some vegetables.

-Barb in Tenacatita Bay
Anchored off the Tamarindo Resort
Latitude: 19 degrees 15.698 minutes North
Longitude: 104 degrees 48.124 minutes West

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pure Fulfillment

Two nights ago, we hosted a jamming session on our boat with our dear friends Larry and Vicki Byers (s/v Rocinante - it's so good to be together again!), Tammy, Patrick, their son Jack and brother-in-law Steve (s/v Santosha) and Mary Jane and Bill (s/v Gray Max).  Michael commented it felt like camp - adult camp - with no rules (and of course we go to sleep much earlier).  It was so great, we're hosting one again tonight and calling it the Goodbye Tour as most of us will be leaving in the morning. The only difference between tonight and two nights ago is that Santosha has already headed north but s/v Blue Sky will be here.

It doesn't get much better than this.

The beach at Santiago Bay

Then, yesterday morning, Michael, Danielle and I did yoga on the beach led by Tammy (who happens to be a yoga instructor) in Santiago Bay. It's a perfect beach for yoga as it's long, flat and has clean sand. There are a couple of dozen  boats anchored in this paradise, including kid boats, great snorkeling (a ship wreck!) and visibility, palapa restaurants, a bus ride to the markets and town and so much more.  We are a bit north of Manzanillo.

Mary Jane (s/v Gray Max), avid twitcher
The bird watching gang, with binoculars, identifying birds with Mary Jane's help

And this morning, our friend Mary Jane took us on a bird walk.  She's an avid bird watcher (aka twitcher) and she was incredibly knowledgable. We identified at least 28 different species of birds in just over an hour.  We learned so much, and has us appreciating our location that much more.

We are leaving in the morning to head north as we need to get to Puerto Vallarta for a flight to California in 9 days.  We'd love to stay longer, but have already postponed our departure by a day, since s/v Rocinante is here and they'll be heading south while we head north.  We'll miss them and this time we're not sure when our cruising paths will cross again.

Santiago Bay, Colima, Mexico
19 degrees, 06.509 minutes north
104 degrees, 23.733 minutes west

Monday, February 14, 2011

Harrison’s Morelia Journal

Jan 31st, 2011 to Feb 2nd, 2011


Day 1

After driving in the car for 3 hours to Morelia, we found a beautiful hotel with two comfortable beds and a decent size bathroom that had gorgeous square tiles. That day we also did a tour of the town and learned that one of the heroes of the War of Independence was named Jose Maria Morelos Y Pavon; Morelia was named after him.IMG_9906 I also learned that before Morelia was named Morelia it was named Valladolidad after the city in Spain. Morelia, like all Mexican cities has a main square called the Zocalo, that is surrounded with hotels, stores, houses, a church, a government building, and IMG_9947restaurants. Last but not least, I learned that an aqueduct carries water from one place to another, usually above your head, used before modern sewer systems. The aqueduct in Morelia is made out of stone and has 276 arches.


Day 2

After having a delicious breakfast including Mexican eggs and fruit with a Maraschino cherry on top, we drove to a Monarch butterfly sanctuary. When we finally got to the top of the mountain, we saw millions of Monarchs flying around, on the ground, in the trees and on us.IMG_0062
As they were flying around and pelting us, we were taking a whole lot of photos. I was standing very still so the butterflies would land on me, with their soft and tiny legs. It was like I was in a fairy-tale.

Did you know that it takes 3 to 5 butterfly generations to migrate from Canada to Mexico every year?


Day 3

On our way home to Ixtapa from Morelia, we stopped at a couple of places; one of them was the island of Janitzio in Lago de Patzcuaro, the second largest lake in Mexico. On the island there are narrow and crooked streets with steps for pedestrians only (there are no cars) that lead up to a big monument of the independence hero Jose Maria Morelos Y Pavon.
If you are okay going to high places, you can climb inside of the monument and look out of the statue’s wrist for a panoramic view. After the island, we went to the town of Patzcuaro where we had lunch and drove around to see the main squares (there are two of them) and the church.

After our three day trip, we arrived safely back home, on the boat. If I had to rate this trip out of five (with one being worst and five being best), this trip would probably be rated a two or three, because Morelia felt like other normal Mexican cities.

-Harrison, back on the boat

Mexican Wood Carvings

Watching Mexicans carve wonderful wood animals is an amazing sight to see.

These wood carvings, made by Zapotecs, the native people from around Oaxaca, are very, very beautiful and detailed with knives and chisels to cut and dig out the wood. When you watch the carver carve any carving from the beginning, it looks like they are just chopping away on a wet wood called copal wood, but then you start to make out shapes. After that, they dry the carvings.  While the wood is drying, cracks sometimes appear so the carvers need to fill in any cracks by gluing little chips of wood into them.

The next step is painting; the painters paint detailed details like pyramids, butterflies and dots that mean different things to the Zapotecs. The paints are made out of natural ingredients including pomegranates, limestone and plants. If you buy one of the expensive carvings, it will come with a card that says what the designs mean.

This whole process takes about nine months (1 month to carve, 5 months to dry and 3 months to paint).These amazing carvings take so long, but they are worth every minute.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Morelia Journal

Day 1:

After driving for three hours, we checked into the Mission Cathedral Hotel in Morelia, a beautiful hotel in an old colonial mansion on the edge of the Zocalo, the main plaza.  We got settled, ate lunch on the patio, and left for a quick tour of the city.

Morelia is named after the important War of Independence hero, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon.  We got to see many statues of him.

Next to the Zocalo was the main cathedral.    Like all other churches in Morelia, this cathedral fashioned the three types of colonial architecture: baroque, neo-classical, and Herreresque.  The ornateness of the interior baroque architecture is spectacular with its gold paint.

One of the other monuments we saw was El Fuente, which literally IMG_9938means “The Fountain”.  The cool thing about this fountain is that it is just a replica of the original because the original mysteriously disappeared in 1940.

Morelia is a beautiful town with its colonial architecture so important that a law was passed to make it illegal  to build or remodel in any other architectural style than colonial.

Day 2:

We had an early breakfast, hopped in the car, and drove off to  Sanctuario Mariposa Monarcha, otherwise known as the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.

Getting there took a long time considering that there were so many unpaved roads and rocks in the middle of them.  We even saw a car get stuck in a pile of dirt.  Once parked, we hiked for about 45 minutes to get to an area full of butterflies.  It looked like it was IMG_0072 snowing orange, there were so many monarchs.  On some trees, all you could see were butterflies, which were weighing the branches down.

The butterflies migrate from Canada in a cycle of 3-5 generations round trip.  The adults butterflies start the journey and mate.  The males die and theIMG_0061 females lay their eggs on the milkweed of Texas and Florida, then die. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, the caterpillars build cocoons, and out comes the butterfly.  The cycle then starts over.

Day 3:

Today we ate another early breakfast and drove to a lake called Lago de Patzcuaro, the second IMG_0114 largest lake in Mexico.  There we got on a boat that took us to a large island called Isla Janitzio.  Janitzio is very popular on Dia de los Muertos, so much so that the overcrowding makes it dangerous.  Covered in steps, this island is basically a large market.  We weaved our way up the steps to the top  of the hill.  On the hill there was a large stone statueIMG_0108 of  Morelos and we got to climb inside up to his wrist, which was held above his head in a fist, signifying power. Since you can no longer climb the Statue of Liberty, this, I guess, is the next best thing.

Once we were back at the car, we drove into the town of Patzcuaro, had lunch at a place called La Priscilla, and took a quick tour of the town.  Like Morelia, this town also is very colonial.

We drove the three hours back to Whatcha Gonna Do.  On the way, we passed a burned out truck that we’d actually seen on fire on the way up, and we almost ran out of gas.  We’ve now arrived safely at the boat.


Morelia was a fun place to visit, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it again.  The butterflies were spectacular, but I would recommend Oaxaca long before Morelia.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Break From Cruising

IMG_0166We stayed at Present Moment Spa, a gorgeous yoga retreat, for three days.  In these days, we learned new poses, got more flexible, and had a great time.

When you enter the grounds, you are entering a garden. Small but comfortable bungalows, all with porches, are scattered around a pool.  IMG_0156Each bungalow is outdoor living – the walls are only three-quarters of the way up and the rest is open to the outside and then the IMG_0155whole thing is covered with a palapa roof.  Even the bathrooms are open! Each bed has a mosquito net over it so that the bugs don’t get you at night. IMG_0147

IMG_0168A beautiful restaurant right next to the beach serves delicious foods and drinks and is a great place to sit around.  There’s a little covered wooden platform on the beachside where you do yoga and a lounge next to it.  It’s not recommended to swim in the ocean right in front of the spa, but IMG_0154if you walk down the beach a little, there is a great place to do so.
IMG_0167  IMG_0165  
IMG_0162 The yoga classes were amazing.  All the teachers were great and they all corrected you in their areas of expertise.  We took all of the yoga classes we could during our stay and learned some new postures.  One of them, the fish, is a great counter-pose for how you sit at the computer.

Everyone knows each other here.  You know the names of all the other guests and teachers and even the owner.  They’re all so happy to meet you and hear your stories.

While we were here, there was a retreat going on.  These people were getting certified in dance-yoga therapy.  They played a lot of loud music, but in the end, sorted out that the classes were at different times so as not to interfere with each other.  But, it was nice to listen to the rock instead of just relaxing all the time.

There were also options for getting massages, horseback riding, and surfing lessons, but we were pretty busy shuffling between school-work, relaxing, and classes to do any, though I’m sure they would’ve been fun.

I enjoyed Present Moment Spa a lot.  I feel more flexible and stretched out than before.  I’m really excited to use the new postures that we learned in our practice.

Present Moment Yoga Retreat and Spa
Los Troncones, Mexico

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Two links you may be interested in:

1. A video of our niece Hannah presenting to her class photos and experiences aboard our boat last month.  You’ll note the interest of other seven-year-olds in using the bathroom on a boat.

Hannah's Presentation

2. An article written in ‘Lectronic Latitude, the on –line version of Latitude 38, a sailing magazine, referencing our friends aboard Blue Sky as they finish their circumnavigation.

Blue Sky Article



Monday, February 7, 2011

Quick Catch-up to Present Moment

Since we wrote last, we feel like we’ve been continuing on our marathon – a pace that cruisers are not accustomed to, nor are we attracted to.  Yet here we are at Present Moment.

After Acapulco, we dashed on a rough overnight passage with large and confused seas and the wind right on our nose.   The bashing was so bad that we lost our SSSB (single sideband radio) for a time – the constant pounding of the boat must have disconnected a wire, but Michael, my technological genius, got it fixed in no time.  The pounding also had some books fall off shelves, and Danielle’s overhead fan fell off.  Thankfully, she was not sleeping below it.

We arrived in Ixtapa with plans to leave the boat immediately, pick up our rental car, and head straight to Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state, and a beautiful colonial town 3-hour’s drive inland.  While I packed, Michael cabbed it to the rental car agency but came back empty-handed.  TIM (or “This Is Mexico”) – so we waited patiently until 6 p.m. when a car finally showed up. Michael says the whole car rental experience was a Seinfeld episode.

Leaving a day late, we awoke early to start our trip to Morelia, and arrived around lunch time.  Both kids have done a blog post about all that we did there, and the side-trips to see the magical Monarch Butterflies and the gorgeous lakeside town of Patzcuaro.  Stay tuned for those details.

We returned to Zihuatenajo for Sailfest, and participated in a boat parade, a beach party and other events.  Most importantly, there were more kid boats around and we had a great time.  The kids had several sleepovers and we had several adult nights out. We particularly bonded with the crew of Blue Sky, and we'll likely be catching up with them later next week in Barra de Navidad or in Santiago Bay north of Manzanillo.

We are now at Present Moment Retreat, a yoga and spa retreat center in Los Troncones, a beach town 30 minutes’ drive north of Zihuatanejo.  Our boat is still anchored in Z-town bay, being looked out for by fellow cruisers (because that’s what cruisers do).  We’ll be here for 3 wonderful days, doing yoga and being zen.  Including Michael and the kids.  Harrison is looking forward to the drumming classes, Danielle is looking forward to yoga and the spa food, and Michael is, believe it or not, looking forward to the yoga.  I am looking forward to it all.

At Present Moment Yoga Retreat
Los Troncones, Guerrero, Mexico