Mar 23, 2012

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Regattas and Hot Spring Along River

Travel is an investment in yourself.
The Cultureur 

Hot spring view looking upstream
Known as “La Cruz” to the locals, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle may have gotten its name after the body of an indigenous woman was buried at the base of a giant Huanacaxtle tree. In tribute, a large cross, 6 feet by 3 feet, was carved into the trunk of the tree. The name stuck when people began to say “Let’s meet at the cross (Cruz) of Huanacaxtle (Elephant Ear Tree)”.

We finally made it here following one of the slowest sails we’ve had in 4½ months. Winds were very low with thankfully calmed sea so we were not bounced around too badly. The bay is 15 miles long and 20 miles wide so even when you feel you’ve finally arrived because you are inside the bay, you have quite a ways to go yet. In the bay, we waited for wind for about 3 hours or when the typical afternoon land/thermal-winds usually come up. We were then met with thirty or so large racing boats going the other way. March is a busy regatta time for this area. While we were happy to finally reach 5 knots, these boats were leaving us completely in the dust. It was quite neat to see them so closely in action.

There are special events all over town because of these races and also because the Mexican President is visiting to watch some of them. The town has been actively sprucing up; there are heavily armed guards all around to ensure his security. Safe place for us to be here too then… Also the town is hosting a touristic informational weekend where many travel agencies visit to see what this area has to offer their potential clients.

We are at anchor with about 60 other boats, the busiest anchorage we’ve been in yet. Many spend months here, many others are just on a stopover on their way back North to the Sea of Cortez (the northern migration has begun in earnest), and a dozen or so are getting ready to do the “Puddle Jump” (crossing the ocean to go to the South Pacific). Ten years ago, many did the Puddle Jump. Thirty of the 50 who did it then came here for their 10th anniversary reunion. It is inspiring to see so many people participating after so many years.

While the first afternoon was very windy, we had a very peaceful and quiet night to recuperate from the 28 hour sail. We are told there is a usual pattern of rocky afternoons followed by calm nights and mornings. However the locals have been complaining that the last three days have been unusually windy – I’m hoping it is true. We could use a little less wind when moving about in the dinghy, getting soaked by the large waves created.

Many spend days or weeks at anchor and only go into the marina occasionally to refill water, fuel, electricity, or wash the boat and then return at anchor. It is an economical way to visit this beautiful area. We are doing just that as well, in the marina for a couple of days to wash the boat with good water, replenish with water, groceries, electricity, etc. We had been at anchor or sailing for over 28 days and it’s duly time for a thorough clean up.

The local homes have nicer yards than other towns we’ve seen so far. I don’t know why so many Mexican homes cover their entire yards with stones, cement, bricks, sand, rocks, or pavement; it is low maintenance perhaps or just a cultural thing. I prefer seeing plants and greenery rather than the barren look and it baffles me a little that they don’t use the greenery to keep things cool and shaded and dust down since they have the climate and the water to just about grow anything as well as many great clay plant pots made right here to accent it all so colorfully… They prefer watering the dirt many times a day to keep it hard and dust free…

We bumped into three boats we hadn’t seen for two months: Girl on the Moon, Desolina, and Mwelu. All were in San Jose del Cabo around Christmas time. We also came across Bluefin again. They were supposed to be in the Puerto Vallarta area but after spending only a couple of hours there, they decided this was a better area for them. We’re happy to see them again. We also had lunch with Moondance who finally caught up with us from Mazatlán. They entered one of the regattas and Mike may help them during the Saturday race.

Of all things, a Mexican lady asked about breeding Nikki while we were visiting the fish market. Their dog Mohamed looks just like her and they have been looking for the appropriate mate for 5 years without luck. Interesting what comes our way but we won’t be here long enough to deal with puppies…

The cruisers’ net is very active and alive here. Of course there are extra activities due to the various races over these 2 weeks but it’s a very busy community nevertheless with tight connections. They are also actively supporting many good causes in Mexico.

Had lunch at a neat little café called Ya-Ya. The owner has two dogs of her own so canines are welcome there. Nikki had a fun time running around sniffing under each and every table after she had visited with the other dogs in the proper fashion (sniffing butts)… We like that aspect of Mexico very much for they are very dog friendly when it comes to dogs coming into restaurants, buses, taxis, stores, etc.

On Sunday, we went to the farmers/arts and crafts market. It was the best of its kind we’ve seen so far since being in Mexico. There were even French trained pastry chefs selling goodies here, as well as homemade sausages and patés = yum!

Our tour guide April, Mike, Jan and Ramona in hot spring
Puppies at the edge of the hot spring
We went for a hike and a soak at a hot spring along the Mascota River. April, our tour guide is an American who has lived in this area for 25 years also raising two kids in this foreign country. She does this for the pleasure it gives her and the people she brings with her. She allowed Nikki to accompany us since she was also taking her small dog Yo-Yo along. It was nice to be on land for five hours driving along a river lined with willow type trees, housing several types of birds singing away.

Temescal (also Temazcal)
On the way we saw what they call here a “temescal” or sweat lodge type of building. The temescal are led by “Maracame” or holy person/shaman. This temescal was built of brick, rock and cement and was definitely there to stay unlike your more typical branch covered with tarps and blankets version.

Further down but nearer the small town of Ixtapa, we saw the remains of a pyramid thought to have been built around 800BC. Unfortunately red tape, lack of money and/or education/vision leaves this archeological site in shambles. The land is owned by someone who runs cattle on it so little by little, the pyramid, which used to be neatly covered with river stones, is becoming more so just a pile of nondescript dirt, the sacred land near the pyramid a little further away has been swept over by a primary school. It’s too bad to see history disappearing this way. Had April not pointed this out, I would’ve thought it was just a dirt pile for an upcoming construction project.

The jungle around here is a deciduous jungle and the only one in North America other than the one in Costa Rica. Many trees are currently leafless so the hills are not as green as further North however many bloom before they leaf out or as they leaf out so the hills are flecked with bright yellow, pure white, pink, fire engine red, peach, and burgundy.

We liked our tour guide so much; we are trying to plan another foray inland with her. Should you yatistas need to get a hold of her, she is on the net on VHF22 (cruisers net) or VHF23 (social net) in La Cruz. Just ask for April at Wave House. She is also an avid surfer and can help you find the right wave…

On the way back, we saw a young Mennonite woman trying to sell cookies through the heavy traffic stopped at an intersection. It is quite a cultural shock to see such a slender, white young woman in a flowery dress and hat among all the Mexicans trying to sell as well.

Clever Boat Names: Endorfin and Seaduction

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