Jul 18, 2012

Puerto Escondido – Our First Mooring

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Dalai Lama 


Puerto Escondido anchorage's mountainous backdrop
Something heard over the radio the other morning: “We are all here, because we are not all there…”

June came and went quickly with only one stop early on in a major city for one day to re-provision, do laundry, wash the boat, and take long showers (even Nikki), and an additional one on the last day in Loreto to do same. June has been a month of mostly mingling with nature, visiting very small villages, anchoring in beautiful and quiet coves, sleeping under clear starry nights highlighted by the Milky Way and at times dry lightning in the distance, hiking, bouldering, swimming in warm waters, visiting other cruisers and enjoying books and the company of each other. June has seen us cross the 2,000 nautical miles milestone for this journey. And June was the month our youngest son, Adam, completed his first Iron Man Triathlon – we are impressed!

Base of mountains near Steinbeck's Canyon and anchorage
One evening during the last week of June, we had dinner with two other couples (Irwin and Jaye on s/v Winsome and Conor and Lanea on s/v Moondance) to discover that there were three of us with birthdays that week: Irwin on the 26th and Lanea and Mike on the 28th. These cancers love their water!

We are very lucky that bugs are rare in this area for the heat makes it too uncomfortable to sleep inside Déjàlà. We now enjoy nights comfortably tucked in the cockpit. This way of sleeping also serves another great purpose and that is to read the ever so subtle changes in weather better and more quickly.

When you sleep outside, you can sense changes in wind direction, temperature and speed, you can see lightning, and you can feel the rain – all things more difficult to discern if you sleep below with fans or air conditioning turned on. In addition, you can much more rapidly attend to what needs to be done. In these parts of the Sea of Cortez, they have various types of sudden winds that can reach upwards of 70 knots and you sometimes only have 2 minutes to get ready for the ‘assault’. They are rare but it’s good to have a drill and know how to react flawlessly within that very short time frame to minimize damages to the boat or ourselves.

At the very end of June, and from our first ever mooring (yep, had never moored before – interesting to lean forward and try to grab a line attached to a buoy of some sort and quickly tie it to the front of the boat – that part is not that frightening however, what is scary is to trust that the mooring is safe and secure and can handle your boat’s weight in any weather – remember, this is Mexico – they are not that safety conscious and they don’t carry insurance even though WE have to!), we made a trip to Loreto, a small town of 16,000 people about 25 kilometers away. After 21 days at sea, we were keen to find fresh produce to restock our now meager supplies. To get there you have the choice of costly taxis (upwards of $50!), irregular buses located about a 30 minute walk away, ask to share a ride with a local, or hitchhike. We tried to find rides to share but were not lucky so we started hitchhiking. Both times we went to Loreto we were blessed with finding very kind and generous people to pick us up and bring us back – It couldn’t get any better.

Loreto is a very quaint little town with ficus covered archways leading to the main plaza and church. A lot of thoughts and care go into creating a great feel for this town. It was election weekend in Mexico and for that reason, no stores were allowed to sell liquors during that period and many places were closed, which normally would have been opened. It made for a quieter time than usual.


Green archway in downtown Loreto towards main plaza
Loom for making blankets or small carpets
They produce what you request - custom blankets... Favorite colors, patterns, etc
Jesuit priest adobe house from the 1700s now belonging to local ranch family
Church


Hotel
Hotel's interior with inner courtyard
More archways towards beach
On the first trip to town, Ed and Jean (m/v Pacifico) became our tour guides. They brought us everywhere we needed to go, bought us lunch, and then brought us home. We ate at the best fish taco restaurant in town and judging by how many people go there and the taste of the tacos, I’d say it was a very good and popular place for the locals to feast. We had yellow tail and parrot fish tacos… We offered to pay for the trip or the meal but were flatly refused. Ed has been a fisherman for nearly 70 years so he’s very knowledgeable in this area.

On the second trip to town, Terry and Dawn (s/v Manta) gave us a ride to the Sunday Farmers' Market. They said they were returning to the marina at a specified time if we wanted to ride back with them. We bought what we needed at the market then did a tour of this beautiful little town and were back in plenty of time to catch a ride back with them. As it turns out, Terry rides the back of giant manta-rays (upwards of 20-22’ wide from tip to tip) in an area about 200 miles south of Cabo San Lucas. His favorite, Willie, even picks him up at his boat. Terry has his diving tanks on, and he rides Willie for 1-1.5 hours under water before Willie gently brings him back ‘home’… It sounds both amazing and a little scary at the same time. Terry has been a diver for over 30 years and knows every good area. He has made a film for the Discovery Channel which helped put away illegal ray killers/harvesters in jail and create a reserve for these beautiful animals.

Before departing Puerto Escondido, we were going to top off our gas tank for the dinghy motor. As we were preparing to do this, a gentleman putting away his sailboat (s/v Best Day Ever) for the season gave us whatever gas he had left. As it turns out, it was exactly what we needed to replenish our supplies and it was free. Are we living right or what?

Before the high heat of the day and after taking Nikki for her morning jaunt, we headed for a hike up a canyon about one hour walk away from the marina. It is nicknamed the John Steinbeck Canyon; for this famous author has visited and written much about this area in “Log from the Sea of Cortez”. Boulders in this canyon are humongous and very varied in colors. I have never seen rocks this turquoise before. They really pop out at you against the mostly reddish brown boulders in the background.


Boulder of Steinbeck's Canyon dwarfing palm trees
Up Steinbeck's Canyon
Dried up pool, about 20' deep
Another dried up pool, about 30' deep
Where the canyon really narrows
Blueish-green rocks
Fig tree crawling out of rock
Back from our hike, we met two people on bicycles. They are biking from San Francisco to the end of South America. From the Baja side of Mexico, they’ll cross over from La Paz to the mainland via a ferry then keep biking south. They ended up spending a couple of nights as guests on a boat nearby (s/v Lungta) and we had dinner with them and it was very interesting to hear their stories. During that evening we also discussed how often people are in a rush to get away from where they are to reach the next destination, seemingly always rushing. If you have to travel that way it could mean that you are unhappy where you are and will probably be unhappy where you are going instead of enjoying, or learning to enjoy, where you are.


Name for a local who keeps having his boat hit rocks or get loose from anchors or moorings: Captain Crunch!

Clever Boat Names: Lunasea, Salt Shaker…

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