Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Archive for the ‘La Cruz’ Category

Six Months in Mexico Come to an End

On the last day of April I sit in the rather chilly VIP Lounge here at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, reflecting on the past six months, and especially the past month here in Mexico. Foggy brain syndrome due to the past six nights of gigantic explosions at sunset, 11 pm, 5am and 7am is plaguing me right now. It is due to The Days of La Cruz, nine days of parades, entertainment on the stage next to the plaza, and an excuse for horrific amounts of Bang, Bang, Boom. If someone had PTSD they would need to get out of La Cruz for these nine days! I am avoiding anyplace that might have explosions, so there are no pictures of the festivities.

Luckily most of April was calm, but busy. Yoga many mornings for me, Nikk listening to the Cruiser’s Net each day at 8:30am, Spanish class Tuesdays and Thursdays for me, then meeting friends for potluck dinners, nights out at local restaurants, and a lot of saying goodbye to our friends sailing off north, south and west, or flying back “home”.

Birdwatching took on new meaning when I stayed at Punta Esmerelda in an upscale condo with my friend Zoe while she was “parrot-sitting”.

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Izzy the African Grey Parrot and Rudy the green Australian parrot got cozy with us (sometimes a bit too cozy, when the big yellow beak was only cm away from Nikk’s ear). African Grey Parrots are celebrated for their intelligence and speaking/singing ability. When Zoe sang opera, Izzy tried to duet. Of course we had to closely monitor our speech, to avoid having the owners come back to a bird with a startling new vocabulary. The most recently-famous African Grey Parrot was Alex, trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/books/review/Royte-t.html

Have you heard the saying “I’d rather have a palapa in Yelapa than a condo in Redondo.”? We sailed across the Bay of Banderas twice in April to investigate the Yelapa scene, once with visiting friends Bruce and Maureen, once on the annual trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

On the trail to a waterfall three miles away we found a palapa, perhaps not exactly what the creator of the saying had in mind, but perfect for someone to escape the SoCal scene.

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Nikk hiked this same trail up the river to the waterfall 30 years ago, and what a change he found. Many new concrete block homes, some hippie palapas, some Mexican homes built on stilts with homemade furniture from local woods. Finally the last mile meandered through the tropical trees without any abodes, and we came to the waterfall flowing over polished granite.

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The pool below the waterfall looked way too muddy, so we climbed the slick rocks by the waterfall and found a perfect pool above the falls. Since no one else climbed after us we stripped and bobbed in the cool water, being careful not to get swept over the falls.

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The other waterfall in Yelapa is a short but steep hike up through town. Along the way there you can stop to catch your breath and look out over the little deep blue bay with Balance anchored among the fishing pangas.

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This waterfall is visited by hundreds of tourists per day, yet still conveys peace, solitude and even romance from the right angle.

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Six boats sailed over to Yelapa from La Cruz for the birthday bash. To get to the restaurant we anchored with a mooring ball, paid the panguero 200 pesos (about 13 US dollars) for the mooring ball and rides to and from the boat, gathered for drinks at the beachside palapa, hiked up the beach, waded across the fairly shallow river, hiked up some steep steps between homes, across a bridge, and arrived at Gloria’s Restaurant. The seafood was fabulous, fish in garlic and butter sauce, with rice and salad, shrimp, octopus, and oysters cooked numerous ways. Then Mike’s cake arrived, with candles, whipped cream, and a little caballito, a small, skinny glass full of tequila in the center. The Mexican birthday cake tradition is to take the first bite using no hands or implements. Mike removed the little shot glass and complied. Somehow some of the frosting got transferred to Katrina. The picture is a little blurry because we were all laughing so riotously.

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Back in La Cruz, Earth Day began with a bird watching tour where we found 38 species just by walking near the marina, through the town, and down the beach. After the bird watch we joined a beach cleanup, with many cruising families filling up huge trash bags. That night Katrina the marina PR organizer arranged a bonfire with music to thank everyone.

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Friday the 24th was the last Science Friday for the season, so we exploded zip lock bags by mixing vinegar and baking soda. The baking soda was wrapped in a paper towel to slow the mixing and production of carbon dioxide gas, which allowed the kids to pass the bag around like a hot potato until it exploded. We also made giant soap bubbles with a special recipe I found on the Internet. www.happyhooligans.ca/homemade-giant-bubbles

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We fly back to Portland next Tuesday, and until then the days will be filled with the work needed to leave Balance here for the next six months.
Instead of boring you with those details I’ll leave you with a shot of our dock taken from the third story La Pezka restaurant, where we just might have dinner tonight.

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Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence

As some of you know, I have another blog where I post to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.
For those of you interested, it’s http://www.curiositycafe.wordpress.com. A site called 61 Musings “liked” my recent post, and I went to see what they had posted. What luck, it’s a wonderful site with musings on introversion. I learned a lot, and I am definitely in an introverted state of mind at present, I call it my “hermit phase”. The site had a link to another site, with a Character Strength quiz, http://www.viame.org.
Many fellow introverts scored highest with Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, as I did. The natural world is a constant source of inspiration and connection for me, as is art, music and writing. So here are some images from the past six weeks since I returned to La Cruz from Portland.

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A broad-billed hummingbird with two baby birds in the nest

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Koi at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

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Two gringos cooling off in the river at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

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Four-foot long Green Iguana in a tree at the marina

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Peg admiring the local “art” at Ana Banana’s Restaurant

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The Happy Girls, happy because we’re in Mexico on the beach

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A fisherman returning in his panga right before the full moon came up

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The Full Moon from the marina Mar. 16, looking across the anchorage to Bucerias.

Tomorrow we leave for a week-long adventure to visit Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, a canyon deeper than the Grand Canyon, home to the reclusive Tarahumara Indians, two bus rides and a spectacular train ride away from La Cruz. With luck we will come back with pictures and many stories to share.

We’re Still Here

Now it’s Saturday and we’re still in Punta de Mita. Everything was ready on the boat, including Nikk and Jan, so last Tuesday we set sail and then listened to the Cruiser’s Net broadcast at 8:30am. Strong winds from the south were predicted, with swells of 4-7 feet, and since our first anchorage would be facing south, we changed course and headed for the Mariettas to do some snorkeling and kayaking before seeking a calm dock back at La Cruz for the night. We kayaked around the rocks by the little cove we anchored in, found a beautiful white sand beach, only to have eight guys dropped off there with their large cooler. The waves were breaking about three feet high right before the beach, so we paddled back to the boat and snorkeled from there. Lucky for us we did, because the snorkeling was fabulous. Over one hundred fish about a foot long, grey with yellow tails, were swarming over some rocks ten feet below us. I think that another kind of fish had just laid eggs there, because the other fish, black with a blue head (I really do need to start learning the names of fish here) was trying to chase off the marauding yellow tails. Caviar on the rocks?

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Ahab in a kayak? This is not the beach with the dudes with cooler full of beer.

Balance sailed easily back to La Cruz, Jan took a nap after all the kayaking and snorkeling, and we docked almost in our old spot, and right in the middle of a red tide blooming in the east bay and marina. The stench of rotting algae that cause the red tide, and the sight of hundreds of dead fish in the marina due to the algae using up all the oxygen in the water, was really sickening.

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A dead puffer fish.

The next day it seemed to take forever until we could leave the marina, we were gagging on the smell all morning. Once again we anchored off Punta de Mita, expecting to leave the next day to sail south, when we saw the forecast for yet another storm moving right up from southern Mexico and aiming straight at us in a couple of days. So we changed our plans once again, and went bird watching, invited friends over for dinner on the boat, met another friend at the Hotel Coral restaurant on the beach for breakfast, and both of us finished the books we were reading. The advancing clouds Thursday night at the forefront of the storm made for one of the most photogenic sunsets we’ve had in Mexico.

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A lemony sea. To get this shot I had to focus on the water, then raise the camera to frame the shot. Once again, the line of the sea is not quite horizontal, even with the sea that calm it’s hard to keep the camera level while shooting from the deck.

Friday night it rained, then poured, the winds blew, and the wind waves from the east kept us hobby horsing up and down so much I had to get the Sea Bands for my wrists, which press a magnet against an acupressure point on the inside of the wrist to alleviate seasickness. Of course the boat started leaking in a few places down in the cabin, despite a canopy and several tarps over the deck. By morning we could see whitecaps all around us, and we canceled our plans to take the bus into La Cruz for the swap meet so we could stay and monitor the boat. Now at 1pm the rain has stopped, we’ve mopped up the patches of water on the floor and settee, and I can put the books back into their “book nook”. Our third try to sail out will probably be Monday, wish us luck!

WXYZ: Witches, Xocolatl, Yelapa, and Zoology

Witchy Woman scared a few kids and maybe grownups too in La Cruz on Halloween night. About a hundred kids showed up at Philo’s to get candy from the patrons. Nikk and I were two of four winners of the costume contest, my thanks to Allison for painting my face and loaning me a costume!

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Philo said that Nikk wasn’t really wearing a costume, since he dresses like that every day.

The kids were adorable.

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I could (and might) do a whole post for the blog about the restaurants of La Cruz, but I’ll just mention four. First is Xocolatl, located on a hill above the town, with the best view of the bay and the marina. By the time you’ve hiked up from the marina, and then climbed about a hundred steps, you’re really ready for food. Xocolatl provides huge platters of seafood or traditional Mexican dishes and we’ve always been too full to sample any desserts. Back in town, Philo’s serves pizzas, spaghetti, and on Tuesday’s Nikk’s favorite, all-you-can-eat-ribs with coleslaw and baked beans. Just a few doors down from Philo’s is Los Sillas Rojas (The Red Chairs), named for the red plastic tables and chairs set out in the street. I absolutely love their quesadilla, with beans, onions, cilantro, four different sauces, and a little plate of radishes and limes, and only 30 pesos, about $2.20 US. Finally, for breakfast once or twice a week we head over to Ana Banana’s to visit with other folks who live in La Cruz, on boats or in condos or homes. The breakfast enchiladas are sometimes really spicy, but delicious. These are some of the restaurants that we will miss, and I’ll mention one more that just opened, Gecko Rojo, where we’ve had clam chowder, chinese food, and fish and chips, something different is served each night.

Ana Banana’s hosted The Day of the Dead holiday ceremony Nov. 2. This is a Mexican holiday, Nov. 1 the Mexicans honor children that have passed, and Nov. 2 is dedicated to adults. One corner of the restaurant had a huge altar that stretched out along the floor in front, with pictures, flowers, foods or items that the deceased friends or relatives liked while they were alive, and lots of candles. There was a ceremony remembering and blessing the ones who are no longer with us, then a performance by a local troop of young people dancing traditional Mexican dances.
Many people have their faces painted to look like the Katrinas.

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Ana Banana’s has another tradition I discovered the second time I ate there. I asked about the Seagram’s bags hanging from the rafters and was told they contained the ashes of former relatives and friends, especially friends who spent a lot of time hanging out at Ana Banana’s. I was shocked speechless. Now I understand that it is a way to honor and remember the ones who have passed on, but then all I could think of was the fact I was sitting and eating my enchiladas underneath the remnants of a corpse.

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On a cheerier note, Nov. 7 we took a party boat from Nuevo Vallarta to Yelapa and back. Nikk won this trip last July in a raffle, about two days after we returned from celebrating Nikk’s birthday in Yelapa. It was a really fun Vallarta Adventures trip, with a stop to snorkel and kayak in some clear waters, then on to Yelapa, a small isolated village on the southern shore of the Bay of Banderas, that caters to tourists. From our guide, Davd, we learned local history, botany and zoology as we walked up and up through the town to the waterfall high above.
It had just rained, so the water was a shade of brownish-orange, and a lot of people on the trip swam.

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Back down through the jungle we hiked, across a muddy, shallow river (luckily there are no piranhas here), and plopped ourselves down on beach chairs to have drinks and be solicited by local vendors. I did buy a bracelet of green stones from Miguelito, who has eight children, several of them are studying at the university at Puerto Vallarta (at least I think that’s what he said).

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I should mention that on the way back to Nuevo Vallarta, part of the crew dressed up in long wigs and seventies rock costumes, then entertained us out on the deck with rock and roll oldies until we ran into a rain squall. Good food, beautiful scenery, all the drinks we could drink, and a friendly bunch of crew and passengers made it a great trip.

Now for the rest of the zoology in the title. Turtles returned to the marina right before we left and swam around in the marina, sometimes for days. I am wondering if these turtles were hatched in La Cruz before the marina was built in 2007, and have returned, looking for the sands they came from. Several rescue organizations exist here in the bay that collect the eggs laid by the turtles, then when they hatch, protect them as they slowly crawl to the water.

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Today, Nov. 11, we’re anchored once again in Punta de Mita, but with almost no other boats. The weather has turned, the monsoon season seems to be over (although it’s still 90 degrees during the day, but cooling down into the mid-70’s at night, which is a LOT cooler than 82 or 83) and we are ready to sail down south tomorrow to Ipala, terra incognita for us. We paddled in to grab some drinks and guacamole at a beach palapa restaurant, Coral, and were serenaded by chortling Great-tailed Grackles perching at the next table.

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Nikk is ready to jump naked into the water and clean off the propeller so the knot log will work tomorrow, and I’m ready to make marlin tacos with salad for dinner, and watch the sun go down.

Clouds

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

Joni Mitchell “Both Sides Now”

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Cloud art and cloud poetry with a rainbow (can you find it?)

That huge cloud is a cumulonimbus, from the Latin cumulo (heap) and nimbus (rainstorm). They are associated with atmospheric instability, as warm and cold air collide.
Looking at the beauty of this cloud, it would be easy to forget that inside is a maelstrom of air currents being thrust upwards, cold air causing water vapor to condense and increase the cloud size, swirling gusts, and tops that go from 20,000 feet to occasional 70,000 foot monsters. In nature exists beauty and chaos together. After sunset the clouds begin the nightly light show, with lightening bolts sometimes blasting out of clouds in a 360 degree circle all around us. Last year two boats were struck by lightening in the marina, luckily none this year.
Down here it’s still the monsoon season, and hurricane season, although after a few hurricanes off the west coast of Mexico in July, I think August was pretty quiet, and then last week a tropical storm hit the Baja Peninsula, far away. We can get two inches of rain in two hours here, as we did two nights ago, and fantastic displays of lightening. Last night I was up until a little after midnight, enjoying the quiet (we are staying on a cobblestone street that is very busy during the day, with advertisements blaring from trucks, loud music from cars, lots of teenagers going to and from the schools across the street, and all the vehicles bouncing over the speed bump right outside the house). I happened to look out to the north and saw gigantic flashes of lightening in the clouds, with the occasional thunderbolts shooting out into view. And then twice there was a ball of lightening moving from left to right. Was I seeing a lightening bolt head on? So much electricity that it got together and made a ball instead of a bolt? Mysterious.

We’ve been looking at clouds this past week, enjoying a break from the oppressive heat and humidity. The humidity is still there, but when the temperatures are ten to fifteen degrees cooler (F)
the relief is significant. When we returned from two weeks in the Pacific Northwest we thought that we’d be suffering and sweating buckets, but luckily the temperatures over 90 waited a week to appear. Today the sun is out, the temperature here will be 93 degrees, and apparent temperature 103, due to the 85% humidity. I’m in the dining room, with the air conditioner on, and it’s a comfortable 84 degrees. One of the reasons that it’s been two months since I wrote a blog is the heat and humidity. My brain cells go into sloth mode when it’s this hot and humid. The soaking pool is heaven, it’s about 88 degrees and cools our core temperatures back to normal, but after that it’s time to read or nap. I think I’ve read about thirty books this summer!

The first two months here we were only using the air conditioner in the bedroom at night to avoid lying in a puddle of sweat while trying to sleep. Then the electricity bills suddenly went from $900 pesos (about $75 dollars US) to $90 pesos. The solar panels that Dick and Mary Ann put up on the palapa roof were sending excess electricity to the grid, and the electrical company started giving credit. This month the bill was $45 pesos, so we are using the air conditioner in the dining room during the day which is so lovely, and allows me to “do my homework” for the Writer’s Group which meets on Saturday at the marina.

There is still morning yoga at the marina at 8am, and two days a week Stretch Dance in the Ocean (Bay of Banderas) at 10am. Crystal leads the Stretch Dance class, she is a wonderful, powerfully positive woman that I was lucky to meet here this summer. Those of you on FB, go to my page and you can see some beautiful, fun pictures of the class. Nikk and I are also going to the marina at night to feed the three marina cats. One was abandoned last winter, the other two Siamese were abandoned about two years ago at the marina when they were part of a litter of four kittens.
The veterinarian here in town is Dr. Dunia, so one female Siamese was named after her when she spayed and neutered the kittens and the abandoned adult cat.

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This is Dunia, she is beautiful, and loves to be petted. We heard rumors in May when we took over feeding the two marina cats, the Siamese and the Grey Tabby, that there was another Siamese in the marina, the brother of Dunia. Sure enough, after a couple of weeks we were feeding Dunia one night on the steps leading to the boat ramp, and suddenly there was another Siamese slinking alongside the wall about fifteen feet away. We left him a little pile of food. By August he decided that he wanted to be fed, and started running along with us as we walked up to the malecon (the paved, bricked walkway on the top of the berm). He hasn’t gotten close enough to be petted, and probably never will, but last night he was only two feet away from me as I put down his food. Chulita, the Grey Tabby, is very friendly and sweet, and loves to be petted. I am hoping that someone will adopt her this winter when the cruisers and sun-seekers who own or rent homes here return. The cats all hunt lizards and rodents in the rocks, too. And one night while we were feeding the two Siamese cats, a small raccoon appeared.

The big change at the marina is the closure of the restaurant and the store at the beginning of August. Now all the cruisers have to go up into town to eat, buy beer, pop and snacks, get returnable ten gallon bottles of filtered water, and there is no longer a place with umbrellas and tables outside the tienda where we often met our fellow cruisers in the morning to chat. The waiters and waitresses and clerks all lost their jobs, which made us sad. The restaurant and tienda are owned by a time share company, not the marina, so their profit margin must have been suffering in some way, and now lots of workers are suffering. However, several of the waiters were hired as marina guards. One of the live-aboards, Lynn on La Vita, wanted to help a lovely waitress named Marisol, so she organized a Sunday morning opportunity for Marisol to come to our house and do some barbering on four sailors, then manicure Lynn and Jan. Nikk’s hair had been growing for about five months, and was curling behind his ears when she took the electric clipper and shears to it.

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That’s all the news from La Cruz for now. Here’s one more beautiful view of sunset clouds from the rooftop, the “cloud illusions”.

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The News from La Cruz

Took a month-long break from writing the rainbowspinnaker blog, and made the mistake during that time of updating many of the apps on the iPad, including WordPress. They changed the format for the screen, so now it only works while the iPad is turned on its side while entering text. Unfortunately, they didn’t think about the people like me who have a Belkin keyboard attached to a folder which holds the iPad horizontal while typing. So now I’m up here in the Sky Bar, with the iPad balanced against my pack and the Belkin keyboard sitting on the table. The wind is blowing about 15-20 knots from the north, and I’m trying to sit where the iPad won’t get blown off the table. That said, it’s a beautifully brilliant day of sun and wind. Across the bay there’s marine haze hovering over the water, but here the air is clear, the water is sparkling, and the only haze is coming from one of the constant fires down by the beach, where they’re burning piles of vegetation slashed from the too abundant growth of trees, bushes and creepers.
Here in La Cruz the vegetation is getting extremely dry in the last few months before the summer rains. A couple of times it was cloudy and sprinkled, but that’s it for any precipitation since Jan 1.

Mostly days here in La Cruz begin with rising at a little after 7am, heating water to make green tea, and grabbing the yoga mat, clock, and hair tie to head up to the VIP Lounge at the marina to teach yoga for an hour. I’m substituting again for the regular yoga teacher who needed to go back to the States for a few weeks. Monday and Wednesday is Spanish class after yoga, and then it’s reading, shopping, taking a walk, planning for dinner, cooking dinner (unless we go out to eat), and more reading. My mobility has been a little compromised for the past ten days because I tripped on the edge of a platform and twisted the top of my left foot AFTER a salsa dancing class. Been gimping around ever since. Probably walking three miles down the beach two days after the accident didn’t help. Ni modo (“oh well” en espanol).

Before heading to Portland February 20 Nikk and I and our friend Jane from Midnight Blue finally took the bus over to the Mezcales estuary to bird watch. Following the directions gleaned from the internet we walked to the main plaza, and then headed down the road away from the plaza that Nikk was sure led to the estuary. Luckily Jane speaks Spanish pretty well, and after asking directions to the estuary we were sent to a path down into the mud and mangroves. Soon it was time to spray on lots of insecticide, and we continued to follow the trail, seeing and hearing very few birds, but unfortunately finally hearing the highway nearby, which was totally wrong for the map I’d found on the internet. During that time I managed to slip while trying to see if the lagoon was nearby, and impaled two big thorns from a palm branch into my shin. I still have a little lump under the skin a month later, but no infection luckily.

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Mud and Mangroves

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Sighting a Groove-Billed Ani

At that point retracing our path seemed like a pretty good idea, and after again asking directions we found out that it was the road away from the plaza that Jan wanted to take in the first place. Crowing about being right just didn’t seem like a productive thing to do, so I kept my mouth shut and we walked a mile or so down a dusty road and found the estuary, complete with lots of birds, little crocodiles, and one rather large about ten foot long crocodile sunning itself on the bank by a pond. Jane and I were stalking some snowy egrets in the trees by the pond, and walked right by Mr. Way Too Large Crocodile. Nikk yelled at us, scared the croc, and he launched himself into the pond. Jane and I gasped and agreed it was a close call.

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The crocodile whose name we later found out was Pancho

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Wood Stork perched on a mangrove tree

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Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Black-necked Stilts and Coots

Spending ten days in Portland wasn’t as much of a shock to my body as I thought it might be. I’d stashed a whole big suitcase of clothing and boots at my daughter’s house, every day involved putting on a whole lot more layers than I wear here in Mexico, and going out to take care of numerous appointments, spend time with family and friends, and get used to driving in Portland traffic. I rented a little Mazda2, it was a great little car, in ten days of driving all over the place it used just a little over ten gallons of fuel, about a gallon a day. There were four birthdays to celebrate, my friend Matt’s (the 20th), Serena’s 1st (the 24th), Bridger’s 7th (the 26th) and Jesse’s (I won’t tell his age because I have a hard time believing I have a son that old) on the 28th.
Here is a picture of the four grandchildren at Serena’s birthday party.

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Nikk had to go to Portland right after I returned, so we didn’t see much of each other for three weeks. While I was gone Nikk was visited by his godson Matt and wife Laurie, and a surprise visit from his daughter Tobie and family. So here’s a picture of Nikk’s grandchildren out sailing on Balance.

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We’re getting ready to sail off tomorrow or Thursday for Mazatlan and then across the Sea of Cortez to explore the desert islands off the coast of Baja Caifornia Sur. We’ll be gone for over a month and we’ll miss La Cruz, so I’ll end with a scene captured by Nikk while he was out walking on the cobblestone streets.

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What We Do While Soaking up the Sun

How is it that almost another two weeks has flown by since the last blog? Nikk and I sailed up to Punta de Mita yesterday, getting in a little more sailing before I leave on Wednesday for ten days in Portland. The Humpback Whales are in abundance now, the mothers and newborns hanging out close to shore. We saw a baby breach over and over yesterday on the way up, and then this morning as we motored into the rising sun, the bay so calm there were almost no ripples, I luckily saw whale spume just slightly ahead of us. Sometimes the whales just stay at the surface, breathing and relaxing, we steered away from it, and then it blew and dove, flicking it’s huge flukes.
A week ago Nikk and I hiked at extreme low tide along the beach about two miles to a beautiful sandy beach with overhanging trees that we’d seen often from out on the water. It was about 3pm, and the rocks were baking hot. There were big and small rounded granite boulders, and layers of red and cream sandstone, interlaid with big fingers of basalt sticking up out of the other rocks. We needed a geologist! The rocks are further colored by the brilliant white and stinky pelican poop that gets deposited when the pelicans roost on the rocks or in the trees above the rocks. We finally reached the beach after some scrambling over the last rocky obstacle, and avoiding of the spiny sea urchins exposed by the low tide.

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After a boiling hot hike it is great to shed the clothes and swim in the warm, salty water, watching out for sting rays on the bottom. Last week a swimmer stepped on a sting ray as he was entering the water for a swim. As we were drying off on the beach a mother whale and calf came swimming by right offshore, the calf breeching and cavorting. Suddenly a small boat with two guys and a dog came zooming up right next to the whales. The mother rolled and flapped her pectoral fins at the boat, as the dog stood on the bow and barked crazily. The boat followed the whales staying about 25-50 feet away, which I think is illegal. Nikk took a lot of pictures.
So here are two for those of you who like to see whales; Nikk had to zoom in to get details, so the pictures are not as crisp as they could be with a bigger camera.

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We also went on a three hour hike up into the hills on Valentine’s Day, and found two medium-sized dogs who hiked with us up and back, a herd of goats, and a little stream with a spillway, a pond, and lots of irrigation hoses. It was another hot day, the shade provided by huge trees all along the dirt road was really welcome.

Another thing that we do on a hot day like today is take two huge bags of laundry into town to the Lavanderia, walking along the cobblestones and practicing our greetings en espanol. My Spanish is improving each week we’re here, thanks to mi professora Anna who teaches Mon and Wed mornings. If I don’t go birdwatching tomorrow morning to an estuary about 8 miles south of here, I’ll be learning more about the past, present and future tenses of verbs. Someday maybe I’ll be able to write a blog in Spanish. Someday way in the future, I think. But I have found several apps for iPad to learn Spanish, and practice while I’m away from the marina. This blog will be continued in March when I return from Portland!

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