Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Posts tagged ‘Cruising in Mexico’

Las Hadas: History, Mystery and Celebration



Have you ever seen a photograph of a location and knew you had to go there?  Nikk and I were planning our sailing trip south from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in December when I spotted the photograph of Las Hadas Resort in Pacific Mexico:  A Cruiser’s Guidebook.  (  That’s all it took for my mind to be hooked.  Usually my fascination centers on some aspect of the natural world, but this time my love of architecture, and Moorish architecture in particular had me planning and plotting a trip to Las Hadas.  Soon Nikk  somewhat merrily agreed to our off-boat adventure when I suggested that a two-night stay to celebrate my birthday at Las Hadas would be so romantic.  Balance sailed into the little cove in front of Las Hadas on January 4th, and we anchored in aquamarine water with only two other boats, one unoccupied.  Reservations were easy, using  This time we played it safe and transported ourselves, our luggage and our electronics in the dinghy, not the kayaks, to the marina located inside the breakwater.



The hike from the marina up to the lobby involved some serious puffing and panting, as the road is steep and long, and we were hauling all the gear necessary for a two-day stay.  Luckily after checking in an employee ferried us in a golf cart up to our room, several floors and stories above the lobby.  After that ride, Nikk and I enjoyed hiking all over the resort, exploring and photographing, and puzzling the employees who constantly asked us if we wanted a ride.  Our room was small, but seemed roomy after three weeks on the boat.  Marble floors and counters, bas relief in Moorish styling on the door and the headboard designed on the wall, hot water (a happy luxury after the Grand Bay Marina restrooms with almost no hot water), WiFi  (a bit slow so no movies) and a luxurious large shower.

This Moorish fantasy was created by Antenor Patino Rodriguez, known as Antenor Patino, who was heir to his father’s title of “The King of Tin” in Bolivia.  I have learned that whenever I see a work of fantastic architecture in Spain, Central America or South America, the wealth that built it is likely to come from the extraction of resources, like tin, which involves the use of many poorly-paid workers or slaves.   Patino wanted to create a resort for his family and friends, and named it Las Hadas, which means “the fairies”, because of the sparkling, shiny particles in the sand, or maybe because of the glimpses of phosphorescence scintillating in the water.  Architect Jose Luis Ezquerra took Patino’s ideas and formed them into turrets, towers, whimsical sculpture, beautiful pools, and luxurious accommodations.  After Las Hadas was completed in 1972 a month-long celebration for the rich and famous ensued, and then three years of money-draining parties and what I sometimes call “wretched excess”, until Patino’s fortune was threatened and he sold Las Hadas.  Patino married into European royalty, so there were plenty of rich and famous people of his acquaintance to entertain and accommodate.   We were also amazed to have dinner back in La Cruz with Ed and Connie, who sail on Sirena, and to find that Ed grew up in Bolivia and knew Patino because his father was an American geologist.

Today the property is managed and cared for by the Las Brisas Hotel Collection, and they are doing an admirable job of keeping the aging resort from crumbling and losing its charm.  In our wanderings, we found places where Mother Nature had caused some serious problems recently, but the bulk of the hotel, with five restaurants, tennis courts, two pools, and many roads and buildings looked like maintenance was a serious and on-going priority.

Las Hadas became famous worldwide after the movie “10” with Bo Derek and Dudley Moore was filmed there and released in 1979.  Nikk’s son-in-law heard we were going to Las Hadas and immediately gave Nikk a long story on the phone of the teenage fantasies caused by Bo Derek at Las Hadas until his wife said “OK, moving on to other topics….”.

I’m not telling any secrets, but Nikk and I did have a romantic stay at Las Hadas, and celebrated my birthday with lobster ravioli, cheesecake and margaritas




A luxurious unit


An echo of the Alhambra in Spain


Holiday lights

On the third day, while walking near Los Hadas, we found a large abandoned house on an overgrown lot, with tropical thorn forest rapidly taking over the property.  Since it was for sale, we went exploring.  Why it was abandoned, who owned it, where they went, and how long before it’s razed and turned into another hotel were questions asked and not answered.  Las Hadas would soon resemble this decaying home if not for all the efforts to thwart entropy (the tendency of the universe to go to maximum randomness).  The contrast between this neglected property and Las Hadas became a meditation on the impermanence of all things, and on whether the birds, lizards, trees and shrubs were more beautiful than the carefully-tended creations of Las Hadas?

Even the name of the property is a mystery that is not solved yet.  The name on the plaque can’t be deciphered by anyone I’ve asked so far, including the Mexican waiter at Octopus’s Garden.  If any reader has a guess, please add it in the comments!



Too soon it was time to head back to Balance, pull up the anchor, and slowly make our way back north to La Cruz.  Our idea at the beginning of the trip  was to sail down to Zihuatanejo, but the heat and humidity and the lack of air conditioning on Balance made us give up on that plan, and decide that Manzanillo and Las Hadas were the furthest south we’d go.  Maybe next year, we said.

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea.

Our Welcome to 2013: Music, Dancing, Fireworks and Rain, Rain, Rain

Feliz Ano Nuevo to all! The end of the Mayan Age has come and gone, we’re thankfully still here on this beautiful planet, and in this lovely little village of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, named for the Huanacaxtle tree, a huge, spreading, deciduous tree which grows profusely here on the shores of the Bay of Banderas. Cruisers living on their boats in the marina, in little houses on shore, or on their boats anchored offshore have numerous opportunities for fun, especially during the holiday season. We have been no slouches in the social fabric of La Cruz, with numerous parties, get-togethers with friends, paddle races in our kayaks, charity dinners, and buying and wrapping presents for kids at an orphanage.


This photo was taken at a charity dinner to raise money for renovating the bathrooms at the local primary school. My Spanish teacher Anna was kind enough to take another student Nina and I to The Little Closet, a fabulous little store with one-of-a-kind clothing that I suspect comes from Mexico City, and which surprisingly is not expensive. This dress and belt were found with Anna’s help.


Celebrating two days before Christmas with our friends Lauren and Herrardo at their property a little ways above La Cruz.

Some singers and dancers came to town and performed at a local restaurant and then the next day at the Sunday Market here at the marina. Their costumes, singing, and dancing were spectacular, very warlike and forceful.


The stay at the marina is going on much longer than we had anticipated, because Nikk found a leak in the fuel tank about two weeks ago. Getting the fuel tank out of it’s enclosed space after pumping out the diesel into bottles, then unhooking hoses that were devilishly difficult to access took up most of a day. Our friend Dick volunteered his truck to take the fuel tank to his welder in the nearby town of Bucerias. Many days later (Christmas came right in the middle of the days in the welder’s shop) and many dollars later, the fuel tank was finally welded, but that wasn’t the end. It had to go to Dick’s garage to be thoroughly cleaned, then painted with primer and three coats of corrosion-resistant paint that is gunmetal gray. Today, the first day of 2013, it still sits curing in Dick’s garage. Perhaps tomorrow it will be reinstalled, but only if the leak into the bilge which runs under the fuel tank is found and stopped. Which brings me to the surprise.

New Year’s Eve day was cloudy all day, and somewhat cool, an unusual occurrence here in December. Still, Nikk and I were in short sleeves as we strolled up to Philo’s Restaurant for dinner and dancing. Philo had a music studio in the Bay Area. After arriving in La Cruz in 2000 he bought a place and turned it into a restaurant and bar with a large dance floor, then put together a country rock band and entertained several nights a week right up to last night. We were back at the boat before midnight to watch the fireworks, from Yelapa, about 20 miles across the bay, to Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, and La Cruz, fireworks were exploding in the sky in all their dazzling colors. We congratulated our middle-aged selves for staying up past midnight, then collapsed into bed. About 3:30 am I woke confused, with water all over my forearm. Was Nikk spraying me? Did I drool? Oh no, it was rain coming in the porthole above my formerly sleeping self. As I was closing the porthole Nikk woke up and wound up outside lowering all the hatches, then coming inside to finish closing all the portholes. And it rained, and rained, and is still raining almost 12 hours later. So for all of you who were a bit envious of our sunny weather, envy not until this storm has passed, in what the internet says will be about 36 hours. We are discovering all the places that leak, some of which we thought we’d fixed last summer. The huge brown tarp is now back covering the boat, and Nikk is searching out the source of the leak into the bilge.


We were planning to be sailing this week, maybe across the bay, maybe over to the Mariettas islands to do some snorkeling and scuba diving, but now we’ll be here in La Cruz until this Sunday, when we go for an overnight trip with about 60 other people up to a 400-year-old mining town in the piney mountains called San Sebastian. The next post will chronicle that trip to a different part of Mexico not seen by boat.

I’ll end with a picture of sunset at the beach where Nikk and our marina neighbor Greg go swimming right before sunset to cool off after a typical day of sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s. I hope that those days return sometime soon!


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