Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Posts tagged ‘Yelapa’

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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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.

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