Monday, March 28, 2011

Puerto Balandra

Can water any where in the world be clearer then this? I think not. We have heard nothing but good things about the Sea of Cortez, and seeing is believing. Every new cove we find is better then the last, and we have just begun our journey into this marvelous body of sea. Even that very famous fellow sea lover, Jacques Cousteau, has said this place is the worlds best aquarium. Enjoy these few shots of this little slice of favorite is the last, Patrick and Jack pulling me over a sand bar.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More from Bahia Los Frailes

Here are a few more snaps from our stay at Bahia Los Frailes. I think I took over 500 photos while here, in hopes that it will help me remember the feeling of seeing this side of the sea for the first time. It is spectacular. From these shots, the water looks calm, but trust me it wasn't! The clouds give that away with their fanciful rips across the sky. We managed to kayak to shore one day to do some exploring despite the winds that never let up. It was up wind to the beach and for awhile we were just treading water to keep from getting sucked backwards out to sea. All three of us were laughing hysterically as the waves splashed us directly in the face every chance they got. It was worth every bit of effort and soaking to place our feet on solid ground again, and to get a closer look at the scenery I had been drooling over for the past few days.

There is a fish camp here, which are temporary shacks that the local fisherman camp out in, and thats about it. No restaurants, no markets, no cold beer...........but check out the freshly cut jaw of a rather large Tiger Shark. We couldn't find anyone to give us the details on where it was captured, but we were guessing it wasn't to far from here. I never enjoy seeing any part of any dead thing in particular, but I was happy to see this jaw from this angle and not while I was snorkeling in the water angle. Jack and I said a little prayer, as we do when we come across anything that has lost its life......especially when we are the ones taking the life for dinner....and we toss in a few, we are sorry, sorry, sorry, because although we love the taste of fresh fish, the killing part is something that is never easy. The Sea of Cortez is known for its fishing, so there will be a lot of gratitude prayers going on this spring and summer. After admiring the massive teeth from this massive shark, we headed off on a back country hike. As we started, I noticed there were a lot of vultures flying directly overhead. It kinda gave me the creeps......I couldn't help but wonder if they were waiting to say their own gratitude prayer as their shadows followed us the entire way. I quickly got the feeling that the desert is an unforgiving kind of place, and was glad we packed extra water. After a great hike, we headed back to our kayaks and headed down wind to Santosha, with only no effort at all since the wind was still blowing, but on our backs this time. The next morning we listened to the weather, and they were calling for less without hesitation, we pulled up the anchor and waved goodbye to our first home in the Sea of Cortez.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crossing to the Sea of Cortez and anchoring at Bahia Los Frailes

Our 30 hour passage from Matzalan to our current home, Bahia Los Frailes, was as smooth as a babies bottom. It was like glass all the way across this expansive stretch of ocean. The moon was full and it was a glorious crossing even if there was no wind to sail with. Many many sightings were seen as we watched the color of the ocean change from a brown green into a beautiful hue of blue. Several large Manta Rays kept us entertained for hours as we watched them jump and splash, along with the usual suspects of Humpback Whales, Dolphins, and for the first time in months.....Sea Lions the size of Texas. I do not know why Sea Lions do not frolic further south.....I sense another homeschool project coming on.......but it was good to see so many of them again. We arrived and dropped anchor at 2pm and enjoyed a nice day of snorkeling and kayaking. Our surroundings have changed from palm tree tropical to massive rocky cliffs with white sand beaches. The Sea of Cortez is like the Grand Canyon for those of you who have never been here. The much welcomed scenery change simply put, is breath taking. Our plan was to spend one night here as we make our way to La Paz......but while man plans the Gods laugh.......we woke up the following morning to a whole new setting. Our glassy, we can see the anchor in 25 feet of water anchorage, has turned to howling winds coming down through the mountains and slamming us with, thankfully warm wind, that has turned our anchorage into a mosh pit. The boat is moving arround so much that it feels like we are underway. We quickly listened to the weather report on our SSB, and from the sounds of it, it will be blowing 25 to 30 knots for the next 5 to 6 days. We turned on our wind meter, and clocked a gust of 49 even. Normally getting stuck in a beautiful place like this would not be a bad thing, but due to the heavy wind, and white water rapids that now surround us, we can not get to shore to hike, run, practice yoga, frolic in the sand, swim, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, or do anything that keeps us entertained or from going completely mad. So we sit.....and listen to the howling wind as it bashes us back and forth, and yanks on our anchor chain like a dentist doing a root canal. I do not see much sleep in our near future as we trade our night at sea watches in for a watch the anchor so if it snaps loose we can start the engines and high tail it out of here before we crash into the rocks or drift out to sea. However, I do see much cooking and eating in the next few days.........Oh, except we didn't provision before leaving Matzalan since we were getting to La Paz in a few days.....which is more like weeks now. So I see much scrounging up what dried goods we have and making them into something eatable, along with the opportunity to sink our teeth into lots of homeschooling......Oh Joy. On the bright side, because there always is one, the sunrises and sunsets will not disappoint, and while rummaging under our beds in the dried food storage, I came across not one, but six bottles of my favorite California Pinot Noir. It was better then Christmas Morning! So bring it on Father wind, or Mother wind, or who ever you are.....because I am now laughing too!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Matanchen Bay/San Blas to Matzatlan

Our stay in Matanchen Bay was a short one, as we are eager to get to the Sea of Cortez. We did revisit the town of San Blas, and had the best street tacos we have ever had. (Thank you Rich on s/v Third Day for taking us there!) Sadly, no Huichol experiences to report, but you can be sure there will be a story or two to tell when we pass this way again in the fall. Our plans for next season still remain unplanned. We may cross to the South Pacific, or head to Panama.....In this moment we are underway to our next stop, Matzatlan. It is 3am. I love it when Patrick and Jack are fast asleep and I have Santosha and what feels like the entire ocean, all to myself. I just finished reading, The Motion of The Ocean, by Janna Cawrse Esary. I could completely relate to her experience of living in a small confined space 24/7 with her mate. She made me feel normal and hopeful. A must read for anyone in a a small confined space, or even in a big wide open field. I am happy to report in with you all, that our relationship is still on the up swing. We have now been living in our walk in closet for 7 months, and neither one of us has thrown the other over board. While, yes, we did come close, on more then one occasion....I only blogged about one....we are learning and growing as a couple and a family. Spending this much time together forces you to iron out every little wrinkle, and actually, I would find it odd if we didn't have to hit the steam button a few times to get out the really stubborn wrinkles. A very good friend of mine made the comment that there is no way in hell she would live on a boat with her husband for a week, let alone two years, and is not surprised at all that the D word came up. She would have tossed her mate over board months ago! And they have a very good marriage......While this is a thought far out of my mind these days, I do have visions of tossing Jacks entire Calvert homeschool curriculum over board most days........and I have yet to meet a boating family who has not had these thoughts......If you are out there, please contact me immediately, I am hopeful Jack is learning what he needs to learn to satisfy the powers that be in the California school system. And if not, then I know this experience is enriching his life in many other ways that can not be measure by the standard STAR testing. Lets face it, there is nothing standard about what we are doing, and how can you even measure it or test it? But still.......there is still the struggle and the stress of teaching that starts most days off on the wrong foot. I am, once again hopeful, that as we round into the second half of our first year at sea, this will shift too, or these books just may go flying! It seems to me, judging the people we have met so far, that the longer you are out here, the more relaxed you become. A few of the families we have met are at the end of their cruising run and are headed back to the U.S.A Just that thought stresses me out more then homeschooling. How will we go from this to that? It is not a thought I think about often, since we are just at the begining of our two year stint, but 7 months have passed at a rather quick pace.....While I do, from time to time, day dream about long hot showers, driving my car to Whole Foods and Trader Joes, (provisioning a boat requires a dinghy ride, or panga ride if there are breaking waves to get to shore, finding a bus, sometimes two busses, to get to a market, then repeating the above to get back to the boat to unload ) I also miss the abundance of healthy fresh food, and storing it in a full size fridge and freezer, and well, just the space in general of living in a house...I miss that. I miss my yoga studio and the quiet space it offered me to escape when Patrick is crunching his chips too loud, I miss wine and laughter with my friends, and my cats Summer and Winter, who probably wont want to live with us after living with my sister....who is spoiling them. I miss mountain biking, and my sweet boys, Alex and Blake and dream of having them here with us again. Oh...and I miss flush toilets..... a lot. But as I sit here, under a ga-zillion stars in the sky, surrounded by Bio Luminesence, flowing with the motion of the ocean, unaware of what day of the week it is, I pinch myself and realize this will all be over way to soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chacala and the Petroglyps

We had another smooth passage from Punta Mita to Chacala. We saw several Humpback Whales, and lots of Dolphins, which we never get tired of seeing. We stopped briefly in Chacala on our way south and remembered it being one of our favorite beaches. We decided to pay it another visit. The water is warm in this beautiful bay so we snorkeled and spent most of our time getting wet. Jack spotted a good size Sole in the sand, Patrick grabbed the spear, and dinner was caught. While here, my fascination with the Huichol tride was fed some more. They are an indigenous group of people who live in this region that I have mentioned in prior blogs. They mostly live high in the mountains, and are very shy, reclusive people. They come down to sell beautiful hand made crafts, and to work the fields. But for the most part, they want nothing to do with modern society. They are one of the only remaining indigenous tribes that have retained their religion, refusing to give up their beliefs or way of life. Even during the time when the Christian Missionaries took over this beautiful land, the Huichols refused to change their ways. To this day, they live just as they have for thousands of years, respecting the earth, and taking only what they need for survival. Jack is in the process of researching, and writing a report on these beautiful people, so watch for that on his blog in the next week or so. While in Chacala, I heard there was a Huitchol Shaman that lives here. If you know me, you can guess what happened next. I had to meet him, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for Jack to gather information for his report. Once I found him, I learned his mother was not well, and he was not up for visitors. The taxi driver who took us to him then offered to take us to see the petroglyps in the near by town of Altravista. Since we were already on an adventure, I thought why not, and quickly agreed. Patrick and Jack were game as well, so we jumped back into the taxi and taken on a very interesting ride. Our new friend Manuel, then informed us that he was not sure where they were and that we would need to stop and see if his friend could be our guide. Manuel spoke good English, so we trusted him, which yes I know.....we need to be careful, especially when driven off road into complete wilderness. I trust my instincts, and I was sure we were safe. Patrick gave me a few funny looks.....wondering how much all of this was going to cost.....but I was on a mission, and nothing was going to stop me! Once we arrived in Altravista, Manuel found his friend sitting on the side of the road.....a small red flag..... trust trust trust.....he spoke in very quick spanish, so I could not make out any of their conversation. His friend then got in the taxi with us, and off we went. We stopped at the side of the road, and his friend opened a fence, that we then drove through. Before we knew what was happening, we were now off roading in a mexican taxi....another fence was opened, and then we parked. From here, we got out and proceeded to hike for about 30 what I can only express in words...... as one of the most amazing places my feet have ever been led to. The petroglyps date back to 2300 B.C. This is a sacred place still used today for ceremonial purposes. We followed our guide thru the jungle and ended up at a pool of water and rocks. The Huichol tribe often come here for ceremony and we were lucky enough to witness one of their alters. It was truly an amazing place to soak up some high vibrations.......I was tempted to sit and light the peyote and partake in the full experience, but rationality took over. We left feeling so blessed to have witnesses such a beautiful thing. Tomorrow we head to San Blas, where more Huichols are rummored to be.....oh and the total cost for the taxi and guide was 500 pesos.....about $40 U.S. Totally worth a full day of adventure in Mexico.