January 17, 2011
We’ve spent the last month in Banderas Bay, where Puerto Vallarta is located. Jan flew back to Olympia for Christmas and New Years, while I had the pleasure of having my daughter, Ellie, and her paramour, Alex, for the holidays. We spent much of the time at Paradise Village Marina, where the beach was a two minute walk away. That meant Jordy got a lot of beach and ball playing time with the youngsters and I (Michael) did my first boogie boarding on the mellow surf.
At Paradise there are a series of natural areas, complete with crocodiles, although we did not see any. We did see iguanas sunning themselves 15 feet up in the trees and a zillion pelicans. The greater Kiskadees also charmed us. They are so pretty and tame enough to follow us from boat to boat to allow a closer look.
We also visited the very charming town of Yelapa where the walks are wonderful and the moorings very, very rolly. We also visited Los Arcos and Las Tres Marietas, where Ellie and Alex did some snorkeling. They promised us some log entries to fill in this period. Until then, I’d note that we saw dozens of whales on the way to the three marias. One humpback surfaced right next to us and then dove under our rudder, so close I could have touched him (or her, not sure how to tell the sexes). This caused Ellie to exclaim, “Oh Sh….!” I was thinking the same thing.
After Jan returned January 8, Touch Rain revisited Yelapa with our cruising buddies Dennis and Mary Lee Millard, s/v Lardo, out of the Bay Area of California.
Yelapa is so fantastically magical it is almost impossible to capture with words. Unlike many of the areas of Mexico we have visited up to now—Yelapa is not desert in nature at all, instead it is filled with tropical, lush vegetation! Brightly colored butterflies flit from flower to flower—varieties currently missing in the States.
The small village is poised around a little river leading to a waterfall. Passable roads are non-existent and provisioning appears to be done with an assortment of pack tools and critters-most houses having at least one horse, donkey or mule parked in their backyard.
We stood to the side on the path while quads and wheel barrows carried bricks up the hillside to complete work on half-finished houses. Apparently the upriver people and the oceanside villagers engage in some pretty heavy duty, serious football (soccer) rivalries.
Around the bay itself pangas perform duties as mini-cargo ships—carrying huge stacks of food and equipment to the small hotels which surround the bay. People and provisions alike, mostly arrive by boat from Puerto Vallarta—our two sailing vessels and one small power boat were the only outside visitors who didn’t arrive by panga the days we were there. At our arrival in the bay, Rafael in his panga greeted us and tied us to a mooring buoy—anchoring is apparently not very secure as it is very deep.
The fee for a night at mooring and rides to and from the island-200 pesos! We took a walk around the small river valley, up one side, across a bridge and down the other. What an amazing walk. The feeling is more like Polynesia than Mexico—domestic varieties of flowers gone wild in the hillsides—impatiens, trumpet flowers as big as your hand—climbing 30 feet into the palm trees.
Everyone around are houses crafted from blocks and tiles—quite impressive villas alternating with tiny little shacks. Almost every home seems to do restaurant duty at least one night a week. We ended up having dinner at a little place called the Oasis—which looked like a private patio—for the first hour we four were their only guests. Jordy allowed to fetch her ball across the vast expansive of lawn as we ate our dinner.
Lessons learned in Yelapa?—Of course:
Beware if you don’t eat at the restaurant owned by the family of the panga you rode in on. Our trip to shore with Rafael had begun in a very easy going friendly manner. He performed his docking art very impressively—picking up enough to speed to virtually land his boat up on the beach-so none of us had to even get our feet wet. After quick drinks at his family restaurant (which he assured us had the best dinners in town) we headed off on our walk. Rafael brushing aside our offers to pay at that time—saying we could easily pay when he returned us to our boats later. By six o’clock when he discovered us side tracked by the inviting vista of eating at Oasis. I suspect that the current lack of tourism made our defection quite personal. He asked for our payments and said that another panga could return us to our boats.
Lesson number two, pangas aren’t readily available in small villages—it was only due to Dennis’ extreme determination—he went from house to house for an hour and a half before tracking down someone willing to return us to our boats—it took the grand sum of 600 pesos to even interest anyone is “rescuing” us. We spent a bit of time on the beach considering finding a lounge chair to pass the night! As it turned out we might have gotten more sleep—the only thing that kept us from another night in this charming location—was the lack of sleep from bouncing around in the waves all night.
We are now anchored on the northern part of the bay at La Cruz. This is a cruiser’s mecca, as opposed to Paradise Marina, which catered to 50 to 150-foot fishing and motor yachts. We’ve moved from millionaires to beach bums in one easy sail. They say the music is great here. We’ll report later. We expect to be here until Jan heads back to Olympia January 22 and maybe even when she returns in February. At that time, we’d like to head south a bit before preparing for our departure from Mexico in mid-late March.
Right now, we are leaning toward heading from Mexico to Hawaii, about 2600 miles and a three-week trip. We hope to meet up with brother in law and sister in law, Randall and Allison, there. Jan will return to Washington to be at her daughters’ graduation from Vet School at WSU. Robyn and Nicki have just passed their national veterinary boards, whoopee! When Jan returns from the graduation, we will probably head to southeast Alaska before coming down the inside passage and ending our trip in September.
That’s the plan, anyway. Subject to change, of course.