Santa Rosalia: A French town in a Mexican Village

Subscribe/sign up by clicking on the button on the right —>

IMG_2819 2Santa Rosalia was copper mining city for many years, and today, it’s also a jumping off point to cross the Sea of Cortez. With the shortest distance between two points (74nm), we will leave this town Thursday for San Carlos, on the mainland of Mexico – ending our Baja sailing season for 2018 and getting ready for hurricane season. The copper mining has left its mark with trains and mining equipment which was used to bring timber here from the Pacific NW – nearly all of the town and houses here are made from wood, which is highly unusual for the Baja.

 

IMG_2807 2
Leaving north for Santa Rosalia

 

This is our first marina since La Paz, over 3 weeks ago. We love being “on the hook” (at anchor), but it’s nice to pop into a marina every now and then to have a proper shower, do laundry, have endless supplies of electricity and explore a town.

 

 

There is a large French influence here, and it’s reflected in the architecture, the church and the bakery. The church was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel) for the Paris world fair in the late 1800s, then disassembled and shipped across the ocean to land here in this little town. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but it’s 100% steel and the internal ceiling looks like a boat with its trusses and support structures.

The bakery has delicious breads and baguettes – Mexican sweet bread cooked in 100+ year old wood ovens in a French style. Outstanding and delicious. (I had a churro here that was divine, too).

 

The bird life in the marina is outstanding – herons, pelicans, osprey, cormorants, terns and egrets are everywhere. I saw my first yellow-crowned night heron here – a lovely little heron with amber eyes and plumey feathers.

Next stop: San Carlos/Nuevo Guaymas 

SAILING NORTH: San Evaristo, Agua Verde & Puerto Escondido

San Evaristo (May 10-11)

IMG_2550
Trash drop off with a seashell holding donations (at the base of sign in the old tire)

Continuing north, we found several great spots to anchor and tuck in while the SW winds were blowing. We arrived in San Evaristo – a tiny fishing village – to spend a night in a protected cove. There was a restaurant, and although it said it was open, it was closed. We asked the locals about it, and they said (as they usually do), “maybe mañana?” They have an honor trash bin, which means you can drop your trash and recycling off while leaving a tip – money just sits out in the open, and no one takes it.

This is Mexico 🙂

The small tienda (store) had a few things, and we bought delicious pears that were just delivered from the US – a real treat!

IMG_2560
Flying north at 7+ knots with new friends aboard Linda Marie & Wishlist

Agua Verde (May 11-13)

We sailed north to Agua Verde on a strong S wind which pushed us into a beautiful cove where we spent a couple of nights. The green water against a backdrop of mountains and white sand beaches is quintessential Baja and quite hard to describe the peacefulness.

IMG_2655
Agua Verde – looking out over the Northern Anchorage

We met quite a few other cruisers there and had an impromptu BBQ/bonfire on the beach. The next morning, we took a 5 mile hike up into the sea cliffs to see cave paintings/petroglyphs with incredible sea views, an ancient cemetery and a secret little oasis with fresh water and palms – it reminded me of one of our favorite hikes  just outside of Palm Springs.

In Agua Verde, they have a small restaurant run by a start-up all female co-op funded by the Mexican government where women and young girls learn how to cook, run a business and serve customers. It was a great little spot, and we were happy to give them our business. When we ordered something that they didn’t have on the menu (e.g. beer or soda), they just popped over to the store nearby to buy it for us.

There is a small tienda here that sells a large selection of fresh fruits and veg as well as local goat cheese – all of the goats live free in the mountains and you can hear the tinkle of their bells or their sweet bleating as they climb up and down the hills in search of their next meal.

Puerto Escondido (May 13-17)

I had work to do Monday morning, so we were seeking a spot with wifi. We heard that it could be found at an anchorage in Los Candeleros with a large resort nearby, but we didn’t want to risk it, so we went into Puerto Escondido, a hurricane hole just south of Loreto (confirmed later with friends that wifi signal is in fact strong there!).

On our way there, we had one of the most rewarding wildlife days since we have been sailing. There wasn’t much wind, so we were motor sailing, and we happened through a huge pod of bottlenose dolphins – hundreds of them swimming and jumping from west to east, so we turned the boat around and paralleled their path so as not to bother them but in the hopes that they would join our boat (which of course they did). Dolphins seem to love interacting with people. They enjoy swimming in the bow or wake of the boat, but our observations are that they stay with you longer if they can see you – I always jump to the bow of the boat and wave to them, talk to them, and they are always on the side of the boat that we are on – when we move, they move. They are simply the loveliest creatures alive, and with a brain larger than ours, and language more complex, I’m almost certain that they are more intelligent than humans. <PLEASE DON’T PAY TO SWIM WITH THEM & DON’T VISIT A DOLPHINARIUM>

The dolphins swam with us for about 30-45 minutes, swooping in and out, jumping and spraying us with water from their blowholes as they surfaced next to us. They are such adroit swimmers that when we sped up and turned, they sensed our movement before we made it, and with a flick of their tails were quickly out of the path of the boat. Immediately after we turned away from the dolphin pod, a baby humpback whale surfaced, slapping his tail on the surface of the water.

Then, 10 minutes later, we were greeted by a large manta ray feeding at the surface, gliding in and around the boat as we slowed, which then caused us to see 3 pilot whales just off the starboard side of our bow. It was an incredibly rewarding day and reminded me of all we have to be grateful for on this planet and how much responsibility we have to protect it!

Puerto Escondido is tucked into a hard to see harbor, protected on nearly 4 sides of mountains and low lying land – if you needed to escape from a storm or hurricane, this is just about the best place to do so. There is an office with wifi and meeting room, a restaurant, a small market, and an honor laundry where you pay the office for how many loads you do. They have a small chandlery and haul out as well as a small tour office for diving.

The bay is a field of mooring balls – easy to pick up and tie off. For those of you who have never done it before, you simply pick up the line in the water with a boat hook, tie off one end of your dock line to a cleat on the bow of the boat and then string the dock line through the loop on the mooring ball and go around the bow to create a V (or bridle)

IMG_2616 2
Looking east through one of the two “windows” in Puerto Escondido, tied to a mooring ball

and then tie off the other end on the other side of the boat on a cleat. We doubled tied ours with two docklines just in case. We asked the office when they had been last inspected, and they assured us that they were safely attached and secured.

 

We like being on mooring balls – it’s easier and more restful than being at anchor and yet you are still free and clear of other boats and people to have a quiet experience. There are supposed to be 117 mooring balls (1-40 for boats under 40’, 41-112 for boats over 40’, and higher numbers for really large boats), but we didn’t see that many – we tied up at #106.

IMG_2642
Kirby changing engine & generator oil while in PE

Loreto

If you want to visit Loreto, this is the best place to stay and leave your boat, as Loreto doesn’t have protected anchorage or a marina. And, if you want to get into Loreto, the best thing to do is arrange a car rental. The car rental will drop off your car at the marina office (Alamo) and pick up the car when you are done. We had a Volkswagen with A/C for $40/day including taxes and fees. If you get a taxi to take you to town and back, it will cost almost double that rate. With a car, you can load up on supplies and run any errands. We did some sightseeing but also ran some errands.

The mission and plaza are the highlights here, as is the Malecon. You only need a couple of hours to see the town, and it’s lovely with everything you’ll need to provision from an Autozone to grocery stores. You can reload/recharge your SIM cards in several markets (including Big markets) as there isn’t an OXXO in town.  There is also a farmer’s market on Sunday mornings in the plaza, and the BEST bread in town can be found at Pan Que Pan – delicious and light with a staff that is friendly and speaks English. You can also enjoy their fresh juices named after Superheros.

THIS PLACE IS LOUSY WITH TURTLES

IMG_2537
Sunset from Lodos

We were looking for a place to anchor and hide out on our way north with protection from the Coromuels (SW wind, similar to Lodos in Turkey), and we stopped at a national park called Isla Partida, which is just north of Espirito Santo, another national park. As we approached, there were leaping Mobula rays all around us and as we got closer into the island, we noticed so many turtles. I joked to Kirby that this place seemed to be just “lousy with them”! 🙂

After anchoring here for a couple of days, it turns out that we were right.

Isla Partida and Caleta Partida (our anchorage) is a sunken crater created from an ancient volcano. It’s a beautiful lagoon with a sand spit that you can dingy across in high tide, with numerous sea caves.

IMG_2543 2

The turtles are magical here. Dozens of them circled and swam near our boat each day – the sound they make when they surface is similar to an old man coming up for air after being below water for a long time. We watched a research group out of La Paz operate here, too; they have a camp on the beach with surface nets that they would drop and then check multiple times a day. We watched them haul out turtles, take them to camp, measure and tag them before releasing them. Each time they would see one in the net, a cheer would go up.  To me, it’s proof that when you protect a place, nature can rebound immensely!

There are a couple of fish camps here, too. There is a little old man on his fishing boat (panga) that makes his rounds each day asking for stuff from the boaters. Yesterday, he asked us for triple A batteries and today, a gallon of water. Paying the karma forward, we happily give these fisherman something and hope it helps them look kindly upon the people that use the waters that they claim as home.

Next post(s): San Evaristo, Agua Verde (30-50 miles north) & Puerto Escondido.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT LIVING NOMADICALLY

I sat next to a young man on the flight going to Mexico City recently. He was in La Paz for a week learning how to be a kayak guide and spent a week paddling around Espirito Santo Island (not far from La Paz and a national park/nature preserve). He was from Canada and had never been outside of the US/Canada before – his first trip. He was so excited and enthusiastic about everything; it was fun to hear about his Mexican adventure from a new perspective.

This reminds me, while also fresh in my mind, to capture what is new (or new again), exciting, and interesting in this nomadic life we’re living. So, here are some random thoughts about what I still find fascinating – or maybe even banal – and joyful about travel.

IMG_2470 2
Sunset at Marina de La Paz

I keep seeing great blue herons – I like the idea that they might be my “spirit animal” because their appearance is so apropos to what we’re experiencing in these days: seeking innate wisdom, self reliance, personal exploration and adaptability. Also, they are supposed to signify peace – how perfectly appropriate in a place named La Paz (peace)! https://www.spirit-animals.com/heron/

A dark sky is wholly under-rated

Dolphins in the pacific are much more social and friendly than dolphins in the Sea of Cortez – but both make me happy

I love the sound of shrimp under the boat at night when we go to bed – have you ever heard them? It’s the most amazing thing! The sound they make is produced from the air snapping rapidly between their wee claws

Work is so much better when you can do it remotely and on your own terms

I missed reading novels in the past 5 years (too many business books and too much work); I just started on my 6th one this year

The sail from San Diego to Cabo was so hard, but I miss the open ocean

The people of Mexico have to be some of the kindest in the world

Work on the boat is never (ever) done

I haven’t found Churros since leaving Ensenada 🙁

My irrational fear of hitting a whale isn’t so irrational

Getting ready for hurricane season seems to occupy an inordinate amount of energy and space in my brain – as one guy recently put it, “It’s so daunting a task with so much to fear that I might just go back to San Diego!”

I’m going to be a great aunt (!!!)

I enjoy planning travel almost as much as living it

Onions and potatoes will last for months unrefrigerated as long as they have air and don’t sit next to each other

A strong wifi signal is a something I used to take for granted

Peeling a ripe mango is so much harder than it looks

Life seems infinitely simpler when you limit your wardrobe to a few pair of shorts and a couple of T-shirt’s to choose from everyday

I never tire of: the sun, sunsets, guacamole, dolphins, or tacos

IMG_2471 2
Tacos with soyrizo, onion, garlic & avos – yum!

Wherever you go, there you are – you cannot escape the things that make you unhappy, but it’s easier to be happier when you choose less

HANGING IN LA PAZ: LODOS = COROMUELS

We planned to spend time in and around some islands outside of La Paz, but the Coromuels were starting to get a bit heavy, so we decided to duck into La Paz earlier to be safe and comfortable.

IMG_4605
J & K on the Malecon in La Paz

*Coromuels are a SW wind that blow in late spring/early summer. It’s a condition that happens around La Paz when the Pacific Ocean and land and sea temperatures are at odds with each other, creating a whipping and gusty SW wind that comes up around 11pm and lasts until sunrise. It’s usually blowing in the opposite direction as the day winds, and they can come up suddenly, without much warning. When they blow, they can also gust at 30-45 MPH, making for a dodgy anchorage or a very uncomfortable night on the boat.

Because we needed to get into a marina relatively fast, we opted for a marina that several of our friends were staying at: Costa Baja. http://www.marinacostabaja.com/ A beautiful marina, relatively new, fancy with hotels, pools, spa, lots of services, but with bad wifi, etc…..and, as we learned quickly and a long time ago – marinas with:

Mega Yachts + Mostly Powerboats ≠ Not Our People

SO, we moved down to Marina de la Paz (which we arrived at on the first day of Bayfest http://www.clubcruceros.net/TheClub/2018BayFest.html) and already love. It’s very laid back, low-key, right downtown, filled with sailors/cruisers who just want to work on their boats, talk sailing and share experiences. No fancy clothes, no dripping in diamonds, no sitting on a boat that never gets used…..http://www.marinadelapaz.com/ We thought of my mom, who has coffee with her friends every day in the early afternoon. Here too, there is a coffee hour – where people gather, share referrals, stories and tall tales. Every morning, on VHF Channel 22, there is a radio broadcast of sorts that covers everything from weather to requests for swapping or bartering. It’s very helpful and highly entertaining.

The winds are expected to get worse in the next few days, gusting up to 40 mph on Saturday, so we are pleased with our decision, as there aren’t really any anchorages around here that can protect us from this crazy wind phenom.

IMG_4912
One of dozens of bronze sculptures along the Malecon in La Paz

As Jodi leaves for a work trip to NYC in about 10 days, we decided to make this our home base for the next month before we head north to Espirito Santo, Isla San Francisco, Loreto and beyond. (see www.SVLodos.com for our tentative itinerary).   

For those of you considering a visit, there are several options:

  • Come NOW and hang with us in La Paz – we can do some fun day sails, swim with whale sharks, sea lions, cook, picnic and relax together
  • Meet us mid-May north of La Paz or in Loreto (Alaska Airlines flies there) – we can explore this beautiful region together for the first time
  • Join us in San Carlos in early June & help us prep the boat for hurricane season (mainland Mexico) & maybe join us as crew to cross the Sea of Cortez
  • Come to Turkey and stay with us at our house there – anytime late July until early October
  • Island hitchhike (literally) with us back from Turkey to Greece in early/mid October

*FUN FACT: Lodos means SW wind in Turkish, so Coromuel is the Baja version of Lodos! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CoromuelIMG_2383