Characters, Crusaders & Criminals

Living an expat life, on a boat, in a developing country brings out all sorts of characters, crusaders and criminals.

The Characters, as you can imagine, are as varied and diverse as they are interesting. Salty sailors (mostly men) whose wives have left them or who refuse to live this life full time, the ultimate in bachelor pads. Wearing the same Hawaiian inspired print shirt day after day complete with some sort of shell necklace and a well-past-its-prime straw hat, these characters claim they are seeking solitude, but when you get them out for a beer, you cannot shut them up; they have more extroverted vs. hermit tendencies, who would give that Hawaiian shirt off their back to you if you needed it (along with well worn advice about weather, hurricanes, and Mexico culture). 

Scary one-legged clown in La Paz

The Crusaders see the Sea as something to be conquered or endured. They boast of their year-round living aboard in a heat index that averages 112 degrees in these summer months, and they often have a story of saving a whale, a boat or life during a storm. Theirs is a badge of honor to endure the conditions and often loneliness of sailing. Both the Characters & Crusaders are generous with their time and resources – bestowing fresh fish, engine parts or advice as needed. 

Then, you have the Criminals. These are the people who couldn’t make it in the “real world” or who are escaping something sinister and nefarious. Like our neighbor here (about 100 yards away), who, immediately after meeting him, claimed theirs was a “Naked Boat”, and so it is….morning, noon and night, this guy and his younger “caregiver”, who is looking after his 80 year old mother with dementia, are naked as the day is long. We’ve since learned this guy has a sordid and ugly past, and his host of stories must be true because you cannot make up the things he says. Kirby tried helping him one day with his anchor, and the minute they got to his boat, he dropped his pants and climbed aboard his boat, leaving Kirby with a Junk-In-The-Face moment that I’m sure he won’t soon forget….

The Naked Boat – as seen from Lodos

You’ve gotta be a little crazy to live this life. I’m leaving out the rest of the “normal” people here because in comparison, they/we are all just incredibly boring…

Back in the Sea of Cortez – during hurricane season…

I love the familiarity with the sea, the anchorages, the wildlife and impending challenges we will no doubt encounter while sailing. The big difference for this 2 weeks, is that we don’t have internet, and I feel that I need it for work, which has created a new set of problems or anxiety – needing to be in a specific place for a phone call or meeting isn’t exactly the safest way to sail/travel, as it forces you to make potentially compromised decisions on weather that you might not have otherwise.

Sunset in Caleta Partida

We started this trip with a few days in Caleta Partida – an anchorage that divides two islands, and which has a narrow channel that we can take our dinghy through to get from one side of the island to the other. It’s one of our favorite places because it’s sheltered and protected but also because it’s the home to dozens of turtles.

Kirby cleaning the hull
Jodi snorkeling with sea lions

On our way to our next anchorage at San Francisco Island, we made a quick stop at a couple small islands that are home to hundreds of sea lions. The pup season ends in July. Kirby anchored the boat in a deep rocky islet while I jumped off and swam with them. They warned me to not get too close by barking at me – they were adorable and fun to see up close, and of course swimming with sea lions is pretty special.

Heading north to Isla San Francisco, we happened upon a group of 5-7 giant manta rays feeding at the surface. We stopped the boat to watch them eat, and then saw them soar under the boat with wingspans of more than 10 feet, mouths open, breathtaking….

After arriving in Isla SF, we stayed at two separate anchorages – we found some fantastic dive/snorkeling sites and appreciated the rich variety and diversity of the fish – so many we’d never seen before and that are indigenous to the Sea: Golden phase puffer fish, Cortez round ray, Cortez angel fish, and dozens of others – including 4 types of parrot fish.

Bahia Agua Verde

Our next stop was one of our favorites – at Bahia Agua Verde – but we had to scoot up to Puerto Escondido (where we are now on a mooring ball) as our refrigeration is on the fritz, we need to do laundry and dump our trash 🙂 We’ll be here for a bit while we catch up on work and projects, and I plan for my next trip to the USA for work.

And, it’s hot. So hot. ~100 degrees and nearly the same in humidity. We are having trouble keeping the fridge and freezer working properly it’s so hot….but, we are swimming and relaxing and doing our best to breath our way through it as the benefits outweigh the annoyances.

Enjoying La Paz

Recently, we had some friends visit us from Michigan, and their lovely photos from our trip together reminded us how beautiful the beaches are, how great the restaurants, and how wonderfully laid back the town. Here are a few of our favorites (all photos courtesy of Seth & Daniela)

Kayaking at Balandra Beach

Balandra Beach, which is north, nearly at the end of the peninsula from La Paz, is a picture-perfect place to spend the day, drink coconut water, kayak, swim and enjoy the crystal clear waters. We were there early during mid week, and we had the place almost entirely to ourselves.

Come back soon!

Back in La Paz

After crossing the Sea of Cortez and making a near record beat south, we are happy to have settled back at Marina de la Paz, where we spent a few happy weeks last year and vowed to return in 2019.

Lunch at The Dock overlooking our marina

La Paz is the quiet, authentic, hippy-sister to Cabo, without the Spring Break party scene and huge resorts. Incredible beaches are nearby as is extreme wildlife and protected underwater parks while also close to two international airports,

Sunset over La Paz bay

We welcomed our first visitors! Seth & Daniela came all the way from Michigan; it was the perfect way to enjoy re-entry back into the city we fondly remembered. We ate great food, enjoyed beautiful beaches, and each other’s company.

Seth, Daniela & Kirby in their natural habitats
Seth getting a shot of Saguaro cactuses, mangroves & torquoise waters

The sailing club we belong to here is putting on their Bayfest festival this week, and we just finished watching the Tour de France race that was in town this weekend. Next weekend is the La Paz Jazz Fest which supports Mar Libre – a local marine conservation organization, so there is no shortage of things to keep us busy and entertained!

The remote “Office”
Lodos sitting pretty on B Dock

However, with lots of real work to do in the coming months, it will also be fun to be dock potatoes for awhile as we make trips back and forth to the US for work and enjoy being “residents” of Mexico again.

We hope to see you here sometime!

ROAD TRIPPIN’ DOWN THE BAJA IN MEXICO

The Pacific Ocean – as seen from the van vs. a sailboat

We have a van and a boat, and it’s impossible to get them to the same place at the same time, so we left Lodos safely floating in San Carlos while we made our way back to San Diego and then started our road trip down the Baja.

Traveling is humbling. You meet adversity, stay in dodgy places (Baja Cactus) and always experience something new and foreign. I continue to be in awe of meeting the kind and generous people of Mexico  – they are patient with our poor Spanish, honest and almost always welcoming.

We traveled nearly 1,000 miles vertically down the Baja, stopping in Ensenada (at the Marea Vista) for a first short day, then two longer days, stopping in El Rosario, the infamous resting stop for the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 – an international desert road race that goes roundtrip from Ensenada to La Paz, traveling over the rough and tumble landscape of the desert sometimes at speeds in excess of 100 MPH and Santa Rosalia – an old Copper mining town with a French influence (and an outstanding historic bakery).

Kirby drove the entire way – all 944 miles of it. We were stopped 9 times by Federales and Military police wanting to know what we were doing on these quiet roads and why we were there, always waving us through with a smile and often well wishes. I think the new president is making good on his anti-corruption promises, which is why we encountered so many of these roadblocks.

Sometimes we slowed to give the charities a few coins at the toll booths that are often vacant and not taking tolls; the locals take the opportunity to gather money that goes directly to their communities instead of snaking its way inefficiently through the government first.

Inoperable tollbooth taking makeshift charitable donations

We listened to Michelle Obama read us her book Becoming, and I felt like I was changing listening to her story and voice, seeing the serene nothingness of endless miles of cactus, saguaros as old as the redwoods and millions of desert flowers blooming. We even spotted a few notable birds (tanagers, hummingbirds, hawks, orioles, ospreys, herons, vultures and shrikes), no doubt migrating this landscape for cooler weather north.

Mardi Gras Queen & King in Santa Rosalia

We visited towns by road that we’d only seen by sea and on foot – participating in a glorious small town Mardi Gras parade in Santa Rosalia showcasing their finest dancers, princesses and princes on top of handmade floats while friendly Federales cleared the roads and parents cheered their support, trying to catch candy and prizes tossed to cheering children lining the roads.

We finally arrived in La Paz today (Sunday), where we will drop the van, get some sleep, see some friends at the marina and then catch a flight back to San Carlos on Tuesday to begin our slow sail back south again.