Saturday, April 2, 2016


March 24, 2016

I got up in time to make coffee and listen to the net.  It seemed like everyone passed through La Cruz eventually and it was always fun to hear who was in town.  After coffee, we hopped in the dinghy for the long ride to the marina from where we were anchored on the outside edge of the anchorage.  The seas were flat and we made it to the dinghy dock without getting wet. Don went up to the office to see about a slip while I took my clothes to the laundry.  I was completely out of clean clothes and was desperate.  It turned out to be a good thing I did because they were going to be closed for Good Friday.

The plaza was filled with booths and carnival rides.  La Cruz was going to be a happening place for the rest of the week.  Since the laundry was only a few doors away from Casa Mango where I planned to move later in the day, I stopped in to say hello and pick up the keys.  I didn’t want them to have to wait for me, since it was hard to predict how getting Comet to shore was going to go.

I met up with a freshly showered Don back at the marina and the two of us went for a lovely breakfast at Café Shulet.  Their bacon, spinach, and goat cheese omelet was the best breakfast in Mexico my opinion.  Don thought highly of the pancakes, also.  After breakfast, we visited friends in the marina and rounded up some help to move Comet but, by the time we were ready to do so, it had become too windy.  We decided to wait until the wind died down later in the day.

We were on our way out to the boat (a much wetter trip) when I saw a small black object in the water in front of the dinghy.  I never identified it, but seconds later the shear pin on the outboard snapped.  Comet was on the far side of the anchorage and we still had a long way to go.  It seemed like all our good luck had evaporated at once.  We started rowing.  The seas were rough and we weren’t making much headway.  It was looking like a very long row when we were rescued by the crew of Hooligan, who towed us out to our boat.

Back at the boat, we hauled the dinghy up on 
Sunset at Anchor in La Cruz
the foredeck so we could work on the outboard.  We found the shear pin easily enough, but it had been in place for twenty years and had fused to the shaft.  We had to undertake the tedious task of drilling it out, which consumed the majority of the afternoon.  The wind still had not abated by the time we finished, so we decided to make dinner and move the boat later by moonlight.  I used the very last of our provisions to make chilorio tacos with beans.  Cooking dinner consumed the last of our propane.  We needed to get to the marina pronto!

By the time we finished dinner, the wind had died, but it was then too dark to see.  The full moon had been as bright as day the night before, so we waited for the moon to rise.  Then we waited some more because it had to clear the mountain range.  By 22:00, we had to accept that it was just too overcast to operate by moonlight.  I had rented a room and Don a slip, but we spent another night at anchor, vowing to get up early and move the boat before the wind rose.

March 25, 2016

We were up by 7:00 and ready to move the boat by 7:30.  We tied the dinghy fore and aft to the starboard quarter of Comet, positioned the outboard tiller as if we were making a right turn, and advanced the throttle.  The boat moved.  The steering was coming from Comet’s helm, so Don understandably wanted to drive.  That left me to operate the dinghy.  I am historically quite an incompetent dinghy driver, so I was apprehensive to say the least.  Fortunately, dinghies are much less capricious when strapped to 10,000 pound boats.  After verifying that our rig was going to work, Don pulled up the anchor and we proceeded at a respectable three knots through the anchorage and into the marina without me causing any disasters.  Jim from Sea Level was kind enough to accompany us despite the early hour, just in case we lost power or control.  We glided into the slip like old hands and were met by Steve and Victoria from Tango who took our lines.  We were immensely relieved.

Don and I were completely out of food and didn’t even have propane to make coffee, so we marched up to the coffee and breakfast place near Philo’s.  After breakfast, Don helped me move my bags up to Casa Mango.  I settled in there while Don decompressed and cleaned the boat.  Our friend and previous crew member, Kathy, was due to arrive that evening and he probably relished having a few hours to himself.
Chilling with Frankie the Cat at Casa Mango

I spent the afternoon going on a shopping excursion to the Mega with my friend, Betty.  All my clothes were at the laundry, which was closed for Good Friday.  I had to buy something to wear.  By the time I got home, I only had an hour or so to unpack and get ready before it was time to go to a party at the home of Klaus and Jennifer.  We had met Klaus on the way south when Betty was crewing for him.  It was nice to meet his wife and I enjoyed meeting his other guests.  My original plan had been to stop in for an hour or so and then meet up with Don and Kathy when she arrived.  That didn’t happen.  I got sucked into the party and missed their call, staying until the party broke up around 22:00.

March 26, 2016

I slept late on Saturday morning and realized that I had left my VHF radio on Don’s boat, so couldn’t listen to the net, anyway.  After rushing to the laundry to collect my clean clothes, I spent the morning hanging out with the other denizens of Casa Mango and working on my blog.  I was having a hard time staying connected to the internet long enough to upload photographs.  Finally, by mid-afternoon, my battery was low and the internet so frustrating that I gave up and went over to the boat to greet Kathy and fetch my radio.

Don was working on the transmission and needed some oil absorbing cloths, or diapers as we sailors call them due to their resemblance to those items.  Kathy and I trekked up the hill to Todo Vela to buy diapers, but they had closed at 14:00 on Saturday.  Out of desperation, we tried the oil store down the block, but they directed us back to Todo Vela.  Having failed in our mission, we decided it was best not to return empty handed, so we stopped at the market where we at least succeeded in replenishing the stock of adult beverages.
The Gecko Rojo 

Kathy had loved the Eva Mandarina Beach Club next to the marina when she was in La Cruz the year before.  We went over there for a margarita, but they were closing early because of the Easter holiday.  Disappointed, we trudged up to the Gecko Rojo where we succeeded in getting margaritas and took the opportunity to catch up on all that had occurred since we last spoke.  Not feeling up to another margarita, we returned to the boat to check on Don. 

I asked Don for the verdict on the transmission.  He informed me that it appeared to be perfectly fine.  There were no shavings or crumbled metal parts in the oil sump and it was working perfectly well at the dock.  While we wouldn’t have total confidence in it until we took it out for a shakedown cruise, we returned to the theory that we had caught something on our prop which caused it to fold up, thump loudly, and not drive the boat.  Whatever it was then fell off during our lively sail across Banderas Bay, leaving Comet functioning perfectly.  Don changed the fan belt, refilled the oil, and the boat was ready for service.

Tree House Bar at the Octopus' Garden
Mechanical troubles behind us, we strolled up to the Octopus’ Garden for dinner.  The tree house bar and restaurant had recently reopened and we wanted to try it.  The location, which is literally built around a large tree, was lovely and the food was tasty and the portions generous.  There was a band playing a mixture of classic rock, blues, and country and we stayed until they were done playing, enjoying the music and the ambiance.

March 27, 2016

Sunday was market day in La Cruz.  I lounged a bit, wanting to wait until I got to the market to get 
The Coyotes at the La Cruz Market
coffee and breakfast.  I had loose plans to meet Don and Kathy at the market and didn’t want to get there too early.  I arrived at the market about 10:45 and was disappointed to find that the espresso stand was taking the holiday weekend off.  I had to settle for juice and a cinnamon roll.  I always got the cucumber/lime/kiwi juice, but decided to try the pineapple/tamarind for a change.  It was good, but not as good as my usual, which I liked because it wasn’t sweet.  I had once tried a cinnamon roll from the baked goods vendor on the left side of the jetty and been Piano Man in Spanish.
The La Cruz Market
disappointed that it was dry and neither yeasty nor very sweet or cinnamon flavored.  This time, I tried a vendor on the right side and was delighted to find a perfect, yeasty cinnamon roll so large that I could only eat half of it.  I took my purchases back to where the band, the Coyotes, were playing and sat there until noon, eating my cinnamon roll and listening to the music.  The band, which featured a mix of Mexican and gringo members, played the usual classic rock so popular in La Cruz, but had translated some of the lyrics into Spanish, which I found refreshing.  I especially enjoyed listening to them sing Billy Joel’s

I never did see Don and Kathy, so I went back to the boat to look for
Willow & Walter Playing Fetch
them.  They weren’t there either, but I picked up my radio and left the second half of the cinnamon roll for Kathy.  I went back to Casa Mango and spent the rest of the afternoon playing fetch with the dogs, finishing my blog post and playing the guitar.  My fingers were toughening enough that I could play for an hour or more without getting sore and my voice, which had gone unused in recent years was also returning to form.  I could see that I might be willing to play in public again one day.

Betty and I wanted to get out, but we weren’t really hungry yet, so we stopped into went to Tacos on the Street for dinner.  Tacos on the Street, while they do have tables on the street, fills a large restaurant as well.  It is a La Cruz institution and people even come from surrounding towns.  I had never been there and figured I should see what I was missing.  It was packed with Semana Santa beach goers and gringo families on spring break.  We had to wait for a table, which was a first for me in La Cruz.  Tacos on the Street serves only ribeye.  You can get it as tacos with flour or corn tortillas with or without cheese, as tostadas, as quesadillas or as burritos.  They serve a variety of drinks and flan for dessert.  The prices were a little higher and the tacos smaller than at other taco stands, but they were still reasonable and they were tasty.  It was worth the experience.

Ana Banana's
We weren’t ready to go home after dinner, so we stopped by Ana Banana’s to listen to the band.  I had been listening to them for three years, but had never seen the person behind the singer’s big voice.  I was surprised that she was a little slip of a girl, not more than twenty years old.  The whole band was young.  I found it fascinating that young Mexicans liked classic rock so much.  This particular band really liked Pink Floyd.  We stayed for one drink and danced a bit with friends we met there and then went home.

March 28, 2016

My New Room at Agave Azul
 Monday was moving day.  I had breakfast and coffee and listened to the net.  I played the guitar for an hour and packed up my belongings.  I was expected at Agave Azul at noon.  Just before noon, as I was preparing to drag my heavy duffel bag across town, Jen convinced our friend, Victor, to give me a ride in his car.  I was able to get all my belongings moved in one trip, which I appreciated immensely.

Dentist's Office
Betty, who also lived at Agave Azul, and I set out to do some errands after lunch.  We dropped by the dentist’s office under Cruiser’s Comfort and made appointments to get our teeth cleaned later in the week.  Then we dropped Betty’s clothes at the laundry and Betty directed me to a fabulous produce market on the edge of town in what I was fairly certain had been as Oxxo two years before.  The market was remarkable in that they had two walk-in refrigerators, which kept the produce from going limp as it does in the average tienda.  No more would I have to go to Walmart to get crisp lettuce.  We bought veggies for the next day’s potluck dinner and then stopped in a tienda to buy dry goods on the way back.  Betty was looking for Kleenex, which they didn’t sell, but the clerk gave her a handful from her own stash.  We ran into Don and Kathy, returning from the bank in Bucerias, and I made plans to meet them later at La Cava to see the weekly performance of La Patrona.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our dinner reservation was for 18:30 and the show started at 19:00.  
La Cava de Los Martinez
We ordered margaritas and dinner.  I was disappointed not to see my favorite shrimp enchiladas on the menu but, when I asked about them, they were glad to make them for me for a mere 130 pesos (about $8.)  They were delicious.  La Patrona is a young woman with a great voice who is accompanied by a guitarist and keyboard player/accordionist.  They played music typical of Guadalajara which is the form of Mexican music familiar to most of us, since mariachis also hail from Guadalajara, as does tequila.  They always put on a good show and Kathy had never seen them before.  It made for a nice evening out.
La Patrona

March 29, 2016

Having moved to Agave Azul, I no longer had any excuse not to run.  I started slow with one two mile circuit of the marina.  I was a bit late for the dawn, but the sun shining through the clouds was still spectacular.  I got back in time to get showered and dressed before the net.  Boats were starting to leave for the South Pacific and the Sea of Cortez.  The end of March marked the end of high season in La Cruz. The winter residents were starting to leave Agave Azul, as well, which was how I had acquired a room.
Early Morning Sky

I spent several hours wasting time on the internet and catching up on my blog.  We were having a potluck going away party that evening for three of the residents who were leaving the next day.  I needed to pick up a few ingredients for the chile rellenos I planned to make and track down some olive oil for salad dressing.  I also wanted to go to Todo Vela, the local chandlery, to see if I could find a wind scoop for Comet.  About 15:45 I tore myself away from my computer and walked up the hill to Todo Vela.

Todo Vela didn’t have any wind scoops, which wasn’t surprising given that it is very difficult to import textiles into Mexico.  Even the oil absorbing “diapers” had been difficult to import because they were classified as textiles.  I suggested that the owner have someone make them here in Mexico.  He said that he had tried, but the seamstresses wanted more than they cost in the USA.
My next stop was the grocery store where I bought tomato puree, cheese, and bananas.  I dropped by Comet and picked up some olive oil and then returned home to start cooking.  It was nearly 17:00 and, with the party starting at 19:00, I wanted to get my preparation out of the way before the somewhat limited kitchen got crowded.  I roasted the chiles in the toaster oven, which worked like a charm.  While they were roasting, I made the sauce and my mango jicama salad.  Once the chiles were peeled, I stuffed them with Oaxaca cheese and pinned them together with toothpicks.  The tricky part of making chile rellenos in a limited kitchen is beating the egg whites.  It was easy enough to separate the whites from the yolks, but I beat the egg whites for fifteen minutes by hand and never got them as stiff as I would have liked.  I added the yolks back in, dipped the chiles in the egg, and then fried them in olive oil.   Finally, I added the sauce and heated the whole assembly in the frying pan on top of the stove.  They could have been prettier under better circumstances, but the flavor didn’t suffer.

Dinner at Agave Azul
Homemade Fish Tacos
Our potluck dinner was a tremendous success.  We had thirteen people and everyone brought something delicious.  The main attraction was fish tacos with barbecued fish, but there were also sauteed shrimp, chile rellenos, marinated steak, sopes, guacamole, and mango jicama salad.  We stuffed ourselves in good company.  After dinner, we all went to the Brittania to listen to music.  I had been meaning to go there for two years.  The Brittania is a British pub that is only open on Tuesday nights. They even served Guinness. They had several good bands alternating playing music.  They all seemed to be happy to be there and enjoying themselves.  One act played Here Comes the Rain Again by the Eurythmics on an electric ukulele and somehow managed to make that sound fantastic.  It was nice to hear a different repertoire.  Betty and I stayed for one drink and then went home, but the party was still going strong.

March 30, 2016

Wednesday was not a running day, but I still got up early and went for a walk around the marina.  There was a Cal 31 for sale and I wanted to get the owner’s phone number because Betty and I had been talking about buying a boat to keep in Banderas Bay.  I took a quick walk along the malecon, stopped in to get the number from the bulletin board, and made it back to Agave Azul in time for the net at 8:30.

Betty and I took a walk over to the marina in the afternoon to look at boats.  We strolled around the docks and then stopped to talk to Klaus on Sea Otter.  As we were leaving, we ran into Nick, the owner of the Cal 31 and made an appointment to go out to the anchorage to see the boat on the following day.  We also agreed to meet Klaus for dinner at Tacos on the Street that evening.
Tacos on the Street

We got to Tacos on the Street at 18:00 and it wasn’t nearly as busy as it had been on the weekend.  We had a nice dinner and I tried one of the tostadas for a change.  I also tried the margaritas and the flan, both of which were good.  We took our time eating and, once again, there was a line by the time we left.  We wanted to go hear some music, but nothing was going on at Philo’s.  We next tried the Ballena Blanca, but they weren’t even open.  We met Don and Kathy in front of the Ballena Blanca and chatted for a few minutes and then decided to call it a night.
Monument to Philo Who Passed Away Last Year

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