Sunday, May 22, 2016


May 2, 2016 continued
Entrance Channel

Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port) is almost completely landlocked.  The 200 foot wide entrance channel cannot be seen until one is aligned with it and ready to enter the bay.  Some boats and buildings around the outer bay known as the “waiting room” can be seen from afar and provide a target.  Boats can anchor in the “waiting room.”  This is a good anchorage for deep draft vessels that might have trouble passing through the channel.    On the left, as you transit the entrance channel, is the man made anchoring basin known as “the Ellipse”.  Fees to anchor in “the Waiting Room” or “the Ellipse” are lower than inside the main bay and are payable at the API office.  Many cruisers who had made Puerto Escondido their home had installed private moorings in these areas, but it was rumored that the Ellipse was about to be developed as a marina.

Inside the bay, Fonatur had built a small marina and a large mooring field.  Moorings could be rented for $10 per night.  We found the bay to be calmer than most marinas, with jumping fish the largest disturbance.  At the far end of the bay were two low spots known as the “windows” which provided air circulation.  The low spits of land between them looked exactly like dams and blocked the view of the water on the other side, giving the bay the appearance of being a reservoir with a drop off on the other side.  The Sierra La Giganta (Giantess Range) rose dramatically to the west.  Puerto Escondido was rumored to be a caldera, which would explain its unique topography.
The Windows
We arrived about 16:00 and, after milling about for a bit, looking for an empty ball in the proper size range, finally selected one on the outer edge of the mooring field with the shore on one side and a large empty area behind us.  It was also possible to anchor in the main bay, but the fee was the same as for a mooring, so we took the easy route.  Many of the mooring balls had lost their numbers, making it difficult to determine which were which.  In general, the larger boats were located further out.  Don called the marina office and they told us where to go, although they were closed by the time we got settled and finally made it to shore.

The Tripui Hotel and Restaurant
We picked up the mooring without incident, a maneuver that involved my motoring up to a stationary buoy and stopping the boat close enough that Don could pluck the line out of the water with a boat hook.  Once the mooring line was securely fastened to our bow, we launched the dinghy and headed for shore, showers, and dinner.  Unfortunately, the showers at the Puerto Escondido Marina closed at 17:00 and we arrived too late.  We had to go to dinner in our unwashed and casual state of dress.  We first checked out the restaurant in the marina, but found it much too rich for our tastes.  All of the dishes were a la carte and still twice as expensive as the average restaurant in Mexico.  We decided to walk a mile or so up the road to the Tripui Restaurant and Hotel for dinner.

Fonatur and carved out some canals and paved and landscaped roads for a community of private houses that had failed to materialize.  We wandered through this maze for a while before we found the main road, got out of Puerto Escondido, and turned right on the main road.  The hotel, restaurant, and RV park were visible on the other side of the road shortly after we started up the highway towards Loreto.  The Tripui Restaurant is located next to the hotel pool, with tables under a shady arcade.  Prices were reasonable, the food was good, and two of their margaritas left me worse for wear the next day.  We enjoyed relaxing in their beautiful and welcoming environment.  It was well worth the walk to get there.

It was past dark by the time we returned to the marina, but the water was calm and we had a pleasant dinghy ride out to the boat under the starry sky, the lights of the marina making it easy to find Comet despite the dark.  We sat up for an hour and then slept soundly, glad to be unconcerned with a change of wind direction during the night for a change.

May 3, 2016

Our "Office" in Puerto Escondido

I was fairly useless on Tuesday morning after the Tripui Restaurant’s potent margaritas the previous night.  I couldn’t even face coffee.  We had accidentally left the radio on channel 16 and had slept through the 8:00 radio net.  The prospect of a shower, however, was enough to motivate me to go to shore.  We took the dinghy in and checked in, took showers (no hot water), and did some laundry in the laundromat.

We had been without internet or cell coverage since we left the La Paz area, so spent the late morning and early afternoon catching up on our communications.  Don talked on the phone with all our friends who were considering coming to join us, but none of them were ready to make a decision at that moment.  He was also trying to decide whether to leave the boat in Guaymas for another summer or to sail back to Marina del Rey.  He called the Fonatur yard where he had left the boat the previous year, but found them already full.  He made a reservation at another yard, just in case he decided to leave the boat again.  It was starting to seem as if Comet would be remaining in Mexico for another summer.
Puerto Escondido from the Marina

When our phone batteries started to give out, we headed back to the boat.  We hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I made tostadas for lunch.  Then I napped and read while Don scrubbed all the soot off the back of the boat.  We ate a late, light dinner of barbecued marinated arrachera, roasted potatoes and cauliflower, and salad.  Then we read until nearly midnight.

May 4, 2016

The radio net woke us up at 8:00.  We got up, had coffee, and left for the showers.  We took our propane tank to be filled.  Once again, there was no hot water in the showers.  We had to wait until the store opened at 10:00 to leave the propane tank, so we sat at the defunct bar on the upper level of the marina building and used the wi-fi until it opened.

Loreto Bay
Once the propane tank was delivered, we hired a taxi to take us the 25 kilometers to Loreto.  The taxi ride was quite expensive at 500 pesos (about $30), given that in Puerto Vallarta a ride of that distance cost only 350 pesos.  Unfortunately, there was no alternative.  There was no bus service to Loreto.  Our taxi driver did speak some English and attempted to give us a bit of a tour on the way.  At one point, he even removed his rear view mirror so that I could take pictures through the windshield.
We drove north along the highway at what seemed to us like an incredible rate of speed after having traveled by sailboat at five or six knots for weeks.  We passed Juncalito and the highly recommended Vista del Mar Restaurant at Playa Notri, both possible anchorages in fair weather.  Eventually, we crested a hill and saw the Loreto Bay golf course, resort, and housing community spread before us, vividly green against the desert landscape.  The palo verde (green stick) trees, so called because their branches are green and they have no leaves, were blooming, covering the countryside in yellow flowers.  It was a beautiful time to visit.  Temperatures were reaching only into the mid-eighties.

The Loreto Malecon
Our driver took us through Loreto and left us at the malecon.  We agreed to call him later when we were ready to go back, as he had offered us a 100 peso discount on a round trip.  Actually, the round trip fare from Loreto to Puerto Escondido was 900 pesos, anyway.  He had just deducted the surcharge for having to come out there to fetch us.

A pretty malecon stretched along the beach in Loreto with several shaded pavilions containing benches from which to admire the view toward Isla Carmen.  A pedestrian street lined with tourist shops and restaurants stretched from the Malecon up past the main plaza.  We stopped for breakfast at Café Ole on a side street where we got tasty spinach and cheese omelets with beans, chilaquiles, and orange juice for about $6 each.

Cafe Ole

After breakfast, we walked around Loreto and visited the hot spots.  The Our Lady of Loreto church is considered to be the head and the mother of the entire mission system in both Baja and Alta California. As such, we were surprised to find it very plain and unadorned.  It was made even more homely by a renovation project that had left the pews in the courtyard and the floor covered with piles of rubble.  More interesting than the actual church was the museum next door which related the history of missions in Baja California.  The missions were begun by the Jesuits, but King Carlos V expelled the Jesuits from his empire in the 18th century and that included Mexico.  He sent an army to remove them and they were replaced by the Franciscan order.
Our Lady of Loreto

Pedestrian Street in Loreto
After visiting the museum, we drifted back down the main drag and stopped at the Baja Bookstore where Don bought a copy of Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez, which was required reading in those parts.  Then we bought popsicles and followed the malecon to the small panga marina on the edge of town.  A number of cruising boats were anchored in the open roadstead off the beach.  There was a dinghy dock in the marina where cruisers could come ashore, making the anchorage attractive in fair weather.  We took a side street back through town to the Ley market, one of two big supermarkets at the entrance to town.  We did our provisioning and then called our taxi driver, who arrived within five minutes to give us a ride back to Puerto Escondido.
Don in Loreto
The Dinghy Dock in Loreto

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the boat.  I made drunken chicken (chicken cooked in chorizo, tequila, and orange juice) for dinner and we gorged ourselves on chicken and rice.

May 5, 2016

Cinco de Mayo passed without remark in Puerto Escondido.  Loretofest was due to begin the next day and even the gringos couldn’t be bothered to celebrate.  Frankly, there were so few Mexicans visible in Puerto Escondido that I felt like I was in Arizona somewhere.  We went to shore after breakfast.  I actually managed to take a hot shower. 

Marina Buildings in Puerto Escondido

My mission for the day was to update my blog.  Unfortunately, my computer battery would not hold a charge.  I needed an electrical outlet.  Fonatur was having a meeting in the defunct bar that we had been using as an office.  None of the other outlets were live unless the lights were turned on.  The office had power, but was plastered with signs forbidding internet use inside.  The marina store offered charging at ten pesos per hour, but there was nowhere one could use the internet while plugged in.  We spent the entire morning milling around and using the internet on our phones, but I made no progress on my blog.  Finally, the Fonatur folks cleared out of the bar area and I grabbed an outlet.  Both the marina internet and Don’s hotspot were painfully slow.  It took me until 18:30 to get my blog entry done and, even then, I had to forego uploading the video of rays jumping at Isla Monserrate and end my post in the middle of a day because we were so hungry, having skipped lunch, that we just couldn’t continue working.  We headed back to the boat and had leftover chicken and salad, glad that food was readily available.

May 6, 2016

On the first day of Loretofest, we went ashore before 9:00 to shower and do laundry.  The women’s showers were occupied by four shrieking little girls, so I fled before my head exploded.  There was already a long line of women waiting for the laundry.  We joked about “laundryfest,” but actually had a good time chatting.  I eventually ducked out, bought a tank top, got a tamale for breakfast, and took a shower.  I spent the rest of the morning at the laundry, feeling like a throwback to the days when the women all took their laundry to the river to beat on the rocks. 

Don spent the morning sitting outside the store, chatting with other cruisers.  Every afternoon from 15:00 to 17:00, cruisers in Puerto Escondido gathered outside the shop to drink beer and exchange information, a gathering known as “The Circle of Knowledge.”  During Loretofest, this gathering went on all day.
The Ellipse

We were there for the twentieth and supposedly final Loretofest.  In my opinion, it was a festival that needed to be put out of its misery.  The food vendors and shady tents were appreciated, but it was a dull crowd and no one wanted to participate in any of the games.  Even the bar tent was largely unpatronized.  After eating a chili dog that had never even been in the same room with a chili pepper, we went back to the boat and read for the rest of the afternoon.  We went back to get carne asada tacos for dinner, but no one had signed up for entertainment, so we went for a walk to check out the Ellipse and the Waiting Room and then returned to Comet.

No comments:

Post a Comment