Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Barra de Navidad to Las Hadas

Our careful preparation paid off and we succeeded in entering the large, but shallow, lagoon at Barra de Navidad without touching the shallow bottom. The list of channel way points that we'd obtained from other cruisers was quite helpful we used our instrument flying skills to guide "Blue Rodeo" along the narrow, safe path to the anchorage. We were happy to be back in the beautiful area surrounded by dense mangroves, a charming little town and a spectacular golf resort and hotel complex. Convenient panga (small open boats) water taxi service is available to and from the town's docks and we took frequent advantage of it over the next several days. Having stayed in the hotel there three years ago while visiting cruising friends aboard their boats, we quickly reacquainted ourselves with the town. We dropped off a large bag of dirty clothes at a small laundry to be picked up the same afternoon. Like most small Mexican towns, several industrious women their use just a few machines to do laundry for locals and visitors and charge a fee based on the weight of the clothes. While we can make fresh water from sea water while aboard, and hand wash clothes as needed, it is far more efficient to pay for the service when we are near civilization.

While at Barra, we connected with many of our new cruising friends and shared what we had learned about the local eateries and attractions. Several nights were spent in their company sharing meals. libations and listening to live music. One day, hungry for an afternoon snack, we spotted a small, open-air restaurant featuring gorditas and tacos al pastor. We sat down for a quick bite and were quickly befriended by the owner Isaac. He had lived and worked for years in California and, with the help of his wife, was now operating his own restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious and while savoring the last few morsels, we vowed to return before heading to our next destination. In fact, we returned for dinner later than night with friends Torben and Judy and all had a great, inexpensive meal while seated at a table on the cobble stone covered street in front of the restaurant. Anne returned the next day with two friends and took lessons from the restaurant chef (Issac's wife) on making perfect corn tortillas. She came back to the boat with a wooden tortilla press with which to practice her new skills.

While we could easily have stayed for several weeks in the Barra area, our desire to explore points south and get to Zihuatenajo so see friends Henry and Janice before they continued toward Panama motivated us to raise anchor and depart after a few days. Our plan had been to stop by the marina's fuel dock on the way out of the lagoon to fill "Blue Rodeo's" tanks but as we approached, an attendant waved us off. We soon noticed that a large section of the floating dock and diesel pump were gone, presumably sunk. We would later learn that a large boat rammed it while attempting to dock, sending it to the bottom. With just a short distance to go to Manzanillo, our next port of call, we were able to deal with the lack of available fuel. We would later learn that the fuel in the Las Hadas marina in Manzanillo was of poor quality and we would have to either take our 4, 5 gallon jerry cans by taxi to a gas station in town or conserve our remaining fuel until reaching the Ixtapa/Zihuatenajo area. Such is one of the challenges of cruising in Mexico.

Our stay in the Manzanillo area included a couple of nights at the pristine Carrazul anchorage and beautiful Santiago Bay where we were able to take a bus into the city for supplies. Another order of business was a trip to the Telcel (cellular) store to hopefully sort out issues with a 3G modem card that we'd purchased in Puerto Vallarta to allow our onboard computers to connect to the internet via the cell phone network. Two frustrating visits to the main store in Puerto Vallarta which included long, long, waits in lines failed to make the devive work properly. Fortunately, after more waiting in line and about an hour and a half of our time, we left the service center with a working card and better ability to make us of the Internet for communications.

From Santiago, we rounded a point of land and anchored off the dramatic architecture of the famous Las Hadas resort hotel, film site for the movie "10". While beginning to show it's age, it remains an amazing place with white stuccoed structures built into the steep hillside. Despite coaxing on Mark's part, Anne was unwilling to have her hair braided into "corn rows" and jog in slow motion down the beach wearing a revealing bathing suit. Mark blames her conservative English upbringing. As the anchorage at Las Hadas began to fill, we were pleased to see many familiar boats and a group dinner ashore at a restaurant overlooking the bay proved a perfect venue for another reunion sharing, laughter and good times with our many new friends. How fortunate were are to be living this dream!

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