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Mexico – Mainland by Sea and Land

Mazatlan

The wind and waves began to pick up in the morning just prior to pulling into Marina Mazatlan.  If you’ve never sailed into this harbor (like us), it’s a little tricky when there are waves breaking in the small bay.  We read in our cruising guide that there is a crew constantly dredging the bay, because the waves and currents pull mass amounts of sand into the channel.  It wouldn’t be too fun to run aground entering a port as we approached.

We could see small waves breaking in our approach zone and on top of that, we could see the dredgers working in the channel.  Both Melissa and I had our inflatable life jackets on and I throttled up to about 5 knots to power through anything the wind/waves would throw at us.  Being a surfer, I knew how to judge the waves pretty well and I literally surfed our boat into the harbor.  I made a hard turn (left) port to make it into the channel and then turned just as fast and hard to starboard (right) to make it down the channel and pass the dredging barge, which was taking up at least a third of the channel.  Welcome to Mazatlan!

As we piloted Harlow Hut around the interior of the harbor, we didn’t know where to go, so we cruised around and finally found our dock.  Making reservations for a slip is difficult when you’re a cruiser and you have to work around the weather and a powerful internet connection.  A lot of the time, we just call when we are about an hour out and that works.

Now that we were safely docked in a marina, we could relax a little more, knowing that if we went into town or if we were away from the boat for a while, she would be safe and secure.

About a year prior to leaving, I knew we would be in mainland Mexico by this time, so I made reservations in Acapulco at a timeshare that Melissa and I fell in love.  The Grand Mayan Acapulco is beautiful and full of great memories.  I emailed the concierge of the resort and asked to have our old room, 3102, reserved again for us.  They happily obliged.  Our reservation was about a week away and we were excited.

We decided to keep it low key for the next few days to save money.  It’s easy to save money when you walk everywhere and the food is ridiculously inexpensive.  Sounds cliché, but we went for long walks on the beach and moonlit strolls.  After a few days, we wanted a little more, so we headed off to the Historical District of Mazatlan.  This was an incredible experience.

We took a taxi from our marina and as we approached where I thought the historical district was, it seemed like our taxi driver got lost because we were going down dimly lit streets.  I’m always alert to things when we are traveling and I began to get a little concerned and then all of the sudden, within a half of a block, there were droves of people, lights and festive atmosphere.  We were excited.  This area looked like so much fun.

We walked around the plaza and it seemed like we were in Spain instead of Mexico.  There were numerous bistro type restaurants with sidewalk dining.  We poked our head into one of the niche restaurants and decided to have a martini.  Oh boy were they good.  Ice cold and made to perfection.

This was a Mexican infusion restaurant and the food was just as good as the martinis.

After dinner, we went for a walk around the streets and eventually made it to the Malecon, which is a large oceanfront walkway and boulevard.  We were enjoying the peacefulness and local festivities of the historical district, more than the nightlife, lights and noise of the Malecon, so we headed back to have a nice dessert at a local panaderia.

The next day one of our new friends at the marina told us that, every night they have a “safety meeting” and all are invited.  Basically, the safety meeting is code, for BYOB sundowner cocktails.  This is a great way to meet fellow sailors and cruisers and laugh a lot.  We attended these meetings almost every night and were soon part of the community.

Almost everyone at the meetings brought their own chairs and since Melissa and I had everything on our boat, but chairs, we decided to sit on upside down buckets.  Of course, thereafter, we were known as the bucket brigade.

It’s been a tradition for years that every night at sundown, the crew of the safety meeting, puts some shrimp on a little line and the local black cat plays piñata with the shrimp and eventually eats it.  For being a feral dock cat, it is the friendliest and most well fed cat we’ve ever seen.

Puerto Vallarta (the first time)

We made reservations for a bus to take us from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta.  We were having our stateside mail delivered to a resort in Puerto Vallarta, so it worked out perfectly.  The bus was really nice with full facilities, air conditioning and really comfortable reclining seats.  It even had Wi-Fi.  Our trip with about eight hours and Melissa and I laughed, watched the sites and enjoyed being on a bus, instead of a boat.

When we pulled into the bus terminal in Puerto Vallarta, there were taxis lined up and we took a taxi to the Budget rental car station not too far away.  We opted for the cheapest and smallest car they had, since we knew we would be driving over a thousand miles to/from Acapulco and we wanted it to be very gas efficient.  The one splurge we really are so happy we opted for, was an in-car GPS.  We had unlimited access on our phones, but having a GPS in your car is so much better because there are hardly any blackout areas and in Mexico, you don’t want to get lost, if you don’t have to.

We drove over to the Paradise Village Resort, picked up our mail and used Priceline to get a close hotel for as cheap as possible.

We ended up getting an amazing deal at the Holiday Inn Express Puerto Vallarta.

We were so happy to get mail.

The next day we set off on our 1,000 mile driving journey of Mexico.  We left Puerto Vallarta and headed North, the same way we just came via our bus the day before.  We love driving through the tropical rainforest and the drive did not disappoint. There were huge palms, strangler figs, banana trees, vines, and so much more.  We came to a fork in the road and headed East towards Guadalajara.  It was beautiful to drive in and around volcanic peaks and valleys.  As we drove further East, we were constantly reminded of sites we have visited in the United States.  The rolling hills filled with grapes of every variety reminded us of Napa Valley.  Then, the views would transform into the farmlands of Idaho and the corn rows of Nebraska.  We drove by agave farms and thought about drinking tequila as soon as we made it to Acapulco.

We were using the Mexican Toll Road system and we have to say, these are some of the best maintained roads we have ever driven on.  If you ever drive this (or other routes) on the Mexican Toll Road, ensure you have plenty of Peso’s, as you will be paying every 10 kilometers or so.  Also, during our drive, the Red Cross (Cruz Roja Mexicana) was doing a fundraising campaign.  We donated and got a great sticker that we placed on our reusable drinking bottles.

We also travel with a variety of healthy snacks (Melissa’s the best) so we aren’t caught off guard by not having a store nearby.  There are numerous convenience stores (Oxxo minimarts) with gas stations and clean public restrooms, usually right after the toll plazas.  These stores usually have junk food but they also do have some fruit selections.

We snacked all day, however around 4PM we wanted to have a little dinner.  It just so happens that at this time, we were driving up the long mountain pass that brings you to Mexico City.  This mountain was another flashback to the USA since it had large pine trees, horseback riding areas and highway-side restaurants everyone was pulling into.  This area looked to us, like coastal Oregon or Seattle.  We saw these women in brightly colored dresses waving flags to bring in customers.  It was pretty funny because they were a one stop shop… They flagged us in, seated us, made us our dinner and gave us the bill.  The food was delicious and we finally got to try the famous blue corn tortillas.  These restaurants were small and intimate and the seating was feet away from the open kitchen.  You could see and smell your dinner being cooked and that surely increased our appetite.  We left happy and full.

Mexico City

We forgot that Mexico City is over 7,300 feet high and we were amazed when we crested the mountain.  The city goes on and on as far as the eye can see.  Actually, you can’t even see that far because it is pretty polluted with smog.

We were happily driving on the toll road using our navigation system, when all of the sudden, the big highway road went from 4 lanes, down to 2 really small and densely crowded lanes.  The highway literally stops in this small town where street vendors crowd the streets and try to sell to the vehicles crowding the small avenues.

Being a well-traveled couple, we are always on the lookout for things that don’t seem right.  We know that Mexico City has a high murder rate and also a high rate of kidnapping.  As vehicles and people crowded in around us, I kept my eye on everything.  We passed two Federalies (Mexican Federal Police) who spotted us right away, since we were some of the only gringos in this area.  In front of me, I saw a taxi, drive up and over a curb to get away from all the cars stuck in traffic.  I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the two Federalies walking towards our car.  I really didn’t want to stick around to see what they had to say, so I followed the taxi driver’s route and got out of there a quick as I could, just to be on the safe side.  Well, our trusty GPS kept us moving along and then we were back on the bigger toll road and heading out of Mexico City.  It was really amazing to be in the tropics in the morning and driving over snow covered passes in the late afternoon, heading back to the tropics that night.

We really didn’t want to drive in Mexico at night, especially in the mountains, but we decided the risk was minimal, since we were going to be on the toll road the entire way, all the way to Acapulco.

Acapulco

After just over 13 hours of driving and $91 USD in tolls, we finally arrived at our resort.
The staff at The Grand Mayan Acapulco are great.  Within minutes of arriving we were standing in the same room we had 11 years prior, room 3102.  The concierge took it upon themselves to decorate the room with flowers and they had a chilled plate of chocolate covered strawberries sitting on our table.  We felt so humbled and immediately went down to thank them personally.  Only one of the concierges that helped decorate our room was there, so we thanked her and told her that we would follow up with a personal thank you to her partner.

We went back up to the room and finally got that drink of tequila we had been wanting all day.

The next day we strolled around the resort and went for walks on the beach, swam in the pools and finally vegged out.  Since we are adventure travelers, we wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary, so we booked a tour to visit the caves of Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park and see the silver jewelry village of Taxco, Mexico.

We met with our tour guides the next day and the two of them drove us to the town of Taxco first.  Since Melissa is a jewelry designer, she was very interested in the process of smelting, designing and all the facets of what a silversmith does.  We got a behind the scenes tour of a local operation.  There really is a lot of work that goes into making silver jewelry.

Aside from that, the town of Taxco is beautiful.  It reminded me of a Spanish countryside town with narrow streets, back alleys and lots and lots of people.  Most of the tourists were Mexicans visiting from all areas of Mexico.  We visited some churches and had a wonderful lunch overlooking the city.  Our guide told us that he was from Mexico City and that his mother was actually murdered by a group of five men.  I’m sure the city is pretty safe, however this made our point about being extra vigilant when traveling though areas known to have violence.

We drove a short bit further and made it to the caves.  This cave system is immense and not to be missed if you are in this part of Mexico.  This cave is so large that there is an area set aside as a live theater deep inside the cave.  There are a lot of other things to do here as well, like rappelling, rock climbing and more.

It was getting dark and we still had a long drive ahead of us, so we departed after a great day of education and discovery.

The next few days flew by and then we were thrown, with some bad news.  My father, who was diagnosed with dementia and had been in hospice, was close to his end.  For the next few days, we pretty much sat by our cellphones and waited for the bad news.  What started as an amazing trip to celebrate over a decade of being in love, morphed into thinking about a man and his life and the emotions that came with this kind of news.

Three days later my dad passed away.  We made flight arrangements to fly back to San Diego from Puerto Vallarta within the next week.

Before leaving, we met with the second concierge and gave him and the other concierge a monetary Thank You for helping us with everything we could imagine.

Since we were going to have to fly back to San Diego, we were going to miss a large portion of sailing time and we figured we were not going to be able to sail down the coast of Mexico and visit the other areas like, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Galapagos.  We figured we could see a lot of the coast if we drove up the coast in our little car, which we nicknamed, “Pepe” since it’s a quick little car.

Ixtapa

The first day we drove to Zijuatanejo or Zwhat as everyone calls it.  As we drove around, we figured we should go to Ixtapa instead, since this was going to be one of our stops.  We went to the Ixtapa Marina, and saw some of the crocodiles that frequent the marina.  Needless to say, not many people clean the bottoms of their boats in this marina.

I figured I had such good luck with Priceline in Puerto Vallarta, that I would try it again in Ixtapa.  Amazing, is the only word I can describe.  We got an ocean view room at the Las Brisas Hotel for under $69.  The rooms usually go for over $229.  This hotel is nestled into the natural hillside and has paths that take you through the jungle terrain from one pool to another.  It also has a private beach and so many cool things to do.  We would have loved to stay here for a week but we were now on a timeline and needed to get moving.

They next day we drove up the coast and went through a bunch of really cool little towns and villages.  We were running low on gas and we were still a ways away from a larger town, so we pulled into one of the small villages and looked for a petrol (gas) sign.  We found a hand written sign high up on a post and pulled up to this little hacienda (home).  Since we had been in Mexico for over three months now, we were able to speak in Spanish to the young girl that came up and asked what we needed.  She went inside the house and brought out two five gallon bottles of gasoline.  Her grandmother came over with a baby in her arms and they began to fill the tank.  I promptly took over, so the baby didn’t have to smell the fumes.  Smiles and money were exchanged and we were grateful they were there.

Manzanillo

Later on that day we ended up at the city of Manzanillo.  We drove around and were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the cliffside homes and hotels.  I pulled up the Priceline app once again and couldn’t believe what I saw.  There was a hotel room for $39 right down the street.  We jumped right on it.

We drove to the hotel and it was the first time that the price actually justified the room.  You know you get a little worried, when they hand you the TV remote with your hotel key.

In our travels we have stayed in some really funky rooms before.  One room in Bali, Indonesia was so bad that when I went to take a shower, big chunks of black stuff came out of the shower head and we had to sleep on Melissa’s sarong because there were no sheet on the bed.  We had been staying at such nice places, that we forgot that we were traveling on a budget and sometimes you have to make due.

The room was safe enough and the locals seemed to be having a great time in the courtyard pool.  Bars on the windows and four locks on the door kept us safe, but the disco down the street played loud enough music to shake the windows until three in the morning and the alley was right outside our window.  Oh, the joys of travel.

We left early the next morning and made it to Puerto Vallarta about an hour before our bus back to Mazatlan departed.  We had to go back to Mazatlan to check on the boat, pay additional dock fees and pick up additional travel items.

San Diego

Two days later and another bus ride back to Puerto Vallarta and then we were on a plane back to San Diego.

We spent about ten days taking care of things, visiting family and more back in San Diego.

As mentioned before, we had sold almost all of our stuff before we left for our adventure and what we had left over was in storage.  The best thing though, was we kept our Toyota Prius and had it stored at Melissa’s Mom and Dad’s house, so we had a car to drive around.  This helped us quite a bit, since it was very gas efficient, we didn’t have to rent a car (although we were still making car/insurance payments) and we didn’t have to ask someone to borrow their car.  It was one less stressful thing that we that we were thankful for.

I was stoked because I got to go surfing with my brother when I was back in town at San Onofre.  We had a great session surfing and playing boccie ball on the beach with his family.  The only thing that was a bummer was, on the way back to San Diego, I got stuck in traffic.  I been in traffic in so long, that I just totally chilled and didn’t stress at all.  Actually, being in bumper to bumper traffic is faster than my sailboat goes sometimes.

We said our goodbyes once again and this time it was a lot easier departing.  We knew that we were going to be seeing our children again soon in French Polynesia, so that made it so much easier.

We flew back to Puerto Vallarta and took the bus ride back to Mazatlan.  The only hiccup we had while taking the bus back, was that our bus was pulled over at a roadblock and everyone had to give up their fruit.  I’m sure there was more to that, since they had a dog come on board and smell everything, but we happily handed over our apples and then we were on our way.

Mazatlan (again)

Back in Mazatlan, we took a taxi to the local Walmart and Sam’s Club and provisioned for the next leg of our trip.  Did we mention that we LOVE Mexico prices?!  The food and alcohol is so inexpensive (due to the dropping peso) that I wanted to retire here.

Later that evening we told everyone at the Safety Meeting, that we were departing the next morning.  We said all of our goodbyes to our new friends and finished preparations to depart.

The next morning the wind had picked up but the weather forecast looked windy but favorable for sailing.  Our friends helped us cast off our lines and we began to motor out of the marina.  One of our friends from TG The Grand Wazoo went inside and blew his horn and yelled something to us.  We waved, not knowing what he said and continued on.  He went inside and blew his horn again and went out and waved us back in.  We were confused but we turned around and motored back into our slip.  Don came over to us and told us to look across the marina at a tiny little red flag flying on a yardarm.  He said that if we left while the flag was up, we could be fined up to $1,500 US because that flag signified that the port captain has closed the port to exiting craft.  Oh my.  We were so thankful.

We waited around until the flag was withdrawn and during this time, Don went to the Marina Office to complain, since the yardarm in our marina didn’t have the same flag up.

The flag came down and we said our goodbyes once again.  We headed out the crazy port entrance and the wind and waves were up again, but not as bad as when we came it.  It was actually easier to motor out through the waves than surf them in.

Once we got out to sea, we were off sailing again and we couldn’t wait for our next anchorage.

Isla Isabel

Sailing to Isla Isabel was nice and relaxing.  We passed all the islands off of Mazatlan and it was very peaceful.  We caught ourselves just staring off into the rolling waves and being transfixed with them once again.  It is kind of like looking into a fire; your mind just shuts off and gets carried away.

During this catatonic state, Melissa came up with a great, “Guide to know Cruiser’s”

It goes like this:

Greens:  Totally new.  Over-planned.  Over-provisioned.  May not be able to simplify yet. Take way too many pics.  Still going to Carl’s Jr. when in port.

Golds: Just long enough to get a tan.  Haven’t done any real sailing yet.  Photos are getting better, but not taking as many.

Browns:  Experienced but not jaded yet.  Taking pictures just to take them.

Leathers:  Stay away from them J They won’t stop talking and they may not know how to text.  Don’t know how to upload photos.

We got a good chuckle out of this.

We arrived at Isla Isabel before dawn the next morning and just stayed off the island until the sun came up high enough, to where we could see our entrance into the very small bay.  There were already three boats in the anchorage and it really can’t handle more than four.

We motored around a bit and dropped our anchor in the only spot we felt safe enough to do so.  We couldn’t find a sandy patch, so we dropped our Bruce anchor over some 3 to 5 foot boulders and waited to get a good hold.  It was sketchy because waves were crashing onto the volcanic shore about one hundred feet away.  The anchor held and we started our anchor watch.

I jumped over the side of the boat with my mask and snorkel and evaluated if we were holding well.  It seemed like we were, although I could see that our anchor chain wrapped around some boulders and it looked like it may be a challenge to bring our anchor up when we left but I left that for another time.

We got our hiking gear together and dropped the dinghy in the water.  The beach was a good distance away, so we had to drop our 6HP engine off its motor mount onto the dinghy.  No easy task when wind and waves are tossing the boat one way and the dinghy the other.  Oh well, we were pros.  We got this.

Once the engine was secure and we got all of our belongings and gas aboard, we were off to go exploring.

The correct name for this place is, Isla Maria Isabel and it is a National Park of Nayarit.  Jacques Cousteau came here a little over 4 decades ago and filmed the frigate birds and blue-footed boobies that were rarely filmed before this.

We beached our dinghy easily and pulled it high up on shore and tied off the painter to a rock.  We expected a ranger or someone to come up and introduce themselves, but no one came.  We went over to the frigate research station (which was now almost in ruins) and looked around for some official.  No one.  Wow, this was not what we expected.  We have heard that on the islands of the Galapagos, you are watched every second and are not allowed to have any freedom to do what you want.  Well, we decided to take a self-guided tour and began to walk up to the cliffs.  As we walked up the trail, it was amazing because the frigates and their baby chicks were within inches of us.  If we wanted to, we could reach out and touch them and of course we didn’t, but having the freedom to be in such close proximity was amazing.  As we walked up the path the birds transitioned from frigate birds to blue-footed and brown boobies.

We continued hiking for a while and then decided to go back down to the beach and see the little fishing village.  The fishermen were all very nice but kept to themselves, as they were working hard.  We took some pictures and decided to go up the other side of the island and explore the crater lake.  The sun was relentless and we were happy we brought a lot of water along with us.

After exploring and more hiking, we decided that it was time to get back to the boat and take a nap.  We had been up, off and on (on watch) since earlier the day before.  We came back and napped and when we woke we still had a few hours of daylight left, so we took a dinghy ride around the back side of the island to do some snorkeling.

The snorkeling looked great but the water was so clear, we decided against getting wet and actually just slowly motored our dinghy around looking down into the crystal clear water.

Later on that night we could hear the anchor chain sliding up and down the boulders.  It made for a noisy night and I knew that I was going to have some work to do in the morning.

The next morning I got up and put on my snorkeling gear right after the sun came up.  Once I was in the water and safely away from the boat, I had Melissa start the engine and move forward up on the anchor chain.  I dove down about twenty feet and tried to pull the anchor chain up and around the giant boulder the chain had wrapped around.  I was super-cautious because I read a story about a guy that went down to remove an anchor that was stuck in the mud, and when he planted his feet on the bottom and began to pull on the anchor, he inadvertently pulled his feet down into the mud where he got stuck and ended up drowning.  I didn’t want to make any kinds of mistakes like that.

Working with Melissa, I dove down a few more times and eventually was able to pull the anchor chain up and over the boulder and then we were free.  I got back onboard and we brought the anchor up the rest of the way and we were off to our next adventure.

Matanchen Bay

When sailing from Isla Isabela, all sailors need to keep 20 miles away from the Islas Maria Islands, otherwise known as the Prison Islands.  Gunboats will approach you with force if you disobey and possibly arrest you.

We stayed far away and sailed into Matanchen Bay just before sundown.  This is a large bay just outside of San Blas.  Everyone we talked to, told us to try to visit San Blas but we were now on a timeline and needed to get to Puerto Vallarta as soon as we could so we could make our departure to French Polynesia.

It was still Spring Break for many Mexicans and Matanchen Bay was packed with people on the beach.  They partied all night long with Mariachi Bands, school bands with tubas and pretty much anything that made noise.  We heard the tuba players finally give up at around 3AM.  It’s a good thing we were out on the water because I’m sure it was deafening on shore.

The next morning we slept in and had breakfast on deck.  We lowered our dinghy once again and went for a short ride.  We motored by the beach and thousands of people were playing in the water trying to recover from the night before.  We ended up bringing up the anchor and moving on down the coast to another spot.

Chacala Bay

We sailed south for four hours and dropped anchor in Chacala Bay.  This is a really pretty bay with Cliffside hotels and homes nestled into the jungle canopy.  We went for a quick dinghy ride, just before sunset and saw some spear fishermen trying to get dinner.  It was time for an evening sundowner drink, so we made our way back to Harlow Hut, stowed the dinghy and motor and enjoyed the rest of the evening.  Of course, the party on the beach was in this bay too, only the crowd was only about 1/10th the size of the night prior.

La Cruz

We woke up early and began our journey down the coast to the giant Banderas Bay.  The views of the beaches all the way down were beautiful.  There were many white sand private beaches, volcanic beaches and jungle that came right up to the water.  We really wish we had more time for exploration.  It looked amazing.

We called to get a slip at Paradise Village Marina, however they were full and they said they may have an opening the next morning.  We decided to anchor just outside of La Cruz Marina Rivera Nayarit.

The sail in was actually challenging.  It’s a good thing we have great paper and digital charts.  The approach into the bay is easy if you know about the bay, however there is a huge area where the water depth goes from 33 feet down to 3 feet for a large poorly marked shoal.  We stayed far away from this area and passed some islands (Las Tres Marietas) to our starboard.  These islands looked like a lot of fun but they were packed with tourists.

The wind picked up to around 25 knots and we sailed into the bay at a good clip for our boat, at about 7.5 knots.  We found a good anchorage spot at the back of the pack of around 100 sailboats just outside of La Cruz.  The anchor set in perfectly and once we were hooked, I jumped overboard and took a cruisers bath.  Basically, you shampoo and lather up all over and rinse off in the salt water and once you’re pretty clean, you come up on deck and rinse off with fresh water.

We woke up leisurely the next morning and called to see if a slip was available.  It was, so we pulled up the anchor and headed on over.

Nuevo Vallarta

The marina of Paradise Village is actually in Nuevo Vallarta, which is just a little North of Puerto Vallarta.  As we entered the Marina, we called the Port Captain and he told us which slip was ours.  It was an easy approach and we found it with the help of the dock workers waving us in and helping us with our lines.

We love the freedom and cost of anchoring out but when you’ve been cruising for a while, there is nothing like pulling into a slip, where you have food, water, electricity and all the modern conveniences everywhere.  It may cost more but sometimes the cost is way worth it.

Since we were going to make a serious passage across the Pacific Ocean, we needed to ensure all systems were working properly onboard.  For the next two weeks we went through everything with a fine toothed comb.

We needed a few things, so we went out and purchased another swim ladder that went over the side of our boat, since we couldn’t use our swim ladder when our dinghy was in its davits.  I also donned the harness and went up the mast on the bosuns chair to fix our weather vane, which was stuck for some reason.

During the time we were working on our boat, we connected with a few sailing families that were slipped nearby.  One family told us that their friends just took off for the Puddle Jump. They gave us their “out at sea” email.  I sent off a quick email to them and told them that Melissa and I were going to make the cross soon and we wished them good luck.  I also sent an email out to others that were listed for the passage, however all participants had already left and we were literally the last ones.  We needed to hurry up to make our weather window.

Although we were in a rush to get moving, we still wanted to enjoy a live Mexican dance, so we booked a table at the Paradise Village beachside venue.  It was very entertaining, with colorful dancers, guys dressed up like jaguars and male dancers whipping their whips in unison.  I’m sure the tequila helped to make this a little more enjoyable as well.

At this point, we have been cruising in Mexico for about 4 months.  We have learned to appreciate the smallest things in life like shore showers.  Mentally, we rate the showers we used; Ensenada = passable, Los Cabos = nice but far away from the slip (had to walk through a dirt lot to get back to your boat), La Paz = getting better but still far away, Mazatlan = pretty disgusting (a cleaning lady went in every day but who knows what she was doing), Nuevo Vallarta = excellent (private, with lockers and a great room to relax in after your shower and watch television).

Also, living in certain marinas is hot and stuffy.  This marina was one.  The resort received a beautiful breeze all the time but this marina is built as a hurricane hole and didn’t receive any wind and when the afternoon sun was out, you were getting fried alive.  This was the one and only time we broke out our portable air conditioner.

Okay, we are almost ready to depart, so we provision one last time.  We headed off to Costco, Walmart and Sam’s Club.  We weren’t sure about how much liquor we could bring into the Marquesas, so we opted to buy more than we thought and if needed, we could give it away or just have Customs seize it, but at the inexpensive prices of Mexico, we thought it was worth it.  In hindsight, we were sure glad we did.

Of course we piled up with fresh fruit and vegetables and felt like we were finally ready to go.  Outside of the Walmart, we were looking for a taxi and this kid of about 13 comes up to us and asks if we needed a taxi.  “Si, por favor”, we said.  He pulls a radio out of his back pocket and 10 seconds later a taxi pulls up and the driver helped us load our groceries.  What efficiency!

Lucky for us (but not for them), just prior to departing, our new friends on the S/V Batu had to come back to port to fix their engine and they departed just one day ahead of us.

We had to clear out of Mexico by visiting the Port Captains office and filling out paperwork.  The staff was really helpful and made the departure easy.  They said that we could leave after a team of people came to our boat and cleared us out.

We spent the last of our pesos getting extra things like zincs and some additional spare parts and then we were ready to top off our diesel tanks and jerry jugs in Puerto Vallarta.

The Mexican departure team of Customs, Agriculture and others boarded our vessel and looked around to ensure we had done everything to depart correctly.  After some additional paperwork, we were off.

As we approached the municipal harbor, it looked like a warzone.  There were sunken wrecks in the channel and the water was shimmering with spilled gasoline.  This made us want to be out at sea even more.  The lady working the fuel dock had everything running like clockwork.  We topped off everything and we eventually made it out on the ocean on US tax day of April 15, 2016.