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Thursday, March 01, 2007


1 March 2007
Marina Mazatlan

Well, that was quite a month! Between a week of dog sitting, my 50th birthday surprise party, Carnaval, a bus trip to Tucson, boat projects, and a head cold that started on February 1 and just won't quit, February was a memorable month that left little time for blogging or email. I apologize for being out of touch for so long, but I was either out having the time of my life, or wasn't feeling well enough to document the great times we were having.

February started with Caravan leaving for a train trip through the Copper Canyon. Rather than letting them kennel Clipper, their Schipperke, I begged John to let me take care of her for the week. Fine, he said, as long as it doesn't interfere with the weekend following your birthday (Hmmmm). Clipper was a sweetheart, very smart, and an affectionate little girl who loved being brushed every day. But her twice daily walks were ruled by her nose (she wanted to track every interesting scent), and she missed her pack terribly and barked when I left her alone on her boat. We finally figured out that we could keep her on Nakia to keep her quiet during the day, and I chose to sleep on Caravan so she wouldn't be lonely at night. After a few days I learned that being owned by a dog is more demanding than it looks, and I definitely prefer being an auntie. But now that Caravan has sailed south we miss Clipper, Fiona, Vici, and Gene very much!

My birthday was the absolute highlight of the month, and John need never think about planning another party for me because he couldn't possibly top this one. First we went out the night of my birthday with Flying Free for a wine tasting seminar, fondue, hot dogs from a street cart, and a glimpse of the Carnaval fun fair. I know it sounds like a weird combination, but it worked (you had to be there). On Saturday I was led to believe that John and I were spending the weekend at a sedate B&B after having dinner with Stan and MJ as they were passing through town. Instead I walked into the restaurant to find the SolMaters sitting at a table for 20, along with cruising friends (Flying Free, Caravan, Traveler, La Balena, Willow) and, TA DAH!! - my sister, Leslie; brother-in-law, Tom; and college friend, Amy, with her 11 year old daughter, Alex. Overwhelmed by the thought of these four special people flying down to celebrate my birthday, I couldn't hold back the tears as we hugged and laughed. Everyone was pleased as punch that they'd managed to pull off the big secret, and it took me forever to stop gazing in wonder at the out-of-town faces. I had no idea how fantastic it would feel to have people from our previous lives join us here in Mexico, as this was the first time anyone had come down to visit us. It was very moving, and I will never forget the fun we had with all our friends that night. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who was invited but couldn't make it, and for keeping it a secret from me! I love you for even remotely considering the possibility of being there.

Fortunately I had recovered from the first round of whatever's been going around Mazatlan in time to enjoy the long weekend at the Hotel Playa Mazatlan with our visitors. We had a great time playing tourist; eating far too much delicious food at places like La Costa Marinera, El Capitano, El Bambu, and Panama; practicing numbers in Spanish with the beach vendors (Alex wins the prize for going home with the most souvenirs); sun bathing by the pool, and building sand castles on the beach; taking jet ski, boogie board, and banana boat rides; riding pulmonias, red trucks, and local buses all over the city; and crashing from exhaustion at the end of the day in our comfy rooms overlooking the ocean. Many of these things were firsts for John and me, and it was a real treat to ignore the budget for a few days of pure indulgence!

We barely had time to recover from my birthday weekend before Carnaval was upon us, but I'll cover that in another post. Then Carnaval had just ended and I was on a bus for the 22 hour trip to Tucson to visit my parents, who were staying there for the month. After more delicious meals with them, a visit from my aunt and uncle, and watching the Academy Awards show (a Hill family tradition!) I was back on the bus to Mazatlan. Finally we're back in boat project mode, hoping to wrap up the deck work by the end of March so we can cross over to La Paz and get back to our beloved Baja for the summer.

Thanks again to everyone who was involved in making my 50th the birthday surprise party of a lifetime!

Linda and John