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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Waiting for the ball game to begin


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Lisa and Linda at the ball park

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¡Sí, se puede!

27 January 2007
Marina Mazatlan

Most of you up north probably don't know it but it's baseball season down here. We started watching some of the games on TV when we were in San Carlos. When we got to Mazatlan and realized that the Mazatlan Venados were in the play offs I decided we had to see a game. John went to the stadium for tickets to the final game against Mazatlan's bitter rival Culiacan but the only seats available were "lateral" (way out in left field) or bleachers. Uncertain that he could rise to the level of machismo we might encounter in the bleachers, John opted to pass on that home game. We crossed our fingers that the Venados would beat the Tomateros and watched the game on TV. Mazatlan managed to squeak by, only to face the much tougher Naranjeros of Hermasillo in the upcoming finals.

If you've been following along with your Spanish dictionary, you will have learned that venado=deer, tomate=tomato, and naranja=orange. I thought these were odd names for baseball teams but my dentist explained that each team is named for what its city is best known for. Visitors to Mazatlan soon learn that the city's name means "land of the deer." What we didn't know is that Culiacan grows the best tomatoes and Hermasillo produces the finest oranges in Mexico. Thus it is that you have the deer playing the tomato'ers (or tomato growers) and the orange'ers (or orange growers).

Tickets for the games being played in Mazatlan went on sale Tuesday morning, and John and Steve (S/V Flying Free) drove to the stadium an hour before the ticket windows opened at 10 AM. The stadium officially seats 13,000 but my dentist told me that one night they estimated a crowd of 16,000, so we expected long lines for tickets. I was a little surprised however when John hadn't returned by Noon since I figured he would give up after only a couple of hours. By the time Lisa called me on the radio at 3 PM we were both concerned that they still weren't back. I was imagining fist fights and hospitals, or traffic accidents and jail and/or more hospitals. Shortly after Lisa's call John walked in the door, cold and tired but otherwise unharmed.

It turned out that the lines themselves weren't particularly big, but they took forever to move. Apparently most people were buying 10-20 tickets, and spent a lot of time trying to get all their seats as close together as possible. Needless to say, when it was finally their turn at the window John and Steve felt a little ridiculous buying only two tickets each. Exhausted from his ordeal, and with a belly full of the arrachera lunch they ate before coming home, John fell into bed for a much deserved nap. My hero!

The Venados lost the first two games of the league championship series (best of seven) against the Naranjeros in Hermasillo on Monday and Tuesday. They had Wednesday off and then came home to Mazatlan to lose a third game on Thursday. The games were close with two of them going to 12 innings, but it wasn't looking good for Mazatlan.

The do-or-die game day finally dawned on Friday and we went about our chores with great excitement. At 3 PM we met Steve and Lisa to start off the festivities with a fortifying meal of all-you-can-eat ribs at Munchkin's. The AYCE offer was lost on Lisa and me but the guys managed to get their money's worth. We then strategically positioned the truck outside the stadium for a quick post-game getaway, and caught a bus downtown to see a Carnaval Parade Preview. The confetti in the streets along the bus route was our first clue that we were too late for the parade, but we were even more puzzled by the lack of a crowd in Plaza Machado, the advertised end of the parade route. We shopped our way back towards the bus stop, caught the tail end of a fireworks show coming from Plaza Republica a few blocks away, and realized that all the action had ended up there. We snapped a few pictures with the candidates for queen (egged on by a helpful guy who then wouldn't let us take our picture with him!), and hopped a bus back to the baseball stadium.

And that's pretty much the end of the story. Our beloved Venados lost 3-1 in the most boring game of the series. We banged our Pacifico thunder sticks, waved our Venados flag, and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, you can!) to no avail. But it was terrific to be a part of an important local event, and the nice guy who caught a souvenir T-shirt right in front of John's hands, and then handed it to him to give to me, will always be remembered as a symbol of the generosity of our gracious host country.

Linda and John

Thursday, January 25, 2007

16th Anniversary

25 January 2007
Marina Mazatlan

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes today. It's our 16th wedding anniversary which, as every boat owner knows, is a fiberglass year. We marked the occasion by epoxying two layers of the precious cloth to Nakia's foredeck over the foam core filling the insert where there used to be teak deck. John laid the glass as fast as I could mix the two part epoxy (15-20 squirts of each at a time), and we managed to finish it all before Noon. We donned our best work clothes, latex gloves, and industrial strength respirators for the festive morning, and many a neighbor strolled by to pass on glad tidings and murmured approvals over our gift of fiberglass. We're taking pictures of every stage of the deck job and as soon as the Project Manager has time he will post them for your edification.

This afternoon I cooked up a batch of tamale pie (see Alber's corn meal box for recipe) for an impromptu potluck dinner here in Marina Mazatlan. The upstairs lounge was packed with hungry cruisers ready to dive into a feast that left no one hungry. Many thanks to Dave and Sally on S/V Hopalong for announcing the time and place on the local VHF net, and to everyone else for cooking their hearts out for our special day (even if they didn't know it). Sally had intended to hold the potluck Friday, but I talked her out of that night because of other plans we had. When she chose Thursday instead, I told her that worked for us, completely forgetting the date. It's hard to remember special days when every day here is a gift!

Linda and John

Anniversary Dinner

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Fiberglass job

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Open Studio Tour in Old Mazatlan

22 January 2007


This past weekend we attended a wonderful event held in the Centro, or old part of downtown Mazatlan. The annual open studio tour is not only an art show, it's an opportunity for a glimpse of what's behind some of the doors in this beautiful city. The artists showcase their work in their studios/homes, in gift shops, in bed and breakfasts, and sometimes in borrowed homes of friends. These locations vary in style from remodeled casas, to historic homes, to small apartments, and even to one old crumbling building.

On Saturday I joined three other women from Marina Mazatlan for the self-guided walking tour. Lisa (S/V Flying Free) had done the tour last year and had a route for us already marked on her copy of a map listing the 19 venues. She did a great job of navigating us through the streets and we managed to see twelve places in about three hours. We got a little side tracked looking at the rooms of a charming bed and breakfast (http://www.casadeleyendas.com), but we made up some time by not lingering in the gift shops which we could return to another time.

The art work varied tremendously, but it was all interesting. Even if you didn't particularly care for the work itself, the opportunity to see the space in which it was being shown made each stop well worth the time. Just getting off the beaten path and onto some of the side streets you might otherwise never walk was an adventure. The artists themselves were available and willing to discuss their work with you. They were a mix of expatriates from all over the world as well as Mexican nationals, and they ranged in age and style from young and modern to older and more classic.

I enjoyed the Saturday tour so much that I got John to return with me on Sunday to see the rest of the places on the list. The building that got the most buzz from the other cruisers who'd done the tour on Saturday was one we had missed. It was off the Plaza Machado above one of the chi-chi restaurants (Pedro y Lola) which borders the square. John and I walked through an open doorway into what looked like a construction site, and climbed a rickety staircase to the second floor. Assuming they don't change the photos on the home page, you can see what it looked like at the web site at the beginning of this post. As we walked through the rooms we were warned to watch our step because "it's an historic building."

If you ever find yourself in Mazatlan when this event takes place, I highly recommend setting aside the time for it. And be sure to bring plenty of cash because there will undoubtedly be something that you'll want to take home with you!

Linda and John

Saturday, January 13, 2007

First Week in Mazatlan

13 January 2007
Marina Mazatlan

We've been in Mazatlan for a week now and are really loving it. The weather is significantly warmer than it was in San Carlos, and we're back to wearing mostly shorts and T-shirts or tanks around the marina. Even though Mazatlan is a resort city, we try to wear long pants and nicer shirts when we venture into the city proper so we don't stick out as tourists. Our disguise isn't foolproof though because we still are approached by the time share salesmen! The long pants are also good for preventing no-see-um bites (we hope). We don't know when/where we're getting bitten, but we each have a few bites already.

Life in the marina has it's ups and downs. We love the dock we're on. We moved to an end tie in order to save some money by paying for our documented length (33 ft.) instead of the slip we were in (41 ft.). As we walk the full length of the dock up to the gate we get to say hello to all the cats, dogs, and people along the way. I think we're on one of the more transient docks because it's farther away from the office/bathroom/lounge building, and it's interesting to meet all the boats coming and going. The major downside is that since we arrived at Marina Mazatlan the internet here has been spotty at best and mostly just not working. The WiFi is definitely down which is beyond the marina's control, but even the hard connection is unreliable enough that one wouldn't want to carry a laptap and peripherals up to the office just to find that the internet isn't working again.

Little things like the gate cards not working and the pilot lights going out on the bathroom water heaters are more easily solved. For the former you can reach in and turn the knob to get in the gate, but the bathroom entry is trickier since you have to wait for someone else to go in or come out. When a woman warned me about the cold water showers one evening, I simply went back to the boat and asked John to bring a lighter and come with me to the bathroom building. The three hot water heaters are easily accessible outside, and he managed to light the two out of three pilot lights that had blown out. Ten minutes later I had to turn the cold water faucet on to mix with the hot!

We've started learning the bus routes and after a few missteps are getting better all the time. Learning the streets is complicated by the fact that we have four freebie maps of varying scales and detail, and none of them is really useful on its own. One good map is on my list of things to get. We're lucky in that we have three major buses that run right by the marina, and it's very easy to pick up any of the several other bus routes to get where you need to go. Once we have our truck here (John is driving it down from San Carlos today) we'll probably do more driving to the mega stores, but I think I'll feel more comfortable riding the bus to the busier, more congested parts of town.

Carnaval is fast approaching (February 15-20) and is one of the reasons we chose Mazatlan to lay over for part of our winter refit. Last night Vicky and Fiona of Caravan joined me for the "Second Computation of the Votes" for Carnaval royalty. We had one detour after going to the wrong church square (my bad), but I asked a policeman for directions and, after a long bus ride to a completely unknown section of town for us, we arrived in time to see the candidates for Queen of Carnaval. Nine young woman were competing for the honor, and the square was packed with family and fans cheering and holding up signs with pictures of their favorites. At first it didn't seem as though we'd be able to see a thing with the crowds, but we found a little corner of a raised section upon which we first hoisted seven-year-old Fiona. Vicky and I didn't want to climb up ourselves for fear of blocking the view of the elderly man standing there, but he finally beckoned us up for a better look. It was so fun to be part of what appeared to be a completely local event, and we didn't see any other tourists in the crowd. The queen candidates were in beautiful evening gowns, and what we took to be four past queens were in full Carnaval regalia complete with hand held masks (the kind on wands) and two inch eyelashes. We think a new queen was chosen at the end of the evening (one of the candidates received a bouquet of flowers and was flanked by two women wearing tiaras), and there were two candidates each left from the competition for King of Joy and Child Queen. Vicky and I were a bit disappointed by the king candidates as they didn't quite measure up to the prospects for queen. Is the king traditionally supposed to be short and portly?

Linda and John

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Safe Passage

Saturday, January 6, 2007
Marina Mazatlan

All of our preparations for a return to the Sea paid off in that we had one of the easiest passages ever. For the most part there was minimal swell from the NW so it didn't take long for us to get used to the motion again. And except for the first morning when we took our only spray on the decks, the winds were light and mostly behind us. I guess it's a good thing I dug out our foul weather gear and boots from deep within the storage lockers as insurance.

Except for 12 hours of sailing it was a motorboat ride for two reasons. The first was a gale warning in the northern Sea that we wanted to outrun before the wind and seas built farther south. The second was that we wanted to arrive at the marina entrance before the dredge in the channel began operating at 8:00 AM, otherwise we'd have to wait outside the entrance until he took his breaks later in the day. With a clean bottom we made excellent speed, and we were happy to get into the protection of the marina earlier than we had planned.

The other hoped for, but still unexpected, plus was how warm it got and so quickly. We left freezing (I know, I know, but to us it was cold) San Carlos where the low air temps. were in the 40-50 range and the water was a chilly 62 degrees. By our second day out the water temp. was up to the high sixties, and by Friday it reached a high of 73. The air temperatures followed suit and John actually broke a sweat yesterday making a sail change.

It was great to discover that dolphins and whales don't hibernate during the winter, as we had plenty of sightings all three days. It almost seemed like we saw more spouts and breaches off in the distance than we normally do in an entire season, but maybe it was just seeing large groups which we're not used to. No close encounters with any of the big guys, but the dolphins came to play a few times.

Now it's back to work to get the decks finished so we can start cruising again!

Linda and John

In safe and sound

January 6, 2007
Marina Mazatlan

We arrived this morning after three days straight travel. Only two small problems. First the alternator belt broke the other afternoon. We have spares and since it was calm it only took about 15 minutes to replace. The other problem had a larger impact; the pump on our marine head started leaking the first day out so we had to use a bucket for two days. We have spares for that too, but they are in 'long term storage' under our bed and we decided to wait to get them until after we arrived.

The marina is nice, and we're happy to be here were it's warm.

John and Linda

Friday, January 05, 2007

That's more like it

January 5, 2006
At Sea, off Altata (120 mi NW of Mazatlan)

When we left San Carlos is was cold. Not cold by you north of the border types, but cold for us. Daily highs were in the mid to high 60s and lows often dipped into the high 30s. The water temperature was a chilly 59 degrees, that just three degrees higher then the water off the coast of Northern California!

We hoped that our move south would produce warmer climes, and I'm happy to say it has! Last night's air temperature was right around 70 and the water temp also broke 70 this morning. We were both able to strip off our multiple layers of fleece and we can comfortably sit on deck in the shade in a T-Shirt. And we still have another 100 miles to go!

We should arrive in Mazatlan tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

John and Linda

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quick update

January 4, 2007
At Sea, about 20 nm NW Topolobampo

We're going to continue on to Mazatlan. We are making good time in spite of the fact that there is little wind. According to the weather guy there's a 'hump' in the Sea of Cortez, north and south of it there's wind but not in it. Looks like we're in the hump.

Friday's forecast is not good for the far N Sea, gale warning there. But by Friday we'll be a mere 130 mi from Mazatlan so should not see any part of the heave winds.

ETA MAZ Sat morning.

John and Linda

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Underway for Mazatlan

Wednesday January 3, 2006
At Sea

We departed San Carlos this morning for our trip to Mazatlan. The weather forecast is for 10-15 knots of wind from the north so we should have an easy ride of it. Right now the wind is just 5-7 knots from the SSE and the seas are very low from the WNW. Unfortunately the weather forecasters are saying that Friday will be very windy in the Sea of Cortez so we will pill in to get out of the weather at Topolobampo.

It was pretty cold this morning getting underway and we're looking forward to getting further south into warmer water.

John and Linda