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Sunday, March 30, 2008

San Lorenzo, Honduras to Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica

As it turned out our stay in San Lorenzo was too short. I think our initial impression was unduly influenced by being with three other gringos - never a good recipe for mixing with the locals. It just doesn't pay to walk the streets in a pack when you're the only out-of-towners. We spent Wednesday back in town by ourselves going through the checkout process, and had a much more enjoyable visit. We really should have stayed at least one more day to take the local bus to a bigger city 30 minutes away. It would have been interesting to see something a bit more inland. One of the drawbacks to traveling by boat is that we only see the beach "resort" cities and towns. As small as it was, that seemed to be San Lorenzo's claim to fame. In fact Semana Santa (Easter week) had been so successful for the local restaurants and bars that Porlamar, our "host," remained closed Mon-Wed to give its workers a break.
We can't thank Porlamar's owner, Armando, enough for his generous hospitality. Porlamar is the fist restaurant as you approach the city from the ship channel (making it the last one on the beach from town), and our three boat flotilla anchored off this quiet end of town. We landed our dinghies at Porlamar's launch ramp where they were watched over by Armando and his staff. Armando invited us to fill our jerry jugs from his outdoor water faucet, and he was happy to let us in and out of the property's locked gate when the restaurant was closed.
The Immigration, Port Captain, and Customs officials were all professional and patient with us, and everywhere we went people wanted to know if we were enjoying our stay in Honduras. The only fee we were charged was 36 Lempiras to Customs on exiting the country (hardly worth the effort when the exchange rate is roughly 19 Lempiras to the dollar). Compared to the $80 and $160 it cost friends of ours to check in/out of Nicaragua and Guatemala respectively, Honduras was a bargain.
We had the taxing job of spending our last Lempiras before leaving the country early on Thursday. So we splurged on cheap bottles of Flor de Cana rum from Nicaragua, Salva Vida beer, and two visits to the air-conditioned Sarita ice cream shop for waffle cones (three scoops of ice cream on two waffle cones for the equivalent of $4!). We also ate a delicious Chinese dinner at Casita Chou where the three dishes we ordered were so huge that we got two more meals out of them as take away. Both the ice cream and the Chinese place are just a couple of blocks down from the church towards the water.
Thursday morning we motored back out the channel against the last of the flood tide and it seemed to take us most of the day to clear the Gulf of Fonseca where it was mostly calm and flat. We hadn't really planned on leaving the Gulf of Fonseca so soon, but once we got out of the San Lorenzo channel the conditions were benign and we thought "well, let's just keep on going." That all changed and by 10 PM we were hove to in 30-35 knots of wind and 8' seas. The entire coast of Nicaragua was gusting 25-30 knots with brief "calms" of 10-15 and lumpy 4-6' seas. All of it was on our nose. Nakia doesn't make any headway in those conditions and we actually hove to twice because it wasn't worth the effort and fuel to keep slogging into it. It was never scary or dangerous, just tedious, uncomfortable, and so very frustrating not to be making better progress. Things finally improved the second night when we got back in closer to shore and stayed two miles off the beach. The wind was still blasting, but the seas were better and we could motor into it with a double reefed main up to give us an extra boost. We had to dodge fishing pangas but we didn't care. Frankly, the trip sucked! Compared to the Nicaraguan coast the Tehuantepec was a piece of cake.
After it seemed like the trip would never end we finally dropped anchor in Bahia Santa Elena (north of Playa del Coco), Costa Rica on Saturday afternoon. The wind is still gusty, but the water is flat and 72 degrees, and we woke to 75 degrees in the cabin this morning. Oh, and two more words - parrots and monkeys. We aren't in Mexico anymore!
Linda and John
{GMST}10|55.104|N|85|47.418|W|Bahia Santa Elena|Bahia Santa Elena{GEND}

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Up a creek in Honduras

Not in a bad sense, just literally. Saturday night we were reviewing the pros and cons of spending a whole day getting to San Lorenzo, Honduras from where we were anchored with Sailor's Run. We'd just done a long run and were looking forward to relaxing out at the islands in the Gulfo de Fonseca, but then I said, oh, let's just be wild and crazy for a change and do it. So here we sit in another mangrove estuary but this time on our own anchor and not a mooring buoy, and instead of a resort paradise there's a small town on shore.

Thinking that we needed to get to the channel entrance at the beginning of the flood tide we started out motoring at 0600, but once past Isla Meanguera we could shut the engine off and start sailing. In fact even before we got to the first ship buoy the race was on with Sailor's Run. We had a great sail following the well buoyed channel to Puerto Henecan. It reminded us so much of sailing in the Delta with the muddy green water and clearly visible shoal areas outside of the channel. The best part was that there were no power boats zooming by and throwing big wakes at us. In fact, there were no other boats at all except for Dale on the Islander Freeport 41 Parrot Bay who was waiting to lead us through the short channel from the ship turning basin at Henecan to the anchorage off of San Lorenzo. He has been living on his boat here for over a year and was happy to see our gringo faces.

Of course it was Easter Sunday and the beach was packed even though the beach in question is just a rocky, muddy shore exposed at low tide. There were a few inflatable pool toys and one toy raft but mostly people were just waist high enjoying the cool (well, 83 degree) water. We headed to Dale's favorite watering hole, Porlamar, where we met the owner, Armando, his two children, and his twin brothers. John tried two different kinds of beer, Salva Vida and Port Royal (he hated the later), but he still misses Pacifico and Victoria. I had a limonada which was very sweet and made with shaved ice, but otherwise just like a limonada. No botanas (snacks/appetizers) came with the drinks and we were starving, so we ordered hamburgers and fries since the only other choices were expensive mariscos (seafood). Dale recommends a good Chinese restaurant on the same street as the church and two ice cream stores, but he can't think of a single place serving good Honduran food.

He arranged to have Armando drive us around yesterday to get some Lempiras from an ATM, and then we checked in with Migracion and El Capitania de Puerto. There were no fees to check-in and there's only supposed to be a small fee when we check-out. We explored the indoor Mercado Municipal which seemed to have more eateries than produce stands, but maybe that was just because it was so soon after Semana Santa. There's also a small super mercado for grocery shopping, but the produce there was limited and higher priced so we're happy we stocked up in Usulutan before leaving Barillas. There's a shrimp cannery in town, a couple of large hotels, several banks, and still some Peace Corps presence (Save the Children).

Other than some dugout canoes and a very few aluminum or fiberglass larger panga type boats (still smaller than the Mexican pangas), there is very little boat traffic here. The ones without outboards paddle in and out with the tides, doing some fishing. We swing with the tides and enjoy a good breeze every afternoon. Today the wind is especially high, probably because there's a papagayo blowing, making it hotter than usual in the cabin (94 degrees and 33% humidity). Up until now we've been at about 90 degrees and in the 60's for humidity. Last night we had a brief rain shower, but not enough to clean the boat. I'm not sure three summers in the Sea of Cortez prepared us for this heat, and no one should ever complain about a summer in the Sea again! At least there the water temperature is cooler...

We were happy to find that if we aim our antenna north and amplify it with a steel bowl, we can still receive Sirius satellite radio. Even better news was hearing today that the Justice Department has approved the Sirius/XM merger and now it's up to the FCC to give the final go ahead. Even though we don't expect to receive the signal much farther south of here, we're hoping the two will merge since they each have a lot to offer.

We have to keep pinching ourselves to believe we're not in Mexico anymore. True this isn't like any place we've visited in MX, but on the other hand it doesn't feel all that different yet. We plan to explore around here for a few more days before heading on to Costa Rica.

Linda and John


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Punta de Amapala, El Salvador

We dropped our mooring buoy at Barillas Marina Club at 5:00 AM for the two hour trip out the estuary and over the river bar. Angel led us out with his panga and we were followed by Brisa and Beaudacious, two much faster boats than Nakia. The slowest boat has to go first or it will get left behind which is probably a pain for the fast boats. Brisa was chomping at the bit and finally passed us when we were through the worst of the sloppy waves. And our nice boat wash was all for nothing as we watched the bow sprit plow straight down into a couple of big troughs, throwing spray back off both sides.

We handed Angel a small tip for providing his services so early in the morning, raised sail, shut off the engine, and sailed the entire rest of the way to an anchorage just inside of Amapala between Punta las Mueludas and Playa el Tamarindo. This is just an okay anchorage (we had to set the rocker stopper), but served our purposes for setting the hook before sunset. We were joined by our friends Jeff and Debbie on Sailor's Run who are trying to talk us into going to San Lorenzo, Honduras which is near Puerto Henecan. This is up another estuary, and we're not sure we want to go that far out of our way, but it could be an adventure so we may do it!

Linda and John


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Barillas Marina Club

Yesterday we took the free shuttle bus out of the resort for a trip to town. This is a gated compound 45 minutes by air-conditioned, Toyota, 26 passenger van (complete with armed guard) to Usulutan, which is a much bigger city than I was expecting. But other than that small window of reality the rest of the stay is pure resort paradise. They have about a dozen palapa tables under palms and shade trees, each with an electrical outlet and internet (hard connection or wireless). There's a beautiful swimming pool with jacuzzi but the water is a little too warm to be very refreshing in the 90 degree afternoons. It's nice during the day because of the breeze, but when that dies off before sunset it's brutal out on the boat. We've learned to cover up against the bugs and sit out in the cockpit with a fan blowing in order to stay out of the heat down below. There's a restaurant and bar with resort prices, two showers, and a tienda where you drop your laundry off for 24 hour service (a bargain at $1.25/kilo - I paid 11 pesos/kilo in La Crucecita and had to take it in to town myself). Diesel is $4.50/gallon ($3.94 at the stations in town), but with a two hour fuel dock reservation you get to wash the boat and take on potable water. And everything you buy here goes on your marina tab so you don't have to carry any cash around with you. It's beautiful, but surreal at the same time. Other than the cabana guests, it's all cruisers. At $11.50/day for the mooring buoy, it's a pretty great deal. Oh, and your first drink is free so I highly recommend getting the most bang for your (free) buck and ordering the mango smoothie. Without alcohol it's a $7 drink and muy delicioso!

The trip into town was amazing. The bus goes Tuesday and Friday at 9:00 returning from the grocery store at 12:30. The first 25 minutes are on dirt roads through the surrounding sugar cane fields, and we had to squeeze by several huge trucks loaded with cane. We passed people on bicycles and on foot who were black with soot from harvesting the cane after the fields have been burned - not just men, but women too. The city itself was bustling with activity. We had missed breakfast so we headed directly for the street food and had our first pupusas (sort of a fried corn flour pancake stuffed with cabbage and cheese; six for $2) and fried plantains (.50 for a small bag). The latter were so thin and crisp that they were like banana potato chips. The female vendors in town were all wearing the prettiest waist aprons in all different colors decorated with ribbon and embroidery, and with several pockets for their money and change. It was all great fun, and made for a good diversion.

We're having a hard time wrapping our brains around using U.S. dollars in Spanish, and everyone laughed about the way their Spanish went right out the window when the greenbacks came out. The bills aren't too hard, but we have to learn what they call the coins in Spanish. And the quarters feel light and thin after using the 10p coin for so long.

This morning we arranged for a staff member to take us out on a 20 minute hike through the cane fields and jungle (more like woods) to where a family lives near a troop of spider monkeys. We were told that the soldiers during the war years used to kill and eat the monkeys, but that this family looks after them now. An older man called the monkeys in from the trees and we all held out our bananas for them to take. We had brought the U.S. style eating bananas, which they would eat, but only after they'd gotten some of the man's local bananas which are shorter and fatter. Two of the female monkeys had small black babies clinging to them, there were a few juveniles out on their own, and several adults. We all brought things to contribute to the human family's upkeep, and John's brand new soccer ball was a huge hit with the one and only boy, about seven years old. The rest of the children were girls, from a toddler up to about 10 years old. We will pass on to cruisers coming after us that the family would especially like children's clothing, shoes (they were all barefoot), and school type supplies.

On our way through the cane fields we stopped to photograph workers using machetes to cut the cane that couldn't be harvested by machine. Because the cane has to be burnt before it's harvested it's a dirty job. One man going by on a bicycle stopped to pose for pictures with his machete and apologized for his hands being too dirty to shake our hands. Another figure in shapeless soot covered clothing walked up and he introduced his wife who tilted back her hat so that we could see her face and hair better. Someone finally noticed that they were both barefoot and we had mistaken their black feet for shoes. After all the picture taking and laughter with the man several of us put dollar bills in his shirt pocket as thanks for being a good sport with us. He was very appreciative and we picked out "milagro" (miracle) several times in his farewell to us.

The two experiences were awkward, thrilling, humbling, and gratifying all at the same time. It's very hard to find a balance between gawking outsider and helping to make a difference in people's lives who are enriching ours with their contact. I'm sure we didn't handle the exchange perfectly, but hope that we didn't do any damage either.

Linda and John

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bar crossing and final T'pec thoughts

We are in paradise and happy to be quiet and still after five days and six nights of continuous travel. We had a perfect spinnaker reach yesterday afternoon, passing both of our larger companion boats. It would have looked even more like a three boat regatta if they had had spinnakers to fly also. All too soon the wind died and we motored the rest of the way to the river bar entrance.

We called the marina before 8 AM and they sent an angel to guide us in - literally, the panga driver's name is Angel. By 8:20 we were lined up behind him making our way through the confused wave chop, and by 8:50 we were through the worst of it and into calm enough waters for me to take a shower. Angel tied us to a mooring buoy at 9:50 and we got to work putting the boat away. To our surprise the official greeting party (marina manager, Port Captain, Customs, Immigration, and National Police) arrived within the hour to come aboard for our paperwork. This was very embarrassing because, even though I had read about the process countless times, I did not have the boat tidied up below, and we had neglected to put the customary soft drinks in the fridge. A C- grade for Nakia's first real foreign port entry (in Mexico you go to all their offices, they don't come to you). We will have to do better next time, but at least we had both showered that morning!

Once the panga returned all the officials to shore, it came back for the six of us to go in and complete the check in process with the marina and Immigration. For $10 each we got a nifty sticker in our passports which acts as a visa good for the four Central American countries which have signed the NAFTA agreement. Bad ol' Costa Rica is the lone holdout, probably because their economy is doing just fine without it.

Formalities completed we all retired to the club restaurant for our "first drink free" and lunch. Everything had happened so fast that we'd all missed breakfast and were starving. Knowing that anything alcoholic would knock me flat, and want to get the biggest bang out of the free offer, I ordered a mango smoothie without alcohol - it was heaven. John had his first Bahia, the local beer, and we sat back to swap war stories about the trip. Most of the rest of the group waiting with us last week in Marina Chahue wandered by our table, and we got to hear their stories too.

Between the 10th and 11th of March, nine boats departed Huatulco for El Salvador. One boat left Monday morning and went straight across to Puerto Madero. They had 14' seas and 30-35 knots of wind. Five boats left Monday night and followed split routes, with some going north and crossing 10-15 miles off the beach, and one or two staying close to the beach like we did. The former had regular, but large seas (green water over the bow) and the same high winds. Our group of three boats that left Tuesday night and the other "beach" boats had high winds but small waves. We definitely feel that close in to shore was the way to go if you had a forecast with any north wind component in it at all. It's a longer trip but so much more comfortable. If we had gotten a forecast with no north wind component to it for at least five days, then we might have considered the straight shot across. We also had at least a knot of foul current almost the entire trip. We're looking forward to hearing the stories of the boats which waited to leave Saturday and Sunday. It is so true that one of the hardest parts of cruising is waiting for weather!

We've signed up for the twice weekly free shuttle bus trip to town tomorrow morning. It comes complete with an armed guard (this entire compound/resort is protected by armed guards) so stay tuned for more!

Linda and John

{GMST}13|10.714|N|088|27.070|W|March 2008|Bar Crossing{GEND}

{GMST}13|15.789|N|088|29.159|W|March 2008|Barillas Marina{GEND}

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Guatemalan morning

It's dawn on the Guatemalan coastline and I can just barely make out the Guatemalan trees under the Guatemalan clouds. John let me have an extra long off watch (almost four hours) and, coupled with the fact that my spirits are always highest at sunrise, it promises to be another great day of passage making. I apologize for sending such brief reports up until now, but we were either preoccupied with sailing the boat (i.e., just hanging on), dodging fishing traffic, trying to get some sleep, trying to get something to eat, or John was sleeping out on the settee where I normally use the computer. It's relatively flat right now and we're motoring, plus it's still cool, so he's retired to the pullman berth (where we don't get much breeze come the afternoon). Oh, temps have been mid-80's with humidity 65-85% and the water temps have been low-80's since Thursday.

So what have I left out? It's been challenging at times, but nothing more than we've handled before. In fact we've had worse seas coming down the coast of Oregon and California. It's just that, except for summer weather in the Sea of Cortez, we've been very complacent about "weather" along the Mexican coast and we forget what it's like to sail in more than 20-25 knots of wind. I was very nervous about "what might happen" while we were crossing the potentially worst part of the T'pec but once I dropped that frame of mind, I realized that it was great sailing. Well, it would have been nice to have been able to keep the boat clean for a bit longer - we're now covered in a salty crust, and I'm wishing for a big rain cloud (but no lightning, please!).

Aside from the nice periods of sailing, it's mostly tedium. Until yesterday we've been tired and sore and it was a challenge to do routine things. Mostly we are so anxious to try to get some sleep on our off watches that things like eating and personal hygiene take a back seat to hitting the sack. I finally ate into precious sleep time and took a real shower yesterday morning. Since I'd already lost those minutes from my off watch period I didn't bother to attend the border crossing ceremonies which occurred after I'd already gone to bed. Although I did wake up long enough to hear John playing a recording of the Guatemalan national anthem to the other boats, and all the ensuing radio chatter about flag raising.

I just remembered that I wanted to explain the reason we were so tired and sore after the first few days is because sailing is much more work than motoring (people like to call it motor sailing, but it's really just motoring). When the wind is constantly changing from light to heavy and back to light again, John has to reef/unreef the main sail, roll in/out the jib, drop/raise the staysail, and take on/off the preventer for the main. It's exhausting for him and even my hands were sore from the little bit of line handling I do for him. Maybe some day we'll find out what it's like to sail in a nice steady tradewind breeze, but that's sure not what we have along the eastern Pacific coastline.

So far the only casualty has been Ziggy's grass. We're trying to nurse it back to health, including trimming back the individual leaves, after it took a saltwater bath our first day out. We store our dinghy right side up on the foredeck and stow odds and ends in it to clear the decks. His grass normally goes right up in the bow of the dinghy and he's had visitation rights on our calmer passages. John and I knew that the potential for taking salt spray over the bow was too great to leave it there, but we waited too long to move it and by then no one wanted to carry the heavy load back to the cockpit in rolling seas. I saw it take an actual dousing of Golfo de T'pec before I had a chance to go up and rescue it. We've been soaking the grass in fresh water since then, cutting off the burnt ends of the leaves, and hoping it will come back to it's former lush greenery for Ziggy's sake. Ziggy himself has been fine. I'm sure he doesn't enjoy this any more than we really do, but he sleeps a lot, and takes advantage of any calm periods to go off-leashing forward of the cockpit.

Last night Zephyrus and Nakia stood by while Fortuitous wrestled with a transmission problem. We spent a lovely afternoon sailing in light breezes over a long easy swell, and turned our engines on when the wind died off at sunset. Unfortunately Fortuitous' transmission gremlin was back (last seen in Zihuatanejo), and it took until midnight to get a temporary fix in place. We were close to shore, it was flat calm, and we all just bobbed there with our anchor lights on. We managed to launch our dinghy so that John could row a cruiser kludge over to Ralph and Cheryl. We will see today if they stop in at Puerto Quetzal or continue on with us to El Salvador (www.barillasmarina.com by the way, if you want to take a look at our next stop).

Linda and John

{GMST}13|52.960|N|091|22.881|W|March 2008|Guatemala{GEND}

Friday, March 14, 2008

Good bye Mexico

We entered Guatemalan waters this morning at 1020 local. Ceremonies included retiring the Mexican courtesy flag, hoisting John's home made Guatemalan flag and playing the Guatemalan national anthem over the radio for the two boats we're in company with (Zeferous and Fortuitous). We got out of Mexico just in time, our courtesy flag had about had it after getting blasted in the Tehuantepec. There's only a little red left showing.

Linda celebrated by taking a shower and then sleeping through the ceremonies.

John and Linda

{GMST}14|29.826|N|092|18.032|W|March 2008|Guatemalan Border{GEND}

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Golfo de Black Hole

Well, here we are, still in the Golfo de Tehuantepec where at times it seems we'll never get out. After the wind cut back late yesterday we relaxed the reins and started to cut the SE corner of the gulf. But then when the wind came out of the E/NE there was a lot of wind chop and we got blown 10-12 miles off shore. Nothing dangerous, just uncomfortable and very, very slow going. We finally hove to just so John could get an hour or so of sleep. There also seems to be at least a knot of counter current impeding our progress. So everyone is tired, but we shouldn't complain after hearing a guy out in the middle with 12-14 occasionally breaking seas and 30-35 knots of wind our first night out. That's why we elected to keep close to shore!

Linda and John

{GMST}15|31.000|N|093|34.124|W|March 2008|Golfo de Tehuantepec{GEND}

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bahia Salina Cruz

We got underway yesterday (Tuesday) at 4:00 PM as planned and had to motor all night once the sun went down. Had kind of a bouncy night but nothing terrible. Salina Cruz came up on the radar at sunrise, just as planned, and we had time to get the staysail up before we were out of the lee of the headland and it got too windy. It was nice sailing (no worse than going through the "slot" on SF Bay on a summer afternoon), but then continued to build to 35 knots. Since he was already soaked by salt spray from a wave that broke on the windward side and flew across the stern, John went up to the mast to put the second reef in the main sail. We are making good headway and appear to be through the worst of it at this point. We are also maintaining our head start over Fortuitous (Ralph and Cheryl) and Zephyrus (Dan and Lorraine), who are traveling with us!

Linda and John

{GMST}16|10.662|N|094|38.381|W|March 2008|Golfo de Tehuantepec{GEND}

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Departing Huatulco

Just a short note to say that we are finally almost out of here! We plan to depart Huatulco late this afternoon, and will see how far we get. If it's too bouncy out there we'll duck back into Tangolunda and go tomorrow. At least five boats left yesterday but we haven't heard any reports from them yet. We are departing with two other boats closer to our speed. Will report our progress as we go!

I know I still owe everyone a Oaxaca report but it's too long and I'll have to wait until we have internet access to post it later.

Linda and John

{GMST}15|45.162|N|096|07.662|W|March 2008|Bahia Huatulco{GEND}

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Marina Chahue

Nakia is tied to the dock in Bahia Huatulco waiting for a weather window to cross the Golfo de Tehuantepec (T'pec). The idea is to wait for a forecasted period of calm, lasting long enough to cross the gulf into Guatemalan waters. The area is notorious for the high winds that blow down from Bahia de Campeche in the north. One tactic boats use is to cut straight across the gulf as fast as they can. Since we are a slow boat we will hug the shoreline so that if the wind comes up, we won't have the heavy seas that build up farther off shore.

For now we sit and watch the weather. When the T'pec is blowing, the bays around Huatulco range from uncomfortable to untenable, and most boats elect to wait in the marina. This is unfortunate since the marina is expensive (.60 USD/day or .35 USD/month) with no amenities other than electricity and potable water. To take the bite out of the cost Enrique, the marina manager, gives in and out privileges so you visit the bays and come back to the marina as much as you want. He keeps track of your nights and will add them up to give you the monthly rate if you stay long enough. There is no internet at all in the marina, but you can take your laptop to the Villa Blanca hotel for "free" wireless (which ended up costing us 100p for three beers and two limonadas) or to The Lighthouse cafe which we haven't tried yet (so we don't know how much their beers are). There is no self-service laundry in the marina, but there is a pickup/dropoff service for 20p/kilo which is very expensive for Mexico. The marina bathrooms range from basic - with one toilet and sink for each gender, to primitive - with an open air outdoor shower "room" which has two shower heads (cold water only) inside a set of chest high swinging doors. John showers with me and then patiently stands guard outside while I finish up my longer shower process!

The surge in the marina is about the same as that at the Pier 39 or Monterey Bay marinas, though we haven't yet experienced a full T'pec gale which is supposed to be a fender squisher. Right now there's a large power boat on the end tie that we're nervous walking by because his fenders sound like they could blow at any minute.

The town of La Crucecita is about a 25 minute walk or a 16p taxi ride from the marina. Created by a Mexican government agency called FONATUR to serve the people working for the purpose built resort area, John has dubbed it MexiDisney. It has bit of a surreal quality to it with some areas very slightly resembling U.S. suburbia. The streets are wide, paved, and straight, with lots of green belt areas. There's a Super Che grocery store between the marina and town which reminded us of a micro Safeway, complete with an aisle of international/imported foods for the tourists staying in condos. We're looking forward to finding the local mercado for fruit and vegetable provisioning.

The best part of Marina Chahue is Enrique. We haven't needed his services yet but we are told that he makes weekly propane/fuel runs. There's no Pemex dock in the marina but you can jerry jug to the one on the darsena from the anchorage in the cruise ship harbor. Enrique also watches the weather in the T'pec for us, as does the Port Captain's office. We heard from another marina tenant that the marina is for sale, and until then the current owners aren't interested in making any improvements. So Enrique does his best to make your stay as pleasant as possible.

We came back after six nights in Oaxaca to find a film of dirt on every surface down below in the boat. Apparently they're grading the parking lot area in preparation for paving so it's dirtier than usual. We were going to wash the boat today, but a water main on our dock is broken so the water has been turned off all day. Hopefully it will be back on tomorrow.

We're looking forward to getting out of here and getting on our way again!

Linda and John

{GMST}15|45.814|N|096|07.312|W|March 2008|Marina Chahue{GEND}