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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Santiago Bay

Some of you may be wondering how we've been spending our time now that we are finally back in Mexico again. First and foremost we've been enjoying spending time with our good friends, Stan and MJ, who live full time in Santiago. We've also renewed cruising friendships with several boats, and met people on boats new to Mexico since we left. A lot of time is spent at Ramada El Rey which is one of the restaurants lining the beach here at La Boquita. The cruisers have regular bocci ball games on the sand followed by Mexican Train dominoes and drinks at El Rey. We don't usually join the games, but are happy to partake in the refreshment portion of the ritual. Another semi-weekly event is an outing to La K'Melia which is a botanero (I think I have that right; from the root "botana" which is "snack") complete with live entertainment. Stan and MJ introduced us to this concept before we left Mexico. These are bar/restaurant establishments in which you order drinks and are then served a variety of appetizers at no additional charge. The snacks are usually things like simple tacos, ceviche, taquitos, etc. and they bring you enough to make a meal of it. The one we went to gets started at around 4 PM and the entertainment wrapped up by 6 PM (the day we went it was a band and singers). We don't quite understand how they stay in business, but it's a fun concept.

Having ordered a full set of poker chips while we were in Hawaii, John organized a Friday poker game at El Rey. Eight people played Texas Hold 'Em for 50 pesos each and the game lasted a good 2-3 hours with several changes of fortune amongst the players. We had a lovely surprise when the ultimate winner kindly donated her winnings to PATA Manzanillo (http://www.PATAManzanillo.com), the animal welfare non-profit that Stan and MJ spearheaded after their move here.

On Sunday we all attended a 3 PM futbol (soccer) game played in the local stadium between our local Picudos and a team from nearby Colima. Stan was organizing cruiser attendance for these games before we left and now, between the cruisers and the local ex-pat community, I think the gringos almost out-numbered the locals. It's a fun chance to yell and shout, although we miss the vendor who used to sell messy tacos. Now we bring our own snacks, but you can still see 10 year old boys delivering cups of beer to their dads in the stands. We won this game 1-0 after lots of blood and sweat. Everyone is so welcoming and one of the trainers even shook our hands and thanked us for coming.

The more mundane side to our lives involves re-learning how to do surf landings and take-offs in the dinghy. After two wet take-offs we've taken to going into the mouth of the small river and landing in the protected water there. The downside to this method is that the tide can be very strong, creating rapids at the entrance especially on an ebb tide when the surf is breaking. I will most likely never take the dinghy out by myself again after I over confidently returned to the beach ahead of John with clean laundry and promptly filled the dinghy with about six inches of sandy saltwater. It isn't nearly as easy as John makes it look, especially since he has me hop in first and I had no idea that he was continuing to push us out farther before he climbs in.

So I dried all the salty carpets, towels and blankets and made a second trip to re-wash it all a few days later. I've since made another trip with all of our salty passage clothes. I take what I can carry stuffed in my backpack and one plastic carryall, which is what will just fit into a medium sized front loader. I opt for auto-servicio (do-it-myself) and no dryer, and I carry it all back to dry on the boat. It's a dinghy ride to the beach, half hour walk to the bus stop, and a 6 peso bus ride to Santiago proper (I think the peso is about 12 to 1 at the moment). Reverse to go home. John keeps trying to get me to take a 60 peso each way cab ride (and MJ keeps insisting I can do it at their house!), but I kind of like getting the exercise. Actually I'm probably done with that and will do the light nylon things by hand and drop the rest off at a fluff and fold place from now on. It was just those first few things that needed special handling.

John has kept busy fixing things like our anchor windlass, battery charger, an old backup PC which he wants to give away, the pressure water pump (surprisingly yukky), and servicing (cleaning) the hand pump for our head (double yuk!). He's decided he's not going to tear apart the bilge pump to try to fix it, but will just buy a new one. As original equipment on the boat he thinks he can retire that item! He's also made two visits to the water truck which has a regular schedule to the beach restaurants, and has bought a total of 12 five-gallon jugs of water to fill Nakia's tanks.

We didn't notice any particular behavior changes in Ziggy other than his joy at being able to run from down in the cabin, up the companionway steps, across the cockpit, and up the main sheet onto the boom. He also wants to jump in every dinghy that stops by for a visit and is remarkably polite to people he doesn't know (i.e., he tolerates holding and petting). We've already had two visits from dolphins, and there are numerous pelicans, frigate birds, booby birds, terns, gulls, and herons all after the bait fish that frequent the murky greenish brown water. With 24-hour access to all the sights, smells, and sounds we think he's a pretty happy cat.

As are we!