Saturday, June 21, 2014

Leaving Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is tucked behind and inside those hills on the right
There was a chance that Mike's daughter could join us in Mexico on her way back from vacation in China and Thailand. To make it work on our end we needed to be somewhere that we could rent a car so we came to Escondido near the town of Loreto. It turns out that a last minute itinerary change when flying out of China is not easily accomplished or, in this case, even possible. But, with a week prepaid in the marina, we rented a car anyway and made a couple of day trips to explore the surrounding area.

We spent one day driving north up the coast to the town of Mulege. It is on the Sea but lacking a safe anchorage so not a place we could explore by boat. Photo ops were endless and I wish we had been able to spend more time there, but we try never to drive at night in Mexico. The road leading into Mulege from the south, especially, is not conducive to night time travel as it twists and turns along the cliffs over Bahia Concepcion.
The Santa Rosalia River flows through Mulege creating a green oasis of towering palm trees, flowering plants and bushes. I've read that the Santa Rosalia is spring fed and technically not a river at all. It certainly looks like a river as it makes it way through town to the Sea.
Every day in Baja I wish that I knew more about geology (or is it geography? probably both). The more I travel the more I realize how little I know about the world. I'm filled with questions of what and how and why.
On another day we drove over the Sierra de la Giganta mountains and across Baja to Puerto San Carlos on Magdalena Bay. Driving across Baja through large agricultural areas was an interesting contrast to the life we see in the fishing villages of the Sea of Cortez. I bought a watermelon from the back of a farmer's truck that was parked by the roadside. That's something I am enjoying to the fullest in Mexico, melons, especially cantaloupe, that have ripened on the vine and then been picked for sale at the peak of sweet, juicy perfection. I do have to say, however, that I really miss Washington State cherries this time of year.
We leave here today and continue our journey north. We have several stops planned along the way, places we visited last year and want to see again and several spots that we are looking forward to seeing for the first time. We are hoping to arrive in Bahia Concepcion in time for the large annual Fourth of July cruisers' gathering. After that...   ?
One of the many religious shrines tucked into the hillsides of Mexico -  I found this one especially beautiful

Friday, June 20, 2014

Agua Verde, A Very Special Place

Agua Verde - the view from our cockpit
From San Evaristo we went to Agua Verde which Mike and I agree is a favorite anchorage. It really feels like a magical place. The villagers are so warm and friendly that you feel truly welcomed into their little community. This time was especially fun for me now that I speak enough Spanish to exchange jokes with the fishermen on the beach and to talk with the goatherd about the animals of the village.

The village itself looks like an oasis with tall date palms lining the beach; large leafy green bushes, and spreading shade trees cooling the walk through town.

Several of the villagers raise goats and sell their hand made goat cheese. It is fresh and clean tasting, much different in both flavor and texture from the goat cheese we buy in the States. About 50 goats roam the village throughout the day but at night, accompanied by their guard dog, they all head into the hills behind the anchorage.
Sitting in the cockpit in the evening with a glass of wine and a plate of goat cheese, listening to the tinkle of the goats' bells as we watch them make their way uphill across the craggy cliffs is among the most satisfying experiences of this whole trip. The peace and tranquility of the moment will always be treasured in my memory.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Current Location: Puerto Escondido (surprise!)

This being our second summer in the Sea of Cortez, I had some pretty definite ideas about where I wanted to go and where I didn't. Every location has its own charms but some are more charming than others. Isla San Francisco and Bahia Agua Verde were most definitely on the re-visit list. Both La Paz and Puerto Escondido were most definitely on the been there, done that, don't need to do it again list.

As you already know from reading previous blog posts, we ended up going to La Paz anyway, and not once but twice, for a total of 15 days. So, of course I should have expected that we would be spending time in Puerto Escondido again as well. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We left La Paz (the second time) a week ago and spent the first 2 nights at Balandra. After 6 previous visits we feel quite at home there and it's only a couple of hours (by boat) from La Paz which makes it a great starting off point. Last year it was always a quiet and calm anchorage. This year we spent a total of 9 nights on 4 different visits and every night there were Coromuel winds of 22-27 knots. Coromuels are unique to the La Paz area and occur regularly from late spring through summer, beginning around sunset and dying down by mid-morning. The calmest appearing anchorage during daylight hours can become something of a whirlwind just about the time you are drifting off to sleep. Coromuels must always be taken into consideration when choosing an anchorage this time of year. Balandra offers great southerly protection and we had no problems in spite of the winds.
Because of the strong Coromuels we reluctantly bypassed Isla San Francisco with its south-facing opening and went directly to San Evaristo.
Looking back towards town on the road headed north
The beach at San Evaristo
San Evaristo is popular with cruisers. It is well protected from most directions, has a small fishing village with a tienda (small grocery store) and lots of hiking trails with beautiful views. Several boats were already anchored in the most protected section of the bay so we spent the first night anchored in the center. All night we rolled in the swell that wrapped around the point and into the bay from the south. On the second night a surprisingly strong north wind blew in and we had to get up during the night to re-set the anchor. We do have a good anchor alert system that lets us know if the boat moves out of a pre-defined circle, but it is still impossible to sleep under those conditions. We had one full day to explore and, after a second sleepless night, I was glad to leave and head towards Agua Verde, my favorite anchorage so far.
Evaporation Ponds at the salt works behind San Evaristo
Looking north from the hill behind San Evaristo

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Still Not Surprised

This is where we were yesterday

And this is what I was doing

This is where we are today

And this is what I am doing

We left La Paz on Saturday afternoon and went as far as Puerto Balandra, a beautiful little bay just 12 miles north of La Paz. We had spent 5 nights in Puerto Balandra after crossing from Mazatlan so this time we just anchored overnight and then continued north another 18 miles to anchor in Ensenada Grande on the western side of Isla Partida.
Last year we followed the same route from La Paz but when we were ready to leave Ensenada Grande for points north we developed alternator problems and had to turn back for repairs. So, I was resigned rather than surprised when we got to Ensenada Grande on Sunday and Mike said we'd be heading back to La Paz. This time to repair a leak in the engine cooling system. We are waiting now for word from a local mechanic who might have the necessary part. If not, we may be here for awhile waiting for the part to be shipped from the States.

The barbequed ribs at La Molina Restaurant - Best Ever!! - compensation for returning to La Paz