New Years in Baja… Andrew and Adrienne’s Baja Adventure
January - 2.
Our second foray down to Mexico happened right after Christmas, with number two son Andrew and his girlfriend Adrienne. Of course, it being Christmas, we first had to travel to Denman Island for celebrations with family. Travel plans were tight but we were convinced it would work - unfortunately the weather gods conspired against us and dumped a storm in our laps which managed to stop the ferries just in time for us to be stuck on the wrong side of the straight. The kids made it across, barely - but they had left the dog with us. So there we were in Nanaimo, in a snow storm, with the pooch, needing a pet friendly hotel and a reservation on the first ferry off the island so we could get to the airport in time to make our 10:15 a.m. flight.
It all worked out, as these things have a habit of doing… but not without a few “uh oh” moments.
I was tempted to fall into panic-mode but the other half convinced me that collapsing into a writhing moaning ball of “poor me” would do no good and as usual he was right.
We had a reasonably decent amount of sleep ( and by that I mean more than three and less than five)… we had both cel phones and the hotel alarm set for 4:00 a.m….. needless to say, the hotel alarm didn’t work. Thank goodness for cel phones! although I was already awake at 3:30 - we dressed, repacked, grabbed the dog, and hightailed it to Duke Point…(moment of panic when said dog, who is black, wandered off to do a smell-check. He is almost blind and very deaf, so calling and waving at him in the pre-dawn darkness to come back did no good, and all I probably managed to do was wake up the people sleeping in the rooms next to us.. however I finally located him and dragged him back to the car)
I had thought that we had lots of time, but as soon as we turned onto the highway I realized we had to go through Nanaimo and down - could be anywhere from half an hour to forty-five minutes, depending on traffic and weather - and police cars…and lights - of which there were a few red ones we ignored, we being the only vehicle on the road.
It wasn’t until we were safely in the lineup that I actually relaxed - and then we had to figure out the logistics, what with the dog and all. In the old days ( when we lived in Richmond, where the Vancouver airport resides)…. going home, dropping the dog, and hitting the airport could have been accomplished relatively easily. Now that we live in Vancouver, a good half hour or more away from the airport, the dog became a liability to our making it on time for our flight. I called a friend, begged a favour, and we opted to just bypass our home altogether and meet Andrew and Adrienne at her house, after dropping the dog off at the friend’s place, ( they would drive him home.)
Having decided not to go home, there were a few things we needed to take down to Mexico, so we gave Andrew the list and hoped he could find everything ( this included our mexican cash and our passports) …. hence my low-boil panic. What it did mean, unfortunately… summer clothes I had left in the camper for our trip north were still in Vancouver.
It all worked out - Andrew found the important stuff, he arrived at Adrienne’s before we did, dog was dropped off and subsequently taken home, and all four of us were being driven to the airport by Adrienne’s mom and at that point I knew we were going to make it.
And now - we are hanging on the hook at Isla San Francisco, the sun has come out, the wind has died down, and we are finally enjoying ( for now ) the weather and the beauty that is the Sea of Cortez.
Our first few days were about renting a car, getting groceries, showing the kids the town - and even a side trip to Todos Santos where we sat on the beach, enjoying the sun and the wind and the huge breakers and the whales putting on a show just for us! Also a promised lunch at Hotel California worked out, and we even had a resident kitty having a very deep siesta at the table next to us - we felt right at home!
Overall, the weather hasn’t been altogether stellar, we have had wind, and some rain - but we finally got away and spent our first night in cali Partida - the ride up was bumpy, but we managed to fish the whole way and even hooked a couple of skipjacks. Lots of fun, but we threw them back.
New Years Eve was spent there, on Varnebank with Ken and Christy - great meal, lots of laughs, and not a little wine.
We left Cali Partida and headed for San Francisco - the weather was good but very bumpy. We tried our hand at fishing again but had no luck.
Andrew produced a fabulous meal and we ate with Ken and Christy , this time hosting the meal on Northern Ranger …. and the kids washed up. It was a lot of fun and I sure appreciated the fact I didn’t have to cook or clean.
San Francisco delivered in spades - beautiful, sunny, warm - but the second day was windy! We took the dinghy to shore and had a great walk - up one hill, down the other, out to the other beach… nice to stretch our legs and do some exploring. We collected shells, checked out skeletons, and just lay on the sand for a while. If we had taken a picnic and some bevvies it would have been perfect!
The sun was shining but the wind was still blowing… unfortunately. We dinghy’d over to Varnebank. This is not as fun and fast as it sounds, as the lovely new Bullfrog and its lovely new engine aren’t working - the porta boat is too small for four.. so Lawrence has installed the Torquedo on the Bullfrog, which gets us through the wind and the waves valiantly but slowly. Sometimes we wonder if we aren’t going to be blown backwards in a gust but so far it works well.
Last night was appy-hour on the good ship Varnebank. We all served up our new favourite foods ( Ken makes a mean layered bean dip and home made taco chips… also some fantastic fried calamari - and Andrew reproduced the mole chicken tostada he had at Hotel California.) We all pitched in and did dishes, and afterwards a rousing game of Uno ended the evening. .. Lawrence made the MOST amazing margueritas, and when we ran out of limes Andrew made Orangeritas… so it was a pretty spectacular night.
Today is Wednesday. We only have today,tomorrow and Friday left for cruising- the wind is still blowing, pretty hard. But the sun is shining… and I think we are going to bash our way across to San Everisto for some (hopefully) fish tacos tonight. I made Phyllis’s orange muffins this morning, a real sunshiny start to a beautiful day.
After some thought, the decision was made to bring up the anchor and say goodbye to Varnebank. ( sad!) however the kids were restless and it’s always nice to see a different place every couple of days. As soon as we poked our nose out of the bay of course we just got hammered - the waves weren’t huge but the period was short and we were taking them right on the nose. We buried the anchor a number of times and the boat sparkled with salt later. It was a short haul but intense. Our concern was taking the time to get there and finding it full - however, that was not an issue! just a few sailboats, and although we could have dropped anchor in our favourite very protected hook, the torqueeto-powered dinghy makes it tough to travel the distance. A short hop to shore is much better!
We weren’t sure the restaurant was open, so I served hot dogs just in case, and then we took off for a walk and a site-see and to check out the palapa.
The proprietor was standing by the door, welcoming us in - and so in spite of being full of hotdogs we took him up on his offer and went in for fish and shrimp tacos. and beers.
It was fantastic! He had a bunch of locals out the back celebrating something or another, and us in the front. The cat came for a visit, the dogs were playing on the beach - we managed to finish all the tacos and the hostess dingdongs or whatever they were that he offered us for dessert - he took a picture for his Facebook page… we paid, and that was it. As we were leaving, I asked about desayuna mañana…his face fell and he told us that he was going into town now ( La Paz) for supplies as he was out of everything ( and he was.. all he had was fish and shrimps)… so no breakfast. Pity! However, at least we got to have fish tacos with the kids.
Afterwards we walked through town and tried out the tienda - we walked right up to it, the gate was open, but it was certainly closed. It looked quite closed in fact, like permanently. Oh well - no limes. No avocados. No huevos.
Although the sun was heading down we walked to the other side to check out the beach. It was high tide and I don’t feel as if it was quite as spectacular as the last time we were there. Maybe it was because it was sundown and cool - and no beach to walk on. Two of the local dogs had befriended us, one of them with a noticeable limp… and escorted us all the way to the other side and back. It’s heartbreaking to see them like that, but I don't think they were starving or neglected - just not treated like royalty the way we treat out furry friends in Canada and the US.
Back in the dinghy, a short trip to the boat, and we are home. Sun has gone down, the sky is all colours of pink and apricot and blue. Dinner may or may not happen, and now we are curled up all of us in the salon, reading books. I think it will be an early night tonight!
Next morning, up with the roosters - a good breakfast and then we raised the anchor and left. The weather looked much better, wind wise - so we broke out the fishing rods and threw some lures in the water. It was fairly calm, finally - a much better ride than before! And lo and behold - fish on! Andrew fought, it fought.. and we all worked to bring it in. Turned out to be a nice bull dorado - and no way Andrew was throwing it back… after much consternation ( where’s the bonker,, where’s the pliers.. etc etc) we landed him, and gave him a good healthy dose of vodka before dispatching him with a rather large spanner. Worked like a charm, much better than the little plastic bonker. Andrew of course had to have a shot of vodka too, one with the fish… We bled him and put him on ice to deal with later, (the fish not Andrew) and that was the end of fishing!
No way we needed more than one!
The seas were lovely and calm now, so the kids went to the bow of the boat and spent the majority of the trip curled up on the deck reading.
Our destination was Ensenada Grande, and we decided the weather was OK for a quick anchor at Los Islotes for a swim with the Sea Lions. Lawrence took Andrew and Adrienne out in the bullfrog while I did anchor watch on Northern Ranger - a quick swim, a few close encounters, and they were back. We upped anchor and headed towards Ensenada Grande, but decided to go to the next bay and anchor there, where the protection was better and there were fewer boats (the uncruise boat was anchored there and as we have been inundated with uncruisers all week - the crew take in chairs and kayaks and food and tables and toys and the cruisers are ferried to shore for a few hours of riotous fun on OUR beach!!!… we decided to check out the next bay)
Also, it was somewhere we had never anchored before so that was fun! Always nice to check out a different anchorage once in a while.
We all jumped in the water or the kayaks and snorkelled, swam, and paddled for a while until it was time to make dinner. Lawrence did a stellar job of filleting the fish, half of which went into the freezer and the other half went onto the bbq. Andrew made delicious garlicky potatoes, I made a caesar salad, we managed to find the very last bottle of white wine deep in the locker, and had a fantastic last boat meal - and how fitting it was fish we had caught!
Another great night, a rousing game of Golf, a movie together ( Princess Bride) and off to bed.
I always sleep well on the boat, but this week I have slept INCREDIBLY well… one night we had some wind and noise from the anchor and the bridle, but other than that, it has been lovely and quiet, not too hot and definitely not too cool.
Today was a quick kayak over to the mangroves, clean up, toast for breakfast, last of the bread, last of the coffee, last of the milk… in fact, the last of almost everything! Certainly time to head home! I missed the provisioning by ONE DAY! We made a joint list of things we needed more of, so next time I won’t run out of limes or avocados or CHEESE!!! or wine,for that matter.
Out at sea, bit of wind but waves were small, Andrew threw a line in the water after cutting off the barb, just in case - and of course, we did get a small skipjack, who we released with little effort and decided that was enough for one trip. The sun shone, it was WARM although a bit windy, and coming into dock we had three ( 3) deck hands helping us out. Helping being the operative word… a bit of a gong show, one pulls too much, one not enough, one ties the stern line before we are even halfway in, another yells at me to put another line on the boat…after yarding the bow line in enough to make the stern head the opposite direction. We just smiled and I just did what i was told and we shook our heads afterwards. They probably did the same.. gringoes… funny, as we had two extra crew on board who were well versed in what to do. Never fails.
More cleaning, kids went off to drop laundry at the laundromat for me, then headed to the hotel ( for tonight and tomorrow)… so we can clean to our hearts content. Of course, we just put our bathing suits on and headed to the pool for a last swim, last glass of wine… beer.. last sunset… more photos.. a plate of nachos…
Later, we met for dinner at Steinbecks, which is the “nice” restaurant at the resort - and actually, it is very nice! Kids cleaned up well, looking as spit and polished as the locals eating their dinners around us! Wish I could say the same for me… LOL… still haven't figured out where Adrienne stored all those great dresses and multiple bikinis!
Anyway, it was a fun meal, good food, great ambience, and a nice evening. They toddled off to their room and we toddled off to the boat.
Today is Saturday.. last day here! waaaaah! which means more cleaning and putting away. And laundry. Bobby aka Francesco’s son will pick us up here at the boat at ten, hopefully the kids will make it! ( although having spent two weeks with them I know Andrew wakes up the same time I do - early - so no problem on that front.. I hope).
Later - that same day !!! wow! what a ride! Bobby picked us up in his panga in spite of the wind, and we banged over to the whalesharks. There were bigger waves than we have seen here yet! But what a driver! and the boat is pretty skookum.. and we weren’t the only ones there..
it’s hilarious, and scary, and exhilerating! you put on your mask and fins, you are bobbing up and down four or five feet, and he yells “ get in” and you have to either roll in backwards or sideways.. flippers get caught… waves roll you over… I tried to jump in once which was a great success in my mind and I got yelled at for my efforts. Needless to say, I wasn’t graceful.
Andrew Adrienne and I swam with the fishes.. and boy! are they big! it was fantastic. At one point Bobby is yelling “look in his eye!~” I didn’t get a chance to but the kids did… they said it was pretty amazing.
Then the shark swims off and you try to get back in the boat… pretty hilarious… he roars off looking for another one, yells “get in” and you are rolling off the edge of the boat again.
Eventually there were others around us, other boats and other swimmers.. which got a bit crazy. I was nervous for us, and Lawrence stayed in the boat to help watch out.
The water was warm, in spite of being rough and windy - and once you were in, away from the boat, it was just up and down, chasing a huge shark.
eventually I got tired and stayed in the boat - as one last time , the kids rolled in again, and had a great swim with several all at once. There were jellies, and we got stung, but the adrenaline was flowing so much no one really cared.
Silly me - I had my bathing suit on, but had shorts and my la Paz shirt. I had a long sleeved snorkelling shirt ready to go, but in the excitement when Bobby yelled get in the water, I got in - fully dressed. Didn’t realize it until I go out for the last time.
However, I dried pretty quickly!
And that was our final grand adventure!
Now the boat is cleaned up, the kids spent the afternoon at the pool, and we are enjoying our hotel room, waiting to go into town for one last dinner. The more I hear about the winter weather, back home, the more I don’t want to leave.
It was a wonderful holiday, and having Andrew and Adrienne with us was fun, relaxing, exciting - we loved sharing our new boating holiday with them. Hopefully we will get a chance to bring son number one, Christopher, and his girlfriend down too.
At this point we have no idea when we will return. It’s hard, but we just had almost two months holidaying and boating and sharing the experience, so I am not going to complain!
But hopefully, sometime between now and the summer, we will return. Northern Ranger will wait patiently for us I am sure. And one day, we’ll be like the guys next door …. six months here, six months back in Canada. A girl can wish!!!!
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