Category Archives: Lisa

Policía, Pastries, Pelicans, and Pus? 

Playa Paraiso, Jalisco

Peaceful  Jalisco

We are in the state of Jalisco, which according to the news reports, should have me cautious or even in retreat from this place of crime–danger. Yet, all we experience are peaceful friendly people living their lives.  When I hear reports of the homicides (which is rare, since I’m somewhat tuned out to the news) – I’m perplexed. Jalisco, I read to Michael, is at the center of the drug-gang warfare. Most recently four film students were reported missing, most likely they were kidnapped and slaughtered!   Hmmm? I think I’m living in a parallel-universe or something. The place I see is beautiful. The people warm, joyous, open, and helpful beyond belief.  Hmmm? I do wonder “why are there so many policía on this desolate beach?” – as we found at the Aquarium/Tenacatita.  Is this a hideout for the cartel or is it something else?  Are the policía there to protect these people living on the beach, running beach palapas and fishing? Hmmm?  not sure.  We come in peace and find it here, but we are careful.  Politics & crime watch aside – the Costalegre (happy coast) region is a cruisers’ delight. 

Barra de Navidad

We arrived in Barra with high expectations as it tops many boaters favorite stops along the pacific coast. It did not disappoint. Granted, we stayed in the marina, not in the lagoon anchorage where many a boat have gone aground or drifted.  We were there in April, notoriously the windiest month (who knew?).  It did blow hard in the afternoons, but we were tied up to the dock safe and sound.  Our friend George (Circadian) served as our excellent tour guide and we quickly settled into the Barra lifestyle with french pastries delivered daily to the boat by the french baker, water taxis to town, beautiful walks in lush landscaping, and delicious food and fun with friends.   

Beautiful walks & views around the Marina Puerto de la Navidad

Poolside:  You get full use of the pool at the Grand Bay Hotel when staying at the Marina.  nice perk.

Great Restaurants in Barra (Simonas, El Manglitos, Barra Galeria de Arte…)

Michael’s Birthday, April 5: his day began with a sunrise dinghy ride with George of Circadian through the lagoon for bird watching & photo shoot. We had a few friends over for a toast before dinner at the hotel restaurant, Antonios.  He even wore long pants for the occasion.

Bahía Tenacatita

If Barra hails as the favorite town, Tenacatita is the favorite anchorage. Some friends lovingly refer to it as “summer camp for adults.”  Depending on your childhood experience, that could be  good or bad.  We were late getting here (winter months are the busy season), so the camp activities were scarce. We did just fine making up our own with the help of some friends we met at anchor: Dinghy ride thru the mangroves/lagoon; snorkeling at the “aquarium” beach; game night on Nellie Jo until midnight; a day at La Manzanilla and the crocodile preserve; a kayak sail in the bay; and fun on the boat watching the critters and doing boat projects.

We took our dinghy twice for the lagoon ride, once with our friends to the beach notably called the “Aquarium”.  We hoped for better snorkeling there, but the visibility and conditions were poor. Oh well, we enjoyed the dinghy ride and a nice lunch after the swim.

The second dinghy tour was all about the critters & photos.

One day we took a panga ride to La Manzanilla and visited the Crocodiles!

Lots to do while at anchor and we made the best of it.


peaceful place

Peaceful place

Paraíso is a small, quiet anchorage, a road less traveled. Only one of our friends had ventured here and reported it pristine, though rolly with large swell, bow & stern anchors are recommended.  Only 22 miles from Tenacatita, we decided to have a look. We were the only boat there and for four days it was our private oasis.  The water was clear & cool for swimming and the pelicans & seagulls our sole companions. We did paddleboard to shore to check out the colorful house, thinking we could enjoy a cerveza and walk the beach. Turns out it is private property and no cervezas were for sale. You can rent the house called La Casa del Abuelo for $400 per night all meals included, including the infinity pool, a private beach and many toys.  The proprietor gladly gave us a tour.


A popular stop off for boaters waiting for good weather window to round Cabo Corrientes. It’s a friendly spot with Palapas and many families enjoying the beach.  We stopped for a bit, but not for long. Hunh,whaat, what did you say? Hunh….Michael’s ear was pounding, his canal opening blocked, hearing muffled, and one morning pus was found on his pillow. Enough!  The poor guy has been to three doctors since November for varying ear ailments. In Mazatlan, the clinic rinsed the eardrums & gave antibiotics. In la Cruz in January, the doctor prescribed drops and another antibiotic. Michael has tried his own alcohol and vinegar remedy. He wears earplugs when swimming. The condition switches from one ear to the other, the discomfort fades then returns. This time it was the worse. We tried to find a clinic in the small town of Chamela, but ran out of patience looking for it while walking in the dusty heat and getting puzzled looks from the locals. clinica?  No sé’. us either. We reviewed the weather and decided to depart earlier than planned. Back to La Cruz, Nayarit (96 miles) and known medical help. The weather, with winds from the north (on the nose) instead of the predicted south. As we approached the cape we excitedly prepared to sail the last few hours into Banderas Bay. As we turned 50 degrees away from the wind and rounded the point we began to sail towards La Cruz.. 15 minutes later, wind on the nose AGAIN. They call it geographic effect, the wind bending around the mountains that line the bay; I call it annoying.  We anchored out in La Cruz by 10 am, Michael went to the clinic first thing the following morning and after a round of antibiotics and steroids, I’m happy to report he can now hear me! — And he feels a whole lot better.

La Cruz—Nuevo Vallarta

We are now back in Marina Riviera Nayarit, in La Cruz figuring out various plans and projects.  We will soon check Footloose into Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta for the summer hurricane season. Before we launched this cruising plan – we agreed to give it a try for two years and then see how we both feel after the steep portion of the learning curve.   As with life anywhere there are good days and bad. Sometimes you feel strong and energetic, others you hurt or feel lethargic. Some days you are grateful and brave, others cranky or fearful. Same goes for the places we visit. As one long-time restauranteur in La Cruz commented- “it’s not paradise here, but it’s close.”  Amen to that. The two-year mark is upon us and we both concur- bring on season three!  And so the adventure continues. We will surely face new challenges with the Tehuanapec, the Papagayos, bar crossings, and the Panama Canal; we will also share fresh experiences with the new cultures, colorful wildlife, explored miles, and friendship. Today we say yes to all of it and therein lies the true gift. 

Still having fun!

Still having fun!

Traveling North, Tracking our Nautical Miles

A watercolor-esque landscape, Isla Grande

A watercolor-esque landscape, Isla Grande

525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?  So go the lyrics to a song I like from the musical Rent. As cruisers, we measure our time in nautical miles (NM), as in how long will it take us to travel x number of nautical miles, from point a to point b?  We log these miles and track our lat/long, speed, wind, and fuel. What happens in between these miles is what we’ll likely remember the most.

Zihuatanejo to Isla Grande, 10 NM

Mabula Rays!

Mabula Rays!

I am a patient watcher of the sea. I can stare at the water so intently, as if anticipating a mermaid or loch ness monster to suddenly emerge and startle me from my perch.  My steadfast gaze comes with rewards. Without it, I may have missed the mysterious dance of the rays while underway to Isla Grande. Off the port hull, I saw them leap from the water. I’ve seen lots of rays jump, but this was a different. It was a group of them, leaping 6 feet out of the water and then bellyflopping -Slap/Splash! and repeat over and over. I marveled- what is this? next- – they seemed to follow us into the anchorage with a repeat performance!  And then they were gone and all was quiet. I have not seen them before or since like this, but I’ll keep watching.

We stayed a few days at Isla Grande reviewing the weather for the best time to leave.  While waiting, we cleaned the bottom of the boat-again. Frustrated with our recent anti-fouling bottom paint!  At least it is a good workout, cleaning the bottom. I go around the waterline with snorkel and Michael dives with the hookah to get the bottom and sail drives, together it takes us about 3 hours.  Then rest, read, review the weather, cook, watch a movie, plan, depart, 0430 Thursday. 

We planned to stopover at Caleta de Campos to break up the passage, but the swell was big and our anchor dragged. Onward to Manzanillo, 114 NM.  Unfortunately the weather was not as predicted, again.  We were safe alright, but damn uncomfortable, with wind on the nose, and waves crashing, our hulls taking the wave and bashing down the other side. WAAP (that’s the sound of the wave banging over the front cross bar)  AHHH (that’s Me screaming). I wish I could share the noise the water makes crashing over the ledge under our hulls in these conditions, quite close to our bunk. Try sleeping off watch with that! It’s rare we have breakage while underway, but this trip took out one of the last red wine glasses. It really is the noise that stirs up the anxiety, terse language and shrills.

In reality, the boat is fine, just pushing onward & resolute to our destination. On watch, 0230 am, the seas calmed and I did too. Dolphins even visited, playing in the bow wake, offering encouragement.  Anchored at lovely Bahia Santiago, 191 NM, 36 hours later, 1654 pm Friday.

Bahia Santiago

Bahia Santiago

Bahia Santiago

There is a beautiful long beach here, which we admired from the boat, but never stepped ashore. The breaking waves were just enough to dampen our bravery. Our dinghy is great to drive and haul freight, but it’s heavy to land and bring ashore.  It has us considering other options for our tender.  At any rate, it was a relaxing view and we enjoyed a few days there.  Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, all alone at anchor, had us feeling nostalgic, a wee homesick, and hungry for corned beef.  Michael made delicious clam sauce & pasta and we soothed our melancholy with a rendering of Danny Boy and chilled Reservado.

Bahia Manzanillo/Las Hadas Resort (4 NM)

Footloose, Las Hadas Anchorage

It was crowded on arrival and we anchored in close, a bit too close to the rip-rap come morning. We re-anchored in a safer zone when a boat departed. Wow – it’s as pretty as the pictures and the anchorage is calm except for the occasional speed boat and jet ski! Here we did go ashore, paying 250 pesos per day to park at the dinghy dock, but easy access to the marina walk with restaurants and the resort pools. (no swimming without another fee).  We visited el centro of Manzanillo, by the fisherman’s wharf, stopping at the mercado on Cinco de Mayo. We spent a restful week, dining out some, watching the action around the bay, boats coming and going. The beach was closed for a couple of days due to sea urchins!  Hopefully, they cleared out in time for semana santa, a busy time for all resorts and beaches in Mexico.  We departed 2 days before the vacationers all descended on Las Hadas.  By the time we left, we were the only boat at anchor, most anticipating what was to come during holy week.

Ensenada Carrizal (6NM)

So happy to stop here, an anchorage reminiscent of the ones we found most in the Sea of Cortez last year with rugged rocks and desert landscape. Going ashore is not an option, too rocky and steep for any tender. Quiet & desolate it seems; yet, there are frequent container ships going by in the distance, passing through the busy Manzanillo harbor or perhaps  all the way from the Panama Canal. We wonder as we watch them go.

We were happy here, swimming, paddle boarding, bird watching and Michael thinks the best snorkeling he’s seen in Mexico with clear water, beautiful coral & interesting fish.  I admit I am a relative newbie to snorkeling. One day everything was perfect. My mask didn’t leak or fog, my toes didn’t cramp in the fins, the water was clear, and I was calm, swimming in the underwater wonderland. I was almost in a meditative state. That is until Michael pointed out the moray and I almost choked on a cup of water in retreat. I calmly cleared my mask and went below again for another glimpse of him. 

Serafina at Ensenada Carrizal

Serafina at Ensenada Carrizal

Boat work continues. We cleaned the bottom- again – after 2 weeks it was looking swampy. Michael has been checking off the maintenance list. One day while servicing all winches, he was surprised by a visitor rowing over from a boat that had come in the night before at sunset, didn’t catch the name of the vessel. Turns out it was Serafina! Serafina was anchored next to Footloose at the police dock in San Diego where we left from on the Baja Ha Ha, 17 months and so many nautical miles ago. They joined us later for happy hour. While exchanging stories and plans, we spotted whales diving in the near distance right before sundown.  A delight to catch up with Eliza & Ted and their crew “C”!

Much to do and see along the way. Some things are routine (a few annoyingly so); Other things surprise, startle, and even scare you. And somewhere in between, there’s this quiet peace and pleasure of cruising along, logging your miles.  Next stop, Barra de Navidad, 20 NM.

Postcard from Z-Fest

Playa Principal Anchorage

March 11, 2018

We are wrapping up our time in fabulous Zihuatanejo.  Checked out with the Port Captain, provisioned, got fuel, saying good-bye to friends. We spent a month here, a memorable time.  Here are the highlights:

Raft-up Concert on Muskoka, Sail Fest

Raft-up Concert on Muskoka, Sail Fest

Sail Fest por los Ninos

Unfortunately, we arrived at the tail end of this event. Cruisers donate their time and boats taking local people and tourists out for short cruises. We did enjoy one sunset cruise aboard Muskoka with gracious hosts, Scott and Laurie. The cruise ended with a raft up concert featuring José Luis Cabo, a renowned & beloved local artist.  By all accounts, Sail Fest was a huge success with proceeds going to help fund education projects including the building of schools, scholarships, and more. Schedule permitting, we’d like to participate next year.

Bahia Zihuatanejo

Mateo, Dinghy Attendant extraordinaire

Mateo, Dinghy Attendant extraordinaire

There are 4 beaches here: Playa Principal, Playa Madera, Playa la Ropa, and Playa las Gatas. We anchored primarily in the main anchorage in front of Playa Principal. Pros and Cons for sure. The water is green and gross which means no swimming or water making for us. It can also be rolly. We had a few days with big swells coming through the anchorage. We were able to dinghy to shore in spite of the wave breaks thanks to the friendly ever-present dingy attendants waiting on shore to help with all landings and launches for 10-20 pesos. We did have a couple of rough landings/launches when the waves were big, but no permanent injuries, just some wet clothes, groceries, dirty dinghy and frazzled nerves. A big plus here is Hilda & Ismael’s concierge service for boaters. With their service, we had laundry, diesel, and even beer delivered to the boat. 

Cooling Off

Footloose at Isla Grande/Ixtapa

Footloose at Isla Grande/Ixtapa

It’s quite warm and humid here. We went to Playa Ropa and nearby Isla Grande/Ixtapa and Petatlán just south for some cooling off, water making, boat cleaning, snorkeling and relaxation.

Cruising Community and Town

Dining with Friends, Patrice & Lou (Sonamara), Lisa (Footloose), Maureen & Bob (Paradisea)

On average, 20-25 boats were anchored here with us. There is a cruisers net Monday-Saturday, at 0830, on Channel 22 with volunteer hosts. We caught up with friends here, enjoying many meals and the Guitar Fest!  With the heat, cooking is less fun. Fortunately, Zihuatanejo has no shortage of good restaurants. Every Thursday is “Posole” night. We tasted some at Any’s, delicious. Spectacular dinner at Kau Kan, serious food (tuna tartar with ginger, grilled lamb chops…) with a stunning view. There is no shortage of entertainment either with live music all around and sports. A few friends were able to watch the Olympics from one of the many sport bars here. Curling and Cerveza anyone?  And the best is the basketball court right in the center of the beach walk. There is a very active league with players of all sizes, ages, and abilities taking it to the court. Very popular with the locals, who surround the court to watch in the warm evenings, snacking on popcorn or ice cream.  I must give a shout out to Cuattro Cycle, a cool (air-conditioned) cafe, with excellent service, food, coffee, WiFi and is pet friendly. We spent hours parked at a table with laptops, coffee, green tea, and baked goods catching up on business, surfing, and writing.

International Guitar Festival: XV Anniversary 2018,  Mar 3-10

Opening Night, Carlos Uribe & Jossy Gallegos

What a week this has been. A stage is set up right off of Playa Principal with beach concerts every night, 8-11, as well as gala events at various restaurants. Opening night on the beach stage was a great introduction to all artists.  We thought we could listen to some concerts from our boat, but often there were conflicting sounds drowning out the guitarists. Better to go to the beach to hear concerts for only $100 pesos each ($5 cover)!  We also attended a couple of gala events, seeing Jossy Gallegos and Nick Vigarino at Coconuts and Goh Kurosawa and Tom Lumen at Bistro Delmar. Many different styles. We really liked Leonardo Parra Castillo who played “delta” blues. Listening to him, I’d swear he was from Mississippi, not Colombia.  Another night featured Eric McFadden and Omar Torrez. Wow. I could go on and on. We have some new music for our boat collection!

Moving Day

Last night we enjoyed one more meal on the beach with our friends, listening to the Guitar Fest finale. Today it’s quiet. Many boats are pulling up the anchor, time to move on. The fleet is changing once again, as new boats come in replacing the departed. We will linger another day and then it is our turn.

Thank you Zihuatanejo, next stop somewhere near Manzanillo…

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Time flies while cruising. Writing now from Zihuatanejo, let us not forget about the two-plus months we spent in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  We didn’t intend to stay quite that long, but we decided to fly home for a visit while taking advantage of the plentiful services around La Cruz,  chipping away at some ongoing boat projects. After some waxing, varnishing, and fiberglass work, Footloose is looking pretty good if I do say so myself. 

Fresh Varnish by Lisa

Fresh Varnish by Lisa

It’s not all about the boat work though; La Cruz and the surrounding Banderas Bay area was a lovely place to spend the holidays and to jumpstart the year. Here are the highlights.

Marina Riviera Nayarit, A Review 

With several Marinas in the area, how do you choose?  We decided to stay at La Cruz based on cruisers’ reports and choosing to be off the beaten path of Puerta Vallarta. While I think it was a good choice for this visit, there are pros and cons.



No Potable Water, no water making in this bay

No Pump Out Service

Poor Dock Maintenance

No Laundromat: not an issue for me, but there is no facility to do your own. There is however a drop-off service at the Marina VIP room or many local lavanderias in town. You can’t beat the price or service.

Location: for some, the location is out of the way. You have to travel by bus or taxi for banking, for large provisioning (Nueva Vallarta), or to visit old town Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, etc.

Poor Wifi: While they provide a wifi password, connection is poor. Most days required us going ashore or the VIP room for internet.


The Small Town:  I loved being able to walk to the friendly town with many restaurants (a favorite: Masala Bar & Grill), small stores, park, and music venues. Taxis or buses are easily accessible for travel to Bucerías, Puerto Vallarta, etc. We took a taxi to the airport for $350 pesos.

Weekly Movie Night at the Amphitheater: bring your comfy chair, enjoy a hotdog or popcorn and cerveza, sit back and enjoy the show under the stars…

Katrina: Kat is a wonderful concierge for the marina, super friendly and knowledegable resource. She maintains a busy calendar of events and activities for boaters and the surrounding community. 

Sailing in Banderas Bay:  We went out several times to take care of business (watermaking, etc)  The whales were spectacular and plentiful this time of year in the bay. PV Sails organizes weekly beer-can races for those so inclined.

Fish Market and Sunday Market:  The fish market is a standout. We wish (still trying) we could catch our own, but grateful to stock up here. Open 7 days a week.  The Sunday Market is also a gem. We did our weekly shopping there with fresh produce, french cheese, a real baguette, bagels, spices, and a variety of seafood. It is crowded with tourists, locals, and cruisers, but worth it.

Velmar Professional Boat Care: Horacio and his team provide quality work. Horacio speaks good English and coordinates a variety of boat sevices. He also provides boat care for boats stored in the off season.

Weather and Walks:  There is a lovely breeze most days in La Cruz, with average temperature 75-85 degrees F. I enjoyed many sunrise walks around the marina taking in the views of the bay. Easy place to walk dogs too.

Last thoughts

New Years Day on Footloose

New Years Day on Footloose

As with most places we visit, the people make it. We had a great time catching up with friends in and around La Cruz. This season is a bit different as we find ourselves at a crossroads. Some friends are leaving for the Puddlejump, crossing the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands and beyond. Others are braving the Gulf of Tehuantepec for the Central America to Panama passage. Planning to do this ourselves next season, we have joined the Panama Posse to learn from this season’s travelers. Others will linger longer in Mexico.  Cheers to all of you, bon voyage, and thanks for the memories shared.

That’s all for now. Time to go explore more of Zihuatanejo! 

Happy Holidays from Footloose

HappyHolidaysBeing a cruiser makes the holidays a little more difficult than you might expect.  We miss getting together with family and friends.  Savoring, that quiet space between the years.   We don’t however miss the zoo of shopping, cards, newsletters, post-office, and UPS.

As a cruiser, the friends you are with change literally with the tide.  Here today and gone tomorrow.  We feel best trying to maintain traditions.   While you can always have a holiday meal at a hotel or restaurant we prefer doing things on the boat… It’s our home.

We decorate with lights, put up ornaments, invite friends to share a meal.

Here’s a funny video from our Thanksgiving dinner.

We are thinking of you and wish you the happiest of holidays surrounded by Peace, Love and Harmony.

Lisa and Michael

Postcard from Mazatlán

Catedral Basilica de la Immaculada Concepcion

Catedral Basilica de la Immaculada Concepcion

We spent 3 weeks or so in Mazatlán both anchored at Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island) and docked at El Cid Marina. It was a relaxing time reconnecting with cruising friends from last year and meeting some new ones. The photos tell the best story.

Footloose at El Cid Resort & Marina

El Cid Marina is very “resorty” and we took advantage of all the amenities. What’s not to like about a drop off laundry service and afternoon swims at your choice of pools? We especially liked the pool with the caves and slide!  There was always a happy hour going on somewhere. Footloose was on an end tie in the fairway right between the fuel dock and the Aries fishing boat fleet  & catamaran adventure boats.  We got to know the water taxi driver as he shuttled folks back and forth to the beach across from us all day long. We witnessed quite a few brides being escorted over to the  popular wedding site. It was entertaining to watch the action from our back porch.


There were many familiar faces & boats on our dock. Cruising friends reunited!  We hosted a couple of shindigs on Footloose, including the Thanksgiving potluck (see holiday post coming soon). We also met some new people like Mark & Cindy on Delta Swizzler also from Northern California and another couple on C’est La Vie who pulled in for one night and tied up in front of us. We had one short conversation walking back to the boat after a swim. I don’t remember their names because we didn’t exchange boat cards, but something he said stuck with me. This couple has been cruising for 17 years and are still excited about it. Now in his 70’s, the man of the boat swears – “Cruising keeps you young.”  I hope he’s right!


Iguanas rule at El Cid

Iguanas rule at El Cid

Marveling at critters is one of my favorite pastimes. At El Cid, I had my first encounter with Iguanas! Wow, they were everywhere. They especially liked the cave pool area. One day I saw one on a lounge chair and a lady was petting him/her like a cat. Tame and used to resort life and its inhabitants I’m sure.

Old Town

Our best adventure off the Marina was a visit to Old Town Mazatlán. I love the colorful streets & celebration.

Art Walk Tour

Welcome to Art Walk, Dec 2017

Welcome to Art Walk, Dec 2017

The first Friday of each month there is an Art Walk tour in Old Town. Creative artisans display their work in galleries and shops throughout town. Masks & Sculptures delight! No room on the boat for art collecting, but we were happy to look.

Isla de la Piedra

Many cruisers like this spot as a place to prepare for an early morning departure. Much easier to leave in the dark from this anchorage then the marina, which has tricky tides, currents, and dredging to contend with. We left El Cid Marina after sunrise and motored around the corner to anchor. I immediately jumped in the water and cleaned the spluge from our waterline. Spluge: the oily grimy crud that we collect when at a dock a little too long. We stayed two days at anchor and then left for Isla Isabel at 0430.

 It’s peaceful here. Wish you all the same.

Lisa & Michael

Now at La Cruz, Marina Riviera Nayarit

San Carlos–Copper Canyon–Mazatlán

Our friends Laura & Rich arrived Oct 30. Boat is ready to go and so are we!  First stop Topolobampo, 196 NM. We departed at 0130 Nov 1 with an unfortunate “south wind”, and a bumpy ride come mid morning.  I overcame some queasiness, and we arrived Topolobampo marina Nov 2 mid day.  We docked for a couple days in Topolobampo and got ready for our Copper Canyon Tour, Nov 4-10.

Copper Canyon Tour

 Copper Canyon, view from El Chepe

Copper Canyon, view from El Chepe

Sometimes you have to get off the boat and explore on land. Our Copper Canyon excursion took us by train (El Chepe), atop a “van” to the bottom of the Urique Canyon, by foot (hiking paths through Rarámuri villages), and even by Zip Line across three canyons at 65mph!

The Copper Canyon (Spanish: Barrancas del Cobre) is a group of canyons consisting of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental. According to Copper Canyon Insider, Mexico’s Copper Canyon is seven times larger than the United States’ Grand Canyon, spanning the 372-mile Copper Canyon nature preserve.

Cristina, Rich, & Lisa

The success of our tour rested first on the small, but capable shoulders of our tour guide, Cristina. When we booked this tour with Authentic Mexican Travel, we were at first skeptical of having a guide, usually preferring to be spontaneous and independent intrepid travelers. Having this guide turned out to be the right choice for us. Cristina surprised and delighted us with her knowledge, humor, great conversation and tenacity to make our trip all we had hoped for. 

El Fuerte

Our first stop was El Fuerte.  Cristina began with a walking tour of the center of town. She is passionate and wanted to share much history with our tired brains. We laughed a lot as Rich blatantly admitted “ less history” is better.  She laughed heartily, but still insisted on slipping history in as often as possible. A funny thread that continued throughout our week’s tour.  At the Palacio Municipal there is a large mural with a pictorial history of El Fuerte. She asked us how many minutes should I explain the story in? We challenged her to do it in five, which she almost did!

Tarahumara, Rarámuri, Ralámuli

The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are a Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability. They live remotely in and around the copper canyon. Amongst the caves and cliffs of the canyons, they raise families, farm, make crafts for sale at markets (baskets woven with apache pine needles and sotol leaves a speciality), and  they run.  Cristina referred to the indigenous people in three ways: Tarahumara, Rarámuri, Ralámuli. In some ways, we learned they are synonymous; yet, there are cultural and language distinctions among the groups

Cristina talks & we listen!

Cristina talks & we listen!

For us it was all about the pronunciation. Each day we tried and by day seven, we could pronounce each word, almost. (Patient Cristina, more laughter). However we say it, we all appreciated the spirit of the people, their vibrant colors, their simplicity, their strength and joy.

 click here to hear Cristina

El Chepe to Cerachaui

Day 2 we boarded El Chepe for Cerachaui. Cristina arranged for a driver to meet us at each train stop. It was all organized and efficient. The train ride was comfortable, though occasionally hot and smelly with exhaust fumes between the cars — but the scenery was spectacular. Cristina alerted Michael of photo ops at every turn. She pointed out the native plants such as the Blue Agave, Sotol and the Apache Pine —and sprinkled in some history as we travelled along, snacking on delicious corn cookies we purchased earlier at the roadside horno.

San Isidro Lodge (Near Cerachaui – Urique Canyon)

Staying at San Isidro Lodge was a highlight of the trip.  Tito and his brothers Mario and Luis with their families live and operate the ranch, passed down from grandparents. The ranch includes several log cabins for guests.  We took great hikes around the property, beautiful vistas, so peaceful. We ate meals family style in the main dining room off the kitchen. The food was homey, fresh and delicious. I loved the coffee after dinner with cinnamon and the popcorn passed around the campfire each evening before sundown. We were entertained by the roosters and chickens, turkeys and guinea hens all roaming and living together in relative peace. Kitties (Tuna and Memo, short for Guillermo) followed us around. Memo was fond of Michael’s lap with morning coffee or afternoon cerveza on the chair swing. 

Our second day featured a harrowing trip for me & Laura on top of a GMC down to the bottom of Urique Canyon. Especially unnerving to see the numerous “memorials” left along the narrow road. We enjoyed a beautiful lookout along the way and a walk and lunch in Urique at the bottom of the canyon. 

Our last quiet evening at the lodge we shared the campfire with other guests, which happened to include Manuel, a renowned Tarahumara featured in Born to Run. 

Divisadero for two nights at Hotel Mansion Tarahumara El Castillo

CopperCanyonTrip (102 of 236)

Hotel Mansion Tarahumara El Castillo

On Day 4, Gustavo drove us to Divisadero, stopping at Cerachaui along the way. Cristina gave us a quick tour and history of this town, where she had once worked at the hotel. Quite a Mission & boarding school for girls founded by Padre Andres Lara. The distances that the Rarámuri must travel for school by foot are daunting. Understandably, the boarding school is a viable option.

To say we had rooms with a view at the Hotel Mansion Tarahumara is understated. However, we did have to climb 223 steps to reach them! And for each meal we had to descend them. Let’s just say we were extra careful to not forget anything in the room. We relished the workout, feeling a bit of the Tarahumara spirit and the view was beautiful.  We had our own table in the large dining room. We enjoyed our meals with Cristina, chatting about the day, practicing our Spanish and she English. Mas laughter.

Day 5 at the Parque de Adventura, Rich & I braved the ZipRider,  reportedly the longest zipline in the world, 2545 meters (8,350 feet) long with a max registered speed of 135 km/hr (84 mph)! with a vertical drop of 450 meters (17% grade). For us is was a 2 minute ride at 65 mph, with 2 initial seconds of terror followed by an exhilarating peace. We hiked up to where our group was waiting for us to return by the Gondola.  The park offers other excitng attractions for thrill seekers and challenging hikes. We celebrated with hamburguesas and cerveza.

Winding Down

Day 6, after a lovely morning hike, we left to catch El Chepe back to El Fuerte for our final night. It was a longer ride back. As the daylight dimmed, so did our view. Perhaps sensing our restlessness, Cristina led us in some spontaneous spanish lessons. Standing in the train isle, she led us reciting the names for body parts and sharing proverbial phrases of our cultures. One example Cristina shared: Camaron que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente: says that Sleeping Shrimp the current will take it away….is referring about lazy people…when people do not do anything we use it.

Arriving in El Fuerte, we dined together at the hotel restaurant, toasting with tequila shots, and tasting black bass.

Day 7, Breakfast, a brief walk about town and a return trip to Footloose at Topolobampo Marina.  We invited Cristina aboard to see the boat and to say our goodbyes to our new Amiga.

Onward to Mazatlán

Back on the boat, I made chicken soup and we prepared for the next day’s journey, 222 NM to Mazatlán, with possible stop at Altata at 128 NM. The approach to Altata turned out to be a no-go zone,  due to the current, big breaking waves and indistinguishable entrance. Decision made to avert, we set our sights on the next waypoint, Stone Island Anchorage, Mazatlán.  We enjoyed a beautiful long sail throughout the day and night. Finally, got the right wind! Wanting to arrive in daylight, we decided to reef the main and gennaker to slow down our progress.  Gorgeous, calm & starry night made for peaceful watch standing. The wind died around 0530 so it was time to motor, leaving the main up for a bit to help. What a morning, warm and steamy.  For their last watch, Laura & Rich were treated with many Dolphin visits, along with the sunrise and then there was Mazatlán in the distance. The only disappointment of this trip was our fishing. We caught 15 skipjacks at last count, all released. Where are the Dorado?   next time?

Anchored at Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island), 0900, Nov 13

We swam to cool off and enjoyed boat naps. Went to shore for garlic shrimp pizza & cervezas at Benjis, one of a few restaurants on shore. It was dark as we were seated on the beachfront and Michael requested some light. Expecting a candle? no – out they come with a string of christmas lights to hang above our table!  We love anchoring out, so many unexpected stories.  The next day, Laura & Rich hiked to the top of Isla los Chivos (Goat Island) while Michael & I rested. That evening we had a party on Footloose with a feast of grilled Arrachera and veggies, rice, coleslaw and música, including some bucket drumming and singing our hearts out to Eagles Hits.

El Cid & Farewell

We moved to the El Cid Marina and Resort where we have a reservation for a few weeks. We enjoyed a few days here with our friends at the pool and visiting old town before their departure on Nov 18. Our last evening together we went to dinner at El Presidio, great ambiance and food.

We were sad to see our friends go after such a fun time shared. We think we gave them a fair glimpse of the cruising life. We are excited for them, knowing that they are that much closer to finding their own boat to take cruising.  ¡Salud!


What We Did This Summer

After putting the boat to bed for the summer season to avoid hurricanes and hot muggy weather, we flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico and rented a small SUV for the summer.  We drove to my parent’s house near Roy and hung out for a week.   

Then we started driving to California for some serious “Couch Surfing.”  We stopped in at Flagstaff, and took a day trip to Sedona. That day we received word that Lisa’s long-time friend, Page had passed away after years of battling Lupus.  So we diverted to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport so that Lisa could fly to the memorial in Oregon, while I continued to drive to the Bay Area. 

Along the way I stopped in Fullerton to have dinner with Sandy’s Mom, Jeanette, at Morningside, spending the night in one of the guest rooms there.  If you need to go to the “Home” this is the one.

The next day I drove to Oakland stopping for Lisa at Oakland International. Our first “couch” (beautiful room) was with our old neighbors Michael and Carolyn in their freshly remodeled home overlooking the bay.  We had a sail on Michael’s beautiful Jeanneau “Santa Fe”, and saw a lot of Alameda friends at a great party they hosted. 


Nice Couch

After almost a week we moved across the way to another old neighbor’s house, Andy and Elise, where we again enjoyed a water front view and had the chance to sail on Andy’s Wyliecat ,a sweet sailing 30-footer with an unstayed mast and wishbone rig…. Much Fun.


Sailing with Andy

Then off to Felicia and Paul’s to enjoy a stay on Bay street in Felicia’s cozy new Yoga Studio and the annual 4th of July festivities.  We had a great time cooking together and catching up.  The fourth of July parade, a longstanding Alameda tradition was one of the best, and a real celebration of diversity.