Category Archives: Pondering

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.

Paraíso

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. http://www.paraisocareyes.com/

Chamela

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.

 

SundownAs the sun goes down, we set up the boat for night time.  Turning down the brightness of the chart plotters and switching on the red cabin lights to preserve our night vision.  We brew a thermos of coffee.

Night Light

Night Light

At midnight, the clouds are low, obscuring a crescent moon.  There are no stars.   The running lights illuminate the boundaries of the boat, but beyond that lies darkness.  The boat is rampaging down the faces of the steep chop. The larger waves slap the bridge deck, sometimes with so much force they sound like a gun shot.  Lisa wants to know about a new radar target that is not showing on AIS.  We use the radar system to determine that this target is probably a sport fisher on a parallel course moving at about 14 knots.  We slow the boat a little and the ride smoothes out because we are no longer overtaking the waves.

Three Freighters line up on the right half of the screen

Three Freighters line up on the right half of the screen

As we move down the coast towards Zihuatanejo, the wind lightens and the chop subsides.  A bright light off the port hull comes on within 100 feet of the boat.   Unseen on radar, a Mexican panga fishing boat has flipped on its running lights.   It zooms by our stern and as soon as it’s clear the lights are off again.   International law says use running lights, but the almost invisible Pangas rarely do, unless you are a threat.  Perhaps they are trying to preserve their night vision, so they can see the end of a miles long fishing line supported by transparent soda bottles.

The sky clears and moonlight shines through gaps in the clouds, creating bright streaks on the water.  We hurtle on, and the streaks seem to be getting brighter.  Staring ahead they begin to look like a sandy beach in the distance.  The streaks are too bright to be moonlight from this waning crescent moon. This looks like I am getting ready to run aground.  I look at the chart plotter which says 4000 feet deep under the boat and eight miles off shore,  but my brain says I’m about to beach the boat.   I slow down and call Lisa to see if she might have an opinion.  Meanwhile I grab the camera and try to take a picture… this is really strange.   In the magnified image I see the sunrise peaking through a narrow gap between the clouds and the horizon.  I am in fact headed into more water, 4000 feet deep.

Is it a Beach?

Or a sunrise?

Or a sunrise?

Our friends Rich and Laura crewed with us from San Carlos to Mazatlán, here’s what they have to say about night watch.

Kings Day

KingsdaySM (5 of 11)

In Mexico, El Dia de Reyes’ (Three Kings Day) day marks the end of the Christmas Season. This is the 12th night of Christmas when the three wisemen or Magi arrive at the manger. Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, traveled a great distance to pay homage to the Christ child. They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Mexico, this is the night that people exchange gifts…. Santa Claus, not so much.
Another tradition is the Rosca del Reyes (Kings cake) which is full of significance. The cake is  is round with a hollow center and decorated with fruits and nuts to decorate the cake which represents the king’s crown. Baked into the cake is a small figure that is an effigy of Jesus. It is hidden in the cake because the birthplace of Jesus was hidden so that Herrod’s men could not find him. The person who gets the figurine in their piece of cake is obligated to throw a party on Dia de la Candelaria’ (Candlemas Day) which occurs each year on February 2nd….. Another reason to stick to your New Year’s Resolution and avoid sweets.
At La Cruz, the cruisers draw the names of children from the local orphanage and do their best to fulfill the children’s gift wishes. It’s a great event sponsored by the La Cruz yacht club and organized by Katrina Liana from Marina Riviera Nayarit.  A sweet moment for every one involved.

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

Then off to the Northbay.  While we were in La Paz, My friend Dennis recommended we have dinner with Jim and Honora.  We had a great dinner out and at the end of the evening, perhaps under the influence of the wine, they offered us the use of their Casita when we were back in California. We took them up on the offer and the Casita was wonderful. We enjoyed several days lazing under the Redwoods.  Across the way, hundreds of acres of Bolleto grapes were ripening in the sun. We enjoyed a stunning morning walk through the vineyards, and had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Honora’s chickens, even to the extent of enjoying a few fresh eggs!

A few days later— our next stop was in Petaluma with Rich and Laura, members of our Baja HaHa crew last year. We got a tour of their families’ ranch along the Petaluma River, had drinks at the Petaluma Yacht Club (Who Knew) and kayaked on the Petaluma River. 

One evening I met with the  Marconi Cove Yacht Club, Me, Mark, Doug, and Dennis.  We’ve been sailing together for years. With much regret, I missed the annual Bachelor party and the Labor Day regatta. 

In the meantime, a couple of other options cropped up.  House sitting for Allison and Jerry meant a week in Pt Richmond in a great artful house with a view straight down Raccoon Straits—to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Wow.  Enjoyed the Brazillian restaurant.  Interesting one time experience… A lot of food, MEAT.

Then another to spend time at Dennis and Sharon’s house in Santa Rosa.  Great video/Sound system for movies at night, beautiful garden for watching the sun go down and miles of walking path along the nearby Piner Creek. 

Along the way, we dined with: Dana, Matt, Owen, Shelly, Barry, Christy, Patrick, Peggy, Deirdre, Angie, Sandy, Jacqueline, Dennis, Mary, Allison, Jerry, Doug, Rose, Mia, Anna, Lynda, Norman, Carol, Charlie, Joann, Rick, Ed, Heidi, Earl, Janis, Colleen, Dennis, Sharon, Rich, Laura, Mary Jo, Scott, Shana, Andy, Artie, Sam, Joe,  and… wow, I’m sure we missed a few.

After almost two months, it was time to leave the Bay Area to drive to Farmington, New Mexico where my brother & his family live, via Nevada and highway 50, coined the loneliest highway. It may be a lonely desolate highway, but it was stunningly beautiful as we wove our way through Nevada-Utah on into New Mexico.

We spent 4 days with my brother and his family camping in the mountains of Southern Colorado. Amazing fly fishing at 9000 feet.

We like to bother realtors wherever we go.  It’s a great way to learn about a place and get a feel for the area.  My brother just bought a house in Farmington and introduced us to his realtor, Leah Thomas.

We didn’t intend to like it as much as we did, but we found a beauty on the Animas river with a main house and a sweet casita.  We are certain this will be a great place to live when we get older… In the mean time we will hold the houses as rental property.  The property will be managed by Independence Capital Property Management.  They have already rented one of the houses.  We plan to hold them as Income properties until we are ready to swallow the anchor.  We spent a week camped out there and really loved sitting by the river at sundown with a glass of wine.  Best of all, this will be a great place for our friends to visit once we settle there. 

After three weeks in Farmington, we drive to Mom and Dad’s place in Roy.  Our rental SUV,a jeep, has a service light on, so on our way back to Mom and Dad’s, we trade cars with AVIS.  The new car is a Ford Edge Titanium… Wow, Very nice car.

We spent a week visiting with Mom and Dad and helping them finish a home project, then back to Farmington for some details on the new place.  Next, it’s back to California to get our stuff out of storage. Did I say that the river house comes with a 4-car Garage?  One for my car (Mercedes), one for the stuff and two for the tenants.  Stalls are separated.

We drive the Mercedes to Albuquerque for service.  The courtesy guy drives us the rest of the way to the airport, so no long-term parking.  We flew to Oakland, rented a U-Haul, and emptied our storage locker.  Our friend Mike helped us load the truck and then treated us to dinner at Trabocco, one of our favorite Alameda Restaurants.  What a relief to be done with Public Storage.  This place is really run by sharks.  They just keep raising the rent no matter what. I started at $150 or so and ended at $345 per month.

We drive the Uhaul to New Mexico, 1200 miles, in 2 days. We unload and store our stuff at the River house, then return the truck to Albuquerque and drive the Mercedes back to its new home.  In the last few miles, we pick up a metal thing and have a flat tire which completely tore out the side wall.  But luckily things are cheaper in New Mexico.  The same tires are 25% less than I paid in the Bay Area. Gas is $1.00 per Gallon cheaper.  My Mercedes service was half of what it was at RAB motors in Marin…   

Guess what, More driving.  We drive to Guaymas to bring boat parts through customs.  Turns out you can take your rental car to Mexico if you buy Avis’s exorbitant Mexico coverage.  We were worried about paying 30% duty on our new propellers and other stuff we were bringing to the boat or worse getting lost in shipment… They wave us through at the border in Nogales.  no problema!

We visit Footloose in the boat yard. Lisa’s hard work cleaning the boat has paid off.  While the boat feels a little humid inside, there is no mold… A big win.  Except for typical boatyard dirt that rinses right off, the boat is looking good.  We are happy. It’s like greeting our old friend. 

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We meet for drinks at the Soggy Peso Bar with Scott and Laurie from Muskoka.  Three days in Guaymas and we’re back to New Mexico. We stopped off at Las Cruces and tomorrow we’ll return to Mom and Dad’s in Roy. In a couple weeks, we will turn in the rental car and fly to Hermosillo, back to Footloose and Cruising, Season 2! 

Lisa’s Chimes in:

Whew! Reading that make’s me somewhat weary (enough driving, done with the suitcase), but mostly filled with great memories.  When choosing to go cruising, one of the “cons” is leaving your family, friends, and the fondness of the familiar. When we decided to sell our house in Alameda before going cruising, it ramped up the separation anxiety a bit. We said goodbye to our home, but more importantly, to our friends, with vows to keep in touch, we’ll be back, please join us along the way… We meant it.  I still miss home and for me that has always been California. One year into cruising though, something has shifted. I miss the people, family & friends and truly think about them often and try my best to stay in touch. But, the place – the Bay Area, is no longer a stronghold. I feel happy traveling, as I always have to be honest. Perhaps that’s one reason the adventure of cruising held an appeal for me. I know that we will make a home base again, now likely in New Mexico. In the meantime, what I’ve learned this summer is that for me, home is where my family & friends are. That’s where a big chunk of my heart is. I was so happy to see all of the people we could in the time we had this summer. It does take effort to maintain friendships, and when you are traveler perhaps even more so than when you live in the same zip codes. We’ve learned that when we hear “let’s get together”, we must also nail down the where and when. Without that, the plans get lost in the complexity of busy modern life. Indeed, when you’re a traveler, the friendship time becomes even more precious. We know that not everyone will be able to join us on the boat; however, we can still stay connected by phone call, email, text, maybe even a postcard…thank goodness! 

Season End

May 2017

Season End, Haul Out Time

Our first cruising season has come to an end. The last bit of business was to get Footloose settled for her summer home, hauled out of the water in Guaymas. Guaymas is the only yard with a travel lift large enough to handle our beam. We first visited San Carlos, another popular place for people to haul out or leave boats for the hurricane season and then moved on to Guaymas for the final work and haul.

San Carlos

Entering San Carlos

Entering San Carlos

We arrived San Carlos Marina on May 8. The only available slip for us was a bit dicey. We anchored out first, then dinghied in to get a closer look before committing. The space was very tight (29 feet wide) for our beam (25 feet) Plus, one side of the space was not a “dock” but rather a cement wall. We decided to go for it since we wanted a break from windy anchorages. Our friend Joanneke from Witte Raaf kindly offered to come along and help with our landing. She was able to fend off on the starboard side (next to the cement wall), while I took care of getting the lines tied off on the port side. Michael backed her in while the wind did its best to push us toward the wall. Sailing or docking, the wind direction has generally not been our friend this season. Still, no harm done, only a bit of an adrenaline rush. We settled in for a week and began prepping the boat for haul out and dry storage. We made our list of things to do and began chipping away. I cleared the pantry and donated some food to local orphanages. We checked off the list slowly. We both felt lethargic, a bit melancholy. Not sure if it was the work at hand, the heat, or the realization that we would soon be leaving Footloose, our home, for the summer.

Oops

We planned to leave early on May 15 for Guaymas, hoping to shove off before the wind picked up. We got up early, but had to wait until 0900 to checkout. By this time, the wind was up and had too much west, which was eager to push us directly into “the wall”. Michael recruited several to help with lines to hold us off the wall until he could pull away. It all worked well as he pulled out of the slip and turned down the channel. As soon as the stern cleared the dock, the men threw the lines, which I scrambled to retrieve from the water, first from the stern and then from mid-ships. As the boat was being swept to port, Michael was doing all he could to keep Footloose in the center of the narrow channel. I heard Jan yell to me – get the mid ship lines – and I ran from the stern step to pull them in. Too late – the prop was fouled on the line and Michael had lost steerage. Luckily there was an empty side tie dock and the wind pushed us on. The guys helped tie us off. I sat down and cried. Michael quickly put on his wet suit and dive gear and dove to look at the prop. He cut away the mess of lines, then tested the engines. All clear – we were off to Guaymas. We always debrief after things go well or awry. What could we have done better?  In hindsight – 1) we could have anchored out and avoided the risk of the questionable dock space. 2) I could have brought up mid-ships line(s) first; or if docked and using line handlers, we could limit the number of lines, with four being too many for one person to bring in efficiently. 3) we could have brought Jan aboard to help with line retrieval. 4) Michael thought he could have built more speed allowing the rudders to work and steer the boat. Always learning.

3/4 three strand in a propellor

3/4 three strand in a propellor

Guaymas

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First, we docked at Marina Fonatour. Again, we took the only space we could fit. The wind helped us this time, with Michael bringing Footloose into position and letting her drift to the dock. Others welcomed us and quickly tied us down.  Countdown time — one week to get ready for the haul out. We did manage some breaks from the work detail to walk and eat in Guaymas. We were blessed to find our taxi driver, Jesús, who became our personal driver for the week. Whenever we called, he was there! He recommended Mariscos El Rey, which we enjoyed twice, with delicious seafood cocktails and grilled Pulpo. He drove us around to every Ferreteria in town looking for a fuel filter for the Gen Set. Jesús is married, has five dogs, two cats, and five niños all grown up. I adore him. His air-conditioned rides and our fun, albeit language-challenged conversations, were a pleasant diversion from the work and haul out dread.

I won’t detail all the boat prep here, but, oh my, it was more work than anticipated. We thoroughly cleaned the inside, polishing all wood trim, scrubbing floors, walls to headliners, cleaned the leather settee cushions, emptied all cabinets to clean some more. No mold will live here!  Michael took down all lines and we wrangled in the sails. The main sail was the toughest. We tried to plan it for a windless moment, but when is that really? We got it down late afternoon and began to fold it (950 square feet, 250 pounds), with Michael at the tack and me at the clew. The wind puffed and a section of the sail billowed up over the side. AAAH, NOOOOO. Michael flopped on top of the wad and pulled it back down. Disaster averted. We began again, trying to keep the folds as tight as possible in order to fit sail into the bag for storage.  Success. tick tock, tick tock. Watermakers pickled, check. Oil changes, check. Heads cleaned, check. All laundry cleaned and stored check. Suitcases packed, (UGH), check. The list got smaller, we got wearier. On Sunday, with heads now shut down, provisions all gone and nowhere to sit or sleep, we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express where we would stay for the week while we did final work. And then it was Monday morning.

Haul Out

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After a fitful night, we go, both nervous. It’s my first time. I love our boat. It’s unnatural to take a boat out of water, yes?  The space is irregular where we’ll be hauled, narrow and jagged. We carefully placed fenders around the boat. Michael marked where the straps should be placed for hauling under the hull’s lifting points.

We motored over at 0740, hoping to get there just at the right moment for the haul out scheduled for 0800. This is a very shallow area and we did not have much room for circling. As we approached, the travel lift was not in place and there was no one there yet to catch the lines. We radioed Gabriel at Marina Guaymas for assistance. There was some back and forth and around 0830, the men walked down to the dock. I handed off the bow lines on starboard and then stern line on port. Footloose was secure, but where was the travel lift? An hour later, Gabriel called to tell us there was a flat tire on the lift. It would be a couple hours. ok.  We waited. We walked to OXXO for some ice and snacks. At 1000, Michael wandered out to the travel lift to check on progress on the tire. Two men were wrestling with the huge tires and were almost ready to remount the wheel. Michael returned to the boat. We waited. It’s hot. At 1300, Michael goes back to investigate and learned that no further progress had been made. He checked with the office about leaving the boat and returning the next morning. The owner of the travel lift agreed to haul the boat at 0900. We walked over to Gabriel’s where the boat will be stored and informed their office that the boat haul was delayed until the next day. Jesús picked us up and we went on our way shopping for filters and pausing for ice cream.  At 1500, Gabriel called Michael, “where are you, your boat is in the sling ready to haul.”  Michael – “What???!”  The operation stopped. 

The next morning, Jesús picked us up at 0730 to drive us back to the yard. This time the travel lift was in place and before I’d made a cup of coffee, it was show time. I climbed off the boat, turned my head away from the lift and Michael caught me making the sign of the cross. I bravely turned back to watch and took some photos. Footloose rose and they pulled her out. The travel lift proceeded up this rough roadway to the storage yard with Footloose swaying in the sling. yikes. (Deep Breathing required) 

They parked Footloose and put her down on blocks.  Relief, temporarily. Unfortunately, when we got back aboard and walked to the bow, we were horrified to find hydraulic oil spots all over the place. It apparently had leaked from the lift overnight. If only they had waited for us, we could have averted the mess by covering it properly. Instead, our custom kayak cover is stained. And our deck was a mess. We spent an additional day cleaning as best we could, but still no bueno. Captain very unhappy.

All Shall Be Well

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We cleaned up today, secured the dinghy on deck, and said our farewell to Footloose. We’ve stored her the best we know how and pray that she’ll be safe for the summer. We’ve met Alejandro, who will likely do some sanding work for the bottom paint job. Everyone in the yard, workers and boaters alike are cheerful about it all, which is reassuring — sort of. Workers are confident in their work and of the safety of the yard. Boaters love to meet you and share their hurricane or other boat yard horror with a chuckle. No problema!  What if a hurricane hits? It happens. A guy we met in the yard told us how his boat was hit by a falling wall – without a hurricane.  Never mind.

Next

We’re leaving soon, catching a flight to Albuquerque on Wednesday. What an amazing first cruising season from California to Mexico. We are excited to see family and friends this summer and looking ahead to next season, what will it bring?  It will begin with putting the boat back together and likely cleaning off all the red dust. But then, Footloose will splash and we’ll be off — Mazatlán, Puerta Vallarta, Banderas Bay, La Cruz, Zihuatanejo, making our way to Panama maybe. All to be determined. Plans and crew are flexible.

We’re tired after the haul out. I’m reminded that it’s best to never make decisions about cruising after a rough passage or grueling boat work. Be mindful that there are far more sunsets than there are fouled props; many more friends than boat yards! 

2016-17 Cruising Season

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North from Puerto Escondido

Ben, Mike, Donna, Rosie, Michael & Lisa

Ben, Mike, Donna, Rosie, Michael & Lisa

After Bahía Salinas, we spent about 2 weeks in Puerto Escondido. It’s amazing how time flies even when you are standing still. During that time we rented a car for provisioning and took a trip to San Javier to visit an old mission. We did a few minor repairs that had accumulated.

We spent a couple of nights on the dock in Puerto Escondido preparing the boat for our friends (old neighbors) visiting from Alameda. The boat had not seen a fresh water hose in almost 2 months, but it’s amazing how much cleaner the boat stays when it is not in a Marina close to the dirt of a city. Car exhaust, construction dust, brake dust, jet exhaust, and other sources all deposit a tremendous amount of debris into the air which settles onto the boat leaving a brown film within just a few days. But after months on the ocean or at anchor, there was very little to remove except dried salt.

The Other Woman

As we were scrubbing the boat, a power boat pulled in behind us. They were talking about one of their four engines not revving fully. This is terrible thing for a boat with only 1400 horse power. Yes, the four motors were custom painted Yamaha 350’s. I casually sauntered down the dock to listen in. They narrowed the problem to a leaking fuel tank valve that was letting air into the fuel line.

It was time for a test drive, they offered -“Hey come on aboard and check it out.”  (Me) “Hey honey, I’ll be back. I have to go for a ride on The Other Woman.”  We leave the dock idling; the boat has six airline style seats with headrests that are kind of narrow between the arm rests. We are six aboard including the owner’s taxi driver who has been on standby all afternoon to run parts etc. We idle through the anchorage taking pictures on the cab driver’s cell phone that make it look like he’s driving the beast. He knows nothing of boats and we explain the purpose of the throttle levers.

The engines are running smoothly. I am amazed by how quiet these engines are considering their size. The owner throttles ahead. We are flying.  A 3-4 foot swell is running in the channel and we are taking these almost on the beam. The boat seemed to just power through with a gentle up and down motion… Ok, not that gentle, but much less than you would think.  The guy sitting next to me is familiar with the boat and I ask him how fast we are going…48 miles (not knots) per hour. I comment on the smoothness. He says the boat is 42 feet. I would have guessed 35. Weighs 32,000 pounds, carries 800 gallons of fuel. (probably not enough).  I would guess this boat burns 60 gallons an hour easy. We cross the roughly 7 mile channel in a few minutes and idle in a small bay on Isla Carmen. They snap a few pictures and then roar back across at 55 mph because the swell is now hitting us a little on the stern quarter.

It’s been a busy day for The Other Woman. They left San Carlos on the other side of the Sea of Cortez at 7 am, crossed to San Juanico 112 miles away, had lunch, and got to Puerto Escondido by 1:00 PM after another 44 miles.  And I didn’t have my camera along for the ride.

Mission San Javier

On a whim, we decided to visit the mission in the hills above Loreto.  A 45-minute drive up a twisty mountain road led us to the town of San Javier.  A cart full of flowers welcomed us to the mission which dates from 1699.

Our friends arrived April One for their 10 day vacation, and they accompanied us on our trip north to Bahía Concepción.

Isla Coronados April 2-3

Rosie driving to Isla Coronados

Rosie driving to Isla Coronados

We spent two nights here enjoying this little bay. The second day we anchored off of Loreto for six hours because it became obvious that we had seriously under provisioned tequila, limes, white wine, and milk. The beautiful white sand beach gave our guests their first snorkeling experience in the Sea of Cortez.

 

Caleta San Juanico April 3-6

San Juanico (22 of 25)It was pretty rough and windy at San Juanico, so we stayed there a couple of nights anchored under the protection of the point. Lots of boats were there to wait out the stronger winds. At sundown on the second night, a single hander came in and anchored. Testing all of the worst places and clearing a mountain of weeds each of the six times he had to reset his anchor.  In situations like this I find myself dying to give advice,but refrain knowing that each person is the master of their own ship and unless they ask your advice, you need to hold back. and so, I watch as they anchor, but don’t say a word – despite the fact that when their boat goes adrift at 2:00 in the morning, it may be drifting straight toward our boat!

Playa Santispac, Bahía Concepción April 7-8

visit (5 of 6)A calendar is the worst enemy of cruising, so rather than risk being pinned down by high winds, we pushed on to Playa Santispac so that our guests could be assured of not missing their flight home. This was to be a long passage with our friends, 44 nautical miles, 7-8 hours.

Along the way, I started to notice a smeariness in the vision of my right eye. After fiddling about a bit, I figured I was having a vitreous detachment (although most people my age have already done that) or a retina detachment which is less common, but much more significant.  I felt I had a small hemorrhage in my eye because I could see red blood cells (they look like tiny life savers) and a red color shift.  As a retired optometrist, I have advised my patients many times on this condition. My words to them “don’t finish your Mexican vacation, find someone locally to look in your eye and tell you what is going on, then decide what to do”.  So, now it’s my turn. We meet Carlos, one of the proprietors of Ana’s Restaurant, which has been at Playa Santispac for 38 years. He is all about helping. He drives me to nearby Mulegé, where my internet and cell phone works. I call my international health insurer and they give me a doctor in Tijuana, a 20-hour drive away. He takes me to the local clinic where a couple of harried doctors are caring for a large waiting room of patients. One of them steps away and offers the information that there is a good ophthalmologist in Ciudad Constitución about 3 hours distant. No phone number. We go back to Santispac, no better off. Carlos is a good, but aggressive driver.

Pina Coladas & Margaritas

Pina Coladas & Margaritas

Later that evening we are off to Ana’s for dinner.  We are the last ones dining and Carlos sits with us telling us how he learned to speak English as a runaway 14-year old in Portland, Oregon. While he was in Oregon both his parents died. I think Rosie is a little taken aback by the story.  She may never have met anyone like that. Carlos offers to drive me to Ciudad Constitución.

My symptoms have been stable for 3 days with good vision when I’m not trying to look through the huge floater. We decide that the risk of Carlos’ driving may exceed the risk of retina detachment, and if things start to change we could sail to Guaymas in a day which is a large city with resources.

Decision made, I try to put the eye out of my mind. Playa Santispac is getting crowded in preparation for Easter Week, which is a big deal in Mexico. The beaches are filling in with tents. Jet skis and dirt bikes make their presence widely known; a traveling Carnival begins to set up miles from nowhere. Trying to escape the noise we move a few miles south to:

Playa Coyote April 8-9

We have been told there are Whale Sharks here. Whale sharks are huge animals up to 35 feet in length weighing up to 35 tons. They eat krill, plankton and small fish by filtering and grinding huge gulps of water through their 2mm teeth. Their grayish body is covered with a pattern of large white dots. Bring the dingy alongside (or SUP board), roll in with your snorkel gear on and provided you can kick fast enough, you are swimming with sharks. Very cool, and a highlight of this trip I’m sure.

Whale Shark Mission

Whale Shark Mission

On one of his trips to the beach, Mike meets Anita Stalter, whose husband brought her here 38 years ago. Now a widow, she spends half her year at playa Coyote and half in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her late husband started the NOLS school, which is an off shoot of the outward bound program. They have a beautiful campus right next door.

Snorkeling, Playa Coyote

Snorkeling, Playa Coyote

Later that day we snorkeled along the north side of the bay, enjoying myriads of small fishes who seem as curious about you as you are about them. Best snorkeling to date. We ate out at Pollo Bertha, which is out of chicken “pollo”, rice, and doesn’t make margaritas.

Our guests are off at 8 am to catch the 9 o’clock bus to Loreto where they will fly home.  Ben and Mike are feeling a little queezed out and so am I. Turns out Bertha did have a bug for the boys in the group as all of us were sick. At 11:00 am the wind is kicking up and a weird swell is coming.  Lisa & I return to Santispac with much better wave protection and I spend 20 of the next 24 hours asleep. The wind is in the high teens gusting to 25, while I sleep with the anchor alarm on. The eye is unchanged.

Semana Santa (Holy Week), April 9-15

Playa Santispac

Playa Santispac

While Michael slept recovering from likely food poisoning, Playa Santispac and all the neighboring anchorages filled in with people celebrating Semana Santa. Apparently, a great family tradition to camp out in Bahía Concepción and other places I’m sure. We walked along the beach to check out the happenings. Everyone was in great spirits. We chatted with a man, recently retired from a government job in Tijuana, enjoying the celebration here for the first time. We watched anxiously as boys, ages 7-10, raced their motor dirt bikes on the road in back of the tents. The Jet Skis were towing squealing kids on their inflatables. The air was filled with the smell of campfires and barbecued meat. Family dining tents alive with laughter, sharing meals and drinking. Good times, but noisy for us. We visited Isla El Requesón (also lined with tents) & then left to return to  Playa Coyote, hoping to see the Whale Sharks again.

The Lore of the Lucky Box

As we started to turn into Coyote Anchorage, we noticed a kayak towing a crowded inflatable raft way off shore. The wind had picked up and the afternoon sea was choppy. Was the kayak in trouble?  It looked to be stationary up against the waves. Michael turned the boat and we went to offer help. At first, the man in the kayak said no help was required, “we are OK”. Two women and their young children (without life jackets) in the vinyl raft (with 3 inches of water)  – were also at first dismissive. But, as we talked with the waves pounding, the kayaker agreed that it would be easier without towing the others. We brought the women & children on board. They sat quietly. They were not very concerned, though they admitted it was taking very long to return and they were tired. The wind had caught them by surprise. It didn’t look that far to the island and back and the snorkeling was supposed to be great. They were grateful for the ride. The kayaker insisted on staying with his boat, still towing the now empty vinyl raft. We got to the Playa Burro Anchorage where they were camped and  watched and waited for the man to return. He was not making much headway. Michael dinghied to him and towed both boats back to Footloose. Michael then offered to dinghy the women & children to shore. Two of the women said they would swim. One took off, but the other one clearly did not know how to swim. Realizing this, she tried to board the kayak with her boyfriend, but capsized it in the effort. Michael then towed the kayak and the whole bunch to shore, righted the kayak emptying the water and all was well. I read recently in “Harmony on the High Seas” about the lore of the lucky box, which states an imaginary treasure chest is implanted in the heart of each boat during its construction. When we go out to sea, we have the opportunity to fill this box with Lady Luck’s intangible treasures of fortune or good karma. We felt that we added to this box on this day. We do marvel at the helpfulness of the boating community and we’re glad to contribute.

Punta Chivato, April 15-16

Chiavato (6 of 10)

Chiavato (3 of 10)We enjoyed 2 nights anchored here. We walked the infamous “Shell Beach”, and found many shells for our collection. There is an active community living here, with some 200 homes we’re told, plus an aircraft landing strip. In the evening, a helicopter repeatedly buzzed over the anchorage, treating his friends to a thrill ride. We watched a motor boat cruising fast to get a close up of some dolphins. We try not to judge, but seriously people. We met a couple guys walking their dogs on the beach, both long-time residents. One reported, “I started coming here in 86’, first there were tents, then RVs, then houses.”

Ahmeek & Attitude

Ahmeek & Attitude

We anchored next to two boats, Ahmeek and Attitude.  We met Dennis and Sherie on Ahmeek for Sundowners when we found out the restaurant was closed for Easter. We remembered meeting the couple from Attitude when we first arrived in La Paz. They are long-time cruisers and we recall having enjoyed listening to their experiences. They stopped by in their dinghy to say hi and to share some news. They bought a home at Punta Chivato! They were swallowing the anchor. Attitude was soon for sale. We could tell that it was a sudden decision, and while Neil seemed excited, Kathy wasn’t yet sure. It’s hard to say goodbye to a boat and to a lifestyle. They were off to share Easter dinner with some new friends in the community. We wished them well. We are still on the other side of this cruising journey, still just getting started. We do wonder when our moment will come, when we’ll choose to return to land and settle somewhere. Not today, tomorrow- Santa Rosalia!

Santa Rosalia, April 17-24

We docked here yesterday afternoon. It’s been awhile since we’ve stayed at a Marina. We slept well last night without any anchor angst.  We will be here a week. We will be provisioning, doing laundry, fixing and cleaning. We’ll also get out to enjoy this working-mining town. We walked this morning and found breakfast at Tercos and bought some eggs, limons, cheese, and hot sauce at the small mercado. Michael found fresh baguettes at the bakery. We’ll venture to Ley’s later this week to truly stock up. We may try a Chinese restaurant tonight, first Chinese we’ve tasted in Mexico, reported to be fresh & good. We were hoping to find an Eye Doctor for Michael here, but we checked at the hospital and there is not one in town. His eye is stable, still it’s worrisome not knowing. The things we once took for granted in California -like abundant fresh produce and abundant choices of medical care – are not as accessible here.  It’s all a part of the adventure.

Three Wishes

March 3, 2017

We left Puerto Escondido this morning to travel 24 NM to Bahia Agua Verde. We have three wishes for every trip (other than safety, of course): 1) sailing with 15 knots on the beam, 2) seeing a whale, and 3) catching a fish. Our average is quite poor to date, but we remain steadfast with our hopes. We motor off under still, glassy, calm seas. It’s misty, a few dark clouds overhead, sun peaking through, not a breath of wind.

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No Sailing Today

Michael cheerfully, whistling, puts out “Rich’s lucky rod” with a cedar plug. On the other rod, he attaches the new Zuker lure (a red-feathered fish magnet they say) to the line.

Attaching the Zuker

Attaching the Zuker

I strap the Fujinon, stabilizing binoculars around my neck, put my camera in my pocket and head for the bow seat for whale watch. The sea remains glassed off with sun sparkling. I stare off into it, mesmerized. Any disturbance to the sea surface stimulates a heightened awareness. We spot fins sticking up out of the water and determine these to be Manta Rays basking on the surface. Sea Lions are warming up, floating on the surface, fins in the air.

Basking

Michael turns on the fish finder. He sees that the fish are all cruising along the bottom, miles below the Zuker. After 10 miles of this, he pulls in the line and attaches a different lure specific to attracting deeper lying fish. I walk around the boat, staring off in every direction. Suddenly, Michael exclaims – I see something- there! Where? There, where I’m pointing. Oh my, I see the spout. I look through the binoculars to see the magnificent whale swimming. His dark mass breaks through the surface to breathe several times– and then with a final wave of his tail, he disappears into the great depths. After that first sighting, many more followed. We saw about 10 whales this day, each one thrilling. We didn’t sail, and we won’t be having fish for dinner, but we are excited as we anchor at Agua Verde. A wish was granted!

José the Driver

Hotel California

Hotel California

We wanted to see Todos Santos, a small community on the Pacific coast of Baja. We stopped at “Hotel California” had breakfast and otherwise enjoyed our day in this cute little town.

Our travel was on board a large Volvo bus with comfortable seats and good air conditioning. We

bought reserved seats from La Paz to Todos Santos with open ended seats for the return. So we could leave when we were ready.

After enjoying the town and an early dinner at the Santa Fe Café. We went back to the bus station turning in our open ended tickets for seats on the 6:40 bus. When we tried to board there were only two seats available and we were a party of three. So even though we had confirmed tickets we had no seats.

The terminal has two companies present; Eco Baja Tours and Aguila a scheduled bus line. They seem to be related as the Eco people sold us our Aquilla seats.
The Aguila driver returns with us to the terminal counter where José, an Eco-driver is leaning on the counter finishing his paperwork in preparation to go back to La Paz for the night. José hears our plight and says, that he is returning to La Paz empty with his van. Without prompting, he makes about six phone calls to get authorization, then takes our tickets as full fare to La Paz even though Eco trips usually cost more than Aguila trips.

José has an accent, but his English is very good. I compliment him on his skill and ask how he learned to speak English so well. Watching movies with the subtitles on and then off to practice. He also loves to sing along with 70’s rock. Queen, Pink Floyd, some Beatles etc. I tell him I thought he sounded a little like George Harrison. We laugh. He is 33 years old. I ask him about his education and he tells me he took IT classes at the La Paz institute of technology but didn’t finish.

Our driver is very upset with his president and we discuss the current oil crisis. The government just raised oil prices 20 percent and people are protesting and blockading highways and gas stations. They raised the minimum wage to 80 pesos per day (US $4.00) per day in January, but gas is now 18 Pesos per liter ($3.40/Gal). He feels the problem exists because the president opted to use Texas refiners instead of building refining capacity in Mexico.

Somewhere along the way José reveals to me that he makes $16 US per day as a driver. His day is six hours driving then 4 hours waiting then 6 driving. After he is done José often has to deliver vehicles for maintenance and so forth “It’s a long day”. I feel guilty about the 600 peso breakfast we enjoyed at the Hotel California.

The modern divided highway unrolls as we drive towards La Paz. He is a single dad and you can tell by his voice that he loves his 12 year old daughter, and desperately wants to give her a better life. I tell him that undocumented workers outside a home depot in the bay area make $20 per hour. He tells me he is unwilling to risk exploitation in the US, the risk of deportation, imprisonment, because of the potential for ill effects on his daughter “family comes first”. He spent $250 (15 days work) for a US Visa application to come to America legally, but despite the fact that he has a clean criminal record, a home and family in La Paz, he has “insufficient reason to return to Mexico” and his application was denied.

He has since discovered that Canada will allow a Mexican to travel there without a visa. If he can find work, an employer only needs to fill out a form stating the duration of that employment and the visit can be extended for up to a year. (Why don’t we do something like that instead of building a wall?)

We talk about quality. He tells me that all Volkswagens sold in America are built in Mexico to German standards. He mentions that Haute Couture designer Carolina Herrera makes her clothing in Mexico. Then he points out his white shirt, “This shirt is Oscar de la Renta, it’s very high quality, and made in Mexico “. As I lean forward between the front seats I notice his clean white shirt, carefully pressed even at the end of a long workday. Previously unnoticed, the fold of the collar is completely frayed where the fabric rubs on his neck. He probably has to buy his own uniforms.

As I leave the van, I triple his income for the day, and wish him the best of luck in his plans to visit Canada. I would hire this guy in a heartbeat.