Author: Courtney

Chiapas & San Cristobal- Where Souls Cost $1.75

Let’s begin by saying Marina Chiapas was not our favorite stop. We’ve been spoiled up until Chiapas. We’re used to marinas that are located right in, or next to town. We’re used to clean air, being able to run our air conditioner (when needed at a marina), and having other kid boats around to keep our heathens entertained. Chiapas had none of the above.

I digress, I’ll start at the beginning.  As we were nearing Chiapas (at least that’s what our charts said), we were stunned that we could not see the shore, land, trees, beaches…nothing. Never have we been within a mile of land, and not been able to see something…anything. At the time we didn’t realize it, but it was because Chiapas was covered in a thick blanket of smoke…but more on that later. We entered the Chiapas marina at 1 AM…that’s right 1:00 in the morning. After more than nearly two days at sea, we were ready to catch some z’s. Normally, entering a marina or an anchorage in the dead of night is a no-no for us, but we had a full moon, GPS way points for the entire entry into the marina, and we had emailed the Capitania in advance to let him know when we’d be arriving. Matt being the eternal Captain, did a flawless entrance into the maze that leads to Marina Chiapas.

Picture during construction in 2013. Photo credit https://www.google.com.sv/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi7hdTi-4bMAhUKKB4KHRMADkQQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmexicoboating.com%2Ftip-of-the-week%2Fnew-marina-in-puerto-chiapas%2F&bvm=bv.119028448,d.dmo&psig=AFQjCNERszdPCjk0fGp7pY8Owsx79flrGg&ust=1460477152037822

Picture during construction in 2013. Photo credit here

The marina is so well-organized, that they even had line handlers waiting for us on the dock. Enrique runs the marina here and he is fabulous.

After a good night’s sleep, we prepared for our inspection from the Navy. Even though we arrived from a Mexican port, an inspection is still required, due to the close proximity to the border of Guatemala (about 15 minutes down the road). Not quite sure if the reason is for drug smuggling or human trafficking? Nonetheless, the check-in inspection was easy. It was Semana Santa, and apparently the drug sniffing dog that they board your boat with was also on vacation.   After the military left, Matt hosed the top decks and cleaned the boat off.  We were doing great, until all of a sudden, the air conditioner tripped off!  What, why, how….NOOOOOOOOO!  Matt immediately took apart the filter and discovered a jelly fish was sucked up into the air conditioning pump.  Son of a…  So we cleaned the filter, flushed out the thru hull, disassembled the pump, reassembled the pump and thank little baby Jesus, Matt got it working again.  A/C back on.

We had a great second night with A/C pumping, but when we woke up, my eyes were glued shut and the kids were both coughing and sneezing.  There were black ashes ALL OVER THE BOAT and my pillow (we had left the hatch open for ventilation).  The nearby instant coffee factory likes to burn at night and if the winds are blowing towards the marina, you’re s.o.l.  I wasn’t going to let a few ashes ruin my day.  Matt hosed the decks off AGAIN.  I changed the sheets, took a puff of my inhaler and gave the kids some allergy medication.  We continued about our day with the cold air kicking. We received an email from the El Salvador Rally hosts that the Bahia del Sol bar was being closed for at least the next 5-7 days due to extremely large swell. This prompted us to think about some inland travel. We finally decided on a city called San Cristobal in the high mountains of Chiapas. Later in the day, the A/C shut off again.  Same issue…one less jelly fish in the world. After sucking up our fourth jelly fish, we had our motivation to book our rental car and Air BNB house online.  San Cristobal de las Casas…here we come!

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And our outlook on the world did a 180!  San Cristobal de las Casas is a Spanish colonial town, settled in the early 1500’s by Spanish explorers, as a military fort.  It still has very narrow cobblestone streets lined by stone homes and buildings.  The city sits at 7200 feet in elevation, in a valley, surrounded by even higher mountains and lush forests.  It was a stark contrast to Chiapas, with 72 degree daytime highs and lows in the 50s.  Not only does it burst with Spanish/European flavor, but it still maintains its indigenous Mayan roots.  The weather is…perfect. The food is eclectic and exquisite. My photography skills are zilch/zero, but I had the best time snapping pics here.  The vibrant colors and old buildings beg to be photographed.

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We can’t be certain if the boy (below) is praying for the sick and hungry or for a Nintendo 3DS with Super Smash Bros.

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We rented a two bedroom “cabin”, just outside of town, for $30/day.  It was a doll house.  We were five minutes from town and two minutes from the biggest playground we had ever seen.

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This barber opened THIS shop 60 years ago.  He said there were 2 cars in the entire town.

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In the 1920’s, the entire town flooded.  You can still see the water line on some of the wooden doors.

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On our last day we drove to San Juan Chamula.  San Juan is a completely indigenous community that has survived on its own for centuries.  The natives still farm and raise sheep as their ancestors did.  We had heard that it was disrespectful to photograph them, as they believe that it steals their souls.  Matt approached a group of women sewing some crafts in front of their stick hut and politely asked if he could snap a quick pic.  They told him he could…for 300 pesos.  Matt being the negotiator that he is, was able to get them down to 100 pesos, but $7 was more than we could afford for one photo.   So I do not have a photo for this caption.  Sorry.  Apparently, their souls are for sale for a hefty $1.75/each.

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Can I get a ZIHUA?

After roughly 36 hours at sea, we were ecstatic to pull into Isla Grande at 9PM, in the dark (ok not ideal). We threw down the anchor and quickly jumped into bed! The seas seemed rough and the swell was like a washing machine, but we weren’t picky.  Sleep was awaiting us…or was it.  Nope…nope sleep wouldn’t be in the cards, but an abdominal workout that rivaled P90X was.  We spent the entire night bracing ourselves against the walls that surround our bed, as the boat rolled from rail to rail. As soon as the sun rose and we could see our hands in front of our face, we upped anchor and headed straight for Zihuatanejo, a quick hour from Isla Grande.

Hallaleuiah!  What a sight to behold. Pulling in, the hills were lined with colorful houses that surrounded the bay. The anchorage was perfectly still and we were excited to attend Zihua’s annual Guitar festival. Guitar Fest is a week long with talented guitarists form around the world, performing nightly. Not quite Woodstock, but at our age, we’ll take any excuse to party.
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We were ready to get off the boat, so we threw “Ziggy” (the name changes daily), our dinghy, into the water and cruised to shore.  Zihua is such a vibrant little town to explore!

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Check out his “Thigh Warmers.”

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The festivities started right away.  We knew we only had 2 more weeks with our friends before they headed north and we headed south (yet another excuse to party).

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Creeper Alert!

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We had a few days to burn before guitar fest began, so we spent one doing an “estuary tour” to stake out some crocs.

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Panga on ROIDS!

There were so many beautiful birds.

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Crocodile Dundee, Mate.

The best part of our stay was Guitar Fest, hands down. There were a total of 10 performers. They all played on opening night and closing night.  Day 2-8 had a few performers each night, so we picked our favorites and ended up going to shows roughly every other night. A smart individual would use the time in between concerts to rest their livers. Not us, we took turns hosting parties aboard each others boats. Hey…our time together was limited…we were going to suck the limon out of every second.

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It rained a couple days in the middle of the festival and Matt and Presley took the opportunity to swab the decks. Matt was completely naked except for a raincoat and Presley was in her raincoat and underwear. Terrapin was anchored next to us and are currently seeking therapy because of said nudity.

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On one of our last days Matt decided to lead us on a hike. Since we weren’t aware of any trails, we hiked through a neighborhood, right up a hill.

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We pointed out little huts to the children and animals.  There were roosters, chickens and cats “having cat time”. The kids really enjoyed all the sights and had their first lessons in reproduction.

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By the time we reached the top, we had a pack of stray dogs in tow…this IS Mexico. Two of them decided to celebrate by getting in a fairly gruesome fight, leaving the children horrified. It was a hike well worth the effort!

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Naturally we celebrated our achievement!

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On our last night in Zihua, we invited everyone over to celebrate Amy’s birthday (in case you were wondering she is 41) .  (salingwithterrapin.com)  We’ve buddy boated with Terrapin for the last two seasons and found ourselves in all sorts of trouble together. We were parting ways finally. They are heading north, back into the Sea of Cortez, and we’re heading south to Central America.  We’ll miss their shenanigans and company. We were also saying goodbye to Cape D (we’re hoping they catch up with us shortly) and Coastal Drifter (who is also heading north). The night was filled with lots of debauchery and Amy buffed our binnacle down to a nublin with her erotic dancing. Damnit Nance!

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We decided Zihua is probably our favorite stop thus far, but that might just be in part because of who we were with!  Adios Zihua…we’ll be back. Hold onto my liver until then.

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