Chiapas & San Cristobal- Where Souls Cost $1.75
April 11, 2016
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.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!
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.
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.
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.
This barber opened THIS shop 60 years ago. He said there were 2 cars in the entire town.
In the 1920’s, the entire town flooded. You can still see the water line on some of the wooden doors.
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.
Where the heck is YOLO? Part 2 of 2
February 26, 2016
We returned to Mexico on December 30. YOLO was on the hard at the Fonatur Marina in Guaymas, right where we left her back in June. You never really know what you are going to return back to after your boat has been closed up and sitting in the summer desert heat of dusty Mexico. Fortunately, everything was just fine. We had a tremendous load to get onto the boat. This is not an easy task to achieve when she is sitting 15 feet in the air. The project list was lengthy prior to splash, including the assembly and installation of a brand new roller furler and headstay. It was a daunting job but with the help of my highly capable first mate Coco, we were successful in getting it done. We were back afloat after a week of hard work and then completed the remainder of odd jobs while in the slip at the marina.
We set sail for destinations south on January 15. Day one was nice and then it wasn’t. We had strong winds slowly build from directly behind us, peaking at 25 knots. You would think this would be a great thing, the wind just pushing you along. Well it isn’t. It creates a very uncomfortable rolling motion and is hard to hand steer and also hard on the auto pilot, as it gets confused by that same rolling motion. The sails don’t always know which way to fill so they tend to flop back and forth. This also means that we were all feeling the effects of mal-de-mer. Suprisngly, nobody vomitted. By day three the winds had moderated a bit and the conditions were somewhat nicer. We sailed (no motoring at all) for a full 36 hours. We hooked onto a sizable Dorado (Mahi Mahi) toward the end of day three as well. We were surprised by how damn cold the nights still were. Approaching abeam Mazatlan, we decided to push on, as we were still in sweatshirts and long pants. We wanted to get warm. Late in the afternoon on Day 4 we passed by Isla Isabel, an anchorage we explored last season. Our final night was the most rough- winds occasionally touching on 30 knots, seas of 6-8 feet and the occasional breaker over the stern. Fortunately, being a center cockpit, we were able to stay mostly dry. After making the turn into Banderas Bay, conditions eased up and we motored in calm conditions to La Cruz Marina. It was great to arrive and see so many familiar boats and faces!
As many have heard, Marina La Cruz is absolutely Kid Boat Central. There is even a marina employee (Katrina) who tirelessly plans and organizes fun events and activities for the kids to do. Movie nights, Camps, Arts and Crafts, Robot Building, Waiter for a Day, and the list goes on. Fun stuff. For the grown ups, there are a multitude of cruising seminars to attend. But after a few weeks in La Cruz, you kinda get tired of the schedule and we were ready to get moving south again.
We departed the la Cruz anchorage late in the afternoon with a small flotilla including s/v Enough and s/v Terrapin. We had a brisk sail across Banderas Bay but eventually the winds died down enough to warrant the old Iron Genny. We made good time around Cabo Corrientes and dropped the hook in the Perula anchorage of Chamela Bay. We had a fun beach day with our buddy boats. The kids had a blast getting slammed by sizable surf in the ocean. Good food and good times were had by all.
After two nights in Perula, we decided to check out some of the anchorages and islands the are not quite so frequented by cruising boats in the Chamela Bay. Our first island had a very inviting long sandy beach and some descent snorkeling. We also hosted the first ever Beach Olympics on this very beach. Competition was intense. Later that night, the Closing Ceremony festivities were held aboard s/v Terrapin. A shirt was ruined during the course of the evening but no other casualties.
The sweet spot in Chamela is actually an unmarked anchorage that even has some good surfing! I won’t post the location here on the blog but would be happy to reply to any emails if interested in this hidden gem’s location. We loved it so much it took us another 5 days to break away. Provisions were running low and YOLO made way for Barra de Navidad and all the comforts of a resort and marina.
We are currently on our 11th day here in Barra. The kids are in heaven with access to a 3 tiered pool with interconnecting water slides. There are also a handful of new Kid Boats that we have met here. The icing on the cake is “The French Baker” who literally pulls up to your boat every morning offering the finest in French baked goods. Life doesn’t suck. Tomorrow we head south for Santiago and eventually Zihuatanejo!