Monday, February 2, 2009

Mexico's Gold Coast: Careyes, Paraiso, and Chamela

After my friend Susan departed and we left Barra, we spent a few days anchored in the very nice Tenacatita Bay, where we took our dinghy up a jungle river. The dinghy river tour was very cool. This is perhaps mostly a "guy thing"-- what little boy, especially one who grew up in the mountains, didn't dream of exploring exotic tropical jungles by boat as a kid?-- but Naomi seemed to enjoy it as well.

We skimmed the little dinghy around corners and through long stretches of narrow mangrove tunnels-- very fun. At the end, after several miles, the river dumps out in a lagoon where we had excellent breaded shrimp for lunch, then went back the way we came to avoid getting stuck when the tide went out.

Our next little adventure was getting invited to a "potluck dinghy raft up." To our surprise, this is exactly what it sounds like...a bunch of cruisers from different boats each make a hot dish, then pick a spot in the bay and tie all the dinghies together. Very bizarre, but actually pretty fun, and we were also able to trade a bunch of bad books for equally bad but different books.

Speaking of books, Naomi, Roger and I have decided to start our own book club, tentatively titled "Sea-rebral Sailors". The first book we all read was The Godfather, and we discussed at length some odd sub-plots to the mafia tale, such as several detailed chapters dedicated to the surgery to a mafioso's mistress who was "too big down there." Somehow I don't recall that making it into the movies... Next up for discussion is a book we picked up at the dinghy raft up: Star Trek...Assignment: Eternity!

Careyes After departing Tenacatita, we had good wind and set our Monitor windvane up, which did all the steering work (sad to say, our electronic autopilot, "Otto", seems to be having some issues...see the previous post on the never ending search for self-steering systems). Anyway, we were visited by dolphins several times, and they followed us north to a small bay called Careyes, which is a sea turtle breeding area. It's a cute bay, with brightly colored houses clinging to the hillsides, but a tight anchorage with lots of rocks. Also very rolly at night....ugh.

Paraiso Bay
The next day saw us heading a short distance north to a verrrrrry small bay called "Paraiso", spanish for "paradise". This is sort of off the well traveled route and out of the way, and I had some anxiety getting into the narrow bay, which was analogous to entering a fjord. But, once we rounded the corner, we found that it was aptly named-- another little slice of paradise!

We had a tiny beach all to ourselves (for most of the day, anyway, until a panga dropped off two women--one of them topless-- and their 3 dogs). But by late afternoon everyone but us had left, and we set up a small camp under the palm trees and made rum drinks, snorkled, and read. After nightfall, Roger was determined to build a beach bonfire, and he did so. It was a perfect night, with great moonlight and a bunch of dry coconut husks flickering in the fire.

Chamela Bay
The next day we motored a short distance to a bay called Chamela. Along the way, we saw two whales-- the first we have seen in several weeks. Chamela was a nice surprise-- our charts didn't make it look like much, but it's got a nice several-mile-long beach and two islands in the middle, which help block the swells (and thus improved our sleep). It's also almost completely undeveloped, except for a few seafood palapas on the beach. It's always encouraging to find areas that are still untouched--yes, they are definitely still out there!

We dinghied to shore and nearly dumped the dinghy. Dinghy-ing through surf is probably one of the more dangerous aspects of sailing, since catching a breaking wave at the wrong moment can flip the dinghy, sending the outboard (and propeller) flying. As it was, I scraped up my shin, but that's all.

As our boats sat offshore and as we dined on plates of breaded shrimp (80 pesos, or $5.50), fish tacos (30 pesos, or $2) and a fish filet in butter and garlic (50 pesos, or $3.44) , we seriously pondered riding out the economic storm brewing in the US by just 'hanging off the hook' here for awhile. After all, when we began this trip in October, one dollar bought 10 pesos; it now buys close to 14.5 pesos!

In other words, our "cost of living" is now approximately 45% cheaper than it was 3 months ago, and with very few other expenses apart from a little diesel (and of course, the wind is free), how could life get any better?

Actually, as cheap as it is, we are trying diligiently and persistently to lower our costs even further-- by fishing. I have a streak of obsessive compulsive disorder (as my mom used to say, "Nathan, you have a one-track mind") and I'm determined to crack the code of how to catch the elusive mahi mahi. In the meantime, I spend a lot of time around sunset with the very cool Cuban hand line that my father in law Roy brought us. One of these days, I expect to post a pic with us holding a whopper...until then, I'm limited to showing my casting technique.

Ok, that's it for now. We will be passage-making for the next couple of days en route to rounding Cabo Corientes, where we got our butts kicked by the rough weather on the way down...stay tuned!

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