Cap’n Jack here…
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay
It’s a good thing that our blog is about “the places we’ve been” because it gives us the opportunity to write post facto and make up for not having shared some of our travels. Our blog name gives us the license to revisit past experiences some of which may be part of our history before the blog (BTB). We are delighted and blessed with Megan, Nicole’s sister, who has made up for some of our deficiencies in keeping the blog posting going. She has dutifully taken some of Nicole’s Facebook postings and compiled them into the blog which in some way has kept our readers abreast of our cruising life. Thank you Megan.
We are now at anchor in the beautiful Sea of Cortez, known locally as El Golfo de California, on the Baja California peninsula side in a bight known as Caleta Partida between Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santo. Partida means split in Spanish and in fact there is a small channel that splits what would otherwise be one big island, located at the head of the mile long bight, which looks more like a fiord with its steep volcanic cliffs. It looks like we have anchored in the Grand Canyon, believe it or not. The dramatic terrain, the colors, the cactus and the Peregrine falcons , make a sail boat seem out of place. A boat in the desert? Yes, but when you look at the wonderfully clear water, the white sand beaches and the prolific sea life, the abundant sea birds diving by the hundreds, the cacophony and the ruckus they and the fish are making as the water boils with bait fish jumping and the bigger fish thrashing the surface, reminds us that yes, we are at sea, and a wonderful sea at that.
We have recently arrived here after having spent the winter months in Banderas Bay, which is where you find the beautiful resort town of Puerto Vallarta, however, we spent most of our time anchored off a small fishing village located on the north side of the bay known as La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, pronounced wanna-cash-tl-eh. Huanacaxtle is the Nahuatl language name of what we know as the Guanacaste tree (a.k.a. Flamboyant or Royal Poinciana) which translates as ‘big ear’. If you have ever seen the seed pod from those trees you would understand why the name, however, they look more like an old boxers cauliflower ear, a bit deformed, in fact. In the center of town there is a big cross fashioned from the wood of one of those trees and the main square is shaded by some huge specimens reportedly over 150 years old, hence the name for the town. It is a laid back quaint little Mexican town with cobble stone streets, which has been transformed over time to cater to the sailing/cruising community. It has many small restaurants and bars, some of them set up by ex-cruisers who liked it there and stayed, venues which cater an international fare and host some very proficient musicians whose rhythms spill into the streets filling the night air with echoes of flamenco, rumba and of course rock’n roll, of the 60’s and 70’s era, a genre which matches the vintage of the majority of cruisers that make this their annual wintering haunt.
American Indian language of the Uto-Aztecan family, spoken in central and western Mexico. Nahuatl, the most important of the Uto-Aztecan languages, was the language of the Aztec and Toltec civilizations of Mexico.
Our sojourn in La Cruz allowed us time to make friends with other cruising families, work on the kids’ swimming skills, work on our boat, work on other peoples’ boats and time to wait for friends and family to visit us. Long ago we decided we would not sail to anybody’s schedule to meet up somewhere or deliver visitors to some port to meet a scheduled flight. Schedules like that make for stressful cruising and sometimes bad decisions which involve risks and bad weather. It was nice to be in one place long enough for people to plan their vacation with us.
First we had Nicole’s parents, Wayne and Kathi come visit us. They stayed on the boat a couple of nights and then moved to a nice little thatched roof bungalow on the beach nearby for one week. Although our floating condo is very accommodating, I can’t blame those two “lovebirds” for wanting to enjoy their peace and quiet in a lovely romantic tropical setting, with the scent of jasmine in the night air and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, while they lay in a hammock or slept with wide doors open to the sea under the Mombasa net draped over their big bed. That is in contrast to being woken up a 5:00 a.m. by some very excited and rambunctious grandchildren.
Next we had Todd, Chris, Zoe and Eli Rundquist, our good friends from St. Louis, Missouri, who came and spent ten days on board. With all our guests we tootled around the bay where we had some amazing humpback whale close encounters, we saw hundreds of dolphin with pods of them peeling off from a huge school and swimming playfully before our bows who accompanied us for a long time. Sea turtles, manta rays, devil rays and fish boils in the middle of the bay with thousands of birds diving into them for a meal. Of course we were trolling our hooks through those, but had little luck; probably due to our lures looking different than the plentiful live bait they were feeding on. We took day trips to Las Tres Mariettas islands, anchored at Punta de Mita at the entrance to the bay, and visited a village in a tiny cove on the south side of the bay known as Yelapa.
We also took an hour long bus ride into PV (Puerto Vallarta) one day to re-provision at the local Sam’s Club and Walmart. One time of riding in those hot buses with a Jack Jack who missed his daily nap was enough to discourage those forays for the remainder of our time there. On future missions we decided Papa would stay with Jack while he napped and Mama would go to the store, most times with the little Ta tagging along.
To be continued…