Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad and Adios

December 25, 2009
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad from the Baker Family

What a week! I need a vacation from my parents' vacation. We have been going non-stop since G-ma and G-pa arrived on the 17th.
After the first couple of full days, we decided to try the weekly market in Bucerias. I unfortunately had a small accident with the rental car as we were getting ready to catch the bus. Everyone was fine and it ended up being one of those situations that was basically solved with some money and an hour of our time. We continued on to Bucerias and found the first chicken barbecue where we dined on bbq'd chicken and tortillas before tackling the market. We saw everything from produce to electronics and everything in between.
Monday meant that we took care of business that needed to be done before the holidays. We also took a quick trip to the tourist market at Bucerias. Since it was the Solstice, we decided a bonifre (or two) would be appropriate. The kids tried out Mexican sparklers which are about three times the size of American ones. We observed the tradition of writing down a regret from the previous year and a hope for the coming year and threw the piece of paper into the bonfire!
The next day we got all the way into Puerto Vallarta to check out the Malecon and Our Lady of Guadeloupe cathedral. On the say back to the condo, we figured out where Costco was located and did a preliminary provisioning trip along with a final quick stop tourist market back in Bucerias.
All the way to the other side of Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, we trooped south to check out the Zoologica. It was an interesting zoo, not necessarily what we are used to seeing, but remarkable in its own right. Our frend Ron, treated all the kids to the experience of a lifetime: holding a month old baby tiger. The kids were beside themselves!!! A lazy lunch in one of the hill towns wore us all out.
We celebrated Christmas in our traditional way: on Christmas Eve. G-ma and G-pa's flight was Christams afternoon, so we just figured it would be easier. Our celebration included the Austins, the Bakers and the Giffords and consisted of presents; champagne, steak and eggs brunch; swimming; card playing; and movies. We left the condo for packing and preparation for departure.
Santa visited the boats and then we retrieved G-ma and G-pa from the condo. Behan cooked us up a most excellent French toast brunch complete with tropical fruit salad and egg nog lattes. We lazed away the next several hours until it was time to leave for the airport. The boys even got their G-pa playing X-box. We returned to the marina for an impromtu Christmas dinner with crews of Evergreen and Totem. The kids ate through dinner in ten minutes flat and headed for Capaz, so that the adults could enjoy a leisurely dinner all to themselves.
Hope everyone else is enjoying the holidays as much as we have! Feliz Navidad!

Solstice Bonfires on the Beach

Niall, Bryce and Austin holding month old baby tigers

G-ma and G-pa preparing brunch

Steak, Eggs and Champagne Brunch

Adults playing cards after brunch
G-pa and G-ma watch the pinata festivities from the beach wall
Bryce smashes the bottom of our Frosty pinata
Bryce and Mairen like the pool at Christmas

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tacos On The Street (Feliz Navidad II)

La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
December 19, 2009

Eating on the Street in La Cruz

Where else can you feed 13 people excellent food for about $65? Well, you can do it here in La Cruz. There is a favorite "restaurant" called Tacos on the Street. When Brad and I visited our friends, the Anderson's 6 years ago, we were introduced to the place when the family still lived in the building and all of the seating was on the street. In the intervening 6 years business has obviously been good (probably their fabulous food has something to do with it). Anyway, this family operation has been remodeled and now boasts a modern kitchen/grill and what used to be their living quarters is now a beautiful indoor (though still open air) seating area. We sat out in the street for old time's sake. Our perfecto Mexican dinner included the following:

41 Tacos

10 Tostados

18 Quesadillas

4 Flanes

Total bill: $862 (Mex) which is a little over $65 (US)

Since G-ma and G-pa arrived we have been very busy. Before dinner at Tacos on the Street, there was a sailing adventure on Capaz. We saw dolphins, turtles and a pretty nasty mid-airish fight between a booby and frigate. Not to mention that it was great sail. I had forgotten what it was like just to sail for the fun of it (not really having to be going anywhere - just sailing!!!!)The day that the abuelos arrived, we had a big adventure between the airport and the condo. Behan and I rode the bus to the airport to meet the plane and help with luggage and navigation. There was a little confusion over the rental car that we ironed out after taking the bus from the airport to the rental car office in Bucerias. The feast that was part of the package with the condo also got a little messed up, but turned out pretty well with everyone being fed by about 8:00! In amongst all of that activity, there has also been grocery shopping, swimming, sleepovers at the condo for the boys, getting our outboard running and much, much more!

G-ma and G-pa's Condo from CAPAZ
Bryce takes pictures under sail

Brad on the bow

PJ and CJ from above

Niall and Behan enjoy lunch

Mas de Feliz Navidad
Drogue Christmas Tree

Sail-proof Christmas Tree designed and made by Austin

Our Lady of Guadaloupe Shrine, Punta de Mita

Another Shrine, Punta de Mita

Debo's Tree, Punta de Mita

La Cruz

Artificial Tree in the Plaza, Bucerias

La Cruz

La Cruz

Agave Catcus decorated, La Cruz

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Feliz Navidad

La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
December 12, 2009
It's beginning to look like Christmas aboard CAPAZ

Though it is not the extended season that those of us from the land of mega-mass marketing are used to, the holiday season is picking up steam here. There are Christmas decorations in the stores and homes and Christmas Muzak playing at the big grocery store.The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadelupe is December 12 and she is the patron saint of Mexico. Many homes have shrines in their yards or houses dedicated to her. At this time of year the shrines have extras lights and decorations added. Around the first of December, we started to see a few decorations that seemed to be more associated with the today's feast day.

Shrine in La Cruz

We have seen evergreen trees, mostly artificial, but even a couple of live ones both here in La Cruz and up in San Blas. There are lights at night on balconies and around windows. We even saw an SUV with reindeer antlers and a red nose on its grille and an inflated Frosty the Snowman. Poinsettias are native here and our resident friend, Ron, says they grow wild up in the mountains and are quite a sight to see. The ones that adorn homes and businesses here are beautifully lush.

Hanging Poinsettias in La Cruz
Austin and Bryce take a break for a possible stand-in "Santa Picture"

A Holiday Welcome to Casa Champagne
Christmas tree with CJ's beautiful collection of Swarovski crystal ornaments

Frosty the Snowman
Rudolph the red-nosed SUV??????

Little tree and lights on a house in La Cruz

Pinatas and a real Christmas tree in La Cruz

Manger scene at a restaurant in San Blas
As for Christmas here on Capaz, it is beginning to take shape. When we were packing to move out of the house and on to the boat at the end of December last year, we put aside a special box of Christmas stuff to bring on our adventure. I have always enjoyed decorating for the Christmas season and I am glad that we had the space available to bring our box, but more for the kids than myself. I am relishing the very toned down holiday season that we are experiencing here. We have had a tropical Christmas season when we visited the Harang family in Australia, but this is, of course a little different from the laid back celebration there. Anyway, when we were in Cabo San Lucas, Mary and I found a big fabric store, where I purchased an entire spool of white tipped evergreen colored garland for less than $10. The boys, with the help of the kids from Totem, have strung this from the headliner in the main salon and then hung our few ornaments from it. Austin took the remaining garland and wrapped it around a paper cone that he constructed making our little Christmas tree. He and Bryce have hung this little tree over our table. The final touch will be the lights which the boys have not quite gotten to yet is that they plan to wrap lights around our drogue (a piece of safety equipment that is used - hopefully never needed- during stormy conditions at sea to help slow the boat and prevent it from over-running big waves) which will be hoisted on the fore deck using the spinnaker halyard. Depending on how easy this last piece is to take up and down, we may not assemble and erect until a little closer to Christamas.
One thing that I did not realize that I would miss are the Christmas cards from friends and family which we would always hang on the big beam in our living room as part of our decorations. We did recieve a scanned Christmas card in an email from a graphic designer friend of ours who wouldn't dream of having us miss out on her creation this year. I am hoping that a few cards will come to us in the mail being couriered down here by our next visitors!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tastes Like . . . . . Not Chicken

La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
December 9, 2009

Just a quick update from the dock at La Cruz. The supposedly not good to eat skip jack tuna was part of our dinner last night. First, Behan made skip jack sushi which was excellent and I DO NOT eat raw fish. Not even the slightest fishy taste!!! Brad even ate some. Then, came the main course which was teryaki skip jack. I kid you not, it tasted liked teryaki beef. No fish taste whatsoever!!!
We have checked into the marina for a few days. Checking in took a good portion of today, but there was time to grab ice cream and check out a gallery that features native Huichol art. We had a little taste of home at the local Subway - it's not any cheaper in Mexico than in the US and the local street food is better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Banderas Bay Bound

Off Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico
December 8, 2009

After 3 days of off and on rain in Mantachen near San Blas, we are quickly approaching Banderas Bay. Puerto Vallarta is located on the southeastern turn of the bay and the other towns include: Nuevo Vallarta (lots of resorts), Bucerias, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Punta Mita. Tonight we plan to anchor off of Punta Mita and then continue in tomorrow to the marina at La Cruz for a few days to get our feet on the ground and prepare for the arrival of family for Christmas.
Before leaving the San Blas area, we were able to get some much needed provisions in town and try out the whole internet cafe. I did not get the chance to upload pictures as my time was constrained by the dads trying to keep busy during a torrential rain storm, but I was able to tend some business that was demanding my attention.
We also braved the rain and took a "jungle tour" out of Tovara (a wide spot in the road between the beach at Mantachen and San Blas proper). Tovara is not only where you can get a guided tour of the mangroves, but it is also famous for it's baked goods - banana bread in particular. I will vouch for its quality (and so will Bryce) as we had it for breakfast this morning and it is GONE! There were no other pangas on the water when we took our tour, so the birds were relatively undisturbed. As a result, we got to see a pretty wide variety including a couple that are downright rare. Besides the birds, we also saw hanging termite nests, iguanas, and yes, salties (aka salt water crocodiles). The tour took us winding through the mangroves to a crocodile farm. There some huge specimens which because we are in Mexico where liability does really exist, we could almost touch them. Luckily, we are huge Steve Irwin fans and know just how fast those primordial hunks of solid muscle and teeth can move. There were some other animals there: javelinas (little boars), deer, raccoons which we could only guess were kept for . . . . . food!
This morning we decided to push all the way here to Banderas Bay where we will probably spend through the first of the year. En route, we caught a skip jack tuna which we are trying a milk soak to take some of the gaminess out of the flavor. Bryce and Brad also caught some pieces of mangrove debris. They were the lucky ones up on deck when a whale (probably a humpback surfaced between us and Totem! It's almost time to set the anchor, so I will wrap it up for now.

Our guide and driver, Hugo

The set of an old film "La Cabeza de Vaca"

Ghost Lily

Kids in the bow of the panga

Boat Billed Heron

Green Heron

Female Anajinga


Yellow Flycatcher

Falcon in Flight

Crown of Mary Heron

Great Blue Heron on its Nest

Heron in Flight


Green Iguana

Green Iguana

Our first Saltwater Croc in the Mangrove

Saltie in the Mangrove


Giffords and Bakers just a foot or so from a huge Saltie

Mr. Crocodile's toes through the chain link

Baby Crocs

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