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Mexico: Puerto Vallarta to Zihuatanejo 12.12.2004 - 8.1.2005
12.12. 17.12. 1.1. 8.1.
12.12.2004 Melaque / Barra Navidad,
In Chamela we finally got into the water,
swimming and snorkling. Sea temperature is approximately 27 C, no need
for any kind of wetsuit. Last time we had such numbers in Hawaii one and
half years ago. After Alaska we really appreciate the warmth again.
From Tenacatita we motored 13 miles in flat calm to Bahia Navidad, Christmas Bay. It has two different anchorages: a partly open bay opposite the small village of Melaque, where we are at the moment; and a lagoon nearby the village of Barra Navidad. We bicycled today to Barra Navidad. The village is pittoresque and the anchorage shelterd, but there are more boats and hotter. We also heard that the water in the lagoon isn't clean. In our bay there are only three American sailboats, one from Alaska. Melaque has local tourists and RV's (motorhomes). No, not from US, from Quebec Canada.
This difficult name derives from Aztec words cihuatl (woman) and tlan (place) i.e. the Place of Women. Spaniards added the diminutiv nejo because of the small size of the bay. Name is also referring to goddess cihuateteo. Z-town, as it's called among the cruisers, should be a nice place. We hope so, because we are spending almost a month here, including Christmas and the three- week holiday of Auli's brother and his family.
After three pleasant days in Melaque we left for the 200-mile passage to Zihuatanejo. Forecast promised fresh wind, but because we didn't have any wind during the day, we anchored for the night near Manzanillo. The first sailday was miserable: the wind rose to promised 15-20 knots, and further to 30 knots, which together with a strong current made the seas very confused. Especially when the wind died in the evening. The waves were like at Baltic Sea, coming from every direction, beating Kristiina and killing the speed. The next day we had normal sea breeze, which gave an average of 4 knots with main, genoa and mizzen staysail. However, the 180 mile passage took 48 hours, it might be a record of slowness.
The days were opposite also in terms of fish luck. First day we lost a good size mahi-mahi, the best tropical fish in my mind. It was already hooked, when the line broke and the fish fight itself lose. We felt bad, also for the mahi-mahi, because it had the lure and hook in its mouth and a bleeding hole in its body. Mahi-mahi is a fighter, it jumps and kicks. The excitement and joy was at top the next morning, when another mahi-mahi caught the line. And this was big! We were wiser from the previous time, and Hannu fight one and half hours with the fish, trying to tire it down. Finally we got it up! The fish was kicking in the cockipit so that we had blood everywhere and the fish hook was broken. It was almost five feet long and weighted about 35 pounds (according our rusty weight, hm). Lifting a heavy fish aboard over the aft pulpit and windvane is not easy. That's the critical moment, you think you have it, but while you are hoisting the catch, it gets free.
On Sunday, the 12th of December, is the day for Virgin of Guadalupe, the dark skinned Virgin Maria. We were by coincidence in Melaque and saw the village parade: dancers, players and town people singing and carrying flowers. The legend of the dark Virgin Maria dates back to 1531, when an Indian man, converted to catholic faith by the Spaniards, was walking to a mass. The Virgin revealed to him, telling that a temple should be built for Her. The man went to see the Spanish bishop, who didn't believe the story. On his way back, the Virgin revealed again, saying that if the man would take roses to the bishop, he would believe him. The man was wondering where to get roses in this barren land, but saw for his astonishment that the usually dry hill was full of flowers. He picked the roses, took them to bishop, who now believed him. A small temple was built in Tepeyac, same place where conquistadors had destroyed an Aztec temple. The Vatikan recognised the miracle in 1745, and in 2002 the Indian man, named Juan Diego when babtised, was declared as a saint. His mantle is kept in a basilica, which was built in 1976 to same place than the original temple. The Virgin of Guadalupe gathers about 15 million pilgrims to Mexico City each year, which makes it one of the most popular pilgrim destinations within the romancatholic church. (Source: The Colony Reporter.)
MERRY CHRISTMAS! - FELIZ NAVIDAD!1.1.2005 Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Happy new Year. Sorry about the delay in updating, the holiday streched. Also the Christmas Day news from Asia made our life look small and it felt idle to tell about every-day things. We have cruiser friends in Thailand. Opposite to so many, the sailors survived: about a hundred yachts were able to escape the tsunami waves from Phuket anchorage to the open sea. Among them our Swedish friends s/y Li and s/y Elenor.
On Christmas Eve we went out for dinner with Miss Sophie's Harald and Verena. The food was middling, margaritas watery, bill wrong and service slow. But the soft sand under the feet, rush of the waves, moon in the sky and good company made the evening superb.
After Christmas we moved from Zihuatanejo five miles south to Marina Ixtapa. Ixtapa is only hotels and tourist services. On the late 1970's it was decided to improve and invest on tourism in Zihuatanejo. Local people opposed building hotels in town, so the construction plans were moved to Ixtapa. A good decision, Zihuatanejo maintained its charm. Marina is dull and hot, but we were able to use water as much as we liked (in Zihuatanejo you get only drinking water in 20 litre bottles), and we could leave Kristiina safely when we took an overnight trip to Acapulco to meet Auli's brother and the family.
It was interesting to drive inland, through small villages. The 240 km (150 miles) trip took four hours, and an additional hour driving through Acapulco to the airport. We thought that an easiest way to find a hotel was at the airport. Wrong. Acapulco's airport is very small and the only information desk was national aviation board's, where the girl couldn't speak English. Back to the road to ask. Nada. Nothing. All the hotels near the airport were full. We were already desperate, when things arranged like they do only in Mexico: we rented a whole house! With less money than two double rooms in a hotel. Next we had to buy drinks to the fridge, because the house lacked room service. Our inquires about a crocery got a very peculiar answear, Auli was dubious on her Spanish. But it was a peculiar system. A wall around the neighbourhood had a hole and there was a rope. When you pulled the rope, a bell rang in the shop, and the shopkeeper came to the hole. By road it was a long way to the crocery. System a la Mexico!
Antti, Kristiina and Anni arrived according the timetable after 24 hour trip from Helsinki. Anni was very pleased to have a private swimming pool and a late night swim. Next day - after a morning swim - we drove to Ixtapa and on the New Year's Eve we anchored in front of the Isla Grande beach. It's a busy place in the afternoons but fortunately quiet other times.
Remarks of Mexico by Anni, 10 years:
In Mexico, there is so hot, that you don't need warm clothes. In Mexico, some food is so hot, that you should consider before tasting. In Mexico, musicians ask people in restaurants if they want to listen to music. Jewellery sellers stroll on the beaches.
Life in Zihuatanejo
We have been living on beach, either on one of the many Zihuatanejo's beaches or at Isla Grande, 9 miles from the town.
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Story of the tsunami waves by Boris and Lisbeth on the Swedish sailing yacht Li.