Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Zihuatanejo: Strings, Sand and Sandals

Our furthest south destination this spring was Zihuatanejo, about 200 miles south of Barra de Navidad.  Friends advised that the International Guitar Fest was a fabulous event to attend. ( It had been 14 years since we had visited Zihuatanejo, and that was via airplane)

We had fellow cruisers up for the same timing as us, and four boats (Trinity Rose, Agave Azul, Pangaea and Shindig) departed from Santiago Bay one early morning, arriving in Zihuatanejo's area 28-36 hours later. This is called "buddy boating" and it was fun to keep track of each other through the night, accompanied by a full moon, radio banter with jokes, dinner reports and check ins every 6 hours. Despite a night with limited sleep, all was good.  Highlights included Agave Azul's landing a 120lb tuna, Rob generously granting Nancy one extra hour of sleep, and the gentle dinghy assist for Pangaea when their engine motor stopped.  Lynda and Mike kept our pace steady with their powerboat Trinity Rose,   

Sailboats in Zihuatanejo Anchorage

Shindig at anchor 
After a brief two night rest at the closest island to Zihuatanejo where we slept, ate fish tacos and played in the sand, we were soon all tucked away in the larger Zihuatanejo Harbor, with about 25 other boats.

A spirited race car created from sand
conducted by Hunter (HeavyMetal)
The actual Guitar Fest was a great time.  With only 13 musical groups, the venue and entire week was surprisingly intimate.  We picked several smaller events to attend around the dinner time, which gave us close access, like one table away, from the musicians.  

Tres Hombres, a fabulous group from Dallas 

Later each night we could attend a larger beach concert, which was later relocated when the high tide started shorting out the electrical sound systems and threatened the attendees on the beach!  The wide range of genres such as country folk, flamenco, classical, Brazilian chord, gypsy and latin was inspiring and fun.  

Having great music to hear every day, as well as a charming town to explore with friends made the week go by too fast.  We enjoyed the regional specialities of posole and made it a personal mission to try as many authentic places as we could.  This was also the turnaround point for many cruising friends, as some go north, and others continue south.  One week was not enough time to even begin to say "Adios".  
From the anchorage we would take our dinghies ashore.
Dinghy Boys (men) would help us land the dinghies and watch over them for tips.

Delicious chicken posole at restaurante ANY's with an array of condiments to add.
So we played as hard as we could together, and left Zihuatanejo heading north with new appreciation for the guitar, posole, town and friendships we have made.  Who knows...there may be some new additions to the musical instrument library aboard Shindig soon!

Chili Rellenos and Papas (potatos) at the Mercado Centro

Nancy shopping for fresh vegies and fruits

The Chickens (pollo) are proudly displayed in full form

Rob spent a few days giving dinghy sailing lessons to the boys on Heavy Metal. 

Rob and Heavy Metal Family stroll the Malecon
They are heading south now and we will miss them.
The Khushi spa for hands & feet became a favorite for the gals

A fun dinner and music night aboard Trinity Rose
Nancy on fiddle (first time) and Bob on mandolin

Philbillie and Dave from The Croweaters
San Francisco based folk/country/rock and jazz

A late night dinner at the "dessert taco" Place
5 tacos for 20 pesos ($1.20 USD)

Mariachi Band serenades Rob at the Centro Mercado
Nancy and Deborah from SV Heavy Metal
Those are Jamaica (hibiscus) juices, muy bueno.

Making microwave brownies with Hunter (9) from HeavyMetal 
Bravo!  Magela Romero and Josue Otero, Cuba guitarists perform together at Gala Event
A fabulous dinner concert with Robin and Katie (Agave Azul)

Hogan & Moss perform their lively scorch folk music at Loot
Fun Times with Music and Friends
Katie & Mike and Alan & Elizabeth (SV Vivacia)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Do you know the way to San...tiago Bay?

Leaving Barra de Navidad to go South included an overnight stay at Santiago Bay. We liked it so much that we stayed 5 nights.  The anchorage was fairly protected, gave us somewhat easy dinghy access to shore, and offered another glorious long beach, actually four continuous beaches, where we could walk for miles and miles.

After scoping out some local restaurants on the beach that serve Pescado, Sarandeado style, we ventured further into town via 7 peso buses.  Our destination was as far as the WalMart, which is a great resource to have when you live on a sailboat.

The Saturday flea market, Tiangui, had been described to us as a 'don't miss'.  That morning we arrived on the beach with Katie and Mike from SV Pangaea, and walked over an hour to the market. Once there, we rewarded ourselves with carnitas tacos breakfast. We all ordered "dos tacos", except Rob, who ordered "tres tacos".  But apparently the sound of "Tres" (three) can be very similar to "Seis" (six).  Rob was served six tacos for breakfast, which he generously divided more evenly across the rest of us.  Then we had fun scouring the market for fresh berries, vegies and odd Mexican treasures.  
Walking the beach to market

Stopping mid-way down the beach at the Oasis Beach Club became a daily routine.  The "Oasis" is just that; A very pretty, friendly restaurant with excellent fish tacos, quesadillas, cold drinks, and...good wi-fi. All the boats we were traveling with, Agave Azul, Pangaea, Trinity Rose, made this a meeting spot.  

Club Oasis

View from Club Oasis up the beach

Shindig anchored in front of Club Oasis

Santiago has been elevated to another favorite anchorage.  We look forward to returning even for a shorter stop, on our sail north towards Banderas Bay

Ladies' Paddle 

Rob and Robyn & Kathryn from SV Agave Azul enjoying the Sarandeado Style Fish

Katie buying fresh berries at the Tiangui, flea market
A Rhino and Bison go by on the streets of Santiago
GoogleWe saw the rest of the "zoo" in flatbeds following this one
Love the colorful condiments at each meal


Shindig continues sailing South

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Barra de Navidad

Arriving in Barra through the narrow channel and spying the Grand Isla Hotel & Marina feels like returning home again. With our seasonal travels, we meet many of the same sailboats (and captains and crew) from same time last year.  
Staying at the docks of the Marina is like being a living part of the whole resort whose beauty is significantly enhanced by the boats and water.  Sound a little biased? In addition to integrating into the hotel guests' daily rhythms, the boaters have their own little community.  There is a daily cruisers' Net, dock parties, group dinners, and even some music jam sessions.  Also, the "French Baker" offers fresh croissants, baguettes, quiches and gourmet breads daily via his little motored panga, arriving before 9am to the marina first, then the neighboring anchorage. While we didn't indulge every day, it was fun hearing the frenzy of radio call outs to the French Baker. Almond croissants and baguettes are the most popular menu items. Other sailors choose to be in the nearby anchorage, which is just a short dinghy ride away.  All of us then access the town of Barra by either calling a water taxi or our own dinghys to the Hotel Sands, which is friendly to cruisers.
Being in Barra for 20 days gave us some breathing room to relax a bit more.  With the friends from Camp Tenacatita, we had lots of fun together and weathered a few rainy days with marathon card and game nights.

We were also waiting for our friends Katie and Mike from Pangaea to catch up with us.  Once they arrived, it was a fun week playing tour guides, showing them around both the hotel & marina area, and our favorite places in the towns of Barra and nearby Melaque.  

Sunshine on the Marina and Grand Isla Hotel in Barra de Navidad

The local fishing pangas near the entrance to the town of Barra 
View from town of Barra across to Grand Isla 

Girls Night Out:
Getting Dressed up to watch the Academy Awards

A typical street scene from favorite coffee (w/ Internet!) spot 

Valentine's Dinner at Antonio's in hotel
Colorful chicks for sale in the streets of Barra

 "Roadkill Chickens" for sale in Melaque
Clean Clothes from the local Lavanderia
(always a happy occasion aboard Shindig)
Our Hotel Room with a View 
It was hard to leave Barra once the weather window opened up, but nice to know we'd be returning in a month after the next adventure south.  Hasta Pronto!

View of the marina from the hotel
Shindig and others were on the Left most Dock

Pool Time with Katie and Mike (SV Pangaea)

A swell music jamming session on Shindig
Bob (SV Nirvanna), Katie and Nancy