Getting to Know Mexico

 Our first stop on completing the Baja-Haha Rally, was San Jose del Cabo.  This delightful little town is about 20 miles east of its larger and louder cousin, Cabo San Lucas.  San Jose del Cabo offers a quaint historical district, complete with artisan shops, wonderful restaurants and a large marina, where we moored for several days.   The first night in town we went to a fantastic restaurant, El Matador, which is owned and operated by a gentleman who has been a real-life matador since the age of 14.  The restaurant was located in what appeared to be the family home – a beautiful two story Spanish-style casa.  We dined on the enormous back patio and were served by beautiful senoritas in lovely local dress.  The steaks were delectable and the ambience dreamily perfect.

We took the opportunity, while in San Jose, to reprovision at the local Walmart, which was not so different than the ones back home.  Unfortunately, right in the middle of that shopping trip, Montezuma’s revenge decided to strike.  I spent the better part of that outing in the ladies room, leaving Cap’n Mike to do all the shopping.  He’s actually better at that than I am anyway, so no loss there!  I was super nervous about the trip back to the marina, but thankfully our Uber driver (yes – the larger cities have Uber!) was quite punctual, and we made it back before we had any, um, emergencies.

From there we rounded the corner into the Sea of Cortez and on up to an anchorage known as Ensenada de Los Muertos.  On the way we caught a nice sized Mahi Mahi, or Dorado, as they are known in this region. Muertos was a pleasant little anchorage, and it gave us a chance to dinghy up to the beach for a short walk to stretch our legs.  Henry especially loves to go to the beach.  He knows as soon as his life jacket comes out that he gets to go on the dinghy, and he is one happy pup!  Incidentally, when there’s no chance to get off the boat, Henry has taught himself to use the net at the front of the boat as his potty spot.  Such a good boy!

The next day we continued on to an absolutely beautiful cove called Puerto Balandra, where we were surrounded on three sides by magnificent cliffs and creamy white sand beaches.  We enjoyed kayaking, snorkeling and meeting some of the locals, as this is one of their favorite beach-day get aways.  The sunset was breathtaking and we just couldn’t have imagined a more perfect place to spend a couple of days.  

Next stop – La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur.  We got a slip in the Marina Palmira, which was about a mile and a half from the city center.  La Paz has a population of about 275,000, but it certainly has the feel of a much smaller town.  The heart of La Paz is the large malecón (seaside street and sidewalk), on one side of which is the beautiful bay, and the other, many shops and restaurants.  Many of our fellow cruisers were in La Paz while we were there, so we shared meals and lots of sea stories with our new acquaintances.  In fact, one of the cool things about La Paz is the very large local group of Americans and Canadians that spend their winters there year after year.  Many are on boats, but some are renting very nice apartments for only $500 US dollars per month.  Every morning they host a group “meeting” on the VHF radio, where everything from medical emergencies to weather to local services and events are discussed.  What a great way to be in the know.  We’ve since discovered that many local communities have these same type of “virtual” meet-ups – genius!  

Even though the official Baja-Haha  was over, the local sailing community hosted a huge Thanksgiving dinner for the many boats that had completed the rally and moved on up to La Paz.  It was a fantastic dinner and party, and so nice to have a little good old American tradition despite being so far from home. 

While in La Paz, I found a wonderful coffee spot called Doce Cuarenta.  Amazing lattes, delicious quiche and pastries and a super cool, laid back vibe.  Not so long ago, I would always opt for Starbucks, but I am now convinced I must start checking out the local shops, as I had just discovered before leaving Seattle. I’ve been missing out – although I still have lots of love for my Starbucks Skinny Mocha!

For my ladies-of-a-certain-age friends, you’ll appreciate this one.  In attempt to maintain my not so natural golden locks, and at the same time cover up those pesky silver sparkly hairs, I normally have a hair appointment every six weeks on the dot.  There are strict boat rules that prohibit any sort of hair dye on the boat, so I was in desperate need of a beauty salon.  Now you would think in a town with a quarter million people, that would not be so hard to find.  Think again. I asked all those nice ladies who spend every winter here – no luck.  I searched the internet, using google translate – no luck.  I even asked complete strangers at the coffee shop. Finally, someone suggested we go out to a fairly new area where there is a department store, Home  Depot, and something resembling a mall.  Bingo – we found a hair salon.  One of the hair dressers spoke a little English.  We managed to make an appointment for the following day.  She scheduled it for 5pm…which, she then said,  was when she would be done with her coloring class.  I didn’t have the heart to cancel the appointment right then and there, but after losing a little sleep over it that night, I called and canceled the next morning!   My dear, sweet husband got back online and finally found a recommendation on of all places.  Once again, with the help of Google translate, I managed to book an appointment and, voila, I am once again rid of those silver streaks, and though a little blonder than I would prefer, am happily sporting golden locks for another six weeks!  Elizbeth Vaca, I miss you!

I would have to say the highlight of our stay in La Paz was swimming with the whale sharks, which make this area their home for six to eight months out of the year.  It took some convincing to get me to go, but boy, am I glad I went!  They are the most graceful and gentle giants.  They only eat plankton, so no worries about being an afternoon snack for these guys. If you ever get the chance, you definitely gotta do it!

We had a 2-3 day stretch of rain while there, so we broke out the rainy day puzzles and games and managed to keep ourselves busy and, for the most part, dry.  Many of our fellow cruisers are from the Pacific Northwest, and therefore there were lots of Seahawks fans amongst us.  We went to a local sports pub and watched a game with all the die-hard fans, and it was lots of fun – again, another taste of “home.” 

We ended up staying in La Paz for a little over a week.  Longer than we planned, but it was such a great place that we had a hard time pulling the lines and heading out.  However, lots more places to explore.  So, until next time…live the adventure!