October 2010: The rest of October - back to La Paz - The World's Largest Burrito
My insurance policy says I can't go south of Latitude 27 before November 1, but it's been a La Nina year and we haven't seen a single hurricane up the Sea of Cortez. That's nice.
I'm going to hang in Santa Rosalia, just north of Lat 27, until mid October, then sail down to La Paz. I figure I'll have a darn good picture of the weather trends for the last two weeks of October, and should be safe to risk sailing without insurance.
Santa Rosalia was still brutally hot, but on October 10 summer finally ended. The days were a balmy 80 F degrees, and the nights were in the 70's. I'd become so acclimated to the heat that I needed a blanket.
Santa Rosalia celebrated its 150th anniversary that weekend. The town went wild, with a three day party full of rides, stage shows, music in the bandstand, and people from miles around flooding the streets. Still, very few gringos.
I was born in 1958, so was a small child in the U.S. midwest in the 1960's. I remember rural county fairs with cheap rides that were hauled around by truck. The rides looked pretty tired, even back then, and I have wondered what happened to those itinerant death traps.
Apparently, they were sold to entrepreneurs down here, and are still running fifty years later. The tarps are tattered, and many bulbs are burned out. I watched one being set up. It's one of those rides with two big 15 person cages on pendulums, which swing back and forth, back and forth, and then goes totally upside down. The whole thing was sitting in the middle of a cobblestone street, and was leveled with some scraps of wood. Really. It was propped up on little scraps of two by four. To make it even more fun, there were electric wires going across the street, and one basket cleared them by only a few feet.
Somehow, I think this culture is much less litigious than the one up north.
I should have taken pictures, but there were very few gringos in town, and I felt like I was intruding on a private party. Everyone was nice, but I didn't want to look like an invading gringo tourist.
The same weekend the marina hosted a huge wedding. There were probably 300 people there, with pretty high security. I don't know who was getting married, but uniformed Policia Preventiva guys were posted at the perimeter.
The wedding band was very good. That's fortunate, because they were also
very loud, and they played until dawn. It must have been in the contract,
because as soon as the sun broke the horizon they shut down. It can't have
been easy to play for 10 hours straight. I'm sure they rotated, because I
can't believe anyone can blow a trumpet for 10 hours.
By dawn they were sounding pretty tired.
The picture to the left was taken about a half hour before dawn. I actually slept through most of the party, but finally had to get up and see if anyone was still there. There were only about fifty people left, and nobody was dancing. I didn't look too close, but it was probably the usual late night play where guys just wait until all the other guys are gone, in the hope that the remaining single women will pick the last guy standing.
I found a place in Santa Rosalia that has this "Arrachera" flank steak. It's a cruiser's dream meat. It's marinated and spiced up perfectly, then vacuum sealed and frozen. You can just pick up half a dozen, toss them in the freezer, and go sailing.
Speaking of going sailing -- it's time to head south. October 19, I left Santa Rosalia.
I think I'll be back, though, next storm season.
Obligatory dawn shot. The days are getting shorter, so I'm pulling the hook up and leaving before dawn, to ensure that I'll hit the next anchorage with plenty of light.
It's must easier to leave when it's dark that to arrive in the dark. Even if an anchorage has rocks and dangerous things, I have my GPS track from the way in to follow on the way out. With that, plus radar, I'm pretty comfortable leaving even with no moon.
The forecast was for winds from the north, so I picked spots with protection. San Juanico is an nice point, because there's a safe spot on both sides. I anchored where the red dot is.
The breezes were really light, though, and not much fun.
Here's San Juanico, in the south anchorage, looking south.
I like this place. There were lots of rocks, and many that were only a few feet under the water, but that also meant fish. The holding was good, and the sand shelves large enough to make it safe if the wind kicks up in the middle of the night.
Another stop was Puerto Ballandra, about 10 miles north of Puerto Escondido. It's a tiny place, only about 1/10 of a mile (600 feet) wide. But it's well protected from all directions except the west.
I stayed an extra day, because it was nice and cozy.
The first 24 hours were perfect. Then, with no warning, the breeze shifted from the west to the north, and I was beset by about 100,000 jejenes (hayhaynays), or no-see-ums. These are the little tiny black bugs that leave nasty little bites. Some people believe that they itch so bad because they actually lay eggs under the skin, but I'm not so sure about that.
Whatever. It happened while I was laying in my bunk, and there was to time to put up nets or screens.
For the next two days I had, easily, three bites per square inch of skin, from head to toe. The trick is to *not* scratch them, because that just makes them itch worse.
You really never know if you're going to get bitten by them. Sometimes I've stayed in a place, and later someone complains that the were overrun by jejenes. Yet I didn't get a single bite. Then, there will be places like this where I'm attacked worse than I've ever experienced (even in San Blas) and yet someone else will not see a single one.
Anyway, they were thick enough, inside the boat, that I *could* see the no-see-ums. Not that it helped.
South of Puerto Escondido there are two anchorages right next to each other. Los Gatos, to the north (green dot,) is a favorite spot for many folks. For me, with the swell coming from the northeast, it just seemed like it was too small and too open. Instead, I headed down to Timbabiche, just a couple of miles south. It, too, is almost an open roadstead anchorage, but it has more protection from the north and is much bigger, so there's room to handle things if a problem comes up.
As it turns out, some friends on Sea Bear stayed in Los Gatos that night and had a pretty rocky time. However, so did I. The northeast swell wrapped around that corner very nicely, and I didn't sleep well.
However, I did *eat* well. These lobsters just keep jumping into my boat.
I feel sorry for people who can't cook.
As you can see, I'm out of green vegetables. They're over a week old, and have turned into a brown mush. The cucumber was still good, though.
My last stop before La Paz was Caleta Partida again.
For some amazing reason, I pulled in and had the whole place to myself. So I took the perfect spot, where the red dot is. It's protected from just about every direction. Later in the afternoon, a couple of other boats showed up.
This is a cut between two islands, and there are some serious shoals, which appear on the Google Earth picture as very light blue.
I stayed two days, waiting for November 1. I'd reserved a slip at Marina Palmira in La Paz, which is only 20 miles south of here.
First day there, I went fishing in the dinghy, and saw Harold and JC on Sea Bear getting ready to take off.
I'd missed the morning Sonrisa Net. It turns out Geary predicted really strong northern breezes starting the next day, for three days straight, with winds up to 24 knots.
Oh. Well, I went fishing anyway.
Triggerfish seemed to be the order of the day. They are very tasty, but they're not my favorite fish because they're so hard to kill. There isn't nearly as much meat as you might think. The entire front half is a bony head, because their main food source is small crustaceans crawling around on the bottom or hiding in the rocks. I've watched them, while diving, as they ram their heads into the bottom to get a small shellfish.
I've been surprised to catch so many using bait or a Rapala lure. I guess they eat anything. The mouth is tiny, and filled with serious teeth to crack exoskeletons.
Weird. I guess I'm getting pretty good at sensing a nibble and giving the rod a good yank to set the hook. Heck, I gaffed this one in the side after he took my bait. It was too small, so I tossed it back.
I caught two full sized adults, which makes two or three meals. The meat is nice, white and firm, and is good grilled or pan fried.
I dropped my favorite knife overboard, so had to break out the scuba gear and go find it. I've had this thin boning knife for 34 years, and wasn't about to let it go.
It seems like most of my diving in the Sea of Cortez has been to clean the bottom or retrieve stuff that falls overboard.
Tank fills are hard to find, so I hoard the air. Even La Paz, it's a pain to get a tank filled. I haven't seen a convenient compressor anywhere north of here, except on other cruiser's boats. I'm beginning to wish I'd bought an on board compressor, although I really have nowhere to put it.
The following morning, Geary on the Sonrisa
Net really sent me into a mild fearful state, by announcing that the three
days of heavy northern breezes was about to begin, saying "My advice
is to find a good hole, check your ground tackle and settle in with a good
book." I was in a perfect anchorage, protected by some big hills to the
north, and could easily wait out a northern blow. But I didn't want to sit
at anchor for three days. I wanted to get to Marina Palmira in La Paz on November
I was running low on consumables.
So, I waited out the day, and it did blow a bit. Then I got up at 1 a.m., saw that I had calm to light breezes, pulled the anchor and headed for La Paz, arriving about an hour after dawn. That was a good idea, because a few hours later the breezes started to kick up again, and stayed strong for the next two days.
Green Leafy Vegetables. Hooray.
Yes, folks, everything you hear about the difficulty getting fresh vegetables in the Baja back country is true. It's a desert up there, with little water and no irrigation. Vegetables are trucked in, without refrigeration, and are very expensive and usually half spoiled before they hit the market. Cabbage holds up well, but delicate stuff like Green Leaf Lettuce never has a chance.
When I hit the market in La Paz, I grabbed a head of lettuce and didn't even bother getting any other salad stuff. Back at the boat, I started tearing leaves off, washing them and stuffing them in my mouth like a 200 pound rabbit. Yes, my body was craving fresh vegetables.
November 3, 2010. La Paz is trying to get the record for the World's Largest Burrito.
While riding my mountain bike to the market at 9 a.m., 2.7 kilometers of tables were being set up along the malecon, or beach boardwalk.
At the far end, a team of people was busy making the tortilla. The tortilla machine was mounted on the back of a pickup truck, driving slowly forward at about 1/3 mph. Folks were being very careful. I sure wouldn't want to be the person who tore the fresh tortilla.
By sunset, the tortilla was in place, the filling was ready to roll, and something like 27,000 people lined the entire beach waiting for a free dinner.
Every restaurant in town sent a team to make a section of it.
I have no idea when they were actually going to fill and roll it, because the party was just getting started.
And I mean, a real party. Next to the tortilla, a regular "Battle of the Bands" was in progress, all down the beach.
These folks in Mexico really like a good party.
Anyway, I don't know when they finished the whole thing up. I was tired from cleaning the boat all day, and too hungry to wait around. They could have kept the pre-party going for another two hours before serving it up.
Also in La Paz, I realized that it was time to retire my travel towel.
I found this while backpacking through the Guatemalan highlands in 1993. Anyone who's read 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' knows how important a towel is. I'd lost mine. In a tiny little village, where they probably hadn't seen a blonde American in six months, I discovered a towel with a picture of three California Beach Babes playing volleyball. So I had to get it.
After 18 years, the sunglasses have faded away, you can't see the volleyball,
and it's pretty thin. That's okay. However, the blonde on the left, holding
the volleyball, recently developed a tear in an inappropriate spot that invites
too many comments about single handed sailors.
It's time for the trash bin. (sigh)
That's it for October. I'll spend all of November in La Paz, and have a Thanksgiving here.
Cricket is coming down for the winter, so the main thing right
now is to scrub this boat very well,
and rearrange all the stuff inside to change it from a 'single handed bachelor' boat into a 'cruising couple' boat.
Nesting instincts. (VBG)
There are a few projects and repairs to do while in port,
of course, like a new floor for the dinghy.
But, more on that later.