A Break Up

A couple of days ago, Brenda and I had one of those talks.  You know the talks I'm speaking of – the ones where you get to talk about your feelings.  Ugh.  Only this talk wasn't about the normal things that get brought up in one of those discussions.  There was no mention of a toilet seat left up, no caps left off the toothpaste, and nothing said about me not noticing a new haircut.  Why you ask?  Well, it's because I'm obviously a perfect husband and there would be no reason to bring any of that up.

What was discussed was the fact that we have been racing down the Baja Peninsula for no good reason.  We have no place to be and no time we need to be there.  This is realistically the only time in our lives when we are going to be sailing this coastline, so why on earth would we miss anything?  The big talk was purely about slowing down.  Phew.  No hurt feelers mentioned and no tears shed anywhere, and even better yet, we were both in 100 percent agreement.

Mexico's Baja Peninsula is nearly 1,000 miles of rough and rugged coastline that is nearly uninhabitable.  It's a desert in every sense of the word.  Rain rarely falls, winds scour the landscape, and the hot sun scorches the earth.  It almost seems like the entire region is slowly melting away.  But in the midst of the uninhabitable lies an incredible beauty that we are truly loving.  It reminds us of the landscape at Death Valley, but instead of salt flats on Death Valley's floor, there is the mighty Pacific Ocean crashing on the Baja's shores.

In an almost impossible fashion, tiny fishing villages and towns dot the coastline.  Some of these villages are just a few huts perched on the shoreline in the middle of nowhere, with no access by road or plane, and some are home to upwards of 2,000 people who mostly survive with a livelihood from the fishing industry.

For the most part, tourists and sailors don't visit these places.  Access is difficult and amenities are scarce.  There are a couple of protected bays on the Baja, but for the most part, anchorages are considered road steads.  We are basically tucked behind a nook in the shoreline and we get rocked and rolled with the incoming wind and swell.  Landing the dinghy on shore means timing the swell and braving the surf for a beach landing (this is a highly prized skill that will most likely be talked about in detail in an upcoming post.  If you screw it up, your dinghy gets flipped, you get tossed, and your day is definitely ruined).  I would wholeheartedly consider most of these anchorages uncomfortable at best.  But the upside is that we get to visit places that are unspoiled by tourism and crowds.

If you've ever been to a Mexican resort town, you've probably been bombarded by people selling time shares, trinkets, or chicklets.  I can't blame them, they are just trying to make a buck and provide for their families like everyone else, but it's hard to get a real feel for a people or a culture when they see opportunity knocking and dollar signs with every tourist.  And I'm not at all saying that we don't like being a normal tourist while being pampered in a resort.  Who doesn't like that?  Sometimes there is nothing better than hanging out by the pool and being waited on hand and foot.   I'm sure there will a time in the near future where we will be begging for one of those resorts to let a couple of vagabond sailors swim in their pool (Cabo, can you hear me?).  It's just not what we are looking for right now.
Currently, we are roughly halfway down the Baja in a tiny little village called Bahia Asuncion.  So far, it's my favorite place in Mexico.  The water under our boat where we are anchored is 74 degrees, it's crystal clear but at the same time a rich blue, and it's just about perfect for jumping off of the boat for a swim to cool off from the desert sun (it's been between 85-90 degrees every day).  At times there are thick schools of fish, sea turtles, or dolphins circling the boat.  The people here are as friendly of a people as I've ever met and the village has something we haven't seen in almost 500 miles of Mexican coastline – trees.  Oh trees, how I've missed you.

Another thing this village has is an official “help squad.”  It's an all volunteer group of people whose only mission is to help anyone in need.  We've met 3 different people on 3 different occasions who have gone out of their way to come over and introduce themselves while we were roaming through the village.  As you can imagine, we stand out here, so for them to find us really isn't that hard.  The only thing they wanted from us, was for us to know they were there in case we needed anything.

We later learned from another local that the group originally started in the early days of the village.  It was designed as mainly a way to help fishermen in distress.  It's a fishing village after all.  But over the years, it's been expanded to include anything and everything.  It doesn't matter if you are a local, a sailor skirting it's shores, or a gringo who took a wrong turn somewhere in Texas and ended up here, the group is at your service.  If your car breaks down, they can help find parts and they'll organize people to help you get your car back together.  If we need fuel, they'll find a panga to bring out diesel in jugs to our boat (there is no fuel dock here).  If we want to know where the best restaurant in town is, hop in their car because they are going to take us there (it's Don Ramone's tacos, and yes, it's at Don Ramone's house, and yes, they are incredible).  More than anything, the group is amazing.

And then there is Hector.  He is a clean cut man who looks to be in his mid 50's, he's always dressed neat and tidy, and happens to own a small convenience store at the end of town.  He stands on the corner in front of his store and greets the random person passing by with a friendly wave and a smile and always gets a chuckle out of each person I've seen him interact with.

My Spanish language skills are severely lacking, but, I'm really enjoying attempting to speak and learn more.  For the most part, everyone we've interacted with has been patient with us (except one lady in a restaurant who was obviously annoyed with our butchering of her native tongue), but Hector has been on another level.  He speaks slowly and deliberately, he dumbs it down for us dummies, he helps correct my pronunciation, and is patient beyond what is deserved.  He's not in anyway condescending or patronizing, it's pure kindness he is showing that is indisputable.  It's been such an enjoyable interaction that I've gone back to our boat each night, dug through our Spanish dictionary, and practiced more phrases so I can talk with Hector a little more.  When I thanked him for being so kind to us strangers, his response was, “you are in my home and I want you to know you are welcome here.”

No one ever gave me a brochure with a description of what cruising in Mexico was going to be like, but if they did, I'm pretty sure this place would have been on the cover.  It's exactly the place and exactly the experience we've been hoping for.  And it's know wonder why this is the place we decided was the perfect place to have a talk about slowing down.

The only down side of slowing down here is that it meant we would be separating from our good friends, Jason and Jenn, on the sailboat Danika.  We ran into them in San Francisco, and since then, they have been our cruising companions for almost 3 months as we've hopped our way down the coast of the United States and into Mexico together.  We've had brief times apart from them on our trip south, but usually within a few days, one of us shows up in an anchorage and then we are reunited.

Having like minded friends to share this adventure with has been great.  Unfortunately though, they are currently on a schedule and have to be in Puerto Vallarta in about a month.  Even though they have a month to get there, that means they still have to keep moving because traveling by sailboat is slow.  Sometimes it's painfully slow.

Since we don't have a schedule and we weren't ready to leave this place, it was time for another talk.  This time, it was the “it's not you, it's me” talk.  We were breaking up with our good friends.  So, we had them over for a nice dinner of freshly caught grilled Wahoo fish tacos (delicious), Brenda broke out her finest boxed wine, and then we broke the news.  “This isn't working out, let's just be friends” we told them.  Tears were shed, hugs were passed around, and thoughts of what went wrong with our relationship will linger in our minds forever (not really, however they will be severely missed until we meet again).

It's the sad reality of cruising.  Most relationships are temporary since we are always on the move.  But the good news is that some of our other cruising friends are only a couple of days behind us and will soon be dropping their anchor just outside this tiny village to join us.  When they arrive, I'll be able to introduce them to my new friend Hector.

The last view we'll have of our friends on Danika for a while. They'll be missed.


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