|Mazatlan, November, 2003:
|Dec 2, 2003 - I know you all have been waiting with bated breathe… for our Thanksgiving feasts we had
Japanese food for lunch and then smoked marlin tacos (fried), made by a local family we befriended, for
We’ve been in Mazatlán for almost two weeks now. We have enrolled Emily in the ballet school here. We
had hopes that she could participate in the Nutcracker, but they were too far along in their rehearsals to add
her to the cast. The ballet school is right next to a beautiful old theatre and a square. When we go there in
the afternoons for her classes, there is so much artistic (music, painting, sculpture, dancing—you name it)
energy that it does your soul good just to be there. So, now to see how long we can keep our gypsy souls
at bay while Emily is having this terrific experience with this ballet school. They even have a pianist that
accompanies them while they dance. Her name is Margarita and she is easily 80 years old. She wears her
beautiful white hair in a bun (which reminds me of my paternal grandmother- Elizabeth Delaney Heeney).
But where she differs from my Grandmother is that she wears bright red lipstick. Oh va! Emily told us a
story of when the ballet instructor repeatedly told Margarita (who is hard of hearing) to stop playing.
Margarita said, “I hear you”, but kept on playing with a smile on her face! When you are on a roll, you are
on a roll!
We have met a wonderful Mazalteco family. They have an 11 year old daughter. They all speak fluent
English. We are learning quite a bit about this town.
The marina life isn’t for us. There are certain conveniences (produce available for purchase Monday,
Wednesday and Friday; laundry; nice marina staff) to it, but much of the cliqueness of the gringo community
is unattractive to us. There are people who have chosen to be stuck here. There were a couple of boats
with cruising kids aboard when we first got here—but they have headed out.
Marinas are good for getting boat projects done. Lou and I cleaned and rebuilt the head, which was getting
cantankerous, and Lou is building a shelf in the bow for an additional rope/chain anchor rode. Our slip
does not have electrical hookup, but we don’t need it because our solar panels are up to the job. It feels
good to live completely on solar. Photons from the sun are powering this computer as well as the radio that
transmits the e-mail, in addition to refrigeration, lights, etc.
I still think my favorite thing about coming into a town is seeing how fast I can figure out the lay out and how
to get around. The best way is to ride the main bus from beginning to end. And then ride it back home
again. I also love the market . (I can thank my mom and my maternal grandparents for this interest). Yes,
seeing the various stages of meat processing is a bit repulsive. But, the market is an amazing place.
Martin, Emily and Lou are enjoying getting to learn how to surf and boogie board on boards we have
borrowed from a friend here. They are learning at a beach called Las Brujas == The Witches. They’ve had
some good rides on their stomachs (Mexicans say bocabajo, “mouth down”), but Lou has only managed to
get on his feet for a second or two. The beach has a good riptide when the surf is big. The kids got caught
in it the first day before we figured out where it was. Lou rescued Martin, and someone else helped Emily
and her friend Daniela. They knew to swim parallel to the beach to escape, and they probably would have
been OK without assistance. It was a good learning experience without too much excitement.
Foods that we have enjoyed: smoked Marlin (Mary), churros made fresh from a streetcart (Lou, Martin and
Emily), Tonicol (a vanilla soda—kind of like crème soda only made in this state- Sinaloa).
Books we’re reading: Mary is still reading Zanzibar Chest and amazed at her total ignorance of African
history and politics. The author was a reporter in Africa in the early 90s and even though Lou and I traveled
there in 1991—I was oblivious to the depth of problems. Lou just finished an autobiography of Ben
Franklin. Martin is in need of books to read. We’ve ordered some to be brought with my parents when they
come to Puerto Vallarta for Christmas. Emily is writing a novel. And reading The Great Gilly Hopkins.
School is going okay. Inevitably one child has to have their “fit” of the day about school. This seems to be
a common problem with cruising families. I’m enjoying learning with the kids about Mexican history. I’m also
going to have them memorize the states and capitals of Mexico.
It seems like the reality of this trip has taken hold on me. I feel an urgent need to come to some
understanding of my purpose in this life. It doesn’t help the book that I’m reading makes you grapple with
the essence of human nature—are we more good than evil or vice versa. And just how lucky we are to
have the ability to dream about what we want to do. I feel that I am a good representative of the United
States. But, I can be that way—not necessarily because of who I am—but because of the comforts that I
have been fortunate to have bestowed upon me. My basic needs have always been met. I have never had
to compete for a scrap of food or a shelter to sleep in.
Okay—sorry—Yes—I miss you all! And yes I’m thankful for this opportunity to see the world!
Dec 16, 2003 - Happy Holidays! Hope you are enjoying the holidays—surrounded by the people you love
and vice versa!
Current position: Anchored at Isla Isabela. Isabela is a beautiful island 20 miles off of the mainland coast. It
is inhabited by fishermen in a small fish camp, millions of frigate birds, terns, yellow- footed boobies (I’m not
talking about my crew!), iguanas and other critters. This is truly an awesome place. The nesting birds are
unafraid of humans – we can walk right up to them and take close-up photos. We have had wonderful hikes
and snorkeling here. It is nice to be on the hook and off the dock again. And I’m happy for it to be just the
four of us for awhile.
Mazatlán was wonderful. It was difficult to leave our new friends—Ramon, Liliana and their 11-yr old
Daniela. They were very precious to treat us to wonderful meals and many sleepovers for Emily and
Martin. I love making friends of the locals—but the saying goodbye is very difficult for me. It won’t stop me
from pursuing these relationships—but it is bittersweet. In this case, we hope to return to Mazatlán in April
or so. And then again, as we head down the coast to Central America next fall.
Oh, so we finally decided our itinerary for the next year. Rather than cross the Pacific this spring, we will
spend the summer up in the Sea of Cortez, and then next fall and winter sailing back down the coast of
Mexico and Central America. There is just too much to see and do in this part of the world to leave it behind
three months from now. This also gives us the chance to have some friends come visit us in the Sea of
Cortez next summer.
We had a very special Virgen de Guadalupe Day (the day commemorates the day Juan Diego saw the
Virgin of Guadalupe). We had collected food and cleaning items from other cruisers to be distributed to the
two orphanages in Mazatlán. Martin and I went with another cruiser, who was dressed up as a clown (in her
previous life she had been Bubbles the clown), the very compassionate office manager of the Marina and
another Marina worker. It was a nice experience. Although I wished we had more time to just be with the
children. After that, La Familia de Ace went downtown to the Cathedral. There were many children dressed
up like Juan Diego or the peasant women of that era. Then we went to the Nutcracker Ballet where we
were guests of the school. Emily and I got to help backstage. They gave me a needle and thread and I
started sweating. Fortunately, I was just helping to reinforce the ribbons on their toe shoes. The girls were
all very patient with me. Lou and Martin were out in the Plaza having a good time ---making friends. We all
got to watch the show. The costuming and energy was wonderful. It is so different from the Mountain View
production of the Nutcracker. At the Mazatlán ballet school, they start them on point at 8 years old! Emily
handled the whole event beautifully and was supportive and enthusiastic of her fellow ballerinas. We took a
late night bus home with a bus driver who had an electronic wolf whistle for pretty girls. He was using it quite
often as we passed discos and bars along our route home. (This was on the one of nicer buses—the ones
that get out of 2nd gear!)
All in all our Mazatlán experience was fantastic. We could have done without some of our dock neighbors—
one specifically. She was a piece of work! But, hey, that’s the nice thing about a floating home—we can
float away from annoyances (except if the annoyance is in our boat!)
Boat projects accomplished in Mazatlan: cleaned and rebuilt the head (oh joy!), built a shelf for the anchor
locker to hold a secondary anchor rode, cleaned and polished hull and deck (after 3 years of neglect), built
lightning cables to drag in the water during thunderstorms.
I’m reading Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari. I’m really enjoying this book. In some of his previous books
Theroux was quite grumpy and it was painful to read. This one is about his trip through Africa and is a great
read. He has a great way of describing scenes and people that make you feel like you are right there. Lou
is reading The Zanzibar Chest, also about Africa. Martin is reading some of Sinbad the Sailor. Emily is
reading anything she can get her hands on and sometimes twice.
Future plans: We’ll leave Isla Isabela in the next two days. We’ll head to San Blas, then on into Banderas
Bay (Puerto Vallarta) where we’ll be anxiously awaiting the heavily laden arrival of my parents. Then, my
brothers and their families meet up with us after the New Year.
|Ramon and Liliana and Daniela
Bastidas. Emily and Daniela
became good friends, and they had
many sleepovers on the boat or at
|Emily with some of her ballet
classmates in Mazatlan. Emily took
lessons in Mazatlan for two weeks,
and we watched her friends perform
in the Nutcracker.
|Rebuilding the head – smelly boat
repair in paradise.
|A traveling barber, Luis, came to the
marina. Martin wanted to go bald,
so this was the compromise.