Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Turtles!!!





I've seen people post about releasing turtles on the beach...  Most of the time, it's at a resort or some organized tour (not my thing).  So, I've never done it.  But secretly deep inside, I've really wanted to....So, when we were in La Cruz in December, I learned about a turtle camp which is a pain in the A$$ to get to and NOT NOT NOT fancy in any way (think wooden shack on the beach).  It's the one that the cruisers locally support because no one else does - they're the underdogs.  I liked their facebook page because who doesn't want to see pictures of turtles???

That's when I learned that on the days when they have turtles hatched and ready for release, they put out a post and it's open to the public provided you can figure out where they are and get there.  Now, that sounds like my kinda challenge with my kinda organization.

This stayed in the back of my mind...... Now fast forward a month or so and we are back in La Cruz, and I mentioned to Greg that I wanted to do this.  There is no guarantee how many turtles are being released and the only directions I had was a picture of a google map location which was at least an hour bus ride away and a few towns.  Greg is used to these adventures and also enjoys them (most of the time).

A couple days later, the afternoon rolls around and we are just hanging out on Pura Vida and I see a posting about turtles.  YEP, it's on...  We text some new friends to see if they are in on the adventure and the reply with, "We're IN!"

With plans to meet at the dinghy dock, I start my reconnaissance.  Greg and I checked with a local cruising resource and were advised to take a taxi.  But I was confident (pretty much) that we had good directions with the google map.

After a quick debrief with the whole gang, I'm comfortable dragging Greg on an unsure adventure, but new friends, I'd like them to know it's a discovery exercise.

I won't drag it on, it went without a hitch, about a 45 min bus ride, then about a 20 min walk to the beach, then down the beach about 15 min to the shack on the beach.

We were even early.  But that's not a good or bad thing.  Because others did arrive and because there's no guarantee how many turtles, we're looking around and lowering our expectation to, "Gee, I hope we can at least see them"

Anticipation mounted while we waited for permission from the Mexican government to participate in the turtle release.  Finally, it came, and after a short talk about the turtles and their hatching life, baskets of baby turtles were brought out - and each of us received our own little charge to release into the night.

releases are done at sunset to give them the best chance of not being plucked from the sea.  the team is on birdwatch to pick the right time to set the little guys free. 

I cannot say enough about how cute these little guys were.  They seemed so fragile, but they were also so powerful and they fought their way to the sea.

I highly recommend it.  Even if it's at a resorty place...  just because it's not my thing, won't change the little turtles being released - they don't care... certainly, the resort wasn't there many many years ago when turtle generations before them started going to that location.

https://www.facebook.com/seaturtlenan/




















Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fizzy drink JOY


Scoby in storage in the spare gallon jar


Last time we were out here, we were diet coke fanatics.  I'd like to say, that was a long time ago.... but although that's true - it had no bearing on our diet coke habit.

For some reason this go around, life has shaken things up.  We still want the occasional DK, but it's usually a case of us splitting a can or small bottle.  But we still get tired of drinking plain water.  We've set to combat this two ways.

Our temporary "fix" is a soda stream.  But there's nowhere to buy refills in Mexico and we can't fly in replacement canisters.  So, unless we can drive them across the border, or get a refill from another cruiser with a fancy adapter, or want to tackle filling it ourselves with dry ice.....  that's a finite solution until the CO2 bottles we brought run out.

Our other "fix" is more fun and interesting.....  My friend SCOBY DOO- used to make Kombucha.  This has been a really fun way to play with local fruits. But we mostly stay with our favorites: ginger lime or blueberry.

There are lots of how to videos if you look up brewing kombucha....   but basically, you make a Gallon batch of sweet tea and let the Scoby ferment for about 5 days, then flavor with fruit/herbs/something for about 2 days, then bottle, build up yummy carbonation, then chill and enjoy.

We usually start a new batch every few days.  Down South where it's warm, we can have a new batch ready for flavoring in 4 days, then another 1 or 2 for infusion of the fruit.  After bottling, a day or two for carbonation build up, then into the fridge.

This will give us about a week and a half of daily Kombucha.

Below is how I make Kombucha aboard Pura Vida.  You can google and get other ideas on details.....  I've tried to keep it as simple as possible. 

Equipment needed:
Gallon Jar top helpful for coverage when sailing: Affiliate link here
Cheesecloth:  Cheesecloth affiliate link here
rubber band
scoby
jar for scoby (can be a second gallon jar)
bottles for building carbonation
funnel

To make:
1.  Boil about 2 cups of water.  In another bowl (to be used to brew the tea in the 2 cups of water) put in 6 tea bags (you can use all green/ all black or a mix).

2. When water is ready, pour over tea bags

3. Add 1 cup of sugar

- Wait until cool......  at least 15 minutes, but longer is okay.  I've even left overnight.  The Scoby just wants the sweet tea and doesn't care if it's bitter.

4. When Cool, I pour it into an empty gallon size jar.

5.  Add water almost to the top.  Make sure it's room temperature - can be cooler, but just not HOT water.

6. Add in your Scoby with about a Cup of the cider vinegar it is living in (the Scoby ALWAYS needs to be with about a cup of  leftover kombucha)

7: Cover with kitchen towel, held down by the rubber band (this is to keep flies and dust out of the jar)

8.  Place the jar somewhere out of the way and warm if your house is cold

9.  After 5-7 days, start tasting.  Depending on the temperature of your room, it can take 4 days up to 21 (I've read, it's never taken more than 10 days for me).  Some example of times and temps: Down in Mexico where the temps are in the 80's, it takes only about 3-4 days.  If we've gone on a passage and jostled it around, then it would usually be sooner.  In the house we are staying at near SF, it is about 60 degrees most of the time and my first batch has taken about 8 days to ferment.  Taste it, if you like the taste of it, then move on to flavoring.  If it's too sweet, then wait another day and taste again.  If it's too tart..... you can use it as you would apple cider vinegar, or use a sweet fruit, like berries to sweeten the taste a bit (if it's not too tart)

10.  Now that your Scoby is ready, remove the Scoby and about a cup of liquid to the small scoby jar (or a second gallon Jar)  Add Fruit, herbs, flavorings you want.  I've had really good luck with frozen fruit, I think this is an easy way to start - but you can use anything at this point.  Put the lid on the jar and stash it somewhere for 1 - 2 days

11. After 1-2 days, remove fruit from jar and get your bottling jars ready

12. Using the funnel, filter kombucha through the cheesecloth into the bottle leaving about an inch of headspace.

13. Close all bottles and leave on counter for a day or two (this is to build carbonation).  If you are impatient and want kombucha and don't care about bubbles, you can put a jar in the fridge to have when it cools.  But the bubbles are really nice...

14. After 2 days out, I put all bottles in the fridge.  Most of the time this gives me great carbonation.

Good Luck! And Have Fun!

Things to be careful for:

Carbonation bottles: Be sure to use bottles meant to hold carbonation.  The other jars, you can go with what you find.  But i hear stories of bottles exploding from the carbonation.  That would me most unpleasant and Not something I want to experience....  so I'm passing on the information.  If you currently drink kombucha, start saving your bottles, because those work perfectly.  I've also had good experience with Beer growlers.

Scoby Hotel: This is another jar that holds spare Scobys.....  I do recommend this on a sailboat especially if you are travelling.   We are in Mexico and I have only seen Kombucha for sale in a few towns.  I think I've met one other person who brewed it aboard.  So if something happened to my Scoby, it would be hard to replace it.  So I have a quart sized Jar that I keep a few scobys in just in case something happens to the main one.  then it's also easy to share if you meet someone who is interested.

Tea: The Scoby is particular about the type of tea.  It needs to be 100% black or Green.  There are a couple others that are okay, but absolutely nothing with flavor or herbs as that will kill your scoby.  Earl Grey, even though it says black tea is a NO.....     If you like the taste, maybe flavor afterward.....





We usually start a new batch every few days.  Down South where it's warm, we can have a new batch ready for flavoring in 4 days, then another 1 or 2 for infusion of the fruit.  After bottling, a day or two for carbonation build up, then into the fridge.

This will give us about a week and a half of daily Kombucha.


Kombucha being flavored with frozen mango






Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Life after Tenecatita

It's been about a month since we left Tenacatita.  Barra de Navidad which is only a few miles South was the next stop for us.



It was much less stressful entering the lagoon now that we have the Heather Mexico Guidebook.  She lists waypoints to make sure we don't go aground in the unmarked channel of the entrance of the Lagoon.  Soon, we were safely nestled in the calm Lagoon of Barra de Navidad.

Over the next couple of days we enjoyed the French Baker, Greg got in some surfing, meandering around town, stocked up on Barra shrimp, had many dinners out and tried to get our fill of 50 peso jumbo margaritas while watching the surf roll in.


50 Peso Margaritas

One innocent Friday night, Greg asks.....  "what would you think of a land trip?"  After sharing his thoughts......   a couple night in Guadalajara and then a couple nights in Ajijic.  We've been reading about Ajijic for a few years and have wanted to see what it was all about.

I asked, "when are you thinking?".... he answered, "Sunday, we go buy bus tickets tomorrow"  Awesome.....  Yep - up for some land exploring.

So the next day, we asked some friends about the bus to Guadalajara, then headed over to the bus station.  With the help of google translate and my limited Spanish, I prepped for getting us tickets. The first class buses (which are still amazingly cheap) are really nice diggs.....  lots of leg room, extensions for you to lay down, power sockets, sometimes wifi, bathrooms, a little bread something to eat with a drink, and super roomy seats - think first class on a plane.    I've been wanting to check these things out.....

So, we got our tickets, got all the pre-departure info and got excited about our trip.  All of the communication was in Spanish, so I was feeling super stoked...  I may have sounded like kindergartner buying tickets... but I had them and the seats I wanted.

Next morning, bright and early, we called the water taxi to make it to our 8am departure time.  A break from the heat, we packed jeans and jackets for Guadalajara.

The only little snafu is that we thought the bus station centro was actually in the historical centro... fortunately we realized it as we were pulling into the bus station so we could prepare a little.

Uber runs in Guadalajara..... GREAT.....  pulled up the Uber app and within 10 minutes, we were in our car heading to our hotel.

SO, not sure how much you guys have heard of the gas shortage in Mexico.... it doesn't affect us much on the coast... but in Guadalajara, we saw the brunt of it.  We had a nice conversation with the Uber driver (in Spanish) about the effects......  there are only about 6 gas stations in Guadalajara at a time with fuel, so they need to wait in long lines and pay an increased price.  Shocking to see the roped off gas stations on the roads.

Our hotel.....  $25.....  in the center of the historical district, updated and modern decoration in an old historical building.  Beautiful......

We spent the remainder of our time traipsing about Guadalajara....  We did join a cantina tour which was fascinating.  We got to visit true cantinas which have been a part of Guadalajara since it's beginning 400 years ago.  This was one of my highlights.......  Greg would say that as well, but he'd also add the Torta Ahogada (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torta_ahogada)


A typical Cantina


We really enjoyed Guadalajara, Not in an "I want to live here" kinda way, but in a "wow, these buildings are so old, it's truly amazing to be among all this history.



We had a great time just walking and meandering and exploring around.  We were lucky one day and stumbled upon a tour in English. After obviously eavesdropping (not even sure if it's eavesdropping if we are so obviously listening;-)).  We were invited to join the tour which was a walking tour about 2 hours hitting some of the highlights in the historical center.  Super glad we joined that one.  After it was over, we spent some time going back to visit places that interested us that we wanted to know more about.


Looked like photos for a Quinceanera



Lobby of our $25/night hotel


Mural in Ajijic


Unique art in Ajijic


Mural in Ajijic


Bus Station in Guadalajara





Water Taxi back in Barra De Navidad



Monday, February 4, 2019

Mangroves of Tenecatita



The morning net revealed high tide was in the mornings.. so one evening, Greg declares, I think tomorrow we should explore the mangroves...  Yep - good idea and we're on it for the next morning.



Into the dinghy goes the waterproof bag with a couple of shopping bags (high hopes), money, bug screen and the waterproof camera.  On our feet are our keen water shoes.  Why are we all prepped for water (ie: not so graceful) dinghy landings?  Isn't this supposed to be a dinghy trip through calm mangroves?

yep - but there's a bar crossing.  This being our first time and we haven't seen others head in yet - we were at the ready to discover the "channel" that would result in the best chance of us not getting wet and our buzzy's (dinghy engine) prop not getting dinged.

Fortunately, the water is clearish - not glass of water clear, but see the rocks a couple of seconds before you hit clear.

We made it through with little drama picking our way through the rocks on our approach while not getting too distracted to retreat from the wave sets behind us and breaking to the side. Trust, forward, go for it!

The next hour or so was spent meandering through mangroves the width of our dinghy,  spotting wildlife and beautiful sculpture-like tree roots.













Palapas awaited us at the end of the windy water path. The people there are still rebuilding the businesses in that beach area, so restaurants are few.  In past years a super rich guy took the liberties to close the road (watery and car worthy) and guard them with folks with weapons.  It took a few years, but the Mexican courts did intervene and open the beach back up to everyone.  

Sadly the tienda didn't open - so we are starting to be in need of tomatoes (fun irony for Greg, who hates raw slices of tomatoes, but needs to have them in his ceviche and pico del gallo).

After a quick walk down the beach we made our way back to the dinghy and the mangroves - and the bar crossing again......

This time, as we were flowing out with the current, we kept putting into reverse to wait for a small wave set....  we thought we had timed a good one, but late in the game we saw the swell quickly rise to an "oh shit" moment.... The only thing we could do was gun little buzzy.....  And she powered us over the top of the wave just milliseconds before it broke under/behind us.

Whew...  drama.....  We planed home and had a nice Asian pasta salad aboard Pura Vida.....  

Maybe a swim this afternoon.....decisions, decisions - life in Tenecatita.......

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mascota

Moscota in Spanish means pet.  Although this is not where the name of the town came from....  how can we miss a town named Pet.....  then on top of that it's a Pueblo Magico.....  what is a Pueblo Magico????  though it seems like it's tough not to trip into a Pueblo Magico these days - there seems to be a lot of them.

In the last post, I mentioned that we put the boat in a marina to head home for the holiday.....  Since it's cheaper per day to stay for 7 days, than it is for 4 days, we stayed for 7.  Since the boat was going to be safe in a marina and Greg and I wanted to do some inland travel, we figured, what a great time to get some of that bus exploring in.

So, we hopped on a bus and a couple hours later found ourselves in Moscota which is up in the Sierra Madre Mountains.  It's wasn't that spur of the moment, we did arrange for an Airbnb to stay in - but for those more fancy-free, it would have worked out just fine to hop on a bus and find a hotel when we got there.

We picked up the bus in Las Juntas which is a little shorter than going all the way into Puerto Vallarta.  The hiccup is you just pop on and pay the bus driver, so you don't get an official seat.  Luckily we were able to squeeze into the last row of seats, so although we weren't the most comfortable, we were more comfortable than some folks after us who were standing for a couple of hours.

After about an hour or so, the ladies were putting on sweaters and the temp started to drop.  By the time we got into Moscota somewhere about 5, it was "jackets required".  Our ride was waiting when we got there, so after running into the store for a few groceries, our taxi delivered us to our remote casita.


This isn't our casita, but it's nearby - and similar.  It was a one bedroom place - open floor with 2 yard dogs we got to hang with.  The place was off grid and on solar power but the batteries are well worn.  So, when the sun went down, so did the lights and internet.  But it was stocked with wood for the awesome fireplace and had lots of candles.

The photo above is of the lake and a few houses and restaurants nearby.  Important because the next day it was raining and this is where we hung out as we wandered around.


Cow family on the way to the lake


The Lake while having lunch


Perla on the road up to the casita.

We did get to explore Mascota and it was super cute and easy to wander around.



We saw many many sweet looking dogs.  Again the wandering kind, not so much the homeless and neglected kind.


This little dude wasn't so thrilled with my cookie offering.  He was waiting for something better.  But he did let me pet him.



the main center.

Pinata in the Stone house.



The owner gave us a tour.


Yes, everything is decorated with stone - no, not the actual mattress, but yes the pillows.


He spent about the past 25 years transforming his home.


Yes, I said 25 YEARS


Until Finally.....



He said......

Enough is Enough.....

And retired.....

Now he gives tours to those luckily to learn about his house.  And asks for a 10 peso donation....

The rest of Moscota feels like a movie set - each time I would look down a street, I'd want to take a photo.  These cobblestone streets meandered through to green hills in the background.








It was a cute little town.  

Monday, December 31, 2018

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle




After a month or so with no word from us - we do need to let you know that we are still here.  December has been a relaxing/fun/exciting month.  We've spent some time reacquainting our love with La Cruz.  She's 12 years older, but still feels comforting to us.

We've been out at the anchorage taking most days to explore the area.  One day brought us back to San Pancho - a great little town if you are looking for a vacation from the rat race.

We've been attending Spanish classes, and running errands fixing little things aboard Pura Vida that need attending.  Currently, we do have another project going on.  Ever since we purchased Pura Vida, we've been wanting to upgrade her dodger (the blue windshield looking thing on her which is made of fabric) to a hard dodger.  We intended this before we left, but called enough on spending money.  Enough time has passed and we are moving forward with the plans.  We are having one fabricated here in La Cruz and hopefully, we'll have it installed in a week or so. This is a big labor-intensive job, so getting it done here in Mexico makes a lot of financial sense.

About once every week, we've had a day out of the anchorage to pump out, run the watermaker and shake out the sails a bit.  One of the highlights was sailing over to Los Arcos on the other side of Banderas Bay......  super beautiful but crowded with day-trippers.  We checked out the rest of the Bays heading South till we came to Quimixto.  The other bays were deep and creepy to bow and stern in, whereas Quimixto had a nice little shelf we felt could comfortably hold our anchor with some swinging room.  So we dropped the hook to stay awhile.  As the evening grew, we felt comfortable with our little shelf and decided to spend the night.

Then, as the night grew on...... Mother Nature decided a little lesson was in order to remind us of our night at anchor in Yelapa and why we should trust the internal rules we make for ourselves aboard.

You see - last time we were here, we spent an uncomfortable rolly night at Yelapa (though that time our swing had us in depths of 30 ft to 70 feet).  Old hands of this area will tell you the Southside is not a good anchorage - uncomfortable and rolly.  Of course, we love to test the old salts......As morning rose in Yelapa - We vowed not to anchor on the South side of Banderas Bay again.

Now, here we are testing those guidelines again.... and yes, here we are in the morning, renewing our vows to not anchor on the South Side of Banderas Bay - No matter how enticing the calm sunset is.....

Los Arcos


Sketchy Bow and Stern try had us about 40 feet from shore.....


Another beautiful cove


Quimixto

Other highlights are exploring the area with new friends, enjoying live music _ Tatewari is a standout - wonderful night. 


We put the boat in the marina to return to the Bay Area to spend Christmas with Greg's mom.  Everyone in the family headed to Kim's house to spend the holiday and her 80th birthday with her.  Special bonus: Rick brought Clewie so I got to get some cutest little girl time.


A Quinceanera celebration (a girls' 16th birthday) - total of 4 bands playing till 3 am.


We all know this love of my life - Clewie.


Greg and his brother, Rick.

We spent a day getting Christmas gifts for a little boy in an orphanage...  Greg got to pick out a remote control car


Beach play time with cruiser dogs.


Loving the music with Leon the washboard guy standing in.

Don't think street dogs (whether owned or not) will ever grow tired on me


The jollyist Great Dane ever.....  Love to see him sauntering down the street toward us. And yes, he has a home.  Most of the dogs we see now, do have homes - they just run free during the day.