March 27, 2011

To Barra de Navidad for a croissant - and to find the miracle store

BARRA DE NAVIDAD, Jalisco, Mexico - Admiral Fox, amiga Kathleen Schamel and I left our outpost in Arroyo Seco (and the hotel on the beach) to roar into Barra de Navidad Saturday for a look at the city. We also wanted to pick up a few things to take back to the USSA when we return later this spring.

Kathleen's last visit to Barra was about 6 years go when she was crewing aboard our sailboat Sabbatical and we were cruising the coast from Puerto Vallarta to Zihuatenjeo.

Of course, on Saturday we stopped at the French Baker on the street next to the bay first, for a croissant or two and some hot tea.

Inside the Milagro store
There were not a lot of tourists in town - or at least up early (11 a.m.). There were quite a few spring break folks about town though, obvious by their bathing attire (or lack of it) and the sweating bottles of Corona they clutched so close.

One stop for me was the Milagro Store - yes, a store that sells various religious items as well as other stuff. I bought a couple of things for our new house in New York and hope that the milagro will be that we get to see our granddaughter here in Mexico sometime soon.

In our travels, we also picked up amiga Laura McCartney who walks with her pooch Mia around Barra every day. At least every day when she isn't out in Arroyo Seco staying at the hotel.

She, the Admiral and Kathleen were checking out the Bob Marley store when I caught up with them, apr├ęs my croissant. A Bob Marley store? I am not kidding. It's a store that seems devoted to all things hippie and equally devoted to Bob Marley.

Three amigas
Fifteen minutes inside of it, and I was considering getting some dreadlocks. Considering.

Barra is a great place to do such browsing but when lunchtime arrived, we were near crisis. Should we eat at Mexico Lindo (our favorite in Barra) or trek back over the mountain to La Manzanilla for lunch at Palapa Joe's.

Palapa Joe's won out fairly easily and we had a great lunch there, sitting at the new bar (new this season). Adm. Fox and I had hamburguesas de pollo, of course. It was a bean and cheese burrito for Kathleen.

When we parked in La Manzanilla, we noticed that a pickup truck was parked nearly in front of Palapa Joe's, advertising a competitor's restaurant on the jardin. The sign wasn't enough to tempt us to divert from our path, however.

And as a bonus for our good choice of luncheon spot, we were able to have key lime pie for dessert - the last slice of piece.

Palapa Joe's never disappoints.
Outside Palapa Joe's in La Manzanilla

March 18, 2011

Irish music, Irish food and then Mexican pesos all - for an ambulance

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - A fund raiser the day before St. Patrick's Day in La Manzanilla brought out a good-sized crowd to eat Irish stew, soda bread, drink Guinness - and listen to some fine Irish music.

The money raised is to go towards the ambulance and emergency services in La Manzanilla.

Mike and Myranda
The event was held in the rooftop palapa of Richard and Nansee, a wonderful setting for, well, just about anything. The last time I was on that rooftop, I was trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to learn the tango.

Wednesday night, I didn't give the Irish Jig a try, though my feet were tapping all through it.

The music was provided by Myranda and Mike (the Celtic Duo) with Admiral Fox joining in on her fiddle.

Myranda did a fine job playing and singing (barely a dry eye in the palapa when she finished singing "Oh Danny Boy..."). She also gave a demonstration of just how the Irish Jig is done - and then got a half dozen people up on their feet to try it out. The video below highlights some of that action.

How much money was raised?

Ask Dan tonight at Palapa Joes if he shows up with his harmonica to play some music with the Lizards.

March 13, 2011

Two sailboat races and one tsunami - what a week!

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - The Banderas Bay Regatta is always an exciting time and this year was almost indescribable by the tsunami generated by the horrific earthquake that devastated Japan.

While the world watched events in Japan unfolding, anyone living along the west coast of North and South America made quick plans to deal with serious tidal surges.

Here in Banderas Bay, many boats scrambled out of marinas and took to sea - and deep water - where surges from tidal waves generally pass almost unnoticed.

At Paradise Village Marina, the surge inside the marina was not bad, but the narrow channel entrance roared like a river for an entire day, with the current reversing every 10-15 minutes.

Most of the boats that left the marina ended up spending the night out at anchor or simply staying in motion until the all clear was given the next day to return to port.

Here is a brief video of Paradise Village:

But tsunami or not, the regatta pushed on, canceling one day of racing (of a planned three).

And again this year, Admiral Fox and I were aboard the sailing vessel Lotus, owned by Capt. Clarence and his wife Sheron.

Laura and Joe 
With 60 boats in the regatta, we were placed in a division with 13 others, ending up in 10th place overall. But in the second day of racing, everything clicked (almost everything) and we beat a number of boats that had finished well ahead of us in the first race.

We had a number of other crew members aboard, including Joe and Laura. Joe took some fabulous photos (including the one below) I was steering a lot of the time and did not snap a single photo.

Our proudest moment probably came when we beat a sailboat named Bolero.

Last year, Bolero was the boat to beat and so for this regatta, Captain Clarence made it a goal to stick close to Bolero in both races.

In the first race, Bolero came in ahead of us - but just barely. Then Saturday, in the finale, we beat them quite handily.

Bolero, the boat to beat
Yes, it's true that in the photo here, we are obviously behind Bolero. But by the time we crossed the finish line, we were well ahead of the ship.

Captain Clarence has already declared that the 2012 Banderas Bay Regatta is the Year of the Lotus and, if possible, we will put the band back together for another series of races.

March 6, 2011

A day-trip to San Pancho and the beach; calm before the Regatta...

SAN FRANCISCO, Nayarit, Mexico - Just a few kilometers north of the famous surfing (and now very touristy and congested) city of Sayulita is pueblo San Pancho, a little Mexican town that gives visitors a glimpse of what Sayulita was probably like before it was discovered in the last, oh, I guess 10 years or so.

San Pancho sunbather, almost alone on the beach
San Pancho is being discovered slowly, but instead of fighting traffic to drive in, struggling to get parking, or fending off Rastafarians trying to sell beads, Admiral Fox and I parked 100 yards from the water and ate a late lunch at a small seafood restaurant.

Very civilized.

The Sunday crowd at the beach and in town was split evenly between Mexican families (enjoying the one day per week when they don't have to work) and gringos out to enjoy the day.

San Pancho isn't a good place to surf, but a dozen or so local kids enjoyed the waves on boogie boards, anyway...

The afternoon visit to San Pancho was a prelude to what will likely be a fast-paced week of fun, with a lot of sailboat racing in the middle.

Captain Clarence is expected to bring the good ship Lotus into Paradise Village Marina Monday to do final race preparations for our three races.

Tuesday the Banderas Bay Regatta starts with - of course - a late afternoon party. Then Wednesday, the captains all meet to go over the course and argue why their boats should have bigger handicaps. Thursday the racing starts, but is preceded by a parade in which all the participating boats put on some kind of show as they motor out past a reviewing standing.

Last year, Admiral Fox played her violin while Laura Warner and I danced some kind of weird jig on the foredeck. No word yet on what we will do this year, but I am tuning my ukulele just in case...

Click on the text below to link to the website for the regatta:
Banderas Bay Regatta website