La Paz

It’s another beautiful sunny day here in La Paz, Mexico. The forecast calls for a high of 85, clear skies, and a breeze of 5 knots. We arrived six days ago from Los Frielles and set our hook just off a local beach known as El Mogote. We’re far enough out that it’s quiet and peaceful at anchor yet only a five minute dinghy ride to Marina de la Paz and the city. There’s a pod of dolphins that makes daily rounds leisurely swimming around the anchored boats.

The experience with the people and community here has been wonderful. There’s an abundance of markets, supplies, and skilled labor. Combine this with the unbeatable winter weather and you begin to understand how some people arrive and never leave. There’s a permanent community of cruising sailors from around the world. US and Canadian flags are most prevalent. They established a resource known as Club Cruceros (www.clubcruceros.com) that’s a wealth of information. They can help you get mail to the US, find an English speaking doctor, tell you who the best local mechanic is, or when the next yoga class is scheduled.

Each and every morning the day begins with the free talk cruisers net on VHF 21. From 7:30-8:00AM there’s open discussion on topics ranging from daily news stories, the state of the economy, health care reform, etc. It’s very entertaining as the characters involved in this banter have varying viewpoints. It reminds us of the local neighborhood coffee shops back home where groups can be found engaged in colorful conversation. Out cruising this is done from the comfort of your boat over the VHF radio. This means that you’re free to listen and be entertained without being directly involved. Each night we set the VHF and are woken up promptly at 7:30 to this morning talk show with local marine flavor.

After morning free talk at 8:00AM a larger group participates in the La Paz cruisers net on VHF 22. They have general announcements, arrivals and departures, lost and found, weather, and swap and trade. To talk on the net or ask a question you wait for a break in the chatter and say you’re boat name. The net controller will recognize you and you’re free to talk. As a foreign citizen you are not technically allowed to sell anything in Mexico, so everything is traded for “coconuts”. I think there is a coconut to dollar and peso exchange rate on the Club Cruceros bulletin board…

The VHF is the lifeline of the cruising community with 22 set up as the hailing channel. To talk to somebody you say their boat name three times followed by yours. If they are listening you then agree on a “private” working channel to carry on your discussion. Privacy is a relative term since everyone else heard the initial call. It’s safe to assume that if a conversation is potentially interesting people will follow and silently listen it. It’s like the party telephone lines of the past, only there are hundreds of parties involved.

Years ago Erin and I decided if we could only eat one type of food forever it would be Mexican
. We’re in our element here! A few days ago we had a sit down lunch with Marlin Ceviche appetizer, tacos and fajitas, 3 rounds of beer, and tequila tasting to top everything off. The cost for 4 people was 355 pesos, or about $27. Beer in bars is 20 pesos ($1.50) and you can buy an 8 pack (they don’t even mess with 6 packs here) for 57 pesos ($4.38).

While walking off the beaten track through a neighborhood we were stunned to see a disheveled man, probably in his early 20’s, jump a locked gate and stumble onto the sidewalk about 2 feet in front of us. He landed poorly and almost fell sideways into the street. He looked back startled to see us so close and grunted loudly in our direction. With a wad of mixed small bill pesos clutched in his right hand he used his left hand to pull his pants up so he could walk. Acting like nothing was out of the ordinary he told us his name was William and that he was muy, muy, muy, loco en muy, muy, muy pasado. From what we understood he used to be very, very, very crazy in previous times but was doing much better now. Hopefully he used his newly obtained pesos to purchase a belt. We hung a left and put some distance between us and Senor loco.
The super marcado is well stocked and there is an isle entirely dedicated to salsa! The meat cuts are a bit strange and not what we’re used to at home being very thin and a little tough. We found a larger store yesterday with some thick cuts of t-bone and New York steaks for less than $5 each. We’re looking forward to grilling those up. The produce is fresh and inexpensive, and they sell unrefrigerated eggs and milk which is great for storage on the boat. We’re making an effort to buy things that we’ve never tried before and enjoy the local specialties.

There are 9 boats from Seattle that we know of including our friends on Capaz, Bella Marina, and Pahto. Eric on Secret Agent Man arrived day before yesterday. PJ on Capaz celebrated her 40th birthday on El Mogote beach and we had a good sized birthday bash complete with a bonfire, cake, and tequila to celebrate. All the guests arrived by dinghy in true cruiser fashion.

Next week there’s an organized thanksgiving with turkey and all the traditional fixins sponsored by one of the local marinas for 20 pesos. We’re thinking about something a little quieter like heading to one of the islands a few miles away. Maybe we’ll have fresh fish to substitute for Turkey. We’re getting ready to haul up the hook in a few minutes and head to Isle Espiritu Santo which is a Mexican National Park about 20 miles from La Paz. There is supposed to be amazing beaches, snorkeling, diving and hiking.