Divorced Eggs…?!

Pollo Asado on the street

This pollo asado stand is very popular in La Manzanilla!

One of the things many travelers love about Mexico is the delicious food.  For us, the street food is the most fun.  We have enjoyed many a meal of fish tacos or carne asada (grilled beef) tacos from a street cart.

Sometimes we’re lucky and find a fabulous pollo asado (grilled chicken) dinner made right in front of us on the sidewalk over coals in a metal half-barrel turned on its side.

This kind of food is pretty low risk in terms of knowing what we’re getting.  If there is a large crowd of local patrons eating enthusiastically, and a long line of eager customers waiting to be served, the food has to be good.  Even better, we can see what the meal is before it lands on our plates!

Roasted chicken pollo rostisado

It’s nice to know what will be on your plate!

Going to a sit-down restaurant and ordering off the menu is a whole different story, though.  If the restaurant caters strictly to the locals, we’ve found the menu is often indecipherable without a Spanish/English dictionary.

There is an awful lot of unfamiliar vocabulary packed into Mexican restaurant menus!  To make things even harder, many dishes have names that don’t show up in a standard dictionary.

Carne Asada Tacos from Las Brisas in Ensenada

Tasty carne asada tacos.

Usually we end up ordering something recommended by the waiter, and we find out what it really is only after it arrives at the table.

In the restaurants in the tourist areas, however, there is usually an English version of the menu, or at least an English translation appearing near each item.  Thank goodness!

Once in a while, though, there is something on the menu — on the English side — that sounds just a little funky in translation.

The first few times we went out for a big breakfast at a nice place, I found myself scratching my head when I reviewed the various options for eggs.

Everything was okay at the top of the menu where there were descriptions of fried eggs, scrambled eggs and omelets.

Divorced Eggs or Huevos Divorciados

Two fried eggs split by the the color of sauce they wear (plus beans)!

But lower down they had this strange sounding one:  “Divorced Eggs.”

Checking the Spanish side of the menu didn’t help:  “Huevos Divorciados.”

Divorced eggs???  I didn’t know eggs got married!!!

It turns out that this very popular dish consists of two fried eggs, each covered with a different hot sauce: a green sauce on one egg and a red sauce on the other.

Aha!  So this is what eggs do when they decide they have irreconcilable differences.  If only human divorce were so easy!

 

huevos divorciados or divorced eggs

Have these eggs filed for Divorce due to “Irreconcilable Differences”
or is it just a Trial Separation so they can think things over?

I looked up the word “divorciado” in my Spanish/English dictionary and found that its meaning is slightly closer to the word “separated.”

Hmmm.  So it appears these unfortunate eggs may actually be undergoing something that is more like a Trial Separation.

Perhaps they are not Divorced at all. Perhaps they just want a little space and some time apart to think things over!

Whatever the exact marital status of the eggs happens to be, the dish is very flavorful, and it is usually complemented with a big serving of delicious refried beans and some tortillas.

It is very Mexican and it is muy rico (very yummy).

 

 

Quinceañera – Sailboat “Groovy” Helps Celebrate a Mexican 15th Birthday

13-07-13 Quinceanero-4407

July 13, 2013 – This afternoon, Mark was busy in our sailboat Groovy‘s cockpit here at the marina in Ensenada, Mexico, when he noticed a well dressed man in an elegant suit walking on the docks.

The man seemed to be eyeing up our boat Groovy, and he walked back and forth in front of it a few times.  Mark called out a greeting, and suddenly the man stopped and said in English, “My daughter is celebrating her 15th birthday today.  Do you think we could take some photos of her on your boat?”

Mark looked around and thought for a moment.  But of course!

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Within a few minutes a crowd of young teenagers showed up, all dressed to the nines in suits and fancy dresses and stiletto heels.  They were giggling and chatting among themselves as they shuffled down the dock.  Mark flew into the cabin and told me to grab my camera, quick!

friends

 

Quincenaera aboard Groovy

The birthday girl poses on Groovy’s bow.

As I came into the cockpit, the birthday girl appeared at the top of the dock ramp.  She was wearing a beautiful fluffy white dress and had pearls around her neck.

For girls in Mexico, the quniceañera — 15th birthday — is a very special day.  The celebration is something like a coming out party, and it is an occasion for donning a prom dress, wearing makeup, posing for lots of photos, and having a big party with a live band that lasts long into the night.

This birthday girl was obviously relishing every second of her moment in the spotlight.

 

Paparazzi crowd around the birthday girl!

Paparazzi crowd around the birthday girl!

Her proud dad, Carlos, hung back while a professional photographer and videographer posed her all around the boat.  What total fun!

Mark and I ran around behind the scenes, trying to catch her poses as best we could.

Meanwhile her friends all giggled and fidgeted as they stood on the finger pier next to us, jumping up and down, and looking very cute in their dressy clothes.

Suddenly a few boxes of pizza appeared out of nowhere, and the teenagers got busy scarfing the slices down in an instant.

friends

After a little pizza, her friends are ready to party!

A very special day to remember!!

A very special day to remember!!

Once the photo shoot was finished and the sun had set, Carlos invited us to come up and join the party that was in full swing under the tents next to the office.  What an invitation!!

When we got up there, we walked through a few lighted arches onto a dance floor that was surrounded by tables and chars.  Everything was decorated in pink.

Carlos showed us to the family’s head table and introduced us to everyone sitting there — grandma, aunts, godparents and little brothers and sisters.

 

13-07-13 Quinceanera Helm

Several family members had flown in from far-flung parts of Mexico to take part in the celebration.

We’ve been lucky enough to see several quinceañera photo shoots from a distance — the girls are always so lovely in their big bouffant dresses — but this was the first time we had been invited to be a part of the action at the party itself. We were loving it!

As we sat chatting with the family at the head table, explaining to everyone who we were, where we had sailed from, and how we had unintentionally crashed their party after the impromptu photo shoot aboard Groovy, they happily swept us up in the festivities.

Everything around the dance floor was decorated in pink.

Everything around the dance floor was decorated in pink.

 

The man on my left, Alfredo, fondly told us how he had held the birthday girl at her baptism fourteen years earlier when she was just a baby, and we could feel his pride at being her godfather.

Everyone whipped out pocket cameras, cell phone cameras and iPads to get pics of the party, and suddenly we found ourselves being posed into the group shots too.  We were just the boat people from down on the docks, but that didn’t seem to matter — we were welcomed right into the heart of the family!

 

birthday cake

A birthday cake fit for a princess and
decorated with icing starfish!

When we finally stood up to go — wanting to let this jovial group enjoy their special moment together — the grandma didn’t want to let us go.  “Sit down, sit down!” she insisted, patting the chair next to her where Mark had been sitting.  “No, no… thank you, thank you!”  Mark said as we tip-toed out backward and bid them all goodbye.  This was their party, but they had been so kind to invite us to join them so we could get a glimpse of a true quinceañera celebration.

Back on the boat, we crawled into bed and listened for a long time as the band got rowdier and rowdier and the heavy bass thumped a steady beat through the hull of the boat.  What a fantastic tradition this 15th birthday party is, and what a great way to bring together the whole family to celebrate the arrival of a young girl on the threshold of adulthood.  Most of all, what a lucky day it had been for us!

 

It’s Not About the Hair!

Getting a haircut in Mexico

Lorena gives me a hairstyle called
“cola del pato” (tail of the duck)

June 16, 2013 – One of our favorite things about traveling is all the little encounters we have that make us stop in our tracks, scratch our heads, and say, “Wow, this is so different than home.”  After living strictly within our own comfort zone for so many years, focused on our workaday lives, we now find ourselves refreshed, over and over, as the folks we meet here in Mexico, so far from our backyard, show us that there are other ways to live.

I’ve been wanting to get a haircut for a while, and as a full-time traveler this is always a great opportunity to have a long conversation with someone from wherever we are visiting.  More important than finding a top quality salon, I’m always hoping to find someone that will tell us a little about the community we’re in or share something about themselves.

Yesterday, as we wandered the quiet, dusty streets of a small Costalegre coastal village between Tenacatita and Barra de Navidad taking photographs, we asked a few people where to get a haircut.  They all said to go to “Lorena” and they gave us directions. In our usual lazy way, we didn’t wind up on her street until dusk.  A group of people sitting on the sidewalk around a folding table with fruit laid out for sale pointed us towards her shop.

Unfortunately, it was now so late in the day that her shop was closed.  We shrugged.  Oh well.  Tomorrow!

“No, we’ll find her for you!”  One of the guys by the fruit stand said to us.  He asked his friends if they knew where she was and then yelled her name a few times.  A few minutes later, she appeared at the far end of the block, hustling towards us and waving.  The fruit guys grinned.

“Come in, come in.”  She said as she opened the door to her shop.  She began clearing some things from around her work area to make a place for me to sit down.  The room was about 9′ x 9′ and stacked with manicure equipment, brushes, combs, a few random cups, a chair and other stuff piled up.

After asking about my hair (I’ve learned my hair style is called “cola del pato” or “tail of the duck”), we began to have a lively conversation in Spanish about life in America and life in Mexico and the close similarities and vast differences between these two worlds.

She had grown up on a ranch far out in the countryside, one of twelve kids — ten girls and two boys — along with lots of horses, cows, burros and fruit trees.  Despite having no electricity, the family found plenty of diversions among themselves, always sitting around in the same configuration at night, mother here, father there, and kids circled around in between.  Outside, there were a bunch of tree stumps, and they would all sit together on the stumps and sing songs under the stars.

Her mother and grandmother had always worn traditional, colorful dresses, long sleeved and well below the knee, and her father was very strict with the kids.  He died when she was a teenager, and when he died her world changed forever.  The family moved to the city and she was shocked by the stress of urban life and the different interests of her peers at school.  She missed the fresh fruits from the garden and fresh meat and milk from the cows.

Lorena's hair salon in Mexico

Lorena shared her life experiences and cultural insights
with us as she gave us haircuts in her shop.

As I listened to her tale, I could just imagine the adjustments she had to make as she moved first to Mexico City then to Ensenada and Tijuana, and eventually to California.

“It was all wonderful.”  She said warmly.  “I learned so much.  About people.  About cultures…  And I learned what I liked.  In California I made a lot of money, I wore fancy clothes and makeup.  I had lots of beautiful shoes.  Now I just wear flip-flops.  I like to live in a small town where life is calm and quiet.”

By now Mark had decided to get a trim too, and her sheers snipped around his ears as she went on.  “America and Mexico are very different,” she said.  “In Mexico, out in the rural countryside, it is a man’s world.  The man is everything.  Girls are told they don’t need an education because their husband will provide.”

And then she said something about women and keeping a rifle in the corner of the house, and she laughed. Oh how I wished I understood better. She was on a roll, and I didn’t want to ask her to repeat. She had said either that women in the country kept a rifle in the corner so they could hold their own with the men, or that women who lived alone kept a rifle for protection. Gosh, I don’t know, and now I so wish I had had her explain further…

“But in America, In my neighborhood in California, I didn’t know my neighbors,” She continued.  “We waved and said “hello” every day but that was all.  We didn’t know each other like we do here. And in the US, when a store is closed, it’s closed!  Neighbors don’t go yelling for a shop owner to come open it up for customers after hours.”

So true.  Here we were in her shop because of the fruit sellers in the street.  Not so at Great Clips and Supercuts back home.  I usually end up reading a few magazine articles while I wait for a stylist to become available.  The stylists at home all commute to work, and who knows where any of them live. Certainly not in the rooms behind Great Clips!

As she finished Mark’s hair, she invited us to go camping in the mountains with her.  “I’ll show you some beautiful places.  We can sleep in tents close to nature.  We’ll make tortillas over a fire and you can meet my horses.” What a great invitation!

As she swept up all our locks on the floor, she said the haircuts were 40 pesos each (about $3.20 USD). For us, the experience was priceless.

See more about Life in Mexico and check out Our Most Recent Posts!!

Oh, That’s Just Swell! – Life on a Boat that ROLLS At Anchor!!

A container ship rolls in the swell in Manzanillo Mexico

The container ship rolled slower than this, but I can only imagine what it felt and sounded like inside!!
Notice that there are no visible waves!!

It is rare — no, it’s nearly impossible — on Mexico’s Pacific coast to find an anchorage where the boat stays flat. The direction of the wind, the tides and the ocean swell conspire to keep the boat in constant motion, endlessly pitching and rolling and ignoring all pleas from the crew to “Please Stop and Let Me Get Off!!”

It’s not that big a big deal during the day.  If we’re on the boat, we’re busy doing things.  Of course, sometimes we get caught off guard in the middle of something that requires coordination — like pouring a hot cup of coffee, standing on one foot while putting on a bathing suit, or walking up the companionway stairs carrying his-and-hers lunch plates in both hands.  The boat will suddenly lurch to one side and the coffee will spill all over the floor, or I’ll topple over with one foot stuck in my bathing suit, flailing helplessly as I go down, or the lunch plates will fly off in all directions as I try my best not to get too many bruises bouncing down the stairs to the floor.

At night, however, it’s another story.  The offshore winds at night in Pacific Mexico almost always turn the boat so it is beam to the sea, and it seems to me that the swell always picks up too.  So, even if during the day the swell was mild and the boat was taking the rolls on the nose, gently pitching from front to back, at night (like clockwork after the sun goes down) the boat turns and the side-to-side rolling begins.  Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a good challenge.  On my side, I find myself rocking forward and backward, over and over.  A better position is either on my back or my front, arms and legs stretched wide on either side for stabilization.  The starfish position!  Get two people doing this in one bunk and… well, it’s a little like the game of Twister.

On more tumultuous nights, the doors, bulkheads and stairs creak with every roll. Sometimes an errant flashlight or coke can begins to roll back and forth on a shelf or in the fridge, banging at either end of its path. Thud, thud, thud.  What the heck is that noise?  Our ears perk up, listening for each thud as our bodies rock around around in bed.  Then we’ll find ourselves doing an hour’s worth of cat-and-mouse hunting, as we try to figure out what’s making the noise and squelch it. Sometimes the sound is in a cockpit locker, making for a naked dash outside to repack the locker so everything stays put.

Sometimes the boat plays games with us at night.  As it swings at anchor it faces beam to the sea for a while and then swings to face bow to the sea, moving in a slow 90 degree arc back and forth all night long.  When the boat finally turns all the way so the swell is on the bow, the side to side motion suddenly stops.  Ahh… such sweet relief!  We sink back into delicious oblivion and sleep steels over us.  For a few seconds.  Then the boat gradually swings back on its arc to put the beam towards the sea, and the noise and motion begin once again.

Anchoring all over the west coast of Mexico, we’ve become apprentices in the fine art of taking a shower on board, which can be an adventure unto itself, as well as landing a dinghy on the beach, which is frequently a true water sport of the wettest kind!

When we visited friends in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage and stood on their balcony enjoying the view of Manzanillo Bay, we suddenly noticed a container ship leaning way over on its side.  Wow!  We watched for a few seconds and it slowly rolled all the way over to the other side.  Holy Mackerel!  What was it like to be on that ship, and what did all those containers sound like as the boat moved?  I don’t know, but it sure makes a great animation to watch from a solid foundation on sweet Terra Firma.

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What Is It Like to go Cruising on a Sailboat in Mexico?! – Insights for planning a sailing cruise of Mexico

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Snap, Crackle, Pop – Fishy Sounds from Deep Under Our Boat!

Mexico cruising ecosystem under the boat

– A school of fish swims under Groofy’s hull and keel –
We always have a complete ecosystem living under the boat!!

April 17, 2013 – No matter how remote the anchorage, Groovy is never alone in the water. We are always playing host to a whole ecosystem around us! And these creatures aren’t particularly quiet. One of the craziest things about living on a sailboat at anchor is just how noisy it gets at night!

We can’t hear the cacophony on deck and don’t notice the noise while we’re watching movies or listening to music. But once the lights are off and we’re lying still in bed, the noise level is astonishing.

The most common sound we hear is a crackling noise like bacon sizzling in a frying pan. This popping sound engulfs the whole boat and is often very loud down below. Puzzled by it at first, we had to do quite a bit of research to track it down. We discovered it is made by snapping shrimp (also known as “pistol shrimp”).

These tiny little guys live in nooks and crannies on the ocean floor. They are like ordinary shrimp, although quite small, and one of their claws is a very special weapon. This claw can be cocked open and then slammed shut with such force that a huge air bubble shoots out. When this bubble collapses — almost instantaneously — a loud POP is produced. The noise is enough for the shrimp to stun and kill its prey! Here is a wonderful website describing snapping shrimp, as well as a brief and cute YouTube documentary where you can hear the sound snapping shirmp make, and a YouTube explanation of the science and acoustics behind the shrimp’s snap.

Snapping shrimp aren’t the only noisemakers, however.  Down south in Zihuatanejo‘s nutrient rich waters, Groovy grows a long grass skirt almost overnight, and the ecosystem living under the boat blossoms into an entire city. We often hear the swishing sound of fish attacking the tiny crabs that have taken up residence in the seaweed on the hull, and the fishermen in Zihuatanejo and Huatulco love to cast their nets under our boat in late afternoons and early mornings to catch these fish. On a regular basis we get woken up by the sound of a fishing net hitting the hull!

During our six months up north in Ensenada, we heard a completely different and unique sound every night: a honking kind of a noise that made us go up on deck at first to see if it was a fog horn. But all was quiet on deck. The noise was only in the cabin. The honking would go on for about ten minutes, starting far away from the boat and then getting closer and closer, and then drifting away again. We never did figure out what it was, but it seemed to be some kind of fish. He visited us around 9:00 or 10:00 every night for months. We had forgotten all about this noise until we heard it again on the Costalegre recently, some three years later. It had the same pattern, honking at 10 second intervals, growing louder and louder and then fading away.

Perhaps the best aquatic noise of the night we’ve ever heard, though, was when we were anchored in Puerto Marques outside Acapulco. Lying in bed the night before we left, we both bolted upright when we heard the strangest, eeriest, squeakiest kind of wailing noise. What the heck? We dashed up on deck to see what it was, but could hear nothing out there. Returning to the cabin, we heard it again, plain as day: a kind of haunting singing. Suddenly we both knew: it was whales! We climbed back in bed, and listened for hours, eventually falling asleep to the mysterious songs of these magical creatures. A few of them must have swum into our little bay. When we awoke in the morning the sounds were gone.

Last spring, when we returned to our trailer and first set up camp in the northern Arizona woods, we were really startled by the deafening silence and our utterly stationary bed. There were no popping noises of snapping shrimp, or swishes of fish gobbling crabs from the hull, no singing whales or creaking bulkheads.  All was still and silent.

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The Tourist Tangle – All tied up in knots!

The Tourist Tangle - choking straps everywhere!

All those straps can make a mess!!

April 9, 2013 – When we hit the shore to do some sightseeing, we both always have quite a collection of stuff to bring with us: hat, sunglasses, camera, spare lenses, reading glasses, Hoodman loupe (to see what’s on the back of the camera), spare filters, wallet, marina key (now that we’re living the high life in a marina).

My lightweight shorts generally have no pockets, so much of this stuff ends up around my neck where it is easy to reach when I want it.  Throughout the day, I shuffle all this gear around, grabbing each item as needed.

The sunglasses go on and off as we walk outdoors and indoors.  Same with the hat which, when off, slips down my back and leaves the strap choking me.  The sunglasses get swapped with the reading glasses when I need to actually see what i’m looking at up close (the sunglasses usually end up on the hat – just don’t forget they’re there!).  The loop comes out after I take a picture to see if ths pic’s any good.  And the camera has to be ready at a moment’s notice for that really cool, unexpected shot.

But it never fails: we’ll be walking along somewhere and something magical will happen near us.  I go to grab my camera and end up in a tangle of straps.  And what a mess it is if I’ve got an ice cream cone in my hand!!

A fellow watching me wrestling with my spider web of straps one time began to chuckle.  I tugged and struggled to unravel the snarl, and he just shook his head and grinned: “That looks like a tourist tangle!”

Aha – it has a name!!

Now whenever either of us ends up with both arms flailing around our heads, gear dangling precariously as we fight our way free, we just laugh out loud and cry: “Help help! I’m caught in the Tourist Tangle!”

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And God said: “Let the Beer Flow”

Mexico Tecate beer promotion - a beautiful model in hot pants

Mark had eyes only for the red Tecate cooler bag…!!

March 30, 2013 – Easter week, or “Semana Santa,” is a HUGE vacation week in Mexico. Everyone from the interior cities comes down to the beach to play, it seems. So when we got to Walmart yesterday to do an ordinary provisioning run, we were there with the rest of Puerto Vallarta (and Guadalajara and Mexico City). They were all stocking up on party basics. Of course, the most important party basic is BEER, and the beer manufacturers were doing all they could to get their product out of their hands and into ours.

Their method is incredibly effective. We were debating between a twelve-pack of Pacifico and a twelve-pack of Tecate. Then Mark noticed that the Tecate was on sale: two twelve-packs for 185 pesos ($14.80 USD). Well, that was a no-brainer since Pacifico was quite a bit more. We loaded two twelve-packs of Tecate into our cart and carried on.

Then we noticed a very svelte Tecate girl in very hot hot-pants. How could you not notice her, especially since she was in stiletto heels and was about 5’10” tall?! We have learned that these beautiful beer models are always in the stores with some kind of cool promotion, and we quickly discovered what hers was: buy four twelve-packs of Tecate and get either a Tecate umbrella, a Tecate beach chair or a Tecate shoulder-bag / cooler for free.

Mark’s face lit up. He loves a deal, and he instantly had his eye on the red Tecate cooler bag she had on her shoulder. So, into the cart went two more twelve-packs of Tecate.

I’ve gotten used to the beer gals and their promotions after three seasons in Mexico, so I wandered off to sample the free potato chips that were being offered to customers. Yum (except the jalapeño chips — Yikes on those!!).

I turned back to see Mark and another Tecate gal taping extra cans of beer onto the twelve packs in our cart. Huh? It turned out there was another promotion going on: buy a twelve-pack of Tecate and get two extra cans for free, taped onto the outside of the box.

Wow, suddenly we were getting four twelve-packs plus 8 extra cans of beer plus a shoulder cooler bag, all for 370 pesos, or a little under $30. That’s 56 beers – so it translates to just over $3 per six-pack – plus the cooler bag that we would pick up in the Tecate tent outside the store. What a deal!!

The Coors folks were trying hard too, but they were using another tactic that wasn’t quite as effective. They had a studly guy with bulging muscles giving away Coors T-shirts. Unfortunately for him, Coors is an imported beer, so it was quite a bit more expensive. And, I have to say, the guys weren’t exactly lining up in front of this hunk to get their picture taken with him.

However, outside the store in the Tecate tent, where the music was blasting and the giveaways were flying off the tables, the male customers were nearly knocking each other over to get pics of themselves with the Tecate girls. One girl in particular was a stunner, and she had the moves down as she posed too. I wonder how many guys forgot to pick up their umbrella or beach chair or cooler bag in all the excitement?

No matter. Looking down the line of guys waiting for their photo op, I saw Tecate twelve-packs and taped on pairs of cans practically spilling out of all their shopping carts. The Easter party bash was just getting started!

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Showering on the hook = A carnival ride with your eyes closed!

13-03-27

Smaller than a phone booth…

One thing that takes a little getting used to in this oddball life of anchoring out in a sailboat on Mexico’s Pacific coast is that the boat never stays still.  Cruising northern New England and the Caribbean in the past, I don’t remember our boats rolling around quite so much.  But Mexico’s Pacific coast is different.  The ocean swell barrels into Mexico’s coast with force, and there’s nothing to slow it down on the way in.  And most of the anchorages offer minimal protection.

So taking a shower in a space smaller than a phone booth can be an exercise in agility.  Invariably, once I’ve gotten myself all watered down and all soaped up — with my eyes tightly closed — the boat rolls out from under me.  Not a gentle little sway but a great big lurching roll.  With a stifled shriek I find myself grasping desperately for a handhold.

Just as I find the wall and steady myself, the boat is tossed the other way and I hear my razor slip off the shelf and hit the shower floor.  The blade pops off, and then I’m suddenly groping around my feet trying to find where the two pieces disappeared to.

Wham!  The boat pitches again while I’m doubled over searching for that razor, and I’m thrown into the shampoo rack.  My feet slip on the soapy floor.  As I fall, I’m wondering whether it’s better to sit down hard on the bench or twist a little more gracefully on the way down and catch my fall with a hip and a hand.

At this point I usually peek a little bit — who cares if I get soap in my eyes? — and I hear Mark’s distant voice, “Sweety, are you okay in there?!”

“Oh yes, just fine!!” I yell back just as a bottle of body wash flies off the shelf and crashes onto the floor with a bang, spilling a puddle of soap around my feet.  “If someone could just stop this carnival ride for a minute or two while I get rinsed off…”  But the waves march on, never ending.

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Surfing the dinghy = Crash landings on the beach!

March 19, 2013 – One of the craziest aspects of cruising Mexico’s Pacific coast is the insane dinghy beach landings. Sometimes the surf is up, and you have to time your beach landing carefully, or you’ll get a serious dousing. We watched an experienced cruiser lose control of his dink on his way out from the beach one time. It shot into the air like a rocket and flipped over upside down, scattering his belongings everywhere.  Worse, his outboard was toast!

Sailing Mexico means surfing the dink sometimes

Not so easy getting in… and not so easy getting out either!!

Sooo… heading in to shore in Cuastecomate the other day, we packed our cameras in dry bags and set out to hit the village for some fun photography. But as we neared the beach and heard the huge crashers, we got cold feet. Back to Groovy we went, tails between our legs. Later, staring at the shore sulkily from the cockpit, we decided to give it another go. Properly dressed in bathing suits, and with everything lashed down in the dink in case it flipped, we saw a break in the rollers and Mark floored it towards the beach.

Dinghies with wheels just roll right onto the beach, but our porta-bote doesn’t have wheels. So Mark cut the engine at the last second to get the prop out of the water before it hit the sand. At the same time, I jumped out of the dink to pull it onto the beach before the next wave caught us. But this is a steep beach. I jumped too soon. The water was too deep. My feet didn’t hit the sand til I was half under the boat and hanging on for dear life. A huge wave grew to mammoth proportions behind us and crashed just inches from the back of the dink while I staggered to pull it to shore. It was all very funny, and we were both laughing hysterically. But a nicely dressed older couple walking hesitantly past us under a shared parasol stared at my dripping, sandy, soaked body in total disbelief.

Little did we all know, they had a better show coming. On the return trip into the crashing surf a few hours later, we waded into the series of small waves that was to be our escape route and jumped in the dink. Mark pulled on the outboard starter while I rowed with all my might. But he got no response from the engine. We were still floundering in the surf zone when the waves started to grow. “Hurry hurry!” I yelled, making little progress with the oars because his body was right where my left oar needed to be. The dinghy barely climbed over one breaking wave and then struggled over the next bigger one behind it. We just missed a good swamping each time.

Ten yanks on the outboard and some really colorful expletives later, the engine finally started. We were free. Looking back at beach, I could see the little old couple sitting under their parasol. Their mouths still hung open as our prop finally bit into the water and lurched us back to safety aboard Groovy.

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Swabbing the decks underway!

Swabbing the decks cruising Mexico

Swabbing the decks is one way to pass the time!

March 16, 2013 – Long passages under power can be a bit boring, so one way we sometimes spice it up is to swab the decks! This is especially helpful if we’ve been in a dirty port for a while (Manzanillo is notorious for the soot from the power plant), or if we’ve had a particularly gnarly passage with lots of salt spray on deck.

After much trial and error with everything from garden sprayers to “Absorber” towels, we’ve figured out a system for cleaning the boat at sea. Mark gets the watermaker going, and I get busy with a soft bristle brush and bucket of soapy water (boat soap or Turtle-Wax car washing soap). Starting at the highest point on the boat, I swab my way down to the gunwales, and then from forward to aft, ending up in the cockpit.

While I’m swabbing away, Mark fills 5-gallon bottles of water and hands them up through the companionway hatch so I can rinse as I go. We use old plastic drinking water bottles, the kind with handles that are easy to carry. He rotates 3 bottles, and can get one filled in about the time that I use one up, going through about 20 bottles in the process. One of the great things about using watermaker water for washing the boat is that it doesn’t spot. So there’s no need to wipe anything down afterwards!

This is a great workout — we always end up quite sore afterwards — and it’s good for practicing your balance too, because the boat heaves and rolls in the swell (of course we only do this when it’s calm!). The reward for this hour or two of hard labor is having a sparkling clean boat when we get where we’re going.  But one thing we learned the hard way: if we’re cleaning the cabin too, we shake out the rugs before swabbing the decks!!  (And, of course, in a dry climate like Mexico, washing the boat is bound to induce rain… our latest cleaning brought a torrential downpour with 24 hours!!)

If you’re thinking about going cruising, and haven’t outfitted your boat with a watermaker yet, consider getting a very large capacity watermaker (ours is an Echotec 900-BML-2 which we’ve found produces 60 gallons an hour).

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Other blog posts that give a glimpse of what it’s like to live on a sailboat:

More funny stories from our Mexico cruise + Tips for planning your own sailing cruise

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More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU above.