12/21/2010 – First Day of Winter

Okay, finally got a few moments to try to catch you all up on what’s been going on. Ever since Lulu’s brother Jim, and his clan arrived we’ve been either at their condo or out doing something. By the time we get back to Siempre Sabado in the evening I’m just too tired to blog. Not that we’ve been doing anything strenuous, it’s just that we usually don’t get back until pretty late.

The night they all arrived, we went over to see the condo. They’re staying in a condo here at Costa Baja that’s owned by a business associate from Bend. This is a guy who flies his own jet down to visit the condo so you can probably imagine what it’s like. It’s not particularly ostentatious but it is very nice: 3 stories including the rooftop patio, unimpeded view of the beach and Bahia de La Paz, golf cart for tooling around the compound and there’s even a Ford Expedition for those brave enough to drive in town.

From here on out I am almost certainly going to get details of when we did what screwed up. But I’ll try to get it as right as I can and, if I screw something up, who really cares anyway?

The next day, we headed into town to get groceries. That took most of the day. For dinner that night we treated the newly-arrived gringos to dinner at Rancho Viejo. Once again we shared a kilo of Arrechera while our vegetarian opted for fish tacos. Our guests gave our (so far) favorite restaurant an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

On Friday, after Jaxon arrived on the Mazatlan-La Paz ferry, everyone wanted to go to the beach so we piled into the car and headed north to Playa Tecolote. This is a beach that, during the season, is lined with a few restaurants and lots of local folks enjoying the sun and sea. It’s located on the south side of the San Lorenzo Channel and is right across from Isla Espiritu Santo.

The beach was nice and the water was sort of warm-ish. Not warm enough for Lulu or I but Jim, Anna and the boys seemed to enjoy it. The wind was blowing and it was a wee bit on the cool side. Lulu and I walked along the stretch of beach in the photo. At one point, we happened upon Jaxon (Jim’s eldest) who had found a beached puffer fish that he was trying to save by returning it to the ocean.

He was ultimately unsuccessful because he couldn’t get it far enough outside the surf to keep the fish from washing back in. I believe he found out later that there was no way to be successful as puffer fish often beach themselves on purpose. Why? Beats me. We saw several other puffers in various states of life/death as we explored further.

On the way back to the condo, we stopped for more groceries so we could make fish tacos, black beans and salad for dinner.

The plan for the next day was to drive down to Todos Santos on the Pacific side of Baja. Apparently a contractor that Jim knew from Bend has relocated to Todos Santos and invited us all down to go to the beach and also see his home and one of the spec homes he was building.

There aren’t that many roads in Baja but we managed to take the wrong one. We even had a map but it didn’t help much. The problem happened when we crossed the major 4-lane highway headed south out of La Paz. We should have turned right. How did we make such a flagrant error? Well. like a bunch of stupid gringos, we assumed there would be a sign at the interchange indicating where the highway went. There wasn’t so we just kept going straight. We meandered through some pretty desert landscape for awhile. I knew we were in the wrong place when we saw a large body of water ahead. The problem was that the body of water we were looking at was the Cerralvo Channel which we had sailed through on our way to La Paz and which is definitely NOT on the Pacific Ocean side. We consulted the map and saw where we were. Like I said, there aren’t very many roads on Baja so it’s not like we could just take the next road to the right and get where we needed to be. The next (and only) road to the right was shown on the AAA map as “graded dirt”. We stopped at a tiny little tienda and had Jaxon, who is fluent in Spanish, see what he could find out. The consensus was that the best way to get from where we were to Todos Santos was to go back to La Paz and try again. We could take the “graded dirt” road but it had to cross a mountain range that was up to 6000 feet high and was very windy and slow. So, we about-faced and headed back to La Paz.

Ultimately we found our way and arrived in Todos Santos an hour or two later than planned. First item on the agenda was to get some food and cerveza fria (cold beer). However, Todos Santos is a pretty touristy little town. And, since it’s also kind of an art colony and gringo enclave, we were afraid the prices on the main drag were going to be more than we wanted to spend for lunch. Again, we had Jaxon talk to a guy who directed us to a place that served mariscos (seafood) and was barrato (cheap). It was also about 5-6 blocks away and we got conflicting directions as to how best to get there. But, off we trooped. We passed several possible places en route and finally stopped at one that sort of looked right. All 6 of us sat down and the waitress started rattling off what was available. Unfotunately, what was available was all meat-based (pollo, carnitas, asada, pastor, etc.). Since one of our number was a fish-eating vegetarian and they didn’t serve fish, we headed back out, much to the obvious disappointment of the staff.

On we went, finally deciding to cross the street and return to a little place that looked really good when we passed it before. I suspect it was really good but we’ll never know as it was full-up and there was definitely no pace for a party of 6 to sit. So, we headed further back our track finally landing at Miguel’s which is where Jim had wanted to stop in the first place. We all had fish with most opting for the fresh fish fajitas and a couple for fish tacos. The cerveza (Pacifico) was icy cold. A lot of the bars have newer fridges for their beer which have a large digital readout of the internal temperature. This one read -2.2 . That’s 2.2 degrees below freezing (celsius) or about 28 degrees fahrenheit. Perfect.

Jim’s friend, Jeff and his wife met us at Miguel’s as we were finishing up lunch. We then piled into the Expedition and followed Jeff to the beach. I’m not completely clear on which beach we were at but it was south of town and there were quite a few people swimming, surfing and just enjoying the sun. We joined them. It was truly weird in that all these gringos kept coming up to us and they were always someone Jim knew. I’m not sure who’s building the houses in Bend right now because it seems all the contractors from there were in Todos Santos.

Lulu and I, gun-shy after our blustery cool day at Tecolote, were dressed in lightweight long pants and had long sleeves at the ready. Didn’t need either (although we did opt to keep our pants on). There wasn’t a breath of wind. The water was reportedly about the same temp as at Tecolote although neither of us can actually vouch for that. Jim, Anna, Jaxon and Thomas all decided to try surfing. Actually, Anna is an accomplished surfer already and Thomas has surfed a little. Jim and Jaxon were both novices. A swell time was had by all although the novices never actually got to stand up on their boards. Next time for sure.

Lulu and I had fun watching the whales on the horizon. They were a long way off, but, being right on the horizon it was really easy to know what we were seeing. Saw a couple of very dramatic breaches and lots of flukes. It was way cool. Would’ve been even cooler to be closer but this was pretty cool all the same.

When we got back to town we opted for the easy approach to dinner and, since Jaxon hadn’t been there yet, we headed to (where else?) Rancho Viejo. This time, having 2 twentysomething guys in our midst, we opted for 2 kilos. One of arrechera and one of pastor (spicy pork roasted on a vertical spit). With somehow managed to finish it all. Thomas was a big help in that department.

Yesterday we kind of took it easy. Jim drove us all to town. They wanted to do some shopping and exploring and Lulu and I needed to hook up with some fellow cruisers (s/v Ponderosa and s/v Odessa) who’d arrived over the weekend. We also planned to meet Paul and Chris (s/v Jeorgia) to get Lulu’s sewing machine back. Of course, nothing turned out quite as planned.

Our VHF signal was apparently too weak to be heard very loudly over at the main anchorage yesterday so we weren’t able to contact Ponderosa or Odessa by radio. So, we left them both e-mails indicating that we would be at Papas & Beer at 1330 if they happened to show up. We got to town with about an hour to spare so we walked over to Club Cruceros to wait. Who should we run into there but Paul & Chris. While visiting with them, who should walk up but Nita from Odessa. She regaled us with a harrowing story of how a very large motor cruiser dragged anchor and plowed into them while anchored at Ensenada de Los Muertos a few days before. They’re headed into the yard next week to assess and repair the damage. She said she was pretty sure that Ponderosa hadn’t gotten our e-mail yet as they were in town doing various errands. So, with the Papas & Beer meet-up unlikely, we joined Pal and Chris and their friend Steve (s/v Saben) for a trip somewhere for tacos for lunch. We followed along and I bet you’ll never guess where we ended up. If you said “Rancho Viejo” you’d be absolutley…


Apparently we aren’t the only folks who love this place. Although there were only 5 of us and not a twentysomething in sight, we nevertheless opted for 2 kilos (arrechera and pastor again). Well. we stuffed ourselves but fell short of actually finishing all the meat. Since Steve is bachin’ it at the moment we gave him the leftovers.

Once we got back to Marina de La Paz, we still didn’t see our friends from Ponderosa or Odessa, so we headed back to town. We were less than a block away when we heard “Siempre Sabado, Siempre Sabado, Siempre Sabado. Ponderosa on 22” on the mobile VHF which we’d brought along just in case. I answered up and it turns out they were now back at the marina. We about-faced and headed back. We had a great, although short, reunion with Bob and Sherry and Mike and Nita. We made tentative plans to get together either out at Costa Baja or maybe somewhere in town. If all else failed, we said we’d see them at the Christmas Eve potluck at Club Cruceros. However, Odessa is thinking about checking into the Marina Costa Baja so a meeting out here at the Beach Club may be likely.

We had dinner at Jim’s condo again last night. They had found a large marketplace which we have somehow missed so far. They got some great deals on peppers, salad vegetables, and fish. We had grilled fish, grilled scallops, roasted peppers, black beans and a salad. Delicious. Later, we tried to watch the lunar eclipse but I got my times wrong. It was scheduled to start around 11:41 PM PST so I figured it must happen here an hour earlier. There we were, promptly at 10:30, wrapped in blankets on the roof, waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.


Sleepiness finally beat out patience and Lulu and I trudge home. Once I got back to the boat and could access the internet I find out that the eclipse happens later the further east you are, not earlier as I’d assumed. I’m still not clear on why this is. But, the upshot is that it wasn’t due to start until 12:41 AM. Yeah, like I was going to be able to stay awake for that. Did I mention that I caught a cold the other day and so, am a wee bit tired-er than normal? I tried. Sort of. Okay, no I didn’t. I just crawled into bed about 11:15 and fell immediately to sleep. I thought that I might wake up in an hour or so to pee and would watch the eclipse then. However, that didn’t happen as my bladder didn’t come knocking until about 2:30. Lulu said she caught a little bit of it since she’d been reading before going to sleep. Oh well. It’s not the first lunar eclipse I missed because I was sleepy. Just because the last time a total lunar eclipse and the winter solstice coincided was in 1638, so what? Big Deal. After all, it’s going to happen again 2094. Maybe I’ll catch that one.

Okay, now you’re all caught up. Hope you read this slowly as it may be another few days before I write again.

Happy winter solstice to you all. Happy first day of winter. Happy shortest day of the year. The days will just start getting longer from here on out, so that’s a good thing. And, it’s already warm enough this morning that Lulu’s in shorts so that’s a good thing, too.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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5 Responses to 12/21/2010 – First Day of Winter

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, you are finding out that you are busier when retired then when you were working. I don't know why that is except I suspect it is to make the time go so much faster. Would appreciate it to slow down a little but alas it won't. Sounds like are having a ball. Love, Mom

  2. Anonymous says:

    Stephen: That is what I call a blog, Just in case you aren't on I want to wish you & Lulu and Merry Xmas.Love Aunt Lea

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good evening, Steve & Lulu: Thanks for the blog – you make your trip so interesting. I am glad that you are having such a great time. Take care and like, Lea, in case you are not on for a few days – I also wish you a Very Merry Christmas. Love always – Nancy

  4. Anonymous says:

    Jeepers…. Central Europe and you will have this globe covered with followers! WOW!

  5. Thanks for the Christmas wishes, Lea and Nancy. Same back at ya.Anonymous: pretty weird, huh?-Steve

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