Well, needless to say, after the last 5 months of slowly meandering through the Sea of Cortez, re-entry into La Paz has been quite a transition.
When we’re out anchoring at various islands and other unpopulated bays and coves, we take for granted that we may not see anyone else for several days at a time. Sometimes, even if another boat comes into an anchorage we may not actually make contact with each other. At night it’s pitch black outside unless the moon is up. If I want to strip down in the cockpit and hang my swimming suit up to air out overnight, there’s no one there to see me. Likewise if I want to take a leak over the side.
Every 6.3 gallons of fresh water we use means an hour’s run time for the watermaker which translates to 9 amp-hours of juice from the batteries which probably means at least a couple of hours of solar panel production. We live by the battery voltage and amp-hour consumption gauges. Consequently, showers only happen every couple of days and we tend to keep laundry at a minimum by wearing swimming suits all the time and washing them when we take our showers.
We often wake up frequently throughout the night when the wind is blowing hard or the anchorage is rolly. Need to keep checking to make sure we’re staying put.
The food we have to eat is whatever is on board, supplemented with what goodies we can find in local tiendas. Our meals are often exercises in creativity as we try to figure out something interesting to make out of dried beans, canned meats, eggs, cheese, and tortillas along with the little bit of fresh produce we can find, usually carrots, cabbage and onions.
Our exercise consists of swimming when the water is warm enough and taking hikes. However, hikes on some of the islands tend to be pretty vertical if you want to go anywhere and, if you don’t feel like climbing, the walks can be pretty short.
Every morning starts out with listening to the cruisers’ nets on the SSB radio to find out who is where and to get some info about the weather. We download HF radio e-mail once a day to get what little correspondence we get as well as the weather feeds that we subscribe to. Weather is all-important to us out at anchor or underway.
All in all, it’s a slow, pretty easy-going life.
All that changed when we came back to La Paz.
We pulled in to Marina Costa Baja (known among the cruising crowd that stays elsewhere as Marina Costa Lotta). Although it is the highest priced marina in La Paz, its inner harbor is an almost impenetrable hurricane hole. And, since hurricane season is officially on us and since we plan to leave Siempre Sabado all by her lonesome here while we go back to Oregon for a couple of months, we opted to pay for the peace of mind.
So, right off the bat, we no longer have to wake up throughout the night to check whether or not out anchor is holding. We’re securely tied to 4 cleats on the dock and besides, the wind has a very hard time getting in to us and, obviously there’s absolutely no water movement unless a boat goes by.
In addition to a secure berth, we also have access to a nice convenience store (The Breeze) which carries the usual convenience store stuff as well as having a kitchen where they cook breakfasts, lunches and dinners and don’t do a half-bad job of it.
When we were out at anchor, if we got too hot in the afternoon, we could just jump over the side of the boat. The water here in the marina is definitely NOT the kind of water one would want to jump into. Being such a well-protected harbor also means not a lot of exchange happens in the basin so the water is pretty murky looking. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, we just don’t get much of the cooling breeze in here. However, we’ve found a way to cope. Every afternoon, we amble over to the Beach Club and take a cooling dip in the eternity pool.
The pool is not heated so its temperature fluctuates with the weather. Being right on the beach, it often gets the cool afternoon/evening Coromuel winds which can tend to cool the water down a bit. Generally, the temperature is just perfect but, after awhile one does start to feel a bit chilled. Not a problem, however, as we simply wander over to the heated spa.
Sometimes, though, the pool is too cool and the spa is too warm. That’s when we opt to regulate our inner temperatures by ordering a drink from the bar.
Of course, since the mixed drinks are around 75 pesos (~$6.50) and the beers are 50 pesos (~$4.25), we tend to drink in moderation. It’s a far cry from the 11 peso beers we pull out of our fridge at anchor. Our onboard beers are a lot colder, too.
One of the things we were looking forward to getting back to La Paz for was the huge variety of excellent food available. High on my list was to get a big ol’ platter of spicy wings from Chiltepino’s. You can order whatever size plate of wings you want: 12, 20, 30, and even more. They also serve them at whatever heat level you like from mild to searing. Chiltepino’s was one of our first stops. I think we went there either the first or second night in town. Lulu ordered the 2-star, 20 wing platter but I opted for the 4-star 20 wing plate. The waiter asked “¿Seguro?” (Are you sure?). I assured him that I was sure for sure.
Lulu’s order is on the right and mine is on the left. Don’t let the fact that mine look naked fool you. The sauce is totally made from Habanero peppers which was great because habaneros, besides being very hot, are really tasty. The wings were definitely hot but not excessively so, at least not to my jaded sensibilities. As an added bonus, Lulu couldn’t finish her whole plateful so I got to eat the leftovers a couple days later. I had no problem finishing mine.
We’ve been working our way through our various cravings: fish tacos, shrimp tacos, papas rellenas, etc. For a couple of food aficionados like ourselves, La Paz is a GREAT place to be.
Since Costa Baja is so far away from the heart of town, we can barely hear the VHF cruisers’ net that is on every morning except Sunday. But, it doesn’t matter that much because we don’t really have to be too concerned with the weather here. We know it’s going to be nice, it’s probably going to be hot during the day and it’s probably going to cool off at night. The specifics just aren’t that important when we’re tied to the dock. Besides, if we really want to know, we can just connect up to the internet via Costa Baja’s wifi or our 3G banda ancha card. And, since we’re plugged in to shore power and no longer have to sweat the amps, we can leave the computer on 24-7 so we don’t even have to wait for it to start up to fulfill our information needs.
And water? Well, Costa Baja provides RO water at the dock. While we’re still far from the level of consumption of the average American household, by our standards we are absolute water wastrels. We’ve been using an average of a little over 5 gallons a day since we’ve been here. Of course, that doesn’t include showers or sanitary uses as we use the marina’s facilities. Hot showers every day? NICE! And, we send our laundry out and get it back clean, dry and folded.
La Paz is a walking town for us and we tend to walk much longer distances than we did while out cruising. Weird because the distances we walk in La Paz seem shorter than they are and the walks on the islands seemed longer than they were.
It’s also been something of a social whirlwind since we got back. We keep running in to folks we know. We’ve had friends over for dinner and a dip in the pool, we’ve joined friends at local restaurants, we got to go sailing on our friend Aimee’s new boat’s test sail one day, got to inspect Jasmine and Shannon’s new (well, it was built in 1934 but it’s new to them) cutter, etc, etc.
We’re beginning to settle in but it’s still quite a culture shock to go from anchoring by ourselves or with one or two other boats at Isla San Francisco to full immersion into the maelstrom of La Paz. But, frankly, we’re loving it.