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February found us getting ready to head further south than we have been before! After stocking up and saying our goodbyes in Zihuatanejo, our first stop was a short sail away, Barra de Potosi. There is a river mouth there with a sand bar that does generate some surf. It was small, but Mike and Fletcher still managed to catch some waves and we all had fun playing in the water. We stayed there a couple of days and even went out to some offshore islands and snorkeled. Believe it or not, the water was feeling cold! The next day we headed out to another anchorage just a few hours away, Papanoa. This is a small village and you can anchor within a sea wall. As soon as we arrived , there was a steady sound of loud whistles. The Navy wanted us to come ashore NOW! When we were finished checking in with the Navy, we wandered around the village and up and over a hill to a beach to check the waves. There were some guys out, but it was a pretty rough beach break and did not look inviting to us at all, not even for a dip. After a quiet night on the boat, we were up early to pull anchor for a three day sail to our next stop, Puerto Escondido, Fletcher's chosen birthday destination. Along the way both Mike and Nancy had another bout of a fever that had begun in the beginning of January. Along with some other symptoms and the returning fever this was worrisome. Nancy decided that it was time to go the doctor and get checked out next time we were in a town. After a feverish two day sail, we decided to make an unscheduled stop into a cool looking anchorage for the night to rest up. It was called Laguna Chacahua and is a National Park that is not easily accessible by land. There is a huge lagoon that would take several days to explore. We went on an exciting dingy ride to get through the waves into the lagoon entrance to check it out a bit. We saw lots of birds and stopped to talk to one local fellow who we asked about how many boats anchored here every year, he said that only one or two per year were normal! Wow, we were one of only a few boats that came to this beautiful spot. The beach was beautiful and there were several folks out surfing, but we were too wiped out to go back to the boat and get the boards and then back to the beach. Nancy broke out the medical information and had our ailments narrowed down to a few possibilities, the two most likely at this point seemed to be either Malaria or Dengue Fever. The next morning we left early to get to Puerto Escondido. We had a slow go and arrived in the late afternoon. Anchoring was very difficult here as there was a big swell running and not many good places to anchor that were not taken up by pangas. Being late in the day, Mike still having a fever and the anchoring situation, we spent about an hour of stressful time trying to get anchored for the next few days. We finally anchored out on a deeper seamount that was outside of the main area, the inside spots were just too scary with the big swell. Again, we were the only boat there! The next morning we explored town a bit and then got to the local health clinic, where a visit with the doctor was $3 and then went and got a blood test for $15. Nothing major (not Malaria or Dengue) showed up on this first preliminary test and we decided to wait until we got to Huatulco where there was an English speaking doctor to do some follow up tests.
Puerto Escondido is home to one of the most famous waves on the planet, the Mexican Pipeline at Playa Zicatela O. This was where Fletcher had decided that he wanted to be for his birthday this year. The ultimate water park, the Pacific Ocean with big waves! We spent the next couple of days exploring the area, watching the big waves and of course doing school. The kids went boogie boarding every day and one afternoon we walked up to the local mercado. This was the biggest and most beautiful mercado O that we have seen in Mexico. Everything was very clean and beautifully laid out. Spices cascaded down rows of baskets, flowers and their scent were everywhere, the fruits and vegetables were beautifully displayed and very abundant. What a treat for the eyes! Mike and Nancy were still feverish and achy. We did explore some outer bays, but we were laying a little low. Because of the big swells, it was very rolly to stay on the boat, even Mike was not enjoying it, so we did spend less time on the boat than we wanted to. On Fletcher's birthday O, we started the day with lemon poppyseed pancakes and a couple of presents to open before heading out on our surfing safari. We were not entirely sure which would be the best spot for a still beginner surfer, since this was a location known for its BIG waves and we were still experiencing a bitg swell! We hired a taxi, but it did not have surf racks. We used our Yankee ingenuity to rig up a sling to hold the surfboard on the side of the taxi O as we drove around to check out a couple of different surf spots. We checked one spot on the north side of town and decided that it was not right. We then proceeded to another spot on the south side of town, holding the surfboard along the outside of the taxi the whole way. We got to the spot known as La Punta on the south end of Zicatela Beach. This was the spot O. Fletcher and Mike went out to catch some of the inside, small waves, while Dana played in the water and Nancy rested on shore. After several hours of beach time, we walked a mile or so up the beach to the main break of Zicatela where there is now an area with restaurants, hotels and shops. We stopped for a yummy lunch and then continued along the beach back towards the boat. We stopped and played in the water a few more times along the walk back. Upon our return, it was time for cake and the rest of the presents. Fletcher's next request for the day was to watch a surf movie and have nachos for dinner. He got all of his wishes!
The next morning we pulled out of Puerto Escondido. We had mostly hung out so long for Fletcher's birthday and now that this was done, we wanted out of this rolly anchorage! We really loved Puerto Escondido as a town, but not as an anchorage. We spent Valentines Day underway and Nancy was feeling really sick and not at all happy. We made it into Puerto Angel just before dark, with just enough time to get anchored before night. The next day was busy checking in, baking Mike's birthday cake, and having fun for Mike's birthday. Of course we went to the beach, had his favorite dinner, watched a movie and had cake and then presents. While in Puerto Angel we went north to the Mazunte Turtle Museum where they turned an old turtle processing plant into a turtle restoration center and museum. We found out that there are 8 species of sea turtles in the world and that 7 of them are found off of the coast of Mexico and breed here! The only other species that is not found here breeds in India and lives off of the coast of Australia! We were pretty impressed with Mexican waters being so important for sea turtles. We also explored some beaches just north of Puerto Angel. There is a huge contingent of young Europeans living in these beach areas. Definitely a different feel from most Mexican beach areas. Puerto Angel itself is a very small town, but very cute and we met a couple of nice Americans there who took mail back for us. For those of you wondering how you get cards from us, this is how: much to my family's chagrin, I approach perfect strangers with American accents and ask if they will take our mail for us. Even though the airlines tell you not to take any packages from strangers, so far we have not met with any resistance to our requests for mail drops and as far as we know, everyone has received everything that we have sent, including all 15 of the kids monthly school packets!
We only spent a short time at Puerto Angel as we were now on a mission to get down to Huatulco to get set up for the Grandma's visit. Both Evelyn and Carole were coming down soon. While at sea, we saw so many turtles and it was even more interesting after our visit to the turtle museum. We also came across a very large group of dolphins, surprisingly, the first we had seen for awhile. We made it to Huatulco in good time and within minutes of getting the anchor down, the Mexican Navy appeared with four soldiers and a dog to do a thorough search O. They did not bring the dog on board Desiderata, since we had pets on board, but I think that they did an even more extreme visual search since they did not have the dogs noses to assist them. They were very nice and it was the very first time that we had been boarded by the navy in 15 months of traveling. Huatulco is in the very southern part of Pacific Mexico. The area is made up of nine bays of which only three are developed. This area is very serious about keeping its natural resources protected. It is surrounded by National Park and there are tons of birds. There is an awareness about keeping the water clean as well as the land. It is very nice after the rest of Mexico. There is very little development at all in the beach areas, but they are building now. The town and services are actually about a mile inland. We spent two nights at anchor in one of the bays where the Port Capitan is before moving over to the marina. The marina is brand new and sits all by itself. It is also very reasonable and run by a very nice and knowledgeable fellow, Enrique. We have not been in a Marina since last May (other than the boat yard in La Paz), so this was a real treat. We spent two full days scrubbing the boat inside and out since we had fresh water available for the first time in a long time. What a luxury to be able to use as much water as you need or want! We also took time to look at all of the hotels in the different areas to find the very best one for the grandma visit. Once we were in port, Nancy had done some more investigations in the medical books on board and found something that sounded a lot like what our symptoms were. We did get in to an English speaking doctor and he ordered several more extensive blood tests and at her request, one specific for what Nancy now suspected. There were a couple of other kid boats around as well, so everyday after school we tried to have some beach play time with the other kids. It is also nice for us to meet up with other kid boats to commiserate and compare notes with the other parents on schooling and life on board with kids. It helps to know that everyone is having the same issues and that it is not just us having some of these problems and that our frustration level is equal to theirs.
The first grandma was due to arrive in a couple of days, so we scurried to get the boat ready and ourselves ready. Cleaning, laundry, stocking the boat just enough, but not too much (since we would probably be eating out a bit), and preparing for Gma's birthday festivities. We also worked really hard to get a week ahead in school so that we would not be two weeks behind by the time the visits were over. The big day arrived and off we went to the airport to get Carole O who was to spend the first night on board with us. We had been given some fresh yellow fin tuna from a fisherman in the marina, so we had fresh yellow fin sushi rolls and salad for her welcoming dinner! Very yummy. The next day was her actual birthday, so of course we had our Desiderata special birthday breakfast of fancy stuffed French toast followed by a morning stroll along the nicely landscaped marina grounds. Next we took Gma for a dingy ride O over to a wild, little used beach that we had found. It is a bit of a wild ride and landing, but everything went smoothly. She had a great day, hanging with the kids in the water O, boogie boarding O and even snorkeling with Mike! Pretty good for someone who just turned 70!!! We went back to the boat and had some of the yellow fin cooked up Japanese style for lunch before we went up to the hotel to check grandma and the kids in there. After a short swim at the pool and showers in the hotel room, we all headed to the beach for a dinner of pineapple shrimp O for Gma with our feet in the sand. This is a traditional dish down here and shrimp and pineapple and the beach are some of Carole's favorite things, so we just had to do it! We did get word back from the doctor on some of the tests and started right away on some antibiotics. It would be another several days before we heard back about the other test. The end result of the testing was that we had Salmonella in our blood (not intestinal) and Leptospirosis. We were prescribed two separate courses of antibiotics and are on the mend. Hopefully both conditions will clear up and not cause us any more problems in the future. The doctor also put the kids on a preventative dose of a different antibiotic since we all live in such close quarters. Neither of them have any of our symptoms, but just in case. We spent the next few days exploring the town, going to the beach, playing with the other kid boats and eating lots of great local food. We also had Gma over for another dinner and a movie night to watch one of the surf movies with us that she had brought down for Fletcher's birthday. We all had a lot of fun. We even all went for a sail up to another bay for the day O. We were hoping that perhaps we could get a scuba dive in, but it was very windy and rough that day and Nancy was not feeling well anyway. Soon it was time for Evelyn to arrive and off Mike and Nancy went to the airport to pick her up O. She had brought all sorts of stuff down for us from food to electronics and wouldn't you know it, but she got stopped by airport security. They checked every little thing. The whole airport and taxi stand was shutting down before they let her out of there. The only thing that they ended up confiscating was her sandwich and some fruit that she had brought to snack on! Whew, we were worried for awhile there. We went back to the boat and had dinner on board and looked through all of the goodies that she had brought down for us O. The next day we went up to town to meet everyone for breakfast and wander around town. We did lots of walking and talking. We also organized for an adventure the next day which you can read about next month...
Please click to enlarge!
Fletcher's Birthday Destination, the Mexican Pipeline, Playa Zicatela
The Nine Year Old!
Valentines Day Presents, rash guards for surfing
Looking for waves, Mexican style
La Punta at Zicatela beach
Mercado in Puerto Escondido
Our first Navy boarding within moments of arriving in Huatulco
Gma's birthday adventure
Gma beachin' it
Gma boogie boarding at 70!
The coconut caramel birthday cake was a big hit
Birthday dinner on the beach, pineapple shrimp
Gma sailing to Bahia Cacaluta
Hotel Flamboyant, Gma central
Evelyn arrives, after being thoroughly searched
All the treasures that were brought south
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