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March 2004

photos at bottom of page (text that refers to a photo is followed by O)

Wow, we finally arrived somewhere that is warm, I mean hot!  It has been such a cool winter down here that it is a nice change.  Eighty degree water and in the 90's during the day.  The evenings are cool though, so it is quite pleasant.  Nancy was at the helm as we came into the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo area.  It was early, early morning and it was quite a challenge as after steering for several hours, suddenly there were many islands and rocks to dodge and it was still dark out.  It was a nerve wracking hour of checking the charts, watching the radar and trying to see through the darkness.  Mike came up about six and was shocked to see what we were in the middle of, but confessed that Nancy had done a good job.  By that point, she had figured out exactly where we were and knew that we were safe, but Mike just coming up into the cockpit, had momentary heart failure.

 Zihuatanejo is a nice town with plant and flower lined pedestrian avenues, nice people and a  large cruiser community.  It is very easy to walk through town and shopping here is the easiest we have had yet.  The super market is too far to walk, there are no buses to catch going that way, so we have to taxi.  Darn, no walking back from the bus stop carrying heaps of bags in our backpacks  and arms!  The taxis are very inexpensive here so it is not too bad.  They deliver us right to the dingy and even help carry bags from the trunk to the dingy.  What a luxury.  After we checked in at the Port Captains office (which you must do in every town that you stay in for more than a day), we were on a mission to find the perfect hotel for the kids Grandmas who were arriving in a couple of weeks.  We spent the first day looking at all the hotels on one beach, Madera Beach.  All of the hotels here were on a hill leading down to the beach, but there were lots of stairs.  The next day we did the hotels on the next beach down, La Ropa beach.  This beach was a much nicer beach and we found the perfect place.   No stairs, it had a pool, restaurant on the beach, room overlooking the beach next to the pool and hammocks, and we could anchor the boat right in front!  It was fun walking the beach and seeing all of the different properties, even the kids enjoyed it since it was for the Grandmas.  We saw some folks on a power boat that we had met in Tenacatita.  We went with them a couple of days later out to Isla Grande O, an island off of Ixtapa.  We snorkeled while they did a scuba dive and then walked across the island, it is only about 100 yards across at one point.  It was fun to spend the day on a luxury boat.  It had a huge galley, a big fridge and freezer and even a giant freezer for the big fish that they had caught.  The owner was back in the states, but the crew were great.  We met up with them several other times.  The owner even brought us a ten pound chocolate bar when he came back from the states.  You get so close to people so quickly in this lifestyle. 

We have been doing a good job of keeping up with school and going into the beach for swims too.  Another kid boat that we know pulled into town and are anchored quite near us.  Dana and Fletcher played several times with those kids O.  They had three kids on board and are headed to the Galapagos and then all the way to the Marquesas and New Zealand.  We had a lot of fun with them on the beach and socializing O.  We took all the kids to town one day and went to the arcade.  They had a blast.  In Z-town there were several kid boats that came through at different times while we were there.  It was so great for the kids to have others to play with and also to see that all the kids spent the morning doing school and could not play until they were done.  I think that they had been thinking that I was a terrible ogre and that they were the only kids in the world that had to endure the injustice of having to do school on a boat instead of playing.

We cruised out to Isla Grande for a couple of days before the Grandmas came.  We wanted to explore more and we needed to dump the holding tanks and fill the water tanks, which we do not do in an anchorage (although some people do).  Dana is doing pretty well snorkeling and Fletcher is turning into a fish.  We swam from the boat to a rocky point to snorkel and asked Dana if she wanted us to pull her on the surfboard to get over there and she said no that she would swim.  What a breakthrough.  She did great.  Monday we sailed back to Z-town to take care of household stuff before the visitors arrived.  Stuff like laundry, cleaning, shopping, the things that I knew that we would not take time out for while the Grandma's were here.  We also took a morning off to visit a school that the cruising community had helped to build.  It is a school for the indigent children.   Many of the children are from Indian families in the mountains that send their kids to town for school.  The problem is that there is nowhere for them to stay, so they were sleeping on the streets.  The cruisers built some dormitories and this day was the blessing and the moving in of the kids.  The kids were all given a backpack with school supplies and toys.  Also they got basic hygiene supplies like toothbrush, hairbrush, shampoo.  They also were given stuffed animals.  They were so excited to see their new home with bunk beds, sheets, blankets and towels for everyone.  It was quite an eye-opener for our kids!  We walked back to town with some other cruisers and got to see parts of town that we would not have seen otherwise. 

The Grandmas are coming, the Grandmas are coming!  There has been so much excitement in the air for weeks leading up to the visit.  It was great to have visitors.  We made a sign like the tour companies O do to greet our guests, "McConnell Adventures".  The day finally arrived to go to the airport.  We packed up the kids bags and dropped them at the hotel, just in case the Grandmas wanted the kids to stay with them....  The Grandmas arrived a couple of hours apart on different airlines from different towns.  We sat and visited in between.  It was so great to see them get off the planes O.  We went back to the hotel, hung out at the pool and had a birthday happy hour and dinner for both of them at the restaurant on the beach at the hotel O.  We also got to go through their suitcases where they had stashed tons of stuff for us, the boat and the kids.  It was like Christmas O.  Mike and I had quite a time taking all of that stuff back to the boat that night.  What fun.  We also had our taxes prepared and sent to Mikes moms, so we had to quickly go over them and sign them to send back to the states for mailing.  The next day we dingied in to the surf line where we anchored and then swam in to shore.  We took everyone on a taxi ride to the other side of town for a local treat of pozole, a pork and hominy soup at a place with a big local and cruiser following.  It was fun, but it was a very hot day and the restaurant was not right on the coast where it stays much cooler.  After lunch we jumped on a bus back into the central part of town and walked through the mercado.  This is a giant building with many local stands that sell anything and everything.  There are pig heads and cows feet, candies, baked goods, fresh veggies, dry goods, hardware, household items, herbs, tons of stuff.  Since it was so hot out this day, it was stifling inside.  Once we got in, it was all we could do to make it to the other side to get back out.  The mercados are very interesting, but on this day, it was just too hot to enjoy.  We walked back through town to the shore and went back to the hotel.  Most days, we just went in and hung out on the beach and at the pool.  We did get the Grandmas into the dingy O and took them around to another beach that is only accessible by boat.  It is called Las Gatas beach O.  The water over here is very shallow and warm O.  We spent the whole day over there and Oma and I got massages O!  It was so nice.  They have big white tents set up on the beach with a couple of massage tables.  They did a very good job.  After our day on the beach, we went into town for Mexican Fiesta Night at the local cruisers hangout.  There is a dance school in town and some of the more advanced students put on a show.  It was very good, with costumes and dances from many different regions of Mexico.  The kids loved it and the dancing was great.  It was fun entertainment, especially when Mike and I got pulled from the audience and Mike had to get on the floor to do an iguana dance!  We all laughed and laughed.  Another night we walked down the beach to a restaurant that was a short way up the river.  You walked over a plank to get to the restaurant.  While we were there a huge crocodile came up right under the plank  and we all checked him out O.  After seeing that, nobody wanted to walk back over the plank to leave.  We walked lightly and quickly to get out.  We had a fun visit everyday and all too soon the week was over.  How time flies.  We went out for one last dinner at a place up on the hill with a great view O.  The sunset was beautiful O and it was the perfect ending to a great week.

After moving the kids back onto the boat and resting up, we did a big provisioning trip to the market and began to get ready to head out and up the coast.  Some more kid boats had pulled in, so we spent one more day to go up to another beach and see the crocodile man O at a beach just north of town with all the other kids.  They had a great time boogie boarding together and then we waited for the crocodile man to do his thing.  He feeds the wild crocs everyday at a certain time O.  He got fish heads and parts from the local fishermen and then enticed the crocs to come up on shore with him.    After this we went to dinner with all the other kid boats.  It is so much fun to have other kids around, and all the kids always behave so well.  The next morning, we pulled out to head up the coast.  It is the time of year to get into the Sea of Cortez, which usually is out of the path of the hurricanes.  Mike was anxious to get as far north as possible.  Usually the winds are blowing against you heading north, but we got lucky and had southerly winds for several days,  We blazed up the coast, skipping many places that we had planned to stop so that we could take advantage of the good conditions for heading north.  After 3 days we pulled into Punta de Mita to check email and do a light reprovisioning.  We can only store about 3 days worth of fresh provisions at a time.  We only have a small fridge and even vegetables that usually last out of the fridge go bad very quickly if you leave them out.  We only spent a couple of hours at the anchorage, just took care of what we needed to, slept a bit and then headed out again.  Our next destination is San Blas and Isla Isabella just north of there.



Please click to enlarge!

  Some of the kids that we got to play with from Pazzo

  Two boat families out for the evening, Pazzo and Desiderata

  And another night out with Pazzo

  Exploring on Isla Grande

  McConnell Adventures ready to welcome the Grandma's

  Oma arrives

  Gma arrives

  The view from the room

  Cocktails with our feet in the sand

  That is Desiderata between the trees, swimming distance from the hotel

  Some of the loot that was brought by the Grandma's

  The dingy ride over to Playa Las Gatas

  The dingy parking lot

  Our spot for the day

  Some water time with Gma

  One on one with Fletcher

  One on one with Dana

  Hopper is not to be left out of the fun

  Cooling off time for everyone

  Oma and Nancy head off for their massage on the beach, what a treat

  Dinner at the restaurant in the mangroves

  The resident greeter as you walked over a plank to get to or from the restaurant

  The last night cocktail hour

  Moving into the restaurant for the last supper

The farewell sunset god cooperated and boy did we have a good one!

  The crocodile man

  Two healthy specimens

  Aaww, the kids holding a baby



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