Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ensenada el Cardonal & San Evaristo

A couple of weeks after we went to Todos Santos, Arione and El Tiburon took off for the islands. Isla Espiritu Santu and Isla Partida are a short hop from La Paz. Isla San Francisco and Isla San Jose are a bit farther. All are part of a national park. We had gone to Isla Espiritu Santu, where we spent one very pleasant night in Bahia San Gabriel - the second night we had coromuel (land) winds blowing so strongly into the anchorage that it was rougher in there than many of the passages we made getting down here from Seattle - right after we got to La Paz. It was beautiful, but although these winds are supposed to be a summer phenomenon, someone apparently neglected to inform the coromuels of this.

El Cardonel looked to be a bit better protected than San Gabriel, so off we went. It was quite windy the first night, but as the wind was coming out of the west and into the anchorage over a low part of the island, it didn't have the fetch (open water) required to build up any big chop. A mite uncomfortable, but the holding in there is pretty good, so we weren't too worried. We did, however, forgo rowing over to El Tiburon for drinks. We stayed for two days, Darrell and Art went rockfishing in the dinghy but didn't catch anything that looked particularly edible, and we got our drinks in on the second night. I somehow managed not to take any pictures.

Sparky (El Tiburon's dog) was getting pretty antsy because he couldn't go ashore, so we decided to head up to San Evaristo, a fishing village about 30 miles north of Isla Partida. It is extremely well protected, and as the winds were forecast to be high for the next few days, looked like a good choice. Boy, was it ever.

On the way up, I once again failed, despite using three different lures over the course of the trip, to catch a single fish. I am beginning to feel like a bit of a poor excuse for a fisherperson. After we got our hook set, the boat to starboard of us left, so we pulled up our anchor, moved over about a football field's worth and got set in about 12 feet of water - perfect spot. Of course, a couple of later arriving boats decided that if we were in there, it must be a good spot for them too. I don't know why that happens so often, even in large anchorages - it's a big bay, people. Let's use the whole thing. Our boat, like many, can sail around at anchor quite a bit if the wind comes up, so if there's room best to use it, really.

We went over to the beach and walked around a bit. There's not much there, a bunch of pangas, some shacks where the fishermen sell their fish to buyers who drive up from markets in La Paz, a few houses on the hill (most of the town is on the other side of the peninsula that divides this bay from the one to its north) a small store that sells beer (good thing, that - we were running low) and a sort of restaurant (more on that later). Sparky practiced his egret stalking skills, and played with a local black lab puppy. We saw lots of these guys - I think they clean up from the fish cleaning.

The second afternoon, we went over to the beach and bought a snapper (pargo perro). It was incredibly good. I however, in addition to being completely unable to catch fish, need to bone up on my fish anatomy. It had been gutted, but filleting a fish should not take a person 45 minutes.

Snapper with Pecans

1 T. butter
4 snapper fillets
2/3 c chopped pecans
1/2 tsp paprika
1/3 c butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Saute the filets in the tablespoon of butter until done (a couple of minutes). Remove to a plate and keep warm. Wipe out the pan. Melt the 1/3 c of butter and saute the pecans until fragrant and slightly brown. Add the paprika and lemon juice. Put the fish on serving plates, spoon over the pecan butter.

San Evaristo is home to thousands of pelicans. They dive into the water in large groups, making for a sort of staccato effect. I tried to capture a diving pelican on film, but couldn't, so you'll have to settle for a bunch of them floating around.

The last night we were in San Evaristo, Darrell found out that if you went over to the little cafe and told them you wanted dinner in advance, they'd cook for you. Well, yes, of course we wanted dinner.

Macho here was there to greet us when we arrived.

Fish, handmade tortillas, beans, fresh salsa, all delicious, were cooked for us by Lupita. We played a bit with the kids - Sarah had brought bubbles and a wand over for them, but we weren't able to communicate exactly how the bubble blowing process worked, so I suspect most of the bubbles wound up on the ground. The kids appeared to enjoy them anyhow - I know we did. As it got dark, we piled back into El Tib's dinghy and went back to our respective boats - we had a long trip back the next day, and were planning to leave early. What a lovely place.

The trip back was fairly uneventful, but in further fishing follies, a fish stole not only my last cedar plug, but my entire line. Yes, apparently, cleating the black nylon part of the handline isn't sufficient, although it had been all the way down the coast. Of course something that could pull a locked and cleated line off the boat was probably big enough that we really didn't want to deal with getting it aboard, so there's that. When I put out my other line, I tied a bowline in it. Did I catch anything? No, I did not. The fish are definitely winning - score stands at fish: 3 (2 cedar plugs, one handline) Jaye: 0. Fishing fail.

Todos Santos

The day after Thanksgiving, we and Sarah and Darrell of El Tiburon rented a car and went to Todos Santos, which is on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, about 50 miles south of La Paz. The roads were quite good, but definitely not freeways, plus we got lost trying to get out of town (Turn left at the Walmart? Which left? Then what? Does that gas station have a map? Of course not.) so the trip down took about an hour and a half. It's also, of course, really helpful to have three people who are not the driver having ideas and suggestions and really no idea where we needed to go. But make it out of town we did, eventually. It was a beautiful drive through the desert, which quite abruptly got very lush as we dropped into Todos Sants on the coast. There's a river that's only intermittently visible on the surface here, but its underground stream supports quite a lot of vegetation. We spent some time wandering around town.

Hotel California Lobby:


We went to the church on the main town square:

Had an excellent lunch, then drove out to the beach. The roads (tracks, really) were beyond sketchy, and we were sort of worried our poor little rental car was going to get stuck in the sand. Darrell, as it turns out, is excellent at driving in sand. There are lots of houses out here, but it's very isolated, and a rather large number of them appeared to be for sale.

The beach was gorgeous. It's very steep, so there's quite an undertow - no swimming - but pretty!

The colors that afternoon were just amazing. There's something about the light on the Pacific coast of Mexico that is unlike anywhere else I've ever been.

Art, Sarah, Darrell and Sparky went for a walk on the beach. I stayed up on the hill taking pictures.

Sparky's always a lot of fun to have around. He's just a really happy guy. Actually, here, he's a happy, wet and tired guy, but whatever.

It was a fun day for all of us -- and muchas gracias to Darrell, who did all of the driving!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

La Paz

Our original plan was to spend through Christmas or so in La Paz, and then to head over to Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on the mainland. Planning, though, has never been our strong point, and we didn't anticipate how easy it would be to fall completely in love with La Paz. The mainland's not going anywhere. So at the moment, we think we're going to stay here until we head up into the Sea of Cortez in the spring.

We'd really like, at some point, to get into Marina de La Paz, which is a little funkier than the marina we are in now but right downtown. However, that's proving to be quite a difficult thing to do, and the folks and the facilities at Marina Palmira are so extremely nice, so we've just signed up for another month. We're only a couple of miles out of town, we have folding bicycles, and taxis are cheap.


When we left San Jose del Cabo, our first stop was an anchorage called Frailes, a day or so to the east. Actually, we left SJdC twice, having realized the first time (luckily, we hadn't even gotten all of the way out of the marina) that we'd forgotten to turn in our dock keys. At $50 (US) a pop, we didn't want to hang on to those. I had, uncharacteristically, been wicked efficient with putting away the dock lines (won't do that again, will I?) so it was a bit of a fire drill getting tied up again. Got to Frailes, dropped the anchor, put on our suits and flung ourselves over the side into the 80 degree water. We'd been waiting a long time for that.

There were several boats that we know in the anchorage, and one of them, Corvidae, invited us all for drinks and appetizers. The appetizers were so abundant (not to mention really good) that we wound up not even bothering with dinner.

We'd hoped to stay for a few days, but when we listened to the weather in the morning, it appeared that a norther was building up. We really wanted to avoid being in the channel between Isla Cerralvo and the peninsula during a norther - it is fairly narrow and has a deservedly nasty reputation. So we pulled up our anchor at first light and headed for our next anchorage, Muertos.

Los Muertos (or Los SueƱos, if you're in the tourism industry - "the dreams" is understandably more appealing than "the dead") was another lovely anchorage that we spent all too little time at. We got in late after a long day, and had another long day ahead of us, so we ate, crashed and again left at first light. We hope to revisit both of these places next fall before we head over to the mainland.

We have not, in fact

dropped off the face of the earth. We've been really enjoying La Paz and doing some local exploring - by water, by car and on foot. More soon.