Friday, February 24, 2012

Costa Alegre

The area around Barra de Navidad is aptly named Costa Alegre and now we know why.
Every anchorage makes you happy!  We Spent a month in this area based out of Barra de Navidad.  We left Barra with some of our new friends and sailed (yes...we actually sailed!) to a beautiful cove called Ensenada Carrizal.   This is a wonderful spot, no town, no palapa restaurant, no homes, nothing but crystal clear water, lush coral fields and millions of fish.  We had such a great time there, I have never seen such rich coral in my life, the bright green, purple and blue color was just unreal.  That matched with a lively display of reef fish made for the best snorkling yet.  
We were with our good friends on Nauti Moments, Full and By and Kasasa - all great sailors from Canada.  We took turns hosting dinner on each others boats and had the best time ever.  The night we hosted dinner we also invited the folks from Wades Away, a father / son team sailing around Mexico.   They showed up with a keg of Tequilla to share...must I say more?

We started with Sangria ala Julia:
Papaya, Pineapple, Apple and Berries
soaked in a generous portion of Volka and Contreu for several hours in the top of the freezer.
When the guests arrived I added a bottle of 
White Wine and a can of lemon lime soda.
Wow!  A happy buzz and a serving of fruit in each glass, it was a win win for everyone.
Jeff, Eion and Dick in the back of the boat.

 On the menu:  
Avocado bean dip from Wades Away 
Grilled Mahi Mahi with a ginger orange glaze and grilled onions served with Jasmine rice from the host boat 
A veggi casserole courtesy of Ellen aboard Kasasa.  
Carol from NauatiMoments brought a Pineapple Upside Down Cake made with Rum.  
As you can see, we pick good friends!
Ken and Carol in the foreground, Ellen in green
Brian next to Ellen and myself, Maureen next to me, Richard-Brian's Dad then Ann on his shoulder.
 The next day I got the surfboard out and showed off my best effort behind our little 4 horse outboard.  It was not long before Ken on Nauti Moments offered a pull with his 15 horse outboard and I quickly accepted.  Before long every guy in the cove was riding my board behind Ken’s  dinghy.  We had such a great time.  

After all of that Jeff and I decided to try out our dive gear in the cove.  Actually, it all started the night before when I was cleaning up after the dinner party.  Maybe it was the Sangria, maybe the tequila, I don’t know but...When I was rinsing out our my big pot- the one I use every day- I accidentally threw it overboard.
Hum...maybe we can find it with our dive gear on?   No!  What a crazy idea that was! 
Who know’s how the boat was swinging and there are no land marks once you get down 30 feet to a nice sandy bottom.  So after a short look around we we swam over to the reef and enjoyed looking at more fish.  Will Jeff fall for the "I could not possible prepare a reasonable meal with out this pot, we will just have to eat out until I have a complete set of cook ware"  line?   NOT!
From Ensenada Carrizal we moved around the corner to Santiago Bay.  A big bay with luxury waterfront homes and resorts.  Too many jet skis and party barges for us so then next night we moved on to Las Hadas.  Que Bonita!  Again with our new Canadian friends we had a great time.  Las Hadas is on the North edge of Manaznillo, a large industrial city.  Besides being beautiful to look at, it was just a short taxi ride to good grocery's.  It had been a while and we were beginning to run low on wine, bear, mineral water, soft drinks as well as some staples.  We usually shop at the little tiendas and weekly produce markets but carrying heavy items like wine and beer is a real problem especially with my bad neck so having a taxi drop us off at our dinghy dock was a welcome change.

The marina is behind the breakwater and in the back
ground is the resort Las Hadas.  So beautiful
and whimsical.  Las Hadas means "the fairies".

These hills are paved with cobblestone streets and lush patches of palms and bougainvillea.
We were anchored out with several other boats.  The restaurant in the foreground lets cruisers park dinghy's on their beach for free.  Las Hadas charges 200 pesos a day!

This brings up an little issue here in Mexico.  Shopping.  Food is super good, inexpensive and easy to come by.  I think the produce here is of much better quality than what I get back home.  It is grown locally, picked when ripe and tastes delicious.
Consumer goods can be hard to find and very expensive.  I really feel for the people here.  They earn very little and the simplest thing like a large pot is expensive and of the worst quality ever.  While in Manzaillo I went to Walmart to get a new pot.  Well, the few to choose from were made of the thinnest aluminum I have ever seen and cost about $30.00 US.
Who could afford that here except a desperate American or Canadian.  I was not that desperate so off I went to Commercial, a large mega grocery story that also sell appliances, clothes, electronics etc.  The selection was very similar to Walmart and I would not give up that easy.  I spotted a Coppel department store down the street so off I went on my mission for pot -  I mean to purchase a new pot.  Well in I went, I quickly scanned the store, found the kitchen dept. and located the pots and pans.  Aha!  A well made heavy aluminum pot with teflon coating and a lid that can lock on,  good for pot lucks and the like.  I'll take it!
After wandering aimlessly around the store trying to find a check out counter I ask for assistance and get in line.  While in line I read the large price tag with several different prices on it.  I assumed it was on sale and the smallest price was it's current marked down offer.
No...That was the lay-away price per month!  This aluminum pot cost 688.00 pesos, about $60.00 US.  Are you kidding me?  There is no way I am spending $60.00 for this piece of...well you get the message.  I am still with out my much needed pasta pot.  Lesson learned, no more drinking and washing.  Dishes can wait until morning.

After we returned to Barra de Navidad we booked a Bed and Breakfast in the small town of Comala.  This would be our first time off the Buena Vida in 5 months.  Our B&B was super charming and Comala is such a sweet pueblo with white washed buildings and a simple life.

Reading in the court yard outside of our room.
I was sick with a fever and cold but tried not to let it slow me down.

Mexican style tapas are served when you order a drink and
they just keep bringing food as long as you stay.

The town plaza or Jardin as they call them in this region was filled
with trees, flowers and park benches.  Not that many Norte Americano's visit here

Jeff is buying Tamales and I taste the rich drink made from milk, masa & vanilla
It is like drinking vanilla pudding.

The Jardin with the Cathedral in the back ground

Most of the town is white washed but some of the structures
reveal the original adobe bricks.

Mom's and older sisters were doing arobics in the
background while the little ones played in
this charming community park. 

The kids liked it when I showed them their picture on
the camera sceen.

We spent a day with our B & B owner on a historical/cultural tour of Comala
and Colima.  This is a temporary bull fighting ring erected each year for a
annual Fair.  Each segment is built by a family or organization and their members
sit in that area. What was extra unusual was that the bull ring is made of woven mats, smoking is discouraged.
Very unnerving to think of hundreds of people in here together.
Notice the two Volcanoes in the background

Local gentlemen building their section.

I love this guy right down to the super traditional leather hauraches.  This area of Mexico is
so traditional and interesting.  Notice the floor is made of woven mats!

Ruins from the original indigenous peoples.  The theory is that this area was
abandoned due to the volcanic activity.
atop the rock foundation was a palapa style structure.

Birds eye view of Colima (or Spain or Italy, hard to tell from here).

A beautiful colonial city.

This is a very famous artist Guillermo Rios Alcala.  He in known internationally for his fine
museum reproductions of pre columbian artifacts.  

He let us handle the original pots he is showing us.
He uses these to make reproductions.  

Inside the museum we view a great collection of handy crafts.
This display of tradition matrimonial clothes reminded me of Josh and Rachel's
upcoming wedding.

A real traditional central mercado.

Jeff is buying a cup of Tuba, a traditional drink made
 form the sap of palm  trees mixed
 with jamica tea and chopped apples.
 Served with a sprinkle on salted nuts on top.
The Mexican food often has a harmonious
blend of sweet and salt.

The next day we drove with some other guests of the B & B north towards the volcanos
to check out some of the really small villages and beautiful mountains.
This is a super small coffee "plantation".
The beans are drying on a concrete slab.

Before we purchase some coffee we wanted to try some.  
Apparently we thought we were wine tasting in Napa Valley or something.  

This lovely woman had to go to her "rustic" kitchen, boil water and cook us some coffee.  Notice the red hand-grinder in the bottom right of the picture and the homemade adobe stove.  The house was a one room brick structure with a bed, the "bathroom" was out back down the way.  Needless to say we purchased several bags of coffee, and so far it's the best coffee we've had in Mexico.

Life is slow and simple here.
We stopped in several little villages that day.
This one is "famous" for these colorful
and interesting carvings built into the wall.
A local man let us use his bathroom.  This was his outdoor kitchen.
In the cages are lots of roosters that are not going to be used for food.
This is cock fighting territory.

The next town housed a family famous for these masks.  Three generations
have been carving these from wood then carefully painting them.  They are
used for Semana Santa parades and Easter activities.

Back to Barra for a few days then heading North to Banderas Bay.  We are getting very
excited about our return trip home to see the family and participate in the the wedding activities.  

I like the contrast between the happy simple life of the locals and the Grand Bay Resort in
the background.  It is all good.

The Malacon in Barra de Navidad.
These young girls are usually pregnant and selling stuff
along the beach.  
Nice surfing right outside the harbor entrance.  I surfed there with my
new friend Kristen and with Jeff Beller.  The day I went with Jeff
it was about 6-7ft.  Too big for me, I feared for my life!  Finally caught one wave though.

Jeff with the Buena Vida at Ensenada Carrizal.
We have loved our time there but are ready to come home for a while.

Hasta Pronto!

1 comment:

  1. Marvelous pics! Too bad about not being able to find any pot... :-))) But when you traveled stateside I'm sure you took lots of empty luggage cause then you can return to Buena Vida with a perfect pot, and all kinds of odd foodstuffs and boat parts, right??