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Community, Part II: Slowing Down

In our first six months of cruising we covered nearly 5500 miles. (That is a lot of miles in a sailboat in a short time.) We have consistently felt like there has not been nearly enough time at each of our stops, particularly in British Columbia and Alaska, and that we were missing much more than we were seeing.

We were nearly half way down Baja California when we received a text from Isabel (la niña) asking if we could meet up with her in Mazatlan on the 19th of December. We had planned to head toward La Paz after rounding Cabo San Lucas, but we hastily reconfigured our plan to get to spend time with her. We met up with friends in San Jose Del Cabo for a day and then headed to Bahia Frailes, as we were super keen to dive Cabo Pulmo, a protected reef/marine park. Big breeze made the conditions less than optimal for diving, and so on the 14th of December (my birthday!) we headed across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan. 26 hours, 167 miles, and 1 dorado later, we arrived at Club Nautico and anchored.

Ardea at anchor at Club Nautico.

We chatted with the folks at Club Nautico, and then found our way to the Port Captain's office to check in. On our way to el mercado we came upon El Bagazo, a corner stand that sells fresh pressed orange juice. Energized, we headed to the market where we purchased so many fruits and vegetables we couldn't carry them back! We got to know our way around town a bit, so that we could make the most of our impending visit with Isabel. By the time she arrived a few days later, we had a little routine of sorts. After chatting with Manuel or Hector at Club Nautico, our first stop was always El Bagazo for jugo de naranja (best orange juice ever – seriously), then on to market for fresh produce, followed by some exploration of different parts of town. We would go for another walk at around sunset and explore some more. We had a fantastic visit with Isabel. We showed her around and introduced her to everyone. We ate a lot of fish tacos & chilaquiles, did some exploring & snorkeling, and climbed to El Faro (the lighthouse). We celebrated my birthday, and the Solstice, and generally had a wonderful time. Too soon, she flew back to the States to return to university.

Noj & Isabel & I snorkeling at Isla Chivos.

Isabel and I at El Faro in the fog.

Our plan was to head back to Bahia Frailes straight away after her departure, and continue on to the La Paz area after diving Cabo Pulmo, eventually returning to Mazatlan toward the end of the month for a visit with Noj's mom. Due to a series of unfortunate events, we ended up being here an extra week, during which time some of our friends joined us here at Club Nautico. Somewhere along the way we had come up with a new morning routine... we'd get up before the sun, climb El Faro (the highest lighthouse in the world, by the way!), head to El Bagazo, and home for fruit smoothies/snacks. Then out to explore, snorkel, go fish, walk on the beach, or trek about town. El mercado, intermittently, as well as a few other regular stops, and the requisite sunset walk. Very soon we were on a first-name-basis with everyone on our daily route. We have had many conversations and have gotten to know people. We had come up with a plan to sail to Isla Isabel and San Blas for a bit and return north to Mazatlan at the end of the month. Due to some weather delays, we were not able to leave and decided to stay here and tackle the engine rebuild that has been pending, as well as some electrical projects and some multi-stage dental work.

With our friends Jesus & Maria at El Bagazo.

We couldn't be happier. We have developed community here, something we have been sorely lacking. We love our morning routine of climbing El Faro (twice every morning now), followed by a walk to “our” juice place to see Jesus & Maria, and chats with people along the way. We have met some great people! We also have perros favoritos as well. We meet up with a group of crazy-awesome people on Saturday mornings at El Faro, and enjoy brief exchanges with the regulars there. We have been able to facilitate boat repairs through our connections with our new friends, and have a guy helping us get our engine parts to a machine shop. We have been reading the local papers (to the best of our ability – also a great way to learn Spanish) and are up to date on the local & national news and politics, as well as getting an interesting view from outside of the USA on the President-elect and his absurd antics.

Our Saturday morning El Faro friends. We love these guys!

It has been so, SO nice to slow down, and really get to know a place and the people that live here. We are really appreciating connecting with people and feeling a sense of community, of belonging. We are thoroughly enjoying this way of traveling, and we have found this pace suits us well. All of our plans to sail everywhere every minute are in flux now, as we alter and re-affirm our goals to reflect this different way of exploring the world. We know we are heading to Isla Isabel at some point, as we are keen to explore it, and we are meeting our friend Meggan in Barra de Navidad in mid February. Who knows what will happen in between... We'll keep you posted on what we come up with!

Sunrise from El Faro.

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