Thursday, January 24, 2013

Random Comments and a FAQ Response from Mazatlán – January 19 - 25

Greetings from Mazatlán.  It was windy and cold (well, “Mexican-cold”) when we arrived from La Paz and for several days we swaddled ourselves in fleece and made our dining decisions based on whether the restaurant had indoor seating.  But as of last Friday the weather seems to have turned -- we now have hope that we can put the sleeping bags into deep storage without regret.  Today is spectacular – low 80 degrees and sunny, with a kind breeze.  YES – this is what we came for!
Aside from the (generally) good weather and the nice swimming pools at the hotel adjoining the El Cid Marina, we enjoy Mazatlán because it’s a real city.  While here we have had the opportunity to enjoy: 

Classical (aka Dead European Guy) Music:  On Sunday we attended a performance by a local chamber orchestra of two Mozart and two Vivaldi concertos.  Two teenaged soloists from Mexico City (DF) were featured.  The music was very pleasant and the soloists were quite impressive for their ages (16 and 17).  Best of all was that we got a chance to hear the music in the historic Angela Peralta Theater in Viejo Mazatlán.  We sat in one of the tiny nineteenth-century wrought-iron balconies and imagined that instead of looking out at a sea of norteamericano retirees in flowered shirts and sherbet-colored pants outfits, we were peering down on the upper crust of Mazatlán circa 1880 (about the time the theater and Ms. Peralta were both in full swing).  
The View from the 2nd Balcony.

The Camarata.

Museums:  After the concert we visited a little museum above Plazuela Machado Museo Casa Machado Circa 1846.  The museum is an eclectic collection of furniture, domestic artifacts and old pictures, many of which are much younger than the reported date of 1846, along with a room of costumes and pictures from Mazatlán’s Carnival.  The Mazatlán Carnival is quite famous as carnivals go, and we are very sorry that we seem to always be sailing away before or returning after the week-long party. 

Bryce on the Casa Machado balcony.
Casa Machado Balcony.
Carnival Preparations:  We have enjoyed seeing the Carnival preparations – there are huge statues along the malecon and at Plazuela Machado.  We would include the one of Marilyn Monroe but this is a family blog.

Carnival is Coming!
                Haute Dining:  We dined at a new restaurant in Old Mazatlán: Lauren’s - quite Euro in design with lots of glass and concrete floors and leather chairs.  There are a few bugs to work out at the restaurant.  Our first waitress didn’t think they had a wine list (?) and couldn’t say whether the chef tended to poco hecho (little done) or tres-quartos (medium well) in cooking steak.  And, because the menu didn’t specifically offer sides for purchase and the majority of the salads included meat, we were surprised when our beautifully presented steaks came with only three potato waffle chips and one spear of asparagus; a carnivore’s dream, and an omnivore’s dilemma.  When we mentioned our surprise at the lack of vegetation to our third waiter (we never figured out what happened to one and two), he said that of course they would have served us vegetables if we had asked for them . . . and I guess we’ll know that for our next visit.  But, the steaks were terrific, so we’ll go back when we’re in town in the spring to see how things have progressed – and remember to ask for some vegetation!
                Yoga:  We’ve reconnected with the yoga leader we enjoyed practicing with last year and have practiced yoga three mornings a week.  Living in a tiny space can really make one appreciate the benefits of yoga!

                Spanish Lessons:  Molly has found a drop-in beginners class, and Bryce has joined a conversation group.  We’re only sorry we are here for such a short time – these exercises could greatly improve our respective Spanish skills.

We also like Mazatlán because we now know several boats that make El Cid Marina their base, and we’ve gotten a chance to catch up with some friends from last season.  AND we have seen Ever Gleam (which we mistakenly thought was Ever Glean).  You may recall that when we last heard from Ever Gleam they had run aground off of Puerto Altata.  It was great to find out that all was well with them.  They were helped off the bar by pangueros and were shown the new way into the estuary leading to the bay (the old way points having become dangerous due to heavy rains).  The crew of Ever Glean had a great time in town and seem to have survived their frightening experience without scars to either Ever Gleam or the crew's psyches!  Importantly, we were able to get information on the new approach to Puerto Altata.  Note that these recent rains have changes approaches to a number of places in the Gulfo!     

* * * *

FAQ:  Doesn’t it make you crazy to be with your spouse 24/7 in such a confined space for such a long time?
As with previous FAQ’s we’ll each answer this separately.  But we do agree on the short answer:  Yes, on occasion, it does!

Molly’s Answer:  A transient lifestyle makes it difficult to form anything other than casual acquaintances.  So one’s spouse is called upon to perform the function of primary (and sometimes sole) social companion as well as all the other roles he or she promised to perform when the original agreement was inked.  By times that’s too much to ask.  For example, Bryce patiently explained just the other day that I didn’t need to read aloud everything I found interesting in the New York Times.  . . .
Add to this burden the effects of living together in a space smaller than the average bedroom.  In self-defense we are working at establishing a sort of personal concentration isolation – being in the same space but not engaging in the same activity, and ignoring the other’s activity.  For example, I am working on being able to wash dishes while Bryce is on the computer – without talking to him.  Likewise I try to ignore what he is saying to his boat bits (they seem to fit better if he coaxes or threatens them) while I’m reading.  There is such a thing as too much interaction.

That said, to date, we have managed not to throw the other overboard, and, for the most part, are enjoying being with each other – even in this tiny space that is Abracadabra.
            Bryce’s Answer:     Just to set the record straight, I normally wash the dishes.  Molly is chief cook; I am chief bottle washer.  But I digress….

I am just thrilled to be with someone who enjoys travelling and sailing.  We are both enjoying this point in our lives (edit: Molly agrees).  I doubt either one of us will want to continue this way of life forever but for now life on a (smallish) boat is good.  One just has to try a little harder not to push those spouse buttons than one does in a larger space.     
I also think men have an easier time adapting to this environment than do women.  The boating community is slightly male heavy, for one thing.  Mexican society tends to become more informal more quickly towards a visiting male than a woman (maybe many cultures??). And I happen to speak more Spanish than Molly.  So, I have the opportunity to interact with more people than she does, which makes me rely on her for social interaction a bit less than she does on me.  So – help us out and write her an e-mail now and then – I’ll enjoy hearing her read them to me!   

* * * * *

Off to La Cruz.  Tomorrow we depart for La Cruz de Huanacaxtle a village on the southern end of Bahia de Banderas (known as the bay on which Puerto Vallarta is located) - a trip of some 170 miles.  We have been joined by our friend and fellow sailor, Jim Thompson. 

The last few days have been spent preparing for the trip, including provisioning and preparing the food for the trip.  Because sanitizing vegetables takes so much water, its something done in bulk before a long trip:

Still Life: Drying Vegetables.

Fruit - Clean and Ready to Eat.

We'll be in touch when we arrive in La Cruz! 

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