Lovin La Cruz

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (La Cruz) is a small town located in the northern corner of Bahia de Banderas (Banderas Bay). During the day it’s a sleepy little town but in the afternoon and evening the sidewalks are taken over by restaurant tables, the bars open up and the live music starts playing. It all gives this place a very cool vibe. There is also a great Sunday market that they set up along the waterfront. There had to be at least 75 booths and vendors along with the fish market.

The crews from Stray Cat and Agave Azul enjoying the local fare
Sunday market bread vendor
Market florist
Glass artist
Local fish boats in front of the market

There is a large marina here but there is also a great anchorage area just outside the marina, so we elected to stay there. The marina provides a dinghy dock and for 40 pesos per day (about $2.75 Canadian) we can tie up and visit the town.

One evening a group of us went to a place called Tacos on the Street. A very busy restaurant (a wait for tables at a taco stand is unheard of) but worth it. Beef tacos were 30 pesos and beers were 25 pesos each. Afterwards it was off to the Green Tomato for some live music.

Necessity forced us into a tour of Buccerias. Ok we were running low on cash and the nearest banks are in Buccerias. So, four of us flagged down a Colectivo. These are white vans that run specific routes. Kind of a cross between a taxi and a bus. Don’t expect comfortable seats or A/C and they will pack the vehicle as full as they can but hey it cost 50 pesos for all 4 of us to ride. We walked through a massive tourist / flea market, the countless vendors all had a story as to why we should look at his or her shop and how theirs were the best prices. “Almost free” seemed to be the line of the day. “No Amigo” was our answer.

Lots of colour in Buccerias
Cool product display in Buccerias market

La Cruz and its neighbour Buccerias might as well be Canada’s 11th province with all the expats and snow birders that are located here.

La Cruz beach bonfire

We were having so much fun we spent five days in La Cruz, but we must keep moving so it was onto Nuevo Vallarta.

Talk about a change. Here we are in the Paradise Village Marina. This is a huge all-inclusive resort and condominium development. There are possibly more rooms here than there were people in La Cruz. I’m not complaining just noting the difference.

How can I complain? Part of our moorage package includes use of the facilities here and the evening entertainment.

Stray Cat at the marina
Nuevo Vallarta beach
Palapas to chill under

While staying in Nuevo Vallarta we took a day and hopped on the bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta. Had to take in the Malecon there and see the sights.

Every city has a colourful sign
Sea side sculpture
Malecon in Puerto Vallarta
Balanced stone art?
Statue at night
Sweet treat vendor

Another day we took the dinghy up the river estuary. While there are signs warring of crocodiles in the waters we did not see any. Which is probably a good thing given we were in a 10 foot inflatable boat.

We did see about a million iguanas though.

How may can you see?
The working man’s marina

Yup its boat chores, grocery shopping or touring in the mornings and afternoons by the pools. Feeling sorry for us yet? 😊

Still Southbound

We left Mazatlan in the afternoon for an overnight sail to Isla Isabel. The anchorage there is not very good for a long stay but it is ok for a few hours allowing for a quick trip ashore. The island is part of the National Park system and is also a World Heritage Site, it is nicknamed the “Galapagos of Mexico” because of its many nesting birds and iguanas. It has no permanent settlement but there is a research station and a few shacks on the beach. These are used by tourists who can book overnight stays. We spent about 2 hours hiking around the island. Thousands of birds; ie-frigates, blue-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-footed boobies, pelicans and many more species, lots of iguanas and tons of bird poop.  You need to watch where you step as the Boobies nest right on the ground.

Isla Isabel fishing shacks
Brown Boobie with lime green feet
Baby Boobie
lift off

 We carried on to San Blas and anchored in Matanchen Bay. This is a very pretty spot except for the Jejenes (Hay – Hay- Nays) AKA noseeums. These small biting bugs show up at sunset and sunrise, if you are not either inside with hatches closed or clothed in long sleeves and pants and covered in bug spray you are fair game for them. We were forewarned so didn’t get too many bites.  

yup we’re in San Blas
Matanchen Bay sunset

We stayed for 3 nights which gave us time to catch up on our sleep, tour San Blas and take in a “Jungle Tour” which is a 3-hour panga ride up the Rio Tovara estuary. It was very cool trip through the mangroves to see birds, fish, turtles, crocodiles, wild orchids and other flora and fauna.

Jungle river trip
Do not pet the wild life !
Another along the way
an old movie site

San Blas was established in 1530 and for a very long time was a major shipping and naval center for New Spain. As is the case with many towns San Blas grew and then, as the industry moved to other centres, it has faded back to small town status. There remains a large fort and several churches that are centuries old.

The old fort
View from the fort
Centro Square
Inside the main church
Cemetery entrance
Once inside

From San Blas it was a short sail to Chacala. Another big beach, it is known for being a little rolly in the anchorage, so its best to set two anchors. One off the bow as the main anchor and another off of the stern so the boat is held facing into the waves. Just an overnight here and then on to La Cruz.

Chacala beach

More to come in the next update.

A New Year and New Destinations

We arrived in Mazatlan mid December and took dock space at the El Cid Marina and resort.  We spent about 9 days hanging out and exploring Mazatlan then flew back to Vancouver to be with family and friends over the Christmas holidays.

It was a whirl wind trip with only two weeks to catch up with everyone. We needed a day timer to organize all the visits, outings and meals but definitely worth it. A big thank you to everyone for the hospitality.

We arrived back in Mazatlan and spent two more days at the dock then decided to rent a car with Mark and Patty from the sailboat Agave Azul and drive inland to check out the City of Durango.

Durango is a city of about 800,000 and is 450 years old. You have two options for the drive there. Option one, the old road, very scenic as it runs through lush tropical areas, high mountains and quaint villages like Capola. It takes about 7 hours as it twists and turns its way through the country side. Option two is a relatively new, toll highway. This road is a freeway that passes through nearly 10km of tunnels and includes the worlds highest suspension bridge that is almost 3km long and over 1300 feet from the river below. We started out on the old road but after 4 hours decided to get on the new one and get to Durango before dark. On the trip back to Mazatlan it was the toll road all the way. Total tolls for the one-way trip 600 pesos (about $41).

Copala church and square
Copala lunch stop
Highest bridge
Big canyons

Durango started as a mining and ranching town and is also known as a location for western movies shoots. At 450 years old, the city has over a thousand historical buildings and as you would expect the architecture has a definite Spanish Colonial flavour.

The city sprawls behind us
Typical church interior
Another church
Pancho Villa Museum interior
Our hotel
Building at night
Agave Azul and Stray Cat crews in the mining museum
Always on the hunt for a good bus

The big surprise was the tented building just off the main square. It held an ice rink with public skating and a short hill for tubing. Not what we expecting to see in Mexico!

Ice rink in Mexico

We stayed 2 nights in Durango and tried to see most of the main sites and attractions. We got in the: Mining and Mineral Museum, The Pancho Villa Museum, walked through the Parque Guadiana (central park) , rode the cable tram to the highest peak in the city and took in the Western Town attraction (the site of many western movies.)

Western Town
Who are the bad guys?

The hotel we stayed at was on Calle Constitucion which is the main pedestrian street through the Centro District. It was a great location, walking distance to just about everything and the street was lined with shops, restaurants and bars. The iPhone says we walked about 15,000 steps a day. Still not likely enough to burn off the 2 great dinners we had.

We are planning on leaving Mazatlan tomorrow, buddy boating with Sedna and Agave Azul, first stop will be Isla Isabella which is known as the Galapagos of Mexico, then a couple more stops as we make our way south to Puerto Vallarta.

Hopefully have an update for you then.