Decisions, Questions and Second Guessing.

We stayed in Zihuatanejo for Guitarfest. It was a weeklong celebration of all that is possible with a guitar. Acts as diverse as classical guitar, Native Mexican guitar, blues, rock and even a Japanese artist with a 16-string guitar. All of it taking place in venues that ranged from small intimate clubs to beach side resorts and the main beach stage. Quite literally something for every musical taste. We volunteered with Guitarfest (working at the kids’ concert) and that gave us passes for all but the Gala events. We took full advantage of this and attended a different venue every day. Unfortunately we had to depart at the end of Guitarfest and did not have a chance to take in Carnival which started the following day.

16 string guitar
Lunch stop in Trancones before the show
Repurposed VW
and another version
Zihuatanejo dressed up for Carnival.
More decorations for Carnival
One more from Zihua

Barb’s sister and our brother in law (Sandy and Marc) came down to join us for the last few days of Guitarfest and the sail back to Nuevo Vallarta. We spent a couple of days working our way back up the coast. At one point we came across a group of what looked like 6 bleach bottles all tied together. We swung by for a closer inspection and discovered it was a sea turtle entangled in some discarded long line fishing equipment. Time to build the karma bank. We launched the dinghy and Marc and I went over and were able to cut the netting away. It was deeply inbedded in the right front flipper. I think he was so exhausted, he let us work away with the knife, cutting away all the wraps until it was free.  His buddy kept a close eye on the situation nearby.

Help is on the way
He’s completely tangled
He’s letting us cut him free
Removed from the turtle
After freeing the turtle we decided to take on the tackle box
Enjoying a paddle around La Cruz

While we are enjoying our time sailing back towards Puerto Vallarta the rest of the world is shutting down due to the Covid- 19 outbreak. We are listening to the different forms of radio we have for all the information we can gather and of course when cell service or Wi-Fi is available we are on the web trying to understand what options are available to us.

Sandy and Marc headed back home on one of the last flights out of Puerto Vallarta. (Yes, they will be self quarantining for 14 days upon their arrival) We have decided we will stay with the boat.

Being on the boat and working our way north in the Sea of Cortez, arriving in Puerto Penasco and hauling the boat out for hurricane season in June, was the original plan and the one we have decided to stick with. If we are not able to do that we will spend a hot summer in the Sea of Cortez. There have been several others we have considered but all had us in Canada or the US where, according to news reports, conditions seemed worse and reported instances of the virus remained higher.

We believe we are fairly self sufficient on the boat. We can make our own fresh water and electricity. We are currently busy provisioning and we should have enough food on board for a few months.  I’d like to say we could live on the fish we catch but based on our experience it’s best we purchase food before we go. Currently in Mexico the store shelves are still stocked. Hand sanitizer sometimes is a challenge to find though.

We have been speaking with many cruisers who’s plans have changed radically. Many were looking at heading to the South Pacific or points south of Mexico and have had to hold up or turn around. Some have had their extended medical insurance cancelled and had to head back home. Many chose to park their boats in a marina and fly home. Others have written off the season or plan to return when things get better. Some have even elected to sail back up to the Pacific North West.

All of us are trying to make long term decisions based on news that changes daily, is often from questionable sources and requires input from multiple jurisdictions. It’s impossible to know if you are making the right decision. We second guess and “what if” ourselves all day but in the end, we need some plan. So social distancing and self isolating on a boat it is.

It has always been customary that guests on a boat were offered alcohol. In the past it was in the form of a drink. Currently it is hand sanitizer.

Self isolating

We are very aware that our situation may be far better than what many may be facing. We wish everyone good health and safe passage in this crazy time.

Off to the Big City

We had some time to kill in Zihuatanejo before the start of GuitarFest so we figured we would take an inland trip to Mexico City. We had a couple of choices. One, we could hop on a bus and spend between 8 and 10 hours riding through the country at a cost of about $40 per person or we could catch a direct flight from Zihuatanejo to Mexico City, be there in 50 minutes and the cost was only $60. Yup we flew.

Flying in
Mexico City

Talk about culture shock. We have been alone on a boat or in small Mexican towns for months and an hour later we are in a city of 25 million people. What have we done! You know traffic sucks when Google Maps tells you your hotel is only 13 kms away but it’s a 32-minute drive. We have also discovered the shortest period of time known to mankind is the period between when the traffic light turns green and the car behind your cab honks their horn. At one point on our tour we were in 7 lanes of traffic all headed in the same direction and none of it was moving. That’s almost a good thing though, because it gives the vendors time to walk between the car with a captive audience.

Drive through shopping ????

We had 5 nights and 4 full days, and we pack a lot of tours and sight seeing in.

Day 1

  1. Tlatelolco – which is the largest archeological site within the city. It was discovered in the 1970’s when they were excavating for a condo complex.
  2. Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe – This the site of the second largest Catholic gathering place after the Vatican. The original structure was built in 1709. It has been settling ever since and has been closed for many years while they try and restore it. They have actually cut the building in two to save part of it from being pulled over by the part that is sinking. A new Basilica was opened in 1976. Both are incredible structures in their own right.
  3. Teotihuacan – this ancient city and site of several pyramids is located about 50 kms north east of Mexico City. It dates back 2100 years and is believed to have a population of 100,000 at its peak. We climbed both the pyramid of the sun and the pyramid of the moon. We are at an elevation of 7600 feet and there are a lot of steep stairs to the top of these. At the top all of the tourists engaged in synchronized wheezing and panting. You take a lot of pictures from the top of these pyramids, it’s a good way to cover up the need to catch your breath.
Ruins within the city
Old Basilica
New Basilica
Stained glass wall on the new one
Pipe organ in the new church
View from the pyramid of the moom
Pyramid of the sun
View from the top of the sun

Day 2

  1. Frida Kahlo Cassa Azul – Frida is an iconic Mexican artist. She was married to Diego Rivera and the two of them lived in this house. It has been converted to a museum and gallery of her works. While interesting I don’t think I’m destined to be a patron of the arts.
  2. Xochimilco – A suburb of Mexico City that contains canals, the remains of the lake that used to surround all of Mexico City. Transportation on the canals is provided by brightly painted Gondola type boats. Vendors also use these types of boats to sell their wares along the waterways.
  3. National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – a quick visit to the campus of this university to view it library building. This 10-story building is completely covered in a mural created entirely out of mosaic pieces. The mural was created by Diego Rivera and tells the story of the creation of Mexico. It is an UNESCO world heritage site as the world’s largest mosaic. There are very few windows in the building as the inner walls are lined with books.
Mexican canal boats
Our tour group
Floating vendors
Who needs a radio ?
Library at the University
Circus class 101?

Day 3

  1. Chapultepec Park – A 1700-acre park in the middle of the city. Trails abound and there is a lake to sit beside or rent a rowboat on. Or visit the zoo. Or buy something from any of the hundreds of vendor stalls or food services.
  2. Chapultepec Castle. Built on the top of Chapultepec Hill in the heart of the park this magnificent building has been a military academy, imperial home, presidential residence (because Mexico has been both an empire and a democracy), an observatory and is now home to the National Museum of History. Amazing structure, opulence and views.
  3. Museum of Anthropology. Also located within the park, this museum houses an incredible number of artifacts from pre-Mayan and Aztec times to the Spanish conquest. We lucked out with our tours this day. There were supposed to be 6 people. Four did not show up so we basically had a private tour.
Chapultepec Castle
Stained glass windows in the castle
What’s a castle without a grand staircase
Mural depicting the history of Mexico
Just a couple of vase’s as gifts from Russia
Roof top garden
View from the castle to Downtown Mexico City
The Umbrella at the Museum of Anthropology
The Stone of the Sun. 141 inches across, 39 inches thick and weighs 54,000 pounds.

Day 4

  1. Walking tour of the historic district. We started at the Metropolitan Cathedral and spent 3 hours with a guide that walked us through the area where she pointed out the highlights. We walked and talked about history, architectural styles and social customs. A whole city block was dedicated to La Quinceañera. This is the traditional girls’ 15th birthday celebration, more elaborate than their wedding or graduation. Its similar to a debutante ball or a coming of age celebration.
Metropolitan Cathedral
Museum of Fine Art
Museum of Fine Art
Store specializing in dresses for Quinceañera
The Old Post Office
Frolicking kids in the fountain in Alameda Park

We stayed at a hotel in the Zona Rosa district. There was a large pedestrian mall just a block from the hotel and that provided plenty of restaurants, bars and opportunities to people watch as we relaxed after our tours.

Mexico continues to be a land of contrasts and we are thoroughly enjoying our time exploring this large and diverse country.