Monday, June 29, 2015

Museums and Markets

With so much to see in SMA it's hard to pick where to start. Last week we decided to check out the mask museum. Using our map we walked to the location of the museum, right past it in fact. After stoping for directions from locals, we walked through the doors of the supposed museum. Walking past the front door we saw a few masks covering the walls of a steep stairway. Following the stairway we ended up in a gorgeous house somewhat confused about exactly where we were. My auto response it take pictures of where we are. Even if we're in someone's house. Cruising through a gorgeous house and helping ourselves to a bowl of candy we walked around looking for anything that might resemble a museum.
Inside someone's house
After a few minutes of browsing around we came across a housekeeper who was just as surprised to see us as we were to see her. In our best Spanglish we asked,

 "Is this a museum?"

To which her response was 

"Do you have an appointment?"

Appointment? Now we're really confused. We explained that we were looking for the mask museum. She asked that we wait in the house and left. She eventually came back and escorted us through the back of the house across a small side street and into another small house.

Taking pictures in someone's house
That's where we met Bill (an English speaking expat). After shaking hands with Bill, I told him 

"I think we just walked through someone's house to get here"

Bill's response, "Ya that was my house. I own the mask museum and operate the bed and breakfast you just walked through". Suddenly it started to make sense.


Any wonder why we were confused? The entrance to the musuem is just another door in a regular neighborhood. And yes, they prefer if you have an appointment so that Bill can give you the full tour and be able to spend quality time with guests. Despite the fact that we tromped through Bill's house and showed up sans appointment, he was gracious enough to let us see his beautiful collection.

Masks for sale out of the museum

The museum also featured Mexican Folkart

Each time we walk into the center of town, we try to take a different route. Lucky for us each way ends up being a great new adventure. SMA has several markets woven through the streets. 

The fresh vegetables and fruit are colorful and really cheap

Pinatas and flowers

I don't often take pictures oof food but this is an exception. Deep in one of the street markets was a little restaurant serving homemade food. We ate on of the best meals full a whooping $10. We all but rolled away from the table we were so stuffed. Below is Phil's $2 chile rellano...somewhere under the rice, beans and veggies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

San Miguel De Allende at a glance

The first 24 hours in SMA (San Miguel De Allende) we thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in flannel pajamas, watching TV, doing laundry and relaxing. Today we decided to walk into town from our neighborhood which took about 40 minutes and explore our new home. Our trip was short lived as we needed to back in time for someone to come fix the house internet. Our first impression of SMA? We love it here! It's gorgeous, there's so much to see, people are extremely friendly and we can't wait to spend the next 3 months exploring.

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel


                                           Here's a fun story. While we were walking around we came across a house that said Casa of South Carolina. Phil being from South Carolina wanted to take a picture. We got home this afternoon and received an email from Phil's mom saying that long time family friends of theirs who live in South Carolina just so happen to also have a house in San Miguel De Allende. This is their house! They'll be here in July and we plan to make a visit. 



Skinny sidewalks

Fresh food is always available along the streets.



Saturday, June 20, 2015

We're taking this party inland.

We had every intention of sailing the Sea of Cortez this summer, till reality struck. It's hot here, like really hot. Rightfully so, the Sea of Cortez snugs up against the Sonoran desert. Most people describe the summers here as "sitting in an oven with a hair dryer blowing on your face".

Terrapin on the hard in Guaymas, Mexico
During the first few months of our adventure, our conversations with other cruisers began to feel rehearsed. After hearing of our plans, people would inquire about the air conditioning unit we don't own and then ask specifics about our beefy deep freeze we don't have. Most conversations would end with a sympathetic, "Good luck" and the same "these people are nuttier than squirrel turds" look. Most people haul their boats out for the summer and get the hell out of Dodge. We're leaving for a few months too.

Where are we headed till October?

Put your hands together and give a warm welcome to the colonial town of San Miguel De Allende. Located at 6200 feet above sea level, this town is steeped in rich history and will offer us a great 'home base' as we plan to explore other great Mexican cities for the next few months. It was while we were having another one of our "What are you doing this summer" conversations with another cruising couple that we first heard of San Miguel De Allende. They spoke about it's cobblestone streets, European influenced architecture and most importantly, the cooler summer days they planned to enjoy.  

Phil and I plan to brush up our Spanish, and we are excited to visit places like Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, etc.  We've already contacted the SPCA in San Miguel De Allende, and they are eager to meet their new kid volunteers for the summer ... we will not be coming back with any more animals! Emma is stoked on the free children's art classes offered by the library and has packed all 500 pounds of her art supplies. Captain Fluff can't wait to cool his kitty parts and gain some distance from all of us.
 So what's the best part about heading to San Miguel De Allende?  Our new mode of transportation!

Feast your eyes on this!

"Pepe" our white Beluga

Oh no you didn't! Oh yes, we did. Phil and Aimee have bought a loser cruiser!! I'm almost certain that somewhere in the wedding vows, tucked next to the promise of always seeking an adventure with a cold beer in hand was the vow to never, ever own a mini van. Like most shameful minivan owners, we're not proud of this purchase. What can I say? Desperate times = desperate measures. With 5000 pounds of school supplies, a need for transportation all summer and a 16 year old cat in tow, we did the unthinkable. 

We will be returning to our boat in October, ready to sail out of Mexico towards Central America and through the Panama Canal. Till then, we're taking this party inland. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cost to Cruise MAY 15

Many thanks to our "Buy us a Beer" donors. It's very hot here in the Sea of Cortez, nothing helps to keep us cool and sane like an ice cold beer!

Mr. and Mrs. Baillon
Jennifer B. 
Kevin K.
Mary S.
Todd M.
Nana and Grandaddy
Peter K.
Reggie S.
John R. 
Pop and Kaye

Not that we needed another reason to love the Sea of Cortez, but we found that the further north you sail into the sea, the less places you'll find to spend your money. The only catch to not having a place to spend your money is that you need to be keen when provisioning and not let yourself run out of food or!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sights of Steinbeck country

John Steinbeck spent some time in the Sea of Cortez and eventually published The Log from the Sea of Cortez, his book is a result of a month long marine specimen collecting expedition. We have witnessed more marine life in the Sea of Cortez than most other places we have cruise. Our first month sailing, I read to the girls The Pearl by Steinbeck, a book any family should read if headed this way.  It's neat to think that almost all the places we've seen in the Sea of Cortez, Steinbeck had been to.

This blog entry covers from Bahia Conception, Isla San Marcos, Santa Rosalia and ends with a passage that took us back across the Sea of Cortez to mainland Mexico. If you click on the "Where are We" tab you can see our progression. 

Playa Santispac in Bahia Conception

Don't tell our mothers...we like to take rides from strangers. We hitched a ride into town with a fisherman who needed to fill up the truck with gas using a gas can out of his fishing panga. 
I'd say that the El Coyote Trailer Park has seen better days.

We left Bahia Conception and headed towards the Island of San Marcos. Coming upon the island heading north it's a hideous island as the southern part of this island has an active gypsum mine. We almost kept going but figured we would check out Sweet Pea Cove first and then decide. We decided it looked great and stayed for two days. 
Hiking past a small fish camp to the plateu on top of the island.

Terrapin in Sweet Pea Cove off Isla San Marcos

Mainland in the distance

We found an awesome sea tunnel to swim through.

Mantra Ray jumping out of the sea at sunset.
Needing some provisions we sailed to Santa Rosalia, a unique town unlike any other that we have visited. Santa Rosalia is an old mining town with European influence. Iglesia Santa Barbara (pictured below) is a steel church originally built in Brussels that was disassembled and shipped across the globe to Santa Rosalia. The architect of the 110 year old church (still being used) was Gustave Eiffel, as in the Eiffel Tower. 

Iglesia Santa Barbara

Picking up a new broom for the swabbies

Just about every town in Mexico has a square that will offer a place to sit in the shade during the day and fun things to do at night. 

While Phil spent hours working in the insanely hot sun on boat projects, the girls and I took a tour of the copper smeltery. It was unbelievable to me, that something this huge was sitting completely open for the public to explore. Back in the States, this would have been torn down a long time ago and if not, there would have been a fence around the perimeter with "stay away" signs posted everywhere, and a few dozen lawsuits pending for the trespassing idiots who ignored the signs and hurt themselves. Not in Mexico, enter at your own risk, and if you happen to break a leg, tough nuts!

Watch your step!

I wanted to stay another day or two in Santa Rosalia but when the thermometer is reading 104 degrees at 10pm, it's time to move on. After two days of no sleep and only being able to exist off of ice cream sandwiches and beer, it was time to go. I knew it was too hot when I was buying ice cubes, for the cat!

Starting at 3am, we sailed across the Sea of Cortez back to the mainland side and hit up Las Cocinas.
Gorgeous Las Cocinas where the desert meets the ocean.

Moving across the Sea towards mainland made a huge difference in our ability to sleep and eat as it was almost 20 degrees cooler.  Our beloved guidebook doesn't talk to much about this area, for us it was one of our favorites.
Captain Fluff joining Jessica for a beautiful sunset.
With the girls enjoyed a Minecraft party of their own, Phil and I grabbed a kayak and went off for a date night hike to catch the sunset. 


I've never been one to "love" the desert, until this trip. When cordon cactus and red rocks run straight into a gin colored sea, it's amazing. 

Our next stop was straight to San Carlos to secure one of the last marina slips and wait for Hurricane Blanca, which thankfully was uneventful. We will be heading back out into the Sea of Cortez tomorrow!