Blog Archives

Cedros, Ascunsión, Mexico City and Other Places We’ve Visited These Last Four Months.

These last few months with Ticket to Ride in Mexico have been pretty busy, but also productive and filled with family and friends. After leaving San Diego in December, we spent a couple of weeks moving down the western Baja Coast.

After clearing in at Ensenada, our first stop was Cedros Island which had a population of 1,350 in 2005 with the main industries of commercial fishing and salt production. Cedros is mountainous with the highest elevation reaching 3,953 feet. We chose to ride our bikes on the mostly flat parts of the island out to the airfield and salt loading facility. Traffic was sparse and the roads were very good.

Cedros Town is a rare stop for cruising boats and is not home to convenience stores or souvenir shops. Instead it is a working town with an authentic vibe, filled with people earning a living from the sea.

We made new friends along our route by inviting the boats anchored in Bahía Ascunsión to join us on TTR for a Christmas potluck dinner. We had a fun evening of good food and learning about our boat neighbors. Plus sharing Christmas dinner on TTR created the added benefit of making friends we see here and there as we travel in Mexico.

Christmas potluck dinner on board TTR

In addition to Cedros Island, we made four stops along the Baja Coast: Turtle Bay, Ascunsión, Santa Maria and Magdalena Bay. I have many great photos, but here is a sampling.

Sand dunes at Santa Maria.
This boat is so full of fish it is deep in the water….glad I’m not under all those birds looking for scraps.

After making short hops along the coast we took a longer sail from Magdalena Bay to Muertos in the Sea of Cortez which was about 240nm.

Dolphin friends playing in front of TTR in the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

All the way south and around the point where Cabo is, the sail was delightful. We saw plenty of whales breaking the surface, slapping fins and tails and even a few breaches!

Not a great pic, but uniquely Cabo – a whale fin below and an ultra-light above!

However, once we rounded the corner of Cabo and headed north, whew, the seas became very different. Opposing current and wind made for steep waves and very choppy conditions. TTR handled it all like a champ but Frank and I were happy to reach Muertos and drop anchor out of the churned up waters.

We were happy to settle into Muertos and enjoy this sunset.

From Muertos we directed our path to Coasta Baja Marina in La Paz. The time had arrived for us to fly to Mexico City and apply for our Long Stay Visas for French Polynesia. We completed this process two years earlier in the company of Randy and Shellie of s/v Moondance. This time we met up with friends Bruce and Alene of s/v Migration. We shared an apartment for the weekend as well as the cumbersome application process through the French Consulate in Mexico City.

Once back in La Paz, we spent a couple of weeks sailing in the Sea, dodging northerly blows and enjoying familiar anchorages. We celebrated Frank’s birthday while hiding behind Isla Coronado, which gave the birthday boy an opportunity to kiteboard. That was the first time Frank has kited in many, many months.

Next up was a visit from Jeff and Marcy. We had an awesome week together as we shared some favorite places close to La Paz and introduced these land dwellers to cruising life.

Frank, Marcy and Jeff at the helm of TTR.

The weather cooperated perfectly! The day Jeff and Marcy arrived, the wind was light so we left the dock immediately and motored north to San Evaristo, about 55 nautical miles away. We explored the fishing village, walked to the salt fields and stopped at Abuela’s house to buy some fresh tortillas. In fact, Abuela made the tortillas while we waited on her porch.

Hanging on Abuela’s porch.

We stopped at Isla San Francisco for a couple of nights where we hiked the ridge for another bird’s eye view of the anchorage.

Frank, MaryGrace, Jeff and Marcy overlooking Isla San Francisco.

Frank introduced Jeff and Marcy to scuba diving in the shallow waters of Isla San Francisco. It was an uneventful session since we stayed in the shallows and only introduced them to the basics. Diving is kind of a hassle when there is only sand to see and no exotic fish or interesting rock walls to explore.

Next we visited Ensenada Grande where paddleboarding and another hike were on the agenda. The water was still too cold to just hang out in it, but we managed to stay pretty busy doing other things.

Jeff and Frank landing a Skip Jack tuna which we released.

Early one morning, the four of us took the dinghy to visit the sea lion colony on Los Islotes before the tour boats arrived. We hopped in the water and watched the sea lions play in the sea. Visibility wasn’t great but we enjoyed watching the young sea lions swim nearby to check us out. The pups are very curious and often come close to snorkelers.

Sea lions playing near our dinghy.

Once back in the dinghy, we circled the island and several of pups followed us. They were like a group of teenagers daring each other, coming close to the dinghy, rising up from the water to look at us, then darting away as their bravery dissipated. Frank expertly slipped Day Tripper through the opening in the rocks for a mini Indiana Jones cave experience without any snakes, spiders or other creepy things.

A fairly strong westerly wind was expected so we chose to sail on the east side of Espiritu Santo and anchor in Bonanza at the southern side of the island in an attempt to find a calm anchorage. Marcy and Jeff ventured out in Day Tripper alone for a little sandy beach time while Frank and I chilled on the front deck of TTR.

The next day we sailed back to La Paz so our guests could enjoy a night and day in “the city” before heading back to Texas. We showed them some local flavor, like the Mercaldo where fresh fruit, veggies and meats can be bought. I’m pretty certain they were less than excited by the non-USDA health standards on display. So we headed back toward the Malecon for lunch in a slightly more touristy area.

Our week with Jeff and Marcy was great fun and we look forward to the next time they visit Ticket to Ride.

Frank and Gio unwrapping the new main.

Next up was the delivery of our new North Sails mainsail. We have replaced all of the sails on TTR and are now flying a suite of five new North Sails: mainsail, genoa, self-tacker, reacher (TWA @70-130, medium weight sail) and what we call the Drifter; a design Frank, Gino Morrelli and Fuzz Foster worked out for downwind sailing for shorthanded cruisers. North is calling this sail the Code G, I think, and we already know of a couple of other boats that have ordered the sail. (TWA @ 90-170ish, light weight sail.)

Gio checking out the new mainsail.

Gio of ApexRigging, flew into La Paz to help us dial in our new main sail. Gio was on board for several days working with us to set up the mainsail. We sailed a few times to make sure the main and reef points were in order. Gio and Frank reviewed our rigging, lines, sheets and halyards to make sure everything on TTR is solid so that we are in great shape for our sail to French Polynesia.

In light of our upcoming departure for French Polynesia, Frank and I decided to take a quick trip back to the US to visit our kids; one in San Diego and one in North Carolina – nice of them to live so close together, right?

On our way back to La Paz, we met Frank’s mom, Jackie, at the DFW airport and she flew with us to TTR. We had a wonderful, relaxed visit with Jackie on board Ticket to Ride for a week. We are incredibly blessed that Jackie is willing to travel to our boat and spend time with us. She is an amazing woman and delights in the beauty of her surroundings. Jackie enjoys the 360 degree views on TTR where we are immersed in nature. She delights in the beauty that surrounds her and always finds something interesting or beautiful as we move from place to place or as we swing on anchor.

Frank and Jackie watching sunset from the back step of TTR.

Once again we visited the sea lions, but this time we watched from on board TTR. The pups were accommodating and came up to the boat to take a close look at us. Jackie was delighted with their silly ways and we all enjoyed observing them in their own environment.

Sea lions hanging out on Los Islotes.

Jackie has returned to the States and now we are in full prep mode for our trip to French Polynesia. We have our long stay visas for French Polynesia in hand and it is finally time to prepare for this trip that has been SO LONG in coming.

Jackie and Frank at the helm of TTR.

Thanks so much for stopping by to wade through this really long post. We appreciate your time and hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into what has kept us busy lately. Stay well and stay positive! All the best from us to you.

Mexico City ~ Information Overload!

So we arrived in Mexico City on Monday and we have been running full tilt since – in a very good way. We had planned this trip with Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance who are also applying for a long stay visa (LSV) to French Polynesia.  Shellie and Mary Grace have spent a lot of time together or via e-mail reviewing and preparing the paperwork for the LSV, and the four of us had appointments at the French Consulate on Wednesday morning.

Working together, Frank arranged for a private driver (thank you, Eduardo, for helping us!!) and Shellie and Randy arranged for a perfect VRBO.

Our first day was spent preparing the final pieces of our paperwork, getting the appropriate visa photos and checking against each other’s check lists one last time.

paperworkOh the paperwork, the paperwork!

Wednesday we arrived at the consulate and had the first four appointments. We were all thrilled that we had every document required and now we only have to wait four weeks to (hopefully) receive our LSV.

Once the paperwork was submitted, we spent the remainder of our time in Mexico City celebrating and exploring some of the historical highlights. Tonight, Saturday, we are suffering from information overload so we are chilling at the VRBO and taking advantage of the excellent wifi.

Here is just a glimpse of what we toured. By the way I read somewhere Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world.

Right after a celebratory lunch we headed to Castillo De Chapultepec, which translates into “the hill of the grasshoppers.”  This castle was a summer home for Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, who, for our Texas friends, also was instrumental in developing the port of Galveston. We hired a guide who inundated us with this and other information including how the castle became a military school which was once over thrown by the US Marines.  For the “one minute” history of the castle, see this link.

IMG_9154Stairway entrance from the outside courtyard.

IMG_9212One of about eight stain glass windows of Greek goddesses.

IMG_9181  A balcony view of the Promenade of the Empress, now Promenade of Reform.

IMG_9220Upstairs garden with and observatory building in the middle.

After visiting such high falutin digs , we had sundown celebration drinks at Sofitel, a brand new French hotel on the Promenade of Reform and right next door to the American Embassy.

IMG_0468Cheers to finished paperwork and exploring Mexico City.

IMG_1099Looking down the Promenade of Reform toward the castle.

Thursday was a BIG day. We started at the Teotihuacan Pyramids which are about an hour from our VRBO, then we had lunch in a darling town next to the pyramids and we finished the day with a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadeloupe.

At the pyramids, we again hired a guide and Joel was simply excellent! Plus his English was easier to understand than our guide at the castle.

temples  A model of the Teotihuacan City uncovered so far. (Museum of Anthropology)

Honestly, the pyramids were amazing and extremely interesting. For instance, Joel said that if you cut a bag of sand and let it fall, the slope of the hill it forms will be 45 degrees.

IMG_9322Frank climbing up that 45% slope.

The pyramids were built at a 45 degree angle and the theory is that in the event of an earthquake, relatively little damage would occur. (Architects might disagree.)

Frame-31-01-2020-09-15-57View from the Temple of the Moon down the avenue of the dead; Sun Temple to the left.

Another interesting point, the steps, seats and walls of the colosseum were built with a 37.5 degree slant to make perfect acoustics! Joel would whistle facing one direction and the sound would carry counterclockwise all the way around the arena.

IMG_9276The huge colosseum with a sacrificial alter in the center.

Joel told us that a game was played on this colosseum field and the winner of the game was immediately sacrificed to the gods. This meant his heart was cut out and the heart and his blood were offered to the gods. YUCK

IMG_9277Perspective: one part of the colosseum and the alter wall to the left.

Joel quipped that in Mexico they say the reason they don’t win Olympic games is that all their best athletes were sacrificed. Macabre humor.

IMG_9294Walls of the homes where the upper class lived.

We saw remnants of some of the noble’s homes which had running water, baths and toilets, plus aqueducts, collecting pools, all kinds of interesting conveniences.

IMG_9300Inside were some beautiful colors and pictographs.

IMG_9342The Temple of the Sun behind us…. yes we did climb to the top.

IMG_9361The view from the Sun Temple required some time.

LVLnWgr0SBOEh6BUajT4fA_thumb_aa2Another view from the Sun Temple looking toward the Colosseum.

So this is absolutely just a tiny bit of information about the pyramids which were supposedly built beginning in 100BCE and at its zenith had a population of 125,000. You can follow this Wikipedia link for a quick overview.

biBSVf+sRXKnkWyigf3u0w_thumb_abc.jpgTostadas, tacos and enchiladas – yum!

Walking the temples created an appetite so we went to a nearby town for some local food and we hit the jackpot! We sat at a local market and had delicious fare surrounded by locals eating and doing their shopping.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_aee.jpgColorful and clean, we walked the streets and poked about.

After all that pagan imagery, I was happy to stop at the Basilica de Guadeloupe. On this site, Our Lady of Guadeloupe appeared to a poor Aztec farmer, Juan Diego, who had converted to Catholicism a few years earlier. Long story short, on December 9, 1531 Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego and asked him to build an alter on the hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego asked permission of the local Bishop who refused until Juan Diego received a miracle.  A few days later, Our Lady again appeared to Juan Diego and told him to climb the hill and pick the flowers.

This was December and the hill usually sported cactus and little else. But Juan Diego found a bounty of beautiful red flowers he had never seen before.  He gathered the flowers in his tilma (Aztec robe of sorts) and returned to Our Lady who arranged the flowers in Juan Diego’s tilma.

Juan Diego immediately went to the Bishop and dropped the flowers from his tilma at the feet of the Bishop. When the flowers fell out, an image of Our Lady Of Guadeloupe was imprinted on the tilma.

b34%yY2aSFWyIbLJD3o0zA_thumb_b17.jpg   Juan Diego’s tilma: I was stunned by the beauty of this image.

Since 1531, the tilma has been on display and we saw it in person. Honestly, I was stunned by the detail and vibrance of Our Lady!   A miracle indeed!!

And by the way, the Bishop recognized those red flowers as Castilian roses which were not grown in Mexico.

On December 26, 1531 an alter was dedicated to Our Lady of Guadeloupe.

BjCHJfjIRRSQmn69THQ_thumb_adaOne of the older churches erected on Tepeyac hill.

E8tSaZM1Tj6HGgqkMLzd7Q_thumb_adcThe interior of the oldest church.

Unfortunately I can’t find the reference but one article I read stated that after Our Lady’s appearance to Juan Diego, 9 million people converted to Catholicism!

Currently there are four churches on Tepeyac hill and I didn’t understand enough Spanish to determine which was built when but this appears to be the oldest, though it cannot be the original alter.

LMl1R+dyQw2KjrYAj%4iNw_thumb_ad5.jpgA statue depicting Juan Diego’s delivery of the roses and the image.

Sooo, that was our long and very gratifying third day in Mexico City.

Today we spent most of the morning at the Anthropological Museum which was recommended by no less than five different people.

The museum was beautifully done and filled with spectacular artifacts. However, my brain was overwhelmed from the prior days and the fact that all the information was in Spanish and I had to use a translator for every piece.  In the end I just looked for things that caught my eye.  Here are a few highlights:

mqcCNqD5Rp68CdqKregsEQ_thumb_a66  A picture from our visit to the pyramid colosseum and…

IMG_9438   A restored version at the Anthropology Museum showing how they looked long ago,

Perhaps the most fascinating city to me was the one built on muddy edges of Lake Texcono where the people built “chinampas” which are little artificial rectangular islands. The chinampas were made by planting aheujotes trees that were resistant to dampness at the corners. Then the edges were marked by logs and the plot created was filled with alternating layers of water lilies and mud which provided a fertile base for corn and other crops the Indians farmed.

IMG_9423   A depiction of the city built on Lake Texcoco.

This city had canals connecting the chinampas making this a waterway city similar to Venice, Italy. Today the lake no longer exists and Mexico City has grown up all around it.

Most of us have seen the beautiful embroidery and bead work of some traditional Mexican clothing and the Anthropology Museum had displays of old looms and the clothing created.

IMG_9441Such detail and bright color.

IMG_9439This work is all tiny beads individually sewn in place!

I read a few surprising things about the Aztec culture. The upper class would adorn themselves with jewels and precious metals but if a lower class person was found wearing them, the crime was punishable by death! I guess jewelry isn’t always a girl’s best friend!

IMG_9426    I thought COSTCO on Saturdays was bad, but 30K?!

Also, I thought this display of an Aztec market was interesting especially since I could see it closely and see the variety of wares on display.  But what really surprised me was that the information stated that as many as 30,000 people would visit this market daily!

After a few hours of brain saturation at this museum, we walked back to the Polanco area which is filled with high end shops and sidewalk cafes.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9d7.jpg Ahh, the view from a sidewalk cafe!

IMG_9452Today’s lunch was upscale, fat-filled and very tasty!

So we have another half day tomorrow before we fly back to Ticket to Ride. It has been a whirlwind trip and we are ready to get home.  But we will miss Randy and Shellie. I cannot imagine two people easier or more fun to travel with and explore this fascinating, extremely large and diverse city!

If you have made it this far into this blog post, you are a champ! This really only covers a portion of our time in Mexico City.  Hopefully I can share snippets on the Facebook or Instagram so you can see the lighter side of our trip.

Thanks for digging in and sharing this land adventure.  We will let you know if/when we receive our long stay visa for French Polynesia. In the mean time, let us know if you have any comments.  All the best from TTR. 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: