Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas Flashback

Current location: La Cruz (Huanacaxtle), Mexico

Still settled here in La Cruz enjoying great weather and visitng with friends. We have received the necessary transmission part which Ben has installed and are keeping our fingers crossed for a successful fix. Nasty old Mrs. Doolittle’s boat school has begun again amongst groans from her pupils who would rather ride around on their scooters terrorizing the marina residents and local townsfolk. We hope to toss off the dock lines as soon as the repair is complete and head south towards Zhihuatanejo/Ixtapa area. The actual departure is being dictated by our transmission challenges (see how I turned that into a positive….not a problem…it’s a challenge!). Apparently there are many beautiful anchorages along the way and we look forward taking our time, exploring as we go.

Now a flashback to our first Christmas on the boat here in La Cruz…..doooo-dooooo-dooooo-dooooo……

My sister Colleen (Auntie Co Co) boldly accepted our invitation to visit for Christmas, which goes to show how truly brave she is! A woman vacationing on a small Floating Frat House takes a motivated and determined traveler. Apparently she enjoyed herself since she extended her stay by a week, which allowed us to show her some sights and play a bit more. She chose to forego our “guest quarters” and slept up on deck under the stars. Coll was also a good sport about the fact our life here is not a vacation and there are always “real life” things for us to accomplish (insurance work, repairs, school, etc.).

Everyone on our dock knew about her impending arrival since Mickey and J.P. scooted up and down the dock telling everyone their “Auntie Co Co” was coming for Christmas. I think she enjoyed meeting everyone and found herself among kindered spirits who validate and encourage the wanderlust from which both Coll and I have always suffered.

When she arrived the Christmas preparations went into full swing since one of her suitcases was filled with presents for all of our family. This year’s shopping presented some challenges since the boys had specific items they really wanted (Nintendo DS Lego Batman, Star Wars Lego kits, baseball jerseys, etc.). Finding these things in Mexico were challenging and if I did come upon them, they were extremely expensive. I ordered all of our presents via Amazon and had them shipped to my sister, Kathy’s house in Elk Grove. Then she very generously dropped them off in San Mateo for Colleen to perform pack mule duties to Mexico. Fortunately Auntie Co Co got the “green” light at airport customs and all the gifts made it to the boat without a hitch.

Also, J.P. called ahead and asked her to bring her knitting supplies so she could teach him how to knit! The lessons started right away and soon J.P. was expertly creating a new scarf for his teddy bear, Jon. I would often find him in the v-berth diligently working to finish in time for Christmas. At one point he said, “shhh, Jon’s right here sleeping. I don’t want him to wake up and see his Christmas present.” I think the next project should be a teddy bear life jacket because if that bear ever goes overboard and sinks….we are in BIG trouble.

On Christmas Eve the vessel Serendipity organized a potluck for our dock in the marina. I was raised in a large Irish Catholic family, so food at any gathering is extremely important!! During one of our first dates, Ben actually attempted to eat off my plate and he almost lost an arm. Therefore, I was a bit apprehensive about a holiday potluck and was still recovering from Thanksgiving in La Paz where they ran out of desserts and stuffing (This memory STILL makes me want to punch somebody.….I think I may need therapy to recover from this tragic event).

My concerns were unnecessary since there was a bounty of delicious food AND desserts. Apparently I should have been more worried about my own contributions for the event. My brother e-mailed me his peanut butter ball recipe and I searched the markets for all of the required ingredients. Powdered sugar and chocolate chips proved to be most elusive and my Spanish speaking skills were put to the test. In the end, I discovered “azucar glass” (powdered sugar) at Walmart and our friend Lisa from Endorphin pointed me in the right direction to find some Mexican chocolate.
Making peanut butter balls was my attempt to quell the homesickness I was feeling. I tend to comfort myself food (I know….another item to discuss in therapy) and a taste of home traditions was just what I wanted.

Unfortunately, all food preparations did not go as planned. The Mexican chocolate used for the balls was not even close to Nestle Toll House and my stuffed mushrooms were literally inedible. The good news….my Pom-o-Politans (Cosmopolitan, but with Pomegranate juice) were a huge success, reinforcing something I already knew. I would be a great bartender and a crappy chef. So the mushrooms were designated to fish food and we picked up a rotisserie chicken from the “Chicken Lady” here in town (The Chicken Lady and are my new BFFs!).

After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, the kids of Dock 4 congregated on our boat for a raucous visit and spent the next hour swinging from our hand rails burning off sugary sweets. After our little visitors left, we prepared for Santa’s visit. Cookies and a tortilla shaped like the Gingerbread Man (stolen from the potluck), were set out in the cockpit along with a glass of milk. Delving into the refrigerator for carrots produced no results so Mickey wrote a note to Santa that read:

Dear Mr. C,

If you want more milk, its in the frige. Sorry abot the carrits.

The Doolittles

As Mickey and JP slept in the v-berth, we wrapped presents and toiled late into the night. Around midnight we were able to lay our heads down for a good night’s sleep and were awakened at dawn by little footsteps sneaking around the boat. Santa had left stockings in the companion way and soon the frenzy of present opening began.

By far the most interesting and entertaining gift was the new clothes Ben received. The boys and I had purchased a “lava-lava” (a.k.a. sarong) back in Mazatlan and ordered a Will Farrell “I need more cowbell” shirt on-line (see photo for results). His new Polynesian trousers was soon dubbed a “ma-wrong” by our friends on Endeavor and we all giggled as our tall, thin giant enjoyed his new comfy outfit. It should be noted that this item was on Ben’s Christmas list as he expressed a desire for something comfortable to put on after swimming out in the open sea. Again, something I love about Ben…he’s not too concerned about what people think. Maybe for his birthday we’ll complete the outfit with a “satchel”.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around and walking on the beach until it was time to go to dinner. Colleen and Ben found a restaurant called Pacifica while walking in town and made reservations for their fixed holiday menu. We sat in the beautiful garden setting enjoying one of the best meals I have had in recent memory. You know one of those meals you wake up the next morning thinking about with a smile on your face? Utter heaven and if you are ever in La Cruz Huanacaxtle, Mexico I would highly recommend it!

The meal was accented with a great bottle of wine my sister Kathy sent down via Colleen’s suitcase called “Three Sisters”. One of the things I miss most about California (besides my sisters...) is a good bottle of red wine, so this was an unexpected and much appreciated treat. The homemade dessert tray was stupendous with Chocolate Madelines, vanilla ice cream, pecan fritters with homemade caramel and a creamy cheesecake with plum sauce. My disappointment over the failed peanut butter balls was soon put to rest and J.P. and Mickey both agreed that “this is the best meal ever!!” After the consuming every last morsel of food, the boys and I ventured upstairs to enjoy the view and watched a man lead his white horse down the dirt street. Another reminder we were in Mexico!! I love his place!

It was encouraging to witness the residents of the Floating Frat House enjoy a classy restaurant and tickle their palette with something other than hot dogs and grilled cheese. There is hope after all!

Next up: Doolittle Hillbillies visit the Four Seasons plus sailing on Endeavor and our CLOSE encounter with a humpback whale….


CoCo and her new whale sculpture (with J.P.'s knitting project).

Ben in his new Lava-Lava

Awaiting Santa's visit!

Kid's Dock #4...Good times!!!


  1. Happy New Year Doolittle Clan!!

  2. Sounds like Jon is to J.P. that Wilson was to Tom Hanks. (Better find a backup just in case!)

    Love all the stories, keep them coming!