Friday, February 10, 2012

Ode To La Cruz

La Cruz, Mexico (Huanacaxtle)

We are currently in Chamela waiting for the tropical rain to stop so we can head south to Tenacatita. Here's a flashback to our departure from La Cruz on Tuesday. I apologize for the editing...I was in a hurry.

As I sit here in the cockpit, the town church bell is clanging away making me nostalgic for my college days. The clock tower in the middle of Chico State’s campus had a similar sound and rung every half hour, usually signaling that I was again late for class. Listening to the bell ring now, gently reminds me that it is time now for us get going again! Bittersweet since we have loved our time here in La Cruz over the last six weeks and it has become a home away from home.

Ben has successfully installed our new transmission and he continues to amaze me with his ability to fix just about anything. His display of perseverance and talents have been great examples for Mickey and J.P. who learned “mucho” from their dear, old dad as he muddled through this “do-it-yourself” transmission fix (I’m sure they also added some colorful language to their vocabulary he rattled off daily).

If there existed an academy award ceremony for mechanical repairs, Ben’s “I’d Like to Thank the Academy Speech” would probably go something like this:

“I’d like to thank Les and Nancy, the former owners of JACE, who answered all of my questions along the way and who we will forever be grateful for all of their support. A special shout out to Butch, the angel mechanic, who imparted his knowledge and expertise when I needed it and being an all around good guy. John from Popoki for taking a whole day out of his hectic schedule (ok so he skipped a surf session) to drive me to Mazatlan in order to retrieve a transmission donated by the generous captain of Victoria Dos. And all of the one-armed mechanics who stopped by to lend moral support, holding a wrench or bolt in one hand while drinking a beer with the other…confirming the well known fact that “man cannot repair an engine on bread and water alone”. I’d like to thank my mom for allowing me to build that motorized bar stool in the garage when I was 12. It was an excellent training ground for this project. Also for her efficient handling of our mail and depositing all of the rogue commission checks so we could purchase our new transmission. Last, but not least, to my youthful, Cindy Crawford look alike wife, who continually gave me quality advice like, “maybe you should read the instruction manual” or “um, instead of asking me, why don’t you ask the mechanic”. To all of you a heartfelt “thank you” and may all of your transmissions keep changing gears!

There are so many things and people we will miss as we leave La Cruz. Our daily visits to Huanacaxtle Café, our local “Cheers” hangout where everyone really did know our name. Even though they didn’t yell “Norm!” when I walked in, Oliver did always greet me with a friendly, “beunas tardes, maestra!” (good afternoon, teacher!). We always got warm hugs from all of our new friends, Alex, April, Oliver and J.C. (it should be noted that saying ‘J.C’s name always conjured up images of Jesus Christ due to my Catholic upbringing. It never seemed quite right that Jesus would serve me beer and tacos, but I clearly got past it!). It became our meeting place, internet café, karaoke bar and general playground with new found friends. Our visit would not have been the same without it!

I will miss our walks through town and being greeted by local merchants who became friends, petting our new furry dog pals, and eating at our favorite taco stands (sometimes located in a family’s backyard or simply tables on the street). Ben became amigos with Mario who owns a small market in town. To celebrate the Mexican tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Day (making a wish for every month of the year) Ben went on a last minute search for ‘uvas’. Of course all of the markets had run out , but when asked where we could get grapes, Mario told Ben to jump on the back of his motorcycle and whisked him to another store in search of the elusive produce. Mission accomplished! From that day on, Ben would walk the extra block to Mario’s tienda to refill his “ballena” beers for 20 pesos each.

We will always cherish the kid friendly town with memories of full moon bonfires, the marina kid’s club activities (who knew a handmade Star Wars valentine’s day card “Heart Wars” – made by Mickey – would be so romantic), birthday celebrations, movie nights in the outdoor theatre, the video game tienda where the boys could “rent” Wii time and traipsing all over town on their now salty and rusty scooters. As a parent, I think what I will miss most is their freedom to explore and play with friends in a way they’ve never experienced, just the way we used to play as kids. I fondly remember the days when our parents would shove us out the door to play outside in the neighborhood with the only rule being, “come home when the streetlights come on”. In this sleepy little Mexican town, this is still the norm and I am grateful that J.P. and Mickey were able to live like that for a bit.

Other highlights included: our hike to the petro glyphs with April from Wave House, the visiting dolphins/whales who frequently swam by our boat in the anchorage, Sunday flea markets which fed my homemade tamale addiction, tacos on the street, dancing to live music, local bus rides to anywhere and being able to walk through town finding friends around every corner. We were grateful to celebrate Christmas, New Year's and our 12th wedding anniversary here (we bought each other the oh-so romantic gift of a new transmission....sweet!)

So as we prepared for departure, we took a celebratory “new tranny” spin around the anchorage, it was bittersweet to have friends come up on deck with the enthusiasm only fellow sailors could exude. They understood that when your “house” is broken the time being land locked becomes more and more difficult for us “modern day gypsies”. The overwhelming desire to see new places outweighs the comfort of a home port.

Perhaps all too timely was the last song Ben sang at our weekly karaoke night. Along with Rob from Wings of the Dawn, he belted out his own version of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” with some sailor modifications:

On the sea again
Just can't wait to get on the sea again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the sea again

On the sea again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the sea again

On the sea again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way and our way.

Vaya Con Dios, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle!! These Doolittle gypsies will miss you!

Next up: More mechanical woes on our sail to Chamela…and no it wasn’t the transmission!



  1. Love these two posts. Sounds like an amazing time in La Cruz. Can't wait to hear about your new adventures! The whale blog was awesome.

  2. Happy Valentines Day Sailors! Love to you where ever this finds you : )

  3. I love the comment about "Jesus serving me beer & tacos"! You really are such a great and funny person and I personally am a better person for having known you!