PUERTO VALLARTA TO ZIHUATANEJO…and back
In early May, we launched on a mission to repair our sail drive, and what we thought would be a relatively easy fix, turned into a month of Samsara being on the hard ( out of the water) and us moving into a nearby hotel, the Westin, for what seemed like an eternity. Now, that might sound glamourous, but with two antsy sailors who heard “mañana” ( it is the national word of Mexico, often followed by “con seguridad”, which means “for sure”) daily, it was more than a little bit painful, and by the time the repair was completed, weeks longer than expected, I, more than Jeff, was bleeding patience. However, we did take advantage of a not ideal situation by making a side trip to one of Mexico’s 113 “Pueblo Mágicos” called San Sebastien del’Oueste, about 2 hours into the mountains east of PV, and spent lot of time discovering the Old Town section of Puerto Vallarta.
Finally with Samsara deemed seaworthy and ready to go, we carried on with our Mexican exploration south of Puerto Vallarta with Zihuantanejo as our slated final destination, at least on this leg. People in the sailing world often describe Zihuantanejo as one of their absolute favorite places in Mexico; a magical bay where every night, it looks as if God sprinkles billions of sparkling diamonds from the heavens onto the hills of this quaint town. Previous to our arrival, we heard so many glowing reports about the area (people like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Andy Warhol had homes here, and the final scene of Shawshank Redemption was filmed on the town’s main beach, La Ropa, ) that we were beyond excited to discover “Zihau”, as the locals say, for ourselves.
We were joined by my oldest friend, not related by blood, Cal Roth and his wife Cathy. The Roths had last been to Zihau as young love birds in the mid 70’s and remembered it as simply magical. Jeff and I were delighted to have them on board and, prompted by their return ticket date back to Florida, we scooted down pretty much as fast as possible to see what all the hype was about with stops in Ipala, Careyes, Manzanillo and Caleto de Campo before sailing in to what would serve as our home waters for nearly a month. Aside from a distressing chance meeting with a submerged rock and our keel (ouch!), the trip down was damn near perfect, with one stand out night consisting of a candlelit dinner on Samsara in Manzanillo followed by a round robin concert of each of our favorite songs played loudly via our cell phones through our new speakers which continued until we could barely keep our eyes open. It truly was an unforgettable starry night paired with friendships old and new, good food, a little drink, the sea, incredible music and a reminder that moments like this is how memories are made.
The Roth’s were easy boat mates and didn’t stay long enough. We truly hope to see them aboard again! Best of all, THEY DON’T GET SEASICK!
We had about 3 weeks in between guests to really get to know Zihau. There’s no marina there so were anchored in the bay the entire time, which served as the perfect vantage point to bask in the city’s dazzling lights every night and observe the phenomenal show that the local fisherman put on first by hand tying their nets and then casting them into the air while standing on elevated platforms in their brightly colored pangas. As they toss them, the shapes of the nets transform from long tube-like structures into graceful canopies that resemble giant iridescent jellyfish. Like an orchestrated note in a symphony, the edges of the canopy hit the sea’s surface in unison creating a mesmerizing halo of water droplets. It’s just fantastic and offered hours of entertainment for us bay dwelling on lookers.
Oddly, the effects of the pandemic have been mostly a positive for us (except for the fact that it prohibited us from crossing the Pacific to continue our round the world adventure, at least for now). Spending time in Zihuantanejo with very few tourists was a perfect example of how Covid actually enriched rather than hindered our experience. For much of the pandemic, everything was closed in Zihau….every restaurant, hotel, shop, boat rental, clothing shop, hair salon, etc. Only the barest of basics remained open and those with limited hours of operation. When we arrived, the town had only just reopened, and hotels were still yet to be filled beyond 15% occupancy. Reservations were not needed anywhere for dinner. The streets were mostly quiet. In a situation like this, we were exposed without any barriers to real life in this lovely spot and we enjoyed it immensely! It was one of the first times we felt like real locals. In Zihau, as we have found everywhere here in Mexico, the people were warm, friendly, trustworthy, reliable, curious about us and ever helpful. On land or sea, we have never once felt threatened or afraid anywhere in Mexico. We walked the streets of Zihau daily, met a few ex-pats who came and never left, ate at some phenomenal restaurants, swam into shore for beach side massages and generally enjoyed the experience of blending in. When it came time to head back north we regretted like so many others had, that we just didn’t spend enough time in “Zihau”.
For our return trip back up to Puerto Vallarta, we gladly welcomed Mike Gordon aboard from Newport who flew into Zihuantanejo with just enough time to have an amazing dinner at a Tentaciones, our favorite restaurant featuring a jaw dropping view of the city and the bay, get a decent night’s rest and start our trek back to PV to address the ding in our hull from Samsara’s encounter with the rock. While fighting the prevailing wind on our nose most of the way, our trip presented a less than totally comfortable ride, but that didn’t dampen any of the fun of having Dr Gordon on board (and beating him at backgammon by 1 point)!
Back in PV, we took Mike out on a tour of Old Town and enjoyed an amazing farewell dinner one of the city’s best restaurants, Café Des Artists, set in one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. The photo on our website with the 3 of us and a large orange disk provoked a question by Mike’s son, Jonathan,…”what have you guys been taking”? Well, the answer was “nothing but good old tequila plus a few bottles of wine!” Slightly wounded, we sent Mike on his way back to the states the next day with a pocketful of memories and an open invitation to return anytime.
Throughout the journey Jeff and I remained endlessly hopeful that French Polynesia would open to maritime traffic by some miracle, and we would soon be on our way across the sparkling waters of the South Pacific. However, since we returned to Puerto Vallarta, we learned that Tahiti is now closed tighter than ever to maritime traffic. WTF, Président Macron ???? One can fly there on United Airlines direct from LA, but you cannot sail for 28 days and arrive in Tahiti without being turned away even if you are vaccinated!?! Needless to say, we are in the midst of devising a Plan B. So that means…..stay tuned for an update, and…… I get to delay my French Duo Lingo lessons for at least another two months!
3 thoughts on “Kate’s Blog #8”
Sounds awesome! Glad it has worked out so well for you both!
I hope it is smooth sailing from here on out!!! Nancy
Beautiful update Katie! Will you be going to Hawaii now? Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure! ❤️