Saturday, February 18, 2012

Huatulco January 19-31

Bahia’s de Huatulco January 19th – January 31st

We finally have made it to Huatulco. It was a 33 hour passage from Acapulco. Our first anchorage is at Isla Cacaluta at Bahia Cacaluta, one of the 9 bays of Huatulco (wah-tool-co).

Bahia’s de Huatulco is comprised of nine beautiful bays. We had heard of it in our travels last year and decided to make it our southernmost destination for this year. Many boats stop here to wait for a weather window to cross the infamous Gulf of Tehuantepec on their way to South America.

Huatulco is also a tourist destination for Mexicans and Norte Americanos and Canadians alike. The entire area was reclaimed and rebuilt for that purpose in the 1990’s by Fonatar, the Mexican tourist agency. They developed a small harbor in Bahia Santa Cruz for fishing boats and tourist site-seeing boats and there is a cruise ship pier just outside. The small town of Santa Cruz is located here.

Most of the other bays are part of the National Marine Park system and are protected. Isla Cacaluta is part of this Marine Park. We anchor next to the cordoned off snorkel reef. The island is giving us good protection from the sea swell so we are able to get some much needed rest. Mel has come down with a cold so we spend our first three nights here. I get out the kayaks and snorkel gear and explore the reef.

We soon find out that what we thought was a nice private anchorage is part of the bay(s) tour for the double decker tour boats. We seem to have become part of the tour. Mazu will be in many pictures. We wave and smile.

Mel recovers from his cold and we are off to explore the rest of the bays. Our next stop is Bahia Maguey and Organo. These two beaches share an entrance. One beach, Maguey is dotted with palapa restaurants and is a destination via boat and cars. We set our anchor and dink to shore for a cold beer and ceviche.

It is here that we make a new friend. Gabriel greets us as we land our dingy, and like most of the places he is there to “invite” us to his restaurant. He seems very nice to we follow him down the beach to La Casa del Abuelo.  Like many of the waiters and taxi drivers we have met (the ones that speak good English) the all can help you with arraignment of tours, fishing, etc. Gabriel is the same. He offers to help us in any way he can. As Mel knows I would love to go on a real fishing trip we make arraignments to meet the owner of a fishing panga the next morning to arrange a fishing trip for me. Gabriel offers to come also as an interpreter.

We return to Mazu and reset our anchor, and set a stern anchor for the night. This very busy cove becomes dark and quiet at night and the entire place closes up and the last of the buses and taxis leave by 7pm. All we hear are the stray dogs barking on the beach. We sit in the cockpit of the boat and enjoy the cool breeze and the sounds of the birds, dogs, and waves. This is the life.

Most waiters make about 100 pesos (less than 10.00) per day and depend on these extras to supplement the income. In fact I think they take the waiting jobs so they can meet gringos. Our Gabriel seems to know everyone (as we soon find out is somewhat true). Anyway we meet in the morning with Sergio (the boat owner) and Gabriel. The date is set for Tuesday for to pick us up on Mazu in Bahia Santa Cruz.

We move to Bahia Santa Cruz and anchor to starboard of the cruise ship dock. There is a nice little beach to land your dingy. The restaurant there has and outdoor shower to wash the sand from your feet. This is a nice luxury as that is always a problem with beach landings, to get the sand off your feet so you can put your sandals on and not have the sand rub blisters on your feet as you walk around. 

Santa Cruz use to be a small fishing village and is now set up with restaurants along the beach and various gift and jewelry shops. There is, like in all Mexican towns a nice tree lined square. We find a wonderful handmade rug/tapestry shop. It is owned by a family and we met the young man to works the loom. We spy a wall hanging that we fall in love with. We make a deal with Freddy (his name) and will come back to purchase it.

Gabriel and Sergio arrive at about 6:30 a.m.  In Karen (the name of his boat), a very nice (I am relieved to see) fishing panga with a sun awning on it. It is very clean and in like new shape.
The seas are flat and it is a nice cool morning.  We get our first strike with-in the hour. Sergio says it is a yellow fin, and it is a big one. Unfortunately he gets off the hook. Sergio is not worried, said that fishing and we will get more. It soon becomes apparent that this guy knows what he is doing. We find out that he has been fishing all of his life and so did his family. In fact he shows us where his family home was, now taken over with condos.

Next I catch a good size Bonita, good for ceviche he says.  I am watching him intently. I want to see what lures and bait he uses and how he trolls for them.

We soon get another strike and after some very hard work I land a 25lbs (+/-) Yellow Fin Tuna!  Sergio is as happy as I am and calls “beer for the Captain” in English. We all have one to celebrate the catch. It is now time for lunch. Sergio prepares one of the Bonita’s for ceviche. It is delicious and makes a great lunch.

The ocean is spotted with sea turtles; we see at least two dozen today. I catch another Yellow Finn of about the same size. It is then time to head for shore. Poles are in everything is secure, and like all fishing panga’s returning to harbor, Sergio goes full blast for home!

I keep one fish and give the other to Sergio and Gabriel as a tip. As it is we get enough tuna steaks in our freeze for many a meal and ceviche. 

We are the only boat to catch fish that day, all the other panga owners’ mill around and chit chat with Sergio while he fillets the fish up for me. They are all his friends he tells me, and gives one of the Bonita’s to one of his friends. I guess it will feed his family that night. We learn that Sergio has a great reputation for catching fish. We see him a few days later cleaning six Yellow Fins that his charter caught that day. I hope we can return one day I would go again in a hot minute…


We meet Gabriel again first thing in the morning for a short driving tour of the area. One of his friends (as I said he knows everyone) owns a nice taxi so we rent it for the day. We first tour the hotel “row” at Bahia Tangolunda, and the small surfing beach at Conejo.  We then turn inland to visit the county seat of Santa Maria. Here we find the municipal building with a very interesting mural painted inside depicting some of the local lore and history. There is a beautiful church here and busy commercial streets. We find a small lunch counter and have cantaloupe juice and Quesada for lunch.  I then buy some produce from a street merchant to take back to the boat.

We then head back towards the bay to the small town of La Crucecita. Here is one of the prettiest squares we have seen. Large banyan type trees shade the area, a pretty gazebo in the middle and benches to sit and relax line the entire square. And as always the church is nearby. In this pretty church we are treated to a beautiful painting on the ceiling of the Virgin Mary.  We spend some time walking around the square and side streets. This is the closest town to the bays of Huatulco so I also pick up some provisions for the boat.  Gabriel then returns us to the beach as he heads to work.

Bahia Tangolunda
We are happy to see Groovy come sail by and then return to Bahia Santa Cruz to set anchor. We catch up with them with beers in their cockpit. We make plans to move over to Bahia Tangolunda the next day.

We set anchor in Bahia Tangolunda in front of a resort. It used to be a Club Med but it is something else now. It is very pretty. We do set a stern anchor to keep us pointed into the swell. I then explore in my kayak and I am rewarded with a close encounter with a dolphin.
Bahia Tangolunda is lined with beach resorts so it is a very active bay with jet skis, hobie cats, and kayaks. The beaches are filled (but not to filled) with vacationers enjoying the beautiful area and weather.

Unfortunately we seem to be anchored right by the evening entertainment hall.  The music is very loud most of the night. The next morning Groovy and Mazu move to the other side of the bay where it is less rolly and quieter.  We enjoy another evening with Mark and Emily with beers, ceviche and great conversation.

The Mexican Wedding

Our friend and guide, Gabriel has invited us to his friend’s wedding reception. He is in a band that will be providing the music. This is a chance we just cannot pass up. His friends, Salbador and Isabel are older and have been together for many years and in fact have a child together, but they have now decided to get married.
The reception is in a hotel in Santa Cruz near where we are anchored so it is a short walk there. Luckily I have a dress, and Mel has a pair of slacks to wear.

Gabriel meets us in the lobby and takes us in. We meet the bride’s sister and are seated at a nice table. We are the only (save one man) grigos there. But no one seems to take much notice and we are treated like one of the family.
A Mexican wedding reception is very similar to ours. The bride and groom enter and have a first dance, a waltz. Then the parents dance with them, then an announcer starts calling other names and other friends and family members all take turns dancing with the couple. It is very orderly. We find out later that after the parents the others are relatives and friends who have helped to sponsor the wedding a reception. This takes about 45 minutes. I am sure the couple are tired. Then the band plays some music and friends and family take gifts to the wedding table and congratulate the couple.

Drinks and music continue and some people dance. Gabriel announces that we are there from Oregon and that we are his friends there to celebrate with the couple.
A nice fish dinner is served and cake. Then more music and dancing. We are invited (one of the family, living in San Antonio Texas) speaks English and she invites us to join in the large circle dancing around the couple. We soon find ourselves in the middle, me dancing with groom, Mel with the bride, to much applause.  We are having a great time.

One of the highlights is the couples own dance to a chosen song. The sister brings up a c.d. and asks the band to play it in the CD player. Then the couple gets up to dance. I am expecting a romantic Mexican song to start, but no, it is Queen’s “Give me somebody to love” played at full volume. The couple obviously planed and practiced this dance, and this song must mean something to them. But we were surprised to say the least.
This night was one of the highlights of our time in Mexico. I gave us a snapshot into the Mexican culture and its people. They were warm, inviting to us and most of all they are a fun-loving people. We will remember this night always.

Time to go:
We cannot believe that is soon time for us to leave. We raise anchor in Santa Cruz to Bahia Organo for a night.  Then we find the gem of an anchorage in Bahia La India. A beautiful protected anchorage. A few tour boats stop in here for the day but in the late afternoon and evening it is empty and quite. There is a reef here that is perfect for snorkeling. We spend 2 days here and have a final good by with our friends Mark and Emily. Raising anchor at 6pm on January 31st. We say a sad goodbye to Huatulco one of our most favorite places in Mexico.  I hope that we can return again.

Pictures in this blog:
The wedding reception
Fresh Cevechi
Yellow Fin Tuna
Town square at La Crucecita
Mel and I
Mel and Gabriel
Painting on church ceiling in La Crucecita
Gabriel and his band at the wedding reception

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