Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pool party with kids from Manos de Amor

In April the Kids Club from the La Cruz marina set up a pool party and invited the kids from the orphanage in Bucerias (about 5 miles to the East of La Cruz). Allison from Kenta Anae did most of the coordinating and Katrina who works for the company that owns the marina,  Marival, also helped organize the party. Each of the four families with kids on boats in La Cruz brought some party food and Philo’s bar generously provided enough pizzas for everyone. 
The small pool somehow had enough water for all the kids.

Kyle and Savannah with their popsicles

Another happy popsicle eater 

Savannah and Teresa with the Los Manos kids playing a balloon pool game.
Toni is in the backgorund. 

I have to admit, I was a little worried that the pool party would be depressing, but it turned out to be far more fun than I thought it would be. All the kids enjoyed it. The orphans seemed healthy and happy. It seemed like at least half of the twenty or so kids knew how to swim and none of them looked malnourished or malformed.

Toni from Popoki had some fun stories about the Kids Club Christmas visit to the orphanage last year. Her son, Leo, was dreading the visit. He said, “It will be like revisiting Oliver Twist.” She explained to him that the building is new, the orphanage is clean, and the kids are well taken care of. They have a new playground at the orphanage and they walk to school nearby in Bucerias. 

For the Christmas visit, one of the resident sailors dressed up as Santa Claus and listened to the kids tell him about the dolls and toys they were hoping Santa would bring to them. One of the orphans is blind. She climbed into his lap and was feeling his face to see if the beard was real. It was real. Then she felt up on top of his head and started giggling.  He told her in Spanish, “Yes, Santa is bald.” 

Pirates' Tender

Our short stay in the La Cruz anchorage gave us an opportunity to put our dinghy to use. We drove the dinghy in each day at least once, sometimes twice to do chores or meet up with people. When the 3 horsepower motor started giving us trouble, Ken worked on it quite a bit and then decided it was too unreliable. The 8 hp motor was our backup motor for the day the little motor quit on us or in case conditions warranted having a motor with more oomph. The 8 hp has hardly been used and works great.    

Because the 3 hp motor was an older vintage model, it was difficult to get parts and rebuild kits for it, so we decided to sell it. We advertised it on the morning VHF net and within an hour it was sold. Our neighbors on Kenta Anae bought it. The day they bought it, Shandro, Allison and Merle's older son (9 yrs) came over in his small red dinghy and explained that his vessel was the perfect pirates’ tender. For at least a year he had been hoping to get a motor for it. It needs a transom to mount the motor on and of course the motor needs some work, but we were pleased to see that about two weeks later, Merle had the motor running (at least temporarily).

Shandro and Matero took Kyle out for a spin.

Three boys in a boat.
Below - a short video of a paddle around the marina.

Of course Kyle has decided he too needs a kid sized dinghy and wishes we would have kept the motor for him. Our answer - he needs to learn how to swim well and be 9 yrs old before he can have his own dinghy. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In the La Cruz Anchorage

I'm slowly catching up with blog posts. This post about staying in the anchorage describes time we spent out of the marina in April during Semana Santa/Pascua when Kyle didn't have any school.  

We have spent a lot of time in marinas so far, so we decided it was time to try out the La Cruz anchorage. We had heard from some of our friends how great the neighborhood was – regular dolphin sightings, peaceful breezes, and invitations to dinner at neighboring boats. We also heard even more people complain about how rolly it was in the anchorage. 

Dinghy and paddleboard tied off the back. This was a pretty calm day.

View to the West of the marina and the town.

View toward Nuevo Vallarta to the East
Kyle was a little sad to leave his friends Shandro and Matero, from Kenta Anae, and the fort that they built. We broke down the fort and set off for the anchorage on Thursday the 5th of April. We were just a short dinghy ride away from the marina and we still found lots of time for Kyle to play with Shandro and Matero.  

Matero, Shandro, and Kyle working away on the fort. 

The ocean breeze at night was great and the first morning Kyle jumped out of bed and yelled to us to come out on deck to see the fish swimming around the boat. We also regularly saw dolphins. It's too bad it's too late in the year for whales. 

We enjoyed the new 'hood.' We had tea and cookies over at Lungta and practiced our Spanish with Dan and Kathy.  Kyle had a chance to visit his friend Savannah (from Endorfin) out in the anchorage. As for overall comfort, it seemed like a very rolly week with a lot of swell, so we may have timed it badly. We got used to the rocking and the swell, but didn't  sleep terribly well some nights. Even with our flopper stopper set up, the boat rocked a lot. The afternoons in the bay are typically windy with breezes of 15 to 25 knots. Being on the boat in the afternoon is tolerable but not peaceful. Going in on the dinghy in the afternoon can be a somewhat wet affair, but we learned to take dry clothes if we needed them.

We came into the marina on Easter Sunday for an egg hunt at the marina pool.  
Savannah and Kyle hunting for eggs 

Savannah had a nice bunny bag, Kyle had a handy trashbag for his eggs 

Kyle and Lisa, Savannah's mom.
We found the neighborhood was nice, but the boat was rocky and it was harder to get land based exercise and run our errands. With the afternoon thermals (winds generated from the heat on land) you cannot expect a particularly calm setting. At the La Cruz anchorage you have 15 miles of fetch across the Bay during the afternoon thermals. 

When we anchor we try to find a place that is protected. One of the things we have been most disappointed about is that there are really no nice protected anchorages in Banderas Bay. It would be nice if there were some coves you could anchor in. It is surprising that for the largest bay in Mexico there are so few options for anchoring.

All in all we didn’t have too much trouble with it, we just agreed that life was easier in the marina. Plus, with Kyle going back to school, it would be easier to be in the marina. So after a week out we decided to head back in and tie up in our slip again. As soon as Sea Biscuit was close to the dock Kyle jumped off and ran up the dock to play with his friends.

Two of our friends were worried we were giving up on sailing completely after just one week in the anchorage. We assured them we are happy with Sea Biscuit and still like sailing, we just like calm seas and sleeping well too. As another neighbor pointed out - it's supposed to be fun.

Next post - dinghies and dinghy motors.... 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Anniversary Dinner

In April, Ken and I had our first date in months for our anniversary. We went to a restaurant named Sandzibar, located on Manzanilla Beach, a 10 minute walk from the marina. The view from our table of Banderas Bay was excellent. That evening Kyle spent with Angelito and his family (Thank you Norma and Angel). 

My fish dish had a red chile and green chile sauce - it reminded me of enchiladas with Christmas red and green chile in NM.  

The dinner was delicious.   

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Going to School

Kyle has been going to school since early March. He attends a kindergarten that is about three blocks up the road from the La Cruz marina. 

Kyle in uniform on the plaza in front of a Huanacaxtle tree.
Each morning Ken or I walk Kyle into school. We walk by the town plaza and a dog that lives at a house next to the plaza happily walks along with us each day, hoping Kyle will play with him. School is from 9AM to Noon. After his first day at school, Kyle said with some disappointment that school was all play and no challenging works (at the Montessori school Kyle used to go to the kids each had “works” to do). He said, "We just play, play, play." We explained that his goal should be to listen to the Spanish and try to pick up some words. He didn’t need to succeed at any challenging work, just listen and learn. Besides, going to kindergarten in La Cruz doesn’t get him out of home schooling, we do challenging works on the boat. 

Kyle’s best friend from school is Angel. Angel speaks some English and seems to help Kyle figure some things out in school. Angel's mom is 1/2 American, 1/2 Mexican. She and her husband are bringing up Angel and his little brother to speak English and Spanish. Kyle has gone over to Angel's house a couple times to play and we have enjoyed having Angel come over to the boat for a visit. He and Kyle like playing in the little pool that the marina recently put in. 

Kyle and Angel
The whole town celebrated the first day of spring with a parade. There were many princesses and princes. Kyle didn’t start school in time to learn the dances and songs that the kids performed at the amphitheater near the marina after the parade. Angel had a dancing role and Kyle’s friend Savannah, from Endorphin, who until recently was going to the same kindergarten, was also one of the dancers (thanks Lisa for some pictures). 
Savannah dancing

There seem to be a lot of days off at the La Cruz kindergarten. In April Kyle only had two weeks of school. April 2nd to April 14th, Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Semana Pascua (Resurrection Sunday through the next Sunday) are traditional weeks off for kids at school. Semana Santa is a week most of Mexico takes off.

We didn’t go on a vacation for Kyle's Spring Break, mostly because all the beach towns and roads are very crowded during this time; instead, we worked on homeschool materials, Kyle played at the pool and played with the neighbors. We made sure to stock up on groceries so we wouldn’t have to go to the large grocery store and battle with tons of other shoppers.

Despite not going to school very often, Kyle seems to be picking up some Spanish.  Every few days he will come home and ask me, Mom, do you know what the Spanish word for _______ (fill in the blank).  I’ll say “No” to see what he has for an answer and he will proudly tell me the new word he has learned.  He’s quite disappointed if I tell him I know the word already.

The other day Kyle tried to trick me by telling me his teacher was “en vacacciones” for the next few days and there wouldn’t be any classes. This actually happened in March, the teacher went on vacation and then she was also sick that week. There haven’t been any substitutes filling in for her. We have heard that at the primary school the teachers sometimes don’t come to work because they haven’t been paid recently. 

There is a calendar in the play area of Kyle’s school.  The box for March 18th had an oil rig picture marking the day they commemorate Mexico’s expropriation of oil.  We thought Kyle might have that day off from school also, but luckily he didn’t.

From this link you can see Kyle, clad in uniform, playing with a butterfly he caught one day on his walk home.

One of the best parts about school for Kyle is the ice cream man selling small cones for 6 pesos right outside the entrance/exit gate as the kids leave school at noontime. It's the new price of the commute to school (but Kyle only gets ice cream on Mondays and Fridays). I figure it's at least a little better than the man selling cotton candy outside the school in La Paz, Baja California Sur.  

Heading home after school.