The Carnival, Tim & Asta

Corona Virus Warning.
For those of you self isolating, you may find scenes of lots of people partying disturbing and they may stir up distant memories. 😉

So once Jim had left for Canada, and I had recovered from my illness it was carnival time. The malecon which runs for several miles along the waterfront here in La Paz was filled with music stages and vendors selling all kinds of stuff, but mostly sweet things like Churros (Doughnuts). There was a funfair and amusement arcade type attractions. There was also a big parade of floats on a few of the nights. The carnival lasted a week and went well into the night starting around 5pm most nights.

The sound stages, as they are called these days, had a very wide mix of bands and performers, from school kids dancing to a very dodgy rap version of ‘My Macarena’ to traditional mexican and Mariachi bands.
I put together a 3 minute compilation of the acts I saw as I strolled the malecon. I know Kathy will be gutted to have missed the exciting brass band that starts about 1:40 in.

Music Video

The Parade was very colourful and was based on ‘The Feast of the Gods’. Again I made a 5 minute video compilation as I walked along the malecon.

After the Parade ended, an anticlimax?
Baloons anyone?
Glamour & Fame

I spent a few weeks in la Paz after Jim left working on the boat while waiting for Tim & Asta to arrive. This was my first time alone here and I took the opportunity to explore on my bicylce a bit. There are some lovely spots here, and quite a few interesting old and new buildings.

I learnt a few more Spanish words relating to fish and headed on down to the beach to see if I could buy fish from the local fishermen. This turned out to be easier than I thought and I ended up with a kilo of Cabrella, filleted, for about £4, it tasted great, I have now also learnt to say, ‘do you have any other fish’

Pelicans waiting for the fish guts
I felt bad for these guys, they are still alive as he fillets them.
The cultural centre

I posted a short vid to the baba sister midnight facebook page of the murals.
Below are some pictures I took of La Paz’s many murals. I was lucky to be invited to join Colin and family from SV Pristine on a guided tour of the murals. The back stories are fascinating, the mural below depicts the story of how the local fishermen were persuaded to stop fishing for a few years to allow an endangered species to restock. It was an amazing success and this man had a lot to do with persuading the local fishermen to sit on their hands for so long.

Traditional Baja life
The Ranchero. & the coyote?

The statue below is meant to be Jacques Cousteau, a famous diver that has recently had an island renamed after him.

The Mural above depicts many aspects of the changing life here, but appeals to me as I have just finished my PADI scuba diving course. I was at the bottom of the ocean! (Well 60ft down) taking off my breathing gear, practising emergency ascents and lots of other terrifying feats.

Heading out to the dive site

I did a 3 day course, which followed tests on my theory I had been studying for the past few weeks. The first day was in a swimming pool, so nice and easy. The second day we dived off the Isla Islote rock that has a sea lion colony and were surrounded by big colourful tropical fish and sea lions nibbling on our fins (Flippers to the uninitiated).
It was great, however I couldn’t really enjoy the view as I was trying to remember all the important things I had to do if I didn’t want to die, like, keep breathing, keep checking how much air you have left, don’t ascend to quickly, manage your trim, check what the dive computer on my wrist is telling me, etc etc.
On the final day we dived on a shipwreck. I had always thought shipwreck had to be very old and possibly have gold and ming vases on them, but it seems ships keep sinking even in these modern times. This ship was the MV Salvatierra, a big RORO ferry, with quite a few trucks on board and went down in 1976. There’s more on the wreck here. It was odd seeing trucks laying on their side 60ft down.

I also used my time alone to get my teeth spruced up a bit. I had heard good things about Mexican dentists, and I needed a clean, so when the local yacht club announced that they had a discount with the local dentist, where you got a full checkup and clean for about £12, I was in. The view from the chair was brilliant, as you can see below. Even the waiting room had a great arty book on Frida Kahlo, a mexican artist.

Dentists waiting room. Very nice

Tim and Asta arrive

I hired a car and drove down to San Jose del Cabo international airport to pick them up. This time the drive was a lot easier.
Their plane direct from Gatwick arrived and we drove back to the boat. It was great seeing them and I wondered what kind of trip we might have when we set off, Tim was staying for 4 weeks but Asta was leaving after two. Both needed to be close to San Jose del Cabo international airport to get home. But first they had to get over the jet lag and have a look around La Paz. After they had dropped off their bags we headed to a local beach restaurant called Estrella Mar, where there was a teenage girls birthday party happening, so we got free entertainment from the band. See if you can spot my mate Peter earning a bit on the side 😉 (Sorry Peter).

The next day we walked around town, did a supermarket shop and dined in bandidos, a cool place where they cook the steaks on a hotplate inside an engine compartment of a jeep. I took Jim there and he was impressed, I think Tim & Asta were too.

Tim & Asta checking out the flaming jeep

The next day was Saturday so we visited the organic/craft market and bought some trinkets

On Sunday we untied our lines in the Marina and headed north. We didnt go far on the first day and dropped the anchor in Candelera bay on Santo Espiritu. The next day we hopped around the corner to Partida bay, then continued up the sea to reach our destination of Isla San Francisco. From there we headed south, stopping for a bit at Isla Islote where T&A jumped off the boat and swam over to join the sea lions, while I slowly drifted around waiting for their return. We continued south and had a night at the largest bay in the area on the SE end of Espiritu.
From Espiritu we headed south to Los Muertos, then Los Frailes. We spent 2 nights at Los Frailes as we wanted to explore and visit the reef at Pulmo, which was just around the corner. On the first day we bought some Trigger fish on the beach from the local fishermen, they all seemed very friendly, yet on the next day I watched horrified as they cut the fins off a line of hammerhead sharks that lay dead on the beach. I think these go to make shark fin soup. I had heard the rest of the shark is discarded, but these bodies had been gutted and were later thrown onto the back of a pickup. I believe Mexico is one of the few places that still allows the catching of hammerhead sharks. I was quite shocked to see it for real. At first I was angry with the fishermen, but had to remind myself, these are very poor people, and this puts food on the table for their family, pays for medicine etc and it is legal. Hopefully the law will change soon.

We hitched a ride into Pulmo the next day, but the weather was rough and it didn’t look like diving on the reef would be possible. However we had a nice lunch there, Tim bought some wine and basic provisions.

Pulmo had a lovely property development of small low lying houses within a small grid system. I don’t think they have mains power in the village.

Lunch in Pulmo

We spent the afternoon diving on the rocks in Los Frailes, which were more sheltered than Pulmo and saw some great fish.
From Los Frailes it was a short 6 hour hop to the Marina at San Jose del Cabo, where Asta would leave us for her flight home. On this last leg we had many whales visit us, or were making a bit of a show nearby. It was wonderful, and I will put up some of our video from that on my next post.

Boat canvas work.
I mentioned earlier that I had some boat jobs done. You can see the new spray dodger and mainsail lazy-jack cover. I had this work done in La Paz by Hector the canvas man. His work is very good.

Hector gave me a great price to redo all of the cushions in the boat, all I had to do was chose the material. I found a great fabric in a local store, however Kathy thought it was too black, she’s probably right, but I realised we werent going to be able to agree on a fabric over the internet, so that job will have to wait until Kathy gets out here.

Another job I tackled was fixing the Starboard water tank level gauge. It was not reading reliably, and we need this to be accurate. As I suspected the floating part of the gauge no longer floated , so a bit of foam was attached to it and it seems to work now. I need to buy a new gauge when I get a chance.

By the time we had reached Cabo, the CoronaVirus issue had become a big deal for us. Tim’s flight home in 2 weeks time had been cancelled, and Asta’s connecting flight from London to Shannon, in Ireland had been cancelled. The world was shutting down around us and Tim was concerned.
Tim managed to get a flight with Air Canada that got him to Dublin via Toronto, and left yesterday (Wed 25th March), Asta got a new flight from Gatwick to Dublin and she left today, As I write this she is just passing over the Atlantic near Newfoundland. They may need to self isolate when they get home. My flight has not been cancelled yet, as it’s not until May, but I expect it will be cancelled at some point soon. My Visa expires the same day as my flight.
I could have found a way home this week, and still may, but I need to find a safe place to leave Sister Midnight. If I can’t get back for several months, we will be into the hurricane season, which starts in May and runs to November. I will need to spend time securing the boat for this eventuality.
Most of the Americans and Canadians here have left their boats and returned home while they can. The border to America is shut now, and in fact Mexicans are protesting that Americans are being allowed south. In this area it seems the virus was brought here by Americans.

I have been to the supermarket a few times now and as you can see from above, there’s plenty on offer. I’m not sure how long this will last. There’s plenty of toilet paper, but no hand sanitizer gel, or latex gloves.
I have enough food on the boat for a few weeks, but I do worry for the Mexicans here, many of them won’t be able to cope with a serious economic downturn. The area I’m in is totally tourist based, and they have all left now.
Many families just don’t have the money to stockpile anything, so many will die from malnutrition.

I plan to leave this expensive marina in a few days time, weather permitting and make an overnight passage to Mazatlan on the mainland, where there is a good cheap marina in an interesting old town. I may meet up with Mike from SV Ikigai there, and I might even see Brenda and Clay on SV Sansucchi, from there I will sail back to La Paz, or possibly Puerto Escondido and look for a safe place for my boat during the hurricane season.

Next week I will post some shots of the whales we encountered on our way south to take Tim & Asta to the airport.

Paul Collister