Posted by Admiral
Jan 05 2011


We have returned to Topolobampo, and we are safe and sound in a brand new marina called Marina Palmira Topolobampo.  It is related in some way to the similarly-named marina in La Paz, but I believe the actual owners are locals.  When we first arrived here in early November, we were helped into the harbor area by a friendly man named Pancho.  Pancho, you will remember, took us to the airport right before Thanksgiving, and he also picked us up the night we arrived back which was a few days after Christmas.  He was scheduled to go to Mexico City the next day to spend the New Year’s weekend with his daughter, so we arranged to get together for dinner the Monday after New Year’s. 

Meanwhile, we tracked down some local groceries which means no meat and very limited fruits and veggies.  But that was OK – the slip next to us was occupied by Paradocs, a catamaran with a couple of MD’s on board.  They were barbecuing steaks our first night and invited us over.  I made guacamole using my new stickblender (thanks, Santa Claus!), and it was a big hit.  The recipe came out of the manual for the stickblender, and it called for coriander and cumin.  I had the cumin, so I put some in.  It was yummy.  During dinner, the conversation was all about boat living and boat problems.  I guess it makes no difference out here if you are an MD or a theater technician or a construction detailer – the problems of life are the same for us all out here with varying amounts of joy and frustration and sometimes difficult decisions.  Eventually all that counts is that your boat floats, it motates, and you have achieved some acceptable level of comfort!  We all seem to prefer these problems to the stress of work life.

We spent some time getting acquainted with Topolobampo, but there isn’t much here.  We were genuinely lazy for a day or two, and we watched movies in the evenings.  We spent some time putting together plans to build our remodeled salon table from.  We are basing it on this great design we saw on the boat of our friends, Brian and Mary Cooley:

2010 fall summer 005 After we finished the drawings, we got started by removing the leaves which were connected by piano hinges.  We already like it better, but we need to get busy and thought this might be a good time since we have time and dock power.

We tried out the bus to Los Mochis (15 miles away), and walked around there a little.  Los Mochis is very similar to Guaymas and La Paz except it is landlocked.  Several banks, large grocery stores as well as street markets, Wal-Mart, Home Depot.  So, anyway, Monday we returned by bus to get money (we never try to get cash from ATM’s here on weekends), and later Pancho came to the marina to pick us up for dinner.  As we were driving to Los Mochis, he asked if we would stay the night at his house – he had a man who could take us shopping the next day to get whatever else we might need for our project.  And that way, he wouldn’t have to drive all the way back and return after dinner.  So we did this, and it was amazing.  First, the dinner.  He invited his girlfriend, Maria.  He ordered the same food for all of us, explaining that it was a local way of preparing beef and this was the only place he knew to get it.  The dish was called cabreria with an accent on the “i".  (I hope I remembered that correctly.  I may have the “b” in the wrong place – not sure.)  Anyway, this meat was more tasty and tender than anything either of us has ever eaten, hands down.  The rest of the meal was great, too.  There was a larger-than-plate-size flour tortilla baked or toasted crispy.  Then there were beans and cheese, and cheese alone, to dip pieces of the toasted tortilla into.  Plus a soup of simple vegetables that was delicious.  We asked the waiter to take our picture:

Pancho dinner in Topo  I also liked the carved wood chairs, but you can’t see them very well here.

Anyway, after dinner we all went back to Pancho’s home to have a small amount of tequila for our digestion.  I was taken by Maria in her car which was an H3 Hummer!  And she teaches kindergarten!  She was very excited about buying and owning this car, and she told me the whole story (unbidden) of how she was able to afford it.  Still, she paid more for it than Larry and I ever paid for a car.  Later, Pancho told us that she had won a substantial amount of money at the Caliente casino in Los Mochis.  Lucky girl!

Pancho’s home was very large and beautiful.  Every space was at least 30-40% larger than a similar space would be in the usual US home like most of us live(d) in.  I’m pretty sure that each bedroom had its own bathroom.  I know that the master bedroom had TWO bathrooms – his and hers on opposite sides of the bedroom.  The guest bedroom where we slept was approximately 15’ x 22’.   There was a full bath off of it plus a small study.  Each of these rooms was about 8’ x 22’ (the same length as the bedroom).  The beds were just like the beds in the motel in Hermosillo last summer – easily wide enough for three adults to sleep in.  And there was beautiful floor tile throughout the house. The furniture and decorations were all quite beautiful, too.  The coffee table was probably more than 48” diameter.  There were 4 large vases in the center and about 8 or 10 very large coffee table books spaced around like spokes.  One was the “Best of Life Magazine”.  Another was a Lonely Planet book with a large two-page spread on every single country in the world!  There were some books in Spanish, too.  I meant to take pictures there, but we never got around to it.  It was just beautiful, though, so you’ll have to take my word for it!

The next morning, Pancho made us coffee and Sergio took us in Pancho’s car to a tornillo store (a store that sells nothing but nuts, bolts, screws, and the like) to get some special screws we need for our salon table remodel.  Then we went to Home Depot where we bought a new vacuum cleaner and assorted other things that we will need to complete this project.  We made a final stop at Wal-Mart where we stocked up on things that needed stocking up and returned to Pancho’s for lunch.  Lunch was a vegetable soup similar to the soup at the restaurant the night before, but there were many more vegetables in it.  Very delicious.  We were also served flour tortilla quesadillas and pineapple juice.  He has a cook and housekeeper named Paloma.  Paloma came to work for his family when he was 18 years old (1970 – Pancho and I are very close to the same age), and she has remained with him since the death of his father.

As we were eating lunch, we talked about our plans to continue to Mazatlan.  Pancho asked if he could come along, so now we will have crew!  Things just get better and better.

We are waiting for the highest tide of the week which is on Friday morning.  No more Topolabumpo for us!  Meanwhile, we meant to get started on our project but there has been too much wind.  (We want to be good neighbors and not create flying sawdust when there is lots of wind)  There will probably continue to be brisk winds most of the day today and tomorrow, so we will just get the boat organized and food ready.  We cut some small support pieces today in the cockpit, but we will wait until we get to Puerto Vallarta area most likely to continue. 

Adios for now!  Hope you all have a great year!

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