Posted by Admiral
Mar 11 2011

Our departure from La Cruz was delayed first for the canvas, then for the best weather.  Our motto is to NEVER let the schedule drive the departure!  Weather rules first and always.  One day we got on the bus and went to a nearby town called Sayulita.  This is what a funky beach town looks like in Mexico–

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and there were plenty of neophyte surfers in the water trying to figure it out:

March 9 Carnaval 074The guy standing up is on a “Stand-up paddle board” (imagine that!), SUP for short.  It is all the rage here nowadays because I think it is an easier way for newbies to participate where the waves are gentle.

Muggs entertained herself with a walk along the tide pools at the water’s edge.  I didn’t actually see any fish-life or shells in the pools, but I did see this bird with an amazing red beak:

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The best identification I can make is a black oystercatcher.  This bird appears to be outside his usual range which is Pacific Baja about half way down according to my field guides.  The bill is not exactly right, either, so I am not sure about the id.

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On the riverbed, we saw a small flock of black-necked stilts.  This is a bird that I first saw when we visited Doug and Linda in Napa last summer.  Also nearby, a small group of small horses.  Perhaps they were meant to take tourists for a ride….

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Along this riverbed, we saw what appeared to be the after-effects of a hurricane from a couple of years ago:

March 9 Carnaval 111This is a men’s room.  The women’s room is in worse shape, farther down the embankment, out of sight behind this building.

I don’t think I ever showed off our flopper stopper:

March 9 Carnaval 001The large yellow-framed plastic sheeting with all the rigging attached is the actual flopper stopper.  The plastic is slit so that water will pass through from above to below and back.  The whole frame assembly is fairly heavy so it will dampen motion.  We rigged it to hang over the side at the end of the boom:

March 9 Carnaval 066It’s hard to see here, but there are three lines leaving the u-bolt at the end of the boom.  One line each fore and aft to control the position of the boom, then the line that the flopper stopper is hanging from.  As the swells push the boat back and forth, the stopper dampens the motion.  It is actually a pretty handy gadget, and we had never tried it before. We used it at anchor in La Cruz, and we are calling it a big success!

The canvas was finally delivered, and it is beautiful!  Note the additional zipper in the windshield:

March 9 Carnaval 067There are actually two new zippers (one is out of sight behind Luis, the canvas guy).  We can report that these zippers solved two problems, one of them important – the windshield did not fog up as we traveled north to Mazatlan.  The zippers could be opened a few inches, and the temperature on both sides of the windshield could be regulated enough to prevent condensation.  This has been a BIG problem for us.  We are very happy.  Also, the middle section can be rolled up out of the way to allow a breeze when desired.

We traveled back to Mazatlan without any problem.  There was a little more wildlife this trip.  We saw a couple of whales (too distant to get pictures) and we motored through a herd of turtles!!  Really!  We had seen one on our way down, but we saw probably two or three dozen on the return trip.  Early in our trip through the herd, we saw one of the dark brown, shiny blobs dive.  Just as it dove, the head came out of the shell so it was obvious that it was a turtle.  Before this, I was not so sure.  The turtles were spaced out considerably with a minimum of 100 to 200 yards between them in all directions.  It was as though they took their territory with them.  We never saw two turtles very close together.  Towards the end of the herd, we saw two incidents of a bird the size of a large gull, but all black, sitting on a turtle shell and “riding” the swells.

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This was the best picture I could get.  The sun was high, and I didn’t have the right setting for catching a moving subject.  Actually, we were moving, the turtle was just floating.  We’re pretty sure the turtles were fishing.

We arrived in Mazatlan on the third day of Carnaval last Friday.  We purchased tickets for bleacher seats and dinner before the big parade on Sunday, then headed out by bus to the Plazuela Machado to see what was going on.  We found a quiet, inexpensive dinner in one corner of the plaza where we could watch the parade of people go by.  Mexican families were out in droves, and there were plenty of street-style entertainers around to amuse them:

March 9 Carnaval 007This costumed dancer was with a group of four.  One of them had a tambourine, and another had a drum.  They played rhythms for foot-stomping dancing, and took up a collection for payment:

March 9 Carnaval 009The leggings are made of small cowry shells.  The belts are short pieces of something sturdy like bamboo, although I am pretty sure it’s not actually bamboo.

The plaza was decorated with dolls which could give you a pat on the head:

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We had to have masks, of course:

March 9 Carnaval 086  We paid the 50 peso admission to the Carnaval area on the waterfront at around 6:00 pm, before sunset.  After the sunset, it got cool, then cold, and we hadn’t brought jackets.  The live music wouldn’t be starting for a while, so we pooped out early and headed back.  Before we left, we watched this small blimp being operated by remote control:

March 9 Carnaval 012 My guess is it is about 20 feet long.  All of the operating surfaces – ailerons, rudder – were operated remotely as well as a small two-part motor.  The motor looked like side-by-side bicycle wheels which rotated in all directions in order to steer at the same time that they were spinning like propellers to propel.  It could dive and climb pretty fast, but it was lightweight.  It often looked to be in danger of crashing, but that never happened.  It was operated from a small boat the next night during the main parade.

We went to the Plazuela Machado three times – every night except Sunday when we had prepaid dinner tickets on the malecon.  In the plaza, we had a different dinner each night.  The second night, we had a splurge with cabreria beef.  This is that amazingly flavorful beef that Pancho introduced us to in Los Mochis.  The dinner cost the most we have spent on a meal so far, but it included two beers and a large, very good margarita (they are not all good, sad to say) for less than $50 including tip.

Before dinner the second night, we stopped in at the Aquarium for a look.  There is a small tank there with the requisite fish and sharks.  The unusual part was the diver who did a show every two or three hours in which he “danced” with the sharks!  I don’t know what kind of sharks they were, but they cuddled right up to him – he put his arms around their mid-section and rubbed his face right up to their heads.  The picture is kind of murky:

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The third day was the big day – the main parade on Sunday.  We had walked by the bleachers the previous day, and, like Larry said – it was kind of like sausage.  The less you knew about how they were built the better!  But they held up just fine, and we enjoyed the show.  I’ll just attach the pictures here and comment as I go:

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March 9 Carnaval 028Guys on stilts!  There is a lot of this in this parade.  Mostly they are not on the floats, but they are down on the street walking with the parade.

March 9 Carnaval 035Beatles’ music seemed to be a sub-theme of the festivities.  This is the Yellow Submarine.  Another float depicted Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and there were others which I can’t remember.

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Lots of color:

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March 9 Carnaval 049Big dog!

March 9 Carnaval 052Elephants.

On Tuesday, we watched a repeat of the end of the parade moving the opposite direction at the other end of the malecon.  There were a few new floats.  We think they were from the children’s parade on Monday:

March 9 Carnaval 056A dragon.

March 9 Carnaval 058Butterfly.

March 9 Carnaval 059Tropical fish and jelly fish.

March 9 Carnaval 060Owl.

March 9 Carnaval 064The Aquarium float.

Muggs covered in confetti:

March 9 Carnaval 065 The kids would just fling it at you.  Lots of fun!

Somewhere in there, we saw sponsors (mostly Pacifico) and stilt-walkers in daylight:

March 9 Carnaval 090Pacifico girls!

March 9 Carnaval 091Pacifico guys!

March 9 Carnaval 094Maxilana girl and stilt-guy.

March 9 Carnaval 100Panama!  (Not sure why…)

March 9 Carnaval 117And finally, more Pacifico!  This is a big truck going by with a rather large band and dancers on board.

March 9 Carnaval 085This photo is taken before the parade.  The parade came from the top of the photo, between the chairs and the stand you see on the far right.  The near lanes were reserved for pedestrians throughout the parade.  The usual traffic pattern on this road (the malecon) is two lanes traveling in each direction plus two lanes in the center for parallel parking!

March 9 Carnaval 102I liked this guy’s hat!

The remarkable thing about all of this is that we never saw any public drunkenness or lewd behavior.  The crowd was full of families.  This seems to be typical Mexican public behavior.  Very refreshing!

This is the end of the report.  We spent a couple of days getting ready to leave today, Friday, March 11, bound for La Paz.   However, this is the day of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  The port captain of Mazatlan has closed the harbor to all traffic in or out for most of the day.  The port only just reopened around 4:00 pm.  That is too late for us to leave, so we will leave tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we are sending thoughts of sympathy and support to the country of Japan.


One Response

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Loved the masks….they’d look great in a collection….hint hint!! Sounds like you you guys are still having a blast! It is nice to hear that the parade was full of families and not drunken people…unlike some of the parades I have been to here! Loved the pictures and the write ups as to what you guys are doing. eep it up! xxx E

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