December 28, 2008

Feliz Navidad

Christmas morning

Overheard on the afternoon of the 25th: "this is the best Christmas ever!" 

Last year, we did a trial Christmas away from home. The children wondered if Santa could still find us. We thought it would be fun to enjoy what was likely our last white Christmas for a while, and rented a cabin in the snowy Methow Valley. Good news: Santa not only knows when you are sleeping and awake, he can find you when your location unexpectedly shifts! We reveled in the winter wonderland, and dreamed about our white sand Christmas coming in 2008.

This year, of course, he had a few more latitudes to change to find us. And there's no chimney on the boat: does he come down the mast? Stockings were hung from the grab-rails with care. Our worries were for naught: not only were filled in the morning, but apparently Santa is handy with zip-ties—we found three more hung from the lifelines outside.

It is a much pared-down holiday in many ways, and it was lovely. Our only regret was that good friends coming to visit us were stuck in Oregon, victims of one canceled flight after another as the Northwest was buffeted by unheard of snowfall. We missed them terribly! They were also ferrying gifts from our family, but that's not a problem. We'll just have a Round Two holiday whenever they reach us.

The cruisers in Mazatlan, like cruisers everywhere, have fast become friends. Christmas Eve, we caroled our way around the marina, from dock to dock and of course visiting the fantastic staff at the resort lobby for a rousing rendition of "Feliz Navidad."

Caroling on the docks at El Cid
Lynn & Debbie, on Dolphin Tales, have a car here and generously took us all on a tour of homes in the nearby country club- the children were SO excited (Jamie and I included!). The decorations were UNREAL, not sure I've ever (ever) seen a neighborhood so totally lit up with lights for the holidays! The power consumption is a little appalling and you have to wonder about the neighborhood pressure, but truth be told, as a show- and boost for holiday spirit- it was wonderful. Any worries we had about our children feeling like they'd be missing out were unfounded.

Still, there were times the last week I was close to tears. Worrying that it would all turn out OK- for the children, for our friends in Portland... and besides, there is something about being with dear friends and family for the holidays! Our kids would have LOVED to be making snowmen and sledding in the old neighborhood. They had fun skyping from afar with their buddies, and that did help.

We’ll be headed south as soon as the weather accommodates, hopefully within the next couple of days. There’s a norther now that’s making things a little lumpy, and as much as the winds look good for sailing- we really like to keep it comfortable with the children. Our next destinations are Isla Isabella- a wildlife refuge of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds; San Blas, a small town with great wildlife diversity to explore; the surfing hangout of Sayulita, to hopefully find Bridget & Mathew before they depart; then around the corner of Punta de Mita to Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta. We’re unlikely to have Internet access for a while once we take off, but follow us on SPOT!

December 20, 2008

Getting in the groove: I'm falling for Mexico

Mariachi paying respect
Originally uploaded by behang

We're getting our bearings, adjusting to differences here and generally revelling in them.

Such as the delay of beginning the rush to celebrate Christmas until... well, until it's nearly Christmas! Besides, there are other celebrations in the offing here- Dia de los Muertos on November 1 and the feast day for Mexico's patron saint, Nuestra Senora de Guadelupe (technically on December 12th, but there's a couple of weeks of buildup for her)- taking over the period that covers what we think of as "the holidays," that continuum from, oh, something like Halloween until New Year's Day, back in the states.

This photo was taken on the feast day for Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. Notice (if you can, from my poor framing) how the mariachi are not playing for a crowd- they are singing to HER, the madonna in the shrine. Her image had been rolled out in front of the main entrance to the public market; there were flowers around the shrine, touches to her image from the reverent. A crowd gathered in front, but the combination of enthusiasm- this *was* a mariachi band- and plain respect for the saint- was really moving.

Not long after the serenade to the madonna ended here, we found ourselves next to the mariachi again- inside one of the many little lunch stands adjacent to the market. Their tone was significantly changed: no longer playing reverent odes to Nuestra Senora, they were instead teasing the women who worked in the Loncheria. The average age of the women was similar to mine- but they sang to them of their QuinceaƱera, the celebration at age 15 of a girl's transition to womanhood. Oh, the blushing! Oh, the giggles! The loncheria ladies were barely holding it together while the musicians circled their stand.

The playfulness, the gear shift from reverence to fun, the human story behind it all- it's all quite a contrast to the worship of Shop! Buy! Decorate! Buy! Another Party! Buy! Have Holiday Cards! Cook! Buy! Stress Over Whatever! Did you buy enough yet? (repeat ad nauseum) which we traditionally associate with the middle of December.

I think we'll stay for a while.

serenading the loncheria ladies

December 15, 2008

We're published!

We're published!
Originally uploaded by behang

Jamie and I have our first article in the December issue of 48 North - we're so excited! This free sailing magazine is available from marine minded places in the Pacific Northwest, or in your mailbox by subscription.

The article isn't available online (sorry!), but reflects on finding new traditions for the holidays as we embark on our cruising lives... bringing the familiar from home enough to keep grounded and appreciate the differences in how it's celebrated here in Mexico.

We'll be writing a monthly cruising column in the magazine, hoping to keep regular readers in the PNW from being too disappointed as we step into the very big shoes of our predecessor / mentor / dear friend, Diana Jessie. She penned "Practical Cruising" for 15 years while traveling the globe on her sailboat Nalu.

Jamie and I anticipate alternating in taking the lead on writing, but do a lot of collaboration on each article. There's so much we want to share- we have a couple of years worth of ideas sketched out already. No kidding! January's edition has reflections on the allure of boat gear, and some simple things that work for us.

December 5, 2008

we love SPOT.

we love SPOT
Originally uploaded by behang

This nifty little device just made it a whole lot easier to share our location. We set it up just before leaving San Diego, after a friend up in the Northwest sent a unit for us (thank you, Marv!). I first leaned about SPOT following Capt Rodriguez on BitterEnd, and really fell for them after following another friend's path during his Alaskan journey last summer.

I added a note to the top of sidebar to the blog recently- see top right- that links to the page.