One of the most notorious budget depleters while cruising is a marina stay, especially one with full access to a beautiful resort like Grand Isla Navidad in Barra de Navidad. Instead of dropping your anchor in a bay free of charge, you can pull up to a dock and enjoy shore power, the stability of being tied securely to a dock in questionable weather, hot showers and whatever other perks that a resort marina has to offer..for a fee. The trick for many cruisers is balancing this time in order to make your cruising budget stretch and enjoy the best of both worlds.
What a culture shock to dock the boat right outside this 4-star resort and sit by the plush pool with a cocktail watching my kids plunge down multiple water slides after hiding away on our boat, trying to avoid civilization for so many months – it’s like Disneyland! Disneyland comes at a cost though – not only monetary. There’s still a risky world to navigate full of mask wearing, mask removing to eat and drink, a desire to meet experienced cruisers who pass on valuable local information and support all the while continuing some degree of isolation and protection from an ever-mutating virus. It’s on our minds every time we pull into a new so-called civilization. This resort is sparsely populated and like so much of Mexico, it’s situated mostly outside, making distancing relatively easy. So, armed with masks and hand-sani, we exhale and allow ourselves to enjoy some of the perks of our surrounding civilization.
What a paradox to be sitting poolside enjoying a resort while back home, news erupts of the US Capitol being breached and my mom still can’t go out to get a haircut due to continuing COVID-19 lockdowns. As a mom, I know my kids are always watching me. They will model my behavior and learn from my interaction with the world. I contemplate how to interpret this dichotomy of worlds. Do I teach them to live with guilt and fear? Do I sanitize their world and keep them in a protected bubble, avoiding all discussion of the tumultuous world back home? Or do I teach them that life is precious, that we can display empathy for others, seek to understand their heartache and hurt, and learn from world events, while in turn being grateful for the life we have in the present. I choose the latter and balance their joy with a need to keep them safe. We don’t shy away from difficult discussions about world events and opposing beliefs, but for a kid, being able to freely play in a safe environment is paramount to their growth and development. When school’s out, the pool is calling and it’s great to hear them laugh again.
Within 10 minutes of pulling into “Disneyland”, we had the famed French Baker pulling along side our boat to offer the most beautiful pastries for breakfast…ARE YOU KIDDING?! If we stayed much longer, I was progressing towards gaining a “French 15” from the French baker’s amazing baked goods delivered right to my boat every morning. Poolside cocktails, sushi, succulent bacon cheeseburgers, waterslides, daily chocolate croissant deliveries….with self-discipline nowhere in sight….it’s time to leave Disneyland!
One cove to the south, we find pure bliss back on the hook at Ensenada Carrizal. The morning soundscape goes something like this: The distant surf comes crashing into the rocks in stereo surround sound with the occasional roar of the nearby blow holes. Over the surf I can hear the magnificent exhale of two humpback whales preceded by their white plumes of mist on the horizon. The repeated slaps of mobula rays emerging from the water and sometimes backflipping in the air occur sporadically from all directions of this cozy cove and the jacuzzi fish (as we call them) all come to the surface in a school blowing bubbles and flipping around for no more than 10 seconds before seeking shelter underneath the boat. Outside the bay I hear the dull roar of a freighter entering the port – nice to see those big boys from a distance while at anchor. My soundscape is complimented by a glorious sunrise over the nearby busy port city, Manzanillo. We’ll be there soon enough, but for now I’m enjoying the tranquility of this uninhabited cove for a bit longer.
We brave the cold January water temps for some snorkeling and are not disappointed. The reef for once is not bleached out here and extends impressively across the shallow ocean floor on both sides of the cove. The visibility is not great at the surface, but when you dive down and get close enough, the reef comes to life with creatures and vivid colors not seen from the surface. I am almost more captivated by the colorful coral and beautiful feather duster worms flowing in the current than the fish. It makes me happy to see such a healthy diverse reef, knowing their impending global demise.
Cruising keeps me engaged because of the diversity of landscapes and ability to move my home when the time is right. There are times we crave Disneyland: A marina with full-service laundry, French pastries delivered boatside, private hot water showers, long walks with Quincy, endless power and WIFI and an opportunity for someone else to cook us a meal and serve me a cocktail – yes please! Then there are the times we crave the tranquility of an uninhabited cove where we can connect with nature, snorkel and build beach bonfires, reflect on life and be entirely self-sufficient. There is a delicate balance between these two worlds for our family. Too much time in isolation and the kids are bored and our days are all too focused on how much that big fireball in the sky is putting power into our solar panels. Too much time in Disneyland and funds are depleted, unmasked people seem to get too close and after a week or so, we solidify the reasons we went cruising in the first place. The beauty of cruising is the ability to drift between these two worlds. I hope it continues to fuel us all for the long run.
After the HelmMistress wrote this at Carrizal and we took off for a few days at Las Hadas, we picked up anchor and went back to Carrizal for a few more days of snorkeling and water. The clarity after a few days of norther winds was great and we stayed for more days than we expected to.
Of course, this post was supposed to be put up yesterday, but I didn’t get to it with all the boat errands we have going on. We’ll soon be heading north again, with our focus on getting back to Baja in March to spend the hurricane season there.
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