On the northern most point of Banderas Bay is Punta de Mita, which is a cute surfing village and also home to the Four Seasons, which makes access to the waves out on the point very difficult, and still somewhat of a sore subject with certain people. The bay is nearly 20 miles across and 20 miles deep, with a steep mountain range that surrounds it. The clear blue water with the green, jungle-ish covered mountains protecting the bay make it a very picturesque place to be.
Banderas Bay is also home to Puerto Vallarta, which 50 years ago was a small fishing village but now has built up around tourism. It is a charming city where you can eat fresh fish on the beach while Mariachi bands serenade you and little kids try to sell you trinkets. There are clubs and bars for those interested- the night life in Mexico is pretty solid. I remember spending a few months here when our family cruised Mexico 15 years ago, and it has been fun to revisit some of my favorite places, although I have yet to go back to the really gross water park where I had my 8th birthday (maybe for my 23rd...?! You're invited!).
Right now we are staying in the marina at La Cruz. I like it here much better than Paradise, as La Cruz has more of a cruising community and it actually feels like Mexico (a plus). And it is a much easier bus ride for me to get out to Mita to surf and hang out.
Yesterday I was hanging out at Punta Mita at La Escuetlita- the surf shop/school of mi amigo Antonio. Another amigo, Pelon, decided to cruise over to his friend's house. I was curious to see a local's house so I went with him. Even one street off the main drag in Mita (which is short), the whole scene changes. It goes from tourist friendly, English signs and a well-paved road, to dirt roads, stray dogs, and little kids hanging on the sidewalks. Houses with kitchens on the front porch are turned into little taco stands in the afternoon, where you can get delicious, seven-peso tacos (50 cents).
As we walked into the backyard of Gabriel (amigo de Pelon), about 20 roosters started crowing in their small wire cages. I had just walked into a rooster farm on which Gabriel raises cocks for cockfights. He tried to show me pictures of the most recent fight on his cell phone but (fortunately) I couldn't see. Whereas I am morally opposed to cockfights, I held my tongue and commented on how beautiful they were.
Chatting with Gabriel, I learned that his family had lived out at the point of Punta Mita, and when the Four Seasons came in they essentially bought everybody living there off the land. He said, "con el sangre de Emiliano Zapata, este es Mexico." I couldn't agree more. When Pelon and I returned to the street he took off running after a pick-up truck, and I followed. The truck stopped and the back opened up to reveal five huge baskets filled with fresh pan dulce. We stuffed our faces with fresh pastries right there on the street. Que sabroso.
I love traveling, as exhausting, exasperating, and scary as it can be sometimes. But I also love going someplace new and staying for a while, getting to know the locals and learning my way around on my own. The first time doing something is always the hardest, but if it is possible to stay for a while, it gets easier. The first time I took the bus on my own I ended up going in the wrong direction for 45 minutes. Now I ride the busses around here like a pro. I don't get lost as I walk down the jungle paths to get to my favorite wave, and I recognize people out in the line-up.
Most of the time we are cruising we will not stay in one place for so long, but we are preparing the boat to go across the Pacific. Boat maintenance, boat cleaning, and boat polishing are all ongoing chores that will forever plague the boat owner/beneficiary of. We have also been day sailing to practice heaving- to and flying the spinnaker. On these day sails I usually convince Mom and Dad to anchor or heave-to while I jump off the boat and get a few waves. Its pretty cool to essentially jump out of my house and into the waves (with a little paddling involved, of course).
OK, I have totally lost my train of thought. Oh yeah. Banderas Bay: freakin' sweet.
I hope all is well in the other bays: San Diego, Monterrey, San Francisco, East Bay, South Bay, etc., etc. Those places all hold a special place in my heart and I look forward to coming home to them someday!