This retirement stuff is T-U-Uff – TUFF!! Here we are floating in beautiful La Cruz de Huanacaxtle enjoying warm days and cool nights, whale songs and bird calls, refreshing swims, colorful sunsets, peaceful mornings of coffee on the deck watching sunrises over Puerto Vallarta, and happy hours of swapping stories with friendly cruisers. Life is good – la vida es muy bueno!
So what’s the big deal? We wavered! We shillyshallied from “The Plan” and have had to contemplate a d-d-decision! Our minds have begun to wander in the memories of recent travels and they came back with a substitute strategy. We had intended to stay in Banderas Bay for a few weeks, then point our bow out to sea, turn left, and keep going. Left is south, left is El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, the canal, new oceans and new territory to explore. Left was “The Plan”.
We’d put the old cruising books back on the shelf, started reading new ones about the Pacific Coast south of Mexico, and planned our crossing of the evil Tehuantepec and Papagayo, two notoriously ugly weather spots. It was “The Plan”! We were turning left!
The alternatives? There are actually any number of choices; stay put, go straight, go in circles, or turn right! Of those, we like turning right the best. If we turn right, we head back north, back into the Sea of Cortez, back to a huge beautiful cruising ground with quiet bays, crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and incredible sea life.
There are also a few challenges. We’ve now spent a couple of seasons in the Sea and have learned first hand about the sudden nighttime winds sweeping through a calm anchorage, the complete lack of wind or opposing winds when you want to go somewhere, the intense heat of summer and the surprisingly cold winds of winter. We’ve watched the warm waters change from crystal clear to obscure green as the temperatures rose in the summer months. We’ve monitored hurricane tracks and learned about hunkering down in safe hidey holes when the northers blow. So you may ask, why do we want to go back there?
The Sea is one of those places that you have to live to really appreciate. Each area, each island, each bay has its own personality and its own sense of magic. At the southern end of the sea are the Espiritu Santos islands, where most of the La Pazians play on weekends or for a quick getaway. Many cruisers only get this far and then head back, to stay in La Paz, do the Pacific Puddle Jump, or bash back up the coast to California. We’ve been lucky to enjoy these islands in different seasons, sometimes completely alone and sometimes with way too many other boats. We’ll stop there again, but our focus is further north.
As you go north in the sea, the more remote you get. Or as my lovely sister-in-law says, “you’re on your own!” But even though you’re alone, there is more sea life all around; whales, dolphins, seabirds, fish, and turtles abound. The local people too seem to be more open as you get away from the touristy gringo areas and we enjoy getting a chance to laugh and joke with the friendly folks in the little fishing villages. The islands are less traveled and the scenery is more dramatic.
So you’ll be glad to know that our moment of stress has been survived and we are back to enjoying our life of leisure after a moment of retirement planning anxiety. The key words in that sentence are life of leisure, I mean really, what is a calendar anyway but a place to record upcoming birthdays. We have no schedule, no time frame; we don’t need to be any where or any when. We have the absolute luxury of freedom.
The “New Plan” is a quick turn to the left to trek down the coast as far as Ixtapa and Zihuatenejo, followed by a big right turn north for another year in the Sea to revisit our favorite spots and explore new ones that we missed on our first go-rounds. We’re excited to be able to spend more time in the special bays that we love, walking the white sandy beaches, and relaxing in paradise. We’ll continue with the new stuff too, learning to fish a bit better, practicing our Spanish, and continuing to engage in our lovely life of ease. Life is good, and it really doesn’t matter if that means left, right, straight or getting totally lost! We’ll plan on Panama 2016 and for now we’ll soak up more of that joy in simple pleasures shared with the ones we love…