Brian and I rented a car and are driving up the 1000 mile Baja Peninsula stopping at Loreto and Catavina along the way. We haven’t run into a single person who advises driving the Baja at night (potholes/road washouts/roaming cattle), so we’ll heed that advice. This means what we could normally pull off in an easy two days will take three (it took us 12 days to sail here). No matter, the drive is said to be beautiful desert landscape and we are looking forward to it (and getting to go faster than 5 kts).
The number one reason we are going back is to re-punch our visas. We will be here 6 months at the end of April (I know that’s hard to believe); Mexico tourist visas are only good for 6 months. Apparently in the old days, you could go to the airport for another stamp, just give a little wink and few pesos to the immigration agent and you would have “left” the county – atoms dissolved and transported miraculously to the States and back again in the blink of an eye, just like Star Trek. We haven’t met anyone who’s tried it lately, but it might depend on the airport. Since we like being law-abiding citizens, we are heading back. I’ve heard Mexican prisons are no fun.
The bare necessities
Regardless, we also have appointments. Dental, eye, prescription, hair (that’s right, I haven’t had a haircut in 6 months!), taxes, etc. And, well… we need stuff. OK, not need, per se. These are not necessary items; they’ll just make life a bit more comfortable. Our friend’s house has been a depository for the last month as the Amazon boxes pile up. Other than a few electrical components, here is our list of "must-have" items:
Inflatable kayak. This is our most expensive (and much ruminated-over) purchase. We contemplated buying one before leaving on the Ha Ha, but it was low priority. Once we arrived in Mexico, we really wished we had a kayak to paddle around the islands. So we decided to bite the bullet in order to enhance our cruising experience. We chose the Helios II EX from Innovakayak.com and are looking forward to many future adventures. Maybe we’ll do a review later.
Water filter replacements. We utilize 2 carbon-filtered, squeeze water bottles daily for our drinking water. While we use the dock water (Marina Costa Baja has a desalination plant) for boiling coffee, this adds an extra layer of protection for my cold powdered drink mixes and when we want our water straight up.
Lock & Lock and OXO containers. I absolutely love these and need a few specific sizes for keeping certain things air-tight and therefore bug-free.
Mosquito screen. The no-see-ums and mosquitos can be brutal here and are working their way inside the current hatch screen above our v-berth, so we are upgrading material.
Pressure solar shower. We currently have a pressurized weed spray bottle with a pump handle that we use to shower on deck when at anchor. It works great but is large, super awkward and just gets in the way. When sailing we stow it in the bathroom and it takes up 1/3rd of the already tiny floor space. This new one is smaller and collapses for easier stowage when at a marina or at sail.
Eagle Creek Compression Pack-Its. I LOVE these for sorting and storage of clothing. The rip-stop nylon material slides in and out of shelving easily and the seams/zippers are sturdy. I NEED more. I purchased several flexible plastic “boxes” from the Container Store that are now breaking at the seams, apparently not meant to be pushed, squished, pulled on and opened on a daily basis.
Airhead Hand Pump. Our current standard foot pump works fine but takes 100 foot smashes to inflate the dinghy. OK, I didn’t actually count, but it feels like 100. I hope my foot pumping days are over.
Justified: Season 5. This is for when we are at anchor and have no internet/Netflix. Love Timothy Olyphant. ‘Nough said.
Of course I will be making a Trader Joe’s trip: specialty nuts (haven’t seen hide nor hair of a pistachio), chocolate chips (boggles the mind why I can’t find them), canned corned beef hash (Brian’s favorite, who taught him to like that?), individual drink mix packets (lime flavoring is a requirement here apparently, in everything from iced tea to mayonnaise), etc.
Pickin' and a' Grinnin'
We are picking up a fiberglass travel guitar that I bought Brian for Christmas so he could pick at it while on the boat. Ummm let’s see, which Christmas? Oh yeah, 2013. This kick-starter company became so backed up with orders they could not produce. We had put down a deposit so we were stuck; on top of that they would not answer our numerous emails and phone calls for several months. 15 months later, the guitar finally shipped. I’ll acknowledge that they at least followed through… but terrible customer service. We’ll see if the final product was worth the hassle.
The last thing we need to do is sew our bimini solar panels back on. The epoxy glue that holds the velcro strips to the panels are coming right off the Solbian flexible panels. This means a strong wind could easily rip them right out. We heard from another cruiser that it’s possible to sew through the panel directly. So now we’ll take them back up north where our Sailrite sewing machine awaits.
Food and Friends, and More Food
Of course we are super excited to visit with friends who we miss dearly. And we are looking forward to gorging at The Pit Stop and In-and-Out. There’s no lack of excellent, high quality restaurants here in La Paz, one of which (Azul Marino) is literally, and dangerously, 50 feet from our slip. But sometimes I just want greasy diner food: a heart-healthy, cheese-infested, tuna melt or patty melt on sourdough and steak fries. And for some unfathomable reason, most La Paz restaurants translate the term ‘ham’burger quite literally, adding a slice of fake, processed, slimy square of “near” ham on top of every burger. In-and-Out, here I come.
Having the freedom of a car for 3 weeks will be thoroughly liberating. For me, the strangest thing about living on a boat is not having an immediate transportation option, ie. my own car. Sometimes I feel a bit claustrophobic. But in reality, my reach is limited only according to the amount I wish to pay and how long I am willing to wait. Here it takes hours to get to Walmart and back via a combination of shuttle/walk/taxi or shuttle/walk/bus. Sometimes the effort is just not worth it (once a month is our limit). In contrast, our California home was 5 minutes from Target, a black hole I got lost in every week, mindlessly buying more junk that I didn’t need. Consequently, I’ve noticed we (I) spend a lot less money when car-less! Money well-saved for things we really like doing, like eating out!
As soon as we return at the end of April, and provided the refrigerator keeps ticking, we will finally leave La Paz in early May. We are excited to head north into the Sea of Cortez for an extended 2 month cruise up to Loreto and as far as Santa Rosalia. In July, we will cross the Sea and stay in San Carlos Marina for the hurricane season this summer. Plans after that? TBD.