As El Tiburon edged her way forward into the Bay I was overcome with a familiar feeling of coming home. Maybe it was because we were greeted by scores of white sails, glistening mylar, and brightly colored spinnakers aided by a fresh breeze gliding sleek hulls over rippled water. Maybe it was the luxury yachts criss-crossing on the water reminiscent of our own San Francisco Bay. Or just maybe, I had found what I was searching for nearly 2,000 miles from home. Whatever the cause for the stir in my heart, it took my breath away.
Banderas Bay, or Bay of Flags, stretches nearly 23 miles from the most northern point of Punta Mita and La Cruz south to Cabo Corrientes (Cape of Currents) with Puerto Vallarta sitting as the Crown Jewel smack in the middle. To the south of the Bay lie the steep Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains reaching straight down to the ocean with the quaint tropical beach communites of Los Arcos at Mimismaloya, Las Animas, and Yelpa.
Talk about steamy, one of the many interesting things about Banderas Bay is that the climate in the north of the Bay is more arid in comparison to the southern more tropical portion. Humid torrential downpours during the summer months produce not only lush vegatation, but provide a tropical habitat conducive to cocodrilos! In fact, Paradise Village Marina on the estuary in PV is known to have cocodrilos swimming about the boats.
Bearing this in mind, we decided to settle into the smaller and more quiet village of La Cruz. As we made our way into Marina La Cruz we were hailed by our friends on Mystic and were told there was plenty of roomy 60 foot slips to chose from for our dockage. So far so good.
|The entrance into the marina at La Cruz flanked by pangas and homes|
|Marina La Cruz Yacht Club|
After reading about La Cruz Marina, also known as Marina Riveria Nayarit, for years on friends blogs and in SF Bay's Latitude 38 magazine my HIGH expectations were not disappointed. The crisp white stucco and palapa roofed yacht club, the swaying plams, the firey colored climbing bouganvillea, and the mass of familiar sailboats and faces with the anticipation of making new friends affirmed our nomadic lifestyle.
|Scalawags with familiar faces gather at the Yacht Club for Happy Hour.|
|No shy pirates here|
While the marina is filled with lots ambiance and comradery, it is the charming village of La Cruz that wins most cruisers hearts. La Cruz is a mixture of old and new, Gringo and Mexican, elegant dining and simple street vendors selling tacos. A German Chalet serves wienerschnitel, a British Pub, Coffee Houses, Hippy Joints with burgers and fries, Mexican Cantinas with lush courtyards serving freshly caught Dorado. Perhaps the best known hotspot for music and pizza is Philo's. The village is well known for live music in Banderas Bay; loud 60's rock & roll to blues and jazz to traditional Mexican ballads. The overall affect is a warm fuzzy feeling that keeps cruisers returning year after year. They even have a local vet for Spark who special orders his kibble. Darrell and I shared the instant recognition that this small village and the two of us are going to enjoy a long term relationship.
|The hip-hop happening central Plaza|
On Sunday mornings the plaza has a open air market with local enterprenuers selling organic produce including dill and mint, home baked French baguettes, hummus, jams, tomales, key lime and blueberry pies, spinach & mushroom quiches, banana breads, and big pots of steaming hot carnitas. Simply to die for gourmet treats. But, that's not all, there are scented candles and soaps, and all kinds of pottery, watercolor paintings, and of course, silver jewelry.
There's more. This country LOVES to celebrate anything. Nearly every week there is some holiday to commenerate a blessed saint or some political revolution or another, always with lots of loud music and fireworks late into the night - or really into the early morning hours. Our favorite one so far was the Blessing of the Fleet. Pangas and small fishing boats decorated with colorful streamers and ballons and then loaded up with families gathered at out marina and made they way to the town of Bucerias for the Blessing.
|Getting ready for The Blessing of the Fleet|
|Me casa - nope, but we are getting closer|
Sparky likes it!