Happy New Year from Barra de Navidad! Our recent post Feliz Navidad de Barra de Navidad brought you up to speed on the pre-Christmas festivities in this town named Christmas. But we must have been really good last year cuz Santa brought us a treat! Christmas morning, rather than snow, we woke up to this… a marina full of water hyacinth!
Water hyacinth is a wetland plant that grows in the lagoon on the northwest side of Barra (between Barra and Melaque). They dredge that lagoon two to three times a year to keep it draining properly—and not fill up with plants—to avoid the risk of flooding the adjacent towns and villages. And every time they dredge it the winds and tides bring the water hyacinth into Isla de Navidad Marina. And if you don’t move it out of your slip before it decays, the flies are horrendous!
So to clean it up, we wait for an outgoing tide and we get our boat hook (a long telescoping pole with a hook on one end used for grabbing onto mooring buoys or other things that go overboard) and extend it full length to grab onto the water hyacinth and push/pull it into the main fairway. Then with any luck, the wind and tide will take it back out to the ocean, where it becomes food for many marine critters. We cruisers have learned to help it on its way ASAP, as unfortunately, the marina staff doesn’t seem to notice it at all or do anything about it, LOL!
After all that work, we were hungry for Christmas dinner! We didn’t originally have any plans for Christmas dinner, and we knew if we wanted to eat out somewhere, we’d need to get reservations. Mexicans celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas day, so many restaurants are open to make money catering to the gringos.
We wanted to go to El Pescado Sushi Bar & Restaurant a.k.a. “Chuy’s” (the chef’s name, which is a nickname for Jesus—most Mexicans named Jesus go by Chuy), in the tiny nearby town of Colomilla (also called La Culebra). So a couple of days before Christmas we were talking with our dock neighbors Elinore & John from s/v Nakamal (Tuscon), who were also planning to go to Chuy’s for Christmas dinner. So we thought sharing a Christmas meal would be fun and Elinore made reservations for the four of us. El Pescado Sushi Bar & Restaurant opened last year, mid-pandemic, and has so far done a fairly robust business.
As the story goes, Chuy is originally from Colomilla (“co-lo-ME-uh”, population 200, about 1/2-mile walk south of the marina). The town of Colomilla is entirely surrounded by the Grand Isla Navidad Resort & Marina property, so residents of this tiny town have to drive through the resort grounds to get to their homes. And Chuy is from a prominent local family—his family also owns the water-taxi business in Barra, and his brother Fortuno, nephew Sebastian, and Uncle Emilio are frequently our water taxi drivers, all super-nice guys.
Sidebar: Sebastian (18) has excellent English with very good pronunciation, and he LOVES practicing his English with us. When he drives the water taxi past our boat he will call out, “Good Morning! How are you doing today?” or “Good Afternoon! How are things going with you?” It’s really fun.
And Chuy is a professionally trained sushi chef—trained in the US—and apparently, he used to own a very successful sushi restaurant in Telluride, Colorado for many years. But last year his father’s health took a turn and Chuy wanted to be home to help care for him. So he sold everything in Telluride and moved back to Colomilla… and opened his El Pescado Sushi Bar & Restaurant. It’s staffed by several of his family members including a brother, sister, nieces, and cousins. The food is AMAZING! And if you’re not a sushi fan (we don’t care for raw fish) they have lots of other options, like fantastic salads, wild-caught salmon, and mahi-mahi fish tacos. Plus they make great kapa maki and other vegetarian rolls to order. They also make a few exceptional cocktails including a killer Moscow Mule.
Christmas dinner at “Chuys” El Pescado Sushi Bar & Restaurant. John & Elinore from s/v Nakamal. Santa LOVES his mahi-mahi fish tacos and Moscow Mule! Heidi’s salad with wild-caught salmon also included beets, pears, strawberries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, pink grapefruit sections, mandarin sections, hazelnuts, pecans, and a delicious vinegarette. All of their dishes are so beautifully prepared, you’d NEVER guess this was served under a palapa in a Mexican beach town of 200 people! Telluride, CO quality food at Mexican prices.
And then the next holiday was upon us! New Year’s Eve had the cruising community getting together for a BYOB and pot-luck snacks just down the dock from us at s/v Baja Fog. Finger food was arranged on the surfboards, and about 20 cruisers showed up to fill the dock… we did our best to socially distance and stay upwind of everyone else. Fireworks were set off in front of the hotel, Kirk and most of the cruisers headed to the beach, 100 yards away, to watch. Heidi opted to hang with Tosh & Tikka as we could still see and hear the entire event from the boat, and they were not too happy about it!
We brought Heidi’s “everything but the kitchen sink” Oatmeal Cookies (bananas, peanut butter, nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, YUMM!!) Thanks to John & Monique on s/v Baja Fog for hosting this fun event.
In spite of staying up till midnight for the fireworks show, we opted to wake bright and early at 6:45 AM to hike the mile uphill to a great vantage point and watch the first sunrise of 2022! It was a glorious sunrise over the Barra Lagoona. If you click the image to view larger and look directly under the sun you can see a slight shimmer of reflection on the ocean, on the other side of the land at the far end of the lagoon. There are currently only about 10 boats anchored in the lagoon, and we’ve heard in peak season, there can be as many as 60-70! At the far left of the photo, you can see the Isla Navidad Marina, and the town of Barra across the channel, and Bahia Barra.
As usual, during the day, Tikka is on watch and Tosh is off-watch sleeping with his buddy Boo. But as soon as it gets dark they both love to hang out on deck and practice their hunting skills for things like moths, geckos, tiny crabs, not-so-tiny grasshoppers, and an occasional cockroach that may fly aboard. Whenever Tosh catches something (with the help of his wing-girl Tikka), he meows in a particular way that we immediately KNOW “Uh-oh, Tosh has caught something!” And we try to keep him OUT of the boat, as he always wants to bring home the bacon and share! Uhg… The things we do for love…
Sending LOVE, LIGHT, and heartfelt wishes for an Abundant, Healthy, Happy 2022.
Love and Hugs from all of us to all of you! 💖 ✨🙌🏼