Feliz Año Nuevo 2023!

What an amazing night we had last night! We got turned away from the beach where we had originally planned to watch the fireworks, (closed for a private party). A bit disappointed, we punted and blended in with a group of revelers who were headed into an adjacent hotel beach. With so many people, the security guard just waved the group through… and we were grateful to have this SPECTACULAR view all to ourselves on a secluded little point of the beach.

We could see the entire Banderas Bay with fireworks going off in all directions. And such a great reminder as we head into the New Year, to always keep an open mind… When your plans don’t go as scheduled, be open to better things happening instead!! We had a lovely view of the almost-full moon and stars too. Could not have planned this any better if we tried! Thanks to Judy for the fireworks shot below, she captured them better than we did… we were looking across the bay at these.

Since our last post, we’ve had several friends and family visit Vallarta. So much fun to host and be tour guides! A few friends suggested we become professional off-the-beaten-track tour guides. But likely doing it as a job would take the fun away…

Sailing friends Caroline & Larry visited Puerto Vallarta from Virginia. They are former Passport 40 owners, and Heidi and Caroline met about 10 years ago on the Women Who Sail group and have stayed in touch. Great to finally meet them in person, and we all hit it off so well. One day we took them hiking on the trail from Boca de Tomitlan to Las Animas. The trail starts off along the Boca de Tomitlan Malecon (Heidi found her panga!) and then heads up some steps into the jungle. Unfortunately, the trail had seen some erosion from the rain during hurricane season, and the first half was a beast, climbing up and down boulders and ravines. The hike is only 2.5 miles one way but can take 4-6 hours including stopping at the waterfalls to swim.

When we finally arrived at the waterfalls at Colomitas, we were shocked to see a new three-story concrete block beach bar, built right ON the trail, alongside the stream. And sadly, the water level in the pool was below knee-deep when it should have been at least shoulder-deep. The new beach bar has run a hose (next to Heidi’s right hand), siphoning off water from the waterfall for their plumbing. A reminder that change is the only constant in life. Glad we experienced this wonderful place before it changed. Caroline & Larry also joined us for beach yoga and introduced us to their friends Janis & Michael who joined us at yoga one morning too.

Heidi’s cousin Sue, her husband Darrel, and Darrel’s brother Doug took a Panama Canal Cruise which included a day stop in Puerto Vallarta. Instead of paying for a “cruise tour”, they opted to hang out with us for the day, and we had fun playing tour guide. We showed them around town, including climbing the stairs to Mirador de La Cruz, a wonderful overlook of Vallarta, and a delicious meal at La Tostadaria. Sue surprised Heidi by gifting her their grandfather Elgin Hurlbert “Oxy”‘s ship’s compass from when he was Captain of the USS Mauna Loa, post World War II. Grandpa’s compass is such a treasure, and Heidi is so grateful to now have it aboard Due West.

Top: Heidi and cousin Sue with Grandpa Oxy’s compass from USS Mauna Loa, Middle: Vallarta shops and food including the BEST shrimp tacos in town at Cafe Top. Bottom: this man was filling sacks of dirt in town on the hillside below the Mirador hike. Views from the top of the Mirador. It’s a few hundred steps straight up, and we think the view is worth the climb, although Darrel might not agree!

So grateful for our condo-sitting opportunity and this gorgeous view.

We are finally moved back aboard Due West, after condo-sitting for friends Judy & Paul during hurricane season. And it’s great to be home! Kirk took advantage of us being off the boat to dig deep into a few plumbing projects. He replumbed and rebuilt the head (otherwise known as a toilet), and re-painted the bilge and floor, and walls around the head as well. Of course, as boat projects often do, one thing after another went awry, and the projects took longer than anticipated. If you own a boat, you can relate! Judy and Paul were gracious in letting us stay a few more days after their return until we had a working toilet again. Yes, first-world problems!

Top: Before and after painting and plumbing, Kirk took a few loops out of the hoses to make for a more direct flow. Middle: the toilet living under the Nav Station for a while, freshly painted floor and walls, and the working head put back together again. A thankless job, but Heidi is grateful for Kirk’s plumbing abilities! Bottom: spare parts are kept under our bunk (maybe not such a good thing according to Feng Shui!)

As with any boat project, many areas of the boat get disturbed to access hoses and spare parts. Plus during hurricane season we stow most outdoor items inside, which makes Due West look like a hot mess! So we decided to do a major “Spring clean” before moving back aboard. We emptied and cleaned every cupboard and contents before re-stowing everything. Another thankless job, and when we’re in the midst of it, it can feel discouraging—like a bomb went off—and it will NEVER get back to a liveable space again…Imagine taking everything out of every cupboard, drawer, and closet in your house all at once…and our home is only 350 square feet! Of course, with perseverance (and Heidi’s Tetris Queen’s stowing prowess), Due West is now nice and clean and feels like a home again.

Top: The Salon, looking like a bomb or hurricane went off… and it definitely takes some boat yoga to get a few lockers cleaned out and re-stowed. Middle: the starboard setee as a work-station, and put back together as a home again! Bottom: the “tape & glue drawer” and galley gadgets drawer got cleaned out and organized too. (And we’re super lucky, many boats don’t have any or many galley [kitchen] drawers. Grateful that our Passport 40 has five large drawers in the galley.)

Heidi has enjoyed a two-week break over the holidays from her functional medicine school studies and mentoring students. But she’s not been slacking off… she’s been substitute teaching Beach Yoga for our yoga teacher Sam, while Sam’s away for the holidays. And she’s loving teaching her functional wellness workshop “Your Body is Talking, Are You Listening?” at a variety of local yoga studios in Puerto Vallarta. This week it’s back to the books, students, and clients again. And she’s finally redesigning her ten-year-old business website site, stay tuned for that re-launch soon.

“Captain Crow” rocking his Crow pose like no one else can do. Our new friend Janis (friends of Caroline & Larry) at Sam’s yoga class…Catching the bus home after yoga there’s a swing set at the bus stop—never too old to fly through the air! And we LOVE the new sea turtle mural that now graces our beach-front yoga platform.

Back aboard Due West just in time to decorate for the holidays! Christmas is Kirk’s FAV holiday, and he loves the lights and decorations, although this year we ran out of time to decorate the outside of the boat. Inside, we have a small palm tree as our Christmas tree (purchased in Ashland, OR years ago), and most of our tiny decorations have come from our Swedish friend Magdalena. Our snow globe is from Seattle, complete with the waterfront and ferry boat, Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, Hammering Man, and the Space Needle.

We set up Santa and our tree around our multi-denominational shrine which includes Buddha, Ganesh and Lakshmi, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and lots of rocks, crystals, feathers, and shells. It’s all good!

But our favorite part of Christmas is our ginormous collection of modern Christmas Rock, Blues, Funk, and Reggae (along with a few traditional tunes). Years ago we recorded 20+ tapes from KXRK and KMTT radio stations in Seattle. If you LOVE Christmas music as much as we do, here’s our holiday gift to you: a link to download our Christmas Music collection that we recently digitized. Enjoy! There are some real gems here, like the irreverent AC/DC’s I Want A Mistress for Christmas, Jill Sobule’s Merry Christmas From the Family, Back Door Santa by Clarence Carter, and a couple of our favs, Soul Christmas by Nona Hendryx & Grahm Parker, Christmas Must Be Tonight by Robbie Robertson & The Band, and Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys. Oh, and let’s not forget Christmas Wrap by the Waitresses, and some awesome DJ-ing by Norman B!

Heidi is also over the moon that it’s pomegranate season! Pomegranates are her favorite fruit, and they are usually only available for a few weeks around Christmas. So we’ve been eating a lot of them lately. Thank you Costco!

Look what Santa brought us! Beautiful new bulkhead (wall) art. The piece on the left we purchased many years ago from an artist in Ganges on Salt Spring Island, BC. (It also has 2 alebrijes of Tosh & Tikka on top!)

The piece on the right is what we got for Christmas…handmade amate tree bark paper, woven and hand stamped, made by a few families in the Puebla, Mexico area. They are reportedly the only families still creating this form of bark-paper art that dates back to the Aztecs. When you live on a boat you have to keep an eye out for “small art”. These are about 9 in.² each.

Although nature is not as readily in our faces here in Vallarta as it was the two years we were in Barra de Navidad, we still try to get out in nature and get grounded as often as possible. The Pitillal (Pee-tee-y’all) river is the source of most of the beach glass that Heidi collects, which gets washed down to the ocean from neighborhoods and towns upstream. We walk the beaches picking up trash and treasures (beach glass and glass tiles), and the beaches are always teaming with white herons and pelicans which reminds us of Heidi’s dad, Verne, who was a big fan of the Pelican Lymric by Ogden Nash.

One day while beach walking, Heidi looked down to see the heart-shaped rock above, and snapped a quick photo… two seconds later a wave washed it away. Another great reminder to Be Here Now, and keep your eyes open for hearts and other surprises in nature. And be sure to look UP, so you don’t miss seeing the iguanas!

Tikka and Tosh enjoy chasing each other, and their toys down the long hallway at Judy & Paul’s condo, but they are also very happy to be in their own home again. They like small cozy spaces… Where’s Tikka hiding? For a cat with a ferocious yawn, she’s the first to high-tail it behind the bed pillows with any noise on the dock or fireworks. But sometimes she forgets to hide her tail, LOL!

Tosh embodies his Siamese side by always guarding the companionway door and giving his best crocodile look. (Siamese cats were bread to guard ancient temples, and he’s definitely our “guard-dog” cat!) But when it’s mealtime, they will both stare you down and pester you until they are fed. Never a dull moment aboard with these two crazy-lovable furbies! Can’t believe they are eight and a half!

We’re looking forward to more friends visiting in the new year, and will stay in the PV area for a few more months, finishing up boat projects, day sailing, whale watching, and waiting for Baja to warm back up. We plan to sail north back to the Sea of Cortez from April to June and return to PV again for the next Hurricane Season. In the meantime, please let us know if you’re headed this way. We love taking visitors hiking, and exploring off-the-beaten-track, less touristy places.

Cheers to 2023 from Mezcal Y Sal, a fantastic women-owned mescal and tapas bar with super-creative drinks. Wishing you all peace, abundance, and more vitamins J, H, and L2 (Joy, Happiness, Love, and Laughter) in the coming year.

Leave a Comment