We are certainly living in interesting times… Hoping you and your loved ones are safe and well amidst all the COVID-19 craziness going on around the globe. As we write this, we have dear friends who’ve been trying to get back to the US from Italy for over a week, another friend trying to get back to Canada from South Africa, and family affected by the recent earthquakes in Salt Lake City. Clearly Mother Nature isn’t happy.
While the US Government has advised all Americans to return home, we are at home aboard Due West (our only home for the past 18-years), and as permanent residents (permanent “green card” holders) of Mexico, we feel no need to leave here and head for the US. Here in Mexico, we are doing our best to take deep breaths, meditate, eat healthy, sleep well, stay well hydrated, exercise and get out in nature daily for our own health and sanity.
Many have asked about how Mexico is dealing with COVID-19. Sadly, not very well so far, just a few paces behind the US. For the most part, they seem to be doing too little, too late. They seem reluctant to lose any tourist dollars or stop Semana Santa. Easter Week is the biggest national holiday in Mexico each year, and Mexicans typically throng to the beaches.
Update March 22, 2020: Jalisco has now requested people stay home for the next 5 days. Then they will assess the situation and possibly make a mandatory shelter-in-place. The state of Colima, where we’re headed next, currently has a “shelter-in-place order”, no leaving your home except for emergencies including medical care, and groceries, and police can stop you on the street to ask where you’re going. We are grateful that these two states are being much more pro-active than the rest of Mexico at this point in time.
So far there isn’t much testing at all down here, so the numbers are significantly skewed, and very likely way more cases than are actually being reported. Being such a social culture it’s hard for most Mexicans to grasp the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation and establish social distancing. This is further enforced by president AMLO (like the US idiot-in-chief) who has been telling everyone “everything is fine, come visit Mexico!”
We, however, are taking it very seriously and taking all necessary precautions. We are religious about washing our hands and social distancing. And except for beach yoga where we stay 6′ away from others, and hiking in nature, or our dinghy rides, we have basically been staying aboard Due West for the past week.
Luckily for us, we are currently in a fairly low-population area and there are not likely many if any cases here yet. But it is a tourist area and Mexicans come from Guadalajara and CDMX (Mexico City), both of which have cases, so it’s not entirely safe.
As liveaboard cruisers, we have one big advantage over land-lubbers. We know how to provision for a month-long+ ocean passage. And that is exactly what we’re doing. Late last week we hit the local produce markets and grocery stores and stocked up on things we might need for the next month+.
Grateful that we stoked up on Costco toilet paper and paper towels before we left PV a few weeks ago, so we’re good there, LOL! But we did just hear that they currently have 17 pallets stacked to the rafters full of TP in Puerto Vallarta! We’ve been very conscious to not horde anything, buying only what we need, and leaving plenty for others.
However, when we finally found a farmácia that had rubbing alcohol (because we realized we only had 1/4″ left in our bottle!), the sales clerk smirked at us for buying two. The look on her face said “crazy gringos!” But in true cruiser fashion, the sailing community helps it’s own, and we like to carry spares of things in case a fellow cruiser needs something. These days, a bottle of rubbing alcohol might just save someone’s life.
Melaque (San Patricio) is a slightly larger town than Barra de Navidad and we had heard great things about the Hawaii Super Store there so were eager to visit. Last week, we caught the water taxi from the marina into Barra, then took a bus the 2-miles to Melaque. Once on the bus, we realized the error of our mode of transportation, as we were packed in like sardines, amongst way too many people. Yikes! What had we just done?! Thankfully we were soon at our stop and used copious amounts of hand sanitizer once off the bus. [Check out Heidi’s DIY hand sanitizer recipe here.]
With two full backpacks and a large produce box full of food, we had a great excuse to taxi back to the marina, no way could we fit on a bus with all of that! We typically soak all produce and eggs in vinegar-water (1 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of water) to kill any bugs. Then let it dry in the sun before stowing away. We now also wash all reusable grocery bags, money, and our shoes before bringing them back aboard.
Another day Kirk took a 30-minute taxi ride to the slightly larger town of Cihuatlán, to stock up on canned goods and beans at a larger grocery store there. The Pacific Coast of Mexico produces more than 55,000 tons of coconut a year and is also the leading supplier for the booming organic-fairtrade banana industry. Kirk’s taxi took the scenic route so he got a great look at thousands of acres of this beautiful agricultural area. Coconut is a fairly sustainable crop, with all of the coconut being usable; its water, pulp, oil, and even its shell, which is used as a substrate in nurseries that breed seedlings that are later grown in protected agriculture plantations.
We’ve really LOVED our time spent in Barra de Navidad, and Heidi has particularly loved the free high-speed WiFi provided in the hotel Business Center for getting her work and schooling done. We also took advantage of the great boat-maintenance-for-hire here and gave Due West a ‘spit-and-polish’ stem-to-stern, wash with two coats of wax on the hull and cabin top. Kirk says she’s never looked better in her life! Arturo and his team of three guys did a FANTASTIC job, and the price couldn’t be beat.
Now it’s time to head out on the hook (otherwise known as anchoring out) and visit more of the bays and beaches on the Gold Coast of Mexico. We plan to self-quarantine for the next few weeks, while we see how this whole pandemic thing pans out down here.
However, we’re waiting for the weather to cooperate so we can leave. The winds have been blowing in the mid-20s every day from the north, while the ocean swell (waves) has been southerly, pushing them directly into the bays we hope to visit. This would make for some very rolly anchorages. No bueno! We do have a flopper-stopper to help dampen the rolling, and can always put out a stern anchor too. But currently, we’d be hard-pressed to get out of this slip while it’s blowing 24kts+. So we’re self-quarantining at the dock while we wait for the weather to change, hopefully on Tuesday.
We had planned to be back in Puerto Vallarta briefly in early April to pick up some more food, supplies, meds, and cat food, then make our way north to the Sea of Cortez. Now we’ll just sit tight in several of the many beautiful bays between Las Hadas and Chemela, waiting to see how this whole COVID-19 thing transpires before we make a move back to PV.
We send our love and well wishes to all of our friends and family around the globe. Please keep washing your hands, eating healthy foods, getting lots of sleep, staying hydrated, exercising, smiling, and self-quarantining, it’s the only way to stop the spread of this novel virus. Be well!