A Warm Welcome
Long before the North American Fun Tourism Agreement sailors have known Mexico to offer a warm welcome. Over the years it’s only gotten better. The number of marinas and quality of services have enhanced the generosity, culture and spirit of the Mexican people. In January’s Changes in Latitudes you’ll read about Ken and Sherri Bliss of the Beneteau 361 Cake, who’ve been in Mexico five years. “Frankly we can’t find a reason to leave,” they wrote. “The Mexicans are indisputably the nicest people on Earth; their food is incredible; for nine months of the year their weather is perfect; the prices are cheap, cheap; and the places we sail into — whether it’s the raw beauty of the desert in the Sea or the lush jungle in the south — take our breath away.”
So what could make it better? The marinas open their arms with welcoming parties to build friendships amongst the cruising community. We received some photos from three recent welcoming celebrations along the Mexican coast.
On November 3, Marina Puerto Escondido in Loreto, the oldest city in Baja, held a grand opening party for about 250 guests in a warm, outdoor celebration. New docks, new breakwater, new services and a new charter operation run by West Coast Multihulls are all part of this reinvigorated development in this well-protected natural harbor. The new owners have rolled out the red carpet to cruisers who want to discover the Sea of Cortez and this harbor tucked under the 3,000-ft Cerro Tabor Palmilla peaks.
For many years, right after the finish of the Baja Ha-Ha, the City of La Paz and the La Paz marinas have thrown a welcome party for cruisers departing Cabo San Lucas and venturing up into the Sea of Cortez. It’s been such a warm welcome that some cruisers find it a bit of a ‘black hole’ — it’s hard to regain escape velocity. This year the Baja Ha-Ha Beach Party was held on Sunday, November 18, at La Costa Restaurant.
“The La Paz Beach party was a great venue,” reports Chuck Skewes of the Beneteau 60 Ullman Sails. “It was held in a small beachfront restaurant that had dinghy landing in smooth water protected by the breakwater of Marina La Paz. The food was fantastic, well organized, and on time. The band was a great way to keep the night rolling, with plenty of sailors dancing. What a great way to wind down the Baja Ha-Ha for 2018.”
Farther south and following the cruiser welcome party in La Paz, harbormaster Saul Lopez of Marina Mazatlan organized a cruiser welcome party. The party on Thursday, December 13, at Marina Mazatlan Beach Club collected more than 70 cruisers and friends to inaugurate the start of the 2018/19 cruising season. Many cruisers are arriving for the first time; others are returning for the sailing season ahead after leaving their boats for the summer.
It’s almost Christmas and many cruisers are still on their way south to join those who have already arrived. ‘Tis the season to enjoy cruising in Mexico.
What do Americans in Mexico do besides attend parties? Is there regular integration with the townspeople? Boats are definitely cool; do they define everyday living for expats? Is travel the lure? What about community? I want more from my retirement than simply relaxation and a tan.
PS. We don’t have a boat now although we did, and have sailed the bay and delta.
Joyce: The oldtimers at Marina de La Paz are especially plugged into and connected to the local Mexican community, with charity fund-raisers, etc. I’ve been impressed by this. Some of the other areas I’ve seen, not so.
In the four years I’ve been visiting the marina at Puerto Escondido, the place has undergone radical changes. Before, it was rundown, funky, cheap, relaxed and welcoming to all boats, including an entire flotilla of permanent boat rats who were anchored (and tied up to improvised and not-so official mooring balls) outside in the “Waiting Room.” The new owners forced them all out, and now the marina is fancy, open to bigger boats including charters, and much more expensive. The services and facilities are first-rate, but I miss the funk, the old timers who’d have coffee every morning at 10 and tell yarns, and the relaxed atmosphere. Money money money.