¡Viva Las Tortugas!

Kyber’s board sport of the day: Hydrofoiling

We bid our farewells to Bahía Santa Maria with one more kite foil and yoga session, picked up the anchor, unfurled the jib, and headed downwind to Bahía  Magdalena, known by many cruisers as “Mag Bay.” Bahía is pronounced (b AA – ee – uh) for all you gringos.

trimming the jib

It was a short sail but we were still able to catch a small yellowtail while trolling.

fish on
yellowtail!

Everywhere you looked were whale spouts and because we didn’t have a motor on, I was constantly worrying they wouldn’t hear us coming! After a few hours, we arrived inside the bay and dropped the hook. Home sweet home, for the next few days.

mama and baby whale spouts, direct collision course
Natural Mystic anchored off Punta Belcher inside Mag Bay
amazing yellowtail sashimi with ponzu and wasabi
I held my cup of dice up to Disco and asked for some black cat magic. He sniffed the cup, and then I rolled a Yahtzee… and then another Yahtzee! LITERALLY!
Nothing like almond oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to make any anchorage feel like home.

We landed the dingy on the beach right away and saw at one end of the point there was a fisherman village. I was determined to check it out but as I walked that way, we heard gunshots. Needless to say, I turned around. Best case scenario going through my mind, they are just trying to scare the birds away from their hard day’s work of fishing. Worst case scenario, they were doing some illegal drug smuggling and they didn’t want any visitors. Whether they were trying to scare the birds or me, I decided lets look around this beautiful beach and Baja desert instead. I found all kinds of tracks that I hope someone can identify for me! I’m thinking some kind of lizard?

remains of the whaling pier
any tracking experts?

Eventually I was just relaxing, communing with nature on the beach, enjoying the sunshine, and two fisherman with their white rubber boots walked by carrying a big bag of abalone they just harvested off the point. I said hello, and that I was interested in checking out the whaling pier remains and they said that as long as I stayed on the beach area, it was totally fine for me to go over there!

seaglass searching

The next day, Kyber and I explored our way down to the point, found very little sea glass, but did end up finding a kind group of fisherman, pulling their pangas up the beach. They had, of course, lots of sharks in their pangas. We talked and they said that they were happy to show me around the village. We also, of course, stoked them out with LighterBros.

Yikes

They showed me where the guy takes the shark heads and turns the row of teeth into the things you see in gift shops. It was interesting to see how he props it open and dries it out. I didn’t really like to see it. But I’m happy that they are using every little bit of the shark if they are going to be killing them.

seeing his work station in the fisherman’s village for making these shark jaws

I was impressed by their solar panels and rain water catchment systems. It was interesting to see how many villages, with barely any modern day technology, still lived off of solar! Honestly from my uneducated impressions, it was probably so that the lonely fisherman could charge their phones to call their girlfriends and families back home.

This was from the Manowar Cove Village, much more sophisticated solar and rain catchment than the fisherman camps

Manowar Cove Village

I set out on this journey, not just to enjoy the surf, sun, and sea, but more to do the Heartwood Path personal growth activities and to help spread environmental awareness. To go out of my way, to help the earth, and to depict the environmental stressors, from true first hand stories. This is not an article saying, climate change is happening, here are the facts. This is not an article saying, the water temperature is rising, here is the proof. This is an article, that hopes to put some perspective on the issues we face. That hopes to share what is actually happening to actual people. This is also a success story. Something I hope will inspire you to get out there and make a difference.

Old whale bones were all over this village

This is the story of Jose Banderos Romero, a local restaurant owner in a very small fisherman village in Bahía Magdelena. And by local restaurant owner, I mean… the ONLY local restaurant owner. Literally there was one restaurant.

Jolly Jose

As we charged it in the dingy in the rain and landed on the beach, it was clear that the livelihood of this town was the Fisherman Co-op. Many fisherman were unloading their catches, as someone manages the scale, and as someone keeps tally at a desk with an old school calculator. The main catch I was seeing was lobster. They were all so friendly and everyone was smiling and laughing.

We sought fresh produce for our next voyage and I asked where the fruiteria was. Literally the gentleman pointed to a man standing at the end of the road, who waved back, and they told me to go talk to this man. So I walked down the dirt road to the man and asked if there was a fruiteria and he said no. Slightly confused, I said, what about tomatoes? He shook his head yes, and lead me into what looked like a house. Inside were bins of, (standard fare) tomato, onion, jalapeños, and potatoes. Then there were about two shelves full of galletas (cookies), masa, and various canned goods. We collected as many tomatoes as we needed and went on our way, feeling very grateful to have found fresh produce, amongst a land of seafood.

This grocery store was actually shut down. The one I went into looked much less official.
The only restaurant in town, notice the whale bones.

On our way back to the boat, I saw a jolly man who had such a friendly welcoming vibe. I knew that the big town, Puerto San Carlos in Bahia Magdalena was a mecca of environmental organizations in Baja and it was our last chance to find someone to interview about their local efforts. I asked him if he knew of anyone who knew anything about the sea turtles. He then told me that he had been working for the sea turtle group for 15 years. So I began to interview him. THANKS to Dani Jobe for helping me translate and Nikki Cordero for helping connect us!

I wasn’t sure really if I was understanding what he was saying but I did know that he seemed to have a lot of information. He went on to describe that 15-20 years ago, there were many people eating and selling sea turtles, even right there in that town. (I’m wondering if he used to serve them at his restaurant I was standing in). He said that eventually a group named Tortugueros of California came to Mexico to help save the sea turtles. I know other groups in Mexico are specifically working to save the Critically Endangered Pacific Leatherback population which is on the verge of extinction.

Jose traveled to Cabo for a week-long seminar with the Tortugeuros de California and eventually the seminar participants started to inform the public about the issues with the turtles and the public  “started to help them.” He said that the turtle population went from 5% [of the original population] to 100%, up from what it was 15 to 20 years ago. He said that informing the public was amazingly influential. He said that now the turtles are abundant! He did say that they still get caught in the fishing lines which is a problem but that the population is back to 100% of what it was 15-20 years ago. 

The sand dunes at Manowar Cove

He said that very infrequently people will still take one turtle, and that it will feed the whole town, but that they are no longer selling the turtles. I am so inspired to hear that once people like Jose, found out what was happening to the sea turtle population, they stopped eating them! Then there was no one to sell them to, even if they tried! There are many different groups who have incubators for turtles and help set them free into the wild. But this was interesting that he said simply informing the public made a huge difference. The fact that people stopped eating them so frequently is a major success.

However the sea turtles still need your help. NOAA’s current threats to the sea turtles say they are: “destruction and alteration of nesting and feeding habitats, incidental capture (bycatch) in commercial and recreational fisheries, entanglement in marine debris, and vessel strikes.” WWF list of current threats to Leatherback Sea Turtles are: Habitat loss and degradation, Wildlife trade, Collection of eggs and meat for consumption, Incidental capture (bycatch), Climate change, and Pollution. Stay tuned on Livin.LighterBro.com for more sea turtle conservation efforts.

Pristine, untouched, wild

As for the whales. It was also interesting to hear that the past three years, they hadn’t seen very many whales in Bahia Magdalena. Something you should know is that “eco-tours,” which just means whale-watching tours in this case, is one of their main industries in Bahia Magdalena. When there are no whales for the tours, there are many people out of work. When he said that the past three years there were not many whales, that does not mean that they didn’t get to enjoy seeing them breach, that also means many people were unable to support themselves and their family, and had to find a different job.

Feeling so grateful to have such an wild place to do Heartwood Path Activities

His theory on why the whales didn’t come around was because of climate change. Now we can sit here and argue over if the temperature increase of the water for the past 3 years was due to El Niño or global warming, but that is not what I am here to do. I just want people to understand how JOSE and his community perceives climate change. No matter what, hypothetically, say that the sea temperatures do increase, that is obviously going to result in migration patterns changing. I just hope that this helps you put to perspective how rapid environmental changes effect a person like Jose. He has a small restaurant in a small town that is centered around fishing, and eco tours. Both of those industries rely on healthy ecosystems. Without those two industries bringing people to that town, people would not be eating at his restaurants.

Restaurante Miramar

While the whaling industry in Mexico stopped in the 1980’s, the issues they were facing, was more indirect. So what does that mean? When I’m driving my car? I’m indirectly causing the whales to change their migration pattern? If you believe in climate change, and that we are contributing to it. Then your answer is yes. We are all connected. But one thing is certain that without awareness and facts, it is hard to make people change their behaviors.

Exploring the Mangroves by dingy

Another topic we talked about with Jose was the Mangrove trees. I had heard that they were an eco-system in trouble. However, we took Red Rocket through one and it looked like it was not only healthy but it was thriving. That is why I asked him about the Mangrove population. Turns out that they were in trouble 30 years ago because people were using them for firewood. Once they saw that it was so detrimental, they informed people, and they changed their behaviors. This is another success story!

Thriving mangrove ecosystem

So what’s the moral of the story for the turtles, whales, and mangroves? Education can go a long way. And I hope that seeing conservation efforts  through Jose’s eyes, helps you to understand how to help inform others and helps you feel inspired. That helps you hear, not just a doom and gloom environmental story, but a story of progress, success, and hope.

el amor de mi vida

Cruising for a cause

After capturing this video, I truly felt like we were cruising for a cause. Sure, we were always living off solar and wind, traveling by the energy of mother nature, eating locally caught seafood, and making our own water, but to me, that’s not enough. To me, you can’t just live sustainably yourself, and you can’t just do environmental activism when it gets handed to you. You have to go out and seek it, fight for it, sacrifice for it. But I realized that, that’s just, to me. That’s part of who I am. I want to go out of my way, to make the world a better place for all beings, both human and non-human. I feel a deep void if I do not. A void that eats me alive.

But that mentality is not for everyone. And it doesn’t need to be. This video showed me that as long as you have an open heart and a true desire to do good in this world, opportunities will present themselves, that actually you don’t always have to go out of your way to be an environmental activist. That there are millions and zillions of ways to make a difference.

Whether you are a “Jose,” attending the seminar to learn how to spread awareness, or “la gente” (the people), who listen, learn, and act sustainably, when we all acknowledge the issues at hand and work together, we can in fact, “poco a poco” (little by little), save the turtles, save the whales, save the mangroves, and even save the earth.

🎶 Soundtrack:

“Who Knows” – Protoje

Livin’s EZ

Bahía Santa Maria

I love arriving in an anchorage at night, then waking up to see where in the world you are.

Stretching in the sun after his first 3-day voyage
Breakfast of the tasty fruit from the Ensenada Farmer’s Market

I looked out and saw how beautiful Bahia Santa Maria truly was. The mountains surrounding the Bahía Santa Maria. The topography, creating all the peaks and valleys. The texture that looks like a beige velvet, rolling hills and valleys reaching down to sandy beaches, welcoming sea-goers, with open arms. The shadows in the valleys and sunshine on the barren desert-like landscape. Powerful and majestic. The warm mountain colors contrasting the cool ocean colors. They taught me that a balance of fluidity/strength is crucial to a healthy life, remain spontaneous but do not get pushed around. Stand strong to what you believe in.

Taking a moment to commune with nature

I decided to celebrate the milestone along the Heartwood Path of finishing the Introductory Experience and to wander in nature, with no itinerary.

Kyber far off in the distance, I am always hurrying to keep up!

We kayaked into the beach and explored the canyon, I was attracted to the pretty pink flowers, standing out in the crowd of cactus. After exploring the canyon, we went up the trail to the cliffs. I was in a bikini and it felt great, specially since it is the middle of winter. The cactus lined the trail and I regretted wearing flip flops made out of recycled rubber, because the spines would go straight through the soles (confirmed). Even the bushes had spikes hidden behind every leaf. None of the spiked scene attracted me. Made me wonder, who would be attracted to cactus.

Cactus obstacle course

Ironically, later that night I read this passage in the book I was reading called, “The Power Of One.” “The Almighty conceived the cactus plant.  If God would choose a plant to represent him, I think he would choose of all plants the cactus.  The cactus has all the blessings he tried, but mostly failed, to give to man.  Let me tell you how.  It has humility, but it is not submissive.  It grows where no other plant will grow.  It does not complain when the sun bakes it back or the wind tears it from the cliff or drowns it in the dry sand of the desert or when it is thirsty.  When the rains come it stores water for the hard times to come.  In good times and in bad it will still flower.  It protects itself against danger, but it harms no other plant.  It adapts perfectly to almost any environment.  It has patience and enjoys solitude.  In Mexico there is a cactus that flowers only once every hundred years and at night.  This is saintliness of an extraordinary kind, would you not agree?  The cactus has properties that heal the wounds of men and from it come potions that can make man touch the face of God or stare into the mouth of hell.  It is the plant of patience and solitude, love and madness, ugliness and beauty, toughness and gentleness.  Of all plants, surely God made the cactus to his own liking.  It has my enduring respect and is my passion.” I found a new respect for cactus and deeply appreciated it the rest of our times wandering in the desert.

After about 10 feet from the coast it was hot- like really hot. Baja California desert hot. We kept wandering the desert terrain and came across piles of glass where someone had burned a bunch of trash.

Signs of possible sea glass below

Below that cliff we saw a cobblestone covered beach. We both thought oh, wow! Sea glass central! We scoured down the cliff and checked out the beach. I found three round gem-like sea glass pieces. I was shocked that that was all. Kyber didn’t see one until right before we left.

Success!

We decided to move on and continue our exploration. Back up to the cliffs, back up to the heat, back to a beach, back to the cool ocean air, and so on. Eventually I got so hot up on the cliffs that the next beach, had no choice but to jump in. It was a giant sandy beach with rocky tide pools on each end. Very flat and welcoming.

Not a (human) soul in sight

We went skinny dipping and cooled down our core temperatures. After drying off in the ocean breeze, we continued back to the boat.

Feeling refreshed and renewed

What a serene surreal secluded beach. Perfect. Once back on the cliffs (about 20ft above sea level) we were instantly back to being warm. Kyber stopped to watch a panga boat cross the bay and enter the mangrove swamp channels, taking notes. While standing still, I realized how hot I was, so I walked to the edge of the cliff, there it was again, that refreshing, reviltalizing, rejuvenating, cool, ocean breeze. You could stand 10 feet back in the desert and then back to the cliff… and wow what drastic vibes. Just then Nature had presented the natural attraction of the day. Crisp seaside air. The ocean was like a magical natural air conditioner for the Baja desert. Oh how grateful I was to find refuge from the desert heat, down by the sea.

Dolla Dolla Bill Ya’ll

One day we decided to go exploring in the sand dunes. We rode the dinghy to the beach. It was basically a large sand spit that extended out with the ocean on both sides and a little green folliage in the middle, but no land.

Interesting merging of many different eco-systems

On the way in we saw stingrays lining the bottom of the sandy sea floor… EEk. As we would cruise along they would spook and dart around like floating gliding hockey pucks. After we all three pulled Red Rocket up past the tide line all the sudden it was Kyber, Paul and I, no plans. And the words, “Ready Set Go” played in my mind. Go do whatever your heart desires on this vast deserted sandspit.

Vast and expansive, enjoying the foot massage while walking along the sand ripples

We all instantly started to beach comb and soon realized we had hit a landmine of every shell imaginable. More sand dollars that I had ever seen and the kind you see in the stores for sale, with the holes in them. I spent the next couple hours wandering alone looking for treasures.

Looks like someone is overdue for a wax

I found many shells that you could not see in Santa Barbara. I found so many interesting things I had to set up a bank for my sand dollars so I could make deposits once my hands got full. I did not plan to take all of these shells home with me. I just wanted to see them as a collection and create a little shrine. Also I wanted to show Kyber all of the treasures I found! At the end I would pick a couple that I could not live without. I really felt as tho I was depositing money into my mermaid bank. And let me tell you I was thinking, “I’m rich b****!” the whole time. Cash Rules Everything Around Me C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla dolla bill ya’ll.

My Mermaid Safety Deposit Box

I also started to collect a lot of trash as well. I started using an old soda liter bottle to carry my sand dollars to my bank.

I then realized how useful some of the trash I found on the beach could be. And that I would not just bring it back to the boat to throw it away or recycle it, I could actually repurpose the liter on the beach. It got me thinking about how there are so many treasures you could find on the beach, not just pretty sea shells.

Took three for the sea!

The biggest natural attraction of many was the soft dry sand that made it feel like you were floating as you walked. the warmest, fluffiest, softest, sand I had ever walked on.

Light and Fluffy

Later we went for a dinghy ride in the mangrove swamps. Very cool maze in 0-3-6ft of water with beautiful peelers at the river mouth. As we entered into the mangroves we saw a fisherman camp along the banks.

Mangroves bound

We stopped to give them some LighterBros. The men were unloading their catches of the day. As I peer into their panga I was very surprised to see it was all sharks. About 3-4ft long. Then… get this, he takes the shark out of the panga and just in the blink of an eye, slices the fin right off and places it into a special box that helps preserve it correctly so they could sell it. Unlike many of the fisherman in the world, he continued to fillet the shark and save it to sell the meat. He would toss the waste back into the water, explaining the swarming birds circling above, now fighting over the scraps. He had the biggest smile on his face.

Shocking.

It was in that moment that I realized he is not the issue. The fishermen who are catching the sharks for the fins are not the issue. The issue is the people who are buying them. And the biggest issue is the people who are then eating them. Surrounding the panga was an entire village of people. Many of the men dressed in their waterproof white boots and waterproof overalls, clearly “pescaderos.” The children all run around playing. The women sit chatting and some cooking in the kitchen. These men are just trying to feed their families. It was an important lesson that if there is a market to buy things, people are going to provide it. The providers are not the real issue. It is the people who are supporting that economy.

As an environmentalist it would be easy to do a story on how horrible these fisherman are… “look and what they just did to the shark!” But standing there as he over and over sliced the sharks fin off, I did not have those feelings. Not one single bit. You read about the die-hard environmentalists doing sit-ins and protesting but I now have a new take on that sort of activism. There is more than what meets the eye. You have to think about the big picture, the grand scheme of things, and address the root of the problem.

Always the first place I look for him after returning to the boat

The rest of the days we were simply spent EZ livin… LighterBro.

Yoga mat with a view
Kyber doing his daily board sport and earning brownie points 😍
Looking like a true ship cat, Discs
🎶 Soundtrack:

Hawaiian Tribute to Sublime -Livin’s Ez

 

Starry Nights

Driving out of the Ensenada Cruiseport Village

We set out from Ensenada. All we knew was south, sail south. I heard talks about stopping in San Quentin and various islands, etc. but we had no agenda, no itinerary. Days went by and we are still sailing. Sailing fast. We were making excellent progress down the Baja California coast. Paul and Kyber were switching off, 4 hour shifts.

Under sail full speed ahead

It was exhilarating when we would go past 10 knots, which we did quite a bit, fun between 7-10 knots and serene between 3-7. My favorite time at sea was the nighttime. All you saw was blue, 50 shades of blue. The moon, stars, and occasional white caps were white but other than that, the most amount of variation of one color you could ever imagine. The clouds were even a shade of blue. Midnight blue was the ocean.

The thing that kept catching my eye every single night was Mars and Venus, shining ever so bright, steady, solid, powerful. We talked about how those are our neighbors and how we fit right in between the those two planets. Just at that moment, we got a puff and Natural Mystic was surfing the swell. I felt like we were being carried very fast through outer space and headed directly  between those two planets. Then it hit me, we are. We just don’t notice that we are all on this planet swirling and twirling throughout our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Yellowfin Tuna we caught trolling

When I did the Heartwood Path Activity about the 54 Natural Senses, some of the senses at the time might as well have been locked. I could not even imagine what they felt like. So I began looking at the natural sense list and I realized, here, out at sea, just me, my love, and my cat, I was able to activate incredible amounts of those natural senses that now I see were not locked, they were just dormant. I now understand that is one of the most important goals of the Heartwood Path. Far too many of us, have far too many of our natural senses dormant, to the point they feel locked. We must, cliché I know, awaken to the nature of happiness. Quick… like, yesterday. But there is no going back, only forward and boy am I feeling grateful to live life so much more aware. Nothing like sailing at night to heighten your natural senses.

Insane poké that we made into nori wraps with sushi rice and sashimi sauce

Sigh. The stars (at this point, Mars and Venus). Each night just after sunset Mars and Venus were the first on the scene. Perfectly lined up with the moon. Reminding me of our place in the universe. Each night the stars mesmerized me. Kyber’s shift was usually 4pm-8pm. By 8pm it was pitch black. I loved seeing the transformation in the sky.

Watching the stars come out

One night, there was one star that was so so bright. I wondered if it was a planet. But after appreciating it for long enough, I noticed it twinkled, not just faintly, but almost flickered, multi-colors sparking out like lazers… contrasting the deep blue sky. Then I looked around, all the stars twinkled but not quite as bright as my favorite.

I thought about getting the star guide and seeing if I could learn it’s name. Then I thought, “What’s in a name?” I decided not to look it up but for the rest of the night it could be my star, my star that gave me consent to use it as guidance and healing. What exactly did I learn from this star? Well, I learned I don’t know why they twinkle and planets shine brightly. I was inspired by the masculinity of planets to shine bright and strong and the femininity of stars to dance and radiate light. I saw why they came up with stories about all the constellations. Out at sea with no view of land in any direction, in the dark of night, the stars remind me of mystery and the unknown. And how that can get your imagination infinitely imaginable and it reminds me to always reach for the stars. I learned that the stars tell a story, if you have the luxury to slow down and listen. 

Still doesn’t do it justice.

Then after 4 days/nights sailing, 600+ miles later, the wind stopped, our wandering was over and we motored the last 14 miles to the closest anchorage, Bahia Santa Maria. I was ever so grateful that we were able to sail that far, using no diesel or gasoline, and living off of solar and wind power.

🎶 Soundtrack:

“Moonlight Drive” -The Doors

“Moondance” -Van Morrison

New Years Eve Fire

Beautiful natural attraction in the midst of the bustling marina

New Years vibes! I am on a journey of self-discovery so the whole New Years resolutions resonated heavily with me. The edge of the Cruiseport village is surrounded by palm trees. The love way the palm fronds radiate out from one central point, reach up to the sky with solid, strong, sturdy strength, inspiring, reaching. They sway in the wind but remain straight at the same time. These palm trees inspired me to set my 2017 New Years Resolution to be solid, strong, sturdy and to reach and shoot for the stars. I want to remain determined to stay on my path and journey, with strength, however have the capacity to go with the flow and sway in the world that is life. Each leaf resembled a New Years Resolution, starting at the middle (core) and shooting for the stars!

Riding on Kyber’s handlebars while Disco rides in the milk crate on the back

New Years Eve. Classic! Our close friends Tina and Tracey are also in the Cruiseport Village so we are able to all get together to enjoy the holiday. I get dressed in my gold sequence top and hop on the handlebars of Kyber’s bike, Disco in his cat carrier in the milk crate, and we all three ride around the marina to their finger. I was feeling very grateful that a good friend Liz Clark had donated her old Patagonia rain jacket to the boat because it was pouring down rain. We climb onto their boat and I climb down the ladder into the cabin and to my surprise it was warm and cozy. They have a fireplace in their boat, something I keep telling Kyber we need but he always says we hope to head back to the tropics where you wont need that.

Absolute down pour as we venture out for a night on the town

After a few Flor De Caña drinks we all get motivated to head out to Hussongs the famous classic bar in Ensenada. We stop back by the boat to drop off Disco and I give him a NYE kiss goodbye (literally he is trained to give kisses). We set out a group of 10 in the extreme down-pour of rain. Finally we realize that we should take shelter until the rain let up a bit before we get absolutely soaking wet. We enter into a hotel lobby and then into their bar. It was dark and surprisingly happening, being a holiday and all. There is a mexican man doing kareoke, singing in English (clearly his second language), so the Flor De Caña starts to get my mind going. It’s New Years Eve. I know no one in the entire town. I have a group of 10 people. LETS DO KARAOKE! I talk to the DJ and tell him to put “Kyber” on the list, grab the list of songs, and head back to the bar, to find my Margarita waiting. I go around asking all 10 people if they would do karaoke, thinking these are cruisers, kinda wild and free, I’m sure they will join. To my surprise, Kyber says yes, (I think he didn’t think I would actually do it) and then our friend CF says yes too! Everyone else refuses the plea. Finally we decide on “Super Freak” by Rick James.

….¿You had to be there? Me, Kyber, and CF doing Karaoke to Rick James

Next thing I know, the DJ says it’s Kyber’s turn and we take the stage. I take off my blue rain jacket and could feel the eyes on my sparkle sequence top. The music has got me going and I am dancing as if we are performing alone in a bar in Mexico on NYE with no one we know around. All the sudden I try and sing into the mic and Kyber has completely taken over. CF and I could barely get the background vocals in as he sings every word with extreme Kyber entuhusiasm. After a few attempts at the mic, I realize I have been demoted to backup dancer and girl background singer. Leaving CF standing next to Kyber, probably wondering why he agreed to do this. Next thing I know Kyber is really into it. He is adding his own twists and variations on the tune and dancing like crazy. I’m sure the experience in our minds was absolutely 180 degrees different from the crowd’s perspective. All I know is at the end we got a big cheer and Tracey told me his jaw hurt from laughing the entire time. At least, if nothing else, it was a night to remember.

Cruising the vibrant streets in Ensenada to the music of continuous fire crackers

We leave the hotel bar and venture out into the streets. Everyone’s beautiful festive outfits covered up by their rain jackets. The whole town was one giant fiesta and fireworks were exploding everywhere non-stop. Then we get to Hussongs and you can’t even get a tequila shot it was so busy, only beers. After getting our beers we wander away from the crowded bar and check out the mariachi band. They were dressed in their New Years finest and playing Mexican classics as everyone around sings along. I then realize that there are actually 3 mariachi bands so we wander into another room where they are playing Oye Como Va by Santana. Music to my ears. I took a little video of them playing that song and these locals next to me started holding up their beers saying MEXICOOOO. I guess I had tourist written all over me. I responded back “TACOS!” Then we all held up our beers and screamed “tacos!” at the top of our lungs and cheersed. I started hysterically laughing that that just happened. We check out the other room and the band was much bigger. They had a guitar, stand up bass, saxophone, and accordian. At one point I looked around and realized I was the only one dancing. I was very confused and eventually got the pretty chicas next to me to join in.

Mariachi Band at Hussongs

Then we start to walk back to the Ensenada Cruiseport Village. The streets have gotten a little bit crazier and Kyber lights off a firework right in the middle of the strip. All of the car alarms start going off so we all take off running. (Mind you, this was happening everywhere) Then Kyber is walking down the street and quickly decides to go the other way, cuts to the left and crosses the street. As I change directions to follow him, my legs slip out from underneath me, and I lay completely flat on my back in a puddle of rain in the dirty streets of Mexico. Then two heads pop into my view of the sky, Paul and Tracey. Oh how I will never forget their faces showing up to my rescue. They reach out their arms and help me up. Kyber is on the other side of the street, and had no idea. I start hysterically laughing about how silly that was and continue on my way. Note to self, rubber flip flops in the rainy streets have no traction. We wander back to the marina in the pouring down rain and I realize that it is not just me that is soaking wet from my fall and I take off my rain jacket and begin to dance in the rain, feeling ever so grateful to wash off the streets of Mexico.

Kid in a candy store, a.k.a. Kyber buying Fireworks

We arrive in the marina and Kyber runs to the boat to get his fireworks he had purchased a few days before. The songs “Fire” by the Ohio Players, “I’m On Fire” by Cheryl Lynn, “Love is Like Fire” by Delegation are all ironically coming out of my little Bose Speaker as we dance around the parking lot. With every BOOM of the fireworks I can’t help but scream. I even see the fuze slowly disintegrating and leading to the firework but still, it shocks me every time.

Fireworks en la marina
BOOM… snap crackle pop. Reflecting over the water.

Kyber is having way too much fun. When the fireworks light up so does his face. I have never seen so much wildness in his eyes. His face is lit up brighter than the brightest firework. Then all the sudden everyone is gone. I look down the E finger and everyone is running, so I run too. BUSTED. I didn’t turn off the Bose speaker and they followed us right to the boat. I decided the chances of getting in trouble, if it was a young girl they were talking to, were much slimmer so I just started using my (still quite rusty Spanish) saying the mantra, “chico es loco” over and over. But they demand to receive the name of the Captain. So Tracey says, “ok, here is my name but I didn’t shoot off any fireworks.” As they walk away, and turn down the docks I see at the end of Tracey and Tina’s boat the giant package from the bottle rockets sticking out of the trash can. Maybe it wasn’t just the music that gave us away.

Kyber’s smile, bright as a firework

We do our provisioning at Smart and Final and also head to an epic fruiteria with everything you could ask for. Lots of different peppers, chilis, papaya, eggs (feathers still stuck to the shells), local honey (sold in recycled plastic containers), fresh cheeses with samples, local extra virgin infused olive oils and olives, dulceria stands (candy for the kids), bulk rice and jamaica (hibiscus tea), tamarind, and limón (lime) and lima (lemon). Oh and husks from corn for the tamales. Bustling and almost felt like we were ripping them off because it was so cheap.

We found a farmer’s market style produce street that is open daily
One of many of the fruit stands all in a row

Then it was time to start the real journey. I had been to Ensenada the year before but now it was time to head to uncharted waters, the wilds of Baja.

Thank god we are on a Catamaran, mono-hull cruisers are always so surprised that we are able to sail full speed ahead with all of our stuff stored this way
Natural Mystic looking well-stocked for a sail down Baja

🎶 Soundtrack: 

“I’m On Fire” -Cheryl Lynn

“Love Is Like Fire” -Delegation

“Super Freak” -Rick James

“Oye Como Va” -Santana

Taste of Ensenada

Entering into the Bahia Todos Los Santos

After 36 hours at sea, we finally arrive in Ensenada, Baja California. As we enter into the bay I am flooded with memories from the year before when we sailed to Mexico during my Spring Break. It was comforting to be back in a place I had enjoyed so much. I went out onto the trampoline and did one of my Heartwood Path activities, knowing it was one of the last moments of peace and quiet at sea before arriving in the bustling down of Ensenada.

Doing a Heartwood Path Activity

I sat on the bow and appreciated the sunlight dancing on the ripples of the glassy ocean. I was mesmerized as it sparkled in such a spontaneous and fluid motion. It reminded me to not just live, but to dance, in the present moment. That was what I decided I would do along this journey of self-discovery.

Entering the Marina in Ensenada, which acts as a Cruise ship destination, the largest commercial fishing port in Baja, and many Cruiser’s first stop in Mexico
Checking Natural Mystic and crew into Mexico

When we arrive, first things first, we head to the seafood cocktales followed by heading back to my favorite fruit stand for a piña colada. Basically it was a mad dash to enjoy the tastiest array of food in all of Mexico. Yes, we had to go to the port captain office and do lots of paper work with visas and brush up on our spanglish. Sign all kinds of documents and receive papers I was told not to loose. Luckily Kyber is a pro at this and I just kinda signed random dotted lines on documents written in Spanish.

Seafood Cocktails – shrimp, clams, oysters, fish ceviche, octopus, scallops, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, ketchup, avocado, hot salsa, and lots of fresh lime
Super fresh piña colada from my favorite stand

Seafood cockatles, ceviche tostadas, pina coladas, tamales, fish tacos, churros, pacificos, repeat. And I mean, literally we would eat that everyday and just sit there savoring every single bite thinking how happy we are to be back in Ensenada and eat the food we have missed oh too very much.

Baja-Style Fish Tacos in the making
Tacos Fenix – the best in Ensenada

Finally, thank god, it is time to get my stuff organized on the boat. Kyber clears about 3/4 of a twin sized bed for my belongings. I struggled to figure out how I was going to keep all of my dresses (which is 90% of what I wear) wrinkle free. This was a girl’s nightmare. No closet, no bookshevles. I was in fact brought to tears realizing I had no idea how I was going to make this work without simply piling all of my stuff on top of each other and then having to refold it all everytime I got dressed.

This is what I was working with on our voyage

Eventually, we found some stick-on hooks and I hung my dresses behind the door. I was proud of my handy-woman work and pulled off hanging my dresses. Then a few minutes later, Kyber comes down with two giant storage containers and says that they have to go in that spot too. I had just gotten my stuff perfectly organized in the space he gave me and now he was taking 1/3 of the space back. He told me my clothes needed to be piled up higher on top of each other.

The storage containers that Kyber informed me needed to also fit in my space… after I had already organized it all.

Yes, I ended up crying. “Boo hoo, get over it your clothes are wrinkled,” I could hear the boys thinking. But it was a mixture of the fear of, when a fancy date night comes along and I have nothing worthy to wear, as well as the fear of, how am I going to survive living in such awkward corridors with all of my belongings shoved in hard to get it out places. It hit me, I brought too much stuff. Now I was going to have to deal with it.

Jam packed but making it work
My “closet”

I got the dresses hung on stick-on hooks behind a door. I was able to stack all of my clothes in neat piles. All of the little things like jewelry, toiletries, essential oils, camera supplies, and (yes I’m a hippy) crystals, I had organized into many little pretty bags that all went into one bigger bag. Made it possible to access each item individually without having to sort through it all. I am writing this part for both girls to relate and understand how to make it work, as well as for the boys to understand what girls are going through on your boat. And maybe it will help both boys and girls make this transition smoother than I did. Eventually I got all of my belongs perfectly organized and easy to access and finally felt at ease. Kyber let me hang 4 dresses (on 2 hangers) in his closet for date night and then it was smiles all around.

Green Pepper and Cheese Tamales “Reyes con relleno de queso”
Tasty churro dessert on our way back to the marina

We quickly get to work on preparing the boat for being out at sea. I hate that so many of the jobs I am unable to help with. It would take longer to explain to me how to do it than to just do it himself. However I was relieved when I heard we had many loads of laundry to do! Yay! A woman’s job (sorry feminism movement) but really, honestly. Dishes, vacuuming, and laundry. I decided I could easily be given those jobs on the boat.

Sigh… Laundry Day.

I’m sitting in Ensenada Cruiseport Village doing all of the laundry for the boat and it’s crew.  Feeling very grateful to have access to a clean laundry room! If only you could smell the detergent and hear the steady click clack of the rotating machines. I am also feeling grateful to have such an inspiring, uplifting, way to pass the time by doing my next Heartwood Path activity.

Reading the printed version of the Heartwood Path and filling out my journal

I sat outside the laundry room with my eyes on the machines. After appreciating the  storm clouds with the sun shining on them, the activity talked about what you want to see occur in the world and how you will have to be to evoke your improved image of a better world. Click “Continue Reading” below to hear what I came up with as the laundry machines spun round and round, helping us cross items off the to do list.

After doing this activity I saw many ways I could improve but did not feel overwhelmed. Each day, the Heartwood Path text and my impressions from the activities have lingered in my mind. I feel in tune with my emotions and wellness. I feel like my true self is unfolding, like it is there within and slowly, diligently, I am bringing it to the surface to share with the world.

Admiring the clouds as I do our laundry

I finished folding the laundry and pushed it in the dock cart all the way back to the boat. I was so grateful to have found a way to contribute to the work done on the boat. I am always searching for ways to help out and yes!!!! I found one! Clean clothes and towels for everyone!

🎶 Soundtrack:

“Upside Down” – Jack Johnson

Continue reading “Taste of Ensenada”

Sunset Sensations and Salutations

After taking my last finals, ever, at UCSB I was in a mad dash to get ready for three months at sea. A nice couple was sub-leasing my apartment (furnished) for the months we would be away, which meant I had to clear all of my personal belongs out of my little one bedroom apartment and determine what made the cut to come along on the trip.

All of my “things” getting ready to be moved into a storage shed

It is amazing how heading out on a voyage of this type forces you to think, What do I really need? What is a luxury? How can I live sustainably? I found myself saying “Adios amigos” to many of my belongings. The boat life had begun. A mixture of gather what you need to survive as well as get rid of everything you possibly can!

Never leave home without my journal, old photo albums, and Magical Mermaid and Dolphins Oracle Cards..or my hand knit wash cloth from my Grandma

I knew after returning on this voyage, things would never be the same for me. I was no longer a student going to University of California, Santa Barbara. I knew that it was time to ask myself, “Who am I?” “What do I want to do?” and “Who do I want to do it with?” I knew that once I returned home to Santa Barbara, if that is in fact what we decide to do, my identity as a student would be long forgotten. The journey of self-discovery has begun.

A final sunset as a student at UCSB’s Campus Point

Luckily for me, I am actually developing a fun and transformative personal growth online course that my Father had written into a series of books. What better way to work on my career and learn about who I am and who I want to be, than to try out the personal growth course for myself. So that is what my intention is on this sailing journey. To try out the Heartwood Path step-by-step and understand the full experience so I can better support the future participants. I will also continue working day and night on my computer designing the next course and directly applying all of the entrepreneurship concepts taught in my Technology Management Program at UCSB.

Before heading home to St. Louis to visit my beloved family for Christmas, I had dropped everything off on Natural Mystic for the trip. That way I was ready to leave soon as I arrived in Santa Barbara. We had no minutes to spare. I arrived in LAX to find my flight to Santa Barbara cancelled. I went from a flight from Chicago > LAX, followed by a bus to Santa Barbara, followed by an Uber to get on a boat to sail to Mexico. After the quickest shower I could possibly manage in the Marina 3 bathrooms, I literally ran all the way down the docks to the end-tie, happy as can be, ready to see what’s to come.

Me and my beloved sister Jennifer, just a few Christmas’s ago

Within 10 minutes of me stepping on the boat, the engine was running. While I was back in St. Louis, Kyber had told me how he was getting everything organized for our trip, and me being quite naive thought that meant clearing room for my belongings. I was rudely awakened when I found out there was no place for my clothes much less my backpack. He said that when we arrived in Ensenada we would clear some space for my stuff. Here we go again, welcome to the boat life.

12/22/16 iMessage from Kyber.. 12/27/16 upon arrival, rudely awakened.

It was pitch black as we departed from the Santa Barbara Harbor and I was on the bow making sure we didn’t hit the lobster and crab trap buoys. I was using a giant flashlight that began to get heavy and found myself having to switch hands to hold it straight ahead. I was genuinely relieved when our fellow crew member Paul, took over the flashlight. Eventually I went down below to get some sleep. There is nothing I love more than to sleep out at sea in a warm fuzzy bed with too many pillows. I slept all night long.

Passing Catalina on our way to Ensenada
View From Descanso Beach Club in Avalon on Catalina Last Summer

I woke up to sunny blue skies which after a week in dreary rainy Midwest winter weather, this was exciting. The sun was warm and cheerful. We were passing Catalina and I thought back on this summer when we spent an amazingly relaxing 3 weeks there. I could not seem to get enough sleep and ended up taking a nap during the middle of the day. Later on the pink hues of the sunset shined through the cabin window. I felt a deep desire to get up from my nap and to see tonight’s show. Disco arrived in bed purring. By the time I was finished appreciating his loving affection, the pink hues were gone. Sunset Over. Or so I thought.

Disco enjoying the sunset with me after our long cuddle fest at sea

I went outside and to my surprise the other side of the boat, the starboard side, was shining bright as ever. Dramatic orange skies contrasting royal blue water. I sat there and just absorbed the rhythms of nature. I noticed that the sun was illuminating the rolling swells of the sea, something time of day would have remained unnoticed. These reflections on the rolling sea have soothed me. They encourage me to slow down and go with the flow. The swells building, providing a solid sense of exhilaration/anticipation for what is to come on this sailing journey.

Passing San Clemente Island on the way to Ensenada

I’m sure you know that feeling after watching a sunset where all is calm, all is appreciative. Gratitude fills the air. You have reflected upon your day and now feel refreshed to welcome in the night. A sense of closure, but of the good sort. You feel satisfied and happy. You also feel even closer to those you watched it with. I found myself daydreaming back on the many sunsets I shared with so many friends and family, and felt extremely grateful that everyday we have the opportunity to share something so romantic with the ones we love.

🎶 Soundtrack:

“Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” -McFadden & Whitehead