One of the most fun parts of Sailfest is the Sail Parade where for 300 pesos (less than $15) you can spend a day on a sailing on a sail boat. The the best thing is all that money goes to build and improve schools for the poorest children in Mexico, and there are no paid administrators to siphon off the funds.
This morning around 300 people lined the pier waiting for the pangas to take them out to the various boats they has signed up to spend the day on. My companion Faye and I decided we wanted to do the Patricia Belle again because she is such a FUN boat. The Patricia Belle is very large, some 60 feet of deck space and 30 of us enjoyed the captain and the crew’s hospitality. This boat was built some 20 years ago about 10 miles from where I live. Built of timber logged off the captains property behind the Bear Creek Store on the old Belfair Highway in Washington state.
We led the sail parade around Zihuatanejo bay and then out past Ixtapa, paid our respects to the Port Captain then sailed off to do some middle of the ocean swimming. About two thirds of the passengers and all of the crew jumped or dove overboard and swam along side the boat as she gentled sailed on, and I do mean gently as there was almost no wind at all. There are lines over the side that you can hold on to if you aren’t comfortable swimming away from the boat.
We had packed picnic lunches complete with salmon, cheese, capers, olives, crackers, jicama and of course wine It’s just a fantastic way to spend and afternoon sailing, eating, drinking and swimming in the ocean where the water temperature is about 82 degrees and meeting so many new friends. Signing off KO
The money eared from last years Sailfest went to building a high school. The first new high school in over 20 years and this one targets kids who dropped out of school for a myriad of reasons, most commonly financial. They needed to go to work to help support their family, sometimes drugs or pregnancy are the issues. I would equate this somewhat with our “alternative” schools except that these students already know what life is like with out an education and are now highly motivated to continue their education. They come from very poor families, but are all promising students and this school is free. An unbelievable opportunity for them. Many poor children here little or no schooling past their 12th birthday when they start helping earn an income for the family.
The road to the school high on a hill overlooking Zihuatanejo is probably the worst road I have ever ridden on. Steep, switchbacks and only roughly graded. Many rocks, pot holes Truly only a road fit for ATV’s and we took a 15 passenger van up to it. The kids come by combi (small van type bus) to the bottom of the hill and walk the rest of the way looking sharp in
their school uniforms. A nice breeze blows up on the hill negating any need for air conditioning except in their computer lab. 6 classrooms, 14 teacher and 130 kids who like to try their English with you as do their teachers.
There studies are heavy on math and science with ethics and economics also taught. Art, music, dance and sports are relegated to after school clubs which are all a large part of their
culture. The students performed several regional dance routines and performed a tragic play of some of the problems of today dealing with guns and violence. While it was done in Spanish we all got the gist of it. The “leading lady” played her role with such emotion that I would not be surprised to see her on “the silver screen” someday.
Our second stop was to visit a tutorial school,
where children come from their regular schools and get additional help, or study time or simple spend time better occupied than “hanging around”. The primary kids attend in the morning where the big draw is food. They get both breakfast and lunch and for many kids these are their only meals.
They have a wonderful teacher who loves what she is doing and loves doing it in Zihuatanejo. signing off KO
The cactus is made from zucchini, pea pods and rasberries
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Sailfest is the most fun you can have doing good deeds for the kids of Zihuatanejo. The chili cook off is the Senor’s favorite event and he turned out for it happily voting for his favorite chili from “The Captain’s Daughter”. Not being a fan of spicy chili I’m afraid to try half of them. I stick with my favorite, the key lime pie.
The silent auction is one my favorite events. I usually just go after the Restaurant meals. My theory is if I’ve bought a certificate for a restaurant, the Senor will have to go out and use it. And I do enjoy eating out from time to time. But I wasn’t very successful this year, got out bid most of the time. But did succeed in getting the dinner for 4 at Chula Vida out on Playa Larga. We went there a couple of years ago with Will and Sylvia and had a fantastic time. Now we get to do it all over again with them this year. I’m looking forward to it. My only other successful on a bid on a natural beige cotton dress.
The Senor and I along with friends attended the Gala Dinner at the relatively new El Consuelo restaurant located where the old Pacalo’s was. It’s been beautifully remodeled, but an unusual location for dinner for a very large group of gringos with a staff that only
speaks Spanish and isn’t tuned into gringo drinks. I went to the bar to get a bloody mary and a screwdriver and the folks behind the bar had no idea what they were. I’m flexible with what I will drink, but the Senor isn’t and I couldn’t believe they couldn’t do a screw driver. So I explained that it was Vodka and “juego de narnja”. Yes he under stood, then I said I would also like a rum and coca lite. well he fixed the screwdriver, then proceeded to pour diet coke on top if it and would have added rum on top of that if I hadn’t stopped him. Finally we worked out what a screw driver was and I settled for a glass of wine as you just can’t screw that up. The food was good, the music fantastic. The music alone was worth the price of the ticket. A Mexican couple sang lovely Mexican
music to his guitar accompaniment. Her voice is high and clear like Joan Baez. Even bought their CD.
Going out for an afternoon on a sail boat is probably my most favorite activity of all of Sailfest. This year my friend Faye went with me on the Patricia Belle. I can’t get the Senor to go with me. After 22 years in the Navy he sees no reason to get on a boat unless it includes fishing. Thhe Patricia Belle is a 50 foot wood sailboat, built just a few miles from my home in Washington out of timber the Captian logged off his property. There were 27 passengers and every one had a great time especially as we really got to sail, with all sails up and no motor at all. We were
actually going to fast for folks to swim so the crew cut the sails back, slowed us down and about a dozen folks jumped in, including Faye and I. Even slowed down it was tough to keep up with the boat, kind of like swimming in a swim spa where you keep swimming but make no progress. When a took my hat off to swim, the chin strap broke and wouldn’t you know it on the return leg of our journey the wind caught my hat and it went sailing into the bay. I thought it was a goner, but
Hat lost at sea
hooking the hat
the captain and the lovely lady who retrieved my hat
they turned the boat around and after a couple of valiant tries my hat was hooked and back on board. This is the second hat of mine that had to be rescued at sea, last time I was on a different boat but it was the crew of the Patricia Belle that saved it and transferred it back to the boat I was on. Signing off KO
Friday morning arrived and we decided, it’s beach time! We headed out to Playa Las Gatas with our friends Will and Sylvia even though the day was overcast. None of us were worried about “working on our tans”, just wanted a relaxing day, eating, drinking and people watching and enjoying the friendship.
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Our favorites pot is Gloria Del Mar, the tide was way up so the Senor and I hit the water right away as it is easier to get in to swim. The Senor likes to bob in the water and I went out for a swim. A few drinks, some good seafood and suddenly the day is gone. We always come back from the beach tired and worn out, like we had really done something. Somehow a day in the sun does that to you even when it is hid behind the clouds. It’s a good kind of tired.
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I love Saturday mornings at the street market in front of the school. It was pleasantly cool yesterday morning by Zihuatanejo standards which made the market extra enjoyable. As usual I bought the Senor his mushroom tamales for his breakfast some tofu taquitos, more of the delicious pasta salad for lunch later and a grapefruit for tomorrow. Visited with the folks from the turtle preserve and other friends and headed back to the apartment as I will have a busy day as I’m working the t-shirt table for Sailfest today.
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Did a brisk business in T-shirt sales, koozies and a few caps. And I get to do it again Sunday afternoon. Signing off KO
This first week of February is full of Sailfest activities, there is definitely something for everyone. And it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet folks from all over the world and do some good for the children of Zihuatanejo. Last night at the concert the opening with the “The Brothers Mendosa” very traditional mexican strolling trubadores, followed by the very talented Mexican gentleman whose name I can’t remember, and should have as he was excellent singing a variety of songs about Zihuatanejo.
Next on the bill was the very, non traditional Mexican hold time rock and roll band,
Xpresion Immune. These young Mexican musicians had all most everyone up on their feet dancing and swaying to the music. They have become favorite of the snowbird crowd who first became acquainted with them last year when they played on the street for tips, hopefully someone will help them get a Cd together. They would really sell here. The next group was the extremely popular rock and roll band headed up by long time, Zihuatanejo musician Steve Calvert that also had the same effect on the crowd, having everyone on their feet rocking and rolling to the music we all grew up with. We were disappointed that Michelle LaValle had to cancel as she is one of our favorites, so as Steve was winding up the hour was getting late for the Senor ,we headed out for a night cap at the Flophouse bar.
Thursday is the Senor’s favorite event, the chili cook off and silent auction. The Senor loves the chili as long as it doesn’t have too much heat, and I don’t care for spicy at all and just stick with the key lime pie. The Senor also loves an auction, something about the thrill of the win.
Since we had won 2 dinners the night before through the raffles, we decided that we would plan on just picking up 2 more dinners. These auctions can become a contest of who is more determined than who to win despite the cost, but
the Senor was on his best behavior and when the prices got to high he said well we can just go there anyway. Our big desire was the lunch at La Chula Vida on Playa Blanca, as we had one of our most memorable evenings there last year with friends, but we will just have do it on our own as it wasn’t to be ours this year. A couple of dinners later the auction was over for us and we retreated to the shade. Another great event, another great day. Only to be followed by Fridays sail boat parade, another day another story. 02 05 2014 Signing off KO
Yesterday the senor and I walked over to Madera Beach Along the way we watched a father and son fish with nets, saw benches and
stairs newly decorated. As many years as we have participated in the Sail-fest activities we have never gone to the play day at the beach. As we arrived we saw what sail fest was really all about. It isn’t just the fun of bidding at an auction, winning a dinner out, tasting chili or buying crafts. It’s not just spending a day on a sail boat or helping crew in a race it’s about the kids.
Yesterday was the day the children from the extremely impoverished hill areas of Zihuatanejo are brought to the beach for a play day. I’m told that for many this is the first time they have been to the beach. About 110 kids of all ages were happily playing in the surf, some older ones kicked a soccer ball along the beach, there was food and drink for everyone all under the watchful eyes of volunteers. This is Sail-fest at it’s finest!
The rest of the day was spent doing those everyday things that always seem like more of an adventure here than at home. We did some shopping at the Comercial Mexicana trying not to pick up more that we know we can use as our trip is rapidly coming to an close. We actually had to look at a calendar for the first time and plan out when we would use our certificates for dinners out and what we needed to purchase for dinners in. Most days we breakfast on the balcony, lunch time is usually too hot for the balcony so we eat inside. We’ve learned to leave all doors and windows open and we get a nice breeze blowing through and seldom ever need the air conditioner on except for maybe an hour or so in the late afternoon. Come evening doors and windows are open and we get the breeze again.
We eat out quite often and since neither of us are big eaters ( I know you wouldn’t know that to look at us) we frequently share a meal or if we order separately we get the doggie bag and have left overs for either lunch or dinner the next day. We’ve kept our cooking simple, mostly crock pot cooking. We don’t really have a favorite restaurant as we have been trying different places and all have served us great meals to have served us great meals, We don’t do the fancy ones, but I do prefer the ambiance of eating at an outside table along the malecon, watching the continual activity, saying hola to passerby that we know, hearing the waves on the beach and feeling the cool evening breeze. signing off KO
The chili cook off and street fair has grown, expanded and occupied two blocks from in front of the Barracruda to clear into the next block. What a great event! There was a great variety of chili to choose from with a large variety of ingredients. With the large crowd it went quick.
The silent auction had a huge selection of items, with tables closing about every half hour. Were were able to pick up 2 or 3 dinners from a variety of restaurants that we have never before been to. And I picked up some very unique place mats for the RV from the street fair where there was a large variety of crafts to choose from.
We sat and visited with friends enjoying the extremely delicious 2 for one margaritas and the 15 cent beer far too long which caused me to need to go to bed early and miss Jimmi Mamou’s birthday party at Galeana’s. But the Senor attended and other local musicians came and sang happy birthday to him and Allan sat down and played back up guitar with him.
Morning arrived later than usually for me just enough time to get ready to go sailing. I think there were twice as many participants as there had been in previous years, but the event is well organized and soon we were all boarded into pangas to get to our assigned boats. I was on the the Tisha Baby with most gracious hosts Richard and Pam. My fellow passengers were two couples traveling together, one from Calif and one from Arizona, and 3 women from Chicago, mom, daughter and daughters best friend. Fun company. The Senor did not accompany me as being a career navy man gave him plenty of time at sea. Almost immediately after getting underway my hat blew off and I turned to see it bobbing away in the water. And of course it was one of my favorite hats. Our 1st mate saw what happened and radioed the boats behind us to pick up the hat if they could. A few minutes later i was informed that the rescue was successful. But I sort of wondered how I would retrieve it from what ever boat was kind enough to picked it out of the sea. Well I was soon to find out.
We paraded out to Ixtapa, then every boat was on their own to choose what they would do for the rest of the after noon. We choose to head out and fish, but before we did the “Northern Passage” radioed the would come abreast and pass my hat over. So a good samaritan on the northern passage a leaned way out with my hat in hand, while our first mate held out a grappling hook. successfully hooked my hat and brought it on board.
“Rescue at sea” complete and my hat safely back on my head, but this time with the chin strap secured. A most relaxing day, sailing the deep blue sea. Ended the day with lobster taco’s, yummm! Signing off KO
Last night was the Sail-fest Concert and a great concert it was. We’re told that four of the best musicians playing locally are asked to participate and to bring along friends. So not only did we here from the lady who plays at La Puerta, Patricia, Jose Luis Cabo, Zihua Juanito, and Steve & Allan,who expanded to a full size band with 2 more guitars, drums and a sax and from Mexico City Dos Hermanos with a lovely lady. Then to top it all off a charming group of school children dancers. My sincere apologies to any one whose name I have wrong, or left out, or misspelled no slight intended but with out a program I’m just relying on my ageing memory.
Our group of friends has learned to arrive early to get a good seat and get food ordered before the festivities begin and the waiters at El Pueblito get swamped. It was a good crowd. The evening got off to a great start with Patricia who has a beautiful soulful voice performing songs in both Spanish and English. Between performers raffle tickets were drawn and I was lucky again and won a great t-shirt and a Canadian ball cap, which amused everyone at our table as the Senor and I were the only non Canadians. I don’t normally wear a ball cap, but I will proudly be sporting my new red hat at the Chilli fest today.
The children’s performance was the one of the highlights of the evening. I got a quick picture of the boys mugging for the camera prior to going on stage, but once on stage it was all
business while they performed several indigenous dances, One spectacular dance with possibly an Aztec theme, involved 10-year-old dancers, a lighted torch and long peacock feathers head dresses waving wildly as they danced. Very beautiful but something that wouldn’t be seen back home.
Following the children’s performance they wandered
through the crowd arms loaded with beaded bracelets they made to earn funds for their craft programs. I bought one for my youngest granddaughter and one for her cousin. 20 pesos well spent!Zihua Juanito is a handsome and charming performer who brought a long his cousin on drums and got people up to dance. Senor Cabo brought up one of what I understand to be one of the employes of El Pueblito to sing with him. Great voices. The group from Mexico City was lively and more people danced.
The evening concluded with the Steve Allan show with Nelson on Sax, Ralph on guitar and singing as was Leo and I believe it was Don on the drums. and everybody danced. Great end to a great evening. It was such a nice night we walked back to our apartment. Signing off KO
We always look forward to Sail-fest, when the cruisers come to town and the bay is full of sailboats of all sizes and shapes. These people are always interesting to visit with with, hearing of their adventures sailing up and down the pacific coast and some have sailed world wide.
During the week of Sail-fest there are daily activities to fund raise for the “Por Los Ninos” fund which helps to educate some of the areas poorest children Lat night was the auction which is always a fun event. While waiting for the auction to begin I hear the clown horn of
the ice cream man and it was the one I like in the galvanized tub, this time I got my vanilla ice cream which is a glorious shade of gold. Most excellent! There were many interesting items to bid on and the name of the game became win,win,win. The bidding was lively. There were some good bargains and also some generous bidders knowing it was for a good cause. The Senor loves to bid, sometimes he actually wants an item other times it’s just to bid someone up. I get nervous that he will win something we have no earthly use for, but last night we did OK and won the bid on an all inclusive 1 night stay at the Pacifica resort in Ixtapa, all inclusive means food and beverages. Sure hope they have lobster!
I’m always wanting the paintings, but there are people there with my same great taste in art but with far deeper pockets than I. During the breaks they did raffles, and I really like the way they do them. Your tickets are good for all events, if they call out your ticket and you aren’t there your name goes back in the pot and that item goes to the next person. I bought 15 tickets and was the recipient of a great prize a bottle of Tequila and a set of leather coasters and another set of more disposable type coasters and I still have 14 more chances to win. I think I will have a Margarita party with our friends and neighbors on the roof top some evening.
We had really worked up an appetite at the auction so we headed out to Casa Elvira and shared Red Snapper. It was almost 10 PM, which at home would be a strange time for dinner, but the evenings here are so nice it’s really a great time to sit in a lovely outdoor restaurant. The Senor was planning to finish off dinner with a banana split, but the fish was to big and he was full. We decided some evening we would return for just the banana split. Casa Elvira is about the only restaurant that has ice cream. Most of the ice cream shops don’t have seating, or the seats are in the sun. Just another great evening in Zihuatanejo. Signing off KO