I have never been the type to enjoy recounting the details of my daily activities – either in a journal or on my blog. I find it feels monotonous, both for the writer and the reader.
But the most common question I receive is some variation of “what do your days look like?” and so, at the risk of monotony, I’ll tell you. Spoiler alert: almost no two days look alike; this will require many words spread out over many blog posts. We’ll call it a series. And this is chapter 1.
I’ll start with last Monday, a day that embodied the vision of cruising I had before leaving Seattle, a day that, at least so far, has been quite rare.
I awake to the sound of that sweet French accent crackling to life on the VHF, “zis is your French baker, entering ze marina in ten meenutes”. This triggers an instant pavlovian response and I crawl out of bed already craving a chocolate croissant. But first – we must earn it. I grab my yoga mat, water, phone and portable speaker before hopping in the dinghy and heading over to Agape. I stick my head in the companionway, poorly imitating the French baker’s announcement to rouse Rachel and her visiting friend Carly from their cozy bunks.
Thirty minutes and some gentle prodding later, there are three yogis cruising in the dinghy towards the hotel. Meanwhile, John and Josh paddleboard out the channel to work up a sweat and try some paddleboard surfing.
We intercept the French Baker as he heads down D dock and pick up pastries for breakfast, baguettes for later. We take two sets of elevators and three flights of stairs to the tenth floor pool, a deserted paradise with the sound of running water, a gentle breeze, a makeshift studio in the shade and stunning views.
We power through an hour vinyasa class, guided by a friendly sounding podcast voice named Anthony. It feels good to focus my energy on breath, forget about the botched boat projects of yesterday, take in the moment of sharing yoga with friends in paradise. We start down the labyrinth of stairs and elevators and I know I will be sore tomorrow.
Back on the boat, I settle into the cockpit with my pastries, a cup of coffee, and a new book. This is the best part, I’ve decided, about not having a 9-5; eating a slow breakfast with a book whenever I get hungry.
The previous few days we worked through a pile of boat projects and last night spent several hours putting away tools, cleaning up the boat, vacuuming. I am hesitant to jump into a project just yet, savoring the orderliness of the salon. So instead I reach for my guitar and try to remember the chord shapes buried somewhere in a musty corner of my brain. A few come back, many don’t. It doesn’t take long for my fingers to throb. I will play more often, I promise myself, for the 137th time.
I find John motivated and working fast on our new autopilot installation. It is an exciting notion, after nearly 6 years of hand steering, and so I leave him to his progress and hail a water taxi into town.
The water taxi is a bright yellow panga that picks me up right from the side of my boat and delivers me to town, then returns me later, for 30 pesos (about $1.50). It is faster and drier than taking your own dinghy and they run 24/7. The drivers are the sweetest Mexican granddads with endearing smiles and enough English words to give me a hard time.
Once in town, I wander down main street, offering greetings to the shopkeepers and stopping to chat with cruisers I see along the way. I stop at the small market and pick up a bag of fresh fruits and veggies – onions, peppers, potatoes, star fruit, bananas, zucchini, cantaloupe, cauliflower. My total is 120 pesos ($6). I ask after mangoes and avocados, but Maria shakes her head, “hasta manana” (not until tomorrow).
I stack my treasures carefully into my backpack and head to Oxxo, like a mexican 7-11, for paper towels and toilet paper. I swing through two more markets, but nobody has mangoes and avocados. “Hasta Manana”, they tell me. We must wait until the grocery truck arrives.
Last, I stop at the carniceria, the meat shop. This is John’s favorite spot, where Carlos will bring out an enormous hunk of beef so John can indicate how thick he’d like his T-bones to be. Today, though, just some chicken.
We usually don’t buy much meat, relying on the sea for our protein, but since leaving Banderas Bay 3 weeks ago, the water has been colder and cloudy with algea. The fish have moved further offshore and nobody is catching anything. Not even a bite.
With groceries in hand, I wander back to the water taxi dock and catch a ride to Halcyon. At this point, my late pastry breakfast has worn away. Luckily there are leftovers from our T-bone feast the previous night.
This is the worst part of the day for cooking, when the sun is high and the metal strips on the deck burn any feet that meander too close. When every hatch is open wide and every fan runs on high. When work is done slowly, with breaks to cool down and sip water. When the glory of the Siesta hits in full stride. Salads, sandwiches and leftovers that limit open flame time to a quick reheat are crucial.
With my bowl of partially warm steak strips, rice and grilled veggies, I settle in to sit still through the heat and edit photos. John is splayed on the settee next to me on a break from his project, chugging juice and trying to sweat less.
“Halcyon, Halcyon – Pura Vida” the call comes over the VHF. All of the cruisers in Barra keep their VHF radio on and tuned into channel 22, the local hailing channel. It’s how we communicate, hailing each other on 22, then switching to another channel to chat, make plans or ask advice (so everyone doesn’t have to listen to the conversation).
We hail back and switch to channel 68. Pura Vida, cruising friends that just arrived from Tenacitita, invite us over for wine and cheese. Magic words. We finish up our respective tasks and dinghy over to Pura Vida. Seven of us lounge in their cockpit drinking wine and snacking, talking about places we’ve been, brainstorming on functional improvements to the boats, comparing gear, dreaming of spear fishing and ocean crossings and jungles, laughing and watching the sun set.
Eventually, we peel ourselves off their cockpit cushions and head back to Halcyon. I write, brainstorm, answer emails. John researches, edits photos, reads a manual. The boat is quiet and cooling down. Between a late lunch and Pura Vida’s snacks, neither of us are motivated to make dinner so we munch on PB&J’s and star fruit, and call it a night.
I get through just 6 more pages of my new book before sleep takes control of my eyelids. I sleep soundly, as I usually do at anchor.