Other cruisers told us we would love Barra de Navidad, and judging from the length of time we stayed there, I guess they were right.
Getting there was such a thrill that we were off to a good start. Several boats left Tenacatita headed for Barra the same morning we did, on the knowledge that swells were increasing and dinghy landings were becoming nearly impossible. We were by far the last boat to arrive in Barra. The rhumb line was not sailable and there was very little wind, so most boats motored the 20 miles or so south rather than take a zig-zag downwind course. One friend asked his wife if he should be worried that we hadn’t arrived yet, and she replied, “Nah, they are probably just sailing!” (We are getting a reputation I think). And sailing we were. These were exactly the conditions we were waiting for: a downwind sail in light conditions with plenty of time to get to our destination – a perfect opportunity to deploy, for the first time, our brand new spinnaker! We were so proud to see her deployed correctly and flying full bellied in only four knots of wind, making four knots! We learned that our lazy sheet was too short, meaning we would have to fly her with only one sheet attached or buy two longer ones, and we also learned that our newly installed swim ladder on port interfered with the tackline clutch. All good info under conditions where it didn’t matter. Such a gorgeous day!
Within a few days of our arrival at the marina, a huge fishing tournament was underway. We were surrounded by expensive and not so expensive fishing rigs, by engines running all night long, and by crowds of Mexican fisherman in their team’s finest fishing attire, excited out of their wits early in the morning and exhausted and beer-drinking at night. We attended the weigh-in ceremony a few nights just to see what the excitement was all about. Prizes included several brand new cars. Teams dragged their heavy sailfish and Marlin up to the scale and stage. Kids muddled in the fish cleaning pit, as awestruck as we were by the spectacle.
Another less animalistic, more refined aspect of Barra is the French Baker, or as Rick calls him, “Le Fraunch BaukURE.” He pulls into the marina on his skiff every morning and announces his presence via marine radio. Then everyone starts making their orders and he saves for you whatever you requested so it is available by the time he arrives to personally deliver it to your boat. We couldn’t resist.
The town of Barra is across the entrance channel from the marina, but no matter – for less than a dollar, a boat will pick you up at your dock and take you across the channel, 24 hours per day.
Our trips to town were frequent. We loved the indoor-outdoor church where the overflow could see as clearly as those sitting inside; Rick fell in love with the cheese-stuffed hot dogs grilling every night outside the church, and we were delighted by the delicious and cheap tacos we found at a stand along the street that actually had a few tables as well. All the goodies available to put on the tacos were almost as good as the spicy chicken and cheese quesadillas or the carne asada al carbon.
There is also a large lagoon where boaters can anchor and take advantage of all the benefits of Barra, including the hotel, without having to pay slip fees at the marina. There were a large number of boats there, and we took our dinghy one day to explore the anchorage and lagoon. A fun place to explore,
But there was something more about this place that Rick loved: the hotel. The minute he saw it, he thought to himself, “Mom should come here to visit us.” It was elegant, and while it may have lost some of its glamor over the years, it still retained a certain refinement that he thought would suit Poppy. After many attempts at getting in touch with her, we finally did, and Rick made the proposal. We had all the flights and times and costs worked out ahead of time for her consideration; we had even gone to visit a selection of rooms to pick the one he thought she would like the best, and we sent pictures.
To our amazement, she said yes! With only three days to find a companion and get on the plane, she did it! How few people in this world can just drop everything, change their appointments and hop on a plane for a foreign country in three days! We were so proud of her. And her companion, Elizabeth, was delighted to be able to come and had just the right attitude to make it a perfect visit: unassuming, helpful and always grateful.
A uniquely Mexican rumor about this hotel was the story of how it got built. The owner of the property, one of the wealthiest men in Mexico, couldn’t get the Mexican state of Jalisco to issue him the permits to construct a large luxury resort and golf course on this pristine point of land deep in this lovely Pacific coast bay. The property was right on the border with the next state over, Colima. Colima was more than willing to allow him to build. He learned that the river was the defining border between the two states. In order for him to move his property from the State of Jalisco to the state of Colima, he therefore diverted the river!