While Barra de Navidad was charming in many respects, my (Cindy’s) time there wasn’t without its stresses. I was being eaten alive by insects I couldn’t see, probably jejenes, or no-see-ums as the gringos call them. No matter how well I kept myself lathered in insect repellent, and no matter where I was outside, my legs from my knees down became a series of extremely itchy welts, red, oozing, hot and hard, about three inches round each. I didn’t feel the bites when they happened, but later my allergic reaction to them was so bad that they would stay inflamed for days. One even turned into a blister. At one point I counted 20 bites on my legs and another 10 on my arms. At first I would wake up scratching furiously in the middle of the night, making the infections and reactions all that worse. Over the days I learned to take an antihistamine before I went to bed and kept roll-on cortisone at my bedside. Nevertheless, as I write this many weeks later, several bites still are obvious. While a few other cruisers here and there complained of similar problems, Rick either had no bites or had no reaction whatsoever, and I didn’t see anyone else as plagued as I was by these invisible creatures.
So, once Mom left Barra, Rick and I set about earnestly preparing for our trip south via Santiago Bay and Las Hadas near Manzanillo, down to Zihuatenejo, where we were hoping to meet our son Drew for Guitar Fest in early March. I was getting really anxious to get away from those bugs. We provisioned, got fuel, readied the boat for another 200 nm of cruising, checked the weather forecasts, prepared a navigation plan, and entered the route into the chartplotter for all the way to Zihuatenejo. We planned on leaving the next morning.
But the night before, I made an honest assessment of myself and then had an honest discussion with Rick. Something I had been at first trying to cover up and then later ignore or work around, wasn’t going away: my hip, back and leg pain. They say that cruisers’ plans are written in the sand at low tide because the plans change so frequently. Sometimes those plans have to change because of medical issues. This was one of those times.
So, taking advantage of a rare southerly wind the next day, we headed north instead of south. We got off about noon and got to the anchorage in Tenacatita bay, over on the south end near the town of La Manzanilla this time due to the southerlies, and anchored for the night. The next day, we set out early, flying north on a southerly wind, for the overnight trip of 120 nm to Puerto Vallarta.
The winds and seas were very kind to us on that trip. We were able to sail near the rhumb line all the way till darkness fell, being pushed by winds and seas from behind us. Those are almost unheard of conditions at this time of year, but we were fortunate. When evening fell, the wind died and we ended up motoring most of the night in calm seas. Rounding Cabo Corrientes was lovely; no heaving to and fro nor vomiting this time. It was only the shock of the currents, winds and seas changing so dramatically once we got to the point off Cabo Corrientes that we realized we had rounded her: Cool Change suddenly slowed about a knot, and found herself battling stronger winds and seas on the nose, a dramatic contrast from only minutes before. But that happened close enough to sunrise that it was refreshing and not scary. A successful passage it was – the kind that poetry and songs are made of. Together and separately, that trip rekindled the dream of romantic passages for both Rick and me.
Our plan was to return to Paradise Village – I had a date with my dentist there to finish an implant, and my doctor who I had first seen for back and hip pain was there too, but Paradise Marina was completely full. It still is. We were fortunate to get a slip in La Cruz marina, but that meant a 3 hour round trip commute to dentists and doctors instead of a five minute walk.
We have now been in La Cruz for nearly two weeks. A CT scan, X-rays and several doctor visits later, it looks like my thigh and back pain could be caused by multiple problems including back disc compression and left hip arthritis. The process of getting results here in Mexico is lightening fast compared to the States, but I will need to rely on my health insurance for any major work, and right now I am only covered in California. So, once I go through the process of getting tests and medical appointments arranged in the States, I will probably be flying up there to confirm the diagnosis and consider options for treatment, including possible surgery.
In the meantime, Rick and I are trying to maintain a positive attitude. The anti-inflamatories a local doctor prescribed for me are keeping the pain down. If we have to wait months for the U.S. medical appointments, we might try heading up into the Sea of Cortez to at least have a taste of some of the sailing we were hoping to do this spring. Either way, for the time being we are looking at this as a minor blip in our sailing plans and not the end of our dream.
Between doctor appointments and sailing seminars and all the other things that can keep a cruiser’s dock lines tied to the cleats, we have nevertheless been getting out sailing around Banderas Bay. It is like San Francisco bay without the commercial traffic – a constant and reliable northerwesterly fresh breeze every afternoon, and gorgeous sunsets directly west over the Pacific Ocean. But unlike San Francisco, it is constantly warm and inviting, with bay-sized waves and plenty of fishing opportunities. We have now flown our assymetrical spinnaker four times, and I believe we are getting the hang of it!
With health concerns now more in the forefront, life is not quite so peachy keen as it had been up till now down here in paradise. But still, all in all, we continue to be grateful for every moment we have to enjoy and continue to make the most of the moments we have.