If you have been following along, you know it has been a struggle for us to get down the western U.S. coast. We made a lot of mechanical repairs, battled seasickness, waited in ports for rough weather to pass, cursed the lack of wind on days we felt comfortable going out, and rescued several disoriented/smoke-sick birds. And I have personally been shit on by birds more times than I can count. One bird took it upon itself to poop all over me and my computer while I was typing one of these logs. Rob enjoys joking that any bird flying near me must need to relieve itself. But, hey, it’s good luck, right?!
In the end, it took two months, three weeks, and three days for us to get from the mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, to the port of Ensenada, Mexico … six weeks longer than we had planned. But we are now in Mexico, we are healthy, and the boat is in one piece and likely in better condition than ever with all of the repairs that we have made!
The COVID-19 pandemic became a real concern to us well after we had made the decisions to leave our Oregon jobs and home and set out on this adventure. After much thought and research, we decided to stay our course with some minor adjustments. After all, the most repeated advice from those who have undertaken similar adventures is, “Don’t wait. Go now, because there will always be a reason to wait.”
The pandemic has impacted our experiences at each port. Museums were closed, interior dining was prohibited, and even the San Francisco Trolley system was shut down. Many friends and family canceled planned trips to meet us. The circumstances were helpful in that we saved money quarantining on our boat. But they were also melancholy, because we were unable to fully experience the historic sites and iconic restaurants, or to meet friends. The other pandemic impact for us is to our route schedule. Rather than continuing south to other Central American countries in the next year, we will stay in Mexican waters through 2021. Mexico has graciously granted our visas to stay, and we can reduce our impact to their healthcare system, because we can easily travel to the United States if necessary and to hopefully obtain the COVID-19 vaccine when it is released to us. We will not travel to other countries before receiving the vaccine or before those countries are comfortable with receiving American tourists (many currently are not). So, Mexico will be home for a while, but we could not be happier with this course.
We will explore Baja ports, small islands in the Sea of Cortez, and the western coast of mainland Mexico. Rob and I have traveled to Mexico regularly throughout our lives, and we both consider it a second home. We love the culture, the people, the food, the weather, and the diverse landscape.
Ensenada has been a particularly welcome port. The marina we are in, Ensenada Cruiseport Village, is immaculately clean and maintained—more so than many American marinas that we have visited. It is safe and quiet, and the staff is friendly, helpful, and kind. For example, the security guard cares for a couple of domesticated ducks that reside at the top of our ramp, quacking with them and making sure they have fresh water and food every day. The office staff helped us quickly navigate our customs processes. And everybody cares about upholding COVID-19 precautions, going above-and-beyond with a “Túnel Sanitizante” (sanitation tunnel), which sprays a mist of sanitizer over one’s entire body and clothing before entering the marina office. The businesses in town take similar care, requiring a temperature check, mask, bleach-mat crossing, and hand-sanitizer application before permitting entrance. And very few people fail to don masks while in public, even outside of businesses.
Within blocks of the marina, Rob has found parts and a specialty mechanic he would never have located in the United States. Last week, Rob discovered that our fuel pump had started leaking. The fuel pump is not customer-serviceable, and the only replacement fuel pump (they don’t sell new ones for our 40-year-old engine) was in Australia for a price of 2,500 Euros plus shipping! Rob practiced his Spanish in a few local parts shops, and found a junk yard that had a similar engine from which he could pull a replacement fuel pump. But he wanted a rebuilt pump to guarantee the leak would stop. He was eventually instructed to ride his bike past the Smart & Final store and turn down a side street, where he would find José’s shop. José turned out to be an expert in rebuilding old engine parts. He confirmed he could rebuild our fuel pump. Rob asked how much time and money it would take. After some thought, José answered one day and the equivalent of 100 U.S. dollars. We hired him immediately. He sent us photographs of the pump disassembled to clean. From that, we had no doubt why the fuel pump was not customer-serviceable. José must be a puzzle master with the number of parts involved in that single piece of equipment.
We have learned that with some broken Spanish, persistence, and respect, a person can accomplish almost anything in Ensenada. The bonuses are the daily pleasant and sunny 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the cheap tacos and beer, and the endless entertainment from our neighbors, the sea lions. ¡Bienvenidos a Mexico!
Our first sighting of Baja, Mexico–Tijuana
Celebrating our crossing into Mexican waters
(repping Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers with our “en tequila es verdad” flask)
Moonrise over Ensenada
My hat plus bird poop
My computer, sprayed in bird poop
The Sanitation Tunnel
The resident marina ducks
Our leaky fuel pump
Our fuel pump disassembled by José
Rob getting ready to eat some tacos–a fresh fish taco costs 20 pesos (about one U.S. dollar)
Our neighbors (the sea lions)–featured here are Viejo (old man) and One-Eyed Jack.
Our neighbors can be quite noisy, but we have grown to like it
Mapache at home in her Ensenada marina