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Getting Stuck

There is something that happens, or at least can happen, when cruising.  We call it getting stuck.  We start off with a plan, or a “kind of plan” to go here or there but since we’re cruising, we don’t want any plan to be etched in stone.  We want to have the option to change or modify the plan as we go, and not be compelled to hold to any decision if it doesn’t feel right.   We especially try not to feel compelled to sail in bad weather in order to fulfill a preconceived idea of where we need to be at a certain time.  There are other situations in which plans change though, and here is the story of one we have encountered lately.

This is the story of a place where the moment we arrived, we felt like we had come home.   The place is a little town called Barra de Navidad.  It’s located a hundred miles or so south of Puerto Vallarta, and 20 some miles north of Manzanillo.  Our friend Mike raved to us about this place after visiting last year, but when we arrived there was nothing that could have prepared us for just how welcoming and comfortable the reality could be.  The first clue was, as we approached the entrance to the marina, a cute smiling woman buzzed by in her inflatable dinghy, waving hello and shouting a welcome greeting.  After getting secured in a slip and registered at the marina office, we were taken for a quick tour by our friend Joe, who had been there for a few weeks.  The first stop was the Sands Hotel.  The Sands is a comfortable old style hotel with a great lagoon-view pool and outdoor poolside bar where it just so happens that Lana, the vivacious little gal we saw in the dingy was tending bar.  The management graciously allows cruisers to tie up their dinghies to the sea wall there and use the pool and outdoor showers if we buy a drink. After a couple of two-for-one happy hour drinks we proceeded from there up a quaint cobblestone street to a beachfront bar called “The Best Sunset Bar”.  By the way, Barra, since it’s located on the end of a sand spit, is only three streets wide, between the lagoon and the ocean.  We enjoyed Margaritas served in wine carafes while we watched the sunset.  The magic of the day continued with a perfect green flash applauded by everybody in the bar!  After a great oceanfront dinner a few doors down at a place called Seamaster, we walked a few more doors down the street to a colorful beachfront blues bar called Piper Lovers for a nightcap and some great live music.  By the time we finally returned to the boat we were feeling like we might have found Paradise.

It may sound like we just drank our way around town, and we admit we did that first night, but all the while we were meeting great people and being amazed at their extraordinary friendliness.  Then there was the matter of the extreme beauty of the place, combined with some of the best deals on food and drinks we had found so far on our travels.

So you can imagine how we got stuck here, I hope.  Everything about this place is wonderful, and I could go on for days spelling it all out.  The main thing is the people are wonderful, and the feeling of community is pervasive.  It is the kind of small town that gives small towns a good name.  Why leave?  We haven’t really just been partying our brains out, incidentally, once we got settled in.  We took a few weeks of Spanish lessons from one of our new found friends Bonnie, a Canadian actress and local Jazz diva, who has spent winters here for many years.  We’ve taken several side trips of a few days to a couple of weeks to the nearby bays of Tenecatita, and Santiago, but honestly we basically just kicked back and enjoyed the heck out of life.  What is so wrong with that?  We’re still on our honeymoon.  So what if we had planned to go to Zihua.  We were told it was hotter there, and we were just able to tolerate the heat in Barra.  Our plan is to go north to the Sea of Cortez this spring, so we reasoned, why go further south only to have to come north again?  Next year we’ll be going all the way to Panama, so for sure we’ll spend time in Zihua then. 

I guess the point is, when you get the message, hang up the phone.  Why keep looking for Paradise when you’ve already found it.  We will continue to explore, seeking out new worlds and new civilizations as it were, but we will always remember Barra, and we will always return here, I have no doubt.

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