Isla Monserrate to Agua Verde (Friday May 9th)
|May 9th -an important day. We wake to an overcast sky, the first time there has been even a hint that sometimes it rains in Baja. As we prepare Neely for her morning shore excusion, a fishing boat races at speed towards us. Immediately we’re excited at the prospect of buying fresh lobster to help celebrate Kerry’s birthday. High expectations turn quickly to disappointment as the boat turns out to be the Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales. Monserrate and Carmen Islands are part of a huge National Park and we need permits ( 21 pesos per day per person) and we are reminded that we must not fish or otherwise disturb the fauna & flora. The rangers quickly spot Neely and advise the dogs also are forbidden ashore.
At the north western corner of the bay, just off the rocks we explored the night before, the snorkeling is a wonderland of color & marine life, testimony to the benefits of the Comision Nacional. I swim over a large pearl shell and am sorely tempted – what a birthday present that would make.
In flat seas & little wind, we motor south. Again, the sea teems with life. Needle fish skimming here, manta rays there and further on some dolphins feeding. Already, like spoilt kids, we’re becoming a bit blaze and look up for a while then continue on with our tasks. However, the racing line gets everyone’s attention. It must be huge and we’re sure that we’ll lose another lure. We get it to the boat – a disappointingly small mako shark when everyone was hoping for a Dorado. We gaff it as gently as possible & retrieve the lure & then, with a flick, it is away – a few sore spots but probably nothing much considering the violent world it lives in.
Ten miles from our destination, the wind kicks in and we enjoy a good sail south. The route takes us along a magnificent mountain range that plunges vertically down to the coast line. The mountains are rugged & exactly how we remember them from the spagetti westerns we loved as kids. They clearly exhibit the milennia of their making, stratified, each layer different in color & shade from the one above or below.
Agua Verde is a fishing village of some 50 houses scattered over a wide area. As we approach, we can make out the green of palm trees, a surprise after days of not seeing anything more than stunted bushes & cactii. The anchorage is magnificent, a huge protected bay, concealing an even more secluded one. We anchor off a very pretty pebble beach in 9 ft of crystal clear water.
With only a couple of sharks to the day’s fishing tally, we head off immediately to the village to see if we can buy some pescardo worthy of a birthday feast. The village is a delight, spread out over a large area but complete with church, school & municipal office. A smiling, delightful woman sells us some bananas and home baked tortillas from her neat & surprisingly well stocked shop. Using up my entire store of spanish in one sentence, I ask where we can buy fish – Esta el hacienda de pescardo, por favor. Amazingly, she understands immediately & points to the other part of the village on the other side of the church & school.
It is now just after 6pm and obviously dinner time in the village. A few kids and a smattering of goats, hens & pigs are out & about, but otherwise everything is deserted. Regardless of good manners, we interrupt the evening meal & are further directed to Fernando who, we think we understand, sells fish. Fernando is asleep in his hammock but cheerfully rouses himself & takes us to his ancient van alongside his hut. Inside, there is a good array of fish on ice and after a lot more words & sentences, each wasted completely on each other, we conclude our bargain – 3 excellent looking pescardos for 100 peso. Everyone is delighted.
The birthday dinner is a triumph. We BBQ the fish in butter & garlic and enjoy it with tortillas & cous cous. To build up an appetite, we start with margeuritas and move on to some excellent pinot grigio. Kerry wears all her jewels ( fashioned lovingly that afternoon from shells & fishing line) and looks radiant. She blows out the candles to strains of happy birthday and toasts of tequila. Not a bad way at all to celebrate a new year.
Elsewhere, the mothers of the world are, hopefully, also being spoilt and loved. The sons & daughters of Gato Loco join with them wishing everyone a happy mother’s day.
And especially to Norma, Betty, Bonnie & Teresa.
Kindly, Richard for the Gato Loco Crew
Leg 1 April 11-19, Crew: Lowell, Bill, Dave – Puerto Penasco to San Carlos
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