THE KIDS ARE BACK!
March 14 was a happy day with the arrival of the Zach, Kyra and Chloe. Much rejoicing with family intact! We enjoyed a couple of lazy days at the Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta and adventured into old Puerto Vallarta for good Mexican food, including tacos al pastor (a family favorite, best served from a taco cart) and cheap beer.
After taking leave of the marina life, we sailed a few miles to snorkel the “special” national park islands of Les Tres Marietas. Shortly after setting our hook, a friendly but firm park rangeress demanded to see our park permit. Turns out that Les Tres Marietas is a “special” park requiring a special permit; our broad-coverage national park permit was not valid here. Nevertheless, miss ranger-girl allowed us to stay for an hour as long as we agreed to avoid snorkeling here and there, refrain from landing on the beach, always wear a lifejacket while snorkeling, abide by all the park rules (which were printed only in Spanish), and move the boat from the mooring ball we’d chosen to a different one (that she preferred). Gaawd…. After snorkeling for 15 minutes, ranger-girl didn’t like the way we were loosly wearing our life jackets over our wetsuits. Shortly thereafter, she became convinced that we were fishing in her park – a clear violation of her rules. (Could be that we were slow to pull in our fishing lines on our approach…). Regardless, she felt it necessary to evict us from her park. So, under her glare, we casually showered, pulled in our kayaks, and prepared to put to sea for our overnight run down to Chamela. As a reward for our gracious cooperation, a pod of humpback whales put on a breaching show as the sun descended on the Pacific.
The sail south to Chamela was a mixture motoring in light wind and beautiful night sailing under spinnaker and full moon. We enjoyed a dolphin show, saw plenty of sea turtles, and told sea stories from our 2004-2005 odyssey.
We were looking forward to our visit to Chamela and a fond reunion with our old (70+ years) friend Jeff Hartjoy from “Sailor’s Run.” We met Jeff and his beautiful bride, Debbie, in New Caledonia in 2005 and have maintained the friendship over the years. Jeff had recently completed a non-stop, solo, round-the-world voyage by way of the 5 great capes (in the Southern Ocean). An impressive feat to be sure!
As expected, we found “Sailor’s Run” happily anchored in Chamela and quickly reunited with Jeff for morning coffee and a few stories. Jeff was ready to party with rum in hand, but 10:00 seemed a bit early to Team Pazzo. For happy hour, Jeff returned with his rum and world-famous salsa. After a couple of drinks, it was time to make for shore to find dinner at one of a number of beach palapas.
That’s when Jeff’s wheels fell off….
After scrambling down our aft ladder and into his dinghy, Jeff collapsed into a confused heap. Zach and Chloe hopped in after him to assess his troubles. He was having grave difficulty breathing and was incoherent as if he’d fainted. With Jeff in and out of consciousness, the kids were able to get a bit of history. Zach piloted Jeff’s dinghy while Cindy, Kyra, and I made ashore in our own dinghy. By the time we all got to the shore, Jeff was crumbled in the dinghy and unresponsive. We hollered for a doctor on the beach and attracted a crowd of helpful bystanders on the beach to carry the dinghy thru the surf and get Jeff out and onto dry sand. Despite a pulse and shallow breathing, he was looking pretty bad.
Chloe, half way thru her first year of medical school, had just had a section on shortness of breath and believed Jeff had a pulmonary embolism. Bruce from “Dream Catcher,” another cruiser anchored in Chamela, is doctor from Florida. Bruce, too, after taking a history from Jeff and us, doing a brief exam, also thought pulmonary embolism (or emboli , plural). With Jeff coming to, we called for an ambulance to haul Jeff 2 – 3 hours to the nearest hospital in Manzanillo.
Willy rode with Jeff in the Ambulance and spent the night in the Manzanillo clinic where they could take X-rays and do a CT scan the following morning. No operators or radiologists available at night. The following day, a radiologist confirmed that Jeff had golf-ball sized clots in both lungs. This condition was “very fragile” and it was imperative to get him to another hospital 2 hours away where one of the best cardio-vascular docs in Mexico specializes in the surgical removal of large lung clots. 75% success rate. 25% chance of… well, sailor-no-more-run.
In the end, all turned out well. Willy returned to find Team Pazzo in good standing (except for Cindy’s broken rib when she tumbled in the dinghy). Jeff underwent another ambulance ride and the clot extraction procedure, then rested for a few days in the Colima hospital. By and by, he returned to “Sailor’s Run,” sailed north to Mazatlan, and flew home to spend some time with Debbie in their New Mexico home.
Following our ordeal in Chamela, Team Pazzo sailed a half day south to beautiful Tentacatita bay where we took a long “Jungle Tour” with our dink thru a long and winding path of mangroves. We were re-living the experience of having made this trip 13 years ago. Cindy staged some of the same family pics. The following day, we shifted anchorages to the small town of Manzanilla where we visited another Cocodrilla (Crocodile sanctuary). The girls held a baby crock while only a few meters away from some massive beasts basking on the mangrove shores.
Following a short stay in Marina de Barra de Navidad, a few miles south of Tentacatita, we pushed onward for a 36 hour run down to Zihuataneo. Once again, the dolphins put on a good show, especially at night when they churn up the phosphorescence like steaking torpedoes. By day and by night they frolicked all around us. One large dolphin treated the kids to an incredible acrobatic show, leaping 8 feet out of the water only couple of yards from our night-adjusted eyes. What a show-off!
Z-town has grown up considerably in the 13 years since we last visited. Much more tourism as well as supporting infrastructure. We enjoyed a relaxing day polking around town with the kids and found a round of tasty mango margaritas before heading up the street for tacos al pastor.
With sadness, Cindy and I bid farewell and safe travels to Chloe, Kyra and Zach. Little did we know that the Z-town airport computers were down and their flight would be 4 hours delayed — causing a snowball of further delays and an overnight layover in Los Angeles. What was to be a 10 hour return trip took over 30 hours!
Better, methinks, to sit on the beach with a cold beer and contemplate the next leg of this fine adventure.