Continued from yesterday”¦ Almost as soon as we were situated, a catamaran named “Gone Native” pulled into the space we had just vacated. In a crazy small world story, it turns out that we know them. In early 2007, a friend of ours had arranged for us to meet some people who actively cruise half the year. They were really nice people who gave us a lot of good tips and advice. At the time, their boat was in Europe. We hadn’t had contact with them since. And, suddenly, here they were! Like us, they are about to stop cruising for a while and are taking their boat home to California.
In another odd coincidence story, we are now directly across from a boat named Cosmo. It was around 1115 and we were puttering around on board. Eric heard someone knocking and calling out “Hello”, but it wasn’t at our boat, so he didn’t pay attention at first. Then he looked out and saw the person was knocking on Cosmo and realized it must be the quarantine officer. Eric brought him aboard. The quarantine paperwork took 20 minutes. The only thing he wanted to see was our trash, which he looked through briefly, then left.
Now it was time to go to the Port Captain’s office. We walked out to the street and quickly caught a taxi that took us to the next bay over, Santa Cruz. Bahia Santa Cruz is definitely geared at tourists. A large cruise ship dock makes up a breakwater that splits the bay in half. The sea wall lining the inside of the breakwater is completely covered by small power boats with bimini tops, clearly intended for taking tourists on sightseeing cruises up and down the bays. There were two small military vessels in the back, too. The boardwalk is a collection of tourist shops, quite a few of them vacant. There are large hotel and/or condo complexes on the hill that separates Bahia Santa Cruz from Bahia Chahue, some of them only half completed. On the backside of the shops, on the outside of the breakwater, is a small beach.
The Port Captain’s office is in and amongst the shops. There were several armed military officers lounging around near the office. You walk in the door to see that the people who work in the office are behind a glass wall, like tellers are behind glass in some banks. The waiting area for the patrons is tiny, physically only big enough for two people to stand. Someone was already in there, so Eric went in and Christi waited outside. She started taking photos and the military personnel told her to put away the camera when she pointed the camera at the military vessels.
Between waiting for the person ahead of us in line and then getting our own paperwork completed, the stop at the Port Captain took about ½ hour total. We were most annoyed to find out that since we had arrived on a Sunday, we had to pay an overtime fee, even though we didn’t actually check in until Monday. Oh well. The total of all the fees was $40 USD.
Last on the to-do list was to go to the bank to pay for the immigration and customs fees.
Both officials told us that their fees are collected by the bank, so we were kind of surprised the Port Captain’s fee wasn’t also collected by the bank, as well. Both officers had told us there was no rush to pay the fees, that we just needed to pay them before we could check out. So, we’d worry about that another day.
We decided we wanted to go back to the La Crucecita for lunch. Even though it is touristy there, too, at least there is some local charm and flavor that is lacking from Santa Cruz. The taxi dropped us off at the town center again, and again we picked a restaurant about three doors down from where we had eaten yesterday. This time we both got fish tacos. We are used to Baja California style tacos, which are deep fried fish fillets wrapped in soft corn tortillas with cabbage and salsa. These were definitely different, but just as delicious. Instead of a fish fillet, it was a boiled fish dish in a rich tomato sauce, close in texture to a thick stew, that had all kinds of other yummy ingredients and seasonings in it, too. It was super tender and flavorful. Only the filling was inside the tortilla, with nothing else added. The tortilla was deep fried, making it crispy. Could these possibly be better than Baja style? Is it really fair to compare the two?
For dessert, Christi got pan fried yellow plantains, which were sweet and delicious. Eric got flan, which is the same thing that they call crÃ¨me caramel in Europe. But, the Mexican style custard has a slightly different texture than the European style.
Yesterday, we had eaten at an indoor restaurant, so we hadn’t seen what was happening in the street. Today, we were at an outdoor place so we could see the traffic that passed by. There were a lot of soldiers around. A few were on foot, but it was mostly patrolling vehicles that had multiple soldiers standing in the truck bed holding weapons in a threatening manner. Hmmm. We wonder if these troops are here to keep people from protesting. Half of the Oaxacans are indigenous people, and Oaxaca (wah-hah-kah) has the highest concentration of indigenous people in the entire country. There are a few thriving tourist spots, but most of the state is underdeveloped. The gap between the rich and poor is vast and there has long been a struggle for more equity of power and wealth. In May 2006, a Oaxacan teacher’s union went on strike, demanding higher wages. The teachers were all fired. This led to a widespread campaign of protesting and civil disobedience amongst the people. In October, paramilitary forces responded to a protest by shooting at the crowd, killing three. Shocking violence escalated on both sides. Violence again erupted in July of 2007, but all seems to have been calm since. Mexico received a lot of criticism from various world governments about the way they handled the situation, basically ruling with an iron fist. Maybe this is what the critics mean by an iron fist. Or, maybe the military is here for something different altogether and our speculations are totally off the mark.
Just like yesterday, we were planning to walk around town after lunch. But Eric hadn’t slept well and was tired and didn’t feel much like walking in the heat. He was also anxious to get back to the boat to use the internet before it was shut off for the day. Sadly, at the marina, the internet is only on during the marina office’s business hours.
Back at the boat, we worked on the internet until it was shut off. Then we went to dinner with Gone Native in La Crucecita at the restaurant literally upstairs from where we ate lunch. We are not doing a good job of seeing the town, are we? We have been here three times now and have only explored a half block total. How sad.
This was a fusion restaurant, not traditional Mexican cuisine. We did have some good food, though. Eric got an interesting main course that had an artichoke heart with mayonnaise in the center. The artichoke was wrapped in flattened shrimp. The shrimp was wrapped in bacon. It was decadent.
Eric got a marinated pear for dessert. Christi didn’t like the sauce it was marinated in, finding it pungent, but Eric liked it. Maybe you have to like mole negro to like the pear. And here is a shot of us with the Gone Native crew.