Asuncion Me Encanta

On Sunday, Nov. 18, we motored/sailed just over 50 nautical miles from Turtle Bay to Bahia Asuncion. We left Turtle Bay at 5am, and by 6am were sailing on a strong NE wind. The wind picked up a bit, and Sugata charged ahead at over 7 kts. It was thrilling to feel her go! But Capn Buzzkill was worried that the wind would continue to build, and struck the jib in anticipation. Shortly thereafter, the wind died completely, and we had to start the motor. Ridiculing Todd’s misjudgment was small consolation.

En route, we were thrilled to make radio contact with our friends on Imagine. Like most boats, we monitor VHF channel 16 while sailing. In California, we mostly used it for safety reasons, listening for warnings or hailing ships on courses that might cross ours. But here in Mexico, the VHF is the cruisers’ telephone system, with boats calling each other to touch base, discuss the weather, and make arrangements for cocktail hour.

The usual procedure is to hail a boat on channel 16, then switch to another channel to have your conversation. Of course, everyone else is listening in, and switches to the new channel so they won’t miss anything. For nosy people like ourselves, it is a great improvement on cell phones. We even listen in on crews we haven’t met!

It turned out Imagine was also headed to Asuncion! Sequoia and Emma (from Imagine) have become quite the little VHF chit-chatters. It’s pretty cute to hear them talking, saying “Over” and “Clear” and “You want to go to one-seven?”.

Before I could give the crew shore leave, I insisted that they rig the spinnaker halyard (the line that holds the sail up). This meant that someone had to use the top-climbing device to go up to the top of the mast (over 50 ft.). Todd sent Eric up, then kicked back and had a cigarette on deck. Small wonder that Eric went all the way up, ran the line through, then came all the way back down before Todd realized that he’d run the line in such a way that we’d have to send someone about 3/4 of the way up to correct the problem. Koiya volunteered, and made it about half way there, but then got freaked out by the height and the rocking of the boat, so I ended up doing it.

Meanwhile, Koiya and Eric swam over to Imagine, and swam back with Emma. As they returned, a couple of bottlenose dolphins started feeding nearby. Eric immediately jumped back in the water and swam towards them. Koiya wanted to follow, but she was afraid of swimming alone, as she couldn’t see the bottom. She was beside herself! She begged Emma to go with her, but Emma was too tired to swim more. Koiya started crying, saying, “I hate myself! All my life I’ve wanted to swim with dolphins, and now I’m too scared to go!”

Even though Eric returned to the boat without having gotten very close to the dolphins, Koiya was still upset. Luckily, Emma’s dad Andy dinghied over to pick up Emma, and offered to take them all closer to the dolphins. Koiya was thrilled!

They cruised around for a few minutes looking for the dolphins. Suddenly, the dolphins turned and swam right at them! They surfaced about 20 feet from the dinghy. Eric and Koiya leapt into the water. “Crikey!” I cried, “Those poor dolphins have been Koiya-bombed!”

Apparently these dolphins had not gone through Sea World encounter training, as they just bolted away. I just imagine them squeaking to each other:

Dolphin 1 : This fish is really… (SPLASH! SPLASH!) Hey, what the hell was that?!!
Dolphin 2: Gotta be hippies. They always want to commune with us.
Dolphin 1: Harpoon us?!
Dolphin 2: Not harpoon, commune.
Dolphin 1: Man, I knew Flipper never shoulda done that series!

Andy hoisted Eric and Koiya back into the dinghy, and brought them back to our boat. Despite their failure, they were in high spirits, and they declared that next time, they’d carry along a tin of sardines to lure the dolphins to them.

Later that afternoon we all went ashore and found Restaurant Ramona, which was really a family’s dining room. We had burritos and quesadillas, and every time we ordered beer, the women would send their boys to the nearby market to buy them. It was great to be in a place that was not at all touristy, and just eat and drink and talk, with nothing else to do and no place else to be.

The following day was 20 de noviembre, the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (not to be confused with Independence Day or Cinco de Mayo), so we went into town early for a parade, which featured all the kids in their school uniforms, plus a few kids dressed as revolutionaries, and babies in strollers decorated in the red, white and green of the Mexican flag.

We were advised to rest up for the evening festivities, so we returned to the boat. On the way Todd told me he thought his bottom was a little dirty. “Without special equipment, it’s too big a job for one person. I have a very large bottom,” he said. “Ok, you can clean one side, and I’ll do the other. I’ll get out my mask and snorkel,” I offered bravely. So although the water was cold (about 65 degrees), Todd and I each cleaned one side of the boat’s hull.

That night, we returned to town to watch traditional dances. Well, actually, I went to see the dances; everyone else went for the food! Todd and Koiya shared some pozole, which is a typical Mexican soup with chicken and hominy. There was also a large trampoline, where kids could bounce for 10 pesos ($1). I waited in line with Koiya for a long time, and Todd grew impatient. “How do you say ‘What is that?'” he asked me. I told him and he disappeared. Five minutes later he came back, scarfing down a custardy substance.

“What is that?” I asked.
“Dunno,” he slurped, “I just walked up and pointed and said ‘Que es eso?’ and she said something.”
“And you bought it anyway,” I said.
“Yeah,” he replied proudly, “I’m getting good at asking things.”
“But… why do you ask if you can’t understand the answer? She could have said, ‘It’s a cup of caca’.”
He smacked his lips, ignoring me. “Mmmm…sweet!” he said.

Well, at least he is trying. Koiya has been too shy to talk, and says she only knows less than ten words. I asked her to list them. “Burrito, taco, quesadilla, guacamole, quiero, comida.” (Those last two words mean “I want” and “food”.)

We were a bit sad to leave Asuncion, as it is a lovely town with very friendly people. But the wind was predicted to die later in the week, so it was time to move on. See all the pics here:


2 Responses to “Asuncion Me Encanta”

  1. Ross Pruden says:

    I love how Koiya only knows words for food. I wonder if Todd’s Spanish vocab is limited to types of drinks. 🙂

  2. Well hello there Sugata Crew…We finally found your website. Have been in the condo at PV long enough that we are now not surfing the water but the web! We loved your blogs, expecially the one about beating the HR 49, Andy needs a hell of a lot of ribbing, thanks guys!! We hope to see you over here–we sure miss our only sailing friends as true to form we have not made any more! Emma sends her enduring love her to friend Sequoia. She misses her terribly. All our best. Fair Winds, Peasleys.