Ted arrived to Embajador on Thursday afternoon, leaving a blizzard in Telluride for the beautiful warmth of PV, and was greeted by Captain Alex with an icy cold Pacifico. The boat was in perfect shape, all repairs complete! An early dinner at the village before diving into the worlds’ most comfortable bed aboard the beautiful Embajador.
Up early for a market run in preparation for the four day journey south with five passengers aboard. The big super market “Magma” near the Marina fulfilled most of the lengthy shopping list. Essential fresh items in the village were also procured, including delicious fresh produce and ceviche. Two hours later, back at Embajador, provisions were stored away.
Between conference calls, Ted managed to fit in two lovely swims down at the beach. With provisioning, work, and swimming complete, Ted and Alex took a stroll into the village to Enriques’, one of Alex’s favorites spots for dinner.
Woke to another beautiful day followed by coffee and a swim at the beach. Teddy and her friend Matt were scheduled to arrive mid-day. Teddy is Ted’s granddaughter who is finishing her junior year at Loyola University in New Orleans, and has a week-long Easter holiday.
Teddy and Matt arrived at 4pm, and after dropping their bags were eager to get to the beach for a saltwater dip. Dinner at Cafe Don Simon, followed by a stroll and search for music and ice cream – both successfully found.
Marina Riviera Nayarit in Puerto Vallarta:
An early village breakfast was followed by a stroll through the weekly Saturday local market that pops up along the shore of the Marina. More provisions were secured, and the group departed Marina Riviera Nayarit for Paradise Village Marina to await the arrival of Jennifer. Jennifer is Ted’s granddaughter who spent the winter ski instructing in Colorado and will be starting her freshman year at the College of Charleston in the fall.
That evening, the dinghy tour around the estuary near the marina was exciting, with hundreds of Iguanas and four crocs! Dinner was enjoyed at a restaurant along the estuary. Alex was able to spot the broken down dock and land safely where the group scrambled up to the restaurant for a great meal. Sadly, Jennifer’s flights were delayed for the following day.
Still at Paradise Village, the morning began with a swim and run for Ted and Teddy. Alex took Matt and Teddy wake surfing, a new sport for them. After Alex’s demonstration and instruction, they both got up within a few tries!
Jennifer arrived promptly at 1:30pm and lines were tossed for an immediate departure from the marina – bound south. Afternoon swimming and paddle boarding at Punta Mita was a delight after a two-hour cruise to anchor, and Alex caught a few waves in the surf.
Our first dinner on board was a group effort: Mexican chicken – a Herrick family favorite!- accompanied by the skilled strumming and singing of Teddy and Matt.
Anchor was pulled at 10pm and this group’s first overnight 11-hour cruise to Chamela was underway. Teddy experienced her first solo nighttime watch, and Ted pitched in for a few two-hour shifts on a beautiful night with calm seas.
With sunrise upon us at Chamela bay, the anchor was dropped at the island of Isla Pasavera. Alex and Ted caught up on their sleep while the kids prepared a breakfast feast. Endless hours of swimming was enjoyed by all.
At 3pm, the anchor was pulled and thus began a three-hour cruise to Tenacatita with more guitar strumming and singing on the California deck while underway. Careyes, a beautifully colored village with high-end homes perched along the cliffside, was a visual highlight.
As it is mid-April, and in the midst of Mexico’s major holiday, Semana Santa (Easter week), the bay was crowded with families enjoying the beaches. Once the anchor was dropped, Matt, Teddy and Jennifer were eager to take the paddle boards ashore for beverages at Boca las Iguanas.
Ted and Alex navigated the river in the dingy to join the kids at the palapa bar. Alex took a paddle board out to the surf break.
At sunset there was another boat meal – this time grilled tuna steaks….muy delicioso!
This morning was a slow start, followed by swimming and paddle boarding. We all departed in the dingy around 11am for the classic river cruise through the mangroves. Alex executed the run through the waves into the entrance flawlessly.
We headed into the overgrown mangroves in search of crocodiles, and had great luck with the wildlife, spotting five young crocodiles and many birds. The round trip took us a couple of hours, after which we proceeded back to Embajador for lunch and a swim.
After lunch Alex took Teddy, Matt, and Jennifer into la Manzanilla to explore the town and view the bigger crocodiles (10-12ft). For lack of a dingy dock, the team anchored off shore and swam the last little bit to shore bringing dry bags full of clothes. In retrospect, swimming in waters so close to the crocodiles habitat, is not advised. The town and beach was wonderfully populated with happy local families enjoying their Easter week.
After a drink on the beach to enjoy some people watching we attended the crocodile sanctuary. The boardwalk and bridge that took us through the sanctuary left much to be desired in terms of safety, but it was still an enjoyable experience. After the crocodile viewing, the crew headed back to the boat for an Aracherra steak dinner accompanied by a beautiful sunset and more singing and strumming.
Today is Ted’s birthday; throughout the day he received many kisses from the kids and sweet messages from loved ones. Another leisurely start with morning swims and paddle boarding, followed by some great eggs for breakfast.
Today’s destination is Barra de Navidad, a favorite childhood place for the girls. At the harbor entrance we put Teddy and Matt on the dingy to drive it in separately and proceeded into A dock (moya “ah”). The cruise was about two hours, with a mid afternoon arrival.
Teddy and Matt navigated their way to the hotel’s front desk (the hotel has a maze-like feel) and opened up a “folio” – charge account for the group. A folio gives access to the pool (and towels), fitness center, tennis, and allows for charging of meals and beverages throughout the resort.
Ted’s daughter-in-law, Jan, and family friend, Dennis, flew in from Baja, and buzzed the marina for a bird’s eye view of the scene.
Jan and Dennis landed at Manzanillo airport, a favorite approach as the runway is parallel to the beach.
Special ingredients for the infamous Acacia margarita were procured…we are proud to share the recipe here:
8 limes, juiced (adjust for more or less depending on juiciness of limes)
1 shot Damiana (curvaceous bottle on the left)
8 shots Siete Legues (or another fine tequila)
1 shot Controy (green bottle on the right)
Jan and Dennis were welcomed with refreshments and a tour of the wonderfully appointed Embajador. The team then proceeded up to the pool for a snack and swim. With Semana Santa in full swing, the pool scene was entertaining with loads of happy people enjoying loud music provided by a DJ. The “kiddie” slides that connect the pools were a source of great entertainment for Teddy, Matt, Jennifer and Jan, and the group did not hesitate to belly up at the swim up bar.
Back to the boat to clean up and then a water taxi to the little town of Barra de Navidad for a big birthday dinner at Simona’s, recommended by our friend and Barra Harbor Master Dino.
The monstrous birthday margarita was a welcome gift, which everyone enjoyed in celebration. After a nice wander through the busy village, including a stop for ice cream, the night ended seamlessly in the salon of Embajador with a few games of competitive Rumikub.
Alex spent the morning trouble shooting the water situation (lack of pressure) on the boat, which he and Dennis quickly (okay, maybe it was quite involved) solved by cleaning the filter. Boat maps and YouTube videos proved to be quite helpful.
Jenny, Jan and Teddy took on a gym workout, while Ted enjoyed a walk and then spent the majority of the morning on conference calls and computer work. Breakfast of fresh fruit was quickly devoured.
Last year, Alex and Chris had enjoyed an ATV tour which Alex recommended to the group. A morning phone call to Ray, owner and operator of The Only Tour, and an adventure was scheduled for 1pm for Jenny, Teddy, Matt and Jan. Ray is a Canadian, married to a local woman, and lives in Melaque full-time where he runs a myriad of tours, and also arranges Puerto Vallarta airport shuttles. Ray’s recommendations for our four-hour adventure: water, snack, long-sleeve shirt, sneakers – and expect to get dirty and wet.
After suiting up with the provided helmets and bandanas, Ray gave us an ATV driving tutorial, and then we set off through the town of Melaque and onto the beach, before heading inland through farmland. Ray set a relaxed pace for the day, stopping occasionally to show us various local sites. With the heat of the day upon our exposed legs, we were thankful for the sunscreen on our knees. Once we hit the water trickling in the wash, we were refreshed by the cool spray hitting our feet.
For the 20-minute hike to the waterfall, Tevas or Keens with socks would have been a great footwear choice (really, for the whole day). Scampering upstream, we arrived at a beautiful waterfall whose spray doused us completely.
After playing in the water and taking countless photos, we walked back down the stream bed (filled with tadpoles) and drove our ATVs back to Ray’s place on Albatross Street in Melaque.
Ted and Dennis, after working all morning and into the early afternoon, jumped on the (awesome!) GOCYCLE bikes and rode up the hill out of the marina, finding a gem of a restaurant on the water in the cove for a late lunch: Colimilla. For those who like a little spice in their guacamole, Colimilla’s ratio of finely diced jalapeños to avocado is perfect.
The rest of the group, after showering off the dust from the ATV experience, jumped into the dinghy with Dennis, who took them into town for a late meal at Manglito’s.
Manglito’s is always busy, often has good live music, and they serve a varied menu, with fresh, beautifully prepared fish and vegetables. After dinner, it was back to the boat for a little conversation on the lido deck before feeling the pull of our incredibly comfortable beds.
Up and out early, Dennis and Ted hopped in the water taxi and walked down the beach to Melaque – about an hour’s walk on sand – where they found a beach umbrella amidst thousands of Mexican families on holiday, and spent the day appreciating the local culture: families and festive groups enjoying the summer sun and surf.
The beach scene during Semana Santa is really like no other time on the beaches in Mexico. Lagoons and gentle wave beaches are full of hundreds of people standing for hours in the water, playing with their children and grandchildren.
The skim boarding youth are impressive – running full speed with the timing of the wave, throwing down a board onto wet sand, leaping onto the board with authority, and riding up the incoming wave to do a quick turn or backflip – is a sight worth seeing.
With calm wind and water, Alex took Jenny, Teddy, Matt and Jan out into the bay for a wake surfing session.
After impressively carving the wave to show us how it’s done, Alex grabbed the helm and gave helpful instruction to Jenny, who was up after five minutes of figuring out foot placement and balance.
The now-seasoned wake surfers, Teddy and Matt, had a couple of great sessions, getting more comfortable carving the wave.
Alex topped it off with a long surf session across the bay, where Teddy lost her hat and we circled back for Alex to scoop it out of the water while on his surfboard – to the “whooo-hooos” of everyone aboard.
Alex took us to the shipwreck at the entrance to the cove, where a HUGE oil tanker was laid against the rocks in a hurricane about five years ago, and is decomposing. Alex shared with us that helicopters long-lined tanks to retrieve the oil for weeks after the wreck.
After returning to Embajador, and a quick visit to the hotel pool, we jumped back in the dingy with Alex, who dropped us on the beach near Ted and Dennis, for an early dinner amongst thousands of Mexican families reveling in Easter festivities.
After an hour-long beach walk from Melaque to Barra, and a water taxi across the bay, it was time to enjoy Acacia margs on the California deck of Embajador during a revealing game of Wits and Wagers, before retiring to our beds.
The “Pahn Mahn” arrived about 8:45am at “moya ah” (A dock) in his panga, selling delicious baked goods. The French baker is fondly remembered from our past years in Barra, when he would knock on our previously owned boat, The Acacia, quickly realizing fellow appreciators of his baguettes, croissants, pies and quiches.
To order ahead from the French baker at El Horno Frances: VHF channel 22; or email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for confirmation. If you are in town, he has a shop on the main street, and has lovely salads and coffee to accompany the baked goods.
Ted swam in the lagoon while Jenny, Teddy and Jan enjoyed tennis with Gabrielle, the sweet and talented tennis pro. Gabrielle has been at the resort for over 15 years, and he immediately recognized the Herrick family, even after a 10 year absence. A plate of freshly sliced mango with a lime squeeze, along with El Horno Frances treats, topped off the morning decadence.
Hugs and farewell wishes were made to Matt and Teddy as they began their journey – via water taxi – back to New Orleans. Planes, boats and autos are the transportation trio here.
The rest of the day was spent reading and relaxing on the California deck of Embajador, with a short afternoon session at the hotel pool and a refreshing lagoon dip. Black River Caviar, Acacia margs and guacamole appetizers were a hit.
Alex defrosted, cut and seasoned the recently caught tuna steaks, which Ted grilled to perfection and topped with Black River Caviar. The setting of dinner on the lido deck was beautiful, as the sun set and the changing colors glistened on the water.
An after dinner stroll to the hotel for Jenny and Jan led them to the hotel lobby and a beautiful vista of the bay and marina. After closing out the folio with the front desk, the live piano music called from the quiet and spectacular hotel lobby bar.
Departure day, 8am from the dock: Ted, Jenny, Jan and Dennis were off. With much appreciation to Chris and Elizabeth for an unrivaled Embajador experience, and to Alex for all his efforts, skills and company, the group is bound for snowy Colorado. 12 days on Embajador, in the waters off of Mexico, is truly the trip of a lifetime.
Until next time…