As a cruiser, you don’t always have to be on the water to have great experiences. In Mexico these days the dead danced in the streets. The Día de Muertos was coming up. For a few days, Mexico shares a day of celebration with deceased relatives, friends and families. In Europe we visit our deceased in a civil and quiet manner, in Mexico the whole thing is a big, colorful event. The deceased visit the living, and not the other way around. We threw ourselves into the fray with our friends from the boatyard. This time around, there are only good news to report on the boat front.
Ever been to a cemetery? I am not someone who regularly visits the graves of my deceased relatives. I don’t really like cemeteries. As soon as you step over the property line, there is a strange atmosphere, you move more deliberately and automatically speak more quietly. I prefer to keep vivid memories of my deceased family members and relatives. The dead don’t see or hear you anyway. Or maybe they do? We shall see…
These days belong to the dead
In Mexico a big holiday took place these days: The Día de Muertos – the day of the dead. It is celebrated in Mexico on and around the days of November 1st and 2nd. Families gather to celebrate the lives of their deceased relatives, friends and acquaintances. But not only the lives of the dead are celebrated, but also life. People gather in the streets, there is music, dancing and partying. There is plenty of food and drinks and sweets are handed out to complete strangers. Everything is very cheerful and colorful, accompanied by traditional rituals and symbols.
Of course, we couldn’t miss the festival. Ever since I traveled to the realm of the dead and back with Pixar’s “Coco” and ran across the rooftops of Mexico City with James Bond in “Spectre” during the Día de Muertos, this tradition has been on my list. Now the dream actually became a reality. In Puerto Peñasco, too, a whole street was dedicated to the festival. Everyone at the boatyard was in festive mood. The crews of SV Pablo and SV Pulsar made a piñata that the kids in the boatyard took turns on with sticks and bats and basically everything that made a good device for blunt force.
Día de Muertos face paints
A small group gathered at Pete’s SV Mazu, where we tried ourselves with the traditional face paintings with water-based paint. They are there to make the dead feel welcome in the world of the living. Once in the street, the party took its course and we could completely immerse ourselves in the day of the dead. The streets were not nearly as crowded with dead people as I expected. Nevertheless, one could imagine what had to be going on on the Día de Muertos in larger cities. Colours everywhere, happy faces, good food, beer and tequila. Pete had a big bag of sweets too much on the boat, which he handed out on the street without further ado. In the end we were a group of crews of no less than 7 boats who had gathered to take part in the festival.
Cavaleras and Ofrendas
Marigolds and cavaleras, small colored clay skulls, play a major role. You can see those everywhere. They are used, for example, on ofrendas, small and large altars. These are set up and decorated by the families. Draped with photos of a deceased person, plus all sorts of objects, flowers, candles, the dead man’s favorite foods are also set up on the altars. The ofrendas should invite the honoured person to participate in the festivities.
The highlight of the evening was the honouring of the most beautiful Catrina. It is said that the catrinas are the secular representation of Mictēcacihuātl, the goddess of the Aztec underworld Chicunamictlan. In our world, she wears expansive, colorful costumes and large hats, decorated with all kinds of attention to detail, symbolizing the Día de Muertos. Since all sorts of Catrinas are out and about in the streets during the Day of the Dead, of course the most beautiful of all had to be chosen. And, how should I put it, I’m still completely blown away by the couple of costumes we got to see, one more beautiful than the other. The evening slowly came to an end with the award ceremony. Another one off the bucket list. Boom!
Wasn’t there something else?!
Oh yes, there also was a sailboat that we were working on. And you know what? Our (second) coat is ready! Why the second coat, you ask yourself? Then it’s time to sign up for our newsletter and you won’t miss a thing! We have calculated it: Had we invested all the effort and sweat that went into the hull of Milagros into a single boat, we would have repainted a vessel of a mere thirty meters (98 retard units) at this point in time. BUT WE ARE DONE!!!
We are being guided
Again, we sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded. As always, we took things seriously. A so-called guide coat was used before sanding. It consists of a black powder that is applied to the boat’s hull so you have a full overview of where more work has to be invested. The Guide Coat mercilessly shows where the imperfections are on the surface.
The umpteenth white coat
And then, at some point, it was that time again. Pancho, the master painter, came to the boat and sprayed the last three coats of paint. Since new paint shines and resembles a water surface, insects naturally gather, to plunge head over heels into the wet paint and get stuck. Fortunately, we could count on Nic from our neighbors on SV Rua Hatu, who, armed with a ladder and pink tweezers, helped us pick insects, while I assisted Pancho.
Suddenly, the time had come: the work on our boat’s hull was a thing of the past. We are now the proud owners of a shiny, strong, two-component painted hull. If everything goes well, no grinding machine will be used for years to come. Provided we don’t crash into a dock somewhere, of course.
Highlights are piling up: We also witnessed something very, very special. The Sea of Cortez is home to 5 different species of turtles. Of course, all five species are threatened, how could it be otherwise? It is estimated that 35,000 turtles have fallen victim to illegal fishing in the Sea of Cortez alone. You have to imagine that, almost 100 animals a day. One of the main problems is that turtle hunting is widely accepted and not stigmatized. So, it is no coincidence that a handful of people are committed to supporting the sea turtles in the Sea of Cortez.
The turtles return to the places where they hatched to lay their eggs between August and December. Also, to the beaches of Puerto Peñasco. Here, a whole crowd of good people take care of the clutch so that the baby turtles can find their way back into the water and on their big journey. The eggs are collected and hatched. And as soon as the little ones see the light of day after about 50 days, they are being released.
Nothing is left to chance
The releases can be visited publicly and so of course we couldn’t say no when SV Skookum and SV Mapache told us that a turtle baby event would take place. We drove to the beach of Las Conchas where a crowd of people had already gathered. The sand was cleared and smoothed by a few workers to clear the sand of obstacles for the little ones. A sort of race track was created. There were also a few security men who made sure that no one came in the way of the baby turtles. So that they can find their way back to Puerto Peñasco later, they cannot be released directly into the water, but have to calibrate their internal compass by crawling across the beach towards the sea.
The big journey begins
The babies were brought to the beach in a plastic box and hardly put in the sand, they already knew which way they had to go: Always towards the water. Some got the hang of it faster, some less quickly. All visitors helped the turtles find their way. Obstacles were cleared out of the way and seagulls were scared away, which of course would have liked to have a snack.
When does our trip start?
And so, in the end all 60 animals found their way out into the great blue unscathed. Hopefully not much longer, and then we’ll do the same. With a few helpers, Milagros can finally, finally, head out into the Sea of Cortez and into the great adventure. Just away from Puerto Peñasco, clueless whether she will make her way back or not.
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