While Tristan and Ava were on watch during a rather boring passage between Loreto and San Evaristo, we heard excited shouts of ‘Orcas!!!!’ We all ventured upstairs to take a look, expecting to see whales or maybe dolphins. Much to our surprise, they were right; there was a pod of about 10 orcas. While it had been an uninteresting few weeks, with the water turning too chilly for any kind of snorkelling, we were thoroughly dazzled with our first orca encounter, which lasted about 40 minutes.
The Orcinus orca is also known as a killer whale, orca, grampus, blackfish or, my favourite, the sea wolf. Interestingly enough, despite the name ‘killer whale’, they are not a whale but instead belong in the dolphin family. The orcas who visit the Sea of Cortez belong to the Eastern Tropical Pacific population, travelling between the Sea of Cortez and Costa Rica. Orcas feed on squid, fish, sea lions, turtles and even sharks, and are in fact one of the top oceanic predators. Although we have been taught to fear Orcas, and they have killed humans when in captivity, there are no known human deaths by Orcas in the wild. I will admit that both Tristan and I have contemplated whether we would swim with them if we saw them again.
While Andrew drove the boat, the rest of us raced up to the bow to watch these incredible creatures leap and bound through the water; a surprisingly easy feat for them, despite their size. When they came close to us, Andrew put the boat in neutral while we all watched in amazement. At one point they swam around our stern, turning to look at us as dolphins often do.
Santa Rosalia has a long and interesting history starting with the Cochimi Indians who lived in the area for thousands of years, leaving evidence of their lives through their cave paintings. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, it was not possible for us to go and see any of the caves in the area.
Missionaries settled in the area and in 1868 José Rosas Villavicencio discovered some blue-green nuggets (boleos), which were taken to Guaymas for analysis and discovered to be rich copper ore. José was paid 16 pesos by two Germans to show the location of the nuggets that he found and this led to prospecting in the area. From 1870 to 1884, it is estimated that approximately 42 000 tons of copper was mined in the area, along with around 6 000 ounces of gold.
By 1884, a French company, The Compagnie Boleo (El Boleo Copper Company), had bought up many of the small independent mines and was granted by the Mexican government a 99-year lease of some 200 square kilometres. What followed was migration of entire French families to the new town of Santa Rosalia.
The Boleo Mining Company constructed the town of Santa Rosalia, along with a network of roads, ranches, farms, houses, businesses, schools and water lines to supply the needs of both the mine and the miners and their families. Ships were continuously arriving from Europe bringing engines, rails and railway cars along with other mining equipment. Lumber was brought from Canada and Oregan to build homes and businesses. Over the years the company drilled hundreds of kilometres of tunnels, as well as built a smelting foundry, a railway to haul the ore and a pier for shipping it to Washington state for refinery.
Santa Rosalia’s distinctive French influence can be seen in the homes and businesses that used timber in their construction to create porches and balconies, similar to that of New Orleans. Generally, homes in the Baja were constructed with cement blocks as there were no trees in the area; for construction, all timber had to be imported, and a fire department became a necessity.
The town of Santa Rosalia did have a very distinctive class system, with the workers’ homes built on the lowland near either the foundry or the port and the government and support staff living in the Mexican quarter on the higher slopes. The French quarter was located on the highest most advantageous point of town.
During the 1950s there was a fall in production and the mining equipment was becoming well-worn; El Boleo decided to shut down, compensating its remaining workers and giving away company homes. Today, remnants of this by-gone era are easily seen along the waterfront, which is full of abandoned buildings and hulking metal structures that housed steam generators.
The mining past can be seen throughout the town, with ore cars hidden in home entrances, carts outside restaurants and even locomotives on the town roundabouts.
Two of the original seven locomotives used by El Boleo during mining, now scattered around town.
Ore carts hidden in-home entrances and wooden carts decorate the exterior of restaurants celebrating the past.
Mining of copper, cobalt, zinc, and manganese continues today north of the town of Santa Rosalia by a Korean company.
Another interesting site to visit is Iglesia de Santa Barbara, a prefabricated steel church with an iron framework. The church came from a Belgium warehouse thanks to Carlos la Frogue, the manager of the French mining company, El Boleo. It was shipped to Santa Rosalia and installed in 1897 in its current position.
It is believed that the church was designed by Alexander Gustav Eiffel as a prototype of missionary churches to be constructed in French Colonies and built to withstand tropical storms. The church was exhibited in the 1889 World Fair where both it and the Eiffel Tower were awarded prizes. Lack of historical records has meant it has been difficult to accurately determine the church designer and analysis of the church’s structure has led some to believe that it was possibly designed by French architect Bibiano Duclos, rather than Eiffel. We may never know who really designed it.
Interestingly, the church is protected by Saint Barbara, who is the chosen saint for those who face danger and accidents from explosions. With the adoption of gunpowder in mining, Saint Barbara became the patron for miners, tunnellers and other underground workers; rather fitting for this copper-mining town.
Even if you are not interested in history, it is an interesting town to explore and wander the old streets. The town decorates for different holidays throughout the year; we were there just after the day of the dead and the town’s parks and roundabouts were still decorated.
Halloween displays around Santa Rosalia including a gigantic La Calavera Catrina
One day during our long line of parties with Love and Luck, I decided to host a formal ‘High Tea‘ upon the advice of my Grandmother. She gave me a recipe for her Lemonade Scones and advised me on other things to make for the high tea. Heidi, Lucy, and Sally came to our boat (an unusual occurrence for our parties as they are usually held on their boat) at two o’clock to the smell of freshly baked scones and the sound of Mozart and Beethoven to complete the feel of a posh high tea. We had dressed in our fanciest clothes and gave each other old-fashioned and fancy names, I acted as a waiter with a tea towel draped over my arm, presenting the specialty teas, coffees, and hot chocolates that we could make.
The high tea commenced with us making our best attempts to act high maintenance and well versed in the politics of the upperclassmen. In the end, there were many failed attempts at drinking tea with our pinkies raised and many unbridled chortles. We had given up being fancy and polite, and returned to our normal demeanours and resumed munching loudly. I believe that we all had a wonderful time enjoying our fake British accents (because that is what we thought of when we thought posh) and drinking our teas without pinkies raised.
Camping, Camping and more Camping
Written by Tristan Deeley
On the tenth of October, we decided to go camping with the girls from Love and Luck at a flat(tish) beach in Alcatraz. We were a little hesitant to camp on the mainland, especially as Willie had run down from the beach that day with half a coyote skull clenched in his jaws. Heidi, our camp coordinator, did an excellent job of preparing the tents with Sally, while Lucy started the fire up with my wood-collecting expertise (in my mind, that’s how it went down). Max and Ava were also pitching the tents, and we had a fairly early dinner of turkey franks roasted over the fire, in hot dog buns, along with outrageous toppings like potato chips and select parts of the trail mix. Once it got dark everyone gathered to play card games in the larger of the two tents before Max and I headed to the 3-man tent to lay down for the night. In the morning, after a whole night of wind and sand, we awoke to find coyotes and jackrabbit prints everywhere, including what looked like a small hole dug around the fire by one of the coyotes, maybe trying to get access to some burnt morsel from the night before. After a quick game or two, everyone retreated to L&L for some wake-up pancakes.
Campsite on the beach at Alcatraz
Once we got to Ensenada el Pescador, it was decided that another camping trip would take place on the 30th, this time with Utopia, Love and Luck, and Arena. Max decided not to come, but all the others did, and we set up for a big night with a fire built using the principles Lucy and Heidi had picked up from their recent Leave No Trace course. I had originally planned to be sharing the tent with my good bud Lachlan, though he changed his mind after our turkey frank dinner and headed back to sleep on Arena, so I ended up having the whole tent to myself. The most exciting part of the first night (for me; everyone disagrees) was finding a big spider behind Lucy’s chair, though I’m sure the girls, who all stayed up until the late hours talking, would argue they had far more fun inside the tents.
We camped out the next night, as well, Halloween, though we did a quick run back to Bay of LA first to call Josh before he left for England. After the Halloween celebration, all dosed up on candy, everyone gathered in the big tent for candy trades and talking games. The next morning, everyone was a little grumpy, very tired, and had extreme sugar hangovers.
Written by Ava Deeley
Halloween this year was vastly different from 2019. First off, there were ten of us. Second off, there was a lot more make-up involved.
Everyone had basically paired off with their costumes. Lucy and Max were Anna and Elsa (respectively) from Frozen. Tristan was an angel; Heidi was a devil – she pulled it off though! Sally and Riley went as vampires, Bronwyn went as a fire goddess (I’m pretty sure) and Lachlan went as Spider-Man. Ada and I had decided to go as a naiad (a water elf) and a dryad (an earth embodiment of sorts), respectively.
Anna and Elsa and the Vampiresses
The Devil and the Angel
Fire goddess, naiad and dryad
Dryad, Ana and the Devil
Mum and I made cookies in the morning, after we got home from camping, in the shape of the sugar skulls of Day of the Dead.
That afternoon we rushed back from finding the internet (as we were talking to my grandmother and brother) to get ready to dress up. I went over to Arena while the boys were over at Love and Luck. Stephanie did a wonderful job of curling Ada’s hair and straightening mine, and after we dabbed on some make-up, we looked completely different! We used band-aid tape to make our ears pointed.
All of us met up on the beach and took photos before beginning to eat the dinner we’d organized. I admit I went back for seconds, though there was only one corn fritter left…
We all sat around the campfire for a while talking and telling ghost stories.
Once our bellies had digested some food, we learned the adults had stashed some bags of candy in the vicinity and set out to find it, there had to have been three or four bags that we split between the ten of us.
That night, in the tent the six of us girls were sharing, we demolished at least a third of our candy stock. The night only got progressively more hyper and entertaining. It’s funny to see how sugar affects people in different ways.
We headed back to Refugio for a few days and were fortunate that the water was clear, at least for the first day or two. Tour guide Andrew kindly took me daily to snorkel with my favourite aquatic friends, the sea lions, who eagerly leapt into the water to greet us at the dinghy. I love these playful creatures.
Tristan and Andrew had seen about 15 turtles along one wall in Refugio; unfortunately, the day I decided to go with them the water had turned green and while I spotted 4, they were not very visible. Luckily, tour guide Andrew took me to snorkel with the sea lions and the water was still blue, so we continued around Isla Granito and were able to see between 30 – 40 green turtles. Sometimes you would be following a turtle and turn around and there were two more just near you, there were just so many.
Turtles, turtles everywhere…..
Why are they called green turtles? Well, actually, in Mexico they are called black turtles although they form part of the subspecies of green turtles. Green turtles are not green, the fat under the carapace is green but their shells are variated shades of brown.
These two photos were taken by Tristan Deeley on one of his snorkelling trips, while in Refugio.
After a few days of the heat, no-see-ums, and bees we decided to move on to Alcatraz for a few days before continuing to the Bay of LA for the Internet.
Bay of LA – 12th of October
We spent a couple of days in the Bay of LA area, primarily to get some schoolwork sent in and get a few things from the tienda. While there we did get the opportunity for a quick snorkel with a whale shark and its baby; the downside was that a lot of tourists that had come down from America recently were also snorkelling with the sharks. Still, it’s amazing to see such a humungous animal so close to you.
More whale sharks
Isla Partida – 13th and 14th of October
Back to the island and the water was clear; our first night the wind was blowing straight into the anchorage, and we had a rocky night, but thankfully after that, it settled down. Andrew and Tristan started the morning trolling for fish in hope that the yellowfin kingfish were still around. They came back very excited after having caught nine, looks like fish for dinner again.
Andrew and Tristan cleaned the bottom of the boat and then I went for a snorkel; nothing new, just an inquisitive eel, nudibranchs and lots of large snails. Have you ever bought necklaces or earrings with an operculum? Well you may be interested to know that they come from snails; they are the trapdoor that closes the snail into their shell.
The ever inquisitive eel, the Diomedes Sapsucker or Elysia Diomedea slug which we saw hundreds of and sea snails with their operculum trap door openings.
We decided to leave the following morning to catch back up with Love and Luck, but before we left, we went for another snorkel. While Andrew was interested in all the grouper around, I was rewarded with a new creature, a speckled flatworm. The worm was about 1.5 inches long and covered in white, yellow, and orange polka dots. This variety of flatworm is only found in the Sea of Cortez. I watched it for about 10 minutes and was amazed at how quickly it moved.
This guy crawled over 2 metres during the 10 minutes I watched it, fast considering its size.
Isla Partida – 18th – 20th
Back to Isla Partida and the water had become quite chilly, it was definitely back to wearing a wetsuit for me. Tristan disappeared snorkelling for about 2 hours, returning very excited with his new discoveries. He had explored a new point of the island which was very shallow and filled with nudibranchs. He has once again taken some amazing macro and microscopic underwater images.
The Elsia Diomedia commonly seen in the water surrounding the island. Photos by Tristan Deeley
I personally prefer to call this little guy the cookies and cream nudibranch, but its real name is Dall’s Chromodorid. Photos by Tristan Deeley
This is a Sedna Nudibranch otherwise known as Doriprismatica Sedna. Photos by Tristan Deeley.
A few other favourite photos taken at Partida include the Throat spotted Blenny, a Jewel Moray Eel, and Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) Photos by Tristan Deeley
Andrew took me to see a new colony of sea lions located on Roca Blanca (white Rock) off Isla Partida. You can understand why it’s white when you see all the birds resting on it. The rock is high and steep and to our surprise, there were sea lions situated halfway up.
While the first photo shows the sea lions up relatively high, there were some up so much higher. The second photo is Roco Blanco.
I don’t think these guys see a lot of people as they eagerly leaped into the water to greet me and were incredibly interactive. The water was clear and I snorkeled with them in less than 2 meters of water. The younger ones would swim really fast at you and then turn just before colliding; unfortunately, their braking ability was not so good and a few times they came a bit too close.
I love this photo of this guy who was definitely lacking in braking skills, I wonder if the big gash on his chest is the result of previous collisions?
It still cracks me up when you are snorkelling along and turn around only to discover 10 sea lions about a meter behind you, all who quickly draw back when you look at them. I definitely felt like the pied piper, it was soooooo coool.
Their acrobatic skills are always entertaining.
And yes there was a male around, but he wasn’t paying me a lot of attention and may have been sleeping on the job.
Bay of LA – 22nd – 28th October
Back in the Bay of LA, and the whale sharks were near the boats so, Tristan, Andrew, and I jumped in our dinghy, along with Arena in theirs to snorkel with them. Unfortunately, the water was very green, and you couldn’t see them until they were about a meter away, nevertheless, it was still very exciting. Lochlan loved watching a particularly large one that came quite close to him in the dinghy. He told me he would like a pet whale shark, so I asked him what he would call it; ‘Daryl’ he says. It made me laugh, the most unlikely name for a whale shark, he is too cute! There were a few squeals from the Arena girls, but they all eagerly jumped in each time one came near.
Arena’s first time swimming with the whale sharks, there was a bit of squealing from the girls.
By the afternoon our three boats had whale sharks circling and I’m pretty sure I saw Daryl among them. It is amazing how close they will come and how quickly they can manoeuvre those huge bodies. Definitely one of the highlights this year has been the sheer number of whale sharks we have encountered and how close they have come to us, the dinghy, and Utopia. Even Willie, Love and Luck’s dog, loves them; he barks and desperately wants to go in the water with them, but has not been allowed yet.
These two giants converged at our bow, it was amazing!!!!
Ava, Andrew and I followed them around our boat as they leisurely made their way.
We found ourselves stuck in the bay for several days with really strong winds. The first night we had about 45 knots of wind and earlier in the evening Andrew and Tristan noticed a neighbouring boat had disappeared. They discovered the boat had drifted and was quickly approaching a rock, so they dinghied over, waking the owner up, just before his boat took out a moored powerboat. It was a rough night with the wind and the strongest wind we have anchored in.
We sailed a couple of hours north and headed into Ensenada el Pescador where we eagerly looked around for the large sea lion colony which the guidebook said was located south of Punta el Pescador (Bay of Fishermen). We dinghied around Isla El Pescador and around the point but couldn’t find any sea lions.
The kids decided to swim to Isla El Pescador (Fishermen Island) to explore and while they were there Andrew talked to one of the Panga boats who told him the seals were south at Isla El Racito. Mark, Julie, Andrew and I decided to see if we could find the sea lion colony. It didn’t take long to find the low-lying rocky island covered in sea lions and birds. As we approached the many large males barked at our presence, but also eagerly entered the water with the females and juveniles to see what we were up to.
We donned our snorkel gear and slipped into the water, wondering if we would be welcomed or not. We were very quickly greeted by our inquisitive friends who glided past us, while the ever-present males occasionally chased them off if they got too close or we did.
The great thing about the location is that it is so shallow you are in at the most 2 metres of water and at times less than a metre. It was amazing. We decided to return to our boats to gather the kids and bring them for a snorkel.
While Max and Ava have generally not wanted to snorkel with the seals, the fact that the Love and Luck girls and Tristan were going was enough to sway them to as well. We gathered all our gear and loaded up the dinghy tied on to Love and Luck who motored and anchored close to the sea lions. Andrew bought a dive tank with a regulator. Tristan and I put on dive belts and sat at the bottom with the tanks and regulators hoping the sea lions would approach us, unfortunately you really need the whole BCD for it to work and we spent most of our time clutching large stones to weigh ourselves down. We quickly gave up on that and opted to just snorkel with them instead.
I had researched that sea lions are more interactive if you spin and twist and turn in the water, Julie had told the kids this and it was quite funny to watch them all somersaulting and spinning in the water. I watched Ava hanging upside down and a nearby sea lion did the same thing. The kids found one sea lion with a scar on her face who quite happily came close to the kids for a better look. The was one very large male who had obviously not done so well in a fight and had an injured tail flipper which he seemed to be keeping out of the water and laying very low
Eventually we returned to Love and Luck for a motor back with lots of excited chatter about our fantastic time with the sea lions.
Before heading to the Bay of LA in the morning, Julie and I tried to find the pathway between the two bays, on a morning walk. The walk wasn’t so exciting, but we did have a beautiful sunrise with the dark clouds looming above. The photo was not so great.
When we sailed (well, motored) into Isla Partida there was much excitement for everyone, me and Dad especially. The water was the bluest we’ve seen in the Sea of Cortez, and it wasn’t long after anchoring that Mum, Dad and I went for a snorkel off one of the points east of our anchorage. The first thing you will notice in Partida is the swarms of grouper. Dad suggested a few other terms, perhaps plagues of grouper, but whatever it is it’s almost unbelievable. At any one time you can see around 200 grouper, maybe more, all decent size and all very curious. When you turn, they follow, and when you dive down they stare. For me, the best measure of the sheer numbers of delicious fish would be when I saw four golden grouper in a line, one after the other. Leopard grouper only have a 2% chance of mutating into golden grouper, and those that do have the new pigmented skin aren’t very well camouflaged, so to see four in a row is insane.
I swam out in the deeper water, maybe fifteen or twenty metres, and was immediately greeted by two turtles coming up to the surface right in front of me, followed by a shiny black mobula ray. The stingers got pretty bad, though, so we tried over on a point to the west of the anchorage and were just as surprised.
I had a shovelnose ray come up off the bottom to swim around me when I dove to take a look, but I couldn’t get too many photos because when I rose to the surface Mum was frantically calling me over, shouting “Nudibranchs, Tristan!”
It has been Mum’s long and fairly unsuccessful goal all year to find nudibranchs. She mentions it every time she goes snorkelling, and on the two times I’d seen one this year she’d been very jealous, so Isla Partida was kind of a dream come true for her. Along the rock ledge, you’d often see several clumped close together, and probably fifty during a whole snorkel. They’re pretty strange-looking things, but provide great excitement.
I decided to try and swim through a pass to the other side of the point, on the outside of the anchorage where the current was ripping through, and was rewarded within two minutes when I saw an octopus sitting on a rock. He was missing a few legs but that didn’t slow him down too much when he decided to swim away.
Mum was very jealous again, of course, so we took the dinghy around to where I’d seen it and Mum and I jumped in and spotted two octopi on the same rock, who quickly changed colour from brown to bright turquoise. I feel a little bad for the number of photos I took, but it was okay, because when they decided I was too much of a hassle they just swam away, giving me some video to shoot.
On our snorkel we’d also seen someone from another boat spearfishing and hold up a decent-sized kingfish, so Dad and I got up at 7 and went trolling with rods around the point. Dad kept reminiscing on last year, in this very anchorage, when he’d caught 4 kingfish in the same day. After a couple barracuda and a needlefish, we hooked our first kingfish, and after that it just… kept happening. We did several laps over each school and caught 9 kingfish. I was having a bit of trouble with lures, so only 2 were mine, but the next morning when we caught another 9 to freeze, I’d swapped out for a squid lure and five of the fish were mine.
We snorkelled a few more times, seeing more octopi and nudibranchs, as well as cool other fish and some pretty big arrow crabs. It was a shame when, after three days or so, the green water came up from further south and we lost all the clarity. All in all, though, it’s probably been my favourite spot in the Sea of Cortez so far.
A big thanks to Heidi for allowing us to use her photos again. After our Celebrity dinner party with Love and Luck, we began planning our next party. By the end, we had decided on dressing up as cats, a fact that excited the cat lovers in our group. Throughout the week we were planning the party; Tristan, Ava and I sewed our cat tails and our cat ears. Ava had decided she would go as a panther, Tristan was an orange alley cat, and I was a white Siberian cat.
The night of the dinner party came, and we dressed on Love and Luck with nail polish for claws and sharpies for whiskers and noses. Sally was the first to be dressed as a cheetah, followed by Lucy as a black cat and Heidi as the Pink Panther.
When everyone had been properly prepared, we took pictures, posing in many, lithe catlike poses. After we completed the picture taking; everyone was satisfied with the amount of pictures of themselves that were taken, we moved onto dinner, and then a movie.
As the movie ended, the last thing we talked about was who had the best costumes for each of the three dinner parties so far, and we had reached a decision with; Tristan winning the Descendants party as Harry Hook, Sally and Ava tying for the win in the celebrities party as Ariana Grande and Avril Lavigne respectively and finally with me and Lucy tying for the win of the cat party.
I need to start by saying a big thank you to Heidi Vannini for letting us use her fantastic photos.
Staying on the boat for months on end during COVID-19 can range from endlessly tiring to completely and utterly boring and sometimes so upsetting you can break down crying for an hour or two. Luckily, with the help from our good friends on Love and Luck and Arena, they’ve managed to make this year pretty awesome.
We often got bored with the same day-to-day activities; school, swimming, playing board games, so we decided to create some pretty cool ideas.
Months ago, Tristan and I had a wonderful idea to coordinate themed days of the week, for example Fancy Friday, where we put our British on and dress formally. Though we only did two days of the week, we managed to get everyone (minus Max) to participate on Wednesday. We called it Wacky Wednesday, or Weird Wednesday, whichever you preferred.
Everyone dressed up in the craziest combination of clothes, did their hair in the weirdest style and slipped their funny earrings on.
Honestly, I felt underdressed.
In Refugio, at one of the beaches, Love and Luck had the idea of going camping. So we did. I have to admit I was nervous, what with snakes and scorpions.
We had two tents, one for the four of us girls and one for the boys. We brought some brownies, and they brought cookies, and we snacked, laughed and sang around the campfire. Eventually it came to the time when we had to put the fire out and Heidi, Sally and Tristan went looking for a water source to drown the fire.
After about ten minutes and one snake they eventually came back, and we washed our dirty feet (really, they were disgusting) and climbed in the biggest tent where the six of us then played games for the next hour or two.
The boys retreated to their tent and the rest of us quickly ran out with a few torches to go to the bathroom. It was slightly unnerving to pee in the bushes when you’re worried a snake’s going to jump out at you, but I was alright because my sisters were there, singing loudly in the dark of night.
We stayed up late whispering and giggling to each other, tucked under blankets. I’m positive we woke the boys up multiple times because we were laughing so much.
In the morning Heidi started to make a fire with the help of Sally, and we crowded around it making small talk as we began to slowly wake up from our drowsiness. It was an awesome night with my awesome fam.
Since arriving in La Gringa, Love and Luck and us have had Friday night dinner parties. We dress up to a particular theme and eat dinner together, play games based on the theme and role-play as the characters we’ve chosen.
The first dinner was based on a movie trilogy called Descendants, by Disney. I was Audrey (the daughter of Aurora), Max was Gil (the son of Gaston), Tristan was Harry (the son of Hook), Heidi was Jane (the daughter of Cinderella’s fairy godmother), Sally was Mal (the daughter of Maleficent) and Lucy was Dizzy (the daughter of Drizella).
The second dinner party was my favourite, a celebrity dinner party. Heidi was Taylor Swift, Tristan was HRVY, Max was Harry Styles, I was Avril Lavigne, Lucy was Katy Perry and Sally was Ariana Grande. A lot of makeup was involved.
Dinner parties haven’t been the only thing that’s new. We’ve been creating music videos, dances, plays, participated in beach clean-ups, and taken underwater pictures while snorkelling!
These friends have made this pandemic more bearable and I’m so lucky to have them all in my life; I wouldn’t trade them for the world!
We anchored in the small inlet, ‘Animas Slot’ and decided to go for a snorkel around the rocky island located in the northern part of the bay. There were lots of delighted exclamations from Andrew, ‘Its so big’, ‘there are so many big ones’, I’ve never seen so many before’ in relation to the hundreds of coral trout (grouper) that we snorkelled over. While Andrew took imaginary shots at all the fish, I delighted over the two large turtles I saw, a black one and I have no idea what the other one was, both very large, but neither hung around long.
When we got back to the boat Tristan went with the Love and Luck girls to snorkel the same area and he too came back very excited over the sheer number and size of grouper.
In the late afternoon while Andrew and Tristan went trolling for fish, I decided to see if I could find a path up to the ridge on the southern end of the bay. It was a bit of a steep, slippery path, dotted with lots of coyote droppings, but I was rewarded with a wonderful view over the bay. Turns out if I had looked at the guidebook, I would have known exactly where the path was and that it continued to the neighbouring bay.
I walked down to the northern end of the beach and around the headland as it was low tide. Ah what I hate are those creepy roach like bugs that scatter as you walk over the rocks, they give me the heebie jeebies, and they were everywhere. Andrew and Tristan picked me up and on returning to the boat we spotted a coyote on shore; we went in the dinghy to have a closer look, but it quickly scurried away.
We spent most of August anchored at either Sweet Pea Cove or at Caleta de los Arcos. Although we did make three trips to Santa Rosalia to reprovision, which was our first time inside a supermarket since the beginning of April. While there looked to be a few hikes on the island, we spent most of our time here trying to do 6 weeks of school in 3 weeks, so that we could head north and not need internet, needless to say, Max and Ava were extremely busy.
One of the many sea caves on the left on the right is the beach entrance for the hike up to the cross on the hill on the left-hand side.
On our first snorkelling trip we found a sea cave with its own skylight, resident stingray and beach complete with a chair. We later saw local pangas (boats) using the cave for a bonfire.
The largest cave in the area complete with its own beach and skylight.
We did spend a second day snorkelling to explore other caves. One of the caves had a current running through it which would take you from the entrance through the cave to the exit. Some caves were large enough that you could dinghy or kayak through. There was one small cave which had an abundance of bait fish and with the light shining through them it looked magical.
The area surrounding the caves is home to many stingrays, starfish and stonefish.
You really don’t want to step on any of these guys!
Andrew and Tristan amused themselves with spearfishing. One day Andrew tried to befriend a pelican sitting on our dinghy and even named him Mr Percival. (if your Australian you may remember the book ‘Storm Boy’ who had a Pelican called Mr Percival)
While most of our time was spent on school, we did celebrate a few birthdays, the kids put on a play on Love and Luck one evening and marshmallows were toasted onshore on another. We were all sad to say goodbye to Arena, who are off to San Carlos for a month or so to do some boat repairs.