Wednesday, December 16, 2015

San Blas

We've been enjoying our time exploring the small town of San Blas.

We arrived on Monday morning and initially decided to anchor in the estuary across from the marina. We anchored in a pretty spot, but it didn't take us too long to figure out that we were anchored in the middle of a panga thoroughfare, with boats frequently buzzing by us at high speed. We didn't like the idea of being in that spot at night and the risk of a panga crashing into us while while we were asleep, so we moved the boat into the marina.

On Monday and Tuesday we roamed around the town. San Blas is yet another pleasant small Mexican town with a character all its own. It is clear that efforts have been and are being made to rejuvenate the city for the benefit of its residents and to increase tourism. Unfortunately the city suffers from a reputation of having terrible mosquitos and jejenes (local term for no-see-ums, pronounced "hey-hey-neys") a reputation that we understand to be well-earned. Fortunately we were informed that we arrived during a lull in population and ferocity. Bug repellent is still needed, but once applied, the bugs have not been a problem at all. In fact, Tuesday evening we sat out in the open cockpit of Finte enjoying a potluck dinner with our hosts, Jeff and Mary, Larry and Mel from Hemisphere Dancer and John and Donna from Carmanah.

I would describe San Blas as an honest town, with no pretenses. It has a modest town square, a small, rather plan church and lots of little shops and restaurants, mostly local-serving. There are a few nice rustic-boutique hotels that look like nice places to stay. The buildings and streets around the square are in good repair but conditions deteriorate rapidly beyond the center of town. However, even amongst derelict buildings, piles of rubble and open sewers, the cobble stone streets are kept well swept and the litter under control by residents. As we have observed in other towns, the people are very friendly and seem to like and take pride in their town.

The town is located between an estuary and mangrove swamp with which means, in pleasant addition to the bugs, there are many, many birds. It is really nice listening to them as you wake up in the morning. The natural areas seem to be in good shape and the value of conserving them seems to be widely recognized and has some importance.

Today we ventured into the jungle, taking a cruise on a panga through the mangrove jungle to a cocodrilario, a crocodile reserve. Along the way we saw, in addition to several crocodiles, iguanas, turtles, birds, butterflies, a big termite nest in a tree and varied, lush vegetation all around. About a dozen American Crocodiles are kept captive for breeding and their young released into the protected sanctuary to help this endangered species recover from loss of habitat and poaching.  They are large, impressive looking beasts that appear to spend most of their time lying around snoozing. I imagine when they get hungry, they don't have to take much of a break from their slumber to snatch something out of the river. There is a very nice fresh water spring that you can swim in at the cocodrilario, separated from the crocodiles by only a chainlink fence.  If it was hotter out, we would have given it a go, but the weather has been so nice and cool that we decided not to go to the bother of changing into and out of swimsuits and I drank a nice cool beer instead, while Renee watched.

Tomorrow we resume our journey to Puerto Vallarta. We're going to Chacala tomorow morning, our last small anchorage for swimming and snorkeling before we get to the big city marina for the holidays.

Here are some pictures from our exploration of San Blas:
Sunrise as we approached San Blas

More sunrise beauty

...and an early morning pelican.
Approaching Puerto San Blas on the Estero el Pozo
Pangas along the estero

An old fishing boat and pelican roost in the San Blas harbor

Streets of San Blas

Nativity scene in the main plaza

San Blas' main church

One of several boutique hotels

Another San Blas street scene, further out from the center of town
Vegetation overgrowing steps in an old San Blas building
A building in La Contaduria fort atop the tallest hill in San Blas

Roof structure against a very blue sky

A panorama of San Blas taken from the fort

Downtown San Blas, Estero el Pozo and the Pacific Ocean beyond, taken from the La Contaduria
One of many smoked fish restaurants on the road leading out of town. The smoke keeps the jejenes away.

Our big smoked fish lunch. Delicious, but between the smoke in the restaurant and the char on the fish, we probably inhaled and ingested a year's worth of carcinogens!
Boat trip through the mangroves to the cocodrilario

An iguana along the way

The mangroves open up to reveal the mountains beyond.

A 12 foot long American Crocodile, in the wild

Another big'un relaxing and airing out its teeth at the cocodrilario