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Bahía Tortuga

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Mark and I sailed Kinship II from Cabo – the last place from which I reported – to a small fishing village named Bahía Tortuga, or Turtle Bay. Turtle Bay was a reluctant stop. We wanted to come in, fuel up, and then head out. Charlie’s Charts recommended Jorge, and he was the first person to zip up the Kinship in his outboard.

We decided to come to shore, to get our clothes washed, and by the time we knew it, we needed to stay over a couple days. When we wanted to go anywhere from the ship, we needed to reassemble a dinghy. Our dinghies are collapsible like origami, so once we gracefully unfold it and put it together and then mount the outboard, we are probably going to stay a couple days anyway. 

Turtle Bay was nothing much. A dusty town with a couple hustlers and a single generous soul, Jorge. Jorge is an amazing fellow and although he now works for tips in aid of the Cruisers coming in and out of the bay, he was once the area’s heroic figure. He is mythologized for his prowess in catching Abalone. 

Supposedly, he was able to single-handedly catch so many that it was worth his while to wildly overfish and then to be fined because the kind of profits he would make off his catch could easily be paid without hurting profits. Until a decade ago, Jorge was making well over $100,000 USD and his exploits are the stuff of legend. That was, until the abalone were fished out. The grand industry of he area, culminating in an abalone-canning factory, suffered a sudden and devastating death. 

As we took that extra day, we also lost the weather. We began to get to know the local cruisers and found out that there was a sudden storm that was buffeting Tijuana and mangling the weather for San Diego – our goal – and the sailing up the coast of Baja California. We stayed for a few days until we heard that the coast was clear, but it seemed like it took forever. It felt like it. The town was unpaved; the only Internet was expensive, dial-up, and often broken. I missed Wendy and we were so close to being back in the US. 

Luckily, we really hit it off with Jorge and his family. From that moment on it was truly amazing. 

As they do, Kinship’s twin diesels were leaking oil and we were running low. Mark decided at the last moment that we should grab some oil before leaving town – just to be safe (Mark’s rally cry the entire time). Jorge was the obvious person to ask. We dropped by and met Jorge’s lovely life, Irma. She really took to us and before we knew it, we were watching local coverage of the war, chatting about the battles and the coverage, discussing the politics of the US as it relates to the rest of the world, namely Mexico. Namely, Irma’s living room. As we waited to see if Jorge could get us the oil, Irma fed us something she calls “Abalone Cream” which is quite a famous and rare local dish and Irma’s specialty. She served it with crackers and what it amounted to was an abalone pâté. It was amazing, but nothing compared to the dinner and evening together. 

I plead ignorant now because although I sort of knew that eating in Latin America is quite different than it is in the US, I forgot since we never really ate with Mexicans. When we came to dinner with three six packs of Dos Equis beer at around seven, we were the only ones there. Our dinner was waiting for us, and it was simple fried fish with rice and a salad garnished with the most delicious tortillas I have ever tasted, but we were alone. 

Irma told us that Mexicans have a huge feast of the day at around noon and that in the evening there was really no required meal aside from snacks. 

So, we ate alone for a while until the posse returned to the house. Apparently, Jesus was visiting after ten long years away and it was time to feast later that night. Lucky for us because along with the crowd came a huge web bag full of live, fresh, and local oysters. 

Apr 28, 2003 12:00 AM