We are still in Banderas Bay staying at one of our favorite places, La Cruz. and there has been a grand transformation going on all around us for the last few weeks. La Cruz is generally a sleepy little town. The kind of place where when you walk through town you hear friendly hola's and buen dias' thrown from every corner. The kids on their way to school are just as likley to say hello as the shopkeepers and restaraunt owners. There are loose dogs wandering around, kids playing in the streets and senior citizens sitting in their courtyards or on the sidewalks in front of their small homes hiding from the heat. We brag about the place and have enjoyed sharing it with friends. But these days our descriptions would be drowned out and covered up by the dust and noise.
There are simultanious reasons for the change. A few days ago Copa Mexico began their annual regional races. The 24ft J-boats are leading the way for an entire month of racing in the bay. The little trailerable boats came flooding into La Cruz for weeks before the racing started and their activity was just the beginning. Next came the first of the "big boys" sailing across the finish line from California -no trailers here. The catamaran that lead the pack (The original Water World Boat sans Kevin Constner) had racked up some 400 mile days and the rest of the race fleet came streaming in behind. These big flashy boats with their uniformed crews and dead serious competition have their own week on the water which then will slowley lead into the annual Bandereas Bay Regatta. The BBR which is the closest thing to big money racing a crusing boat ever sees. The Regatta is an opportunity for even the cruisers to get in on the action because they handicap especially for cruising boats allowing even the loaded down "house boats" a chance at the gold.
Things will wrap up at the end of the month when the marina will be hosting a one day vacation tradeshow extravaganza. This too is serious money for the Puerto Vallarta area and La Cruz is crowing over capturing the event from Acapulco for the first time in ten years. All these things have coelesced into some serious work and money being dumped into sleepy little La Cruz. A huge pavillion was built in a matter of days and soon filled with racers, beer, music and the everpresent secrity. The marina grounds have been washed, painted, clipped and trimmed until everything sparkles and shines. The money has been flooding into similar work all over the Bay area. From here to Puerta Vallarta there are workers everywhere from the wee hours of the morning until well into the night, painting and picking up, washing down and hauling sod and trees for landscaping and generally sprucing up anything that holds still.
The town square in La Cruz has been torn up and completely rebuilt all within the last few weeks. This included new surrounding roads, a stonehenge looking paviliion, new curbs, sidewalks and pathways through the park and a new coat of paint. Seemingly every cobblestone street in town has been dug up and redone. They are burying power lines and gas mains, laying sod and painting newly poured curbs, sidewalks and park benches everywhere. Very early on in the process a crew inexplicably punched fist sized holes like swiss cheese through almost every sidewalk in town -yet almost all the sidewalks remain untouched and un-repaired. Maybe it will be done by the time the trade show arrives? The workers are being bussed in and they fill the tiendas and restaurants for lunch and dinner and the local beer joints have long lines at siesta time. They have been cutting down old trees and planting new ones and the dust and the noise rolls over everything in sight.
There had been a rumor that E'l Presidente' would be visiting soon but no one knew if it would be for the races or for the trade show. There has been a large Navy presence for days now and then the Army rolled in. The transit police slips in daily with their silent caravans of dark tinted windows and spinning flashing lights. The exact date and time were reported to be top secret -as a matter of security. The exact date and time were carefully guarded secrets held close in order to insure a high level of security. Plus no one knew if it is actualy the president who was expected or the state govenor who is also refered to as E'l Presidente'.
Then yesterday I received a VHF call from Katrina of Marina La Cruz asking me a favor. Katrina is the go to gal for anything Marina La Cruz. She is not the marina manageer nor is she a secretary but rather is more like Julie on the Love Boat but sexed up: PR, customer relations, organizer extrordinaire, in charge, idea filled, high heel wearing, cleavage showing, wowzer did-you-see-that-skirt- business manager. She proceeded to tell me the President was coming in the morning and that the racers were planning a nautical salute and could I try and solicit the cruisers help and participation in an ovation of sorts . So filled with her instructions I showered and changed and set out to explain to each and every boat on dock 4 that if they would listen to VHF chanel 01 from 9:00am to 9:45am they would at some point hear a count down: 10, 9, 8..... and when the count came to zero we would all add our salute of air horns, bells and loud hailers to the blasts form the racing fleet as a kind of tip of our hats to the President. It was the hottest part of the day and I didnt have much time as we had a dinner date and I only knew a few people on our dock but what the heck.
The morning came and I tuned into CH01 and heard nothing. Nine o'clock came and went as did nine fourty five. Bill and I had work to do so we kept our loud hailer on and got busy. Eventually the air filled with the pulse of a helicopter as the first bird flew in for recon. An hour or more passed by with the helicopter making slow wide circles over BIll and I as we worked on deck installing our new spinnaker sock and hauled the new dinghy up on deck for a dry fit its place for our crossing.
The crowd thickened all around us, more and more cruisers took seats in their cockpits to watch the spectacle and the Navy and Army were at full force spread out all over the marina grounds. There were two military patrol boats weaving in and out of the fareways, numerous exits and parking lots were cordoned off and left with armed guards and they installed a metal detector on the walkway leading to the Sunday Artisan Market. The area of the sea wall where the helipads had recently been laid out was sprayed down with water to dampen the dust, the walkway passing closest by was cordoned off and sharp shooters were stationed in the marina's Sky Bar.
Finally at nearly noon the rest of the flock of helicopters came charging over Banderas Bay -we are told the President always travels in a procession of five- and landed to the thrill of the crowds. The cruisers stood on deck all over the marina waiting for the sign that never came. Not one horn blew, nor bell rang and not a sound from the racers over on docks ten and eleven.
Oh well it was a good idea and there did seem to be a better representation of courtesy and home port flags flying even if it didn't pan out. Everyone had been surprisingly receptive of the request and as a bonus for me it gave me a great excuse to meet the rest of my dock four neighbors.