Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017–Loreto, Mexico–Sunny - 75F

Distance from Guaymas, Mexico to Loreto, Mexico: 114 Nautical Miles

Port Information.  Loreto was capital of California for 80 years (when California reached all the way to the Oregon Border. A hurricane in 1829 nearly destroyed Loreto and the capital was moved to La Paz. Loreto is home to the oldest Mission in the history of California – the Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto was build in 1697 by an Italian Jesuit Monk.  The Mission still sports its original bells.

The most beautiful day of the cruise so far.   Blue skies and not a cloud in the sky.


Loreto from the Ship

NOTE:  Due to weather conditions in Cabo San Lucas, the itinerary has been changed.  Instead of an overnight in Loreta, the ship will sail for Cabo San Lucas at 10:30 PM.  Quest will arrive in Cabo at 2:00 PM and the AzaMazing Evening will be held the evening of the 17th instead of the 18th.  The ship will overnight in Cabo and leave late at night for San Diego.  This will avoid the weather issues in the desert.

There were no tours we wanted to take in Loreto so we will take the tender to town and walk around. 

Loreto is a tender port – we hopped on an early tender to town so we could maximize our time there…it is out first time at this port.  As the tender pulled away from the ship, I was able to get a good look at our cabin – arrow marks the spot.


I also got a picture of Ellen on our crowded tender.



On Our Way to Loreto

I got some great shops of the Quest at Anchor from the tender.


At the entrance to the harbor at Loreto, there is a very interesting statue of a sea lion.


From the tender pier I was able to get a nice picture of the ship out in the harbor.


Loreto has been slowly developed by the government into a resort locaton – it has a new Malecon and several new condos and hotels along the beach. 

On the Malecon, we came across a fantastic statue of a shark – just had to document that. 


The Loreto Shark

Many of the towns in Mexico are now installing signs with their town’s name – a great option for picture taking.


Loreto has a pedestrian walkway lined with shops and restaurants.  I was able to use the facilities at one bar. 


Pedestrian Walkway

Beyond the tourist section, the town resembles a typical small Mexican village.  We walked a few blocks into the actual town.  Ellen was able to find lip balm at a Mercado for $2.70 and was able to charge it for the best exchange rate.

I’m not sure of the occasion, but the town set up chairs and tents and put on a folkloric show  involving dancing girls.  It was a pretty entertaining show.


We looked around for a spa or estetica salon for some pampering but the only option in this town was the Spa at the Hotel La Posada. The Spa, recommended by some passengers who had been here before, offered two Body Scrubs and Massages for 1900 Pesos.  Based on the 20 to 1 exchange, the pampering will cost about $95 for the both of us.  A little pricey for Mexico but it is a fancy hotel and spa.  The sessions were very nice.  Perhaps the hotel will have some competition the next time we visit this port.

Loreto boasts the oldest mission in California.  It has no doubt been renovated over the years.



The First Mission in California (Baja included)

We didn’t get back from Loreto until around 2 PM so all there was to eat was salad and a pretzel.  That works for me.

We went to the Discoveries Dining Room for Dinner mainly because they offered Gazpacho.  I also ordered the Yellow Fin Tuna Asian Style.  Both the soup and entre were very good.

Topping off our day in Loreto was a beautiful Sunset.


Tonight is the White Nights Party.  We scored great seats on a couch on Deck 10.  We were far enough away from the barbecue smoke and had a great view.  The pre-show was the usual folkloric put on by the locals.  This show was pretty good with a lot of synchronized dancing,  Some of the dancers came up to the upper deck.


Folkloric Dancer


The planet Venus over Loreto


White Nights Party

We lasted until about 9:30 PM before heading to the room.

A nice day in Loreto.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 – Guaymas, Mexico – Cloudy – 82 F

Distance from Topolobampo, Mexico to Guaymas, Mexico: 178 Nautical Miles

Another nice breakfast on the back deck.

We are scheduled for a late arrival in Guaymas –our first time in this port.   Because of this timetable, I am on the schedule for a lecture at 11:00 AM and then the two of us are on tour in the afternoon.  It is shaping up to be a very nice day along the Sea of Cortez.

My 11:00 AM “Forensics and History:  The Lost Dauphin of France”  - came in at about 95 percent full.  Very good crowd and the biggest of the cruise so far.

We were welcomed into the port by a Mexican gunboat.  I guess they were happy to see us.


Sail In

Based on the reception we got at the pier, I am gathering that ships do not get into this port very often.  There was a band and some song girls.  There were also reporters and camera crews filming the passengers as they disembarked the ship; maybe we got on Mexican TV.


Welcoming Committee

We are both on the same tour today – “Guaymas Highlights”.  We boarded a small bus with no padded seats or shocks – I became car sick immediately and moved to another seat closer to the center of the bus – a swig of water and the change in location seemed to be enough to get me to the first destination.  Enroute, our guide told us that Guaymas was the filming location of “Catch 22” and “The Mask of Zorro”


Sea of Cortez Pearl Farm (see the oyster cages)

Our first stop (glad it wasn’t too far away) was the “Sea of Cortez Pearl Farm”.  It was primarily a shopping stop – for pearls – but there was also a demonstration of the pearl forming process.  It was interesting and the man who gave the talk – the owner – spoke perfect English. 


Pearl Demonstration

While passengers were shopping, we could take advantage of the pearl farm facilities. 

Soon we were back in the bus and on our way to town.  Guaymas does have a respectable shopping street with malls, fast food, and some familiar stores.  Our destination was the church – built in the 19th Century - and main square.

We did a brief run through at the church.


Outside the Church



Guaymas Church

The square - Plaza 23 de Julio – was just across the street - was full of people and there was a show going on as well as a exhibition involving young painters.  I was able to get close enough to get good pictures of the cowgirls dancing.  I guess dancing cowgirls is a thing in Mexico.


Guaymas Cowgirls Kicking Up Their Boots

After the square, we boarded the bus for a short ride to the next sight – an historic jail.  I walked through the jail and saw the tower, where they kept the most dangerous offenders.  All told, not that interesting.  I did get a good view of the Plaza de los Tres Presidentes across the street. 


Bad Boy Tower


Plaza de los Tres Presidentes

From the jail, we walked across the street to the plaza, which commemorates three Mexican Presidents born in Guaymas.


That was our last stop so the bus headed back to the pier.  By the time we got to the pier, the sun was setting.


Returning to the Guaymas Pier

Tonight, we had dinner in Discoveries with Mike Hick and wife, Cor and Pat, and Lou and Wife.  A pleasant dinner.

Showtime tonight was Russ Grieve’s one man show – “For Once in My Life”.  He sang songs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s (culminating in his signature “Mama Mia” segment) and told us a little about himself and how he got to where he is today.  It was most entertaining.


“Mama Mia” Here I Go Again…

From the open deck, I was able to get a moonshot over Guaymas, Mexico.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017 – Topolobampo, Mexico – Partly Cloudy - 76F

Distance from La Paz, Mexico to Topolobampo, Mexico: 113 Nautical Miles


The View from Deck 5


That’s Our Cabin

Port Information. Topolobampo, the port that serves as the gateway to the scenic Copper Canyon, is located in the Mexican State of Sinoloa.  Topolobampo was settled in 1886.  Also nearby, is El Fuerte – Home to Don Diego de la Vega – El Zorro.

The Quest docked in Graneles Pier 2 at 4:30 AM so no wake up calls or alarms needed.  The early arrival is needed so passengers can get started on their 18 hour trek to the Copper Canyon.  The local area folks have planned a full day of entertainment for the ship.  There will be folkloric performances, bands, and other dancers.  A stage and seats are set up just beyond the immediate pier area – we will be able to watch and hear the whole thing from open Deck 5.

After another very predictable but very good breakfast, we were off to explore.  For a lot of reasons, we are not going to be going to Copper Canyon – it’s a once in a lifetime experience and we have done it.  

There’s not a lot to see in the port city of Topolobampo but the port authority is supplying free Shuttle Bus service to the Botanic Garden in the nearby big city of Los Mochis.

As we left the ship for the bus, we noticed some interesting objects.  There was nothing near them to explain what they were – some local critters.

IMG_20170214_critter-on-pier_thumb IMG_20170214_cruise-ship-critter-on-

ULC – Unidentified Local Critters

The ride was pretty comfortable and it only took about 20 to 30 minutes to get to Los Mochis. The buses also had young guides describing things along the way and answering questions about the area.  The bus drop was right in front of the Botanic Gardens in the center of town.

The Benjamin Francis Johnston Botanic Gardens is a huge greenspace, covering several city blocks.  It contains the usual specimens but it also has play areas.  We started to walk through the gardens but decided otherwise after being attacked by biting flies (seriously).  Instead, we will walk the city to check out the sights.


The Gardens


Who’s the Person with the Green Umbrella?

We also found a local who agreed to take our picture.


That’s Us at the Gardens

Armed with a map and recalling how the bus entered the city, we were able to make our way to some of the city center sights.  Not sure what historical even took place here on that date but the Central Plaza is known as Plazuela 27 de Septiembre.


Plazuela 27 de Septiembre

We also stopped at the Sagrada Corazon de Jesus Church.  The best shot I could get of the church was from across the street.


As we do in many of our ports (when we are not on tour), we seek out spas (for some pampering).  After logging a good number of steps, we asked in some of the shops about spas.

Were directed to a great (and fancy) full service Spa called MaaroX.  Two massages for 700 pesos ($35.00 at the current exchange rate).  At first, the spa ladies told us it was $20 but I told them it was too little and helped them with their math.  In any event, the massages were excellent, the staff friendly, the facilities really upscale, and the price unbeatable.

We walked a little more around the town before returning to the bus pick up point for the ride back to the pier.  Our guide for this trip was 20 year old Diana, who spoke perfect English and had spent some time in San Bernardino, CA.  Our guide on the way in was only 18 years old.  The cities are recruiting young folks as representatives of the tourist industry.  A good idea.

We spent the afternoon out on Deck 5 where we could read and also take in the ongoing entertainment.


Dance of the Cowgirls

After dinner in the Discoveries Dining Room, we went to the Cabaret Theater to see a local Folkloric Show hosted by our bus guide Diana.  Mariachis, bottle balancing dancers, and all sorts of fun stuff.  The theme was the various regions of Mexico - It was a pretty entertaining show. 


Folkloric Show

The ship is all decked out in hearts in honor of Valentine’s Day.  We took the opportunity to take a picture together up in the Living Room(courtesy of Simon).


Happy Valentine’s Day

A nice day in Topolobampo and Los Mochis, Mexico.