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Final Update:
Monday, May 10th, 2010, Puerto Aventuras, Mexico
 

     You can definitely tell we have settled down because I have stopped writing my regular updates!  Our day to day life isn't nearly as exciting to read or write about when we aren't out discovering new places all the time.  We are actually uncovering plenty of tidbits about our new home in Mexico, but, as shocking as it still seems to us, we aren't cruising any more.  Zialater.com was conceived and executed as a travel journal and I just don't have that much material these days. 

     Our unexpected stay in Puerto Aventuras has elicited many new and sometimes disturbing thoughts popping unbidden into our heads.  The reality is that with the kids settled down in school, it is highly unlikely that we will ever return to homeschooling.  In and of itself this isn't a bad thing, but by extension, it also means that we won't return to cruising anytime soon either.  We did get a chance to go back out cruising on Zia recently over the girls' two-week spring break.  It brought back floods of wonderful memories and provoked some new realizations about our future.

     The girls were released from school on Friday, March 26th.  We had some friends visiting from New Mexico that week so we weren't ready to sail away immediately.  We spent Saturday grocery shopping and moving stuff back onto the boat.  Sunday morning the wind was up so we couldn't resist a quick kitesurfing session on the local beach before moving the last of our stores onboard and finally throwing off the dock lines around 1pm.  Destination: To Be Determined!

     The 3 to 4 knot northerly current that runs along the Mexican Caribbean coast and the 20 knot southeasterly breeze had us sailing fast towards Cancun.  (Perhaps all the junk we have removed from Zia since moving into the condo also contributed to our lightening speed.)  Isla Mujeres, a little further north and east, was a long sail, but since we knew it well enough to enter at night and the girls really wanted to go back there, we decided to make that our first stop.  They have a favorite ice cream store on the island that makes mint chocolate chip gelato.  Imagine sailing around and choosing your destinations based upon the ice cream!  I swear that is what they remember most about the places we have visited.  "Mom, remember that place in Italy, where I got the scoop of stracciatella (chocolate chip) with that huuuuuge chunk of chocolate in it?  That was so awesome!"

     By mutual understanding more than agreement, both Joe and I decided that the girls' desires would be the priority on this trip.  It was their spring break and we wanted to be sure that they had a fantastic time.  Being back on Zia made us all happy.  We easily fell back into the routine of back-step showers, morning swims, and lazy evenings with a book.  Cassie and Juliana were happy to take a break from the routine of school and just "chillax."  They eagerly agreed to hang on the boat while Joe and I took advantage of 25 knot winds to kitesurf off the northwest beach of Isla. 

Although we had been granted three hours, equipment failure brought us back to the boat much sooner than that.  It was great to dinghy into town with the four of us, sit at a nice sidewalk restaurant for lunch, stroll down to the gelato store for dessert, and meander through the streets of the town afterwards.  Just like the old days!  Sigh!

     Isla Mujeres was as far away as we got during our two week trip.  The winds mellowed out after the first couple of days and we were able to get behind the reef in Puerto Morelos and hang on a mooring ball for a couple of nights.  Then we shot over to the north end of Cozumel to try to find a decent anchorage.  There aren't any comprehensive charts for cruisers in the region but we knew we could find someplace if we were careful.  We anchored half a mile from the beach north of Isla de Pasion. 

The large lagoon behind the island must host a flock of pink flamingos because we were treated to the sight of them flying by periodically.  Joe and I got some kiting in - we launched at the beach but had to stay out by the boat because the easterly wind was too squirrelly close to shore.  We did get some great photos, though!

     The only city on Cozumel, San Miguel, was about an hour away.  We decided to head to town after a couple of nights at this remote anchorage for email and phone access and a night out.  Primarily a cruise ship town, San Miguel has lots of souvenir shops and restaurants, some of them quite good.  We discovered Guido's and were hooked.  We rented scooters and toured the island one afternoon, stopping at some truly spectacular beaches along the way. 

     The wind was supposed to pick back up and the girls were happy to go back to the north end of the island.  We had seen some other kites flying a little further south of where we anchored so we made that our goal.  The depths are pretty shallow and sand bars abound, so we motored slowly towards the dozen kites that served as our landmark.  We arrived with enough time in the afternoon to get in a short session.  We met Adrian and Paco, two local kite instructors who use this small island - not much more than a sandbar - as their teaching base. 

Cassie had been dying to get back out kiting.  She did a lot of body dragging and practice flying the kite last year in the BVI but had not yet gotten up on the board.  We arranged a four hour lesson with Paco and he had her up and riding in no time!  It was wonderful to watch her determination and success.  Way to go, Cassie!

     Of the dozen other people enjoying the kite spot, some were local kids practicing their tricks for an upcoming competition, and others were tourists taking advantage of the windy days.  We met a couple from Minnesota who were wrapping up a two week vacation on the island.  Turns out, he makes and sells his own boards.  Joe and I have been in serious need of a slightly bigger board to ride on the light wind days.  He had the perfect one for us.  We convinced him that he really didn't want to carry it back in his luggage anyway.  We are now are the proud owners of a custom, cedar striped 145 kiteboard called "The Naked Stripper."  (naked because of the wood and stripper because of the stripes) 

    During this time, we had been talking to our friends Rich and Alli who were trying to get away from the dock and come meet us.  They were in the midst of a new paint job on their motor yacht and their ETD suffered because those kinds of jobs always take longer than you expect.  Rich is a great kiter and Alli is an advanced beginner so they were dying to come and discover this great new place we had found.  When they finally got away, we wasted no time getting up to "Isla de Paco," as we have dubbed our new favorite kiting spot. 

The wind was a little gusty for the pickier kiters among us (you know who you are!) but we got plenty of good rides in anyway.  We spent the next four days hanging out and enjoying the beauty of the island, kiting when we could, swimming, paddling and partying.  It was the perfect end to a perfect vacation in our new backyard along the Riviera Maya.

 

     Coming home to Puerto Aventuras felt good.  Boo was so excited to be off the boat and back to her expanded territory around the condo that she leapt five feet from the stern of the boat to the dock before we had even tied up!  Our reaction was a little more subtle.  Back to school is never fun, but the girls were excited to see their friends.  Joe and I were looking forward to Francois' visit which he recounted in the previous update.  So clearly, our lives have been refocused with Puerto Aventuras being our main anchor rather than Zia.  She sits prettily in our backyard, but no longer dominates our daily lives.  In fact, she sits sad and neglected, begging to go out and continue to travel the seas.

     As the reality of our new situation has taken shape in our minds over the last three months, we realize the right thing to do is to sell Zia.  We've been mulling this thought over for several months now and as much as it pains us, it just makes sense.  Zia is meant to be sailing the world.  As we sailed away from Puerto Aventuras on our spring break adventure, I was overwhelmed by the thought that this could be the last cruise together as a family on Zia.  I thought of all the wonderful, priceless memories she has provided us over the last five years.  We want to give someone else the chance to experience their own adventures on this amazing boat.  She will always have a place in our hearts, but her true home is out, cruising the oceans and bringing joy and adventure to her lucky owners.  Anyone want to buy a boat? :)

 

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