One of the coolest towns on the Gold Coast of Mexico is Barra de Natividad. It has a great-protected inner bay that has a world-class marina. Its one of the few places I’d like my boat to be anchored if a hurricane forced us to get off the boat and seek shelter on land. We arrived after a quick sail from Tenacatita and pulled into an empty slip. Luckily, the doublewide berth was empty because just as we started to steer our big and heavy boat towards the slip, a sudden gust of wind kicked up out of nowhere and broadsided us. Way back in high school and college, I was a valet, parking expensive cars in Newport Beach, CA. I’ve always been prideful of my ability to put big moving objects between lines and cement posts. All that pride left me when I slid sideways into our slip. Several other cruisers were all scrambling to help us straighten out and turn the botched job into a respectable parking job. I learned something new from a new friend Aaron from SV Mango Mango. He said, “If you throw a line to someone, they will naturally want to pull on it. Never throw your bow line first, always throw the midship line so you still can use the motor to control the boat.” It has been the best tip I’ve picked up so far. After checking in with the harbormaster and taking a much-needed shower, we hailed a water taxi to pick us up and take us to the town, saving a thirty-minute walk for a mere twenty pesos (about one dollar). The small, but quaint town of Barra has excellent restaurants, tons of shops with cool authentic items for sale, and a really modern Catholic church. The church looked like it fell out of the sky from Norway or some other Scandinavian country. On the Saturday we walked by and saw a wedding ceremony, complete with many families wishing the young couple a happy life together.
One evening, the Harbormaster quickly approached me shooting some photos of various boat life things for my stock photography site and asked me what I was doing. After a minute of pleasant conversation, he told me about his son. He was wondering if I’d ever photographed surfers. His son Andres was the top ranked Mexican amateur surfer and need some new shots to promote himself to potential sponsors. After showing him a few of my shots from the Van US Open that were still on the SD card in my camera, I was hired, for a discounted slip fee. The next day a nice swell rolled into Barra and the right beach break next to the breakwater was going off. I shot over a thousand photos of his talented son and a few of his friends catching nice waves, pulling rad maneuvers, catching airs, and doing what I wish I could do. The kid has a future in the professional surfing world. He was smart, fit, well spoken, and had a zest for life and surfing. I saw a bit of myself in him when I was that age, focused on what he wants and not letting anything get in the way from him achieving it. He had recently travelled to the Azores for the world championships and placed in the top ten. It will take me some time to get the photos together to add to this post.
Hands down, the coolest thing in Barra is the French Baker. Each morning about at seven am, you hear the jingle of a little bell as a small Frenchman scurries about the marina slips in his covered panga, selling his fresh baked goods. You can hear the crackle of the VHF radios throughout the marina, calling out to him to save a few chocolate croissants, baguettes, or pies for them. There is nothing better in this world than waking up in your own boat, in a calm anchorage, brewing some coffee, and getting a still warm, fresh croissant for breakfast. I could live in Barra for the rest of my life just to relive the experience everyday. By the way, after 20 years of providing the most delicious treats to the cruisers in Barra, he is selling off his business, including the café in town and the delivery panga. Maybe it’s where Lisa and I will retire once this floating life winds down. Oh wait, I don’t know how to cook pastries and can’t imagine getting up at 2 am to prepare for the day. But someone I know must want to live the ideal life of a French baker, in Barra, Mexico.