Tuesday, June 15, 2010

LaPaz, again

We're back in LaPaz to re-provision before heading further north.  If you google earth this area you'll see there are many little islands and coves to explore but not a lot of towns, so making sure we have enough food and drink is important, especially for this family who loves both more than most people.

We've been here a few days and have accomplished a lot...

  • Sam's Club
  • Walmart
  • Grocery Store
  • New wetsuit/skin for Jake
  • Visit to the Whale Bone Museum
  • Visit to the weaver (where I bought a cool rug and a wrap for mom)
  • Internet access for the time we're in Mexcio (this is much harder than it sounds)
  • Watching the US play England in the World's cup (I know, totally out of character here...expanding our horizons)

We were going to leave today but some of these things are harder to accomplish than they sound.  If it sounds like it took an hour, add three.  That's more the norm rather than the exception.  This results in a lot of ice cream stops.

As we leave the city, I thought I would share a few observations we've had since we've been in Mexico... I'm sure I'll have more to add as we go.  If anyone has ever been to Mexico then these things probably won’t come as a surprise.  They’re not criticisms, just observations I thought some might enjoy.

  • Much like the south, everything moves slower here.  Understandably so, it’s HOT.
  • Stop signs are mere suggestions.  Literally, they’re treated kind of like yield signs in the U.S.  (and pedestrians do NOT have the right of way). 
  • Grocery stores sell way more than groceries.  Where else can you buy a washer and dryer, a pair of underwear and a sack of tomatoes at the same store?
  • Holidays are a very serious event.  So serious in fact, that in some cases stores are closed the day before and the day after just to make sure every one has sufficient time to celebrate.
  • The Siesta is not a myth.  When it comes to mini marts and things like that, this is in direct contrast to how we Americans think.   Two o’clock rolls around and we start thinking about what we want for supper - oops we need more beer, maybe I should run to the store to get x,y,z for the potluck - only to walk 4 blocks in 95 degree heat to find out they’re closed for the next hour or so.  Lesson learned - must plan ahead.
  • Soda is sold by the can, not the six pack.  Sort of.  Evidently, as of March, 2010, they now sell them by the eight pack (maybe).  The price is the same, you just don’t have to hassle with individual cans.   It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but mentally, you feel like you’re paying more when you put 24 cans of diet coke in your cart instead of a case. 
  • Andy and I have both observed that stores here are similar to the U.S., just a little different.  Sears – same, but weird.  Walmart – same, but weird.  Maybe it’s the way it’s organized?  Quality of products?  I can’t seem to put my finger on it.   
  • Nothing is easy.  Example, I went to run two errands today - get an account number for my internet access and pick up Jake's wet suit.  It took me 3 hours and two trips to both places before I could accomplish the task.
We're headed back up to Espiritu Santo tomorrow to meet up with Ulalena and V'ger.  Everyone wants to do some diving and Terri has offered to take care of Jake so I can partake.  I'm really excited.  We'll stay in touch as much as we can.

Ensenada Grande, el Embudo, Los Islotes

We’re slowly moving our way up to the top of the islands.  It’s easy to get complacent about the scenery here.  It’s all very beautiful, but starts to look the same after a while.  The rocks take on a slightly different color and shape and the coves are bigger or smaller, cozy or grand.  But overall, they’re all still very beautiful.  Because they do tend to look alike, we decided to skip a few anchorages in our guidebook and go all the way up to Ensenada Grande.  This is a pretty good anchorage for overnight stays and it's close enough to Los Islotes, where the sea lion rookery is located, that you can go there in one day.

As we pulled into the cove, we noticed a familiar looking boat, Ceilydh.  This is another catamaran that our friend, Cindy told us to watch for as they have a child on board.  After getting all settled in, we decided to go for a hike.  On our way over, we stopped by Ceilydh to introduce ourselves.  It's really nice out here how you can just drive/walk/swim over to someone's boat and say hi and no one thinks anything of it.  It makes it really easy to make friends.  Evan, Diane and Maia were headed in the same direction so we all ended up hiking together.  Maia, their daughter was quite the climber.  I think she really inspired Jake as he managed to keep up with everyone and didn't whine or complain at all. We all enjoyed each other's company and decided to continue our fun over cocktails and appetizers on our boat.  

One of the reasons we chose this anchorage was because we wanted to swim with the sea lions.  The crew on Ceilydh had already had the experience and filled us in on the easiest way to get there.  They enjoyed it so much they decided to go with us the next day.

What an amazing experience.  I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by the huge sea lions.  I've swam with sharks on more than one occasion, but wasn't nearly as nervous as I was jumping in the water with these huge creatures.  They're very curious and playful and swim right up to you.  Andy, Evan and Diane went diving while I waited in the dinghy with the kids.  When they came up, I went snorkeling while the kids got to buddy breathe off of the regulators.  Andy got some more fantastic pictures.  

Baby seal getting dinner from mama.

We ended the night with dinner on Ceilydh, said our goodbyes, then we pulled out the next morning, back to LaPaz.  We didn’t quite provision well enough in the beverage department (for anyone).  I don’t think either of us realized how far away the next mini mart would be, much less a grocery store.  And maybe even more urgent is the garbage.  We’ve tried to separate the biodegradable stuff from the not and it’s still stinky.  So we’re now back in LaPaz, provisioning and catching up with our friends on Ulalena.

NOTE:  I've added Ceilydh's blog to our list on the right if anyone wants to follow their travels as well.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 7 - Caleta Partida

Yesterday we pulled up anchor and moved to Caleta Partida.  This is a little area above Isla Espiritu Santo and below Isla Partida.  When we pulled in, it felt like we were pulling up to a popular anchorage at the lake.  Not sure how to describe why, but it seemed like a lot of weekenders, jet skis and party boats.    While this might not sound like a good thing, it’s one of the reasons I like hopping from anchorage to anchorage – you never know what you’re going to get.  You could be all alone, you could meet new friends, or you could watch with amusement the latest party boat and it’s antics.

Another cool thing about anchorages is the pangas.  I’ve mentioned these before.  In this anchorage, we ran into one panga numerous times.  By the end of our two days here, had either of us known each other’s language even a little we probably would’ve invited him in for cocktails.  Our first encounter was on the beach.  As Jake was playing submarine, I was laying out our towel and Andy was exploring, this man walked from one side of the beach to the other almost unnoticed.  We pegged him as a fisherman by his tall rubber boots.  We were all friendly enough with our small waves and greeting of “Buenos Tardes.”

A few hours later, back on the boat we had our second encounter.  We saw the panga pulling up with what looked to be a very large cell phone.  It turns out the antennae on his early 90’s cell phone was broken and he needed some electrical tape to fix it.  Andy fixed it for him and gave him the remainder of the tape for next time.

High tide came around and we decided to get a closer look to the fishing village and make our way across the shoals to the other side.  As we were going through we were followed and eventually passed by who other than our fisherman friend.  Another friendly wave and we went about our day exploring.

What you can't see here are the solar panels and antenna on each of these shacks....satellite TV you think?

Our last encounter with the fisherman came the following day while snorkeling in a little cove.  As we climbed back into the boat we saw him coming.  This time he had a huge red snapper to offer us.  We didn’t have any money in the dinghy so we motioned for him to follow us back to the boat. He wanted 100 pesos but we didn’t have the exact amount (way over and way under) and we were pretty sure he didn’t have change.  So we offered him 20 pesos and a bottle of $8 whiskey.  He asked us to throw in a bottle of shampoo and we had a deal.  As we enjoyed an evening filled with sushi, we sent our thanks up for the fisherman and his generosity.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

6/4/2010 - Puerto Ballena

Puerto Ballena is another beautiful place.  It’s just north of LaPaz on the island of Espiritu Santo.  There are three lobes in Puerto Ballena.  The first is where we anchored the last two nights (and the sight of my “incident”).  Jake and Andy spent a lot of time cruising around in the dinghy and snorkeling while I stayed indoors sewing the mosquito nets for our hatches.  I finally finished them and I am proud to say, they are extremely functional (even if they don’t add much to the d├ęcor).

This morning we pulled anchor and I drove the boat over to the third lobe and helped Andy drop the anchor for a change of scenery.  I still can’t get my foot in the salt water but it doesn’t hurt anymore and I’m having cabin fever so Andy took us on a dinghy ride and then he piggy backed me to shore….where we saw an army of little bugs that look very similar to cockroaches.  I wish I had my video camera.  It was disgusting.  Imagine the grossest apartment in the grossest city you can think of and turning on the lights at night to watch the roaches scatter….then multiply that by a million.  As we walked up on shore they all scattered, just like the roaches.  Ick.  We did a little hiking and saw almost as many fiddler crabs and way up in the distance we saw a herd of goats.  Strange but true.

There were millions of these things and they were about the size of your thumb.  But Andy managed to get a picture of one of the hard core pirate crabs :)  (notice the left eye missing).

Jake scraped his legs on the rocks while he was snorkeling so he’s been banned to the infirmary with me.  Tomorrow we will be released by the resident doctor and can enjoy some more swimming.  Until then, we’re catching up on some school.

6/2/2010 - " Shuffle your feet"

“Shuffle your feet.”  It’s a mantra we chant over and over making sure Jake knows the dangers of stepping on a stingray and how to keep from getting stung.  We’ve seen more than our share of people, old and young, at the beaches in California with their foot stuck in a bucket from stepping on a stingray.  The stingray gets scared and then swishes it’s tail back and stings them in the foot.  Which is why I feel like an idiot.  Check this out…

Yep, that’s my foot.  One day away from land, one dinghy ride, and three steps in the shallow water and I got stung by a stingray.  I knew I had been stung, if not by the stabbing pain in my foot, then by the blood gushing out the top.  Andy helped me get back in the dinghy and we headed back to the boat.  I let my foot dangle in the water for a little bit because it felt better and Andy just washed the dinghy yesterday, but then I pictured a shark jumping out of the water and biting it off.  About that time Andy suggested I apply pressure.  Well, I did, but that required me looking at it.  I have a relatively high pain tolerance but when I actually see a wound, I get nauseous and dizzy.  So I had to sit down in the floorboard of the dinghy to keep from falling over backwards (just in case).

Again, my most knowledgeable husband exceeded all my expectations.  He got me back on the boat, promptly put my foot in a bucket of scalding hot water and brought me a pain killer and an antibiotic.  To keep my mind off of things, I asked him to bring me “The Healthy Cruisers Handbook” that I had bought for just such an occasion (although I always pictured it being someone else that actually needed the help).  I found the page I needed and guess what it said?  “…Immersion in hot water will greatly decrease the pain…  Bacterial infections are very common with these type of injuries and most experts will recommend at least five days of prophylactic antibiotic treatment….”  Is my husband the best or what? 
So here I sit with my newly bandaged foot propped up, thankful it’s me and not Jake.  I’ve made him promise no less than 10 times to shuffle his feet.  While he was more interested in the blood and bandage than in my well being, I do think it made and impression on him.

Since I have to stay out of the salt water for a few days and the sun (due to the antibiotic), it looks like those mosquito covers for the hatches will be made sooner than later.  It’s a good thing too, because the no see’ums are out in force.

It’s good to be back on the anchor again.

Editor’s note:  A couple of days later, while riding to shore in the dinghy, Jake announced, “Mommy, you’ve learned two big lessons.  1) Always look back at the waves before going ashore so they don’t tip you’re kayak over, and 2) ALWAYS shuffle your feet,  right?”  Yes, Jake, Right.  Absolutely.  

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More pictures from La Paz...

A few more pictures from La Paz...

Bandidos is a hamburger joint right outside the Marina we're staying at.  We went there to satisfy a few cravings with some friends.

The cook your hamburgers on the "grill" of an old truck.  Very cool place.

Some new friends, Casey and Annie on s/v V'ger.  They're going north into the Sea as we are so I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of time together in the future.

Another new friend, Vic.  He came back to the boat and entertained us on our guitar (since I can't play it, I figured someone should - plus he tuned it for me ;) ).  Super nice guy.  We hope to cross paths with him again some day.

We're leaving today for Isla Ispiritu Santos, a very popular island north of here.  We will probably be out of pocket for a few weeks as I don't think there's much in the way of towns up there, so no updates.  In the meantime, we appreciate all the prayers and good wishes you can give us.