Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just another day in..... La Paz

Hi folks, Thanks so much for all the great comments..we love to hear from you. We'll reserve e-mail for personal conversations. Some of you got me to thinking about what a 'typical' day in La Paz is like for cruisers like us.. so I thought I'd share a bit about that.

Each day starts out pretty much the same.. you know, beautiful sunrise, a chilly 19 degrees, quiet waters cuz the afternoon winds haven't kicked in yet... stuff like that :-) We get up pretty early (about 7ish)... we go to bed pretty early too.. after all it's dark by 1730 hrs. After a cup of coffee, and a check of the e-mails (if the internet hasn't crashed...which it does quite often) there's some domestic things to do (like feed the dog, walk/wet the dog, have breakfast...and sip another cup of coffee) while we listen to VHF Channel 22a which is the local 'radio net' for us cruisers. It's an opportunity to stay connected... with messages re: what's going on around town, a chance to ask questions about services, and a chance to let others know if you have an item or two you might want to find a new home for.. or if you're looking for something. In La Paz there's also the Club Cruceros which is an organization designed for and populated by.. us cruisers. They/we meet for coffee at the little clubhouse (in the parking lot of the Marina La Paz) every morning. We have coffee and cookies and we have a good chat up with whoever shows up. There's also a book and DVD exchange as well as a mail service... folks receive mail from where ever and the Club 'folks' sort it and hold it for 'members'.

Once that's done (and we don't always go up for it) there's the rest of the day to fill but, no worries, it's not hard. Living on a boat is just like living in a small cottage. There's just as much maintenance (actually there's more because we have to keep each of the systems going... the same systems we take for granted at home). If the power shuts down (or worse, your reverse polarity light comes on) you have to drop everything else and look for the source of the problem...not always easy to find. If the plumbing clogs up... well, that's the worst.. :-( Gotta fix that right away, pronto. And then there's the stainless steel (seems to rust up overnight without attention), the SS shrouds (still trying to get the red sand from the sand storm that blew us out of Turtle Bay out of the wires... I've given up on the used-to-be-white life-line netting)... And then there's... well, you get it... There's just no end to the list of chores awaiting each of us... But.. wait a minute, we're in paradise aren't we... so, you guessed it, 'manana' comes in to play.. and some stuff (like the stainless and the vacuuming and the dusting....) well it just doesn't exactly get seen to every day..... after all, there's sharks to go swimming with !!!

Gotcha back now? Yup, we (well me, cuz Kathy's back was spasmed at the time)... went swimming with a Whale Shark just a couple of days go. It was awesome. To do this we first had to negotiate a price and a number of people with one of the local panga drivers. That taken care of, myself along with Tom and Jeanne (SV Eagle) and Robert, Ashley and Dan (SV Pacific Pacer) headed out at 0900. We were the third boat out there..and thank goodness for that because not 30 minutes later there must have been 10 boats all circling around this poor whale shark. Imagine, minding your own business... just looking for a humongous mouth full of shrimp and plankton... well just imagine suddenly being surrounded by flapping, flopping, squealing, obnoxious humans... all trying to get in your way cuz they'd heard you wouldn't hurt them... This poor guy lasted about 45 minutes before he decided to bugger off for quieter waters... couldn't blame him. But we did have a few moments of peaceful swimming with him (before the hoards arrived) under the guidance of our captain who was very good and only let 3 of us at a time into the water, and insisted we go no closer than 10 feet to him and 'be very quiet' and, well it was pretty awesome. The water was a bit murky and I didn't even see him my first time into the water.. but my second time in was different. I not only saw him, but he started swimming towards me and I had to scramble (have you ever tried to scramble with fins on??) out of his way. There's nothing like meeting a gaping wide, more than 3 feet wide, mouth about 2 feet from your face... to get your attention !! Yikes. Anyway, it was grand and/but we left... didn't want to be part of the [then] larger group of people who were harassing in their display of non-manners... We left to cherish our memories. Luckily Dan of SV Pacific Pacer and Jeanne of SV Eagle got some good photos of this wee adventure (does that make it an adventurette??). Jeanne's photos are on their blog (see link to BigLeftTurn link on right) and Dan's video..well it's not available yet.. stay tuned.

I should say something here about temperature. It's winter here. Not like for us.. of course.. this is wonderful, but for the local folks and the cruisers who have been here for some time, it's cooler... In fact, I have to admit that I guess we've become acclimatized too. Early mornings have me reaching for my fleece... The water temperature is balmy compared to swimming in the Gulf Islands. That being said, now that I'm 'mexicanized' temperature wise, I can tell you I was delighted to find out that the reason I couldn't fit into my 'new' farmer brown shortie swimming 'suit' was because it turns out Kathy had mine on and I was trying to get into hers (not going to happen.. couldn't get it past my knees ! Thought I'd really screwed up eating all those cereal bars on night watches!...). So, for now, the shortie stays. And, from what we've heard we'll be happy to use them in Feb and March as well... good thing we have 'm.

Well.. we don't swim with sharks every day. (PS: did I mention that fella wasn't really a shark or a whale??? In fact he and his relatives are just the biggest 'fish' on the planet...). Now, back to a 'normal' day.

Today is Saturday. After doing a little of that house work I so abhor... I remembered it was organic market day. Now this is an event we've been trying to get to since we arrived.. seems every time we've planned on going, something else has come up. Today, I not only had the time, I found the directions... so armed with my trusty road map, my shopping bags and a few pesos.. off I went. I found it.. I liked it... It was much smaller than I'd imagined, but I was a bit early too... I brought home a loaf of fresh bread, some shrimp (I'm going to try to make sunumono salad... the sushi restaurants here are definitely not staffed by graduates of any Japanese cooking schools) a little leather bracelet for my left wrist, two bagels and a thyme plant. It feels good to have finally experienced this market, as I've had some difficulties getting into the 'shopping mind-set'. The grocery stores are quite far away but not far enough away to take a taxi (even tho' the usual taxi ride seems to always cost 50 pesos... about $4). We usually walk to the stores, load up and then taxi back to the marina. We can't buy lots of groceries (as we'd do at home) because we just don't have anywhere to store them. Fresh veggies go soft very quickly.. don't last more than a few days. And, there's also the 'extra' prep that is required to protect our boat/home from varmints... No cardboard, no paper, and no packaging is allowed on board the mother ship. Everything has to be unpacked and put into special containers on board... Also, all fresh produce must be soaked in a mixture of water and microdyn to be certain it's clear of unwanted bacterias. It's enough to drive a lazy person like me to want to just eat soup.. oops, wait a minute, have to take those labels off too... drat. So you see, even the mundane around here.. takes time. It's no wonder we get so little actually accomplished in a day.. but we continue to try.

We do a lot of walking here... wouldn't want a car. Miles of walking almost every day I think. It's good tho'.. it's exercise and it's how you experience things and meet people. There are a number of good restaurants close to us. There's a place that makes the most amazing 'cubed' and BBQ'd flank steak... along with accompaniments and flour tortillas... and they're open 24 hours a day :-) I actually OD'd on this stuff the first week we were here. There's a great fish taco stand up by the church (a mere walk of about a mile); there's a place that apparently grills the 'best' ribs and their 'grill' is set up in the engine cavity of a chevy pick-up... and they're just down the block; and right across the street (and up one block) is a place were mom and pop will grill you a hamburger, hot dog or burrito... for pennies (practically free) and they'll even let you sit at one of the tables they've set up in their driveway. There's even a cafe right here at the marina... we're not lacking in opportunities to eat out, that's for sure.

Last night, after dark (I even stayed up for it) I hung a hook over the rail. You wouldn't believe the schools of fish that constantly circle the boat and the docks... I don't know what they'll bite on.. and after trying a few lures last night.. still don't. But it's cool to watch them... it's like floating in an aquarium. There's also some night herons and blue herons that like our end of the dock... And, well there was the space station that flew over (yup we saw it) and the cacophony of stars every night... (I could become a connoisseur of 'night caps' under the stars)... and the crackling sounds of the snapping shrimp under our boat. Now here's a story.. not only can you see them 'sparkling' with phosphorescence after dark... but we're also startled from time to time by the 'bang' of a larger fish 'hitting' the bottom of the hull as it hunts for and captures said shrimp.

Kathy's away now. She left Friday morning... headed home for a week and then to Vancouver for a week.. She'll be visiting with family and friends and doing a little work at the PSC. We miss her already. But, Sophie and I are holding up. We've tidied a bit (it was time.. considering most of the mess is mine... Who knew how many tools I'd bring and have no where proper to store them??); and shopped a bit; and soon, maybe tomorrow :-) I'll start working on the decks.. I really, really want to get them sanded, cleaned and Kiwi gripped (that's a special non-skid paint I was supposed to apply before we left home...) before she returns. There's other stuff to do too.

But.... I'll get to that.... manana.

It's been a slice chatting with you... thanks for listening... ttfn... CJ

Thursday, January 5, 2012

...comments welcome...

Hi folks, In case you missed the message, just wanted to let you know we've opened up the Blog and would love to hear your comments - should you so desire... thanks... have a great day.. CJ

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Photos are great... Videos are even better !!

Our friends on S/V Estrellita have some great video footage of the wind storm referred to in our "Northers" submission.... and the January 1st... first... Polar Bear plunge ... You can visit their Blog by clicking on the link to the right... enjoy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

CJ's Birthday Bash

(photos on this post courtesy of Jeanne Walker & Tom Brown)

Having failed to mention it yet, some of you may be wondering if we might have missed celebrating the occasion of CJ's "Big Six OOHH". Have no fear, I can tell you that she marked the day in grand style.

Every girl deserves a proper Birthday Tiara

First, I want to say a word about Carolyn's dear dad Ted. You may have heard that he fell a couple of days before Christmas and fractured his hip in three places. His doctor has decided against surgery, saying that his recovery time will be the same either way. So, he is still in hospital and working with a physiotherapist to slowly regain his mobility. With the aid of our cell phones, CJ talks to him frequently, but that just isn't the same as being there. We have our fingers crossed tight that he heals well and quickly.

As for CJ's 60th, well this definitely was a date which called for a special kind of celebration. To be perfectly honest, having had little time to explore the streets of La Paz, I was getting a wee bit nervous about how best to make this happen.  Our good buddy Jeanne came to my rescue with an offer to spend a morning with me, scouring the party stores around town. After a few hours, several miles of walking (and a couple of "La Paz's Best Shrimp Tacos"), we had found a great selection of decorations. Jeanne went home to make the perfect Birthday Tiara for CJ and then later organized the pre-party decorating bee. Thanks Jeanne!! I couldn't have done it without you!

Jeanne & Tom
  Our friends Tom and Jeanne (s/v Eagle), Neil and Kristi (s/v Liahona), Ed, Teri & Colleen (s/v SeaMoore), Dario (s/v Ballena), Carol and Livia (s/v Estrelita) and a bunch of other folks joined us for a crazy evening of food, fun and silliness at Travis and Rosie's fine local eatery "The Shack".

Good friends, good food, good fun

As I think CJ mentioned in an earlier post, The Shack's a pretty cool place with the best (wood oven) pizza I've had in years and HUGE gourmet hamburgers. Many cruisers have contributed to the decor by writing their own brand of friendly graffiti on the walls. Thusly, CJ's big day was immortalized by Tom...

All of this frivolity was accompanied by local cruiser/guitarist Wayne playing a great selection of Jimmy Buffet tunes... how muy appropo, don't you think?

Please go to our photo library to see the rest of the great party photos taken by Jeanne Walker and Tom  Brown (s/v Eagle).

Happy New Year everyone!


New Year's with a Splash

Happy New Year everyone !!

Hope whatever you did, where-ever you did it, was lots of fun. As for us, we welcomed the new year with a bit of a splash... our very own version of the infamous POLAR BEAR SWIM !!! While there were no polar bears to be found, we did do the swim... in company with good friends, warm water... and just a little synchronization...

(Photo courtesy: Tom Brown, S/V Eagle)

Please check out BigLeft Turn's blog for more great photos...

Take good care.. will write soon.

CJ and Kathy