Friday, November 29, 2013

No, I haven’t been arrested… yet

So what is up with me and the police??  My luck’s going to run out soon; thought I’d better fess up.  This time I deserved to be stopped… sort of.  I was following directions I’d scribbled on a small piece of paper… directions to a place far, far away from anywhere I’d been previously in Mazatlan.  No, it wasn’t reading the chicken scratch on the piece of crumpled paper that got me into trouble… and no, it wasn’t me doing something reckless as I blasted past the corner I was supposed to turn at… I just kept going and did yet another U turn (they’re not illegal here) and came back to the intersection.. only going in the other direction.  This turn of events resulted in me needing to go left instead of right… and you know what they say about left turns.. at least Victor used to say this… (but that’s another story). Anyway, those of us who know…. know that if left turns were banned the decrease in traffic accidents would be huge… OK, I’m a little off topic.  So there I was, waiting to turn left at this rather major and busy intersection.. and didn’t I end up being stuck out there in never never land when the flashing green arrow… stopped.  Now at home, in Canada, (at least where I come from) it’s considered rather rude to either back up into the car behind you … or stay where you are, blocking the intersection.. The normal thing to do is to move forward slowly and when safe to do so… complete your left turn.  Which is EXACTLY what I did. Hmmrph, I hadn’t even finished clearing the intersection before I heard the heart -stopping whoop whoop behind me.  Rats… stopped again.. and this time I was guilty… I think.

A rather rotund policeman (a Policia Traffica kind of a guy) came to my door and as he neared my window I said “lo siento senor… (I’m sorry sir)  the green light stopped flashing and I couldn’t backup”. He then jabbered away at me in rapid Spanish, most of which I didn’t understand.. although I did kind of get that he wanted to see my driver’s license.. and so I fished it out of my wallet and again… stupidly… handed it to him.  All the guide books say not to do that and to carry copies of the thing.. so I did the opposite… yup, no copies and I gave it up… mucho stupido.  Then he spoke again and I gathered he wanted to see my insurance. In my nervousness (why oh why do I get so nervous?) I handed him my BC insurance which, of course, means nothing… then I fished out the Mexican Insurance but forgot to turn it to the Spanish side, so the poor bloke was left looking at all kinds of papers all in English.  I’m sure you can imagine the problem. At this point he asked me if I spoke any Spanish… even a teeny little bit.  And, of course, I replied “no senor, lo siento”.  He didn’t know what to do then… so he started jabbering again.. I did catch the word “ticket'” and I said “OK then, give me the ticket”.  Then I caught the word “station” and I said “OK then, let’s go to the station, I will follow you”.  I just kept talking and explained several times I would follow him and then, just like the last time, I reached out and grasped the end of my DL sticking out of his hand. Still talking, I pulled it slowly out of his hand while I explained that I would need my DL in order to drive my truck so that I could follow him to the station… He was pretty flustered by now but he did walk back to his car and get in.  He pulled slowly away and drove around me and I began to follow him.  I briefly thought about making a run for it but realized I’d probably end up being shot at the end of a car chase… and, besides, if I took off he’d probably never trust another tourista… ever.  So off I went, following this police car as he sped through the streets, changing lanes and turning corners left and right without signalling…  And we drove farther and farther away from the intersection where this all started.  I began to worry that maybe he was leading me into a trap at his brother-in-laws place. where a gang of banditos would have their way with me… well, at least maybe steal Chuck the truck… but that didn’t happen… and finally he pulled to the curb and I pulled in behind him.  I was a little worried at this point as we seemed to be in a very broken down, dusty, poor part of town… and I wasn’t getting out… not yet anyway.  I locked my door just in case.  The officer walked back to my truck and pointed to a space across the road he wanted me to park in.  Now I wasn’t meaning to disobey… but I did have to ask “Senor… where is the station?”  I wasn’t getting out without a station.  He pointed back over to my right.. and there I saw, to my relief, his station…  It had been blocked by the sagging and dusty trees on that side of the road.  Phew.  So I pulled over and parked and he walked up to my window and again asked if I spoke even a bit of Spanish… again I replied “no senor”.  Are you finding this as 'intriguing' as I did…?  I’m not sure what he thought I was speaking… or maybe.. oh I just got it.. maybe my accent was so lousy it sounded like some other language and not Spanish at all. Hmmmm.  Anyway, I gathered up my papers and got out of the truck and stood beside him while I said.. "Ok let’s go".  He looked at me with almost sadness in his eyes… he shook his head and he said something (I don’t know what) but he motioned with his arm, pointing down the street ahead of Chuck (the truck).  I looked at him and I said in my clearest non-Spanish English “Sir, are you saying I can get in my truck and drive away now?”  And he said “Si”.  We shook hands and I thanked him… and then I got into Chuck and got the heck out of Dodge.

It took me over half an hour to find that fateful intersection  again… and I was able to finally arrive at my destination… I’d been within a block of it when I got pulled over.  I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story or if it’s just another ‘happening’ in this crazy life.  But I can tell you…. I will be watching those flashing lights even more carefully now…. I HATE GETTING PULLED OVER.
On another note; it’s possible some of you have been wondering what’s going on with us and why we haven’t written. Well, for starters, the internet connection where we’re staying has been off and on… mostly off, for the past week.  Today, it finally came back up enough to access the Blog. Yeah!  Hereafter follows a brief over-view of what’s happening in Mulhaley land.

Kathy’s at her moms having a great pre-Christmas visit.  They’ve been doing all kinds of good things.. visiting friends, going out for dinners, working on sorting stuff in the house, going to Tai Chi, and playing on the beach (Sophie’s favourite thing to do).  Kathy and the princess return to Mazatlan (flying in to PV) on December 14th and we’re all very excited about getting back together again.  I’ll be driving down to pick them up and we’re planning on taking an extra day in Sayulita before returning to Mazatlan.  Kathy’s found a nice place for us to stay that is either right on the beach, or quite near to it.. We’ll have fun.

I have been tending the home fires here at Mar Y Bungalows.  I haven’t been bored or lonely.  There’s been tons of things to do and lots of folks to visit with.  Besides puttering on Shannon, I’ve been heavily engaged in looking for a new boat for us.  You’ll recall Kathy was checking out two Freeport Islanders on her way north, and I had a line on a third one in the Sea.  The people we met were wonderful… really nice folks. The boats turned out to each be a little more work than we wanted… and so we agreed to keep looking.  I spent hours and hours walking docks and searching the yacht listings of which there are hundreds.  And, while it can be said there are lots of boats for sale in Mexico… our quest did not come up with one. We found that the boats for sale are larger and heavier than we want for BC and, for the most part, the ones that weren’t project boats waiting for help… were outside our budget.  We were getting very frustrated. One day, about a week ago, one of our friends suggested searching yacht world using our budget parameters instead of searching for a specific make of boat.  His goal was to ‘see what’s out there’.  Thanks to Ron’s theory, we have found a boat that seems to meet our criteria and is close enough to the top end of our budget to be ‘doable’. We have an accepted offer on her and I leave on Sunday to travel to La Paz to begin a week of inspections and survey.  I expect we’ll know by next weekend if we indeed have found our ‘new ride’.  For those of you who are asking… it’s a Beneteau Oceanis 361 and has quite a bit of cruising equipment on it already. This boat is a 2001 and has had only one owner and never been chartered.  All these things are important.  She looks to be in very good condition but that’s what inspections and surveys need to confirm.

So, my friends, stay tuned.  If I don’t get arrested for being a bad driver :-) we may have just found our new boat and be ‘back in the saddle again’.  I’ll write next week (assuming we’ll have internet) and tell you how it went.

I hope you’re all well and getting prepared to deal with the cold weather up there…. snow… yikes!!!  It’s getting cooler here too… but there’ s kind of no comparison is there.  So, take good care… have some fun… and laugh lots… talk to you in a week.  Adios…..   CJ

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Feels like time to check in…

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  Kathy’s on her way home to visit with mom for a few weeks and I’m here holding down the fort and keeping Shannon company.  It’s been a while since I’ve filled you in on how things are going… feels like it must be time to check in.

We’ve been here, in Mazatlan, since Oct. 26th and we’ve been lucky enough to secure lodgings at Bungalows Mar Sol… a family run motel kind of a place… within walking distance of El Cid (that’s the place with nice pools and a small marina where some of our friends are staying) and a short drive to Marina Mazatlan (Shannon’s current home and also filled with cruisers we know and like).  We’ve been busy (in the exhausting and humid heat) clearing our stuff out of Shannon and preparing her for her new life with Bill and Juliana. We had hoped to meet them on November 8th when they were planning to arrive, take over Shannon and do some sailing in the Sea of Cortez.  Unfortunately Bill was in a serious motor-cycle accident just days before they were to leave South Africa and he’s been in the hospital ever since.  The good news is Juliana has reported he’s coming home soon and, although they won’t make it here this year (by the end of Dec) they are hoping and planning to arrive in January, once Bill is recovered enough to travel comfortably.  Unfortunately that means we won’t be able to meet them personally (we’ve got to get on with our plans too) but we’ve had a wonderful connection with Juliana over Skype and are keeping in touch via email….and so, the time passes… as we all wait to move forward with our plans. We know that the good ship Shannon will be a wonderful and nurturing ‘home’ for Bill to continue his recovery in and we hope they both are able to enjoy their visit to Mazatlan and the large and supportive cruising community.

Most of you know we’re hunting for the ‘perfect’ next ‘ride’.  I wish I could tell you we’ve found our dream boat… but we haven’t yet. Don’t be sad…  half the fun is in the search :-) altho’ it can be frustrating at times.  Kathy’s checking out two Freeport Islanders (the FI 36 is at the top of our list) on her way north… and I’ve been in touch with another in Puerto Escondido…  time will tell if one of these boats might work out.  Our challenge is we’re looking for a boat that’s not too big, but big enough…. with a perfect interior layout (and a good sailboat of course)… with either an off-set V berth, a pullman berth or a V berth and an aft cabin with a double… and a shower, and self-tailing winches, and pressure water, and hot water, and ample storage… stuff like that… and so the search continues.  Oh, I should mention… the perfect boat also has to be within our budget.. ha!  And, one more thing… we’re not wanting a project boat…  We know there will always be things to improve and fix, etc.  But we don’t want to spend another year of our lives, fixing a boat up well enough to continue our explorations… we’re hoping to find that ‘perfect’ boat that we can head out with, and improve as we go…. and when we want.  Not too much of a challenge hey.  In case you’re out there and find something in your travels… boats that interest us include Freeport Islander 36, Ericson 38, Passport 37, Fast Passage 39, PS Crealock 37, and other such vessels. If the price and location were right, we’d also look at a Catalina 34 or 36.

So, that’s where we’re at now. We’re both fine… just moving along and ahead with our plans.  Kathy (and the princess) will return on Dec. 14th.  I’ll be picking them up in PV as theirs is a direct flight from Victoria to PV (essential when puppies are along for the ride). Unfortunately PS (princess Sophie) is too tall to fit under the seat in the cabin… so she gets to travel as a suitcase. Luckily it’s a short 5 hour flight… shorter say than… a day at the groomers.. so we’re pretty sure she’ll weather the storm and, after forgiving us for the indignities, be glad to see us and delighted to play on beaches every day.  Talk about bribery :-)

I think that’s about all for now… just know we’re well… and hoping the same for all of you.  Take good care… we’ll talk again soon.  CJ

I’ve been practising with photos… and/but haven’t nailed down the caption thing yet… so just use your imagination to figure out which photos match the words…  :-) ttfn


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Even Princesses need their ‘things’                    Early morning down our street                              Sophie’s beach awaits her…

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Did we mention, our truck was full on the way down !!!!                   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sometimes when it rains, it just makes things greener…

It was the afternoon of March 6, 1999 and I almost died… by drowning… oh, and by putting my left foot on backwards.  Got caught in some huge waves off the beach in '”old town” Puerto Vallarta.  That’s a rather long story for today… but the part I want to share with you, is what I learned.  I came away with a whole new appreciation for waking up each morning and I learned that all those things that had seemed so critical… weren’t. It kind of changed my perspective on a lot of things. But that’s not what I want to share with you either.  I’m responding to the urge to tell you about a woman named Padyavallee (n/k spelling but that’s how it sounds).  I met her on the airplane, flying home from LAX. We had both boarded early; me because I was in a wheel chair with my very broken, casted leg stuck out front, and she… well I never did know why.  I never asked.  My good fortune was that she was right across the aisle from me. I had the aisle seat and Kathy and my leg shared the other two seats… We’d been lucky enough to meet someone in PV who knew someone in the airlines… and well, didn’t we end up with three seats all to ourselves and free vodka for that leg of our journey :-) But I digress.
As our flight continued north to the cold land, we were watching TV. I had no idea how many commercials have large waves in them… and I whispered that very thing to Kathy and explained how every time I saw a wave I was instantly transported back into ‘mine’. Not too long later, I was chatting with this woman across the aisle from me.  She was slight of build and dressed in East Indian garb, but she was Caucasian and explained she was heading home to North Van… having been studying in New Delhi.  She told me that her sister had tripped and landed on her face on a sidewalk and injured herself quite badly… and that she had flashbacks for a while, but they had faded. I asked her how she knew I was having flashbacks and she just smiled and sat back to rest. Later in the flight we spoke again.  This time I told her about my accident and about how close I had come to dying.  To that she responded:  “You know, life is like a drop of water on the edge of a leaf”. That one rocked me.  So simple, yet so profound.  This time I sat back to consider the image.  And finally, as we neared the end of the journey, we spoke again.  This time I told her I’d figured out that I probably wouldn’t be getting back to work anytime soon and that, if I had to miss a chunk of time at work, this was probably a good time… 'cuz I had a boss that was ruining my work place and I was so angry with him I was pretty close to giving him a shove that would land me in jail….  And to that…. she replied…. “Sometimes when it rains… it just makes things greener.”
This flight, this woman and her pearls of wisdom, have stayed with me ever since.  I’ve shared them from time to time but last night, listening to the rains pour down and remembering how beautiful, fragrant and fresh the streets of Mazatlan were after the last downpour, I was reminded of Padyavallee and I wanted to share. I hope you’ve enjoyed and will gain value from this wisdom as I have.  This rain in Mazatlan has most definitely “made things greener”.
Adios… CJ

Friday, November 1, 2013

Two sides to every coin... and ours is golden.

We had lunch at El Cid today.  After getting to Shannon early so it wasn't as hot, and after rebuilding the heads toilet (CJ work) and installing the new E meter (Kathy work) we downed tools and headed over to the El Cid Resort and Marina to have lunch in the shade by the pool.  'twas sitting there, looking out upon the sight of kids frolicking in the pool, the palm trees waving in the freshening breeze (more about that later), the deeply clear blue sky above, the brilliant green iguana's lounging on the rocks, and the pangas and the like plying the waters of the entrance channel... that I became aware, yet again, of how very fortunate we are.  Not just lucky to be here; but fortunate in our lives... in the fact that we met and shared the same dreams and the same sort of courage that allowed us to do what we did.  No, it wasn't easy getting ourselves and our boat ready to take on the west coast of North America... And, no, it wasn't easy to walk away from our friends and families... to abandon our comfortable home (which at 1780 sq. ft. seemed small at times)... and to move lock, stock and barrel, into a home that was 32' long and 11' wide at it's widest point... (hmmm I think that's something like 352 sq ft). No, there were easier things we could have chosen to do, but we didn't.

And that's what makes this side of the coin so very golden and so very shiny.  The work of it all... even in this heat and humidity... well, as they say.. that's the price we pay to get to sail in paradise. So on those occasions... when you sometimes, might hear me whine a bit... please forgive my weakness... and know that really, in my heart, I'm so very proud of us for being here.. and so darn pleased to be experiencing this... We're not done here by a long shot... and we'll find our new 'ride'... and we'll be back in the Sea.  We have much yet to explore and experience.

Now then.. about the other side of this coin... you may have heard of tropical depression Eighteen-E.
Seems this wee bit of wind and water hasn't read the book where it says that all tropical storms shall be over and done with by the end of October... and Eighteen-E has come around and seems determined to pass right over top of us.  Not don't worry when I tell you this.  The Mexican insurance companies aren't worried at all... (of course they use a different web-site than we sailors do...:-)  Our plan is to pop down to Shannon tomorrow morning and take her dodger back off (this will give us a chance to treat the zippers...) and take off her shade cloth tarps... and maybe wrap up the propane tank apparatus...  and she'll be fine.  She's still got double dock lines and big snubbers... and her marina is further inside the estuary.  Once Shannon's all set, we'll retreat to the comforts of our little bungalow where we have TV, wifi, air conditioning (which is good cuz it's really muggy), food and drink. Now, for you worriers  (Laura :-) there's every reason to believe the storm will bypass us all together and could even turn again and head back out to sea.. or just dissipate and disappear.  The good news is we have a plan and we have rum (and tequila... and Jamiesons... and beer)... and a great restaurant (Pancho's) right beside us... So we'll be fine and even have a chance to catch up on our reading :-)

That's all for now... Grant will be here soon and it's time to go out and pay our respects to the dead.
TTFN (ta ta for now)  CJ.