Monday, December 30, 2013

Confessions and updates...

First, the confession:

Those of you who keep blogs will understand when I say "#!*"???#@" about the sensitivities of some of these newfangled machines called computers.  Yet again I had prepared a blog post, complete with short stories, humour and the details of our boat hunt and future plans... and then, just at that magic moment when all that was left was the salutation....  my right little finger gently swept across... barely touched.... the top of some unknown yet dastardly key... obviously camouflaged as a normal key but secretly planted as a warrior key... designed to thwart even the most careful preparations!!!!! and my submission was gone... not just hiding, but gone, gone, gone...  Even Kathy couldn't find it.

I was so mad, I put the net book away and didn't write again...  thought maybe I'd give up even.

Several days later (today) my conscience got the better of me and I realize that some of you are still waiting to hear about what's been going on with us.  Sooooo, here I am again.. back on the keyboard (with little fingers cocked up towards the ceiling :-)

And now the update:

For those of you who have been following the boat hunt, the story (without the details) goes like this...
We didn't buy the Beneteau 361, and...  we didn't buy the Catalina 36 MK II either.  Turns out the boat was suffering from a major case of lack of sustained maintenance.... the clues had been there and I'd missed them... but the truth came out in the surveys. That's the long and the short of it.

As for what we're doing now... well, Chuck the truck is packed (almost...) The outboard, dinghy and kayak will be added this afternoon and, looking a lot like ma and pa kettle on the road, we'll be heading out early on January 2nd. We decided to sit out New Years here in Mazatlan.. celebrate a bit with our friends and then head north.  We're not sure if we'll be able to fit all of the things we've collected in our little bungalow room (things like food and accessories) but we're pretty sure they'll be welcomed by some of the staff here.  The folks at Mar Y Sol Bungalows are wonderful.  The senior house keeper (Ceci) is particularly special...  She even gave us a Christmas card which I think is something pretty unique.  We'll miss these folks, but I have no doubt that as long as they're in business, we'll always stop here when we visit Mazatlan and need a land-based place to stay.

I better speed up before my finger hits that 'key' again.

Our plans are to head north to Guaymas on the 2nd, then across the border at Nogales on January 3rd. We'll then head directly for Yuma where Susan and George have found a place very near to their own for us to rent for two or more weeks.  We're really looking forward to visiting with them and to resting up a bit from the frustrations of the boat hunt. Then we'll head to San Diego to continue our search.

Also ahead is a week's vacation in Cathedral City where we'll visit with friends Ron & Dal and Kathy's mom. Marg will be flying down to join us for the week and we're looking forward to that very much.

As for the new boat? We'll know it when we find it.  As for where we'll find it? We're keeping an ear tuned to whatever's going on down here in Mexico.  Seems the government is having a titch of difficulty deciding whether they want to encourage foreign cruisers to visit Mexico or stay away. It's a long, political story... but whatever occurs over the next few weeks will likely have an impact on which direction we, and others, choose to sail.

For now, and before I accidentally delete it again....  that's our update....

Hope you all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a wonderful 2014...  Until I write again.. adios....  CJ

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ticked off in Sayulita...

First of all let me tell you that both Kathy and Miss Sophie are home... safe and mostly sound.  Now let me tell you about how that all happened.

Sophie (the Princess to her friends) was kind enough to stay at home with Susan & George while Kathy and I drove down to Mazatlan, prepared Shannon and boat shopped.  It's just too hot here to hang out in the truck while we wandered docks and so she opted instead to stay home and take care of her buddies. The plan was well executed and included Sophie joining Kathy (who went home for a few weeks to visit her mom) for the flight back... a non-stop flight... from Victoria to Puerto Vallarta.  My job was to drive down to pick them up at the airport.  We planned to spend that night and the following night in a sea-side town called Sayulita on the way home... to give Sophie a day on the beach before returning to Mazatlan.

Knowing that driving in the dark isn't all that safe in Mexico (the cows come down to the warm roads to settle in at night... and become very large speed bumps for the unaware) I planned the drive carefully.  I had to be in PV by 1200 and so, armed with maps and money for tolls, I headed out at precisely 0500 hrs.  Even at that hour there was quite a bit of traffic on the roads and to say it was easy figuring out which roads, turns, and bridges to take would be a lie.  It was awful and I had to 'guess' at least three times.  Luckily my guesses were good and after about half an hour of driving with my fingers crossed... I found myself on the highway heading to first Tepic and then Puerto Vallarta.  The road was indeed narrow and windy (as in curvaceous :-) and the traffic was heavy with large trucks and buses, as well as speeding locals and overly-cautious foreigners (like me).  The drop offs were major and the shoulders narrow.... but I got the hang of it pretty quick... even to listening to the truckers who, by flashing their left turn signals, would (supposedly and without trickery) signal the car behind them (like me who was hiding there) that it was safe to pass....  I have to admit... some of the passing was a bit hair raising.. but, hey, I'm writing this so I guess I did okay.  Anyway, back to the day.

6 1/2 hours after leaving Mazatlan I pulled in to the Puerto Vallarta airport and went inside to find my girls.  I was an hour early, so went up to the second floor to have a bite to eat.  It was moments after I big into my big, sloppy, delicious hamburger that a woman asked me what time it was.... hmmmm we looked at each other and both said at the same time... "time change".  Oops. Seems I was right on time and not an hour early.  Yes I did stuff as much as I could into my mouth (hadn't eaten for some time) and no, I didn't finish it all.  But I did rush back downstairs to the International arrival gate and start the wait.  1 1/2 hours later :-(  Sophie and Kathy came through the doors....  Seems Kath couldn't find her precious cargo right away.  Sophie, in her crate, was supposed to be carefully guarded and secured ... available for Kathy to claim at some (to be disclosed) location.  It took a while but Kathy finally found the crate with Sophie peeking out the door... going around and around... circling... with all the suitcases... on the luggage carousel....  can't you just see it...?  Anyway, the princess did fine... came out all happy and ready to go.  Once they'd cleared customs and gathered all their belongings they came out the gate and away we went....heading for some R & R in Sayulito.

This is where the story gets a little disappointing.  It took about an hour and a half to get to the town of Sayulito and, once there, we found the assistant property manager who was to take us to our little casita (Casa Serena) we had rented... and he did.  He was a nice fellow and showed us up the road to what was supposed to be our domicile for a couple of nights.  The place looked okay from the little grassy parking spot below and so up three flights of stairs we trudged.  The door was opened and it was one step in, two steps back... to allow the musty, mildewy odour out.  Not to be deterred we opened all the windows and doors (it even had a cute little balcony with two chairs on it) to allow the air to clear.  Went to check out the bathroom through two swinging doors... it was just a toilet.  Turned around and, whoops, there was the shower... outside... dignity to be protected by three shoulder high walls... hmmmm.  Other than that, the room had a bed, a little kitchen and the aforementioned balcony (oh and a fridge)... none of it looked particularly clean... but, well, it was now late in the day and there were no other accommodations available that we knew of.. and so we decided to make a go of it. Kathy scooted down the stairs to get the next set of luggage while Sophie checked out the bed as is her custom.  'Twas then I noticed movement... not the kind of movement you see out the corner of your eye and that scares you to death... but the kind of movement... on the floor... that demands you inspect more closely.  There, on the floor at the foot of the bed... were little bugs... the size of wooden match heads... about 8 of them... all crawling in various directions but generally from the area of the bed towards the light of the balcony.  Well, I've never seen a bed bug (although we always check carefully) and I didn't know what these were.  They were moving slowly enough I had time to grab a kleenex and pick them all up... then I put them in a glass... and then I put them in a ziplock.  I also called to Kathy and said "guess what, we're not staying here!!! I'll sleep in the truck before I'll stay here".  It was almost a foot stomp but I knew no stomping would be required. This was serious stuff.

To make a long story short....  the bugs were ticks.  We looked them up on the Ipad and identified them quickly. We contacted the property manager and explained we were not staying here... no matter what.  That was about when we noticed what looked like a bite on Sophie (welcome to Mexico sweetie).... now the panic escalated (dogs have been lost in Mexico due to ticks... we knew that)..  We contacted a vet who agreed to meet us at his office at 6 PM.  That was only a half hour later so we packed our things back into the truck (shaking and checking them all carefully), bundled PS (princess Sophie) back into the truck... and headed back down the hill into town and to the vets office.  There, the vet checked and said he thought it was a tick bite and then didn't have much to say at all... he wasn't a very good vet (we'd been warned by another dog owner on the street, but he was the only one open).  With that, we gave the key back to the assistant property manager (I must say he was a nice guy, very sympathetic and actually put us in contact with the property manager so we could explain our sudden departure... and our expectation of a refund).

Now for a decision.  Were we to drive to the next town, in the dark, and go door to door seeking accommodation for the night??  for two people and a dog??  chances of success?... pretty slim. Soooo, we chose to do the unthinkable.... yup, we drove home... in the dark...  Before you think us nuts, here's the reasoning... In the dark we would have looked like any other older truck on the road.. with probably two lumberjacks inside.  And as for those dastardly cows.. well, we figured we'd stick to the toll roads and fall in behind a bus or a truck and just follow them home.  That's pretty much what we did... We got back into Mazatlan at midnight, stopped at the all night MacDonalds and had a feast... we were home in our beds by 0100 hrs... and very glad to be so.

We've taken Sophie to the vet here and he confirmed that the ticks were Brown Dog Ticks... quite common in the jungle areas, and 'some' carry disease.  To our question "what risk is she at?" he explained it was like Dengue fever, a mosquito-carried problem that effects people... and not every mosquito carries it.. it's more about luck than anything... So too the tick situation... not every tick carries the disease.  The good news is... Sophie is now on anti-biotics for two weeks after which she will get a blood test done to see if there is any sign of the bug.  Caught early, this is apparently quite treat-able.. so of course we'll be on top of this.. and we have a good vet here in Mazatlan and another good one in La Paz.  Phew.

For the information of cruisers or travelers coming to this area, here is a link to some good information about Brown Dog Ticks. Of particular note is the fact that these ticks, unlike other varieties, can spend their entire life cycle indoors and can be found on the floors and walls of infected houses.

As I'm sure you can imagine, we're not too impressed with Sayulita... certainly won't be going back there with a dog.. although it's known as a 'dog friendly' town and we saw lots of them there... ours won't be going back any time soon.

It's now Sunday, December 22nd...  Christmas is three days away. We'll be having Christmas dinner with our cruising friends on the 24th and probably spend the 25th lounging about on the beach with all the other tourists.....  We're all fine, even Sophie....  so until we write again...

Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas to you and yours... may the weather gods be kind... and Santa be fair.

Carolyn, Kathy, and Sophie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


For those of you who received a posting from last February.... ooops and sorry.  Came out of outer space... no, the calendar has not wound backwards.... ttfn.. CJ

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shoot out mystery solved….

No one said they were smart…  Yup; seems the shootout down the street has a simple explanation. Word has it that a few, not so bright, fellows stole a car about a year ago and didn’t have the brains to figure out they should change the plates.  About a year later (a few days ago) a police officer spotted their car and gave chase.  Now I’m not saying the police response that followed was exactly right either, but at least they recognized the car as stolen.  Apparently the brilliant thieves led the police pursuit right to the doorstep of their rented house. Running inside, they took up some weapons they had stashed there and took a shot at the police (another brilliant move!).  Some will, I’m sure, say that surrounding the place and sending in a ton of lead by way of many hundreds of bullets from some very rapid firing and heavy bore artillery was the right thing to do.  I’m just sayin’ there may have been another way (or two) to handle the situation.  In the end, the score was bad guys zero and good guys four (banditos in custody).  Case closed (except for the extensive re-plastering job now required on the walls of the poor house).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shoot out??... all's well...

Hi folks.  Just a quick note to say all is well here.  You may hear of a wee shoot out... today... in Mazatlan.  And, yes, I believe there was.  At least I can say that about 5 minutes after arriving home to my bungalow (from my trip to La Paz which is another story I'll tell shortly)... anyway, yes... approximately 5 minutes after my taxi drove way.. what sounded like a "day at the range" from my old life, erupted about a block away.  Don't know yet who was involved, but by the numbers of uniformed police and military streaming by, I'm pretty sure the good guys won.  I'll know more when the evening news comes out I guess.  Just know I'm fine and our peaceful little neighborhood is back... well except for the massive traffic jam..but that too will clear.  Hope all is well with you... stay tuned for news of my trip to La Paz... adios.. CJ