Monday, August 18, 2014

Water World

just when we thought life couldn't get any better, Jimi found a hammock; his own piece of paradise. 

And fresh coconut water to go with his rum.

We are staying at Captain John's marina located at his personal residence; it's small, but quant. There are three other boats here, all of which the owners have flown home, until recently when one of them returned. We have access to a nice swimming pool, but it's completely shaded and very cold. I can’t stay in for more than ten minutes when my goose bumps  become the size of raisins and that’s with me floating on my raft. Jimi gets in all the way, but he doesn’t stay in more than ten to fifteen minutes either. We go in everyday just long enough to cool down. It's blistering hot here; much hotter than we’re used to.

I've been doing yoga (by myself) in the mornings between six and seven on our dock. Normally it's early enough that I am the only one up, but the other morning four or five people were out and about, walking all around me. I pushed on though. I kept my eyes closed and with my headphones on, I didn't hear much other than the footsteps on the dock. Jimi said our neighbor sat in his cockpit and ate his breakfast while he watched me. Haha - it's funny. There's a cat here named Stinky. He is the most lovable cat. He comes by to say hi and helps my with yoga every morning. He rubs against my legs and arms,flops down on my matt and grooms himself. When I need to,  I move him over. 

Stinky also visits us quite frequently on Sanibel’s deck or in the cabin. He is the nicest cat, clean and well groomed. He loves attention and making muffins. The only problem we have with stinky is his drool problem. The more we pet him, scratch his neck and the more he purrs the more he drools. I’m not talking a few drops here and there…it’s a constant dripping faucet.

 We took our cockpit cushions in to get the foam recovered. The material is tearing and has been badly damaged  from the sun. The cost is $192. It would be between $155 and $165 for the materials had we done the work ourselves. It’s  worth a few extra dollars to have it done professionally and reduce the headache for me.
 Our saloon cushions had just the opposite problem. The foam is old and broken down, whereas the fabric is like new.  So we bought new foam for $70. I’ll did the repair myself and the new foam feel fabulous on our backs. We no longer sink to the plywood when we sit.

The clothes are inexpensive here, we plan to stock up on some things. Jimi needed shorts and we found a bunch at the used clothing store in his size, name brand and in excellent condition for $5 each.. I may pick up some dresses, shirts and a few other things too. The average price for a nice shirt will be about $8 and $12 for a dress. I bought a pair of really nice flip flops for $5 and nail polish for sixty-five cents. Yes, we’re happy with the prices.

The town is compacted and bustling with activity. Not only are the streets lined with shops, but they are lined with food vendors, people carrying hammocks, jewelry, sunglasses and other things for sale. The oddest thing we’ve seen was a girl selling antibiotics and painkillers from a basket hanging around her neck, no prescription needed here. Semi trucks, tut-tuts, cars, trucks, motos, people on foot  and vendors all share the same street.

Cows hauled in a Toyota pickup - try this is the U.S.

The walking drug store.

This is a small grocery store owned by Wall-Mart. Continguent upon Wal-Mart coming into this area was the name would be Familia Despensa.

Chicken rotated over a wood fire - yummmm.

One of the first things we were told my multiple people before we went to town was… “ Do not stand by the cattle truck”. If you do, you are likely to get peed and pooped on. Yuck!

In our shopping experience we’ve found that the fruit and vegetables are among the freshest we’ve ever experienced. The bell peppers scream with flavor, the bananas stay yellow longer and the strawberry’s are available year round for a fraction of the cost in the U.S.  We can eat from a street vendor for less than we can buy food in the grocery store. Lunch one day was a piece of fried chicken (cooked on the spot) and French fries for fifteen Q ($1.90) each.

We visited an ancient castle just up river from us, Castilla de San Felipe. In the 1600s it was used to protect the area from pirates. The structure was reconstructed in 1955 and is now well maintained for visitors. It has several levels, lots of little rooms and numerous cannons looking over the river and the lake.

We took a collectivo thrity minutes inland to a natural hot springs, but with all the rain, the river was too high and roaring. We’ll go back another day to enjoy the waters.

It’s certainly hot here. Sanibel heats up and then it’s hard to get her cooled down. But we’ve found that if we spend more time outside in the shade and cool down once a day in the icy pool we are pretty comfortable. There is some breeze at the tiki palapa of the marina. I like to take my computer and books, etc. to the palapa and just spend the day. It’s rained every night since we arrived and  for a short while on most days. On one hand it’s nice to have some cloud cover and cool things off, but on the other hand it means closing Sanibel up.

A homemade Guatemalan spear gun. 

Captain John has a large screen TV with satellite in the palapa. We can actually watch American channels, but we haven’t as of yet.
Aside from exploring our new surroundings, we’ve done some lite shopping, Jimi’s been working on a few boat projects and I’ve kept busy with my various craft projects.

Double-crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus.

This is my favorite bird. It swims underwater to catch fish. It also floats along with only its head and long neck sticking out of the water and then it finds a place to spread  it's wings for drying. This one landed on the bow line. I managed to snap a photo before it flew off.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sailing from Honduras to Guatemala and more…

Captain Jimi smoking a cigar during our sail.

The winds were slightly better than predicted and the sea state was fairly calm. For the first fourteen hours we sailed with the genoa and the main sail, with little to no rolling and between four and five knots.
Instead of taking half a Stugeron every 12 hours, I decided to take half every eight hours. On our last sail the drug failed to do me any good. Actually I felt it had some unpleasant emotional side effects. Not ready to give up on this new found miracle, I decided to give it another try. This trip I was myself. There were no side effects, I was up and moving about. Although I didn’t push my luck for the most part I remained in the cockpit or horizontal below deck. At least I was able to fend for myself getting water, food, a camera, etc. Someone might argue the light sail had something to do with it and that this sail wasn’t a true test for the drug. Yes, I could agree. But for now, I’ll take it. Our next sail will most likely be in January 2015.
Approaching 10pm the winds died and we began to roll. We could see moisture building in the clouds around us, but we weren’t hit with any squalls. A few stars watched over us, but the moon was absent. Still with little to no wind we pushed on at four knots through the night. Cargo ships appeared all around us. Since we still have no chart plotter he wasn’t able to track them and their direction. Jimi had a difficult time determining which direction they were going so he could dodge them.
Our batteries became critically low and Jimi was forced to run the engine for an hours or so to keep our autopilot and running lights fed.

By Saturday morning we were skating across a shiny flat ocean of glass and wind was a thing of the past. Going one knot wasn’t even an option so we did the one thing we say we never do and we motored rest of the way. 

Not wanting to check in until Monday morning we anchored in a small bay about ten miles away. Monday afternoon we sailed with next to no wind slower than a turtle crawl to Livingston. The entry in to the Rio Dulce is infamous among sailors as being shallow and a bit tricky. We have the advantage of a short keel, however without a chart plotter it made for some tense moments. We had no problems getting through and all went smoothly.
When we arrived at 5pm Jimi hailed the harbour master, but we got no reply. We settled in for the night. Just about sunset we watched dozens of fishing boats heading out to sea. The harbour was bustling with water taxis, fishing boats and as many pelicans as there were people.

Tuesday morning sitting in the cockpit with our morning coffee about 6:30 am all those fishing boats that went out the night before were returning and on the tail of each one were all sorts of birds looking to score a free snack. 

Jimi headed in to shore about 9:30am to find immigration and customs. The entire process went fairly smooth, it took about four hours and nearly three hundred dollars. That gives us a three month visa and Sanibel twelve months. 

We ate a late lunch at a charming little place on the water. We ordered the quesadillas with beans and salsa, three slices of vegetable pizza and two coca-colas. Our total bill was 82Q ($12). 

The view while eating lunch.

Jimi was excited to begin up river so we decided we’d motor seven miles to a natural hot spring. If we hurried we’d get anchored before dark.

The river is amazing. It’s just like something you’d see out of the movies. It’s about five hundred feet wide surrounded by canyon walls covered in lush jungle trees and vines. Occasionally we’d see some houses and children playing off the bank. This, my friends, is not your touristy paradise. This is real life. These people live this everyday: the beautiful terrain, plentiful vegetation and life on the water. We were pleasantly surprised not to see trash floating in the river like we saw in Honduras’ oceans. Everything we’d witnessed to this point was clean; it looked clean and it smelled clean. The water’s muddy, but that’s to be expected river water. 

We anchored just outside the hot springs before dark. Jimi raised the dinghy, to avoid potential theft, and we called it a night.
About 8am the following morning, we went to visit the hot spring. The spring is located on the river bank nestled at the foot of the jungle canyon wall. The water can more be described as pockets of cold, cool, warm, hot and sometimes really hot. It’s especially hot were the sulfur spring water is released from between the limestone rocks. We sat for a short while until I could no longer handle the small underwater creatures either brushing up against or nibbling at my feet. Once Jimi came to expect the action, he didn’t mind and stayed in a bit longer while I visited with him from the walkway. We’re not sure if the friendly creatures were crabs or fish. Whatever they were, they were harmless enough and yet I preferred not to be tasted.

That afternoon we exited the river in to a large lake. We sailed across the almost fourteen miles to the river again. Shortly we began seeing numerous marinas and dozens of masts. It was another couple of miles before we reached the bridge, which we had to go under to get to our marina. And just at sunset we anchored past the marina Sanibel will call home for the next five months. 

A bird caught himself a big fish.

Gas station in the water.

The next morning we dinghied over to notify Captain John of our arrival and check out the docking situation. Captain John was out of town and expected to return that evening, but we managed to get past the language barrier with his Guatemalan wife and the maintenance man for docking instructions.

Captain Jimi

Backing Sanibel in between two boats with a strong current hitting our port side went as well could be expected. Jimi’s description of Sanibel’s ability to back up is that of a wounded rhinoceros. With helpers on the bow of the boats around us and another on the dock, some pushing, pulling and prodding Sanibel is in place and here we sit.
While we haven’t had a chance to check out the area yet, it’s quite different than what we were expecting: things are spread out and the river is much wider . From what others have told us about the area I expected a much tighter knit community between all the marinas. It’s said there could be as many as 600 boats here.
When we’re able to get a bit more acclimated, I’ll fill you in on more details of the area and it’s activities.

Aren’t boats suppose to sit above water?