Friday, May 28, 2010


Rain, rain go away, come again… when we are gone

I love the rain, the sound of it, the green it leaves behind, the gem looking water drops on the banana leafs, the way my coffee tastes as this happens, the homey feeling of any under roof place, plus when its not accompanied by cold, but instead the perfect temperature, how much better could it get?., well.. its enough! The mold is growing faster than we can attack; we need sunshine quickly or will be growing mushrooms in the boat. Now, I get why the cruising books recommended to mark all canned goods with its content (the labels fall), why you want to put all the fabrics in plastic bags, why electronics go to hell, why the tropics can be ferocious on your possessions. Tomorrow we will be going to the boat to asses the situation.. I am really scared for what I will find!
In between rain clowds I have managed, for the last 2 days to go to the beach and take Melissa’s dogs for a run. I just love it! No one is there, just a few other dogs. I feel inspired to exercise! I run, I review some martial art techniques (just in case someone is hiding in the bushes) and I throw coconuts for one of the dogs. Amazingly, before we enter the beach, she finds a fallen coconut; she husks it and takes in, hoping I will play. She will swim for it, go under water to find it, get smashed by waves and if she doesn’t succeed, then she goes to get a new one and repeats the process.

Thievery and weather are playing against our “living-it-up” idea.

Apparently, piracy is a common occurrence and we have been advised to have some one on the boat at night and for the last 4 days we are experiencing “temporales” (rain storms) with some heavy swells. With so many threats to our “floating home”, Matt has been sleeping there. He eats dinner with us, he puts on his swimming short, kisses us goodnight, puts the kayak over his head and walks away to return in the morning for breakfast. He doesn’t complain, but I know he worries deeply, his nights are uncomfortable and it is definitely not his favorite choice.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A week in Costa Rica today.

It has been a week and one day since we arrived, the girls and I moved in to my sister-in-law’s house. She seems to be willing to have us around. I try to be helpful to her to lighten up the load of having us, I try to be quite to not disturb the household routine, but the truth is that the only way to be unnoticeable in someone’s home is.. to be out!.... We didn’t get out!.. they did!. They left today for a family vacation and we are home sitting. In my defense, they had this trip planned for a while, we are not the reason..hehe.

Matt ‘s sister and her family have lived in Costa Rica for over 18 years running a well known sport fishing business ( Their house is just half a block from the beach and it is naturally fenced behind by a good sample of the rain forest. It’s a wonderful place! Every morning I wake up with what one would think is the alarming roars of a beast, but it is the howl of a cute little monkey protecting their space!! The Howler Monkey! They live up in the trees, so it is difficult to see them, but possible. The girls have seen them and as expected, they love it, almost as much as the several talking parrots in the neighborhood and the fireflies in the garden at night.

I have enjoyed so much being here with them, cooking together, sharing a glass of wine in the evenings, planning our futures, helping each other. Not to mention the luxuries of having a home; showers, clean linens and clothing, wide spaces, a yard, a large kitchen where you don’t have to move items back and forth to get into the fridge, a toilet that you don’t need to pump, satellite TV, 24/7 internet.

Arrived in Costa Rica

Its May 19th, the day I turned 39. For some reason, hormones, maybe or just the high expectations one carries this day always ends up being an emotional day for me. However, I was treated to a traditional Costa Rican breakfast by Richard while Matt executed all the paperwork to enter the country. Later that day we entered the bay of Potrero where Melissa (my dear sister-in-law) Kiara (My niece) and her boyfriend Andres where waiting for us on the beach! We had a Margarita and dinner at “Las Brisas” (a local restaurant), where they cooked the shrimp that Richard traded for us with the shrimpers we ran into while sailing earlier that day. Later, at her house, she pulled out a chocolate cake out of the fridge. Delicious and very special. Thank you Melissa!

We must leave El Salvador that day!

“The bar to exit the Bay is smaller by ten percent” says Rogelio, the pilot who guides the boats in and out of the river.
4 AM Matt gets the documentation ready to meet Immigration and Port Captain and get our “Zarpe” (permission to leave). He returns by 5:00. We tie everything down, close all the hatches, put the dinghy on deck and hoist anchor. We approached the bar which still looked very intimidating. The timing had to be perfect, the direction had to be extremely accurate. Gregorio, the pilot, looked nervious. He warned us of all the possible mistakes. “if the boat is thrown sideways, I don’t even want to imagine what will happen” he says. Richard is standing on the bow of the boat counting the waves, Matt is at the helm keeping the boat straight and on reverse mode until the signal is given. At that point he has to go full throttle to escape the next set of waves. He only has a minute and a half to cross. I was working hard on keeping myself out of the way with camera on hand to get that perfect shot of the waves breaking on the bow. As I am ready to shoot, the kids woke up seasick and hot.. the boat was slamming hard on the water, bobbling in all directions. The boat was an oven. There was a lot of anxiety; we were ready for the worst, hoping the best. The signal was given, I could hear the motor roaring, instructions were coming in all direction; “keep it straight”, “faster” “almost there” “YOU MADE IIIT!!” Great feelings of relief were expressed. We were out!, free!. Our two day passage begins!

The Clinic in El Salvador

Samantha and I walked to the road to catch the bus that would drop us in front of the clinic, half an hour waiting and still no bus. An SUV took the wrong turn and lucky for them, I asked if they could give us a ride. A little hesitant they accepted and took us. We got there, asked if the doctor could see her and waited, waited.. waited along with many other sick children. The service reminded me of my experience in the hospitals in Chile, poor, unfriendly, courtesy is not in the employee handbook. I tried to put myself in place of the personnel and I did manage to sympathize with them. Underpaid, depressing setting, depressing experiences and exposed to illness great part of the day. I must say that in the end, despite the wait I received a very competent service and best of all I didn’t have to pay a penny and the prescription was included. In contrast, the day before I went with another cruiser to see a doctor in a private office and for only $10 she received a top notch service. Would I have paid $10? Of course, but it was Sunday and in a different town. We just didn’t have that option. What is wrong with the US anyway? Why to see a doctor for 5 min costs $100 plus the monthly premium we pay for insurance? It sucks!

Will we depart from El Salvador today?

Its Sunday, the day we schedule for departure, but the bar to enter or exit Bahia del Sol is extremely high and no boats are able to leave, we are no exception, the capabilities of Matt and Richard are just not enough to fight mother nature. We are staying an extra day, hoping that tomorrow the waves would be a little smaller. Richard took a day off from us and board under arm hoped in a bus that took him to where the good waves are. We stayed by the pool most of the day. My only break from the luxurious life style and encounter with the reality of El Salvador was when Samantha started complaining of earache. I figure it would be best to take her to the clinic.

Trip to La Herradura

We finally made it up the river to the town where we could finally find some produce, milk and read. The river ride was beautiful. Mainly because it was decorated by the fishermen in their charming dugouts!

Besides the food we needed, also found the clothing store where for a $1 I was able to buy myself a perfect, super sexy shirt and Matt a perfect fitting pair of shorts for $2! I can’t recognize myself when I think of the older days walking through the mall spending $100’s on clothing. No matter how much money I spend, I still get the satisfaction of buying something.. I am still a shopaholic! (I confess!).

It was in this town where I found the most decorated, ruffled up aprons, yellow, black, white, pink, blue with lace, with flowers with secret pockets with golden thread, etc. All the women wear them during hours of labor. I had to get one, thje secret pocket may become handy!
Our last stop was at the bakery; mud ovens, fire going full, dough rising, men rolling and the flies exploring. I bought a few rolls, despite the flies. At this point my body needs them!.

Our least favorite experience in El Salvador

It was riding the bus the store 20 miles away. The speed, the crowd, the loud music, the safety, the yelling “dale, dale” (means go go!!) wow! Overwhelming! The kids were ready to recycle their breakfast! When it was time to get off the bus, I found myself saying a little prayer..hehe. They literally grab you and pull you off. “Apurence, apurence” (hurry, hurry). We got to the “store”. Interestingly, but not surprisingly it was empty; 3 workers and the 4 of us. It was expensive and poorly stocked. Someone told me that a typical wage in the area was US $6 to 8 a day. A can of tuna cost $2, a beer $1 (this is not a reflection of my priorities, just my memory; It didn’t have much more than that anyway!) I wondered then, how can they afford to buy food? Or the prices get hyped up when they see the gringos?. Well I had to ask! The answer was simple; they don’t eat can tuna! They eat beans and rice, plenty of fruits, eggs and PAPUSAS!.

We bought Samantha a new pair of flip-flaps!! She was so happy, she grabbed the old ones and gave them to a little girl across the street.

Our Favorite experience

Of the few experiences we had in the country, I would say “Papusas” was my favorite. A typical Salvadoran dish made with filled corn tortillas.. mmm good! The filling could be pork, beans or cheese; they are topped with pickled cabbage and a tomato sauce and can be purchased for 50 cents!!! The final bill was like the MSG to the food!, the flavor enhancement. For less than 10 dollars, 5 people could be fully fed!

Partipation in the El Salvador Rally

The main reason we stopped at El Salvador was to participate in the Rally. I am glad we did! I never expected Salvador to be so beautiful. I would like to come back one day and explore further into the country. Our time was limited and it got quickly filled with the everyday events at Hotel Bahia del Sol, one of the organizers of the Rally, such as: bocce ball tournaments, happy hours, music jam, fitness classes, river dinghy float and a wonderful party at the end. Samantha was thrilled playing bocce. She was good!. She and I were a team and despite loosing the tournament we put a very good fight. Loosing was not a bad thing, a Tecate by the pool sounded much more reasonable that time of the day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tabblo: Sailing Endurance to El Salvador

Tras una travesia de 4 dias por el temido Golfo de Tehuantepec, llegamos al hermoso pais, El Salvador. Con sus volcanes, sus cautivadoras playas, la gente amable, las mujeres con sus delantales, magicos amaneceres y sus famosas PAPUSAS!! (Tortillas rellenas).

... See my Tabblo>

Saturday, May 15, 2010

4th day. El Salvador!!!

Its 5 in the morning, since I didn’t do the night watch I offered to do the morning one. I realized that it is a very desirable time. Matt had kept it a secret all these months. Richard didn’t want to go to bed and Matt wanted to wake up to see the sunrise and take the boat closer to shore. The 3 of us ended up in the cockpit, mesmerized by the light display of the morning sunshine and energized by the incredible sites of El Salvador Coast and the commotion of two fishing lines going out successfully and returning with 2 sierras macros for tonights dinner. By 9 in the morning we had a full breakfast served in the cockpit with chayote and carrot cake,eggs, ham, cheese, semi-freshly-squeezed oranges.

A few minutes ago I could barely keep my eyes open, but as I am preparing the bed I found in the snack hole a bag of Passion fruit jelly covered with dark chocolate.. such a pretty picture.. mmm. Such an interesting combination, how long are we going to save this snack?. I just allowed myself to have one, but one was not enough to enjoy the full flavor 2, oh well a hand full, the bag is open, I will take one more... so I lost track how many went in. Now I am awake again

3rd day passage; I love this, I love it not, I love this, I love it not…

How hectic can it get? Matt is undisposed, collapsed on the back seat of the cockpit, he opens his eyes just to roll them, to let me know he is unavailable, sick, sick. If he has to get up he barks, he feels awful and he probably wants to turn me into a frog. Richard on the other hand is tired, has only slept a few hours here and there for the last couple of days. He is down bellow trying to sleep. I, I… well I still have 2 girls asking for water, lunch, dinner, snacks, play time and its all an emergency. I keep cool for the first few requests, but as I am serving water, I get a call from the bathroom asking for “unroyal” assistance I realized the witchy side of me revives!!. I got most things under control, all grounds covered, poorly, but covered. Matt wakes up and tells me he is sorry.. what an opportunity for me to let him know how inconvenient his sickness is. On the other hand, I can see the anger already if I say anything, I retract, I mumble, I controlled myself. By 9 o’clock at night he is doing better and he offered to do my watch, so this time I could actually fall asleep with the girls. How nice! Knowing that the next day we would be at Bahia del Sol, our destination, put me in a wonderful mood..

This is Home

Purple baby in her arms, Trinidad walks the cockpit up and down in search for merchandise to deliver to Samantha’s store and candy factory. The playdough has become marshmallow, skittles , mini cupcakes and vanilla-strawberry patties. The customers are coming; Benee (the dog), buttercup (the rabitt), Holiday Bear (the bear) and Pink baby (doll#2). There are no dull moments in the life of these 2 girls, they are home, moving or not, its home!.

Mother’s day at sea.

Well, better than I thought, they remembered! I got the greetings when I opened my eyes, I even got a cup of coffee. I can’t really complain for much, celebrations are difficult while on the go. My kids do so many little things that make my day, I could never question their love and appreciation they have for their mother. Could I say that this day was uneventful? Never! In fact, I was able to go for a swim in the deep blue sea! Literally, DEEP BLUE!. No land on sight, in the middle of nowhere. My only paranoia was the thousand fins than could have been surrounding me. I remained closed to the latter and practice in my mind the escape.

Matt and Richard called their mother and sister/wife on the satellite. I wished I could have placed that call. My mother is gone, 5 years ago she lost her painful battle with Cancer. I guess I can always pray for her and be faithful that her soul is with me and listening. She was such a wonderful mother. I still feel her presence, I could still hear her words, her songs and I could still see her smile. She was my friend, she loved me, I loved her… I do!. I got that knot again! SWALLOW, SWALLOW.. I want to scream and cry, but I must conserve the water in the system.. BREATH! BREATH!. Oh hec! I can’t control it unless I change the thoughts!.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The longest passage begins

Its midnight, May 8th, Matt is sleeping on the cockpit besides me, Richard is down bellow getting his last hour of snooze before he takes over the watch and the girls are spread out in the V-birth legs and arms over each other’s faces. I have been here for a couple of hours shuffling music on the Ipod and being bombarded with thoughts of what should be blogged about. I debate weather to turn on the computer, I don’t want to affect my watch, but I cant just stare at the horizon for too long especially when darkness makes it uninteresting. The stars have not change much since the last time I look, no wonderful display of shooting stars, comets, UFO to see, no scary looking moon, nothing, nothing to impress my readers at this time. On the other hand, the wind, fresh air, smooth ride and nice music result very inspirational. So, here I am trying to recapitulate those thoughs, ideas, experiences and digging through my brain for witty words to keep a possible audience captivated.

We left the dock with the intention to spend one night out, anchored in one of the beautiful bays to give Richard one more experience in Mexican waters. We arrived in Maguey beach, clean the boat bottom that desperately needed it, swam a little more, Richard went spear fishing, but found nothing more that cute little fish with smiles, nothing to spear. It was dinner time and we were wiped from one side to the other making the stay an impossible idea. We pulled anchor and headed out to cross the feared, abominable Tehuantepec. Lets get it done!. We all agreed. About 30 miles passed Huatulco Matt had the bad idea of checking the bilge. Whistles, bells, red lights, flags, nervousness, foul words, silent prayers. It all went on! “There is water in the bilge, more than I have ever seen!” Matt said. The Captain then gave the order to turn around, we must get back to port. We arrived back in Santa Cruz at the Cruise ship terminal where we anchored for the night and spent the next day working on this issue. Well, I just observed as Richard and Matt worked diligently and professionally on it. My task don’t change much, I cook, I clean, I school, I keep cold water in the fridge and I just send my most positive vibes to whatever is being done. It is definitely easy having another capable man with us to help Matt. I think that if Richard was not here I would have been crying, frustrated with the boat, Matt’s frustration and my inability to help him and take care of the girls.

One of the many differences of being on land versus sailing is that every time you move from one place to another the thought of death is present, we must think of all the things that could go wrong and hurts us and decisions must be drastic. Just as I was doing my watch and everyone is sleeping down bellow, I heard a big bang and splash, something fell in the water, it was dark, the boat moving fast and I paralyzed, not knowing what to do, what we lost. When my senses returned I went quickly down bellow to make a head count. The kids first; checked, the men; checked. Everyone is still on board. Buckets; checked, kayaks; checked.. not many more things could have fallen. I still don’t know what it was, Matt thinks it could have been a flying fish that crashed onto the boat and bounce right back into the water. The terrifying thought was that it could have been me and know one would even realized until morning when breakfast is not served..haha. Well I hope earlier than that.

Time to depart

Triniii!! Come back to the boat!. She was having a conversation with Margarita and Ventura at Paesano. She loves socializing with older people. She loves the attention and apparently its reciprocal, her conversations are outstanding, there is not age difference in her eyes. She leaves Paesano and heads over to Pelican John, our friend, her friend, she says “goodbye” with and emotional hug. John and her daughter Elaine were obviously sad to see us go. We were too. Such a generous man.

Preparing boat for the new crew member

We want to be ready to go when Richard arrives. He will be here in two days, but tomorrow is Trinidad’s Birthday and we have to make it all about her, so everything must be done today, except for the boat cleaning that will be done Tuesday morning. The cleaning only last a couple of hours so it will happened that he will get here to a sparkly clean boat. I want him to get the feeling of going on a cruise rather than to work at sea. That concept will be introduce to him on the go..hehe. Although, I am thinking like a woman. The more I develop the idea in my mind of having a fancy, new, better shape boat, the more I convince myself that Matt’s purpose of this trip would be defeated. I think that most men feed and enrich their life with rough circumstances. The roughest they get the better they feel. Well, that is my husband any way and I have a feeling that Richard is the same.