Cecilia’s Casa

There’s no doubt in my mind that this chapter is going to exceed any expectations I may have had and those original expectations were very high. Cecilia has a small house but she works very hard to keep it neat, clean, comfortable and well organized. I’m slowly but surely learning her ways and am doing my best to lighten her load in any way I can. I’m so grateful to my friend Angela for arranging this and equally grateful to Cecilia for her generosity in allowing me to stay here with her!
I’m quickly learning her daily routine which starts around 6 am. She gets up and does laundry, sweeps the walkways and house. I’m taking over the yard work and anything else I can help with as I learn her ways. She prepares a breakfast consisting of coffee, fresh juice from melons, fresh guava and/or papaya, fried eggs, rice and black beans served with toast and then after doing the dishes which I’ve taken on we go swimming in the ocean. She’s a wonderful cook! Last night we had meatballs and sauce served over pasta. For lunch she sautéed a lb of shrimp for me with leftover mashed potatoes. She had  leftover chicken and rice because she likes jumbo shrimp much better than the small ones. You know me. Any shrimp is a good shrimp!
I finally figured out one of the sounds I was hearing and it turns out to be geckos! They make a high pitched “barking” sound! The wildlife is incredibly rich and diverse. Birds with beautiful and melodic songs are bountiful. I’ve seen squirrels, numerous ground crabs burrowed all over the yard, some kind of white squirrel, geckos and lizards. The howler monkeys can be heard through out the day but I’ve yet to see them other than far off in the distance. A couple of young ladies stopped by to see Cecilia yesterday and it turns out one of them is the director of a group that monitors the monkeys to track their welfare. I asked how they were doing and she informed me that their numbers are increasing. In the last few years the troop has increased from 40 to 75. She invited me to come with them next Tuesday to change batteries in the video cameras they use to monitor them and download footage from the cameras. I’m pretty excited as you can imagine!
There is a wide variety of insects consisting of ants, mosquitos, moths and beautiful butterflies. When we were swimming at the beach yesterday I saw what must have been a hundred of them. Not to mention the crickets chirping at night in tune with the waves crashing on the shore. The water temperature isn’t as warm as it was in Chiapas or Huatulco and if you stay in long enough you will actually start to get cool. It feels great because you can swim anytime of day which I do usually twice a day.
The yard has a wide array of trees and plants. Many of them are in bloom now and I expect more will blossom when the rain comes.
I’ll try and get more pictures as the opportunites arise. Come to find out I have a better Internet option than I realized. Until next time!

Cecilia

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Meet my new best friend Cecilia! What a sweetheart she is. She’s 63 and bless her heart she had to take a 1 hr bus trip and walk a block in 95 degree, 90 % humidity to come and pick me up and then repeat the trip to get back to her house. After we got settled in, she cooked up some octopus in a red sauce with mashed potatoes that was delicious!  We cleaned the table and headed down to the beach which is about 100 yards away and took a swim. While we there a young man about 30 that is her neighbor came out to take a swim. They talked for a couple of minutes and then he started swimming out into the ocean. I don’t know how far he went or how long he was gone but I lost sight of him. After awhile I see him far off in the distance swimming back in. Needless to say I was in awe! We watched the most amazing sunset while swimming at Playa Hermosa and I can see why it’s named that! It is stunning in its beauty!
We are having a little difficulty with communication but she thinks in 2 months I’ll be singing Español like a bird. She didn’t exactly say it that way but she did say I would be able to speak enough to get by but that’s still my hope!
Back to the house we went to shower and change out of our suits. Later in the evening she asked if I was hungry which I was and she whips out a fish cervich which was delicious!
There are 2 beds in the house and 2 out on a screened porch that also serves as the kitchen and we both went to sleep in our respective beds out on the porch which is the desired sleeping area when the heat and humidity are high which they are this time of year.
I was awakened to a menagerie of bird sounds, monkeys and many more I didn’t recognize but hope to eventually. A truly unique and wonderful experience for me! The house is tastefully decorated, well organized and very functional and I’ll get photos up when possible. 
If this is any indication of what my time here will be, it’s going to be an amazing Chapter Dos! Really limited on bandwidth here but there are so many pictures I want to take and share. I’ve seen a lot of restaurants with wifi nearby so I’m optimistic it’s not going to be a problem. 

San Jose, Costa Rica

Up early again on Tuesday, said my goodbyes to Thibault and we both set off on the next part of each of our adventures. He was heading inland to explore the ruins and colonial cities of Chiapas whilst I caught a cab to the airport to catch a flight from Tapachula to Mexico City. It was only a 2 hr flight but then I had about a 7 hr layover in Mexico City. The time went quickly as I just wandered around the airport and people watched. When I went to check in for my flight to San Jose they told me I needed to go to Immigration to check out since I had come in by boat. I started to worry because I hadn’t thought to bring any of my boat documentation. Fortunately it wasn’t necessary and I just had to pay 300 pesos. A thunderstorm rolled in just as the flight was about to depart and the ride was a bit bumpy with flashing from the lightning all around us but we made it into San Jose right on time. The temperature was in the low 70’s which was quite nice after the heat and humidity I’d just come from. I was worried about being cold since I was in shorts and a t-shirt but it was very comfortable. Angela had arranged for her nephew to pick me up but apparently he had a scheduling conflict and his father German (pronounced Herman in espanol), Angela’s brother in law came instead. He looks intimidating in the picture but as all smiles when we met in the airport! What a great guy! We hit if off right off the bat and  he drove me to an ATM to get some Costa Rican Colon’s and dropped me off at the beautiful Soluxe El Sesteo Hotel that Angela had booked for me. $1 us is $535 colons! I’ve got $150,000 colons in my wallet!! The landscaping here at the hotel is absolutely gorgeous. Each of the doors to the rooms are beautiful wood carvings of some Central American theme. I just had the complimentary breakfast of fresh pineapple, guava, watermelon, black beans & rice with hot dogs, toast with coffee and juice. German Jr will be coming to pick me up in an hour and take me to the bus that will take me to Cecilia. Since they have great wifi and I have no cellular nor any idea when I’ll have any kind of internet or cellular service again I seized the moment to get these posts uploaded. If you want to text me a good option if I get wifi is WhatsApp. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s kind of like Skype without the video and it’s been downloaded a billion times. Until the next connection that’s all for now. Can’t wait to see if there are really howler monkeys in the backyard!

Desiderata On The Hard

Got up early Monday morning and walked down the road from Hotel Playa Linda to catch a cab back to the marina to get Desi ready for going on the hard. It was a long hot day thanks to the high temperature and humidity. Got her out of the water and put a couple of tarps over her and then went to the office to pay so we could get to our hotel in Tapachula. I was waiting for the manager, but they told me he was meeting with some clients at the restaurtant. I noticed the air conditioner was off in the office but didn’t think anything of it initially. After about an hour or so of waiting and talking with other boaters the manager came in and I asked him if he wanted to get paid. He says the power is off so I can’t run the credit card did I want to come back later that day or wait on the boat. Neither of these were a good option since one would cost double taxi fare and with the boat all sealed up it was an oven. Not the best option but Enrique has been very professional and I’ve read numerous positive reviews regarding him and Marina Chiapas online. Off to the Loma Real Hotel in Tapachula we went. It is a beautiful hotel that overlooks the city. We got there just in time to take a dip in the pool which was much cooler than Hotel Playa Linda. There were about 3 or 4 thunderstorms that rolled through so once again I’m glad to be off the water.

Tropical Squall At Playa Linda Hotel


We got a room at the Playa Linda Hotel so we could sleep in a cool and dry environment for a change. It’s a beautiful hotel but it’s at the “end of the road” so internet and cellular are spotty and it’s far away from any gringo tourist areas. We were both so excited to have air conditioning for the whole night instead of going into marina offices, stores and restaurants where it was available. It has a pool which we were excited about as well. We got to our room, fired up the a/c, got our suits on and headed straight for the pool. The temperature of the water in the pool was as warm or warmer than the air temp. It did feel good to wash off the sweaty slime, but it wasn’t very refreshing. The ocean was a short distance away so off we headed to the beach! We got in the ocean and there wasn’t much difference. From what little research I’ve done the ocean temperature is 88 so once again we were denied that refreshing feeling we were anticipating. We still swam for awhile in spite of the strong swell and surge. Back to the room we headed and our cool chilly relief from the heat finally came. About 11 pm we started hearing this pitter patter on the roof and then the sound of thunder. Soon it started doing as you see in the video. I missed catching the most intense lightning because I remembered I’d left the windows open on the boat. My worst fears started running through my mind. There is a small window just off to the side of where my electrical panel is in the boat that I have my wifi extender running from and all I could think of was what was it going to cost to replace all my electrical. I could also envision the water coming in my numerous windows and soaking my clothes, boat cushions and making an absolute mess of things. It was so late and the marina is about 10 miles from where we were and walking in the dark in a downpour didn’t appeal to me. The storm moved on and we went back in and tried to sleep. About 10 minutes later the power went out with the a/c but came on a couple of minutes later. About 10 minutes after that it went out again and this time didn’t come back on. A bit later I heard some commotion below on the ground floor and I headed down to see what was going on. I see the manager of the hotel Mario who speaks very little english pulling on the cord of a large generator over and over while talking on speaker phone to someone. They were both laughing away while Mario would pull, pull, pull and then try the choke on, repeat pull, pull, pull choke off, repeat. I turned the light on my phone to see if I could see anything that was obvious. Meanwhile Mario and his friend were talking and laughing. Eventually Mario opens the cap on the gas tank and it was bone dry! He walked over to a storage shed where there were numerous gas cans and the first couple were dry, but he finally found a couple that had gas in them. I helped him empty both cans into the tanks and the generator fired right up. It only was big enough to run the lights, fans and wifi but not the a/c. After getting it going I asked him was it possible to get a taxi. Having used google translator to look up the word window I was able to get him to understand my dilemma. Eventually he was able to get me a cab and off to the marina to check on Desiderata I went. There was a considerable amount of water in places where the windows were but I was able to towel it all up without any damage. I stayed on the boat that night because there was no way I was going to find a taxi to bring me back. It hadn’t rained in almost the entire 5 months I’d been in Mexico and the only night we had gotten an a/c room, both of us were denied. When Thibault got to the boat the next day he told me the power still wasn’t back on. I emailed the owner of the hotel later that day and she informed me that the power was back on and things were back to normal and that we would finally be able to enjoy the elusive a/c we had been desperately seeking. What a crazy night and absolutely amazing storm!

Chiapas

Upon entering the bay at Chiapas one of the first things I noticed was this guy. I’m assuming it’s helping the Mexican government’s war on drugs because it’s a long ways from home. I’d say like me, but I don’t really have a home so to speak anymore. In the legendary words of Buckaroo Bonzai, “no matter where you go, there you are”.IMG_1176The most modern Mexican naval ship I’ve seen yet.IMG_1177Sights along the way to the marina.IMG_1178IMG_1179IMG_1180IMG_1181Where old fishing boats go to sink I’m assuming!IMG_1183IMG_1184

Being the furthest and last port south in Mexico, the Mexican navy brings a dog on board to sniff for drugs and full documentation. There were 8 members not counting the dog and 3 of them were holding assault rifles. They were extremely polite and we passed inspection without any problems! The pic below is of them inspecting another boat that had just arrived prior to coming over and inspecting Desiderata.IMG_1185

After passing inspection I went up and filled out all the paperwork necessary to stay in the marina and then we headed up to a nearby restaurant. In the open slip next to the boat we saw these rays swimming in formation.20160519_173405.jpg

The food was incredible with the waiter making fresh salsa followed by my shrimp wrapped in bacon, stuffed with cheese and smothered in a wonderful Italian style sauce and some of the best spinach I’ve ever had.20160519_175946.jpg20160519_180317.jpg20160519_180313.jpg

After 9 months, over 4,000 miles and numerous interesting and fascinating first time experiences this pretty much closes the first chapter of my adventure. The next few days will be spent getting the boat ready for dry dock and figuring out logistics to get to Costa Rica. There is an international airport nearby where I’ll catch a flight to Liberia and then make my way to Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach) to meet up with Cecilia who I will stay with for the next 4-5 months and start working on my second chapter. I’m having serious issues with carpal tunnel in my left hand and have already found a doctor in Costa Rica that will perform the surgery for $1,200 or 2-3 months of insurance premiums in the states. I can only stay in Costa Rica for 3 months before I have to exit the country for 72 hrs. I’m probably going to go to Nicaragua for a few days or fly back to Chiapas for a week or so to do some exploring. I’ll return to Costa Rica to stay until I determine when I’ll be reuniting with Desi. Peace and love to all the folks back home! ><((:>

Passage From Huatulco to Chiapas

We departed Huatulco about 11:30 and had great sailing for about 12 hrs then the wind died and we motored for almost the next 36 hrs. Numerous pods of dolphins were joining us including this group which hung around the longest. I’m not sure what type they are but they were some of the largest I’ve seen yet.

We also saw numerous small turtles every 200-300 yards for almost the entire day. One of funniest things was occasionally we’d see a gull standing on the back of the turtles catching a ride.IMG_1055Another interesting thing we saw was numerous boobies trying to land on the mast or the spreaders. Out of at least 30 or more that tried to land only one was successful.  You have to realize the mast is swinging to and fro as much as 4-6′ but for some reason they had a strong desire to perch!IMG_1070IMG_1068

Late in the afternoon we could see a large school of something way off in the distance jumping out of the water one after the other. At first we thought it was manta rays and after looking through the binoculars we could see it was a large school of spinner dolphins. We turned the boat around and headed towards them. I tried to take video but the GoPro doesn’t do a very good job at long distance and as we got close to them they started veering off. Quite a sight to behold and the pictures do capture just how high out of the water they come. What it doesn’t capture is how many spins they make before splashing back into the water. It appeared that they could do 6-7 360 degree lateral spins. One of the coolest things I’ve seen yet! Pretty amazing day to say the least. I never dreamed the diversity and abundance of wildlife I’d witness and this day was one of the best!

We motored on hoping for wind but it never did come. When we had come down from Ixtapa to Huatulco we had started seeing lightning way off in the distance at night and more clouds than I’ve seen since leaving Washington back in October. One night we were sailing along and it started raining and the wind ramped up really fast to 15 knots. I reefed the main quickly because the boat was rapidly picking up speed and I wasn’t sure how high it would go. It died back down relatively quickly, but soon shot back up again and this time I had to furl the main completely. It didn’t last but about 10-15 minutes and it was over and we were back to sailing again with full sails.

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Sunset before the storm

On our last night from Huatulco to Chiapas I had once again seen lightning way off in the distance but we were motoring and we had no wind. According to the weather forecast there was a chance that we would start getting enough wind to sail around 4 am. We were doing 4 hour watches and mine was over at midnight. Thibault took over and I went below to sleep until my next watch at 4 am. I was really looking forward to a good nap and had my alarm set for 3:45 am. For some reason I woke up at 3 am and when I started exiting the companionway I immediately could tell conditions had changed dramatically. The wind had picked up to 28 knots and we were bashing into 3′-4′ steep choppy seas in rapid succession. The boat was like a bucking bronco! At one point we were only making .1 to .2 knots of speed over ground. Thibault had seen the worst of it and went down to sleep while I rode out the 24 knots from 4 am until 6:30 am when it finally started dying down. Pretty exciting stuff with the lightning flashing, the wind howling in darkness and the boat crashing through the waves. I hadn’t seen weather anything like this in quite sometime. Around 7:30 am I went below to check on something and when I came back up topside there was a panga about 50 yards off the port stern with 2 fisherman heading directly for me. We were 40 miles offshore and I was bewildered. The one in the bow was holding up about a 4′ marlin and I assumed they were trying to sell me a fish. We still had dorado left over from the one Thibault had caught earlier, we were about 10 hours from Chiapas and the marlin he was holding up had to have been  25-35 lbs. I said no gracias and they pulled up along beside me so I slowed down. The driver spoke very little english but he was grinning away. He got really close and with the sea was still pretty choppy and we were rocking pretty good and his boat actually bumped up against mine. I expressed that he needed to be careful and he started easing away. He was trying really hard to communicate with me but I couldn’t make any sense of it. His partner in the bow of the boat held up 2 5′ sharks and then off they went. It was somewhat surreal to say the least. These pangas are about 20′ long and open and what they were doing so far out is beyond me. I suspect they were illegally fishing because I think the sharks are off limits.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and on the plus side the storm had cooled things down considerably. It was the coolest it had been in several days and we were thankful for it. The highs have been around 86 and the lows around 82 with the humidity fluctuating between 75 and 90%. As the day went on and the wind died off completely it got hot again. It gets up to 92 degrees in the boat if there isn’t any wind and the motor is running. I’m far from acclimated to the high temperatures and humidity that were encountering this far south. I took on average 3-4 showers a day to try and cope which helped some but not nearly enough. As we were getting close to Chiapas we could see two huge mountains on the shore. I wish I’d have taken a picture before the clouds rolled in because they are actually extinct volcanoes.

We also started seeing large schools of baitfish all over though I have no idea what kind they were.IMG_1174IMG_1175

One of if not the most interesting days I’ve had so far on the journey! Extremely long post I know but I’ve got some of the best wifi I’ve had in days and it was quite eventful as you can tell.