Saturday, July 23, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Note: Some of the details in this entry is specifically for fellow travelers who may follow in our wake.
After our 3-day (mas o menos) stay in Loreto, we boarded the bus for Tijuana. The one we chose was scheduled to leave at 1535 and was only an hour late. It was freakin' hot when we left and the A/C on the bus felt really good. There was a movie playing when we got aboard. Eddie Murphy and Bruce Willis in some comedic shoot-em-up. It was actually in English with subtitles in español. During the long bus ride they showed at least 3 other movies but all were dubbed in Spanish with no subtitles and very hard to hear even if we could have understood what we were hearing.
The seats on the buses are pretty comfortable, at least initially. They're nicely padded and have lots of legroom, which is good because the person in front of you is almost certainly going to lower his seat back as far as it will go. Things are so much more casual than on USA buses, what with the driver and his relief man yakking non-stop and actually allowing passengers to speak to them.
We stopped at our first military checkpoint not too long into the trip. Everyone had to get off the bus with their carry-ons. The cargo hold was unloaded and the bags arranged on a long table. Then the soldiers opened and searched every bag and carry-on, some more thoroughly than others. They thought they struck paydirt when they found these newspaper-and-plastic-wrap shrouded pellets in my bag. I think they were a little disappointed to find they were only shot glasses wrapped to protect them from the hazards of travel. We were probably at the checkpoint for 30-45 minutes and then were on our way again.
We passed through at least 6 more checkpoints before reaching our destination of Tijuana but they got laxer and laxer the further we went (or maybe the later at night it got). At the second checkpoint, they searched all the carry-ons but seemed to lose interest after searching only half of the bags in the cargo hold. At the third checkpoint, 3 soldiers came aboard and walked the length of the bus looking us over, at the fourth, one soldier came aboard and looked us over, at the fifth, one soldier came aboard and looked us over from the front of the bus, at the sixth, he exchanged a few words with the driver and waved us on. At the seventh, he just waved us through without stopping
There were no specific meal stops. The bus stopped at various places along the way to allow passengers to board or disembark. Passengers were always free to get off to use the bathroom or get a bite to eat if something was available. However, you had to keep an eye out as it never looked to me like the driver paid any particular attention to whether or not everybody was back aboard or not when he took off. It was also always very vague as to how long the stop was going to be. And, as far as getting something to eat goes, don't count on anything. The Loreto bus station has some sandwiches, chips, etc. available but after that, pickings are slim. Most of the stops had little more than a few Bimbo cookies or tiny bags of Doritos. I thought I was finally going to get something good when we hit Rosario late at night. There was a hot dog stand that was doing a great business. I was going to get us each one, but it was obvious that they weren't going to be done before the bus took off (remember, the bacon wrapping has to get completely cooked). So, I abandoned my place in line. What a dummy. If I'd waited a couple more minutes, I'd have seen the bus driver get in line and then I'd know I had plenty of time as he wasn't leaving without a hot dog and the bus wasn't leaving without him. Oh well, guess we weren't really that hungry anyway.
By this time, we both looked forward to finally falling asleep. Hadn't been able to yet. The seats, which were quite comfortable to start, were beginning to wreak havoc on our tailbones and sleep would have been a welcome respite. The A/C was also beginning to get a bit onerous. It had felt really good at the beginning but as we climbed up into the mountains to cross the peninsula, the temperature dropped. We stopped one place (might have been Rosalia) where there was even fog-like dampness in the air. Of course, Lulu and I were the only passengers in shorts. Everyone else had long pants and had brought sweatshirts or jackets or, in several cases, blankets. Lulu, fortunately had her flannel shirt with her which kept her from going hypothermic at least. We'll be smarter next time.
Sometime around midnight, they turned off the movies and the air conditioning which helped a lot in the sleep department. We both slept, sort of, but probably never for more than, at the most, a half hour at a time. Something about sleeping sitting up on your sore tailbone that just precludes a solid rest.
Sooner than expected, we found ourselves on the outskirts of Ensenada. Shortly after that we were in Tijuana and getting off this bus for the last time. The ticket agent in Loreto said the trip would take 18 hours. It actually took only about 1/2 hour longer than that, military checkpoints and all.
Once in Tijuana, we went to the Greyhound/Cruceros ticket office and got 2 tickets to San Diego via San Ysidro ($12 USD ea.). The bus was leaving at 1130 so we didn't have long to wait. I needed something savory to eat so I bought 3 carne asada tacos from the food place at the bus station. Lulu opted to not eat.
At about 1145, we boarded our bus and headed to the border. We passed really long lines of cars and equally long lines of pedestrians. At 1300, we took our place behind the other buses. While we were sitting in line, before the driver cut the engine, I tapped in to the bus' free wifi and checked e-mail. After awhile we moved a little ways ahead and then the driver cut the engine. Ultimately, we sat on the bus about an hour and a half before it was our turn.
We all disembarked, grabbed our bags and proceeded in to US Customs. It didn't take very long to get through Customs. The inspector who checked my passport made a crack about maybe having seen me on the Discovery Channel which, I think, was a slam about my terrible (and I mean really terrible) passport photo.
And then we were outside, on US soil. But not before before being admonished several times to "keep moving" by the Customs agents. Welcome home. So now we're outside with our San Ysidro to San Diego bus tickets and absolutely NO idea where the freakin' bus is. I asked a cop (I guess that's what he was - there are an awful lot of uniforms at the border) and he brusquely directed me "over there". Well, "over there" was kind of vague but, by going in that direction, I did finally see a very small Greyhound sign. We went there and asked the ticket agent where we were supposed to catch the bus to San Diego. He didn't seem to speak any English and was a lot less interested in trying to reach some common language ground than the people in Mexico had been. However, we eventually again got sort of a vague idea that we should walk in a certain direction. We walked up the street and, at the corner, there was a guy with an orange vest who motioned us towards himself and then pointed us to an open-sided tent with benches underneath. We recognized some of our fellow passengers so we figured we must be in the right place. In a few minutes, the same bus we'd come up from Tijuana on came by and started boarding. The same driver we'd had before, who either spoke no English or feigned that he spoke no English, informed us that this bus was going to "LA, no San Diego!". Chagrined, we resumed our seats and waited for another bus to come along. Within a few minutes, one did. But, instead of parking up by the tent, he backed into a spot a little ways away. The driver got out and started walking past us towards the ticket office (I assume). Lulu approached him to find out if his was the San Diego bus but he made a point of not speaking English (remember that we're in the U.S. now) and being much to busy to answer her question. Well, one thing and another, we finally did get on his bus and headed in to San Diego.
We planned to find a hotel downtown where we could stash our bags and then go outside and play for awhile. On the way to town we passed places like Motel 6, Days Inn, etc, advertising prices as low as $39.99 for one person. Seemed like this would be a good place to stop but, it was quite a ways from town. More on this later.
The San Diego bus terminal is right downtown. On the way in, Lulu thought she saw a sign for a Motel 6 a few blocks away. So, once we were off the bus, we shouldered our packs and set off to find it. We walked for blocks and blocks and blocks, carrying 40 lb. packs and never did find a Motel 6. Finally, we spotted a Day's Inn and figured their prices would be similar so we decided to stop there. Walked up to the front desk all confident that we were finally going to shed our packs and asked,
"How much would a room for tonight run us?"
"Well, our rooms are $179.00 a night to start and..."
(gasp) "Uh well, that's a bit steep for our budget. Thanks anyway."
"Yeah, there's a convention in town and most of the rooms downtown are completely sold out. But here's a number you can call, give them your budget, and they'll see what they can find."
Once back outside, we decided to go find something to eat before we did anything else. It was now about 3:00, maybe 3:30 and Lulu hadn't eaten anything except a couple of cookies since a ceviche tostada we had in Loreto yesterday early afternoon. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that we proceeded to walk all over downtown San Diego, carting our packs, and never found what we wanted. Either they didn't serve beer with their food, or they were WAY too proud of their food. Finally we found ourselves walking west on Broadway again in search of Hoover's Famous Burgers which we had seen sometime during our walk. Well, it must have been the other way because, before we knew it, we were back at the bus terminal and hadn't seen it yet. Now what?
At this point, the food and the lodging downtown was determined to be out of our budget. So, I had the bright idea to ride the shuttle out towards the airport. The cheap hotels and chain restaurants are always out there, right? So, we got our tickets, got on the shuttle and headed to the airport. But guess what? On the way there, we didn't pass the typical restaurant/motel row that I associate with airports. No worries though. We figured that, once at the airport, we could call up Super 8 or somesuch and they'd have a shuttle, like they do in Portland. But guess what again? Huh-uh!
We stopped at the Info desk and asked for help. These guys were great. Being working stiffs, they understood what a budget was. They started looking on the internet for an affordable place to stay. Most of the close-in ones they knew of were no longer in business. They said that the cheaper places would be in Chula Vista but, since we were on foot, that might not work. I said that, if the trolley goes by there (it does), that Chula Vista would be just fine. They then found us a reasonably priced motel right at one of the trolly stops. We thanked them, got back on the shuttle, transferred to the trolley at America Plaza and rode a few miles south to Chula Vista. The motel we had reservations at was right across the freeway but all around us were Motel 6, Day's Inn, etc. All the places that we had seen from the bus on our way in to San Diego the first time, some 3+ hours ago. Good Grief. And nearby were Black Angus, MacDonald's, Denny's, Wendy's, etc.
So, for fellow travellers, here are the details and my suggestions:
Loreto to Tijuana: Bus, takes about 18-19 hours. Cost: just under 1500 pesos per person. Take along some snacks. Wear long pants. Have a sweater or similar with you. Have a light blanket and a pillow if you have the room.
Tijuana to San Ysidro: Take the Greyhound/Crucero bus. Cost: under $12 USD
each (not sure since we got tickets all the way to San Diego - won't do that again. Note: The bus trip from Tijuana to San Diego was supposed to take 1 hr and 35 minutes but actually took closer to 2 hrs and 30 minutes.).
San Ysidro to Chula Vista: Once you're through the gate at the border, you'll see a bunch of vending machines,a money changer and an ATM. A bunch of the vending machines are selling tickets on the San Diego trolley (MTS). Get a ticket ($2.25 each or an all-day pass for $5.00). The trolley (the Blue Line) will pick you up within about 30 minutes or less. Disembark at the Bayfront/E Street stop. This is where you'll find lots of affordable motels and restaurants as well as a grocery store, pawn shops and thrift stores. If you don't need a motel, skip the stop and proceed to the next part:
Chula Vista to San Diego downtown:
Either get back on the Blue Line trolley or stay on it. Ride it to the America Plaza stop. Disembark.
San Diego downtown to SD Airport: After getting off the trolley at the America Plaza, walk south less than a block to the first cross street. You'll be at the corner of Broadway and Ketteredge (sp?). Right on the corner is a bus stop where you can catch the #992 Airport Shuttle.
Now, back to our story...
Once we got to the airport, we checked in at the ticket kiosk and got our boarding passes. Then, on to the security gauntlet.
I had my laptop all separate like I was supposed to. Emptied my pockets, took off my belt, and loaded everything on the conveyor. My stuff went through and then I went through the x-ray machine. The TSA person asked if I had any money or a wallet in my pockets and I said, no, my pockets are empty. They then motioned me further and then told me to stop on this little mat. Meanwhile, Lulu went right on through and was waiting for me on the other side. While I was standing on the mat, another TSA guy kept staring at me as if he was trying to read guilt in my face or something. My bag went through and they asked if this was my bag. I told them yes. They said they had to check it again and I said "go ahead". They motioned me over to side and told me to sit in this chair. An agent then dug through my bag and finally came out with this stainless steel club-looking thing. "What's this?" This was a question that I had been dreading having to answer in Spanish so I was quite relieved to be able to answer it in English now.
"That's a removable pot handle. We live on a small boat and have a set of nesting cookware. In order for the pots to be able to nest, the handles have to be removable. That one is broken and I'm taking it home to send it in for a warranty replacement." See why I didn't want to have to answer the question in Spanish? Anyway, he accepted the answer and I figured that was that.
But, that wasn't that. They then had me follow them to this little examination room. The inspector gave me a long explanation about how he was going to pat me down. Seems that something on my x-ray was unidentifiable by the screener. Wonder what the heck that could be? After some more explanations, he finally said something about a belt. Oh crap! Way back at the beginning, I had started to take my belt off but, things were moving so quickly that, for some reason, although I unhooked it, I never actually removed it! And, since my shirt was untucked, I hadn't noticed it and neither had they. So, I had a metal buckle hanging in front of my left groin and the metal end (it's a web belt) hanging over the other side. I imagine it looked pretty weird on the x-ray. But really, couldn't they have avoided all this by just asking me to lift my shirt?
Anyway, that little setback over, we're now sitting at a bar/restaurant in the boarding area, killing time until our 6:45PM flight, a mere 4 hours from now. We're both missing Mexico already. Lulu is especially missing the heat as she sits here in the San Diego airport with her sweatshirt on and she's still cold. We're both missing the friendly people and easy-going attitude. We've been gone one day.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
We're getting ready for a multi-week visit to the ol' US of A. We're taking the ABC bus from Loreto to Tijuana and then a Greyhound from Tijuana to San Diego. From SD, we'll fly to Portland, OR. We'd visited Loreto a couple of times for a few hours over the past several weeks but hadn't really had as much time to explore as we would have liked. So, we decided to leave the boat a few days early and enjoy Loreto from the air-conditioned comfort of a room at the Hacienda Suites Hotel.
I found the Hacienda on the internet and chose it primarily for price but also because it looked nice. However, we all know how different things can look on the internet vs. in real life. Just ask anyone who's looked into buying a boat from an internet description. We were pleasantly surprised to find the the hotel looked just like it did in the pictures.
This pool is where we spent part of every afternoon cooling off. I highly recommend this hotel if you stay in Loreto and don't want to pay an arm and a leg (at least during the off-season). It was very clean and pleasant and actually had hot water in the shower although, when it's 100 degrees outside, who cares? It's a little bit of a walk down to the main part of town (Centro) and the malecón but, even in this heat, only takes 15 minutes or so.
We've spent several days just really relaxing. We had breakfast the first 2 mornings at the Hotel Santa Fe next door, only to discover this morning (our last) that the restaurant right here at the Hacienda has WAY better breakfasts.
After breakfast we strolled downtown to see what we could find in the way of souvenir gifts for the kids. There's a "gringo alley" that has lots of shops selling everything from t-shirts to traditional Huichol art.
After awhile, we tended to suffer from sensory overload as well as from the heat and we'd stop by the local Thrifty ice cream place for a couple of mango smoothies.
For those of you who remember Thrifty Drug Stores and their ice cream counter with the cylindrical scoops of ice cream, you'd feel right at home. I guess Thrifty went on to be come Payless and then Rite-Aid but their ice cream lives on in Baja still under the same Thrifty logo and with the same cylindrical scoops.
After chilling out with the smoothies and trying our best to avoid brain-freeze,we continued on our way. Some days this meant more shopping, other days it meant just walking around until lunchtime. And speaking of lunch, on our walk in to town we pass this little taco stand that we haven't had the nerve to try yet, and likely never will. Why not? Well, it's all about the head. All of their tacos are filled with something from a cow's head. They have tacos filled with the little bits and pieces of meat from the head, tacos filled with tongue, tacos filled with brains and, are you ready?, tacos filled with eyeballs. I haven't seen any of these tacos up close so maybe the eyeballs are all chopped up rather than the picture that I conjure up in my head but, either way, I think I'll pass. One of the most disturbing things about this place is that it does a great business mid-morning. That's right, while you're sitting back with a cup of coffee and an onion bagel, this guy's customers are tucking into an eyeball taco and a Coke. Different strokes I guess.
Loreto is a pretty tiny town. There aren't an awful lot of places to explore but there are an awful lot of places to eat. What to do?
Yesterday, after we'd finished our gift shopping and mango smoothies, we wandered back to the hotel for a cooling dip in the pool. An hour or so later, we walked back down to the centro for lunch. Today's fare: tacos de pescado, tacos de camarón y tacos de callo (fish, shrimp and scallops). This is the second time we've stopped at Panga Lapa for tacos and we weren't disappointed.
When we finally got ready to leave after over an hour, our waiter brought us a bag of 4 ripe mangos for free. Just because. Now, Lulu LOVES mangos. She's been lusting after all the trees we've seen that are loaded down with them.
What's the draw? Well, there are several. First, 4 PM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday is Happy Hour with 1/2 price drinks. And they make the best Bloody Mary I've ever tasted. Second is that, from 5 PM until they run out, Monday through Friday, they serve some sort of free food. Here's the line-up:
Monday: Gringo tacos
Wednesday: Baked clams
Thursday: Mexican pizza
Friday: Chicken wings
Half-price drinks and free food. Who can pass that up? Apparently not most of Loreto's gringo fisherman population. The place is pretty well packed for a few hours every afternoon. We were warned by a fellow cruiser before we went that it wasn't like Mexico at all. He said you might as well be in San Diego when you're at Augie's. True enough but the food, drinks and air-conditioning make it a nice afternoon's respite. And cruising sailors are a rarity at the bar. These fishermen understand trailering a boat down from California or Arizona. But when they find out we sailed down from Oregon we're suddenly looked at with a little more respect. How cool is that?
Okay, time to finish this up. We'll be heading out on the bus this afternoon at 3:30 (if the bus is on time) and it's supposed to be about 18 hours to Tijuana but we're figuring at least 20. So we'll get there tomorrow mid-morning. We can catch a Greyhound right at the main Tijuana bus terminal that will take us to San Diego ($30 USD each). If we can find a place to safely stash our bags, we plan to try to kill a few hours in San Diego at the San Diego Ukulele Festival which just happens to be taking place this very weekend. And what's weirder is that it's taking place at NTC Liberty Station, the site where I attended USN boot camp almost exactly 42 years ago! What a world, what a world.
Friday, July 8, 2011
When I got up this morning at 7:15, it was already 86 degrees in the cabin. Right now, at 6:47 PM, it's 92 degrees in the cabin and 100 degrees out in the cockpit. The relative humidity is around 80%. And, of course, the cruisers who have been through Baja summers before are saying "You ain't seen nothin' yet."
Now, understand, I'm not complaining. This is what we signed up for. However, the cruisers who leave their boats here and go "home" for the summer are not looking like quite such wienies now as they used to. Maybe they're on to something.
Anyway, we would be completely screwed if it weren't for the fans we have throughout the cabin in Siempre Sabado. We were told over and over by cruisers that it was imperative to have plenty of fans on board if you're going to summer over in the Sea of Cortez. There are lots of fans available through the various marine supply places as well as other, cheaper sources. Some of these are worth buying and some aren't.
I managed to get a couple of these Guest folding fans for cheap at swap meets over the years. They seemed like just the ticket. Push the air out when you need it and then fold up out of the way when you don't.
I got one of these fans for only $1.00. Good deal, huh? No. This piece of crap isn't even worth a buck. Oh, it folds up nicely and makes a lot of noise when it's running. Trouble is, it doesn't actually move any air. Maybe I can unload it at the next cruisers' swap meet.
I also followed the advice of some of the "internet cruisers" and bought some computer fans. Nice and cheap. They may even move some air, though I doubt they move much. Trouble is, you have to build some sort of frame to be able to point them where you want them. I have 2 or 3 of them and they're still tucked away somewhere. Maybe I'll try one someday.
Before we left La Paz, cruisers who had actually summered in the Sea of Cortez recommended these Caframo models (thanks Chuck & Linda):
With no cage around the blades, they can really move some air. The blades are flexible plastic and won't chop off your finger. And they only draw 0.2-0.3 amps. The clamp is an add-on extra but it makes them very versatile. Move them where you want/need them. We have one over each side of the settee where we spend much of our below-decks time, They are lifesavers. Sitting there all hot and sweaty, you just fire up your fan to cool right down. We also have 2 more permanently fixed over our bed so we can sleep comfortably at night.
Our head was a major sauna. If one were to spend any time at all in there, even just brushing your teeth, you'd come out drenched in sweat. Obviously this was a prime spot for a fan. First I mounted one of the folding Guest fans which is how I found out they were such pieces of crap. We were all out of the Caframo fans and I didn't have any kind of housing for our computer fans so I dug out a fan that I used to have on the dashboard of my 1979 Ford F-250 pick-up. The defroster was OK but it could use some help from time to time so I bought this little 12V oscillating fan from Napa. I salvaged it out of the Ford when I sold the truck and have been packing it around on the boat ever since. Didn't really figure it was worth much but I decided to give it a try anyway.
What a surprise! This little booger works great and doesn't draw any more juice than the expensive Caframos. And it oscillates, so, whether you're brushing your teeth or, as we say, "taking readings", it's cooling flow wafts over you at least part of the time.
Anyway, it's HOT down here in the Baja and I doubt that we'd survive without our fans. Matter of fact, we plan to buy 2 more of the Caframos that we can put wherever we happen to need them at any given time. At least one, and usually two of them are running anytime we're on the boat these days.
Our daily routine now takes the heat into consideration. About 4:00 PM, we take the dinghy to shore and spend the next hour or so chillin' in the marina pool. It's not all that cool but it does help us cool down. Follow that with a cool-to-cold shower and then back to the boat. Oh yeah, and while we're cooling our outsides in the pool, we're cooling our insides with some ice cold cervezas from the marina store.
It's a tough life.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
NOTE: This is the last of the previously-written blog entries. After this, we'll be in "real" time again. For the record, as I said yesterday, Lulu is all better now. We went out to dinner for our 34th anniversary last Sunday and she had a big ol' plate of pasta with shrimp. Yesterday, in Loreto, she had 3 nice fish tacos. Thanks to all for your concern and suggestions. So, with that said, here's the last of the entries about what we were doing a little over a week ago:
I made a point of being up early enough today to listen to the cruisers' net on the VHF. One of the features is the "local assistance" section. This is where you can call in and ask if anyone can help with finding this or that.
I called in to try to get a recommendation for an English-speaking doctor in Loreto. Everybody kept coming back to the same guy: Dr. Fernando. I got his cell phone number from one cruiser but others just said that he usually spends his morning at the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) office "a block or two in on the main drag, on the left". OK.
We got in the dinghy and headed over to Wind Raven on our way to shore. We had some stuff to return to Jay. Once he found out where we were going, he put in a call to Dale on s/v Moxie. Dale, who has a car here, offered us a ride to Loreto and, since a round trip cab ride (granted, they wait for you at your various stops) runs about $48.00 (US), we jumped at the offer. Jay needed to get a new battery for his windlass so he planned to go along, too.
We met Dale and his wife, Linda, at the dinghy dock. It was great because they have been here long enough to know where everything is in Loreto. They drove us right to the Cruz Roja office and explained to us how the doctor's services are all done for a donation ("whatever you can spare"). Dale gave us a good idea of what we should donate for a single patient visit (around $250 pesos - $20(US)) and then made sure the doctor was there before leaving us and going on about their other errands.
Dr. Frenando was with another (gringo) patient when we arrived but we hung around outside until he was done. The office is a very small room with a metal desk, one stool for the patient, and an examining table in the corner. The back door is open to the medics' day room and the front door is open to the street. The doctor is looking quite comfortable in his sweatpants and t-shirt. He asked Lulu some questions about her ailment, poked, prodded and "stethoscoped". Ultimately he decided that he was pretty sure she had a mild case of salmonella (I told her that raw chicken was not a good ingredient for sushi...just kidding of course) and prescribed a round of antibiotics as well as some sort of medication for her headaches. We thanked him, gave him $250 pesos and headed to the farmacía. About $30 (US) later, we were all set.
I bought everyone lunch as a thank you and then Dale took us on a sight-seeing trip through Loreto. Not on purpose, that's just how he gets from one place to the next; via the road less travelled.
We're already seeing an improvement in Lulu's health, appetite, etc., so we're hoping for the best. If the antibiotics don't work, we'll go back for some blood tests but Dr. Fernando seemed pretty sure it was Salmonella. Keep your fingers crossed.
7/6/2011: okay, you can uncross your fingers now. -SRY
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
NOTE: This was written over a week ago. I'm posting it mainly for continuity and as a historical record. As of several days ago, Lulu is fine! She's feeling much, much better, has her appetite back and everything. So, no worries. -SRY
Today was spent mostly trying to get Lulu a bit healthier. She's been sick so she doesn't want to eat and then she managed to heave up whatever she did have in her stomach. So, today, when she felt faint every time she stood up, I wasn't that surprised. Pretty much a classic sign of low blood sugar, which certainly makes sense.
Her headache meds managed to get the dolor de la cabeza under control enough that she could at least think about eating something. We started with some noodle soup to get her a little hydrated. After awhile, since that stayed down, we switched to pineapple juice to get some sugar into her system. Then more soup later. Then more juice. All of these things, while not a complete cure, did wonders. She was starting to feel a little bit better. We even dinghied ashore for a cooling-off dip in the pool in the afternoon.
Although she didn't eat much, I can't say the same for myself. One of the things we brought back from the trip were some leftover cooked triggerfish filets. Jay doesn't care for leftovers so I got them all. But, what to do with them? I finally decided to make triggerfish salad for sandwiches. Chunk up the filets, add mayonnaise, pickles, onions, lemon pepper, and some red pepper flakes, pile it on buttered bread and voilá a cruiser's sandwich. It's the kind of thing I used to picture when I'd read about conch salad only this has trigger fish instead of conch. Yum.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Saturday (6/25) morning, after pancakes for breakfast, we hoisted the anchor and got underway. The charged-up house batteries managed to keep the windlass running nicely and we got all 200' of chain aboard with no problems.
Jay rigged up the trolling lines and I steered Wind Raven out of the anchorage and back towards home. We motored past the salt mines and they were intriguing enough from offshore to guarantee a return trip.
A little ways south (actually closer to SW) of Bahia Salinas the portside reel began to sing again. I slowed the boat and Jay set the hook. Then I stopped the boat and began "working" the starboard pole. Jay said that, when you hook one dorado, there are usually others around that will stay there until the hooked one is out of the water. If you work a lure past these "looky-loos" you just might catch a second one. Well, although Jay said he saw a whole bunch of other dorado near the one he was working, none of them were much interested in my lure, or at least not interested in my presentation of it. But, no matter. Jay managed to land another dorado. this one was also smaller than the big ones you see in the pictures but it was just the right size for a couple of dinners. When first landed, like yesterday's, the fish was bright lime green. He quickly started to change color and we managed to get one shot when he was a beautiful blue color.
Although we dragged lures the rest of the way home, we didn't get any more interest from the local fish. We could have probably tried harder but our priority was to get Lulu back to Siempre Sabado and her headache meds (which we forgot to bring along) and bed so she could start recovering.
Jay managed to pull Wind Raven close enough to Siempre Sabado that Lulu was able to step across. Then he and I went back over to his mooring, cleaned things up and I headed back home.
Tomorrow is Sunday but, on Monday, we definitely need to get Lulu to a doctor to find out and fix whatever is ailing her.
We're not particularly superstitious but we do know that it's silly to tempt fate. For instance, the day before our exhaust elbow blew out on our engine, we had been talking to some fellow cruisers and mentioned how relatively trouble-free our little Westerbeke had been so far. No sooner were the words out of our mouths than we thought "oops".
So, you can imagine what was going through our minds yesterday evening when the driver of the Urban Assault Vehicle we'd gone to Loreto in said, "Don't worry. I know my vehicle. There is no way that we can get stuck", as he turned off the dirt road on to the beach sand. Oh shit!
Although I doubt that anyone in Puerto Escondido (other than Jay) reads this blog, we did hand out a few boat cards the other evening so, rather than risk embarrassing the driver in question, I'm not going to use any names.
We had gone in to Loreto to have dinner at Mexico Lindo while also supporting Cruz Roja (Red Cross) who was benefitting from the proceeds of the buffet dinner that was being served. The food was excellent and we had a very nice time. On the way home, we all agreed that we should head down and walk the malecon and then the beach for aways to sort of burn off dinner. Somehow, we never got to the malecon. We ended up driving alongside the beach awhile. At some point, for whatever reason, the driver decided to go out and drive along the beach. Along with the ill-fated words above, he assured us that he and his wife had done this tons of times and never had a problem, so "don't worry". Oh shit, again.
Now I don't doubt they've driven on the beach lots of times but I now suspect that the tide was generally further out than it was yesterday evening. That would leave a lot more flat, hard sand to drive on. This time, however, the tide was in and in quite a ways. There was almost no wet flat sand. But, no worries, here we go.
We weren't more than a car's length from the road when the tires started spinning in the soft, deep sand. I wasn't too worried at this point as I figured we were probably still in 2-wheel drive. The driver reached down, did some shifting and we started again. We got maybe another half a car length when we again started spinning our wheels. Now, as the driver just sat in his seat silently, not reaching down to do any more shifting, I knew we were in trouble. Then when he snapped at the missus a couple of times to "Leave me alone!" and "Let me think!" I really knew we were in a fix. Apparently we were already in 4-wheel-low. Nowhere else to go.
We got out and had a look. A couple of the tires were spinning and we seemed to be in pretty deep. The driver had also assured us before we got stuck that, even though his truck could never get stuck, on the extremely unlikely event that it did, no worries as he had 200' of chain and even an anchor on board. Looked like it was time to drag them out. First we tried anchoring one end of the chain to what passes for a tree down here: a gnarly, twisted mesquite bush. The other end of the chain was connected to a come-along and the come-along to the truck. I've never ever had any luck freeing a stuck vehicle using a come-along and that was with an actual tree to anchor to and with the vehicle in question being a Subaru wagon stuck in the snow. This time the vehicle is a humongous heavy SUV and the anchor is a mesquite bush. And, we're trying to pull it uphill back to the road.
Well, to make a very, very long story somewhat shorter, we managed to rip at least 4 mesquite "trees" out of the ground, drag a danforth anchor through the sand, and ultimately get the vehicle dug in to the point that all the wheels were hanging free and the truck was being supported on it's undercarriage by the sand. We were well and truly high-centered and screwed. We did manage to make a little progress once in awhile only to turn around and lose it again but ultimately we reached a point where the only thing that was going to get us out was another vehicle assisting. And even that was not gong to be easy as it had to be able to physically drag the beast over the sand until the tires reached a point where they could get some purchase.
It was now quite dark and the driver, having at last cried "uncle" walked off in search of help. Ultimately we did receive help. First from a Mexican guy with a beat-up 4-wheel drive Toyota pick up. He was more than willing to help and punished his poor little truck mightily as he jerked and pulled against a vehicle that vastly outweighed him. Poor little truck was trying to drag this behemoth uphill on its undercarriage. He was actually making a little bit of progress when our intrepid SUV driver returned in a circus car. The car was a little bitty Ford compact. Packed inside were 5 burly Mexican dudes, one guy's girlfriend and our driver. They planned to just push the SUV out of the sand using pure brute force. If anyone could do it, it would be them.
The upshot was that, after much laughing and joshing and pushing and rocking and eating sand, between our Toyota driver, the Mexican behemoths, us and Mrs. Driver at the wheel, we finally regained level ground. We were free at last.
We gathered our stuff, packed it back in the SUV and started back to Puerto Escondido. There was sand EVERYWHERE! Remember, it's hot down here so we were all coated with sweat all the time. And the sand stuck to the sweat like glue. Scratch your head: sand imbedded in your scalp; try to clear out your ears: sand packed inside; can't even hardly wipe the sand off your arms and legs because your hands are also covered in sand. And, what's worse is that the marina closes the showers at 8:00 and it was now well after 10:00 PM. But there was no way we could drag all this sand back on board the boat. Once we got back to the marina, Lulu and I made a beeline for the dinghy dock where we found a hose connected to a faucet. We stripped own far enough to maintain modesty and hosed and hosed and hosed and hosed. Today we're still finding the occasional grain.
It was 11:00 PM when we finally got back to the boat. We unwound with a couple if ice-cold beers and a couple episodes of Weeds. Then we slept like babies.
This episode was a relatively harmless illustration of the JINX principle. However, if you ever get on a boat and hear the captain say something like, "Oh, she can't possibly sink - she's just too well-built.", think Titanic and get back ashore as quickly as possible.
PS: today is Lulu and my 34th wedding anniversary in case you were wondering.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Got up at a reasonable hour on Friday morning (6/24), hoisted anchor, and started motoring around the south side of Isla Carmen. Our plan for the day was to troll along the shoreline for dorado and slowly make our way up to Bahia Salinas on the northeast side to check out the abandoned salt mining operation. The buildings are all pretty much still there and a caretaker oversees them. But, if you ask permission, you can visit the site of what is essentially a ghost town.
It was another gorgeous day although the sun made the cockpit cushions pretty freakin' hot.
It took longer to get to where we were going than we thought it would, and, since we didn't really want to anchor at Bahia Salinas, we decided to leave the salt mines for tomorrow and just head to our anchorage at Punta Perico South. As of now, we hadn't really had any action on our trolling lines. I take that back. We did catch an overly ambitious trigger fish which we released. How this guy thought he could swallow that big Rapala Magnum lure is beyond me. Maybe he just figured he'd bite off whatever he thought he could handle and leave the rest. BTW: Lulu landed this guy.
We weren't too far outside of Punta Perico, matter of fact, we were just about there when the reel on the portside trolling rod began to sing. FISH ON! I was driving so I slowed the boat while Jay grabbed the rod, set the hook and started pumping. After a bit of work, he managed to boat a small female dorado, maybe 4-5 lbs. Scrappy little thing.
This picture really doesn't do her justice. She was bright green when first landed but her colors started to fade almost immediately. There is also nothing in this photo to give an idea of her size but she was probably close to 24" long. Jay re-baited the lure (he's quite particular about how the bait is cut and attached to the lure, which is probably why he catches so many fish) and put it back to work. I increased our speed and headed to Punta Perico.
No more fish hit so we dropped anchor in about 23' of water. The chain was going out so fast that I missed some of the length markers and some of the others, while visible, were not well-defined, so we ended up with probably 200' of chain out. Not likely to drag tonight. Just as well as there was a bit of a refraction swell rolling through the anchorage. Not uncomfortable, but it was still there.
We had had a little difficulty hauling the anchor in this morning as the battery for the windlass died before we were done. Jay manhandled the remaining chain and anchor. So, since we had so much chain out tonight, Jay decided to run the Honda generator to charge up the house batteries and the windlass battery. While we were sitting there, he took a couple of voltage readings and basically found that the windlass battery was completely trashed. 0 volts does not indicate a dead battery. 0 volts indicates a broken battery. So, he made sure to charge up the house battery bank so we could use it for raising the chain tomorrow.
Lulu cooked up some dorado filets au natural (salt and pepper only) and Jay and I ate them along with some more of the coleslaw and macaroni salad. Lulu didn't eat and this was the first indication we'd had that she was not feeling well. Turns out she was about halfway semi-nauseous all day and had a killer headache to boot. How she manages to carry on under those conditions is beyond me. I'd have been bed-ridden for sure. Our original amended plan was that Lulu ad I would go ashore and check out the salt mines on Saturday before heading back to Puerto Escondido. Jay decided not to go ashore as he wanted to take Judy there when she returns and felt it'd be more special if they were both seeing it for the first time. Anyway, Lulu was feeling so crappy that we decided to skip the salt mines and just head home tomorrow. Of course, since we'd be traveling back at trolling speed anyway, there would be no reason not to drag a baited lure or two along the way.