Tuesday, October 29, 2013

El Dia de los Muertos

Today is a very weird, quiet day.  The marina is quiet.  The streets are quiet.  It is really dead.  It is cloudy and we have off and on sprinkles and wind from the passing tropical storm. Perhaps La Paz is getting ready for "el Dia de los Muertos" (the Day of the Dead).

Similar to the timing of Halloween, Mexicans have el Dia de los Muertos to celebrate, remember and prepare special foods to honor the departed.  The streets near cemeteries have paper flowers, candy, skeletons and skulls, and of course, they have parades.  Skulls are painted bright yellow and don the name of the departed.

The people in Mexico believe that the spirit of the dead visit their families on October 31st and leave on November 2nd.

Skeletons, skulls, yellow marigolds, bread baked in shapes of skulls and figures and photos of the family member who died are placed upon an altar with candles and incense and the altar is the center of the celebration.

Mexicans react to death with mourning but also with happiness and joy and fear. They confront their fear by mocking and living with the dead.  In other words, they accept that death is a part of life and teach that concept early in life.  Young children's toys are often painted with skeletons and play "funeral" like we in the US play "house" or "dress-up".  Many forms of art depict death.

Death is a celebration in Mexico. Death is among them.  The children dress up but many have skeleton faces or costumes.  I will be out among the living and the dead and hope to capture it and share in my next blog.

Dia de los Muertos link

So...life continues in the marina.  More and more people are returning and it's kind of like returning to camp.  The community of people in La Paz is quite remarkable.  This is our third year here (only a few weeks here and there before) and we have gotten to be close with many of the cruising community.  It's always fun to see the new and yet familiar faces walking the docks.

That's all for now.  A little history lesson today.  Enjoy the sunset view!

First Mate Kate

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More fun in La Paz, MX

Life continues to be busy.  We have a new faucet and new solar panels!  We are waiting to give the frame a little more reinforcement but are on schedule to get the canvas done.

It is kind of funny to be a girly-girl living this lifestyle.  I'm channeling my hippie-chick and tom-boy.  It's helping.  I have three pairs of shoes:  crocks, flip-flops and trail running shoes. ( I have to admit...I wish I had one pair of girly sandals and one pair of high heels).  I do wear dresses to dinner if we go out, but usually with wet hair freshly out of the shower.  Most days I'm in a tank, shorts, crocks and a baseball cap.  Who could have imagined??!!  :)

So...here are some shots of the boat projects:

The new faucet.  It flexes to bend and move almost any way you need it to go and the nozzle moves, as well.  I love it!

(It was totally worth two trips to Home Depot and Lopez Marine to get all the parts!)

(Mike picking out the right parts)

The solar panels are not finished but there's been a lot of progress:

From no bimini

To an arch with two solar panels 

To an arch with all four solar panels.  

Mike is a bit worried that the weight is going to be too much for the boat.  I suggested that he offset the weight by installing an air conditioner in the forward berth which will use up some of that wattage supplied by the panels.  WIN-WIN!  We'll see if he goes for it.

Now all we need is a little reinforcement of the arch and the canvas and Mike to install the wiring and the controllers.  Fun with a capital F! (and other f-words)

This is how Mike has to position himself in order to work on the wiring.  He's basically under the cockpit.  Not a lot of air or room.  He calls it "monkey engineering"

Thus, I hand him tools, help him cool off and stay hydrated and assist him in getting up and out so he can enjoy this:

and this:

We went to the Instituto Sudcaliforniano de Cultura Escuela de Música del Estado for a concert on Monday night.  I wrote a little bit about it on my Facebook Page, but it was an outstanding evening.  We went with Nancy from Shindig and her sister Elaine who flew in with her husband from Sacramento.  The performers were truly amazing and I learned of a new jazz composer, Claude Bolling.  He is a French composer, pianist and apparently occasional actor.  I loved his music!  It was a conglomeration of Handel, Bernstein, Beethoven, Chopin, Pärt and traditional jazz.  The soloists (trumpet first, playing "Toot Suite" followed by violin) had to be masterful in classical and jazz styles.  Each suite had five movements, and in the trumpet composition, he used 5 different sizes of trumpets.

This is the hall:

Many cruisers are involved in organizing and teaching at the music school.  Nancy, our friend from Shindig, is playing piano for the concertmaster at the school so he can work on audition pieces for college and also playing cello in the concerts.  (I was selling her on Lamont).  It would be so easy to plug in there and never leave.  I have been keeping a low profile for that very reason.  I quit the job I loved to do this sailing thing!

So...we are well.  Hot, happy, tired, thinner, and busy.  I thought I'd have a lot of time to write and sing while down here.  I sing in the shower for fun.  I am very happy with the acoustics in the showers.  :-)  Otherwise, I even have to sit myself down to blog.  I did submit a workshop proposal for The Voice Foundation Conference next June.  I need to stay plugged in, somewhat.

Last night I was singing and all of a sudden I spotted two large pairs of antennae of the cockroaches hiding in the doorframe.  I think I'm developing a following.  I came out of the baño and asked Mike if he could hear me singing.  He laughed and said "The entire marina could hear you!"  Gulp.  Well...I haven't gotten any complaints yet.  HA!

First Mate Kate and Captain Mike

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy Monday

Happy Monday!  It's been a long weekend of boat projects and no time for blogging.  Sorry to keep you waiting.  :-)  We decided that we needed new faucets for the boat.  That meant a trip to Home Depot.  That meant riding the rickety cruiser bikes.  Did I mention it's 10 miles to get to Home Depot?  One way?   Oh...and we had to go back today because we didn't have all the right parts.  40 miles logged in two days can only be good.

(Two old mountain bikes donated by a cruising couple now act as our transportation....the true "cruiser" bikes.)

Needless to say,  I love the faucets and when the project is done, you shall have photos.  I guess a plumber's crack exists in all of us.  We just have to be doing some kind of plumbing work.  At least this one's a sweet one!

(Mike in plumber mode)

Mike, Wendy and I went for a 2 hour paddle this am as Mike and I did yesterday am.  We saw a sea turtle today, which made me very happy, as I have only seen them out inthe anchorages before.

(Wendy and Mike paddling)

The water has been very clear and the wind is picking up every afternoon to make it a cheap version of A/C.  I appreciate it.  I just wish I was sailing in it.  The marina is great but the blowing wind just taunts us when we can't leave.

(View from the V-berth inside Pangaea)

It is fall here in La Paz, and it's time for the butterflies to hatch!  We walked by a bush on the way to the boat and it was covered with them.  I remember when I was little there was a connection to Mexico and monarch butterflies.

I love all the seabirds here.  Just as we were coming into the marina today, we saw a Great Blue Heron.  He was kind enough to stay.  Often times he will "squawk!" at me and fly away before I can capture his pose.

Here's another social one.  I am not sure what he is.

I found a pelican sleeping on a pillar on the edge of the marina next to the bay.  I think that's a snowy egret next to him.

We haven't had a bimini for a week now...but word is that we will have it back tomorrow, without canvas.  Here's the before picture...

You can see the boat photos at Pangaea World Tour Facebook Page of what it looked like before.

Pangaea World Tour Facebook Page

Hope everyone is having a happy Monday!

First Mate Kate

Friday, October 18, 2013

Paddling With Dolphins

I started my day with my new friend, Nancy, who is also a cruiser.  She met me at our slip and we went paddling around the marina, stopped to do a little Pilates on our boards, and then headed out to the channel.  Mike and I always go around the channel buoys, so Nancy and I did, too.  On our way out, we spotted a pod of dolphins coming in to feed just a few feet from the return buoy.  I suggested we go paddle with them and we did!  It was so exciting and sweet to watch them play and gracefully move through the water so close to us. I, of course, didn't have my camera to document.  It was worth missing the photo to spend every second watching them as we paddled back to the marina.  Marine life, particularly dolphins and whales move me and I am instantly a happy little girl.

Last night I had a girls night out with 4 other new cruiser friends (and Nancy).  We went to a new sushi place and had some of the best sushi I have ever had with interesting sauces, amazingly fresh fish and not a lot of rice to fill you up.  Go Koi Sushi!

Wendy (on left) and Nancy

Koi Sushi on Trip Advisor

Mike had another day of yelling his way through tasks...mostly words I won't repeat...as he continued the boat project process.  (It really is funny...especially how they all run together).  It's hot and the spaces he has to work in are small and awkward and I can't really help him much.  I managed to help him a little today.  It's a bit overwhelming to have all this work to do and a friend coming to visit in a week.

We have removed the old solar panels and donated them to our cruising friends Charlotte and Steve who live in San Evaristo, a small fishing village north of La Paz.  We know they will go to good use.  Thus, we are in an install new solar panels mode, which so far has entailed removing our bimini, getting a new bimini built and eventually getting new canvas made for the top of the bimini.  We also have a new controller for the solar panels that needs to be installed.

Mike spent the last two days installing a new AIS system.  AIS allows us to see other ships via a VHF signal (almost like a radar) and allows us to get a GPS signal on our Ipads and computers because it creates its own wireless hotspot.

As Mike is completing his boat projects, he often gets distracted by discovering and repairing old lights, wiring, fans, grounding problems with the antennae, etc.

I prepared our new med kit and ditch bag today, so once we are offshore, we are set.

Mike's off on a hike now.

I'm making Thai Chicken in red curry sauce for dinner.  We have a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge.

Life is good.

First Mate Kate

Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Food For Thought

So...more observations.  Cruisers are generally really cool people who have led very interesting lives and chose the lifestyle of cruising for the adventure.  That's reassuring, because that's really why we chose it.  We both love to sail but it was the adventure and the pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone that enticed us to pull the plug.  We are definitely getting a dose of adventure and pushing the envelope every day!

Learning Spanish has its ups and downs.  I think I'm still speaking mostly Spitalian or Spanglish.  But the intention to speak Spanish is there.  One can get themselves in a bit of trouble with words that sound the same.  

Our new friend Wendy on Willow told us this story...

She worked for the fire department in LA, and got called out for a woman complaining of pain.  When she arrived on the scene, the woman didn't speak a lick of English.   At the time, Wendy knew just a little Spanish.  The EMT team worked her up and transported her to the hospital.  While on route, Wendy asked her if she needed anything.  All the woman said was "hambre".  Wendy thought "hombre".  So...when she got to the ED she told the nurse the woman needed her man.  She wasn't that kind of hungry.  hehe

Need a hand?  This was floating next to our friend Wendy's boat. You never know what might float up after a storm.

I'm pretty sure that's not a hand.  I think.  I hope.  I was too chicken to reach in and find out.  LOL

I have decided that I have ADD.  I am pretty sure that my students will confirm this as a fact from their experiences of my tangential thought process.  However, now that I have time to read, I notice I get distracted really easily and have to re-read passages a lot.  I remember being frustrated by this in college and the only ways I could study were alone in a really quiet library or discussing topics with my classmates.  I even notice that I have to concentrate to stay on track in conversations.  Maybe it's brain strain from all the changes in my life.

We had fun on our iSUPs yesterday.  Between all the walking, paddling and swimming we do, I think we are going to stay pretty fit. Maybe we'll even come back more fit!

So...crocs are the best invention ever for boating.  They are light, comfortable, easy to slip on and off and don't smell after a day paddleboarding.  They do, however, create major drag when swimming, so they have to stay on the board.

It makes me really happy when I can snap a picture like this where Mike is smiling without prompting.  He kicks my butt paddleboarding.  I kick his butt swimming.  HA! 

I thought I'd document my pretty toes (thank you, Casey Montoya).  

I don't need prompting for a smile, either.  :-)

So...I asked my neighbor in passing what her boat name was.  She said Do Be.  So I start thinking...how cool.  Do!  Be!  Wow....good mantras to live by.  Then I thought, oh...like "do be do be do".  (of course...the singing context).  Then Mike looked at me and gave me the toke gesture.  Oh.  Duh.   So much for existentialism.

This was our view from the dock last night.  Hard to beat!

Sending love and sunshine your way!

First Mate Kate

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Interesting Observations

I love Mexico.  It is beautiful.  People are really nice.  We live on the water and are close to great restaurants, a walkway along the Bahia de La Paz, paddleboarding, swimming, sailing, etc.  We have a marina bathroom with toilets and showers and a little tienda with things like ice, crackers and juice in case you forgot to buy them at the store.

However, the showers have the biggest cockroaches I have ever seen!  The first time I saw one was at night and I let out a blood-curdling scream!  (hey...I'm a girl).  When I was little I used to make my dad come in and kill the spiders in my room before I could fall asleep.  These buggers rival any spider I have ever seen. EEK!  I even resorted to singing to keep them hiding last night.  Not because my singing would scare them away (although some might think so...brother JOHN) but because singing calms me and opera is loud.  I chose Puccini, Massenet and then started making up a song about how afraid I was of the cockroach and how I wanted it to go away.  Since running back to the boat naked really isn't a relaxing or viable option, I kept my eye on the floor as I dressed and escaped without another encounter.  PHEW!

One major event in our lives is going to the grocery store.  I know...don't be silly.  Well....the marina has a little shuttle van but it only drives to the edge of the bay.  So, in order to get to the really good supermercado, one has to walk an additional 5 miles from the little store.  I like walking, and it's a really great way to get to know the city.  However, the sidewalks are dangerous.  They are made of varying types of concrete at all different levels so if you don't look down while you walk, you can hurt yourself.  I've tripped many times.  In fact, today I ran into a lamppost because I was watching a blowup doll Pharmacist with a pink breast cancer ribbon waving to entice me into his store.  OUCH!

I was very pleased with our trip to the supermercado, and we bought a lot of yummy food and adult beverages (7 bags full) for $200.  That would be only about 3 bags full at Whole Paycheck sin tequilla.  The Mexicans do look at you like you are some kind of alien when you hand them your cloth bags with which you want them to bag your groceries.  No plastico! Demasiado plastic en el mar. (TOO MUCH PLASTIC IN THE SEA!)  I am all for bringing your own cloth bags to the grocery store.

The last funny part of this journey is the boat project process.  I help when I can but I am not very electronically or mechanically inclined.  So, mostly I hand tools and a cold beer when it isn't going so well.  I have a very quiet husband.  Sometimes to a fault.  However, I have never heard so many expletives out of him than when he is doing a boat project.  It generally has to do with wiring or old components, or sometimes when he hits his head on the companion way top he forgot to open or the stairs he put up to access the crawl space.  It entertains me.

Mike in boat project mode.

Hasta la bye-bye for now.

First Mate Kate

Monday, October 14, 2013

Preparing to Sail


We are in boat project mode now, as we prepare to sail the Sea of Cortez.  Mike is literally pulling out the Navigation Station and deciding which components to keep/replace.  New Solar Panels, courtesy of Al Lynch, go up within the week (or so...it is Mexico).

To keep things interesting, Mike and I, along with a few cruiser friends, entered the Harker Boards 3rd Annual SUP Race yesterday.  We did a relay and a sprint and did pretty well, considering we hadn't been on our boards for a few months and it was our first race.  Everyone else had hard boards, so we were a bit at a disadvantage on an inflatable.  It was still a blast and we weren't expecting to win.  LOL

    Team SHINWILLOGAEA (Mike, Wendy on Willow, Rob on Shindig and me)

    Me finishing our relay !!

The beginning of the women's sprint

(Wendy from team SHINWILLOGAEA...closest in...WON!)


We found our way down to La Encantada, the place to go in La Paz for the best live music.  They have a little bit of everything...jazz, blues, indie.  Just not opera.  We met the owner, Lila, who was very nice and actually invited me to sing.  Let's see if I can grow a pair before we set sail.  It's hard to explain, but singing jazz and blues or even pop is not even close to the same as opera, classical or musical theatre.  I have been trained to read music and sing/play from music.  Take that away and I have a hard time feeling comfortable singing.  So...I will have to learn the pieces I want to sing, in the keys that feel the best in my voice, and go down and just sing!  Ha!  Right!  Well...never say never.  I do love to sing.

Signing off for now...

First Mate Kate