The week in review
05/24/2012, paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta mexico
Si Bon has had lots of work done in the past week, her wood now looks almost brand new. Juan also talked me into having him shine up all of the stainless steel...which over the years had become very stained. It's nice to be settled in without all the workers trampling around just above our heads. The bad news is that our dinghy has been in the water for about a month now...and yesterday afternoon when I lifted it out of the water the bottom looked like a marine biology experiment. I quickly dropped it back in and said to myself "manana", while kicking the small crabs that are now living on the dinks bottom back into the water.
Sunday morning we met one of the local waiters, David, and his family for a drive out to a "real" Mexican restaurant in the "real" Mexican town of Las Palmas (pic). Las Palmas is about 20 miles east of Puerto Vallarta, and the restaurant is actually part of a farm where they pretty much raise/grow everything they serve. The day was another example of Mexican hospitality, as afterward we were welcomed into David's home and soon felt like one of the family.
Well, it's time to go take care of the marine biology experiment on the dinks bottom....could be a blog in itself.
Soon after arriving in Mexico over a year ago I found myself falling in love with the Mexican people and their culture. It's hard not to fall in love with the friendly, hardworking, family oriented Mexicans. Most of the Mexicans that we deal with on a daily bases live a very simple life, they don't make very much money, and they don't need very much money.
Many of our visitors quickly become intimidated by the constant barrage of beach venders, store venders, taxi drivers and yes...even the time share salespeople. Since there is no welfare system here in Mexico, the Mexicans MUST work....or go hungry. The Mexican families pretty much work from the get go, it's not unusual for the store owners daughter, a 10 or 12 year girl, to ring up your groceries or fix your street tacos. It's also not unusual to see a young boy helping his father with the family fishing or boat cleaning business. The one thing you don't see here is people standing on street corners holding signs that say "hungry, please help".
For the most part the Mexicans are an honest bunch, you can leave your $100.00 sunglasses laying on a table and some Mexican without a penny to their name will chase you down to return them. If you're not sure how much something costs, you can hand the cashier some money and be assured that they will take the correct amount....it's just the way they are.
The Mexicans here are proud to be Mexicans. I'm not sure why in the US we have to call them Hispanic's....but I can tell you that here they are Mexicans....and VERY proud of it.
One of the first adjustments I had to make last year when I returned to the US, was the lack of any kind of connection between my fellow Americans. There was no eye contact, no "hello" or "good afternoon", just eyes straight ahead and try to ignore all other mankind. Well here I must say "hola amigo/amiga" or "buenos Dias" to just about everyone I come in contact with.
Yes, it is definitely hard not to fall in love with the Mexicans and Mexico, and if a beach vender walks up to you and holds out his or her tray of goods...a simple "no gracias" will send them on their way to the next possible customer. The time share guys are a different matter....maybe some bug spray?
Next job (they're never-ending)
05/15/2012, Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta mexico
Before Si Bon was hauled Sharon and I had started the long process of re-varnishing Si Bon's brite work, brite work is the woodwork on a boat. Don't ask me why they call it brite work, it's like so many other nautical terms that seem to make no sense. Usually when we do the brite work, by the second coat of varnish we're thinking "WOW this sure looks a lot better than it did". This time after the second (of three) coats we both were looking at each other and saying "this looks like s*&t". There comes a time when simply sanding down the existing varnish and re-varnishing just isn't enough, it becomes necessary to remove ALL of the varnish down to bare wood, and begin the process all over. I've watched a few "experts" strip varnish...and it looked to be a little more work than I wanted to tackle....so I hired one of the "experts" to make our brite work bright again.
Now I know that many of you are thinking "what a lazy ass", but hey I have a blog to write and happy hours to attend....so I brought in Juan and his three sons. So while we sit in the air-conditioned mall, eating $1.50 Subway sandwiches and writing our blogs, Juan is busy on Si Bon stripping away.
The above picture shows how much discoloration there is on the toe rail on the left, the toe rail on the right was stripped yesterday and virtually all of the discoloration has been eliminated.
Home sweet home
05/12/2012, Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta mexico
After leaving Si Bon at the boatyard on Tuesday Sharon and I checked into the Casa Dona Susana in "The Romantic Zone" of downtown Puerto Vallarta. The Romantic Zone is a really cool area filled with trendy shops, restaurants, coffee houses and of course bars. We were kept busy (but not out of trouble) exploring the neat little seaside area while waiting for Si Bon to be fixed.
When it comes to boat repairs, you never really know how long or how much it's going to be. Originally the repair people said it would probably be 2-3 days, and they refused to even try to cough up a cost estimate. Needless to say I spent most of the time we were in the Romantic Zone wondering how much this was going to cut off of my cruising days. I must be living right because Si Bon was finished in 2 days and the cost was well below what even my most optimistic hope was. There were MAJOR repairs completed including not only pulling the shaft and replacing the shaft seal (stuffing box), but also removing the rudder and completely rebuilding the rudder housing and bearings, and dismounting the Max prop AND completely servicing it.
Last night my longtime friend Amanda and her husband Mike stopped by for happy hour on Si Bon. We had a great time catching up and getting to know each other better before we headed out for a lagoon side dinner of Surf and Turf. Next time you guys come out we WILL go sailing and we WILL ride the public busses....chickens and all.
Another haul out
05/08/2012, Another boatyard
Well, our parts finally made it and this morning we woke early and made our way to the Opequimar boatyard in Puerto Vallarta...a distance of about 5 miles. Our dripping stuffing box continued to drip at a steady one drop per 4-5 seconds. It's always somewhat nerve wracking having your boat hauled....I should know, as this is the FOURTH TIME since I've owned Si Bon that she has been hauled. Never the less it is always stressful pulling into an unknown boatyard, between a row of unknown barnacle covered pilings, while some guy is yelling in Spanglish "grape da line" or "poosh de barco dat way".
I'm getting kinda sick of hauling Si Bon. The costs go beyond just the boatyard and repairman, we have to get a hotel room, eat out for however many days....blah blah blah. Along with the costs we are also displaced from our home....a home that we love and a home that is kind of like a family member. On the other hand, every time she has been hauled it has been for preventive maintenance, and as much as I hate spending the money.....it beats the alternative.
So, here we are checked into our hotel in the "Romantic Zone" of Puerto Vallarta and getting excited to start exploring an area of PV that we haven't seen much of. Meanwhile our home sits high and dry in a dusty, noisy boatyard...sorry Si Bon, but it's for your own good.
For the birds
05/06/2012, El Salado estuary
Most boat owners do not particularly care for birds. The little bastards tend to poop all over our boats, this causes not only a mess, but also occasionally causes damage as well. There's no bigger piss off than scrubbing down the boat, and while admiring your nice clean boat, a large bird decides to let one go on what used to be a clean deck. People try all sorts of things to keep them away, they put rakes on the top of the mast, they string old CD's around the boat (we've gotten some good oldies this way), they put out fake snakes and owls, and still the birds shit away, often while sitting on top of a fake owl. Although not happy about their calling cards, we have come to love the many Seabirds. No matter where we are the birds are a constant source of entertainment. There was the time in Auga Verde that I was refueling the boat when 4-5 Pelicans landed right next to us and hung out just staring at us for at least an hour, and only a few feet away. There are the Boobies (we've already told all the Boobie jokes), who sail with our wind and land on the top of the mast in the middle of the night, they just sit there and keep us company on lonely night passages while we call out "hey boobie". One of my favorites is the frigatebird, the frigatebird is a seabird that cannot take off if it becomes wet. Frigatebirds look like something out of a batman movie, long sharp beaks and split tails gives them a fierce appearance. Since they are unable to get wet, frigates fly over the other seabirds waiting until one catches a fish, then the fight is on as the Frigate try to steal the other birds dinner.
Now that we are in the estuary, we not only have a constant visual show, but every morning we awake to an orchestra of birds. Sharon has a new favorite she has named "the farting bird" as they happily chirp away and then right at the end, they let out what can only be described as a loud farting noise. If we come back as another animal I would definitely want to come back as a bird, I'm just having a difficult time deciding what kind of bird I'd want to be....but whatever kind it is, you can bet I'll be taking a dump on your boat.