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Sailing with Tradewinds
Chetumal
Nancy
05/16/2012

We limped the dingy to shore & got a room at The Flying Cloud Hotel next to this cute little dive shop (XTC Dive Center). They have 5 rooms renting from 40, 50 or $60 a night. We were up & walking by 4:30 to catch the bus that leaves at 5. We went to Chetumal to find a dinghy & something for the termites. The ride itself, we knew, was going to be an experience. The first ½ hr wasn't bad and then he turned onto a dirt road that was only the width of the bus. The palm fronds were slapping both sides cleaning the windows. The potholes!!!! OMG! The driver would get the bus up the 3rd gear then slam on the brakes back to 1st. This lasted for about an hour. There were some really cool little resorts & villages along the way where we were picking up people. We traveled north to Majahual then west. It took 4 hours to get to Chetumal. Along the way the scenery never bored you, between the speed bumps (topes) & check point Charlie with armed guards who boarded the bus & looked around, we were entertained. At one of the stops some locals came aboard selling sandwiches & tamales. There was a Mayan ruin right there on the side of the road. Who knows what significance it has??
We arrived in Chetumal at 9:00. The air-conditioning on the bus was so cold - how cold was it? - it was so cold, we walked around a few blocks not knowing where we were going just so we could warm up. Ha! Starving, looking for breakfast, we flagged down a taxi who took us to 1 of the markets for real Mexican food. YUMMIE! We each had a huge tamale & sopes. The market is so typical. Selling meat in the open air, beautiful fruit & vegetables everywhere, all kinds of clothing & hats & serapes' & shoes & purses ----- you get the idea. Amazing place.
We had asked our taxi driver, Juan Carlos, to come back & be our chauffeur for the day. He actually came back! He went home to pick up his mother so she could ride around with these crazy gringos. He was probably only around 20 yrs old? Really nice people. So - off we were to find a dinghy. Went to the nautical store, Wallmart, Sams & then out to the 'free zone.' This is an area between Mexico & Belize. Not part of either Country, just a chunk of land with duty free stores on it. Well - check point Charlie border guards would not let us cross because we did not have our tourist papers. After a little pleading, Fernando slipped him a $20 and he went right to stamping, we were allowed to go in. They love their stamps. Unfortunately we did not find 1. When we were coming out we had to go through check point Jim. (Charlies brother) Luckily we had flipped Charlie the $20., we told Jim, Charlie said we were ok & he let us come back into Mexico from (the Free-Zone)a land that was neither Mexico or Belize...... you figure it out? I guess they share the $20. Actually the Free-Zone wasn't all that free, it cost us $20.
Exhausted from driving around the Capital of the State of Quintana Roo, we asked Juan Carlos & mom to take us to the bus station. After 3 hrs of schlepping us everywhere, the price was a whopping 380 pesos!!! That's only $32.00 US. Of course we tipped him very well & mom seemed very happy.
What a wonderful day so far. We did get the termite stuff & now we will just have to go to plan B about the dingy. We were able to pick up some incredible fruit to bring back. The pineapple (pina) is in season now & it is so sweet & juicy. YUMMIE! They are only in May & June, so we are here at the right time.
The ride back to Xcalak was the first paragraph in reverse. Ha! We made it back by 8:30, walked back to XTC dive shop/hotel & crashed.
What a great adventure!

Killer Bees
Nancy
05/16/2012

Killer Bees?
We've all heard about them, right? Well, little did we know!!!
It's Tuesday morning & we are preparing to go to land & get a hotel room for the next 2 or 3 nights so we can take care of some things. The neighbor, who pulled in yesterday, was on his way over when we saw a bee downstairs & promptly killed it. When we greeted Bob, he then started telling us about a swarm of bees that made his boat their home. While he was telling us this, I noticed there were more & more bees flying around us. With towel in hand & Fernando donning the fly swatter, we commenced battle. In the meantime a panga (local boat) was coming out. I flagged them down & explained we had abejas. (bees) He said he would go tell someone & off he went back to shore. A few minutes later he & his wife showed up with a canister & spray to hose down the bees. We were lucky the queen had not set up home yet. But! Her sister had on the other boat. The hive was as big as the engine on his dingy! Big! So, off they went to the other sailboat to get the wicked bee of the south. The Owner of the boat stayed with us (chicken) with his friends killing off the bees that had made it into their salon. After what seemed to be at least 3 hours (ha!), the Mexican rescue team of husband & wife left.
Now you say, "What? Were they killer bees"? I don't know. I just thought it made for a good story headline. They looked like honey bees to both Fernando & I, but there was a lot of killing going on.

A long night at Sea
Nancy
05/15/2012

25 hours later, we arrived in Xcalak. (7:30 Saturday morning) When we left Bahia de Spiritu Santo, the winds & waves had already picked up. We knew we had to find a place to do our zarpe. We made it to Majahual in about 6 hrs. We tried to go in there & couldn't, it was too shallow. We had to go to Xcalak. Knowing the pass to get into Xcalak was tricky we decided it would be better to do it in daylight. What this meant was we would have to pull an all-nighter. So an all-nighter it was. We got to Xcalak at 9 pm turned around went back to Majahual (2:00 am) to turn around & go to Xcalak once more being pounded all the way with high winds & waves. Not a friendly sea she was. Fernando had to adjust sails hanging on in the meantime. Rode hard & put up wet (literally), we were both salty, sticky & had very little sleep. We were still being pounded by the waves as we made our approach to the cut. As we were going through, a giant wave picked us up & threw us on the reef causing us to bump really hard & break our #1 rule. 'Don't hit anything.' The next wave gratefully picked us up also & took us off the reef. Fernando had given her all she had & she just did not respond. ? After anchoring we realized my dingy Captainship was short lived & over. BOO HOO! The dinghy went down. She took it in the bow. The sides & floor are ok. Actually it probably helped push us off the reef. Now we get to search for a new dinghy. When Fernando did dive under Tradewinds to make sure everything was ok, he found a rope an inch thick 10 ft. long wrapped around the prop. DUH! That's why she didn't have any umpf when we needed it. "I'm givin her all she got Captain & she just won't do any more." Tradewinds is a tough old girl & is ok. A little beat up, but ok.
We also discovered we picked up termites somewhere! Who know where, but we have to take care of them. Not sure where to find the chemicals to do so. Maybe we'll ask The Bee Guy.

Bahia Del Espiritu Santo
05/10/2012

A day with dolphins

05/08/2012

Dolphin escort

Tuesday the 8th
05/08/2012, Bahia de la Ascencion

Tuesday 8th
We left Puerto Aventuras around 8 am. Our destination was Bahio de Asencion. It only took us 5 hrs to get there. It is a huge bay that is an ecological preserve. Hundreds of species of birds, butterflies & other things we want to protect.  When we got there, we followed the chart to an anchoring behind a little island that supposedly has a town on it. Never did see it. We were greeted by a pod of dolphins, 6 or 7, that took us most of the way to our spot. It was a lovely area. Not very protected by the wind tho, so the next day we moved over to the other side. Either the same group of dolphins escorted us or it was another, not sure. This place had more protection & we were able to get a better night sleep.
The next day we traveled another 24nm to Bahia de Espiritu Santo. So, we went from the bay of the Ascension to the bay of the Spirit of Christ. We must Be protected now! This bay is much smaller. At least you can see the other side of it. Still yet another pod of dolphins were alongside of us & hung around for a little while after we got anchored. Very quiet, Peaceful place, of course! Another sail pulled in at sunset & anchored near us. After a while, it sometimes feels like you are the only ones out there. So it was nice to have another human around. Because there really wasn't anything to do without a guide, & not knowing how to find one, we decided to take off the next morning.
Friday 11th - We could hear the wind howling when we left at 6:30 & knew we were in for a rough ride. This sailing stuff is NOT for sissies!

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