Cruising with Vida Dulce

15 December 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
14 December 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
04 December 2017 | Guatemala City
04 December 2017
21 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
20 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
17 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
14 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
14 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatamala
13 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
09 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatamala
07 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
03 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
28 October 2017
26 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
25 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
24 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
23 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
21 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
10 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Lithium Batteries Arrive

15 December 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / hot, humid 85 degrees F
One step closer to leaving the Rio Dulce. Today our 4 lithium batteries are delivered. They were suppose to be the last items to receive before heading down river, but if you’re read previous blogs, you know we’re still waiting for our wet bar fridge to be released from customs. Jerry calls the custom guy each week; last week he said it would be released in two weeks, this week, he said one week. At least he’s consistent with his story these days. We received the other items in the fridge ocean cargo shipment on Oct 6th, so it is now been 10 weeks held hostage.

With this battery delivery, Jerry can proceed with the next steps of his lithium battery management system development and testing. When he takes a break from work on the latest Mintaka Innovations product under development… Always soo much to do.

Dulcita’s Solar Panel, Battery & Bilge Pump

14 December 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / hot, humid 85 degrees F
Today is the last day of a nice, if short, dry stretch. Tonight rain & thundershowers return for the next 5 days or so. As a result, it’s a flurry of activity to take advantage of this clear blue, hot & sunny day.

Dulcita is now left at one of the marina’s dinghy docks rather than lifting her nightly on the davits, so one critical to-do is to install & power a bilge pump. If she gets too much water in her, not being an inflatable, she can sink. Jerry installs a small solar panel, small AGM battery, charge controller, and an automatic bilge pump. This should keep her relatively dry and, most importantly, floating during the expected heavy rains.

Laundry, final sanding & vanishing of Dulcita’s false floor, sewing & installing gas tank straps to keep it from pummeling the new bilge pump while underway, and others tasks quickly fill the rest of the day. By 4:40pm, we’re stowing tools, taking out garbage, making sure hatches are closed, and doing final pre-happy hour activities. It’s been a busy productive day.

On The Hunt

04 December 2017 | Guatemala City
Susan / mostly sunny, 80 degrees F
We arrive Guatemala City mid-day. After deplaning, clearing Migration & Customs and checking into the hotel, we activate our in-person hunt for our hostage wet bar fridge. We want “proof of life” before leaving the city for the Rio Dulce.

We have documentation of numerous phone calls and emails on the situation, and today’s follow up “we’re in Guatemala City right now!” pestering and persistence pays off in rolling bits of additional information. Bottom line, our fridge (along with the other confiscated items from this Transcargo shipment) is held at a DHL Global Storage facility. Apparently SAT (Guate Customs) doesn’t have their own storage facility. This turns out to be a very good thing. We eventually find our way there via taxi. Jerry talks at length with the guards behind a well-fortified gate before the person we want to see comes outside to us. More conversation ensues. Jerry shows him proof of our ownership and the correct shipping / tracking information. He agrees to take Jerry personally to the area, and allows the taxi with me inside the secure parking area to wait.

Must have been 45 minutes before they’re back. The fridge is indeed there in it’s original shipping box, stored on the 3rd level of one of the hundreds of 3-story storage platforms. It took a bit of extra time to get our pictures because the aisle in front of it was filled with other goods, which needed to be cleared away to allow the pallet mover with a person cage to be driven in. When in place, the DHL man is hoisted, and he takes the requested photos. Along the way, he gives Jerry additional information like the name & phone number of the SAT person in charge of Transcargo shipments. We were planning to visit the main SAT office as our next stop however we were discouraged from making an in person visit. Better to phone. So that’s what Jerry does while in the taxi. He’s told it could be 15 days, perhaps a month before any of the confiscated items from that shipment is released. Jerry repeats our assertion that our fridge should not have been confiscated; it is a pair, listed on the same invoice as the freezer that has been delivered. More talking. In the end, Jerry will just call him every few days to pester him; you know, squeaky wheel. We’ll go back to the city to pick it up ourselves from the storage facility if necessary!

So the good news is it has not been stolen by officials, at least not yet. The not so good news, we still are in waiting mode.

In related news, we are still waiting for our lithium batteries, as well. That entire Transcargo shipment was opened by SAT box by box, and compared to the paperwork. Now the Transcargo insurance people will not pay the taxes to have it released until they take a photo of the contents of each box and compare it with the paperwork to insure nothing is missing. Perhaps later this week the shipment will be released… perhaps next week….

Oaxaca MX Trip Recap

04 December 2017
Susan
Our Sunday 26Nov bus ride to Guatemala City was just as we’d hoped, no construction road closures. We left the RioD around 9:30am and were checked into our hotel by 4pm. Still daylight under mostly sunny skies. What a treat!; usually we arrive after dark and it’s raining. The following morning we enjoy the hotel’s fantastic buffet breakfast (fresh fruit, pastries, custom omelets, hot sides, cold meats & cheeses, muesli / cereals, excellent coffee, and more…choose what looks best to you) before being shuttled to the airport, which is nearby. In fact our room has a excellent view of the airport, and also a view of several of the volcanos to the west of the city, giving us a delightful orange sunset. An excellent start to our get-away trip.

Our arrival air journey was equally uneventful: long lines in MX Migration and Customs, yes; a long wait until our collectivo taxi-van leaves the airport, yes, yet we’re the first dropped off; our airbnb host isn’t around however her mom answers our doorbell ring & lets us into our apt. It’s 8pm by the time we’re settled. Nonetheless we head out to a nearby area of good restaurants and enjoy a lovely shared mole negro dish accompanied by live jazz music.

During our stay, we do a lot of walking about town. So much so that after just a couple of days I know where we are by sight on the streets around our apt, and to / from the zocolo. Oaxaca feels and looks similar to Antigua to us in that it’s an old city, lots of stone buildings built to withstand frequent earthquakes, numerous churches & traditions / festivals / events, well-stocked open air markets as well as a small tienda on every block and one supermarket, clean streets (many still cobblestone), welcoming people, lots to see and do in town and around the valley, a culture of delicious food, and artisans of all crafts. We enjoy our time here, in fact on several occasions discussed changing our plane tickets to stay longer.

Oaxaca Valley tours: One day, we take an organized tour to see several of the must-see sites; Mitla (archeological ruins of the Zapotec’s tribe’s sacred burial site), a town of artisan weavers (Teotitlan), the petrified waterfall (Hierve el Agua) which included a steep hike down & back, and a visit to one of the many mezcal farms / sellers. It was a very full day with our pickup at 9:25am and drop-off nearly 8pm. For the other Oaxaca Valley must-see site, Monte Alban, we buy roundtrip tickets on a tour-like mini-bus, to tour the archaeological site of the important Zapotec capital city / state. We declined the option of another full day tour with other stops because frankly none of others appealed to us enough to spend the time or money. At Monte Alban we use a guide book and the multilingual informational signs to inform us while we walk around this impressive ruin.

One cannot talk about a Oaxaca stay without talking about food and mezcal. Mexico, and Oaxaca in particular, is know for it’s moles (7 official recipes, with variations that are primarily embellishments of the mole rojo) and mezcal (did you know that tequila is a mezcal? tequila is made by one type of agave cactus; each mezcal is made with one of the several other species of the agave cacti.). Moles are complex sauces used a number of ways, most commonly over / with cooked meat yet meat is not a requirement to enjoy the sauce with rice, veggies, tamales and/or freshly made tortillas. There’s lots of info on the internet about Mexican / Oaxaca moles so I won’t repeat it here. During our visit we enjoyed several mole dishes, some more than others, so when we located a well-stocked tienda in the vibrant open air Juarez market which stocks mother’s recipes (yep, she’s there in the pix) of mole pastes & dry mixes we knew just what we wanted to bring back - mole negro, mole amarillo, mole verde & mole de ajonjoli. In another shop we purchase local drinking chocolate, a commonly enjoyed beverage here.

Bars, restaurants, tour places are defiantly cashing in on the relatively recent mezcal craze; prices are high for an order of mezcal so trying several just to see what is liked best is cost prohibitive for us. Besides, I’d rather spend the cost of 2-3 portions on an entire bottle. So we gamble a bit and purchase, also in the Juarez market, several bottles to bring back. Along with our duty free purchase, our (1) checked bag is nearly filled to the weight limit with alcohol; good thing we packed minimal clothing!

Weather-wise the entire week is beautiful with clear sunny skies. A bit cold at dark and in the AM if not in the sun. Our airbnb apt is well insulated, meaning colder inside than outside temps, which is great if the days are hot yet chilly at current temps (mid-70’s). Jerry regularly wore fleece, jeans & socks. I wear one of my newest (Guatemala) Lake Atitlan shawls pretty much nonstop. Outside while walking around during the day the sun is comfortably warm. Even with the cool nighttime temps, we take in the very large full moon; a beautiful sight from the zocalo while listening to local musicians entertain the weekend crowd.

It was a throughly enjoyable getaway. We look forward to a return stay in Oaxaca. Pictures will be uploaded to the 2017 Rio Dulce gallery when I get a decent internet connection (yep, back in the RioD…)

Goin’ To Oaxaca MX

21 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly sunny, 87 degrees F
Yep, decision made. We’re going to use the delivery delay opportunity to visit Oaxaca MX, a place we’ve been wanting to go. Oaxaca is the land of mezcal & roasted grasshoppers & moles. There are 7 types of moles and we plan to try them all. Mezcal is the local drink so I’m sure we’ll have ample opportunity to sample them about town, and plus hopefully in the mezcal distillery capital of the world, Metatlan, a village 45 minutes outside of Oaxaca. Also around Oaxaca are ancient ruins, a petrified waterfall, local open-air markets and other sites to explore.

It’s a fairly short air travel day from Guatemala City to Oaxaca MX via Mexica City. The travel leg from here to Guate City (and back) is the longer leg time-wise with construction delays, traffic, etc. So…one day to Guate City, next day AeroMexico flights to Oaxaca, several days there exploring the area before returning. A bonus of our MX stay is that it resets our passport time in CA4 countries, of which Guatemala & Honduras are two. And who knows, perhaps our batteries and fridge will be waiting for us upon return.

Morales Shopping Trip

20 November 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly cloudy, showers, 80 degrees F
One of the new things here this season is a semi-organized group shopping trip to the nearby larger town of Morales. One is gotten together approx every other week. We’ve never been to Morales so we signed up to go on this mornings trip. Cost: Q.35 per person round trip. (As a comparison the local mini-buses that run between Fronteras & Morales depart every 8 minutes for a cost of Q.12 however they are jam-packed, sorry looking vehicles; we’ve never taken one.)

A mid-sized bus departs at 9am from one of the other marinas carrying 25 of us cruisers. The bus is clean, the seats are reasonably comfortable and they’ll be room for our purchases without having them crammed under our seats, between our feet, on our laps and so on. A good start. It takes a little less than an hour to travel to Morales. First stop: funky bits-of-everything small shop. Second stop: hardware store. Third stop: farmacia. 4th stop: Mega Dispensa (grocery store) Final stop: Morales’ open-air market area. At 1:30pm, we’ve all purchased what there is to get on our lists, and we head back.

What did we find in Morales that couldn’t be found in Fronteras? Not much. The only place Jerry & I make purchases is the Mega Dispensa. The selection & cost of dairy products is better than Fronteras’ selection of various sized shops. I snatch the last 2 bags of fresh spinach and a container of mushrooms, two items not found in Fronteras. Perhaps the biggest find aside from the previous two items is Bounty-brand paper towels (local brand ones are worthless). Other than that, meh. The shopping excursion was a good thing to do once.
Vessel Name: Vida Dulce
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Jerry and Susan Barber
About: Jerry and Susan moved aboard Vida Dulce in late October of 2010. We are currently in the Caribbean.
Vida Dulce's Photos - Main
16 Photos
Created 20 October 2017
17 Photos
Created 2 September 2017
4 Photos
Created 15 December 2016
9 Photos
Created 17 October 2016
20 Photos
Created 1 September 2015
North Coast, West section 2015; Havana to Baracoa Bus Trip 2016
100 Photos
Created 15 May 2015
38 Photos
Created 11 March 2015
50 Photos
Created 25 December 2014
The road trip included 7 States: WA, OR, ID, WY, CO, UT, MT
16 Photos
Created 3 August 2014
Hurricane Season 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 14 June 2014
Pictures of our stay in Honduras 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 4 January 2014
10 Photos
Created 18 October 2013
4 Photos
Created 20 September 2013
Our Dec 2012 - Feb 2013 visit
55 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 31 December 2012
Happy Holidays from Isla Providencia, Colombia
11 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Photos of my on-board garden
16 Photos
Created 28 September 2012
4 Photos
Created 26 December 2011
Pictures of our time in Panama, Sept 2011 - Dec 2012
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 29 September 2011
Pictures of our visit to Columbia, May-Oct 2011
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 15 July 2011
Photos of our series drogue and May 2011 practice deployment and retrieval
24 Photos
Created 13 May 2011
Pictures from our brief visit to Bonaire, Curacao & Aruba in May 2011
35 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our short stay off Isla Pelona in May 2011
17 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our time in Grenada, April 2011
48 Photos
Created 23 April 2011
Pictures of our island stops in the Grenadines, April 2011
36 Photos
Created 4 April 2011
Photos of St Vincent, April 2011
11 Photos
Created 2 April 2011
Photos of St Lucia March 2011
46 Photos
Created 15 March 2011
68 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Dominica 2011
3 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Iles des Saintes, Feb 2011
12 Photos
Created 17 February 2011
Photos of Guadeloupe, Feb 2011
49 Photos
Created 13 February 2011
Photos of Barbuda, Jan 2011
15 Photos
Created 14 January 2011
20 Photos
Created 30 December 2010
2 Photos
Created 26 December 2010
Photos of Red Hook, St Thomas and Vida Dulce getting a new bank of batteries and the installation of her new custom made arch which will support 4 solar panels.
28 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Haul out of Vida Dulce in November of 2010.
23 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Lots of photos of various places not in other albums. Most are included directly in a blog entry.
27 Photos
Created 31 October 2010
15 Photos
Created 11 September 2010
A "Working" Trip with Jim to start outfitting the boat for cruising.
31 Photos
Created 10 September 2010
11 Photos
Created 5 April 2010
34 Photos
Created 5 April 2010