Success and visitors
18 March 2012 | Marina Palmira
We attended a St. Patty's Day celebration last night. It was sponsored by the local "Club Cruceros de La Paz" cruisers' club. Although we didn't realize it, there is a community of 200 or so expatriate Americans and Canadians who live aboard their boats here and create their own little town, complete with monthly holidays and activities. People are perfectly happy to live out their lives here in the La Paz sun. I suppose that it could be worse. A US Social Security check goes a long way here and a good many people have established Mexican citizenship so that they can own property or start businesses. One sees quite a few older American men with "nieces", as they are known: young Mexican women who take care of their needs, as it were.
The St. Patty's meal was classic corned beef and cabbage, and plenty of everything. It was held in a local restaurant so we could buy cerveza and green Margaritas. St. Patty's in Mexico is an odd event, to be sure. What must the Pazeños think of it? It's probably no more ridiculous than our Thanksgiving: El Dia del Gracias.
What we noticed was that we were the kids. Imagine! Most were well into their 70s and many were in their 80s and still living aboard their boats. Many of the boats were in marinas, and paying much less than an apartment, I guess, but still they had to take showers off their boats. Most men were pot-bellied and white-haired, most women were in better shape, with a few in very good shape. Pride of appearance reared its head, I think. What an odd reversal of ages, that this community was so old, but I guess that having the time and money to enjoy things like cruising is not normally possible. I wonder if there will be other generations that have the gift of retirement" in which they have disposable income and the life expectancy to use it for many years. As we were strolling in La Paz the other night, we saw an old man sweeping the sidewalks. He looked like he was in his late 80s, but perhaps he was younger. The lifetime of sun had done its work on his skin, so it was difficult to tell. At any rate, Mexico has no social security system so this guy would work until he died, and for most people in the world it's the same. You work until you die. This model of living in a golden age of retirement is new, since World War 2, and never before, and in all likelihood it'll never be again. Only the very rich have had the opportunity that many Americans have now. If you don't know any better, you expect no more. No wonder that people think that Americans are rich! In most countries, only the rich can live as these retirees live.
We got the solar panels wired today! They're not permanently installed, and we won't do that for a while since we haven't decided on a plan for it, but they do work as advertised. One panel can completely power the refrigerator, and it's the largest energy consumer by a long way. The other panel will be able to take care of all the other uses, so I think that we could stay at anchor permanently and not use any fuel for the engine. It's such an enormous relief to realize that!
Make no mistake, we have two 5-ft glass boxes to care for, so they're by no means without a hassle factor. Presently, we we have them stayed in the dinghy that's on the foredeck. I made sure to put the dinghy open-side up, and just set the two panels inside, put the sun cover on it, and strapped it to the deck. They're protected while we sail/travel, but are out of the below decks.
With Debbie and Philippe, my sister and her husband, arriving today, we were under the gun to complete the outfitting of the boat, and we finished as they arrived. Great timing! These two are a fun-loving, easy-going people and are easy company. We'll go shopping tomorrow, using their rental car to hit a few large but distant stores, then take off for our week-long trip. We think that we'll stay at Bahia Balandra, the location of our 2011 Christmas card.
We've met quite a few people since we've been here, and the Alaska mystique has served us well. Everyone wants to know about the snow and darkness in winter. Philippe says that their Nashville, TN newspaper carried a story about how difficult this winter was, so if these cruisers keep up with news, they're certain to be curious.