Photo of Ian sitting on our front deck at the house we are renting for the summer
We have been in Nanaimo for almost a week and have accomplished quite a lot. First we met with our landlady and worked out the details of the rental. It's a 2 bedroom, fully furnished house (main floor only) and it's surrounded by lovely gardens and trees. We are quite cozy here and it will do us well for the 5 or 6 months we are here. It's interesting living in such a big space after living on the boat. The other fun thing about the place is it came with a cat (optional but we chose that option). We love cats and this satisfies our desire to have one but being unable to a the moment.
And we have both been putting a lot of energy into our job search. I think it might be a bit tougher than we anticipated but we will keep on looking. We both have interviews set up for next week so that is a very positive note for us to end the week on. So wish us luck for next week.
We have also had the most beautiful weather since we got back to BC. It looks like that trend might be ending in the next day or two unfortunately but it sure has been great. It's been nothing but blue sky for 2 weeks - amazing weather for the west coast of BC in May. Let's hope the summer is warm and sunny.
Don't know if I'll be blogging much over the course of the summer so this may be it for a while but who knows maybe if something pops up worth writing about... So have a great summer everyone where ever you are.
04/24/2013, Ashton, Oregon
Wow it's been an marathon 4 day drive so far and still 930 kilometers to go! We left La Paz on Sunday morning after having put Kasasa to bed for the summer. We made good time and our first night was spent camping in San Ignacio right on the river. How strange and wonderful to find ourselves surrounded for miles by palm trees when we are located smack dab in the middle of Baja, Mexico which is pretty much a desert of sand, rock and cactus. But every so often there are these amazing oaisis that have palm trees and birds and rivers. San Ignacio is at the head of a very large lagoon which leads out to the Pacific Ocean and is a major whale watching destination to see the baby grey whales. But for us this time around it was just an overnight stopping place. During the night we could hear a fish/bird/frog or whatever croaking very loudly all night. It sounded like a fog horn. The cool part was that it would croak in a series and all down the river you could hear others croaking too. With the full moon shinning on the palms and river and these sounds, I felt like I was in the movie 'Avatar'.
Day two we drove and drove and ended up spending the night in Ensenada. Nothing too exciting to report about that except that in the morning as we were driving away I turned my head and looked out the passenger side window behind Ian who was driving. I just caught a glimpse of this humungous spider crawling up the window and onto the roof of the car!!! I could barely speak and I told Ian to pull over and I jumped out of the car and ran to the sidewalk. Ian got out and saw the BIG spider on the roof and swatted it off. I was convinced it was a small trantula but Ian said it was just a big wolf spider. So I googled it and I think he was right but my god it was BIG and HAIRY! About 2 inches long! Ever since I've been spooked and if anything touches me in the car I jump.
Then onto the border. We decided to drive through wine country and cross in Tecate where they make the beer, because it seemed less busy and scary than Tijauana. Since it wasn't busy at all I guess they decided to kill some time by making us pull over and going through the car. Everything had to come out. When he called us over once he was finished he had my cactus box that a friend had given me and he said I couldn't bring it because the cactus used is an endangered species. I convinced him that the artist had a license to use that wood (which is what me and my friend were told) and there is a sticker on the bottom with the artist name and phone number. So he said okay but not to try it again. So now I have to hope the Canadian border guards is as understanding.
I find it interesting that people are afraid to come to Mexico. The two days we drove north we went through 5 army checkpoints where there are lots of army guys standing around holding machine guns. But at each stop when they asked us to step out of the car so they could poke around they were very polite. And as the one or two guys looked in the trunk and car, we often spoke in our broken Spanish with the other army guys. They were very polite, liked to joke and very friendly. So then we get to the US border and even the woman at the booth seems intimidating and they are only carrying a small side arm gun. But they are unfriendly and not interested in chatting or joking around. It's all serious business. More scary than Mexico I think.
Anyhow on that note, we are now in Oregon having driven through the farmbelt of California which was very beautiful. Now we are just riding the I5 home. Tonight we are camped beside a babbling river which will be very nice to fall asleep to. Vancouver either late tomorrow or early Friday.
04/15/2013, La Paz
If there's one thing we've learned about cruising in the past 3 years it's that PLANS CHANGE and sometimes not once but may times. It's actually a nice way to live your life just going with the flow. Most cruisers will tell you that plans are written in the sand at low tide.
We had made a 'plan' a few months ago to sail the boat over to Mazatlan and leave it in a marina there for the summer while we go home to work. Well the going home part hasn't changed but the going to Mazatlan has. The new 'plan' is that we are going to haul the boat out here in La Paz and leave it on the hard (meaning on land) for the summer. There are pros and cons to both leaving it in the water or out but that's not really what changed our plans. We just decided we are ready to go home now and start looking for work. If we take the boat to Mazatlan, by the time we leave and get a good weather window (one we can both agree on) takes 2 days to get there then get the boat put to bed takes about 4 or 5 days and then getting back here to La Paz to get the car requires both time and money. By pulling the boat out here we can be on the road home by Sunday. It's a lot more expensive in La Paz to stay in the water and that is our biggest reason for hauling out here. Almost half the cost. So that's the new 'plan' - stay tuned.
(Photo is on board Penny and Fred's boat Tapatai.)
04/07/2013, La Paz
Well it had to happen one of these days. After being in Mexico for almost 3 years, I had a 'bad' experience. It wasn't dangerous or scary or anything like that but it did leave a bad taste for me.
I was driving in town the other day and stopped at a stop sign and then moved forward to look down the street to see if any cars were coming. The stop sign is at least 50 feet before the actual corner so you can't see oncoming traffic. Anyhow I look up and out of no where a female police officer was at my window signalling me to pull over. So I did and she told me (in Spanish) that I didn't look both ways when I stopped. I tried in my less than perfect Spanish to explain that I needed to move up to be able to see the oncoming traffic but she wasn't buying it. All of a sudden now there are two female police officers at my window and they want my license which I hand over. They tell me I'll have to get a ticket and when I pay for it I can get my license back. I ask them where the office is so I can go pay the ticket (this is what they say to do so that the police aren't going to pocket the cash).
They told me I can only pick it up after 5pm and I asked how much the ticket would be and they showed me on a piece of paper 1295 pesos which is 100 bucks!! I wasn't too happy about that and once again I tried to explain myself. They were asking me lots of questions but not writing a ticket. They asked me if I needed my license before 5pm at which point I clued in they were trying to get a bribe. I asked how much if I paid the fine now and they said 200 pesos would be okay even going so far as pretending to call the office and talk to them. They didn't even dial the phone just put it to her ear and started talking. Anyhow, I said okay I would give them the 200. The one woman handed me back my license and motioned for me to put the money folded underneath it and hand her back the license. So I did and they gave me back my license and off I went.
I was kind of shocked as I thought that the La Paz police had cleaned up their act regarding this kind of thing. Apparently not. Afterwards when I told the story to a local gringo, he said that the highest ticket is only what the minimum wage for a Mexican is and that's around 5 bucks. So next time I will go to the office and pay. As well I'm going to photocopy my license and only hand over a photocopy. Hopefully though there won't be a next time!
On a more positive note, I posted some whale photos from a few weeks ago. We had our friends Pat, Les and their grandaughter Maya aboard and we had the most spectacular whale show with 2 humpbacks jumping non stop and some times both at the same time. Just great!
03/27/2013, La Paz, Baja, Mexico
When my grandparents first asked me to join them in Mexico, My head filled with unrealistic and stereotypical expectation for the trip. Being a 14 year old girl, I instinctively imagined two things: boys, and my tan. My expectations for the trip were raised even more after I got many "oh my god, you're going to Mexico? you are soooo lucky" from my friends and classmates. For a grueling 21 days, I lay in bed and played different, but very similar, scenarios through my mind. They all went along the lines of laying on the beach with a virgin pina colada in my hand, working on my tan and admiring a large mass of teenage boys surrounding me.
Approximately 3 days before I left I came to an unfortunate realization: I was going with my grandparents. My hopes and dreams of a media-glorified, Mexican spring break were shattered.
As soon as we arrived in the Baja, I realized how unrealistic my expectations really were. There were so many cactus's... and where were the boys? and the palm trees?
Fortunately, Things started looking up. La Paz was nice, and the bed & breakfast was even nicer. The first thing I did once we unpacked our things was throw on my bathing suit and laid down by the pool. There may have not been any boys, but I was DEFINITELY going to work on getting a good tan.
My first night in La Paz came with a huge culture shock. I had never really experienced any sort of poverty. To me, everything was dusty and dirty, the houses were small, and not many people were lucky enough to enjoy the luxuries I do.
The first day in La Paz, Ellen and Ian took my grandparents, Pat and Les, and I to Tecolote beach. There, I finally got my virgin pina colada. We spent the day eating chocolate clams, collecting shells and, to my delight, tanning. I was very content with how my first full day in Mexico was spent.
The rest of the trip, up to now, is really just a big blur. I'm not sure in what order things happened, so I'll just give you the highlights.
One of the best things we've done so far is whale watching. We went to San Mateo, which is on the pacific side of the Baja California Sur. I didn't set my expectations for this too high, as I really did not know what to expect. In the end, it turned out to be one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life. The whales came right up to the Panga, so close that we could touch them. The three hour drive was most definitely worth it.
Some where along the lines, either before or after the whale watching, I met the cruiser kids from a boat by the name of Puddle Pirates. I spent 3 days hanging out with Gabby, who's my age, and Rose, who's 11. We did a series of things, such as going to the beach, going for ice cream, hanging out in town and of course, as teenage girls do, took a ridiculous amount of pictures. I was VERY happy to spend time with girls my age.
The next thing we did was board Kasasa, and sailed to Isla San Fransisco. Now, to really understand my pain, you have to know one thing about me. I LOVE social media. I'm that stereotypical, North American girl who's favorite past times are texting her friends, instagraming pictures, facebooking every moment of her life and tweeting various tweets. My greatest nightmare is losing wifi. Coming to Mexico, I had already given up texting for a horrendous 19 days, now I had to go without wifi too? It's safe to say the thought of boarding Kasasa kept me up at night (I'm also very over-dramatic...if you hadn't already noticed).
Despite the fact that the sail to Isla San Fransisco was rather smooth, I still got sea sick. I spent the day hunched over my puke bucket and praying to god wifi connection would miraculously fall out of the sky.
Once we got to the Island, I really started to enjoy myself. Ellen and Ian were (and still are) awesome. They did their best to keep me entertained, which is a very hard thing to do. We did various things over the next 4 days. We hiked, we snorkeled, we played cards, baked cookies and ate fantastic food (thanks Ellen!).
There was little wind on the way back from the Island today, so we didn't get to sail. To be honest, motoring was fine with me. On our journey back, we were lucky enough to witness humpback whales breaching in the near distance. We motored over to join the other Pangas and boats enjoying the view. Although we couldn't touch the whales, as we could in San Mateo, it was still a spectacular site to see. The sea of cortez is really and truly the largest aquarium in the world (Jaque Cousteau).
That brings me to the present, sitting in the marina de La Paz. Tomorrow, Ellen, my grandmother, and I are heading to Toto Santos for the day. I'm looking forward to spending the day just us girls.
I guess that's the end of my rather long (sorry about that) blog post. There's just so much to write about.
Also, Thanks to my lovely grandparents for bringing me on the trip. I always enjoy traveling with you guys and I can't wait for the adventures that are yet to come.
03/18/2013, La Paz
Pic of me indulging in my new hobby which is quilting.
This blog is dedicated to the wonderful women who comprise the Peace Makers Quilting group. You have given me a new passion in quilting. Thank you so much for your time and help in starting me down this road. I love it.
We really have been enjoying this winter in La Paz. We managed to get out for 10 days recently to go out to Bahia de los Muertos and to the island Espiritu Santo. It was nice to get out and walk the beaches and Ian got to fish. While we were out there I spent a fair bit of time quilting I have to admit. It was really pretty windy out for 3 days and it was nice to just stay down below and pass the time with something I enjoy. It was harder for Ian to go fishing but he got to do lots of reading.
Now back in La Paz and and our good friends Pat and Les along with their granddaughter Maya are here to visit. They are staying at a local B&B for a week and then the 5 of us will head out on the boat for 5 days. So this week we are playing tourist and showing them some of the sites. Might even go have a look at the baby whales again as it was such a great experience.
The winter is really flying by and soon it will be time to go across to Mazatlan to put Kasasa to bed for the summer. Yes it's pretty much official we are going to leave the boat here while we return to BC for 6 months. We would like to see if we can get summer jobs and then return for the winter and become Snowbirds. We love Mexico so much and enjoy this nomadic lifestyle and would like to keep doing it for a few more years. So wish us luck and if you know of any jobs for us this summer in BC let us know.