We continue to re-live our amazing Cuban adventures, and feel so lucky to have visited just before the US once again slammed the door hard on Cuba, claiming that they are instigating unrest in Venezuela and Nicaragua. But if you have visited this small Caribbean nation, you'd know that's not very likely. If you missed our Cuba blog posts
, please be sure to check them out. And if you're inclined to visit Cuba, you can fly there via Mexico or Canada. The Cuban government won't stamp your passport, just your Tourist Card that they keep before you depart. They'd still LOVE to have your tourism dollars. And our lovely tour guide Bel is waiting for your arrival! Let us know if you need more info.
Summer is here in Puerto Vallarta along with the heat and humidity. When we're out on the hook (anchored in a bay) the heat and humidity aren't such a big deal. The breeze generally cools things off, and we can always jump in the water and go for a swim.
We're grateful every day for our summer condo-sitting digs, beach walks, swims, and closer proximity to town.
Yet when we're at the dock in a marina (like we have been for the past couple of years), the heat and humidity become almost unbearable. Luckily we've once again been invited to condo-sit for our good friends Judy & Paul, which means not only do we have air conditioning, we also have laundry, hot showers, a life-size fridge and freezer, a beach, and five swimming pools! Wahoo!!
Summer Solstice POOL PARTY! Clockwise: Capi, Don, Heidi, Liz, Karla and Lisa.
The things that most of you take for granted in life, like being able to wash a load of clothes whenever you want, keep food frozen, or take a hot shower... not a reality aboard Due West or most cruising sailboats. So we're grateful for this opportunity, and Tosh & Tikka love running around the large condo, and finding new places to nap... but we also miss our sailboat-home.
Tikka napping on the bookshelf. It's a cat's life...
Speaking of Tosh & Tikka, they both got a clean bill of health from the vet this week... except that they both need to lose a bit of weight! So they're now on a pumpkin diet, and getting lots of exercise running around the condo. Tosh's cancer is either totally gone, or at least not causing him any problems (we have decided not to do another invasive procedure to find out for sure.) And he's acting like a normal, healthy 5-year old cat (how did they get to be that old?!) We are very grateful to Holistic Animal Remedies
in Australia for their cancer-fighting homeopathic tinctures. They ship to the US within about a week to 10-days. Thanks Wai-Lin for cluing us into them as well!!
Tosh the guard-dog, er, uh, CAT! He's part Siamese and they were bred to be guards. True to his genes, he's always laying across the threshold of the boat companionway or condo door. Anyone who enters must be approved by Tosh first!
A few days before we moved into the condo Tosh & Tikka were SO perplexed by this interloper, they didn't know if they should chase it away or run and hide! Heidi finally shooed it off the boat and into the water because our guard-cat Tosh was looking like he would to attack it. Iguanas are great swimmers and climbers, but we'd never had one aboard before. Too funny!
Click the image to watch the video, it's pretty cool!
Kirk has been teaching a few people to meditate here in PV, and may soon be teaching meditation at a local retreat. He also visits Due West daily (a short 10-minute bus ride away), and keeps busy working on a myriad of boat projects, including installing our new cockpit shower so one day soon we'll have hot showers aboard too... Once we get the engine running again that is! Read on below about Michael P, our trusty engine that could... until it couldn't.
Heidi stays super active with her holistic wellness business Happy Well Lifestyle
, blogging, co-writing a book on the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet for auto immune diseases, and with Neal's Yard Remedies, where she's just been asked to be a speaker at their national conference. And she's still doing a bit of graphic design and web design for long-time clients.
Living at the condo also makes us a short 10-minute bus ride into town for beach yoga, urban hiking, and other festivities like the vibrant Pride Parade! We're really proud of this city for all the LOVE it gives back to the LGBT+ community. The police and military showed their support as well as hundreds of community members in floats and on foot in this hour-long colorful parade.
One of the things we love most about summer in PV is the tourist crowds significantly drop off and we practically have this lovely city to ourselves! Instead of 2-3 cruise ships a day, there is only one a week. So this is the perfect time to come down and visit us! July and August bring the Mexicans on vacation, as Nationals from around the country descend to play on la playa. The Mexican families love their beach-time.
Heidi, Kirk and Judy picking up plastic trash off the beach on World Ocean's Day, June 8th.
Unfortunately, some of the beach-goers don't consider cleaning up after themselves. We've been taking daily beach walks with our garbage bags and picking up lots of litter, and little bits of plastic on the beach. Sadly we're seeing all too much micro-plastic on the beach (almost the size of grains of sand--in neon blue, green, yellow, orange, red - we're pretty sure sand doesn't normally come in those colors!?) Knowing that seabirds and marine mammals are dying from stomachs full of plastic, it's really eye opening to see all the little bits of plastic on the beaches.
Just when we thought we were "done" collecting trash for the day, we turned the corner to see this pile of flotsam including a green toy car, that had washed down the river after the first big rain of the season. Foot for scale.
PLEASE consider alternatives to your single-use plastics, or better yet, no plastic at all. Think about where you can replace plastics with other options. There are now great alternatives like these biodegradable avocado-pit straws
, reusable silicone "zip-lock" bags
, and of course all types of reusable grocery bags
. We both learned as kids to "always leave any place cleaner than you found it", and we're trying our best, but some days it feels like the plastic is winning.
The Mirador de la Cruz hiking club: Sharna, Liz, Heidi, Judy, Capitán. Though it's all stairs straight up from the water, the view from the top is spectacular and well worth it. Surprisingly after you've done the stair-climb a few days in a row, it actually gets easier?!
We've also been hiking up the Mirador de La Cruz, an urban stair-climb up above the city of Puerto Vallarta. It is a fantastic workout with a spectacular view as the reward. And we're picking up trash along that hike too. Part of the garbage issue is that PV has a very antiquated garbage collection system, where people pile their trash up on street corners every day. And the garbage trucks pick it up. Except when the bags get torn open by dogs or birds (luckily there aren't a lot of scavengers here), and what spills out doesn't always get picked up. So there is a lot of garbage along the streets, which seems to encourage people to just toss their trash anywhere they are.
One day we actually witnessed an older woman pick up an empty plastic water bottle off the sidewalk, and stuff it into the crook of a tree?! Everywhere we see garbage stuffed into bushes, shrubs, nooks, and crannies. It's the oddest thing!? Then again there are also very few garbage cans on the streets, and almost none at bus stops, where a lot of trash seems to accumulate. The trash problem is one of the few downsides we've found about PV.
Liz and Capitán picking up basura (trash) on the hike down from Mirador de la Cruz. Happy to have picked it up, but disgusted that we had to...
We also try to be conscious to not view Mexico through "US eyes." However, we've heard many Mexicans complain about this poor garbage collection system as well. And apparently PV is one of the last remaining Mexican cities to still be collecting trash this way. We just signed a local petition to revamp the garbage collection system here. Once rainy season starts (rapidly approaching), much of the trash ends up flowing down the streets as they become rivers, eventually making their way to the ocean. So the more we can clean up on the streets, maybe the less we'll have to clean up on the beach!
And now the moment you've all been waiting for. WTF is up with our engine?! Michael P Engine has been our trusty pal for 27-years and 3,000 hours. (That's one year longer than we've been married, we just celebrated our 26th anniversary!) With Kirk's diligent care, it's never failed us once. Until the camshaft and timing belt both broke over a year ago, and then we started replacing the engine bit-by-bit. As Kirk installed part after part, each time THIS was going to be the part that fixed everything... and then it wasn't. Many friends "muled" engine parts down to us when they visited, and for that we are grateful!
Cuz 4 hands are better than 2, Heidi got to help work on the engine too!
Turns out these ongoing engine issues were all caused by a microscopic leak of coolant (antifreeze) inside the front of the engine. It was in a part that was inaccessible, in an area that you just couldn't see unless you started dismantling the entire engine. This leak may actually have been there for years and years, or even since day-one. We don't know, and it was small enough that it didn't affect the coolant level. But when those tiny droplets of antifreeze hit the hot engine and evaporated, overtime that caused corrosion to the crankshaft, to the point where the oil pump seal can no longer seal against it. This is a BIG HUGE Bummer... It's leaking almost 1 quart of oil every 24-hours. Gulp...
What that means in lay-person terms, is that our engine is basically toast. In order to replace the crankshaft, we'd have to pull the whole engine up off the mounts, and there are so many parts to be removed in the process, most of which "should" be replaced if you're already going to have the engine pulled... and the parts for this old Perkins M50 just aren't available any more. A re-build would cost half or more of a new engine - and then we'd still be left with a 27-year old engine that could fail elsewhere at any time.
It's a family affair, ever the helper Tosh was also helping us work on Michael P Engine!
We're continuing our recon, and are open to suggestions from any engine experts out there. But at this point it's looking like we need to re-power... which costs about as much as buying a new car. YIKES!! That was NOT in the cruising budget. We truly thought Michael P would last forever. Or at least as long as we decided to cruise. So now we're leaving engine parts under our pillow in the hopes that the engine fairy will bring us money to buy a new one!? LOL...
In the meantime, we couldn't be "stuck" in a better locale. Although we do wonder about the Banderas Bay Sand Trap, and why the Universe won't let us leave yet?! Hum...
Hope you're all having a wonderful summer wherever this finds you. Check out more pix from this post in our gallery
Tosh and Tikka send their love, as do we!
It's almost 5pm, Dad will be arriving in the metal box soon to make us dinner!
P.S. Leaving you with a little bathroom humor in case you're inclined to origami your toilet paper into a sailboat - pretty clever!