12 April 2015 | Tortugal Marina, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Beth / sweat dripping down my back
We thought we had lots of time to close up the boat, get massages, enjoy coffee and dinners with friends, and maybe even do some touring around the area (well – it was me with my wishful thinking who added that last bit.) Lesson #1 – things always take longer than we think they will. Lesson #2 – recognize that I am rarely ever “ready” to leave a place.
Our 6 days at Tortugal marina flew by in a blur of conversation, good eats – some on the boat and some in the restaurant, meetings with Byron the marina manager, the last massages from Blanca for the season, packing, cleaning, laundry, a walk along the nature trail. Ulli and Thomas (Toriba), Kathie (Ragamuffin), Jo and Steve (Tarka), Charlie and Karen (Gloria Maris), Jerry and Deborah (Czech ‘n’ Mate), Pat and Dave (Ten Years After) were all here – along with lots of others of course – so we had many friends to chat with. Andrew (Striker), the young man next to us – probably in his 20’s – who built and/or repaired almost every single thing on his boat, and a couple of the older gents on the dock – surely in their 70’s with years of experience on the water bookended the rest of us – mostly in our 60’s 50’s. It is an international crowd here too – Canada, the USA, Germany, Holland, with visitors from many other countries.
It gets hot there this time of year – up in the 30’s daytimes - so free coffee on the deck at 7:30 is a good way to start the day. In between crossing items off the job list, we enthusiastically tried out the new items that Jo (Tarka) is helping to introduce to the regular restaurant menu – Asian Crunch Salad and Japanese Veggie Pancake (I wish I had taken a picture of that one – it looked and tasted spectacular). We enjoyed a fabulous lunch onboard Madcap – prepared and served by Blanca. She precooked ribs at home, prepared drunken beans (frijoles borrachos) to serve along with flour tortillas, yellow cake and pineapple. Jim grilled the ribs on our little cockpit BBQ and basted them with Blanca’s BBQ sauce. I added a green salad and pulled out every piece of dinnerware in my lockers, and Blanca dished up all the goodies to share with seven hungry people. I sat with her for an hour the next day scribbling down lists of ingredients and preparation methods for Frijoles Borrachos and her special Chicken Curry and Chicken Escabeche – Belize style.
We gathered on the deck some evenings, and on others we simply fell, exhausted, into our berth by 8 o’clock. On the last day, I realized I had not yet walked the boardwalk through the jungle so I disappeared for an hour, stopping to breathe in all the oxygen, marvel at the profusion of greenery, peer at partly submerged logs for turtles, and simply absorb all that lush and organic growth. I laughed when I met two other women doing exactly the same thing – just meditatively moving, one step at a time, without any purpose except to be present in the greenness. What a gift. What a lovely balance to the hot, sweaty work of putting the boat to bed.
Byron spent a couple of hours with us – going over the contract for seasonal storage, taking careful notes on what we want them to check throughout the summer. It takes time for new people to get to know our boat. While we have left it at Tortugal for a few weeks at a time, this will be our first experience with seasonal storage. The sails are off and stored in the cabin in their bags. The dinghy is turned upside down on the foredeck. A sunshade covers the forward 2/3 of the boat and Byron will turn the boat stern in and tie a tarp over the cockpit after we leave.
Casey and his men took excellent care of Madcap for 3 summers, but we decided to leave Madcap in a licensed marina this year. Word is that the officials are looking a little harder at where boats are stored, as well as months in the country, and we really do not want a fine to gobble up the cruising kitty.
And then it was time to pile our bags into the lancha and catch the Litegua bus to Antigua for a few days.