Well, we've been whiling away the days here at the marina while the weather offshore is still marked by one front after another making for rain and crummy sailing conditions. I've learned from other cruisers who've been here in previous seasons that this is what it does this time of year but it should be improving soon. I think the trade winds need to strenghen so that the fronts can't get down this low except if they're really strong which is what we experienced last year. Here on the river though, it's been nicer lately and sunnier. We're so glad that we're not going to be in Key West for Christmas this year!
We've gotten some long awaited projects done on the boat- I've got a new cockpit sprayer at last! Jon had been meaning to put one in for me since the Eastern Caribbean cruise but hadn't figured out exactly how he wanted to mount it in the cockpit since we didn't want any holes where a wave could send water into a cockpit locker. He did some serious thinking and figured out that he could mount it inside a locker and still have the hose come out through a small gap in the underside of the lid when we wanted to use it. So now I've got a sprayer, a neat and clean install as usual and this will be great for cockpit showers after diving as well as for cleaning up the cockpit on a passage. In a pinch, if it was too rough to shower inside on a passage, we could do it in the cockpit since we're pretty addicted to our showers.
Since canvas work is cheap but really good here, we had new chaps made for our inflatable dinghy, along with everyone else we know. Ronny, from Rio Dulce Canvas, makes great looking chaps and you get to choose colors to match your boat. Since our new dinghy isn't quite as rugged feeling as our old Caribe, we feel better about keeping the tubes out of the UV so they'll hopefully last longer. I've also gotten a bunch of painting done on the lockers inside the boat. Over the years, they'd gotten pretty moldy and difficult to clean. Since it's hard toget anything for paint products down here, I already had the paint and didn't want it to go bad so it was a win-win. Our friends on the sailboat Slip Away are headed down here from the US in the next few weeks and graciously agreed to bring varnish, Armada wood coating, wax and yet another spear for Jon with them since you can't fly any of that stuff down either. Shortly after we got back from the US, we found that our weather station that sits at the top of the mast had broken due to a manufacturer's defect and there's no way to get that replaced down here either. But, we had a friend that was headed back to the US for a visit and he offered to carry a replacement back for us. That's what you do down here, try to help each other out since everyone gets a turn at being the one in need at one point or another. We're certainly indebted now!
Last Sunday was our friend Maggie's birthday so that made a great excuse for a potluck dinner. There were about 20 of us there to celebrate. For better or worse, I offered to make Maggie's cake- it was pretty good but in typical fashion for me, it was a little crumbly and difficult to serve nicely. Unlike potlucks we remember in the Bahamas where we'd walk away with a stomach ache from eating all sorts of odd concoctions from cruiser's food stores on their boats, this dinner was delicious. We even had homemade pulled pork! The availability of food down here is pretty good actually. Chicken is consistently the best we've ever had. Perhaps it's because these chickens aren't tortured in cages and force fed; I don't know. We've also been having delicious cantaloupe, watermelon, patty-pan squash, avocados, leeks, fresh ginger, etc. Today I went in the store and for the first time since we've been back, there was fresh bagged organic spinach. There were 8 bags and I bought 5. I felt a little guilty but 2 of the bags were for friends so that's not so bad. Things I haven't been able to find are confectioner's sugar, baking chocolate, horseradish, natural peanut butter and of course, spring mix salad greens. I dream of a Trader Joe's here!
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and we joined Sea Tryst & Tashmoo for a dinghy exploration trip down the river about 7 miles each way. The water was pretty flat so we could move along on a plane comfortably and explore several little coves along the river. Often times, as we approached the shore, it would appear there was a beach there, but as we'd get closer, it would be a sea of white lilypad flowers instead. Against the green water, dark blue mountains and blue sky, it was really beautiful. There is so much beautiful scenery here.
We've found another great running route- full of hills, with gorgeous views across farm fields, cow pasture and woods. It doesn't have a separate pedestrian path on the side, but the cars and trucks that do go by are polite and friendly. We get a few odd looks, lots of thumbs up, some laughter, along with plenty of the typical friendly horn toots and waves. People think we're NUTS! Fortunately our friend Cindy comes with us too so there's someone to share it all with. We always meet locals walking along the roads too and exchange pleasantries in Spanish. Guatemalans are very poilite people as a rule. Much of the labor in Guatemala is done by hand- fields are maintained with machetes, many people cut wood for cooking fuel, crops are sprayed by hand with the sprayers being carried on a farmer's back like a backpack, and children are frequently seen helping their parents. We're constantly struck by these laborious and inefficient ways of reaping what they need to live from the soil but just the same, these scenes are moving in and of themselves. We keep wanting to take pictures to capture it. Seeing the people in this setting, their land, is very picturesque. I can already see that Central America is the first glimpse of what the rest of the world is like aside from developed countries. We'd never seen anything like this before on our past cruises. We're so glad to have the opportunity to experience all of this.