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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Why of Guanajuato

A troupe of performers
Sometimes you just need a break. If personal stories and mending of relationships is something in a cruising blog you don't wish to read about, then you need to stop here. This post is not for you.

My trip to Guanajuato was unplanned... unexpected. Just because you live on a boat, cruising paradise, making new discoveries and relishing the time you have with your spouse, partner or family doesn't mean that personal problems don't get in the way of your self-made Utopia. Personal development (whether you plummet straight down to hell or whether you sail high amidst the heavens) is a requirement in life and it doesn't stop just because you are cruising. Jim and I were having some major communication problems... the kind that we suppressed and then watched as they manifested themselves into non-productive, tasteless dialogue and two different types of finger pointing exercises.

Bronze sculpture of a mariachi
If you think that endless boat projects take the place of personal work with yourself, your spouse, etc... you are oh, so wrong! This is not to air dirty laundry... but to clear the air and make it known that living on a boat sometimes may require a break and/or some personal space... something that there is basically none of on a boat. In this case, it was me. I had to get away... to reflect upon my actions and words, to look into my heart and be honest with myself about what I want in the future, and to acknowledge that I also must make some changes to my reactions so that Jim and I can move forward. Frankly, hard core boat projects are simpler.

William Congreve wrote in The Mourning Bride,
"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." 

The word beast is incorrect and misquoted frequently for breast, but in my case 'beast' is probably more accurate. I can't speak for Jim.
University student playing electric violin

Let me just say that the diversity of culture and art in Guanajuato is vast and the air is vibrant with theatre, song and dance. I was moved by the passion in the musicians and bards... the echoing of notes off the ancient buildings, and the rich hum resonating from the narrow stone walkways and underground tunnels. There were classical guitarists, an electric violinist, Ranchera and Huapango mariachis, and individuals strumming to traditional Mexican ballads or folksongs. It was moving and alive.

Being a university town, Guanajuato has a youthful energy to it that is fused nicely with its proud, historic background. The architecture throughout the city really is frozen music!
Local man soloing beautiful ballads for pesos
 There are multiple museums, my favorite being the Museo Casa Diego Rivera. The museum is the home in which the prolific Mexican artist was born in 1886. There are almost 100 personal works of his distributed throughout his childhood casa (oil, watercolor, sketch, pastel, etc...). His personal life was chaotic and  bordered on violent, including his marriage to artist Frida Kahlo (she is one of my best loved!).

A familiar scene in Guanajuato
My solo trip to Guanajuato became a metaphor for my future and what I see I want out of it. My future includes cruising and, more importantly, includes my husband and children.
I discovered how much I miss the Arts... how much I appreciate creative effort and design... how much I love the buzz you get from the excitement of a crowd... and
how intellect opens wide with the introduction of new thoughts and ideas.

I am newly focused and can't wait to return to Guanajuato with my family. I think they're going to love it! Jim and I have discussed the possibility of renting a place there temporarily. The boat would be left in a marina... also temporarily. This is not a definite plan set in stone, but one that is a possibility for later this summer.

I worked on my personal goals while I was in Guanajuato. One is Spanish fluency for myself and the kids... Guanajuato has so many options.

More on fabulous Guanajuato tomorrow...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guanajuato and El Museo de Momias

I discussed some items with friends the other night that were on my bucket list. One of those was to visit Guanajuato. A 10 hour bus ride from Puerto Vallarta will get you there... unless you zone out and miss the bus by 20 minutes. So my 10 hour bus ride turned into 16 hours. I arrived this morning. Yes, I am by myself.

Guanajuato has intrigued me for years. I studied about it before we went cruising and knew it was a place I wanted to visit. As gruesome as it seems, the first on my list was the Museo de Momias...  the spooky mummy museum. I walked quite a ways to get there and then climbed a hellacious amount of stairs. I had to stop several times to catch my breath. And just like in many other parts of Mexico, the signage is perfect and wonderful... until you get close to the destination and then there isn´t another word about where the museum is located. I was having pain in my chest by the time I reached the Mummy Museum, but I think it was the weight of my backpack.

The museum is filled with mummies. In fact, I wish I hadn´t eaten breakfast right before I went. It was a bit grody. Luckily, the scientific info was interesting. The mineral content in the soil and the dry climate in Guanajuato act as a natural preservative, thereby creating mummified bodies. It claims to have the smallest mummy in the world. If I´m translating correctly, the mummy is a fetus belonging to an unmarried woman who committed suicide after discovering her dilemma. The mother´s body didn´t survive, but the fetus is in tact. That´s just kind of... yucky. I discovered, too, that the clothing on some of the mummies aren´t costumes, but the original clothing... well preserved.

When I can upload photos I will. Don´t eat before you view. No small children in the room either.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Are We Doing?

I can't really talk in depth about it yet. The Captain says we're going back to the Sea of Cortez for one last season instead of heading to southern Mexico, Guatemala - Oaxaca, Palenque Ruins,  Spanish immersion classes, Chiapas, Huatulco, Antigua...
all must wait.

The negative:
  • I didn't have anything to say about his decision. He sprung it on me MONTHS after we agreed to go south - then pulled anchor one hour later and headed north. Hell-o!

The positive:
  • We'll be with dear friends - new ones and well loved ones.
  • We'll be in warm, crystal clear blue waters.
  • There's no surf to make watery dinghy landings.
  • Fishing is excellent.
  • High speed internet is abundant.
  • Boat parts will be readily available.
  • Most importantly, we're coming up with a "plan" as to where we will go next year... in writing... with Jim's signature... with penalties.

    Okay, so there are many more positives than negatives. We plan to be at Loretofest In Escondido late April. Santa Rosalia friends are high on our list. New school curriculum needs to be purchased for the kids. Visits with Grandpa are in the future. I am flexible; I am Gumby .

As a friend told me once, there are more important things in the world than where you're going to park your boat for the summer.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Rob teaching Jim the ropes
Rob and Jim ready to tackle the rigging
When we purchased Hotspur early last year we had no idea the age of the rigging. We couldn't locate any receipts or other paperwork indicating whether or not she had ever been inspected or re-rigged. Since we paid so little for our boat, we didn't have her surveyed before we bought her and so hoped for the best. Our cursory check of the rigging was crude at best - basically our best guess.
Luckily for us, Hotspur has had no rigging problems - but we want to keep it that way. Upon speaking with Dennis on Evergreen, we learned that Sea Tek in La Cruz does an excellent job of inspecting rigging. And Dennis is picky (just ask Josh), so we feel good about his recommendation. We called Sea Tek employee Rob on Katrina Leona and scheduled a date.

 "Your rigging is dead," Rob told us.
My heart sank and I heard the ching-ching of money flying out the portholes in $100 dollar bills.
"No, no!," Rob interrupted. "Your rigging is in decent condition. It just needs cleaning and maintenance. The reason I say your rigging is dead is because it's totally out of tune." It was true. Our rigging was sagging. We weren't getting the most out of our sailing.
Rusted bolt securing chain plate
Great news!

To save $100, Jim opted to pull the upper shroud chain plates and inspect them himself. The caps on the deck holding the shrouds had been slathered in silicone by a previous owner. This meant there had been water leaking inside at some point and then probably trapped inside. After removing the first plate out very easily and cussing the second one out, Jim cleaned them and checked for cracks. They looked very good and were crack-free... but we did have a rusty bolt that had a busted head. Jim had a fun time trying to get that out (that's when the cussing took place)! Then he replaced the plates and sealed the the caps on the deck with 3M 4200.

Rob returned this morning and tuned the rigging. He says that there will be noticeable difference in how our Tartan sails. Rob also suggested that our autopilot will handle much better. This is awesome news because our autopilot has been a bit loopy. She'll go for hours at the correct heading and then suddenly she yaws to port or starboard 45* before correcting herself. And usually it is an over-correction. We're sailing large "S"'s in the water and not sailing, but snaking our way to our destination. This is obnoxious more than anything, especially when we have the sail out, but when we have an oncoming vessel in front of us it can be dangerous. Jim had the autopilot on his TDL (to do list). We're keeping fingers crossed that tuning the rigging solves the problem!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Surfer Dudes and Dudettes in Sayulita, Mexico

These "Hodads" are getting ready to be Surfer Dads - Fernando shows them how.
 We're from Colorado; we don't surf the waves. Sayulita, Mexico has choice waves and choicer surfer dude teachers. Jim and the kids along with the crew from Ceilydh and some odl cruiser friends of theirs took off to the popular surfing town in Sayulita via bus.

How did that get in there?
Hot-dogging Maia

Tim's Wipeout caught by Ceilydh's camera!

Kahuna Jim
 Buses are cheap, cheap, cheap and surfing lessons aren't pricey either - especially when you compare them to some US west coast pricing. 3oo pesos gets you lessons and rental of a surf board and rash guards for 3 or so hours. Jim, Tim and Carolyne took lessons. I'm a chicken and have no desire to go out there in my red lycra Tellytubbie looking jellysuit, so I may never learn to ride a wave. That's okay - I like my neck unbroken.
Bro and Sis last ones standing!
Coral and Tim

Carolyne Shredding!
Fernando, the surfer dude instructor, was awesome. He had the little girls up on their boards in no time! Tim took to it like a pro and now has a new sport hobby. Jim did fairly well and wants to go again. Looks like our cruising kitty may be reduced more after we purchase a surf board of our own.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Puerto Vallarta Zoo

Tim didn't want to go, so I skipped off to the zoo with Carolyne, Maia and their new friend Katie. We packed lunches and it took three buses to get there, but the experience was awesome. I can't give the environmental conditions of the animals 5 stars, but the face-to-face contact with some of the critters was worth every penny we spent. In the video above, Carolyne and Maia pet a baby jaguar. If you listen closely you can hear the cry of a 4 month old tiger next door. I pan the camera to the left and you catch the paws of the tiger as he tried to climb over the fence! He wants to play, too!

The cost of the zoo was about $13US per child - for some reason they didn't charge me an entrance fee. Then $4.25US will get you a bag of carrots, peanuts, bread, some kind of animal food pellet and corn to feed the animals. For an additional $8US each, you can pet the baby tigers or jaguars for 5 minutes. Don't think for a minute that we let this opportunity slip by us!

Most of the animal habitats are old fashioned. They remind me of the Dallas Zoo back in the 70's. Large cement holding cells with chain linked fence separating the yawning faces of bored jungle creatures from the human oglers. Most of the big cats, canine breeds, monkeys and baboons are all contained like this. Some of the luckier ones, like the flamingos and goats, get free range of large areas.

The giraffe very interested in what is in Maia's goody bag!
If you ask Carolyne, she will tell you this was her favorite part.
The zoo isn't very big and I wouldn't go there again, but it was worth the experience at least once. The giraffe was the cutest ever - hungry and allowing petting only if a food offering is made first. The hippo was a baby, only 1 year old.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

From Expaticus to Eblog

We are a family of four sailing Mexico. The Sea of Cortez is fabulous. We've spent almost three years sailing the various islands and visiting most of the Baja towns. I have kept a running blog for several years on I have to rely on my husband too much to keep the technical aspect of the Blog going. To take pressure off him and so that I can continue my travel blogging, I have switched over.