Monday, March 17, 2014


Beach Clubs in  Chahue
Beach at Chuhue
Despite the 85 to 90 degree daily temperatures, it is winter here in Huatulco.  All the trees are bare.  The jungle looks dry and dead.  Summer is the rainy season in Mexico.  The lack of cloud cover just adds to the heat.  It's wonderful time to enjoy the beach.  By Monday, I had spent so much time hand sewing that I was starting to feel like a Jane Austen character.  I decided to go to the beach club.  There isn't a lot in Bahia Chahue and that, in the opinion of the Canadians upon whom I was eavesdropping, is what makes it so wonderful.  The beach is just as sparkling clean and the water as turquoise blue as over the hill in Tangolunda, but there are no large all-inclusive resorts and no crowds or jet skis.  The beach clubs are laid back and the service is good.  I could have sat by the pool at the Huatulco Beach Club all day for the price of a drink, but there were few chaises there and all were occupied, so I wandered next door to the Castillo Huatulco Beach Club where for a cover charge of 100 pesos I got a chaise under my very own shady palapa.  I spent the afternoon finishing the two books I had been reading and then walked back to the marina along the beach when they started folding up the chairs.  If you're going, arrive early to get a spot with a chaise.  The Huatulco Beach Club has a lovely bar with a beautiful view and would be a perfect place to have lunch or a sunset cocktail.  The pool is nice, but there is nowhere to sunbathe around it.

When I got back to the boat, I found it locked.  Scott had apparently arrived at the beach club around the time I left.  He returned a few minutes later and we had a beer in the cockpit, since we had missed out on having a drink together at the club.  There was a cool breeze, the temperature had dropped a bit, I was relaxed from my day at the beach and felt entirely contented with the world.  I felt so grateful to be living this life that it brought tears to my eyes.  That did not, however, prevent me from feeling a pang of jealousy when we saw a recent arrival slipping out of the marina on their way to El Salvador for the El Salvador Rally.  We have signed up for the rally, but will not make it for the opening day, since it starts on March 15th.  Unlike the Baja Ha-Ha, where all the boats travel together from place to place, the El Salvador Rally ( ) is a destination rally.  Boats gather at Bahia del Sol in El Salvador for a month of fun events.  We won't stay very long, since we need to get to Panama, but we will get a chance to see some of the friends we have made along the way.  The low entrance fee of $66 also nets you discounts at marinas along the way, so it pays for itself pretty quickly.

This trip has been all about patience.  Sailing is slow.  Making the boat work well enough to sail is often even slower.  We have spent more time in marinas, fixing things or waiting for them to be fixed, than we have spent sailing. We spent a month in La Cruz, 10 days in Barra de Navidad, a month in Ixtapa and have now spent six weeks in Huatulco, although we were in the USA for four of those weeks.  Our generator was supposed to be fixed by March 1st and then that date was amended to March 11th.  When we arrived on the 11th, they said it would be done by the 13th.  We can see that they have made progress, but it has been slow.  It is often said that "manana" doesn't mean "tomorrow," it just means "not today."  We have been pretty lucky because this is the first time we have encountered the "manana" problem since we've been in Mexico.  Everyone else we have dealt with has been amazingly prompt.  It did, however, appear that they would be able to fix our original freezer for about forty bucks.  That will allow us to use one of the freezers as a refrigerator, which will be a good thing, since our refrigerators are only cooling to about 65 degrees in this heat.

Each time we make the trip to Sector V (where light industry is located) to check on our generator, we take advantage of the taxi ride to do other errands in the surrounding area.  The first time, we discovered the neighborhood where all the hardware stores were.  La Crucecita is very organized.  Like businesses tend to be located together, with the exception of Oxxo stores (like 7-11), which are found absolutely everywhere.  On Tuesday's trip, we went back to the hardware store to search for a 12 volt outlet so that we could wire power for the new freezer and fittings for the new autopilot pump.  Casa Pepe is a pretty good hardware store.  They had the copper tubing and fittings for the pump, but not the 12 volt receptacle.  The clerk and I amused ourselves learning the names of different fittings in our respective languages while Scott rummaged around, looking for what he needed.  Ever helpful, our clerk gave us directions to a couple of auto parts stores he thought might have the outlet.

It turns out that auto parts stores and repair shops are located in Sector T (for "transportacion".)  That sector was just across the main road, so we walked over there.  Our directions were a little spotty, but I had seen some of the landmarks and knew we were close.  I asked a woman in a restaurant for help and she directed me to one of the shops.  They didn't have what we wanted, but gave us directions to the other shop.  "Cancino's" is the local auto electrics place.  It was run by a large fellow who hid himself in the back behind a pillar and acted like he would rather not be bothered by customers.  I asked him for a 12 volt outlet and, when that drew a blank stare, I asked him for a cigarette lighter.  He still looked confused and wanted to know what for, so I made the mistake of saying that I wanted to plug in a refrigerator.  He then sent us around the corner to an electrical shop, but they only had 110 supplies.  Frustrated, we stopped at another auto parts store.  They didn't have the outlet, but seemed sure that Cancino's would have one.  The clerk told me exactly what to ask for (a cigarette lighter BASE.)  We crossed the street and disturbed the fellow behind the pillar again.  This time, he rummaged in the back and produced what we needed.  It cost us less than five bucks.  Finding parts in Mexico is often a matter of more detective work than shopping.
Buzzard in the Trash

It's easy to get used to this place and, especially in Huatulco where everything is new, forget that this is at best a second world country.  One of the things that will remind you is trash.  Huatulco is clean.  It is not that there is a lot of litter.  They just deal with trash differently than we do.  Construction debris is often used to fill potholes in dirt roads.  Trash is collected in stake-bed trucks, not the giant automated garbage trucks that one sees in the USA.  The people who collect it pick through it for recyclables and other salable items.  It is probably a very efficient system.  Garbage cans here are usually 50 gallon drums without lids.  This allows animals to make quite a mess, especially since there is often more garbage than cans.  In Huatulco, there don't seem to be raccoons or dogs getting into the trash, but the buzzards do a fine job of scattering it around. Perhaps they do a better job, since they can fly.

Scott woke me with a coughing fit at 6:30 AM on Wednesday.  This was actually a good thing.  The heat makes it difficult to get to sleep, so I had been staying up late and arising after 8:00, when it was already too hot to run comfortably.  I had gone for a run on Sunday morning, but was really feeling the heat.  At 7:00 AM, the air was still cool enough to be pleasant.  I ran over to the beach in Santa Cruz and back (2+ miles.) I slacked off on running when we were in the USA, so was having to work up to longer runs again.  I did do some push-ups, sit-ups and squats first.  My first day back at the gym when I went home nearly killed me, so I have resolved to keep up with my CrossFit exercises to some degree.  The good thing about running in the heat is that it makes taking a cold shower in the morning much more acceptable.

Our friends on Liebling came back to the marina on Wednesday.  They had been in Chiapas.  They gave us a report about how some of our other friends are doing and also a review of Puerto Chiapas.  The marina is nice and the slip fees are low, but it's a 45 minute cab ride to town.  We don't plan to stay there any longer than we need to rest and maybe buy groceries.
New Chart Plotter

Scott made progress installing the new Northstar chart plotter that we received from our sponsor, Steve Hamber, a distributor of marine electronics.  The chart plotter was working, but GPS data on distance to waypoint was intermittent.  The dinette is a tangle of wires, once again.  It was nice having all the ceiling panels back in for a little while, at least.
Tangle of Wires in the Dinette

Since we now have a better wi-fi signal, I decided to sign us up for a Netflix streaming plan.  I went to the website, but was discouraged that the only streaming plan available cost $99 per month.  It took me some time to realize that the website knew we were in Mexico and this was actually 99 pesos.  I signed us up and we are now (sometimes) able to watch movies.  This makes sitting and sewing all day much more bearable.

Thursday, I got up in the morning and started working on replacing the furling line.  We bought a larger headsail while we were in La Cruz, but hadn't been able to install it because it required a longer furling line.  We had brought a length of line back with us from the USA.  I took the old line off and, when Scott got up, we took down the old sail, raised the new one, and rolled the fresh line onto the furler.  The old line was very rough and hard on the hands.  This one is much softer.

We went back to the appliance repair shop to check on our generator and freezer.  The owner was out on a service call and his employee didn't know anything, although he thought the freezer was fixed.  We could see that no further progress has been made on the generator.  I left my phone number, but he never called me back.  We were getting frustrated and starting to think we had made a mistake in taking the generator there.

Friday was another wasted day except that I got up early and went for run over the big hill to Tangolunda and back (3+ miles.)  Scott made some more progress on the wiring for the electronics and I continued to work on sewing window screens while binge watching Orange is the New Black.  It was breezy, so I rigged the wind scoop, which really helped to cool off the boat, even though the weather was actually a bit hotter.

Shop Where Our Generator is Being Repaired
Saturday looked like it was going to be a wasted day until, about 3:30, Scott decided that we should go to the generator shop again.  We took a taxi over there, but they had closed for the day.  We then went to the hardware store in search of parts for the autopilot, but they were closed, too.  We had to settle for going to the grocery store.

I had intended to get up early on Sunday and go running, but just couldn't drag myself out of bed that early. I finally got up around seven and puttered around until Scott got up at nine and then made Paleo banana pancakes for breakfast.  It was exceptionally windy. I spent the day working on the window screens and trying to keep the boat from slamming into the dock every time a big gust of wind hit us.

Monday morning, I woke up at 6:15 and couldn't manage to wrest the covers away from Scott, so decided to get up and run.  Once again, I ran over the hill towards Tangolunda and made it almost all the way to the hotels this time.  I took a wrong turn coming back, so got to run up part of the steep hill twice on the return. At least it was early and only about 75 degrees out.  I appreciated my cold shower when I got back. Amazingly, Scott got up around 8:00 and we were able to head over to the generator shop before 11:00.  We found them actually working on our coil.  The owner's nephew said it was going rapidly and should be ready that day or the next.  He took my number and promised to call when it was completed.  It seemed we had finally bothered them enough times.  Our freezer, however, was pronounced dead.  The circuit board was shot.  At least that gives us another accessible storage locker.

From the generator shop, we headed over to Casa Pepe, the hardware store, to buy some small, deep sockets so that we could change one of the burners on the stove and take another crack at finding the fittings necessary to mate our (semi) new pump to the existing autopilot.  We got the sockets, but failed to find the correct fittings.  Nobody there knew of a shop that sold hydraulic fittings, so they sent us back to Sector T to ask someone there.  We went back to the helpful auto parts store that had assisted us in finding the 12 volt socket.  There always seem to be a bunch of mechanics hanging out there and they compete to see who can be the most helpful.  Once again, they came through with the name of Grupo Mafico, a hydraulics shop located two blocks behind the Goodyear tire store in Sector I.  We took a taxi over there and got to see another neighborhood of La Crucecita. Grupo Mafico was a great find.  They had exactly what we needed.  We bought our parts, stopped at my bank which was conveniently located nearby, and then walked back to the marina, stopping at "We" for beers and burgers on the way.  Strong winds are forecast in the Gulf of Tehuantepec for the next few days, but a weather window should be opening on Saturday.  We just might be able to get out of here, after all.

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