Thursday, January 8, 2015


December 31, 2014

Scott had been arguing with his bank, trying to transfer funds from one account to another so that he could pay for another six months’ boat storage.  Though he was transferring money from one account to another within the same bank, they put a seven day hold on the funds.  He was beside himself.  He was on the phone with them at a dollar a minute from the moment they opened until he finally had to leave for the airport.  Nothing got resolved, but Enrique, the marina manager, agreed to take his card number and charge it once the funds cleared.  That reduced the stress level several notches.  He even gave Scott a last minute ride to the airport.

Tarp Over Main Hatch
My flight didn’t leave until 18:32, so I stayed behind to finish closing up the boat.  Enrique was going to make a trip to town at 14:00 and said he’d take me to the airport on the way.  I spent the morning using the internet and then went back to the boat to eat lunch.  After lunch, I closed all the ports and hatches.  I took my leftover perishables to Brad and Joanne on Loukia and had a last visit with them.  Then I returned to the boat, lowered my luggage to the ground on a halyard, removed the table in the main salon so it wouldn’t get damaged when the engine went back in, and opened up the engine compartment so that any water leaking through the main hatch would fall directly into the bilge.  Once the boat was locked up tight, I stretched a tarp over the main hatch, which had a tendency to leak because it had been disassembled so many times for engines to be swapped in and out.  I hustled up to the office with my luggage to catch my ride, but Enrique had already left.

Being left behind was not a disaster, since my flight didn’t leave for hours.  I settled down to use the internet and wait for Enrique or Memo to come back and call me a taxi.  About 15:30, Memo came back from a trip to the port captain’s office and gave me a ride to the airport on the way to town for lunch.  Once I got to the airport, I was so early that everything was closed and I had to wait for another hour before I could check in.  My flight left at 18:32 and it took just under two hours to fly to Mexico City.  I had sent all my heavy clothes home with Scott, so I was relieved that it was much warmer in Mexico City than it had been on my way to Chiapas.  I had about an hour and a half before my plane to Puerto Vallarta.  Unfortunately, all the restaurants had closed early, so I was unable to get anything to eat.

The flight to Puerto Vallarta took just over an hour.  We arrived before 23:30.  It seemed like I got charged extra because it was New Year’s Eve because the taxi ride to La Cruz cost 500 pesos (or $50.)  It paid to have pesos because $50 worked out to about 750 pesos.  I had paid for a taxi, but ended up getting put into a collective which should have cost half as much.  I didn’t complain because it was late and everyone wanted to get off work and I might have been stranded if I had been too particular.  I shared a ride with two French Canadian women who were going to a condo in Nuevo Vallarta.  I sat up front with the driver and translated, since they didn’t speak Spanish.  I was glad I had been reviewing my French in my spare moments.  We headed for La Cruz after we dropped them off.  I celebrated New Year’s with the taxi driver in Mezcales.  There were fireworks from the hotels in Nuevo Vallarta and people were launching floating lanterns from the beach and high places.  Someone was actually launching one off the overpass leading to La Cruz.  I arrived at my apartment about 15 minutes after midnight, but there was no hope of sleeping until about 3:00 because of all the music, fireworks, and barking dogs.

January 1, 2015

Despite having had nothing at all to drink on New Year’s Eve, I moved slowly on New Year’s Day because I hadn’t had much sleep.  The neighbors’ dog had been left outside, was frightened by the fireworks, and whined and barked all night.  He tried to dash into my apartment when I came home.  I probably should have just let him (and his fleas) in.  I did pretty much nothing all day until late afternoon when I went down to the Gecko Rojo for a couple of beers and a French dip sandwich.  I was ready to say hello to some friends and get out of the house.

January 2, 2015

Having done almost nothing the day before, I was in the mood to be productive.  I got up early and ran before it was light.  After breakfast, I paid my electric bill and talked to Benito, the maintenance man, about the lack of hot water in my guest bathroom and kitchen.  It turned out that the electrical breaker for the hot water heater in the guest bathroom had been turned off.  I had flipped on all the breakers I could find, but Benito found another panel I had missed.  The kitchen was another story, however, because the hot water flow was so low that judgement day would have come before hot water reached the sink.  Benito got his tools and adjusted the faucet so that it produced a healthy flow of water that eventually did get hot.  When I had stripped the guest bed in preparation for taking the sheets to the laundry, I discovered that there were no pillow cases.  Carlos and Zit Zin had not complained, so I had no idea.  I asked Benito for some pillow cases and he ended up giving me a complete set of clean sheets so I didn’t need to pay to launder the old ones.  I felt like I had had a productive morning by 9:30.

Once Benito left, I took my remaining laundry down the hill to Sonja and then took a bus to the Mega to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and toilet paper.  Sonja was swamped with laundry, so I had to buy another towel to use until she could finish my washing.  I visited the ATM before going to the store and the lines were long at all the ATMs.  All the retired people (and there are a lot of us) must have just received their pensions on the 1st.  Back in La Cruz, I just had time to eat lunch and relax for a few minutes before heading down to the marina for a meeting of women who sail.  There were several interesting speakers including a woman singlehander and a female captain who had survived being sunk by a whale.  There were about 75 women there and it was a nice gathering, with wine and appetizers after the talks.  By the time I had stopped at the Gecko Rojo for a beer, it was time for dinner and I headed back up the hill.

January 3, 2014

The last I had heard from Benito the day before, his wife was going to come to clean my house in the afternoon.  Therefore, I was quite surprised when they knocked on my door at 9:00.  I had managed to keep up with the cleaning while I was here, but the house had gotten pretty dirty while I was gone.  Even with the windows closed, dust and soot sifted in and the floor was filthy.  I didn’t have a mop and honestly just didn’t relish spending a whole day cleaning the house.  Valentina did a bang up job for 300 pesos.  Valentina was also a runner and recognized me from running at the marina.  There weren’t a lot of female runners in town, so I guessed the whole town probably knew me as, “that crazy gringa who runs.”  She told me that Benito had told her to stop running because it made her too skinny.  I suggested she just eat more and we had a laugh. 

Once Valentina left, I ran into town to pick my laundry up from Sonja before she closed.  Sonja and I have a mutual friend named Ron and I was amused to see my laundry labeled, “Amiga de Ron.”  I spent the afternoon trying, unsuccessfully, to write song lyrics.  About all I accomplished was deciding that I had to get my hands on a guitar.  I looked for one on Craig’s list, but the only one listed was an 10,000 peso Martin that I would have loved to have, but did not need.  About 5:30, I once again descended the hill to pick up a roasted chicken with potatoes, chiles, salsa, tortillas and rice for 95 pesos.  It would be good for three or four meals for me.  Brad and Joanne in Chiapas swore by the roast chicken stand down the hill from my apartment, so I had to give it a try.  It was pretty tasty.

January 4, 2014
Market Area Deserted at 7:30 AM

Sunday, I went for a run around the marina early.  I started at the fish market end before it got busy.  At 7:30, there was hardly a vestige of the farmer’s market that would envelop the malecon by 10:00.  After my run, I had a leisurely breakfast and then went back down the hill to the farmer’s market.  Ever since I had moved in, I had wanted to buy a colorful tablecloth for my apartment.  I had been resisting, but Scott convinced me that I should just go ahead and do it.  I looked at the ones at the farmers’ market, but they seemed kind of pricey.  I bought a sourdough baguette and headed home, stopping at the tamale stand in the park to make my weekly tamale purchase.  On a whim, I looked at the tablecloths being sold by a vendor in the park.  Without the high overhead of the farmers’ market, I got one 70 pesos cheaper than the ones at the first place I had looked.  I chose one in shades of blue to match the color scheme of my apartment.

But Crowded Later
My First Crayon Drawing
No one had been sel-ling gui-tars at the mar-ket, so I de-cided to catch the bus to the Walmart to see if they sold cheap guitars.  The only guitars that Walmart had were expensive electric ones.  I didn’t need groceries, but I picked up a toy to donate to the local orphanage in Bucerias and a bottle of rum to take to my friends’ wedding reception the following evening.  The reality of two months in La Cruz with nothing to do hit home, so I bought myself a jigsaw puzzle and some art supplies so that I could work on my drawing.  I returned home and spent a quiet evening figuring out how to draw seriously using crayons, since they were all I had been able to find at the Walmart.  They weren’t quite oil pastels, but I was still able to use some of the same techniques to draw with them.  I was fairly pleased with the result.
My New Tablecloth

January 5, 2014

My New Guitar
Monday was a busy day.  I started off with 70 air squats and 70 sit-ups, plus 15 push-ups.  I had started with 15 air squats and sit-ups and had gradually increased them in increments of 5 until I had reached the point where they were getting to be a major workout.  This year, I was not going to return to CrossFit out of shape and have to suffer through squats for the first week or two upon my return.  I barely had time for a shower before the net at 8:30.  Once again, I inquired if anyone had a guitar I could rent, borrow, or purchase inexpensively.  Philo (of Philo's Bar) piped up that he had a little Martin travel guitar that he wasn’t using and would be willing to sell.  I needed to be at the marina at noon, so I stopped at Philo’s on the way down.  The guitar was small and the body made of formica.  It wasn’t very impressive, but it sounded okay, was well made, and was small enough to carry on an airplane or stow in my bunk on a boat.  A hundred and twenty five dollars got me the guitar and a case.  It was more than I had intended to spend, but I bought it because it seemed like I could use it in the future and might be able to stop buying a guitar in every destination.

With the guitar slung across my back, I continued on to the marina to help wrap Christmas gifts for the children at an orphanage in Bucerias that had been adopted by the marina.  We filled two pinatas with small toys and then divided up the mountain of donated gifts into 27 piles, one for each of the children in the orphanage.  Clothes and blankets went into another pile to be donated to the orphanage and distributed by the caretakers.  Once we had divvied up the gifts, we set to work wrapping.  It was tempting to lump several gifts together, but we wrapped each one separately so that the kids could have fun opening the packages.  Even with a lot of helpers, it was a big job and took us a couple of hours.

Home again, I ate some lunch and then sat down to attempt my first online guitar lesson from a website called  For a monthly subscription, you can gain access to unlimited guitar lessons and they have a large variety of instructors for different levels and styles.  Having slacked off on my guitar playing for decades and developed a lot of bad habits, I decided to start fairly close to the beginning, hoping I would find inspiration for my songwriting or at least learn to play some new songs.  The new guitar was small and had light gauge strings and was very easy to play.  It felt comfortable right away.  I amused myself for the rest of the afternoon until it was time to get ready to go to Greg and Jen’s party.

I had met Greg and Jen the previous year when they were part owners of the Gecko Rojo and then run into them again when I was house hunting.  They had a big yellow house on a corner in downtown La Cruz with a lovely walled garden shaded by mango trees.  I was very tempted to rent a room there, but had ultimately opted for my own apartment with room for guests.  Still, they had invited me to their wedding reception, which promised live music.  It was a very fun party.  The band that was supposed to play never showed, but three other guests (guitar, bass and drums) picked up the slack.  They had never played together before, but were professional enough that they sounded great.  I met some new people and danced a bit.  I stayed until almost midnight and could hear the music all the way home.  The music was still going strong when I finally fell asleep about 1:00.

January 6, 2014

Having stayed up late the night before and forgotten to turn the radio back on after my guitar lesson, I slept through the net and didn’t wake until almost 9:00.  I was stiff, anyway, from the previous day’s air squats and dancing, so decided to give myself a rest from running.  I made myself bacon and eggs and studied languages.  Learning Spanish was an ongoing process and I had been studying Italian for the past three years.  With all the free time I had in La Cruz, I was also reviewing the French and German I had studied in high school and college, respectively.  I remembered more French and less German that I had expected.  Daily, I cursed the fact that even the romance languages couldn’t agree on the gender of nouns.

After lunch, I worked through another guitar lesson.  My fingertips were starting to become chronically sore.  I knew from experience that I would eventually build callouses, but would have to gut out the initial period.  Every time I did this, I berated myself for ever having neglected my playing and allowed my fingers to get soft.

At 3:00, I went down to the marina for a seminar on the health of the ocean.  The pollution and debris in the ocean had reached a critical point.  There were now 60 tons of plastic in the ocean for every ton of zooplankton.  The mass of garbage was so heavy that it had slowed the ocean currents and was now affecting the weather patterns.  Two gyres, with their corresponding garbage patches, in the Pacific had coalesced into one gigantic gyre.  The plastics were killing sea life and making their way into the food chain, poisoning us all.  Just as devastatingwere the sewage and fertilizers that washed into the oceans, creating over 500 dead zones where nothing could live.  Over 50% of coral reefs had died.  Last year, in La Cruz, there was a red tide (an algae bloom often fueled by fertilizers that consumes all the oxygen in the water) that killed all the fish in the marina and the marina employees had to scoop the dead fish out of the water with nets.  It was truly disgusting.

After that sobering talk, I stopped at the Gecko Rojo for a drink and ended up chatting with Sherry and Bob from Nirvana.  We compared dead engine stories and did more chatting than drinking, which suited me fine.  When dinnertime came, we parted and I headed up the hill to make guacamole before my avocado rotted and eat the remainder of Saturday’s roasted chicken.

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