Sunday, January 15, 2017


January 8, 2017

The carpenters were taking the day off and Scott was staying off his poor, blistered feet, so I decided to take a day of rest, also.  I scrubbed the aft deck in the morning while it was cool and we still had the hose, but mostly I practiced the guitar and read.  It was hot.  The floor was still missing from the main salon, so we had to climb around the boat like monkeys.

The Marina Store
All the major stores were still closed, so we were making do with three-year-old dry goods and what we could obtain from the marina store.  I was getting tired of cold beans on tostadas, so we went to Restaurante Baos for dinner.  Scott had arrachera and I had chicken breast stuffed with plaintains and served with what amounted to barbeque sauce over rice.  Restaurante Baos is a pleasant location and it was nice to get out of the hot boat for an hour.

Scott at Restaurante Baos
The difference between the rich and the poor is striking here in Chiapas.  The patrons and the employees of the upscale restaurant were noticeably different racial types.  One couple with a baby had even brought their nanny along to watch the baby while they ate and shared a bottle of wine.  The patrons were generally so light skinned that we were not immediately pegged as foreigners.  It was easy to understand the frustration that led to the recent looting while sitting in that restaurant.  We were definitely dining with the 1%. 

January 9, 2017

I got up at 7:00 and spent the morning practicing the guitar before the carpenters arrived.  They were supposed to come at 9:00, but didn’t arrive until about 10:30.  I had plenty of time to chat with my Canadian friend, Greg, who has both a house and a boat here and a Chilean woman we met who was looking for an electrician for her boat.

Mostly Completed New Floor
Once the carpenters arrived, I was tied to the boat in case translation was required, so I spent most of the day restitching the canvas covers.  When my back could take it no more, I shifted to working on my blog.  It was a long day.  Since it was so difficult to get to the galley with no floor in the main salon, we hadn’t eaten lunch since we arrived in Chiapas.  The carpenters worked until after 7:30 and we didn’t feel it would be right to eat when we were keeping them from their dinners.  We were pretty ravenous by the time they finally left.

The floor was finished, though, and looked pretty good considering it wasn’t made with any of the materials we would have used at home.  It had taken the carpenters at least a day longer than they had anticipated and, since they did such a nice job, I paid them for their extra time.  Removing (at least as much work as building) and rebuilding the entire salon floor and support structure, including a removable floor and sound deadening subfloor had taken three days.  It cost us 9,000 pesos or about $450, materials included.  Anyone needing a carpenter in Marina Chiapas should definitely look up Santiago Gutierrez.

We were still on short rations, so I had intended to make rice with hot dogs and stewed tomatoes, but the tomatoes had gone bad, as had all the sauces aboard.  I then decided to make Kraft macaroni and cheese, but that (use by date of 12/06!) had gone off, too.  That neon orange cheese does not actually last forever.  Our powdered milk had all turned a strange, brown color, too.  The best I could rustle up was ten-year-old macaroni with hot dogs and some diced tomatoes from a tetrapak with herbs and spices.  It was dull, but filling.  By the time we finished dinner, even I was ready for bed.

January 10, 2017

When I went up to the showers about 7:00, our mechanic was already at the marina, although he didn’t arrive at the boat until after 8:00.  We had hoped he would be done quickly and we could head into Tapachula to scrounge for food, but that was not in the cards.

With minor modifications, the “U” that the machinists made for us worked fine and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Getting the engine to start was another issue altogether.  Neither of our battery chargers were working properly and the solar panels were disconnected.  As a result, our one good battery was low.  Poor Marvin tried everything.  He borrowed a good charger and brought another battery.  After charging our one massive 8D and linking it in series with his truck battery and connecting the solar panels directly to the battery, we finally got juice, but the engine didn’t start.  He worked, without success, until the sun went down and we lost the solar.  We were getting concerned because he was
fool's Castle on the Hard in Chiapas
due to leave for a job in Vera Cruz the next day.

While we were waiting for Marvin to fix the engine, Abel, a young man who does canvas work, came to see us about a cover for our hatch.  Fool’s Castle did not have a dodger, so the hatch was out in the elements and it had leaked badly since what we called the “soft hatch” was removed to facilitate removing and replacing the engine.  It was this leak that had caused the floor to rot out and we wanted to correct the problem before our new floor got damaged.  After discussing various options with Abel, we settled on a cover that would go from the eyebrow ridge behind the hatch, side to side and down to the lower edge of the hatch.  Abel suggested that we use waterproof material, rather than sunbrella.  He said he could make the cover for 1800 pesos, which was ridiculously cheap.  We agreed to go for it, figuring that it would be worth the price (about $90) if it worked at all.  He promised to come back the next afternoon to do a fitting.

Once again, we had gone all day without eating and were ravenous by the time Marvin left.  We still had no groceries, so we ate the remainder of the bland pasta from the night before.

January 11, 2017

I got up at 7:00 so as to be able to clean the main salon before Marvin arrived and took the floor out again.  I managed to get one side done, but it was pretty awful.  Many of the things left sitting on the console had disintegrated after sitting in the sun for two years.
The Mildew Was Worst Around the Windows

Our new battery had charged overnight, but Marvin still couldn’t start the engine right away.  He worked and worked on the engine, but couldn’t get it to start.  Finally, he called a friend who came to look at it after work.  He agreed with Scott that it seemed to be the timing of the injection pump.  Marvin promised to come back in the morning to fix it.  He was postponing his  to fix our engine.

Abel had stopped by earlier in the afternoon to take more measurements for our hatch cover.
At the marina, preparations were underway for a massive wedding that was to happen on the following Saturday.  The daughter of one of the marina owners was getting married.  The yard hands were busy moving all of the boats to one side of the yard so that they could park cars on the other side.  A dance floor was constructed on the launch ramp.  We would have to clear out for a few nights, since we weren’t technically allowed to live aboard in the yard.

January 12, 2107

Marvin was supposed to arrive at 8:00 and I got up early to clean the other half of the main salon before he arrived.  He didn’t arrive until 10:00, but I still hadn’t finished cleaning because the trim around the reflective sunshades over the windows had turned to a fine black powder that went everywhere when I touched it.  The woodwork behind the shades was black with mildew which had eaten through the varnish and stained the wood.
Some of the Worst Mildew

Once again, Marvin spent all day disassembling and reassembling the injector pump.  We were trapped in the aft cabin where Scott mostly snoozed while I worked on restitching the canvas.  Scott did manage to rig his fancy new three-stage anti-germicidal water filter and fill both of our tanks, which we had emptied the previous day.  He used power from the solar panels to run the UV light in the filter.  By the end of the day, Marvin was all but done with the pump, but was lacking some seals for the fuel lines.  He agreed to come back the next morning.  We packed a few days’ clothing into tote bags and took a collective back into Tapachula where we moved back into the Hotel Cervantino.  The hotel staff was happy to see us again.
We were happy to have air conditioning again.  We bought some beer and ice at the Modelo store.  All of the neighboring OXXOs had been looted and remained closed, but the Modelo stores were all back in operation.  After relaxing for an hour with cold beer in our cool room, we went to Taco Tinos for dinner.  This time, they were happy to serve us and we got seven tacos and two sodas for 96 pesos (<$5.)  We went to bed fairly early, but I had a devil of a time getting to sleep on the hard bed.  The boat was hot, but the mattress was comfortable.

January 13, 2017

Flowers for the Wedding
We had breakfast at La Dulcinea and headed out to the boat, arriving about 10:00.  Marvin was already working on the engine.  Wedding preparations were in full swing.  Truckloads of chairs and tables had been delivered and the workers had removed a section of the fence and curb around the yard so that the wedding guests could drive straight in (and avoid the really bad pavement near the actual entrance.)  By the end of the day, they had even striped the yard like a parking lot.  The florists had set up shop between the office and the restrooms and were arranging truckloads of flowers, which had to be stored in the office because it was the only place with air conditioning.

A Section of the Fence Was Removed
Marvin finally got the engine running about 11:00 and it sounded heavenly!    Of course, we wouldn’t be able to put the boat in the water until the wedding paraphernalia was removed from the launch ramp, but we still had to fix the steering, anyway.

I had spent the morning reading the local newspaper because I was fascinated by the coverage of the local unrest over gas prices, which echoed the issues that had sparked the rebellion in Chiapas earlier in the century.  I was also interested in what they had to say about Trump’s promise to build a wall and make them pay for it.  The Mexican government appeared calm, but determined not to be disrespected and without any intention of paying for a wall.  It was refreshing to read objective journalism for a change.  I spent most of the afternoon working on restitching the canvas.  We were waiting for Santiago to come by to give us a bid on a few more small carpentry projects and hoping that Abel would come back with the hatch cover.  Santiago came and went and we waited for Abel until 5:00, but he never showed.  Then we grabbed a collective back to Tapachula.

Dining at Huacol
After refreshing ourselves at the hotel, we walked over to the big plaza known as El Parque and had dinner at a café on the square.  It was a beautiful evening and lots of people were out.  Clowns were putting on a show in the amphitheater.  We explored the 6 th Avenue shopping area a bit after dinner before returning to the hotel.  All seemed pretty calm and normal, although there was a large police presence and we did hear some strange, loud noises after we returned to the hotel.  Scott retired early, but I stayed up to work on my blog while I had good wifi.

Vendor in El Parque

January 14, 2017

We hadn’t planned on going to the marina on Saturday because of the 700 guest wedding that was taking place there, but our carpenter needed the broken window screen frames to use as patterns and wanted a deposit for the materials for the jobs we had hired him to do. Eight AM found us at La Dulcinea where we met an interesting family who gave us some insight into the immigration problems some people were facing.  There were an Italian Canadian man and his Cuban fiancée with her younger brother.  The couple had not gotten married in Cuba because getting married there involved paying expensive fees.  The woman and her brother had flown to Guyana, the only place Cubans could fly, and spent nearly two months making the perilous journey overland from Guyana to Chiapas.  Two days before, Obama, in the name of normalizing relations with Cuba, had retracted the policy of giving Cubans automatic asylum.  The poor woman was stuck in Mexico.  She could no longer get into the USA and couldn’t get into Canada because she was not yet married to the Canadian.

Mexico accepts Central American refugees, but requires them to spend their first year in Chiapas. If they stay out of trouble, they can then move freely through Mexico.  Hearing this explained to me why the citizens of Chiapas were so upset with the government over Central American immigration.  They must have felt like the government had dumped all these desperate people in their already poor state where they were depressing wages.  It was like the US government had decided to send all the Syrian refugees to Arkansas.

Collectivo Stop in Tapachula

Riding in a Collectivo
Pondering this, we took a collectivo to the marina to meet Santiago.  The marina was crawling with workers, busily arranging flowers and decorating the entire marina with potted plants and lighted trees for the wedding.  Small sailboats with their sails hoisted were anchored in the turning basin as decorations.  It was a spectacle of excess which served to highlight the disparity between rich and poor in Chiapas.

We met with Santiago and then spent a couple of hours hoping that Abel would turn up with our hatch cover.  I cleaned up the last of the debris from the engine repair and practiced the guitar while Scott took a nap.

We headed out about 1:00 and took a crowded collectivo (the first one that passed was full and that is saying a lot when we have seen as many as 23 people stuffed in) to Home Depot to buy varnishing supplies, hydraulic fluid, and fasteners to replace the soft hatch.  Our errands completed, we returned to the hotel and relaxed for the remainder of the afternoon.  I ducked out to go to the music store to buy a guitar case and some strings.  The strings cost about the same as at home, but the case I got for about $11 was very similar to the one I had tried to buy (and fortunately failed) for $60 before we left home.
Launch Ramp Being Transformed to Wedding Site

Lasers as Decorations

As darkness fell, we left the hotel to go to dinner.  There was a religious procession filling 6th avenue, which was preceded by people throwing firecrackers.  Everything was peaceful, but many shops displayed signs saying, “Exigimos seguridad,” or, “We demand security.”  Most stores had repaired their damage and reopened, but many of the OXXOs remained boarded up and closed.  We wondered if they were anticipating more chaos.

We returned to El Parque and ate dinner at a different restaurant called Rancho Grill.  Scott had steak and I had chilaquiles with carne asada for 69 pesos (<$3.50.)  It was another beautiful, warm evening and we took a turn around the park to look at the fountains before walking home.

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