Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

La Paz, City of Peace and Quiet


Feliz Navidad!!

That's Spanish for Merry Christmas, or, more accurately, "Happy Tacky Season". Now, where trailer trash decor is concerned, I come from some serious stock. My paternal grandparents used any holiday as a reason to redecorate their home inside and out. The Season Of Good Cheer was the pinnacle of their efforts. They spent at least two months preparing for the blessed event and every inch of their converted 800 square foot bungalow was awash with decorations. They hand-painted the windows with scenes of snowmen, elves, and sleigh bells. There were no less than three full-size Christmas trees inside, along with every ceramic Santa statue every offered at Dottie's Paint And Bake Ceramic Emporium. The roof was adorned with a life-size Santa along with his sleigh and reindeer, including Rudolph with lighted nose. There was a five foot high, fully lighted Frosty The Snowman on the lawn, along with enough Christmas lights to affect the power grid in New Jersey.

At night, people would stop in front of their house and gawk. Some of them didn't smirk or laugh, but only because they were waiting for their eyes to adjust. If homes were people, my grandmother's would have been a six foot tall drag queen with pink lipstick, standing on silver high heels in a purple mini skirt and furry yellow bra holding a Mai Tai and smoking a filterless camel. My mother, whose sense of taste was more refined than pure Uranium, referred to Grandma's decorating sense as "Early Halloween". So, I have a special place in my heart for really, really tacky decorations. Whenever I see fuzzy dice hanging from a rear view mirror, or those large breasted silhouettes on mud flaps, or a skinny guy with a mullet wearing a guinea T-shirt, it makes me homesick. That's why Mexico in general, and La Paz in particular, has really touched a special place in my heart.

Mexico's culture, being almost entirely Roman Catholic, has really embraced Christmas for all it is worth. It doesn't matter that they don't get snow, they get Wal-mart, consumer capitalism and a complete lack of self restraint where really bad Christmas decorations are concerned. They seem to have zeroed in on absolutely the tackiest stuff they can get their hands on. I mean this is stuff my grandmother wouldn't have hesitated over. Oh, and really, really bad statutes. And strange restroom signs.

There is also no end of strange, odd, and out right bizarre bronze creations lining the boulevards that skirt the water's edge. For a culture that is very, very conservative where most other things are concerned, they seem to lack any self-restraint for about three weeks before each new year, or anything made from metal. We've included only a few of the thousands of examples of Mexico's idea of holiday cheer. The video of the dancing Santa was taken from the desk of a local marina. The giant Christmas tree lined with CocaCola insignia dominated the center of a town square, just in front of the main church. Crass, gaudy and something I'd only expect in New Jersey.

The ride across the Sea of Cortez was uneventful, although it was a bit difficult with only the two of us because it meant not getting enough sleep. We did catch quite a few very big tuna. Our filleting skills are improving, so we've ended up with quite a lot of fish and have had great meals when Robinson cooked and almost tolerable ones when I did. In fact, we ended up eating so much fresh fish that we gave a bunch away when we got into port. It took us about one and a half days to get across the sea, and we sailed most of it. We did pretty well and would have hit Cabo without any effort. So, you are probably wondering why we aren't in there yet. Well, partly because of scheduling and flight issues but mostly because it seemed like a much better place to hang for a bit while Ann was here, we decided to go to La Paz instead. We had no end of advice from other cruisers that assured us we'd have a much better time, and that, anyway, Cabo was "a dump". I'd been there about fifteen years ago, it was a college party town, populated by drunk students, bad bars, and overpriced marinas. It didn't impress me much then. Everyone we spoke with said it has gotten much worse since. So, we diverted course and headed north.

We arrived in La Paz a few days ago, and grabbed a mooring ball in Bahia Santa Cruz, a large harbor that runs along the city's west side. This is a "virtual marina", which means that while they have put down pilings for docks, they haven't actually built them yet, so the "marina" is sort of imaginary. The only thing available are mooring balls, a dinghy dock and showers. That's okay, because by way of amenities we really don't need that much right now, and we are located just off the main road and can see the entire town wrapped around our little bay. It was nice to get a hot shower though, and there are some great restaurants and cafes within a block of us. We were also visited by several large dolphins that swam within a few feet of the boat. There are no end of fantastic places to eat close by. We had a great meal yesterday, which included menudo (tripe) soup, and something Robinson ordered called a "burro" which was larger than his head. I ordered the taco special but was a bit unclear about what exactly was in it. I ate my first ever liver was actually...not bad.

AnnMarie flew in two days ago. Her flight was due in at two, and I woke up at 7:30, wandered around the boat doing chores, then around 10am decided to take a quick nap. I woke up, looked at a clock that was actually the wrong time zone, and thought I had only twenty minutes before she was supposed to land. I raced out to the road, found a cab and went to the airport to pick her up. As I got out of the cab I bumped into a young woman who was sitting on top of a large duffel bag wearing a giant back pack and looking a bit confused. She wanted a cab, and I thought she could just jump in the one I was getting out of, but apparently there is some sort of regulation preventing this, and she needed to go across the airport to find one.

Her name was Jessica, and as we stood there trying to figure out where she needed to go, she mentioned that she'd been crewing for an eco-tourist cruise boat for the last six months, and had somehow mistakenly come to the airport a day early, and now needed to go back to town, find a place to stay and then come back tomorrow. I explained that I was here picking up Ann who was due to arrive in a minute, but if she wanted to wait just a bit, she was more than welcome to come back to the boat and spend the night on board rather than spend money for a hotel room for just one night. So we waited together for AnnMarie to arrive, only to discover that I had just arrived at the airport an hour early, and her flight was going to be an hour late. When it rains, it pours.

Well AnnMarie arrived safely, made it through customs without a snag, and we went back to the boat and relaxed over dinner and drinks at the restaurant on the marina pier. The wind had been picking up and the waves in the harbor had been building as well. We jumped in the dinghy and headed back to the boat, but got slammed by the waves, which crashed over top of the bow and sprayed everyone with salt water. For a second I thought this was going to be a really bad start to what might be a very long night. Instead, Jessica and AnnMarie started laughing so hard I thought they were going to fall overboard. We got back, rousted Robinson and put on dry clothes, then unpacked all the treasures AnnMarie had brought down, which included warm boots and hats, which we'll need for the rest of the trip.

That was yesterday. Jessica had expected to fly home for Christmas, but we all got along so well, and enjoyed her constant laughter, that we invited her to come sailing with us. Although I'm sure her folks would have rather she were there, they thought the adventure was a once in a lifetime opportunity and wished her well. So, she is along for the ride, at least as far as her schedule will permit. It is surprising how many great folks we've met along this trip! We've all been hanging out, laughing a lot, and having a grand time. We had expected to leave yesterday for Cabo, but we've decided instead to gunk hole around the local islands, do some whale watching, maybe see some giant sharks, and generally have a relaxed time over the holidays. Our original plans had AnnMarie coming along as far north the outside coast as was possible, but given the very limited number of places she could have gone ashore, and the difficulty in getting to an airport from there, we thought it made more sense to take our time and drop her off in Cabo before the first of the year.

So, we'll head out tomorrow, weather permitting, and spend the next few days detouring, exploring, and generally goofing off, and having more fun than we're probably allowed. In the meantime, I wish you all a very, merry, tacky holiday, and all the good cheer you can handle. May the new year see you all in good health, happiness and the joy of the season.




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