Friday, February 22, 2008

We landed on San Lucas Island yesterday. This is the location of a prison colony dating back to 1885. It was run along the lines of Devil’s Island in French Guyana or the prisons in Australia. The prison was closed in 1991, but the infrastructure is still a century old. We walked into the cells where the prisoners were held and the lack of light alone would have killed me. Bats and bugs abounded inside the buildings; the bats would scurry about and flit away from you as you moved around the prison. There was a poster about the San Lucas prison and Barry thought you might like to read about the place. There is a lot of the history of Costa Rica that has taken place on this island. The structures of the main administrative building as well as a church are still in place. There is a huge wide walkway from the water up to the main building and it made me think of men in white suits with Panama hats strolling up and down. It could be a good location from a movie from that era.
We walked along the jungle paths and listened to the howler monkey’s do their stuff. They make amazing sounds, a deep woofing roar, quite unnerving actually. Barry was determined to try and get some fruit off of a tree and dragged a 10 meter long branch around until he found a piece of fruit he could knock down. There were mangoes, bananas, coconuts and some other weird fruit that we couldn’t figure out. You wouldn’t go hungry on this island.
There is a floating restaurant about 100 meters from the old prison. We sat on the deck last night and had fresh fish as the sun set. What a gorgeous view. There are 4 other boats in the bay and we had met 3 of the other boats before so we able to visit with them for awhile. This is quite different from Mexico as there as a lot fewer boats down here so you get to know each other pretty quickly. Most of them are going to be taking there time and staying in Central America this season, so once we leave this area we will not likely see them again. We are headed to another beach today and will take the ferry into Putarenas tomorrow; hopefully we will be able to find an internet cafe this afternoon and you will be able to read about this set of adventures.

We had a good visit with Trish, Graeme and Quinn. There was a little mis-communication going on though and Trish showed up one night after dark and was stranded on the beach. She shouted at us and flashed flashlights and then even managed to call us on the VHF but we were unaware, too bad. We had turned the radio off thinking no one would call us the rest of the night, see you just never know. The next morning we were going ashore, I was headed off to catch the bus to go and see her and Barry says who is that woman waving to us on the beach. HMMMM, who indeed!! She had gotten a cheap hotel room on the beach and was none the worse for wear. Quinn had a lovely time on the boat playing with the winches and the cupboard doors, he loves to open and close them.
The next day I went back to the surf beach with Trish and Quinn and spent the night sleeping on the sand under the stars. I actually had a great sleep; a large dog woke me in the morning when he was startled by my presence on the sand. Trish and Graeme were invited to a wedding of a couple from Invermere.
Graeme getting a lift up the beach and no Quinn is not in the buggy.
It was very simple, held right on the beach. They had a couple of gorgeous flower arrangements and they put them on either side of some driftwood and that was the aisle. They sprinkled flower petals down the aisle and it was a lovely, simple setting. There were very few people at the wedding, just family and us. Trish and Graeme headed off to the wedding feast and I wandered the beach, listening to the surf crash under the stars.
After I got back to the boat Barry and I decided we should take a look at a waterfall that was in a town about 20 miles away. Two buses later we asked around and found the path to the waterfall. The path was a bit tricky for Barry but he had found a stick and was able to maneuver himself around some of the awkward spots. The waterfall was very nice, not too much different from the one at the end of McLeod Bay, only a lot warmer. We dove in and enjoyed swimming around in the fresh water.
We left Bahia Ballena the next day and headed to Isla Tortugas. It is quite the destination spot and there were quite a lot of tourists there when we arrived just after noon. Almost all of the boats departed about 4:00 P.M. and we had the place to ourselves. I went snorkeling the next morning and it was a wonderful spot. The water clarity was terrific and the variety of fish was very good. I saw a few types that I had never seen before, a great spot, too bad we didn’t get there Trish.
We are just meandering around the Gulf of Nicoya at the moment. We change anchorages every day, there are only 4 to 5 miles between them. We don’t even pull the dinghy up and what a treat just to be able to jump in it and take off, without unwrapping, untying, lowering it and putting on the motor, plus dragging out from down below all the stuff that has to go in it; paddles, wheels, pump, seat and gas can. We will be in this Gulf for another week, in a couple of days we will head to the mainland side of the Gulf, get water and fuel and then head down to Drakes Bay. I sat down the other day and worked backward from the day we plan on being in the Galapagos and figured out a timeline for the rest of Feb. It is only about 2 weeks until we head across to the islands. Keep in touch, what is happening to all of you in Canada??? .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We managed to hook up with Trish, Graeme and Quinn 2 days ago. Everyone was sick Trish had been sick for the past three days, Quinn was sick and Graeme was getting it. Quinn was a real trooper he didn't whine and cry too much but he was not happy unless he was with his Mom. He didn't want too much to do with Grandma or Grandpa holding him. He checked Barry's beard out very carefully, he wasn't too sure about it.
They are camping down at the beach and much to Graeme's disgust the surf is not up, it was decidedly yukky and he didn't even go out one day.
It took us an hour and a half on the bus to get to where they were, so we decided to stay the night. We got a lovely cabana with a nice pool and everyone just hung out in the room in the afternoon to get away from the heat and let poor little Quinn have some relief when he was sick.

Trish and I got a chance to try surfing in the morning yesterday. I didn't even try to get up on Trish's board, it is small and tricky even to sit on. I got to tummy slide in on 2 waves which was very much fun. We will have to head out there again to try it another day.

Talk about a real BEACH BUM!!

Trish was going to give Quinn another day to recuperate and then try and come on the bus to see us tomorrow. It will be nice to have them onboard. I think Graeme may come, but only if the surf still sucks.
Position: 09 36.9 N 085 17. 9 W on the west coast of Costa Rica.
Well, I got my wish, a lovely calm sail. We are on our way south to an anchorage near where Trish and Graeme are surfing. We think they are in the country now. We will head to a spot called Ballena Bay in the Gulf of Nicoya. We think they are on the Pacific side about 20 miles up the coast from the tip, if you look at a map, at a spot called Malpais.
Earlier today we set out to just head 15 miles around the corner from Playa De Coco. We thought we would just take our time. Then the wind came up and Barry said let’s keep going, there was no reason not too, we had food and water and a moveable shelter, so onward. It was wonderful, bright sun, a breeze, and I was uploading some new music on to my IPOD, so I was dancing to the Moma’s’ and the Papa’s down below while Barry was at the helm. Life doesn’t get too much better than that.
Barry and the gang doing the Red Tape Waltz in Cocos

Now it is 0400 and I am grooving to the Moma’s and the Papa’s again as we glide along towards the Southern Cross. There is no moon yet, I am expecting it to rise any minute, maybe the sun will beat it up today!! Lazy Moon. I have been sitting here wishing on the shooting stars, a gentle breeze in my face.
I had a good shot of Diet Coke when I came on shift at 0245, 45 minutes late, unforgivable. I woke up at 0200 and just shut my eyes for one more minute and 45 minutes later I woke up. Barry was 2 minutes late waking up at 2200 and you think I let him sleep, NO, but he never wakes me up when I sleep in, what a guy, not really fair, I wish he would wake me, but that is his choice.
We have been having problems with the dinghy the last couple of weeks. It has developed a slow leak. We have thought of everything we could think of to find it. Barry put soap on it and then watched for bubbles, he couldn’t see anything. Then he tried to fill it with water and see if that worked no luck. We have been traveling around with the pump in the dinghy, ready to add air anywhere anytime. Today we hauled the dinghy aboard and I heard it leaking. I ran down below and got the soap and spread some on the area that I thought I heard the sound from and ZOWIE, there it was. Hopefully we should be able to get it fixed shortly. Not only would it deflate while we were riding around in it but also on the deck. So, we would tie it down beautifully, pulling the ropes as hard as we could to keep it in place and then it would deflate and the ropes would get loose and it would move around on the deck, getting all crooked and weird looking. It will be nice to have it fixed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

We are in Costa Rica and spent the afternoon doing the red tape waltz. I would have said tango but that would be far to energetic a description of the exercise. Go to the Port Captain, get sent away to make copies, return, get sent to Immigration, and wait, while the clerk gets angry at the customer before us and demands to know why all the crew isn´t there, why not indeed. Then go with some one about 30 miles to the airport to the Customs people and wait and wait and wait. Finally after 45 minutes get a STAMPED piece of paper back and head back to the Port Captain that we had to tip $25.00 to stay open for us and VOILA, we are legal. WHEW, glad we don´t have to do that every day.
We are headed out of here tomorrow and will try and hook up with Patricia further south. We know what town she will be in, just not sure exactly where in the town she will be, hopefuly she will e-mail us and let us know by the time we get to the next anchorage.
We had an interesting sail from El Salvador. There are winds down here called papaguyos and I think we were royally Papaguyoed yesterday. We had wind on the nose, bashing into the waves all day and night. It wasn´t as bad as the Tehuanepec but I think we can claim to having been well and truly Papaguyoed. Hopefully we will have a lovely spinnaker run tomorrow, something not too exciting.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Yesterday we took a stroll through the El Salvadoran jungle to see the howler monkey's. This family of monkeys was saved by an El Salvadoran family. During the fighting 20 years ago, this family was caught between the rebels and the government forces. These fighters would live in the jungle off the land and to survive they would eat the monkeys. This family agreed to feed both sides if they would let the monkeys live, so there is a thriving community of monkeys for us to see. The monkey clan is presided over by the macho monkey by the name of Pancho. The head of the human family yelled out Pancho, Pancho and a few minutes later the clan arrived. Pancho is the only adult male, all the females are part of his harem and he has fathered all the babies. We were able to feed them bananas by hand and observe them at close hand as long as we wanted, what a treat. They seemed to be better fed than the dogs that were on hand.

Today we drove into town. The road we were on was just a dirt road, not even gravel and the houses along the way were an example of some of the poorest we have encountered. This was rural El Salvador, men with machetes, fields of sugar cane being cut by hand and the fields burnt. Most of the people we saw on the dirt road were on bicycles, pedalling away in the heat. I imagine a bicycle is a prized possesion in these parts. Then we turned onto a highway and went into town. We were the only gringos that we saw in town and we received a lot of stares, we had kids coming up to us and saying hello, just to see if we were real, I think. The town had some startling contrasts. There were lovely new buildings that housed a Wendy's and a Pizza Hut, then there was the bustling open air market. You could hardly move in the market it was so stuffed with vendors. They would shout at you to come and buy their produce, a large part of which were tomatoes, onions and potatoes and very loud latin music was broadcast throughout the area. We bought several new fruits that we have not seen before, they should be an interesting taste sensation. We did learn the names but I forget, several we were able to taste before we bought them, the purply one seemed to be some kind of a plum.

We arrived back at the marina, put all the groceries away and headed to the pool, for some more R and R. We are leaving bound for Costa Rica tomorrow, so must complete our formalities today, checking out of the country and paying up our bill, which we have just signed for all week, that includes our laundry, our food and bar bill, our internet usage as well as our mooring fees. It should take us about 2 days to reach Costa Rica but I am not sure about internet access in our first port so you may not hear from us for 3 or 4 days. Trish, Graeme and Quinn are coming for a surfing vacation to Costa Rica so it is just super that we will be able to meet up with them for about a week. Hopefully we will be able to find them, but amazingly so far we have been able to connect with any visitors that have tried to hook up with us.