Thursday, June 26, 2008

38. Cabin Fever

Still anchored at Caye Caulker. We are so ready to move on, but the weather isn't cooperating. I've been reading, some knitting, swimming, napping and just hanging out to pass the time. The Mr went diving a couple of days, mostly just to get off the boat. We've all got a touch of cabin feezer. I think I might even be a little bored. So bored in fact that this afternoon, I noticed how long my leg hair was getting. It's not like crazy hippy college days long, but long enough that it could be tweezed. And so I did. I can't think of another time in my life where that seemed like a good use of my time.

And speaking of hair, it seems like all of a sudden it's growing. I can actually get it all into a ponytail. It's a short one, but it fits and with a headband, even those frizzy baby hairs stay off my face. I stopped taking the B Complex vitamains a while ago. It makes my pee super yellow, so I couldn't tell if I wasn't drinking enough water or if it was just the vitamin. I'm sort of obsessed wtih staying hydrated in this heat. It's hard though. The water from the fiberglass holding tank tastes bad. Like ass. It doesn't smell, but it definitely tastes like ass and is hard to drink. I brought some of those Crystal Light On-the-Go packs to add to the water, but you can still taste the ass. Which means I'm drinking more rum, beer and coke light. So it's surprising that my hair is growing, what with my nutritious diet and all.

Lucy's birthday was yesterday. Her 4th. I hate that we missed it. Last year she celebrated with peanut butter flavored Frosty Paws, basically a dixie cup of frozen yogurt for dogs. Mom was going to try to find some for the "grand-puppy." Of course, doggy dixie cups might just be a little too California to find in rural Oregon. She (Lucy) did finally get a haircut. I can't figure out why they always leave her hair so long around her mouth. Don't they know she's a girl?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

37. Growing Roots

We have been anchored at Caye Caulker since the 15th. So long that I'm beginning to think that the boat has a way of growing roots or sucking us into some sort of vortex. We've tried to leave. A couple of time actually. We sailed up to Ambergris on the 18th to check out of the country on the 19th. I guess that makes us illegal aliens until we do actually leave Belizian waters. We attempted an exit on the 21st. Capt Jim and I pulled up the anchor at 5:30am, got just past the tip of North Caye Caulker, had the wind right on our nose and decided to save it for another day. Since then we've been following tropical wave and tropical wave with winds from the North. We need to head North and can't sail into the wind. So, we are still on Caye Caulker.

Fortunately, we like it here. It's a laid back, irie kind of island, with sandy streets and palm trees. It's a backpackers paradise with lots of European travlers. It's not the best place for the ego though. Nothing like mid-20 Nordic ice princesses to make you feel old, frumpy and just plain brunette. Did I mention old? God they look so young. Did I look that young traipsing around Spain and Portugal at 26? Anyway, there are a number of recommended restaurants, grocery stores and internet cafes. We even found a bar with free wi-fi with purchase. Is it bad to be drinking dark rum and Coke Light at 11am. I suppose I could have had a bloody mary, but vodka in Belize just doesn't feel right.

I think we've adjusted to boat life. Adjusted as well as you can to living in a space that takes literally 8 steps to get from one end of the cabin to the other. This definitely isn't like that Estee Lauder commercial. You know the one with Gwenyth looking ethereal in white with her hair swept back, wearing tasteful gold jewelry on the massive sailing yacht? That's not me. At all. Granted, I'm not smelly. I mean, we do take baths every night - salt water baths with a fresh water rinse on the swim platform. Sure, it's really hard to get a good shampoo with salt water, but I'm not smelly, just not very girly.

The boat is constantly moving, which means I'm even clumsier than usual, always bumping my head and tripping over myself. And because you're constantly compensating for the motion, doing nothing can be exhausting. Sleeping is a mixed bag. We don't sleep well the first night at a new anchorage. We're all up throughout the night, checking to see if the anchor has drug. The next night is usually better. The salon couch untucks into a double bed. That's where I'm sleeping, which mean the bed has to be made at night and put away in the morning. It also means that I wake up when the boys do. Fortunately, afternoon (and sometimes late morning) naps are also part of the routine. The Mr took this shot of the boat on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala.

I have a callous under the middle finger of my left hand. From knitting? Nope; it's almost too hot for knitting. From hoisting sails and line handling? No; not too much sailing going on. From hanging on for dear life? Maybe. but I think it's from the head. From pumping the head (the toilet). Charming, I know. You just don't appreciate a flush toilet until you don't have one...

It's not all bad though. Life on the boat is leisurely. Nothing happens quickly. We don't sail fast, we don't walk fast, and we obviously aren't heading North fast. There are definitely simple pleasures on board: strong morning coffee, a cold Coke Light in the afternoon, a fresh pot of pinto beans (40 minutes in the pressure cookers), finding flour tortillas to go with those pinto beans, peanut butter and bananas on toast (from a real toaster powered by the generator), mangos, a couple pieces of ice in my rum punch sundowner (actually, ice in anything is a real treat), approaching an isolated palm covered island rimmed with a sandy beach surrounded by clear torquoise water and no other boats in sight and really fantastic sunsets. Actually, if I'm being honest, it's pretty good. Which is a good thing since I missed my return flight on the 16th...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

36. Belize City

We've made it up to where this trip was supposed to start. We pulled into Cucumber Beach Marina in Belize City on the 11th. We have power (which equals air conditioning at night), free water (SHOWERS), laundry (they SO needed it) and a steady supply of cold Belikin (the beer of Belize). We've been hanging out at the marina, eating at the restaurant, chatting with other cruisers and puttering aroung the boat. Capt Jim and the Mr took the bus into Belize City to restock the fridge in the city yesterday and brought back an unexpected treat - Snickers - from the central grocery store. I've never been so happy to see a bite size bar in my entire life. Heaven.

Here's the local fruit stand. It isn't exactly Bristol Farms, but the fruit has been flavorful and I try not to think about the other stuff.

Today, the Mr and I took the city bus out to the Belize Zoo for a little National Geographic (at the zoo and on the bus). The zoo is compact with about 25 animals indiginous to Belize. We practically had the place to ourselves and didn't see a single screaming child. Cameron Diaz has even been there. Highlights were definitely the Cotamondi, cute little rodent things with piggish snouts (I supsect Paris Hilton already has one as a pet), the black and spotted jaguars and some cute little owls who behaved like love birds. The Tapirs were particularly attracted to Scott's camera. He has a few pictures on his blog. I spent most of the visit swatting mosquitos. I can't understand why they're so attracted to me. The boys have their own theories, of course. The Mr thinks I'm too clean and compared to him, it's certainly a possibility. Capt Jim maintains that daily doses of garlic tablets are the key. Allegedly, garlic will ward off bugs as well as Montezuma's Revenge and stomach bacteria. On our first trip to Belize in 2005, no matter where we went, I was bug bait. For the second trip, I decided to test his theory and started taking garlic tablets every day for about a month before the trip. I had garlic breath and garlic burps for the entire month and still got bit. I started taking his odorless gel caps a week or so after I got here. No garlic breath or burps, but I'm still bug bait, but haven't had any of the other problems.

I swear I'm having more fun at the zoo than it looks in this photo.

I've also started knitting up a third and hopefully final black watch cap for the Mr, ala Jacque Cousteau, but not red. I've been putting it off and feeling a little Goldilocks about the whole thing. The first was too small. The second too big. So we'll see how this one turns out. I'm working it up in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran on US size 6 with 3 1/2 inches of a 3x3 rib for the bottom and then will finish it up in stockinette. It'll be dense and seems ridiculous in this heat, but perhpas he'll need it during the Gulf crossing. And after the toothpicks I've been knitting socks on, the 6s feel good in my hands.

Anyway, I think we'll probably be here until Sunday and then head out to Caye Caulker, which will probably be our last stop in Belize before checking into Mexico. We are slowly, very slowly, making our way North. Do we have a plan? Not so much. One of the things I am working on is just going with the flow. How's that working for me?, yeah...I've learned that I am a girl who likes a plan and a schedule. But then who am I kidding? We already knew that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

35. Garbutt Caye

After almost a week in Placencia, we finally untied and motor sailed out to Laughing Bird Caye for some afternoon snorkeling. It's one of my favorite places - warm water, sandy bottom, clear water, lots of tropical fish and coral formations. We didn't stay all that long as a storm came up and we headed to Long Cocoa Caye for what turned out to be an uncomfortable anchorage - high winds, very rolly seas. Fortunately, we only stayed for one night before sailing to Garbutt Caye, home of ex-con Harry, the unofficial mayor of the Caye. Dad makes a point to visit each time he's in the area and brings a little something to trade for fresh fish or lobster. Usually books or magazine, a can-opener, candles, things to make his life on the island a little easier. This year it was a bottle of rot-gut booze from Guatemala. 2% alcohol, 98% agricultural distillates. We didn't see Harry again before we left...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

34. Progress

I made it to Placencia, Belize and since we can't seem to leave, inernet access isn't as far off as I thought. Access is free from The Purple Space Monkey. And if you don't mind that your fingers stick to the keyboard, you can sit here for as long as you like. The original plan was to meet in Belize City, but two tropical depressions hit and the Boat Boys couldn't make it up. Instead, I caught an island hopper to Placencia. I didn't mind as I fell in love with Placencia on our first trip to Belize back in 2005. It's quaint, coastal and boasts the skinniest sidewalk in the world. See.

As quaint as it is, it hasn't avoided progress. Street signs have gone up since the last time we were here. The Mr is particularly fond of this one. I can not imagine why...

We're tied up at the Placencia Yacht Club, with anchored boats in the background. Don't get too excited. It's not a glamorous yacht club yacht club, but has a nice dock with an outdoor shower, a bar called Tranquillo that serves a mean Rum Punch and $2 beers, entertaining characters and has kept us pretty stable during the crazy evening storms. And because of all of that, we seem to have no immediate plans to leave.

Monday, June 2, 2008

33. Radio Silent

This is it for a while. I leave for Belize in just a few minutes. Not sure how accessible the net will be, so for now, this is it. The weather has been pretty nasty down there. But the Counting Crows were playing when the alarm clock went off this morning, so I'm considering that a good omen.

Take care and I'll be in touch when I can. Wish me luck!