Sunday, March 22, 2015

Porpoises following Asperida

In the morning of the 5th day on the passage a large pod of porpoises came and swam along with Asperida about a half hour.  I was 4 am to 8 am shift and Walter briefly panicked when he didn't see me in the cockpit.  We were sailing along at a pretty slow speed on auto pilot.


It's always fun when a pod of porpoises come swim along with the boat while sailing. This was the most I've ever seen perhaps almost 50 but it's just an estimate.

Looking back

This was taken after clearing into Guatemala in Livingston just before heading out to the boat.  I thought it was a nice photo of Asperida.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guatemala City

I've really only been within walking distance of the Hostel I chose to stay at.  Anyway it's a big city with plenty of familiar franchise presence.  The hostel recommended a couple places with good and inexpensive food.  I only tried the one but it's only a breakfast and lunch place and on my first day I arrived 10 minutes after 3 and they stop serving lunch at 3.  I walked further to a big fancy modern mall and mistakenly chose to eat at a restaurant called Skillets.  It was a total of Q 104 which is about $13.65.  A typical lunch or dinner price back home.  The next day I had lunch at the recommended place and it was Q 25 or $3.35 US.  After that good inexpensive lunch I decided to walk over to the grocery store to get a few things for later rather than going out somewhere.  I stopped at that same mall and was going to get a coffee but since just a cup of coffee small was over half the cost of my lunch I changed my mind...it was a Starbucks.  The mall had many familiar brand stores and a few unknown to me.  Quite the display of consumerism out of control.  I then proceeded to the grocery store and was thinkng just some bread and peanut butter and snack bars.. The bread and snack bars were a good value but the tiny size peanut butter like not even a cup..more like a 6 oz jar was Q 57... which is about $7.58??? I opted for a little 6 oz tub of cream cheese for Q 4.45 or 60 cents.   The only other guests here that were staying more than a night before a flight home or having just arrived about to head off to the various tourist destinations were a couple woman applying for work visas at a hostel in Mexico.. They met there and have been working there under the radar but now both want to make it official and eventually obtain a Mexican residency.  One was from Argentina and the other from Sweden.  You can not apply for a work visa within the country you seek to work at hence they have been doing a bit of traveling here finishing off with a few days in 'The City' with visits to the Mexican Embassy.
My excuse for not doing some sight seeing like visiting La Antigua is I've been traveling in a sailboat since December 2 and am focused on getting to Bryson City to visit a good friend from highschool I've not seen in a very long time and looking forward to spending 5 days with he and his wife.  Perhaps someday I'll be back to Rio Dulce with a sailboat of my own and have plenty of time to check things out.

$3.35 US







Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The bus ride

The cruising guide books on Asperida covering Rio Dilce were from 2009 and another from 2013.  Even the more recent guide made reference to taking the chicken bus from Fronteras (Rio Dulce) to Guatemala City concerning a flight to where ever.  Well I'm not sure if they still had chicken buses for the route to 'The City' from Rio Dulce back in 2013 but the don't anymore.  Old repainted school buses from the U.S. are still used on various rural routes possibly even with the occasional customer bringing a chicken?  I suppose the success of tourism has the 2 main bus lines in the country using big comfy air conditioned Mercedes or other buses.  I took Litegua and the almost 6 hour bus ride only cost $10 U.S.  You start out heading up over the bridge spanning where the Rio Dulce becomes Lago Izabel.  Then you travel around 40 to 80 kph with occasion short stops.  Just short of half way there is a longer break at a hotel, cafeteria with restrooms.  About an hour past that stop you finally begin climbing into the mountains on the same paved but narrow road just like what passes through Fronteras.  There are plenty of places for a bus to roll off the mountain with little in the way of guardrails.  At some point this secondary paved road changes to a modern 4 lane divided highway the rest of the way to The City.  I had chosen a seat in the very front but the very high windshield that would have allowed good viewing was covered by curtain on the upper part to shade the sun for the driver allowing only a veiw ahead of the road a 100 feet ahead at the most.  While it's quite tropical in the Rio Dulce area once underway the terrain became much more arid as you can see in the photos.

The high bridge over the Rio Dulce







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bugs?

You hear about how bad the bugs are and that you need to have insect screening on your boat.  During the 12 or so days I was here I don't think I counted more than a dozen mosquitoes?  Maybe it's not the worst bug time of year?  Maybe if your accustom to minnesota mosquitoes they just aren't real thick in comparison?  Anyway it's 5 am now and I had a nice last night and a mosquito around 4 am.  Now I'll rest another hour before getting up.


Last sunset in Rio Dulce at Monkey Bay Marina.



This is actually a few nights back when the moon was full.  The boat is just a random boat anchored in Monkey Bay.  It's a steel hulled gaff rigged schooner with a lot of corrosion.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Pizza

Last evening we decided to go try a pizza at the nearby Catamaran Hotel and Marina.  It was better than the pizza at Sundog Cafe I think but still lacked ... It was a medium size pepperoni pizza and I doubt there was even one piece of pepperoni per slice of pizza.. Plenty of goey mozzarella cheese though...too much really.  The Catamaran restaurant was deserted so at first we decided to go check out another little restaurant up a creek in the next bay.  That one was devoid of customers as well so we returned to Catamaran.  We sat at the bar as there were other people though we spoke to no one besides the server.  The owner or manager was right next to me.  I asked about wifi and was surprised that at that Hotel/Marina you have to buy time on it?  Or perhaps actual Marina and hotel guests are giving it free?  Anyway he said I don't recommend it as it's not that great.... I think he didn't want to bother though I doubt he would have felt with selling it.  The bar had a big screen TV and was showing The Voice singing competition show.. First TV experience other than a soccer or rugby game since arriving here.. After The Voice it was Fox News and I moved over to sit on a couch until we finally left.  Pretty right wing crowd at the bar it seemed.  
Now I've just one more night on Asperida before taking the 6 hour bus ride at 8 am tomorrow.   The guide book of a few years back talks about taking the 'chicken bus' to Guatemala City but I've looked at the buses and they are big cushy new Mercedes buses these days.  I'll then stay 3 nights and check out the City a little?  I guess it's near the city center and also near the historic part of the city..  Some here at the Marina said I should have spent a couple days in Antigua instead and I had no real argument other than trying to spend less money.  Also now my focus is on spending 5 days reuniting with a best friend from high school I hadn't seen in about 30 years.  I'll stay with he and his wife until I fly to Duluth March 18.


This was taken days ago when Walter was still shopping around for the Marina to call home.  
It's where we sat and ate our pizza though.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rain

Just 3 more nights for me.  Then 3 in the City.. It's the 5 days of a reunion visit of a best friend in high school and his wife I'm really looking forward to.  Then I fly to Duluth on March 18, spend one night home then go visit my dear old mom for her 94th Birthday!  It was another rainy day.. Not all,day but off and on with one particularly long and heavy rain in the late morning.  I was over in the big hang out area and stranded there for a couple hours?  The generator was running which is the main reason I. Decided on the alternative hang out.  Mostly the shared mobile hotspot with a 250 MB limit per 24 hours is adequate as long as you don't stream videos etc... And the manager says not for Skype video calls or FaceTime but a Russian guy here is using his 250 MB exclusively on FaceTime I'm guessing as he has a Mac laptop.  During these times loading of websites or even getting emails is slow to non successful.  I'm looking forward to better WiFi at Quetzalroo Hostel.  It's pretty frustrating here as far as Internet access goes
Below is of the heaviest rain taken from the hangout looking at the cluster of 3 sailboats..  You can tell Asperida from the round cockpit canopy and wooden spars.  






Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Monkey Bay Marina

It was a calm night and morning so after breakfast we hauled up the anchor and docked stern in using the dinghy to haul a line in for other cruisers on the dock to pull us in.  It's nice to have access to bathrooms and showers and garbage etc.. This marina actually composts and recycles.. The 2 drawbacks to me are the Internet is a shared cellular data plan with a 250 MB daily limit per device.  That's why Walter wanted to get his own plan.  The other is isolation as Tijax was within walkable distance to town.. Here there is no road or even path..it's probably swampy?  It's called Monkey Bay due to the howler monkeys which we heard last night and early this morning...along with the barking dogs at the private places across the small bay.  Also no restaurant which maybe ends up saving you money but I kind of like having one at the marina or to at least be able to walk to one.  Tijax was $40 less per month also.  Right now we are running the generator rather than shore power such is the high cost of electricity here.  Time to put out the other 3 big solar panels now that we finally have put up the 'Shade Tree' cockpit canopy.  It's great.. Now let it rain and the sun beat down!  
Think I'll go take a shower and assume 3:48 pm is not a popular shower time?  There are 2 bathrooms with toilets and 2 showers.  I think we bring the total boats here right now to 5 so maybe 10 people or so here right now.  It's not a very big marina.  

There are Mosquitos and there is that new mosquito borne virus with the severe pain in your joints if you get it...plus dengue fever.  I don't think things will be insect screened until I'm gone.  A bunch of screen was bought in the Caymans but it isn't a priority.  In the evening I get pestered by a few mosquitoes and I dread the night but so far the nights are relatively bug free.. Perhaps it's that its raining a lot at night?  By comparison to summer in minnesota the mosquitoes are not really bad but it's been so free of bugs so far the entire time since leaving Beaufort S.C. December 2nd.  As it turns out the 250 mb a day is fine by me.  I think my time will run out befor my mb's?  The manager wanted us to move the boat as our gangplank off the stern was infringing on the dock too much.  So far I've not been able to pick up the wifi from the boats new location.  Oh well.

A few photos of Monkey Bay Marina







Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flooding and anchor drag

Yesterday March 2nd we had the most rain during the night and into the morning.  One of the first things I,saw as I was opening the companionway during a lull in the rain was our closest neighbor waving frantically as we had dragged anchor during the night and were quite clost to his boat.  We hauled up the anchor and moved out somewhat and dropped it again.  We were there quite a while drying things out as the rain finally seemed to have stopped.  There was quite a breeze too.  At one point we went to shore as Walter wanted to see about the cost of a cellular data plan as part of deciding between Tijax Marina or Monkey Bay Marina.  We dinghyed to Bruno's and quickly checked email.,  then some guy yelled who ever has the red dinghy immune saw come from the big black ketch...you better get out to your boat as you've dragged anchor and your against someone else's boat.  We went out and untangled the mess.. It was the boat of a nice British couple who we've talked too several times.  They have 2 boats here now and have been coming to the Rio for a very long time.  Once free we motored over to Monkey Bay and anchored in the end out of the wind.. I guess the decision was made by default of the anchor drag?  Later we went to town and Walter got his Cellular Data plan and we bought some groceries then returned before dark as it's now about 3/4 of a mile to to town rather than 150 feet when anchored there.

  
    Asperida anchored just off Brunoes dinghy dock.

   This is from through the pothole of the British couple's boat we dragged into.. 
   The breeze must not have started blowing yet.?



Sunday, March 1, 2015

About the boat I crewed on last winter

I heard mention on VHF the name of a boat I'd met in Isla Murejes while volunteer crewing in the boat I eventually jumped ship from in Punta Allen.  Aparently that captain had a friend he contacted come to help crew for the remainder of the way to Rio Dulce.  Those who followed last winters blog know it was not agoodmatch myself and that captain but I was toughing it out as I really wanted to see Rio Dulce.  It came to ahead just past Punta Allen and I jumped ship.  Well I'd emailed that captain about how the rest of his voyage went but never got a reply.  Sadly he and his friend crew who replaced me ran aground on the reef near the channel into Xcalak to clear out of Mexico.  The 2 of them had to jump off the boat and swim to shore.  Then they were fined $200,000 US for damaging the reef.  Once in prison while trying to arrange legal council the police offered to let them escape if they paid $4,000.  They could only scrounge up $2,000 which was excepted and they fled Mexico for home leaving the boat as a wreck.  I was sorry to hear of this but it made me very glad I jumped ship when I did as that was to be just a 2 days further sailing !!!