Sunday, March 25, 2007
These Old Socks
Can you believe that he's wearing them here in Zihuatanejo, Mexico when it's 86 degrees and sticky humid today? He says they are comfortable! What a guy.
Tomorrow we are heading into town to provision for a little side trip to Isla Grande in Ixtapa beginning Tuesday. We will sail for a couple of hours - then anchor out there with our cruising friends from the sailing vessel Cyclades. They were there last week and want to show us the great swimming & snorkeling sites there. Okay! We're game! See ya!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Cruiser Hang Outs
Why Rick's? Well, he provides a FREE book/magazine exchange library, internet service, bulletin boards, TV, music, beer, and showers. Many of the smaller boats don't have showers on board (we do!). We paid a little less than $50 US for unlimited access via wireless out at our anchored boat for the season.
Today, it was pretty empty at Rick's - and in the harbor. Many of the other sailing vessels have either left to "puddle jump" over to the South Pacific, or have headed north up the coast of Mexico. We got down here late in the season, so we're still hanging out here. We found Redmond today (from the sailing vessel Moon Me) at Rick's using his computer to "phone home". Yep. We all use Skype as our phone service. It's FREE computer-to-computer, or just 2 cents a minute if you call a regular phone or cell phone. Landline telephone companies should be very afraid.
You many have noticed all of the (empty) plastic chairs in the photos. One of our cruising buddies has wondered aloud "Are there more plastic chairs in Mexico then live people?" Seems like every little/medium/large restaurant has many, many cheap plastic chairs with various beer brands on them. But, most are unoccupied. All the time. What gives? Are plastic chairs some sort of Mexican status symbol? Do the beer companies force them on the owners? Do they self-reproduce? I just don't know.
Here's the view from our boat of some cool hotels hanging on the rock cliffs. If you want a great place to vacation check out any of the hotels on Playa La Ropa here in Zihuatanejo.
On the knitting front: I finished another (#3) pair of ladies' leisure socks for the Socks For Soldier's Yahoo! group. Nothing special, just simple socks in a German self-patterning wool & nylon yarn (thanks Harry for bringing this back to me from Germany!). And, I started my first pair of BBS (Big Black Socks) for my son's friend in Iraq. No, I don't support the war. Knitting socks for this kid is about keeping his feet warm and showing him that I'm proud that he did something with his life. Period. I'm loving the yarn - Essentials by KnitPicks! It is a lot softer than most of the other wool/nylon blend sock yarns that I've used in the past. Okay - back to cruising....
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Lap of Luxury
Gayle is our 1st visitor since we left the states and we had been really excited about her coming down here to play with us for a few days. Now that she's here we are having a blast! We had a great time taking her to the central market to see the dead chickens (future tacos) today and she's been treating us to meals and marguaritas. And, yes, she brought down my yarn to me - whooo hoooo! I worked on the "Grass Creek Park Vest" today and it was such a joy to have that project back in my hands again. The nice folks at Schoolhouse Press hustled out the Jamieson & Smith jumper weight wool, and even included a nice little handwritten note to me.
Of course I always have several other knitting projects going at the same time. Here's a Lille Rund Serviet doily (free pattern) that I knit in #10 mercerized cotton and size 2 needles. It measures 9" in diameter. I knit it for a fellow cruiser. Okay, I also knit it because I wanted to, desperately needed to knit up something a little more challenging. It was so rumpled before I blocked it out as the picture above shows.
The 3rd pair of leisure socks for the Socks for Soldiers group is coming along quickly too. I hope the recipient doesn't notice the slight irregularity of the toe...just a little "marguarita on the rocks" wobble. Oops. Oh, and here's a pic of the 28 sets of red/white/blue stitch markers for sock knitting that I made for the group. I've finished tying the sets of 4 markers together with ribbon and have them packaged up ready to have Gayle take them back to the states to ship to SFS headquarters.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Yeah, you heard me, BIMBO!
Here's another example of a product name that catches my eye. Bimbo is a giant bread, cookie, snackfood manufacturer here in Mexico. I always think of the wife on the old TV series "Married, with Children" when I see this brand. Well, at least their bread is good...whole grain..and never molds. Hmmmm...is that a good thing?
So, how many pelicans can roost on a derelict boat at the same time? We avoid going close enough to count as the stench is overwhelming so I took this photo from our dinghy speeding along! There are a couple of boats here in the Zihuatanejo Bay that host pelicans. A couple of boats have put up scarecrows (scarepelicans?). We're having enough problems with the Booby & Friggin' Frigate Birds on our boat. We've tried aluminum foil strips, plastic grocery bags, and the loop side of velcro sticky tape. Nothing stops these critters. So Jonesy has to wash the deck every morning.
Looks like Spring is, well, springing into full gear. Sure, we're in the tropics, but most of the natural flora is deciduous and is brown and dry this time of year. But, these two trees are in full bloom with giant pink, and then orange blossoms. We saw these trees along our long walk yesterday to find an auto parts store (for oil filters for the boat generator, we don't own a car).
Knitting Content not much. Been making little red/white/blue stitch markers for the Socks For Soldiers Yahoo! knitting group. Seeing as I don't have the black sock yarn yet to knit any of the Big Black Socks, I can contribute by making stitch markers for the group. Still working on the Faroese Shawl...started another pair of leisure socks for SFS. That's it. Just running around town picking up produce & other groceries each day, then back to the boat for a little knitting time.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Jonesy stayed on the boat today to change the engine oil & filter, generator oil & filter, clean the raw water inlet screen for the generator, repair a broken engine dipstick, and top off the house battery water levels. I went shopping with fellow cruiser, Deborah from the sailing vessel Cyclades. Provisioning & entertainment - those are my jobs.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
First order of business is always to find the market and some good fast food. The central market here is the usual wild place - full of hustle & bustle, dead animals (also known as "meat"), produce, and every imaginable other item. Nope, we won't be having any of these chickens for dinner tonight! Actually, everything was extremely FRESH!
For casual dining, we discovered "Pancho's Place" which is run by the nicest guy on the planet - Gaby (Gabriel). We've had the special of the day twice now (30 pesos or about $3 bucks) and it has been delicious! First, we had chicken with green chili sauce, then yesterday we had lean slices of tender pork in a red chili sauce with vegetables. Plus, there is always rice, beans and fresh hot corn tortillas. I'm like so not preparing lunch on the boat any more! Gaby speaks beautiful english and we have enjoyed our eloquent discussions about art (Rembrant!) and local customs.
A standard procedure here in Zihuatanejo is that the Navy boards every yacht. So, we got our turn the other day. I snuck in a couple of photos of the crew taken thru one of the salon windows. Check out the automatic rifle next to the legs! Actually, they were very polite and it was a pleasant paperwork/documentation event. Of course, we were asked if we had firearms, drugs, or marijuana on board. No Way!
And speaking of firearms, check out this photo of the armed guard who rides shotgun in the local Coca-cola delivery truck. They have to do this because most of the small businesses deal only in cash, and there are banditos in this part of Mexico. The insurance companies are more likely to reimburse a company after a robbery if the delivery folks took the precaution of having a guard. Very labor intensive though!
Whoo hooo - there's a new online-email knitting resource from Interweave Knits which will be available this Spring!! You can sign-up at Knitting Daily where you can also download the free Caspian Sea Socks pattern by Pricilla Gibson-Roberts. These socks are knit with Dale of Norway Tiur mohair & wool blend - aren't they BEAUTIFUL?
I've been noodling around with a lace shawl design that has been fermenting in my head. Sure is a lot of sketching, graphing, and swatching swatching swatching. But it is a lot of fun too, and little swatches aren't too hot in the lap for this heat and humidity here.
Well, gotta get busy with boat chores. The clean & folded laundry was just delivered out to us here on the boat along with cases of beer, Coke light, and bottled water. There's an enterprising local couple (Ishmael & Hilda) who will bring out to your yacht whatever you want (within reason of course) in their open-air fishing boat (panga). Wait....I hear Jonesy in the aft stateroom opening and closing dresser drawers...he's putting away the laundry!! Guilt surfacing, must go help....
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Moving on South
So, next I started a "Faroese Peaks Shawl" from Knitpicks in a varigated blues wool lacweight yarn. The instructions were both written out line-by-line and charted. Hmmm...the charted instructions omitted the row 25 shoulder increases which is what makes this shawl a Faroe Island style piece. I emailed KnitPicks and they will review the pattern. Seems I liked this yarn & pattern enough to have mistakenly ordered it twice! I discovered this when I packed up the yarns to move onto the boat. Oh well, I'm sure I can find a warm body for the second stole, or maybe the scarf version some day.
Before dawn tomorrow morning, Jonesy and I will be heading out of Manzanillo Bay and sailing south to Zihuatanejo. We've really enjoyed our stay here at the anchorage in front of the Las Hadas Hotel & condos. This is where the movie "10" was filmed. No, I didn't get my hair braided like Bo Derek. But we did lounge by the beautiful swimming pool at the hotel a couple of days.
Our journey which starts tomorrow will be about 185 miles, so we will stop in a some very small coves just for the night a couple of times. Unfortunately, this piece of coastline can be dangerous because of the drug smuggling. For that reason, we will not be going ashore - just sleeping out at anchor and then moving on in the morning. Some folks sail straight through. Even so, we can expect to be contacted and/or boarded by the Mexican Navy again along this route. We've heard that they have really stepped up patrols.
Zee French Baker: Here's a photo of Jonesy buying his last couple of Baguettes from the French Baker in the Barra de Navidad Lagoon. We were at the fuel dock fillin 'er up before heading down here to Manzanillo, when zee french baker spotted our boat. This guy goes around each morning (not too early) to all of the boats in the anchorage delivering fresh breads, croissants, and pastries to all of us hungry yachtistas. And yes, the French Baker is french. Because I can't eat wheat, Jonesy let me sniff his baguettes. Pure heaven.
The Lagoon back behind the sandbar town of Barra de Navidad is where most of us cruising yacht folks anchor (for free of course!). The rich mega-yachts and some cruisers pay for slips in the little marina at the Grand Bay Resort Hotel. We paid for 2 days of wireless internet service here - at $10 per day, so we got to wander around the resort a little and I took this picture. The marina is in the foreground and us cheapo yachties are the little dots way out in the lagoon.
To get into town, we would take our dinghy to the wall at the friendly Sands Hotel. Here's Jonesy tying up our dink (Scooty Puff Jr.). We wandered around the corner and found this cool place for breakfast - $2.50 including coffee and a second story patio with a view of the town and cobblestone streets below. Barra de Navidad has a couple of good little tiendas (stores) for produce and other general groceries. The ocean-facing beach is lined with little hotels and open-air restaurants. Yep, we like it. We'll be stopping by here again on our way back north in a couple of months.
Well, the dinghy is up on the davits, the hammock is stowed, the windscoop is packed away, there's food in the fridge and plenty of beer. We're ready to set sail in a few hours. Adios!
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Selbuvotter Knitting Book
If you preorder in March, then you will get an autographed copy and get free shipping. For us foaming-at-the-mouth two-color knitting addicts, this book looks like one of our drugs of choice.
As this is a self-published book, quantities are limited, so I'd highly recommend getting your order in ASAP. No, I'm not affiliated in any way - I'm just a historical knitting buff passing along the info of this new source of knowledge.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Our 2nd stop coming south along Mexico's Gold Coast, was Chamela Bay. I don't know if it was because we were tired, leery of the dinghy landing options, or itching to move on, but we didn't feel like staying long here.
We had to land/launch our dinghy through the surf onto the beach, which is always difficult and dangerous because of the outboard motor propeller. We walked about 3 miles inland to the main highway because one of our travel guide books mentioned a market there. The little town of Chamela is kinda plain. After hiking in the heat, sun, and humidity we found out that the market had been closed for years! Well, at least it was interesting to see the tomato and chili pepper fields up close.
We were pooped. How about hitching a ride back into town? With luck on our side, a pickup truck stopped and we climbed in the back along with the other passenger already riding there - an older man wearing a cowboy hat and sitting up on the outer ledge of the truck bed. We took the safer, gringo seats down in the truck bed. Wow! What speed! We cruising sailors think 6 knots is hauling buns! It's been a long time since we rode in the back of a pick up truck as it's illegal in California - and a long time since we rode in anything other than a bus!
Onward to our next stop - Tenacatita...knitting all the way on the "Estonian Garden Wrap". I always put the finished length in a plastic bag on my lap to protect it. When I have to man the lines I use my old weightlifting gloves to protect my knitting hands. They are just so delicate! Besides callouses would snag the baby alpaca yarn!
International Yarn Emergency: I have run out of one color (slate) of the J&S yarn for my "Grass Creek Park" vest!! Usually, I would substitute another color, but this is for the fences above the sheep and I really want to have the same color to emphasize the design. In the USA this would be no problem - order more yarn. But in Mexico...Ai-yi-yi mucho problemo! First, that yarn is not sold in this country so I have to import it from somewhere. But, there are duties, customs fees, and flat rate administrative fees to bring any merchandise into Mexico. It would cost many, many more times the price of the yarn to have it shipped here. Yes, even if it were sent as a gift I would have to pay these fees!! And finally, I'm not at my Mexican address in Puerto Vallarta to receive an imported package anyway.
The solution: My husband's sister is coming down for a visit in mid-March and she has graciously agreed to bring along some yarn. Whew! This sets me back a few weeks in getting this project done - but I have until mid July when I go to Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp (cross my fingers) to have it done. There are several of us campers from last year that have made a pact to complete this project. Knitting onward...
THIS JUST IN...the sailing vessel Fafner just now motored past us here in the Las Hadas anchorage on their way out to continue their jouney around the world! Next stop is the Galapagos Islands about 20 sailing days away! Bon Voyage, Arnold family; Geoff and Karen, and daughters Claire (13) and Alexandra (11). These are some of my yarn buddies who knit & crochet!
We'll all miss you guys!