Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Quiet week in Nicaragua

We're just enjoying the peace and quiet in this little slice of heaven in Nicaragua. can see our boat in this picture way in the background there. This is a mangrove estuary so we have no waves or surge...nice and calm.

We took a walk around the Puesta del Sol marina property and out to the beach. Then we had a nice long walk in the sand, putting our toes in the warm water. Ahhhhh...The surf was pretty strong though so that's all that got wet, just the feet. It was great to get off the boat and get moving again after my fall during the last passage. Yeah, you can knock this old broad down but you can't keep her there.

Along the dirt road leading to the beach, we came across a man bringing in his dugout canoe from fishing. His cute little girls were there to greet him. I guess this is dinner? Fish...with gallo pinto, which is the local standard - red beans and rice. This is served with every meal. At the grocery store, the only kind of beans they sell are red beans. That's it. No other kind of bean is available. Many different brands and all the beans you want as long as you want red beans.

Today we rode in the marina's van to the nearest town of any size - Chinandega. It takes us about an hour each way - about half of that along a dirt road through agricultural lands.

Right now it is the dry season so it is pretty dusty. We see many people riding along on bicycles, and some with horse drawn carts. We saw this woman riding her horse home. Some of the fields are filled with cattle, horses, and/or goats and of course, we see plenty of chickens and dogs. Everyday life in Nicaragua.

We've never seen another personal car...only a couple of pick up trucks from businesses. Even on the asphalt highway we see very few cars. The traffic is mostly bulk cargo trucks and wildly painted local transportation busses.

In town, there is some vehicular traffic - but there are also a lot of these "tricicolos", human powered tricycles with a bench seat in front! Cheap! And the horse carts are also trotting along on the cobbled streets.

Our driver took us first to the open-air produce market so that we could shop for some fresh fruit and vegetables. First we - Jonesy & me and another cruising couple, had breakfast at a little cafe...4 breakfasts of scrambled eggs, coffee, red beans & rice, and tortillas for a grand total of $7US.

Then we wandered around the market. At one stall I asked for $1US worth of bananas and got a FULL plastic shopping bag!! Too many bananas! Produce is incredibly cheap here. Some star fruit, tangerines, and a pineapple were selected and then we loaded up in the van for the quick (and scary) trip over to the large grocery store. Whew! They drive like crazy people here!!

So, we are moving on down to Costa Rica this week. We'll leave here on Friday morning early, and are planning a simple overnight trip to a remote bay. This may be a windy/rough passage due to the Papagallo winds that pump over the flatlands of Nicaragua from the Caribbean in the Gulf of Papagallo. Many of our friends who have sailed farther this season than us slow-pokes got really knocked around by these winds. Looks like I might have to work on worsted weight yarns for this trip - the sock/fingering weight yarns get blown about in strong winds so knitting with them in the cockpit is really annoying.

There's no internet where we're going - actually there's not much of anything. Later....

Monday, January 26, 2009


For the puppy trainers...

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Wednesday, January 21, 2009



We've arrived in Nicaragua!

Only a half hour after Jonesy masterfully guided the Niki Wiki (which is not easy to do) into a slip here in the Puesta del Sol marina, the paperwork cha-cha began. We didn't even have to leave the boat because all the officials came to us! We had the immigration, customs, navy and marina manager all filling out the necessary paperwork aboard our boat. What service!

Thank goodness Jonesy had picked up the salon area during the night. Although it was only a short overnight passage from El Salvador, it was not a very pleasant trip overall.

I fell down
It finally happened - I fell down into the engine room beneath the salon. I can blame it on knitting. See...while we were sailing along on the first day of the trip, Jonesy was happily making fresh water with our new reverse osmosis watermaker. I was on watch in the cockpit, knitting on a new sock design for the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo group and needed to measure the foot before beginning the toe decreases. Oh! My measuring tape was in my totebag in the galley. I quickly scampered down the ladder out of the bright tropical sun into the dark salon (dark, because we have shade screens on the windows due to the relentless sun). Oh! There's my totebag - I focused on the bag and walked out into thin air. No floor.

The floorboards had been removed so that Jonesy could fiddle with the watermaker. Duh. I knew that. I couldn't see/didn't even look down. Thus, I fell about one meter (3 feet) down into the bilge, hit my head, and ended up with the hot engine between my legs. No, it wasn't running at the time - but it was hot from when we had it chugging along earlier. I'm very lucky though. All I got was bruises & scrapes, a swollen ankle, a big purple ear and side of my face, slight burns on the inner thigh and a pulled muscle in my back. No broken bones! Isn't knitting dangerous?

Peeses of Beeses
So...there I was an hour later recuperating down in our berth from my hysterics after falling into the bilge. I looked up through the blue mosquito netting we have hanging over the bed, up through the open hatch into the sky and I see BEES! Lots of bees! I'm terribly allergic to bees! I have nightmares about bees in my bed and now there were bees above my bed! Wait a minute...correction...there were bees and there were pieces of bees?

We were 10 miles offshore - away from the land - and a swarm of bees had decided to land on the boat! Thousands of bees! They buzzed around Jonesy and all gathered onto the base of the wind turbine at the back (stern). Then a breeze came up and the long 2-foot blades of the wind turbine started to spin really fast. The bees got mad - the bees flew around - the bees got chopped up by the spinning blades of the turbine. That made the bees even madder. So there's Jonesy out on deck fighting off bees with roach spray - then with a roach fogger. Yep that worked. Poor guy got stung though. We had dead bees littering the decks, cockpit, and salon.

Then the wind really came up and the seas were choppy/lumpy with swells coming from abeam (the side). We were tossed around and crap stuff which is usually quite secure went flying around the boat. The worst was the full bottle of cooking oil that I hadn't put away - it rolled around the galley floor spilling most of its contents. Usually I take the night shift at the helm. But, I hadn't been able to keep my eyes open and was really goofy acting from the head injury. So poor Jonesy had to sail all night without relief and I missed my favorite knitting time.

Okay - the photos above are of some knitting this past week: a pair of gray regulation socks for the Socks for Soldiers yahoo group (to be dyed black) and another ho-hum pair of guy's leisure socks for them as well. The two mittens are both from Terri Shea's Selbuvotter book. We are having a knit-along of the NHM#3 mitten right now (the pink & white one above) on the Selbuvotter yahoo group. My finished mittens will eventually to the the Akkol Orphanage in Kazakhstan as part of the Mittens for Akkol yahoo group.

But life is good again. Yesterday we were invited to the 50th birthday bash for Steve - the captain of the beautiful 110-ft sailing vessel Seljm. We had adult beverages, cerviche, fried plantains & cheese and brochettes at the marina's beach facility while we watched the sunset. Later, we gathered in the marina's dining room for a lobster dinner and excellent conversations. Check out the woodwork and inside of the thatched roof of the beach house!

We'll be here for about a week to 10 days - must go explore the volcanoes we saw on the way into the marina! Later...

Thursday, January 15, 2009



Within walking distance of the Barillas Marina Club (where we are moored), there is a group of spider monkeys living in the forest. The family of one of the groundskeepers has been watching over this troop of monkeys for many years - even giving them safe-harbor during the recent civil war. Why? Because the rebels were eating them!

Now, the troop has about 24 members which is far less than it had many years ago. El Salvador is largely deforested and has a high population density - population of humans that is. This makes it hard for the native animals to survive.

So with Marco, the groundskeeper as our guide, we left the safety of the first set of iron gates and armed guards and started the walk to go see the monkeys. Jonesy and I had picked up some bananas in town the day before to feed the monkeys as the family is quite poor. We walked along a foot path past sugar cane fields and through the forest. Coming along for the walk were two little dogs which were the pets of another guest at the club. We guessed that Marco was "dog sitting" them for a few hours.

Oh...I guess we didn't leave all the armed guards behind as one followed us from a discreet distance the entire trip. Security is top-notch here at the Barillas Marina Club. We cruisers benefit from the attentive staff who are here to care for wealthy, and sometimes famous, Salvadorians.

Anyway, we walked along through the forest. Along the way we saw some amazing stuff...check out these bright orange/red beetles! They were everywhere in one spot eating the rotting fruits.

It is "summer" here in Central America as it is the dry season. We've only had one episode of rain and that was only a very few drops the other night. For this reason too, there is not much food available for the monkeys.

Along the footpath we were greeted by the man who watches out for the monkeys. Nope. Don't know his name as it was really really long. As he walked with us he called out "Pancho!", "Pancho!". Soon, there was rustling high up in the trees. Pancho, a male spider monkey, appeared from among the branches just as we were coming into the living spaces of the local family.

Soon, there were monkeys everywhere! The bananas came out of the bag and we doled out pieces to the crowd. One female was quite unafraid to approach us. The family calls her "Maria". She even tried to steal bananas from within the shirt of our guides.

Bad Maria monkey. Aw heck - she was pregnant so she's eating for two - give the gal an extra banana fellas.

And look carefully at the photo below of the darker colored monkey - she has a baby clinging to her back! So cute! But be careful - mamas are very protective of their young.

Soon we were out of bananas so it was time to head back. We gave our host some cash and our thanks and started the walk back to the grounds of the club. Good-bye Pancho! He followed us for quite a while - high up in the tree boughs. Yes. He is in the picture here in the upper center.

These beautiful flowers where just growing wild along the path. Marco braved stepping into the growth to pick some for me.


Soon we will be leaving El Salvador and moving along down to Nicaragua. We've been going into town (Usulutan) twice a week to make progress on getting Jonesy's dental issue resolved - just needs the crown now - and to do general errands. Yeah, even cruisers have to do errands sometimes - we gotta eat - and we always need copies of our boat papers and passports to enter and exit the ports. Copies? Sure, but where? Oh! Here! Just follow the "Copias" sign - up the narrow green staircase to a concrete cubicle above.

While Jonesy was getting copies made, I checked out the balcony and shot a photo of the street. Sure isn't a tourist destination is it? It's just life as usual in Usulutan. And that includes the constant stream of trucks loaded with sugar cane rumbling through town. And life as usual also includes a much more economical way to sell basics such as mustard and mayonaise - in plastic bags!

All sorts of groceries are sold in plastic bags here, and they are quite a bit cheaper than if you choose to buy items in the jars. Tomato sauces are sold in little pouches instead of cans like in the USA.

The vendors in the outdoor markets are very agressive - reaching out and grabbing you as you walk by. Even inside the larger grocery stores, they station girls by the products to talk you into buying some! There's the poultry girls...they shove chicken breasts under your nose. Around the corner is the yogurt girl. When I put one container of yogurt in my cart she grabbed a second one and tried to get me to take it too. Just let me shop in peace!!

Hmmmm....I'm sounding grouchy - time for a little swing in the hammock under the cacao trees here at the Barillas Marina Club.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Gartered Garden Hat

Well, the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group has moved on from gift items to a shawl knit and crochet along. But, I thought I'd share with you another of my hat designs for the group. I knit this one for Jonesy's sister Gayle.

It's really a simple design, but WOW - some of the group members have done some fantastic work with it. They've used lux fibers and added velvet or satin ribbons and made some beautiful hats.

Back to my knitting....

Monday, January 05, 2009


Surprises from El Salvador

First, the knitting. As I mentioned before, I've finished 3 pairs of men's socks - for the Socks for Soldiers Yahoo group. These are brainless pleasure knitting projects that I've played joyfully worked diligently on while on our recent 5 day sailing adventure and while tagging along with Jonesy on his dental appointments. Yes, I know they are boring to look at. Just plain dull colored men's socks from Regia sock wools. But that's what they like.

To get a little spark into my knitting life I picked up two small balls of leftover yarn (alpaca, wool, & silk) and whipped up a hat for the children's orphanage in Kazakhstan. The bottom of the hat as a folded up hem for double warmth around the ears.

El Salvador handicrafters make these little sorpresas - or "surprises" from clay. They are usually egg sized and shaped, although I've seen specialty shapes as well. Inside there are miniature figures which depict people and families engaged in everyday life. I picked up three of these on one of our outings to the capital city of San Salvador.

The first one is painted on the outside with a scene of the local volcanoes. Inside of this egg is a little figure of a woman and her loaded burro.

The second egg-shaped sorpresa again has a volcano picture and inside is a woman selling watermelons and heads of cabbage.

These first two are what are known as typico or typical. The eggplant is a different story. True, it does contain the figures of two people engaged in an everyday routine, but it is very different indeed - and what a surprise! This one is known as especial or special. Nope. You don't get to see a photo of this one here. Just use your imagination. Whoo boy.

Right here where we are moored in the private Barillas Marina Club, there is an international airport! El Salvador is a very small country, and members fly in from other countries so there is an immigration office right here onsite. We've seen helicopters and small private planes come in here. Check out the photo below - is this your idea of an "international airport"?
That's the landing strip right there - bordered by the dirt road that we take to leave the compound when we go to town twice a week.

Jonesy has two more appointments for his tooth - to have a crown made. He is so much more comfortable these days without the pain. We both have been doing a lot of reading and relaxing. We're in no hurry to get anywhere so we are simply enjoying being in a beautiful, safe place. Safe because of the multiple manned iron gates and armed guards on the 10-mile dirt road to the compound.

The staff treats us like royalty. Now that the holiday season is over, we are the only "guests" at the club. The other cruisers have moved on either to head up to Mexico, or farther south and the Central American members and their families have headed back to wherever they live.

So, when we aren't just impersonating vegetables by staying on the boat all day, we are at one of the thatched roofed tables in the pool area getting wifi to have internet access. Or perhaps we (I) might knit in one of the chairs by the outdoor restaurant. It is way to easy to live here. But we do miss our friends and family!

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