Saturday, February 21, 2009
One of our recent chores was to "check-in" with the local Port Captain. This is just a formality, but following through and showing respect to this local authority may make our exit from the country easier when the time comes. So, we hiked about a mile over to his "office". This facility certainly isn't what you'd expect in the states...but hey, the buiding keeps out the rain doesn't it? The surprise was in the structure next door to the port captain's office.
The Port Captain's office is at the foot of a pier that was once, up until sometime in the 1980's, a big banana export facility. Because of a disagreement between the United Fruit Company, the town, and the unions, United Fruit pulled out of Golfito and moved to the Caribbean side of the country. Now, this pier is used for just local business and some bulk palm oil transport. Well, when the banana business was closed - they left behind the buildings, and their locomotives! The trains were used to transport the bananas from the surrounding areas to the warehouses and then loaded onto freighters and shipped around the world.
There was someone actually living in the passanger car! The warehouses in the area are in the process of being torn down (yeah, it's been almost 20 years) so I don't know what is going to happen to the train here.
Soon we were hungry, so we found a little "soda" which is what they call the smaller diners here in Costa Rica. Prices are about the same for food and supplies here in Costa Rica as in the USA. But, for the price of a fast food meal in the US we got THIS!
Red beans, rice, cabbage salad, grilled steak with onions, squash, and fried bananas. YUMMY! All eaten in the sea breeze because most buildings here are open-air with just steel grates for closing time.
This building is the LAND SEA cruiser's hangout here in Golfito. We are anchored in the bay here just ouside of this business. For $5 per day, we have access to the dinghy dock to park our inflatable dinghy. Plus, we can use the facilities here which include showers, restrooms, cable TV, free WiFi, book exchange, cruiser's club house upstairs and the deck on the main level. The proprietors, Tim & Katy also provide cold beer for $1.50 and fruit drinks & soda for $1 from the cooler on the honor system. For $2 per kilo, we can have our laundry done for us at the facility by a local woman.
What a life! We are coming here every day and just hanging out. There are always other cruisers and some locals coming by to chat. We've learned so much about the places that we will be sailing to soon, and have shared our knowledge about where we have been. We have made friends with the resident doggies too. This is the boxer "Riley" snuggling in my lap while I knit on plain black socks for my son, Brett (who insists that he only wears black socks these days - does he know how hard it is for old-lady eyes to see black sock yarn?).
And here is "Vinny" who just had to get into the photo of a vest that I've been knitting these past couple of days. This is for the Akkol Orphanage in Kazakhstan and is knit with my leftover yarns of Lopi-Lett wool. I just have a few inches of the back and the neck and armhole finishing to go. Wow! Knitting at 5-sts per inch sure goes fast.
But, I just got notice that I need to knit a second sock for each of TWO designs of mine that will be in a soon-to-be-released book. Thank goodness I have the yarn! So, that is what I will concentrate on for the next week. So much for my personal knitting and relaxing projects...
Speaking of which...Jonesy absolutely hates these socks. He says they are "garish" and he thinks the yellow is awful (it is brighter than what is in this photo). What do you think? I have finished one sock already and was planning to send these to the kids in Kazakhstan. Are they too much? Should I go ahead and knit the second sock or rip? The yarn is some that I dyed myself many, many years ago which I think is Henry's Attic Kona superwash wool.
So, here's a photo of Jonesy relaxing on the deck with his new red bucket. Because of the relentless tropical sun, our plastic products need replacing fairly regularly. Also, that's my woven plastic purse with the blue and red stripes. Because I travel to shore in a dinghy every day - - - a dinghy that is old and leaks - - and sometimes we land through the surf - - I had to get a plastic purse. My other totes would get all wet and salty and nasty. This one I can just rinse off!
So, this is my laptop on the table up in the cruiser's club house which is kinda like a tree house. I've got CNN on the TV, the big fan blowing and now a couple of other female cruisers have joined me at the table to play on our computers. The walls are painted with the names and motifs from all of the different boats that have visited this sweet spot in the tropics.
Out on the upstairs deck using his computer was Sean (age 12), who is a cruising kid from Canada that we first met up in El Salvador. I taught him and his younger brother how to knit because they wanted to learn.
Check out this sign - "American Style Financing"? Does that mean that I won't have to put any money down, won't have to prove that I qualify for the loan, can live in the place for months before being evicted, then can leave without paying a cent and let the taxpayers bail out the bank that was left holding the bad loan? Sign me up!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
These Entrelac Socks were one of my oldest UFO (UnFinished Objects). There were from a sock club that I belonged to back in the days that I worked and had an income. The pattern is dated 2003 and I think that was the year that I received the kit from The Knitter.Com Sock of the Month Club
I still like the design and the colors, but I just don't enjoy working entrelac. It is just too fussy with all of those picked up stitches. Aslo, I learned a neat trick at Meg Swansen's Knitting Retreat on how to avoid the little peak-a-boos of the contrasting colors so I wasn't happy with how I had worked the leg. But, that is all over now. They are done and will be sent to the folks at the Mittens for Akkol group to be sent to the Akkol Orphanage in Kazakhstan. Should keep somebody's feet warm.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
TERROR! The scariest disinfecting housecleaner available!
Sure, housework scares me too, that's why I do so little of it. But, maybe next time I'll try some of this product. Should I get the "Floral" scent or the "Citrus"?
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Our 2-day passage from Nicaragua to Costa Rica was a wild one - we went from calm seas and gentle breezes to winds of 40 knots! Rough seas! The infamous Papagallo winds across the Golfo de Papagallo were kicking up as is usual for this time of year. We had the weather forecast and knew that we had a small window to get down to Costa Rica and get safely anchored in a safe harbor before an incoming "big northern blow".
This protected anchorage was in scenic Bahia Saint Elena where we were the only boat. The land around us was a national park so there were no structures, nothing. Whew! We were so glad to finally get out of the wind! We stayed here a couple of days to rest after the long passage.
We could hear all sorts of strange tropical noises coming from the land...birds & monkeys? Where are those guys? Although I spent literally hours scouring the trees with the binos, I only managed to see some green parrots.
All alone here, we simply ate, rested, read, and knit. Of course, Jonesy also "managed" the sunsets as usual. One of the simple pleasures of cruising Central America is that we get to see a beautiful sunset every night without fail.
Rested up, we left our safe anchorage and headed out to sail down to the town of Cocos. We needed to officially "check-in" to the country which means visits to Customs, Immigration, copy store (which didn't open until 11am) and the Port Captain. Doing this in Cocos was a heck of a lot harder than in El Salvador and Nicaragua where the folks all came to us. Not in Costa Rica, we did the "paperwork cha-cha" which took all of one whole day and multiple visits to each branch of the government, usually traveling by foot.
This official paperwork dance even included a taxi trip to the airport in the city of Liberia to obtain a Temporary Import Permit for the boat (our 2nd visit with Customs that day). We were hooked up with a taxi driver that spoke English and he narrated for us along the 25-minute drive each way and as we waited 20 minutes for the single typed page. We saw the fields of cantaloupe, sugar cane, and he described local life for us. So we had the $68 tour that afternoon I guess.
The dinghy landing in Cocos was a tricky surf landing which is always dangerous and often wet. As we knew the big blow was coming, and Cocos is not a protected anchorage, we left there and headed up to Bahia Culebra to wait out the storm. Sure enough we were blasted with 40-knot winds that even bent back the plastic blades on our wind turbine so we had to shut it off. These winds were nothing compared to what they were doing elsewhere - up to 70 knots! A full gale force Papagallo wind! Being stuck on the boat for all these days was nerve-wracking, and a little boring I have to admit.
We returned to Cocos when it was safe, did a little provisioning and then sailed off to Bahia Potrereo. Again, 40-knot winds in the anchorage and we didn't even go to shore. Early the next morning we headed out to Puerto Carrillo. This place had a couple of sleepy little tourist businesses - minus tourists. This has been a theme here in Central America...there are no tourists! There are facilities for tourist activities, but the tourists aren't here.
After a couple of scary surf landings in the dinghy, and the view of waves breaking over a reef parallel to where we were anchored, we fled for Bahia Ballena. Ahhh...it's finally getting green here...more like the lush tropical growth we expected to encounter. We visited the little town, and walked around a bit here. Again, it was pretty quiet. By now we were feeling starved for socialization with other people. Where is everyone? Solitude is great - but after a while we just need to chat it up with other folks.
The most activity was on the pier used by the local fishermen. We sat in the "Bahia Ballena Yacht Bar" - a little open-air local dive, and watched the fishermen and the frigatebirds, pelicans, terns, and kingfishers around the fishing boats.
We came across this old church on our strolls, which was a little sad looking. Also, in the picture below of the bay, you can see...if you look very closely...our boat anchored out there. All alone. There was one other sailboat here when we arrived, but they took off to another port to do some business.
Oh well, we're getting pretty used to the isolation. Soon it was time to move on down the coast.
We decided to skip a few more potential achorages as they were considered "marginal" and we were aching to get someplace where there were people! So, we headed out on another 2-day overnight passage to Golfito. This time there was no wind. None. During my night shift watch, I saw that the water was perfectly flat - not a single ripple. When the moon rose, it scared the bejimminies out of me - it was a giant orange ball on the horizon! Our trusty boat Niki Wiki never missed a beat - she performed flawlessly for all the passages.
On the afternoon of Valentines Day, we motored into the bay of Golfito. Lush, green hills and bright aqua blue water greeted us as we threaded our way through the channel to the little anchorage. There is a town here and fellow cruisers! I think we'll be here a while.