Friday, June 22, 2012


Huatulco, Oaxaca Mexico

Better late than never. I just happened upon this draft blog that I had started a couple of years ago when we were still on the Pacific side of Mexico! Yikes! I never actually wrote anything - just uploaded the photos and forgot about it. But I thought that it was really worth sharing because of the wonderful textiles we saw being handwoven there. And yes, I did buy some.

We were in the Huatulco Marina waiting for a weather window to cross the notorious gulf of Tehuatepec which was a 4night/5 day passage. This area of Mexico is very narrow and relatively flat so the winds from the Caribbean funnel through and intensify. Thus, a long, calm period of low winds is desired.

While we waited, we often visited the nearby town of Las Crucetas which was walking distance. Around the central plaza we spotted this woman hand-weaving a wool rug or blanket on a very rudimentary loom. This was set up as a demonstration for an attached retail store. As the Mexican government has invested in this area to accommodate tourists, there is a lot of activity and good restraurants.

We also explored some of the back roads (actually we were looking for a place to buy Jonesy some clip-on sunglasses) when we came across a small weaving enterprise. Here it was men who operated the the slightly more modern looms. The materials here were cottons. I purchased some colorful and textured placemats for our table plus a couple of pillow covers for the cockpit cushions.

Just the sight of all that fiberly goodness got me tingling! I could have just pulled up a stoll and sat and knit all day just soaking up the textile fumes.
A weaver making a tablecloth

Cones of cotton thread

There are a lot of very high-end resorts near here and I have to wonder how many folks ever set out on foot to explore beyond the central square or even their all-inclusive resorts? They certainly are missing a lot of the more interesting things that we see and I know that we have to be missing a lot too. Just yesterday on a long van ride (collectivo) to the port city of Porto Barrios I got to see fields of rubber trees in sizes from mature to nursery stock , trucks carrying the large bunches of palm oil dates to the processing plant, banana trucks headed to the port, and a pig market/selling gathering by the roadside.

Spotted Eagle Ray

The bays of Huatulco are full of marine life. Here are two photos taken in the Marina. The first is a small spotted eagle ray who was swimming by our boat. The second is a spotted trunk fish by the walkway. The water, although murky looking, was obviously clear enough to photograph these amazing creatures.

Spotted trunk fish
What I didn't get photos of were all the birds we spotted on some of our morning walks! Here's a list for the birders out there:
White-throated magpie jay
Orange-breasted bunting (blue!)
Pale-billed woodpecker
Yellow-winged Cacique
West Mexican Chachalaca
and many, many hummingbirds

As part of the landscaping of the marina (which was all still under construction at the time) there was a short papaya tree. Usually, the blooms and fruit are way up high in the tree, but as you can I could actually reach these hefty and future yummy fruits.
Papayas on the tree
Papaya flowers

That's it for now. We're still enjoying our summer camp session here at Mario's Marina. Life is good.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Goodbye Honduras ~ Hello Guatemala!

Brooksy Point Marina 
We said our "Goodbyes" to Roatan, Honduras as we shopped for our last food treasures. This is our last view of the new Brooksy Point Marina looking back as we dinghy'd away after dropping off our final bag of (really smelly) garbage.

We had been into the town of Coxen Hole to do our check-out-of-the-country paperwork cha-cha with the Port Captain and Immigration. Next steps were to raise the dinghy up onto the davits on the stern (back) of the boat for the long passage to Guatemala. But first, a couple of photos of some interesting finds in Roatan.

This sign is posted at the entrance to the dirt road where we walk from the grocery store to the derelict shrimp boat dock where we are allowed to park our dinghy. We've chuckled at it a lot over the past couple of months and  finally I remembered to take a photo. "Trafiking"? What are we trafficking? Drugs? And if this is a residential area (which it is) what are the "office hours"? So, then is OK to transport drugs or other contraband M-F from 9 to 5pm?

The shrimp boat dock? Actually we are very thankful to be able to have a place to tie up our dinghy that is so convenient to the stores and taxis to other places. See? You just drive your dink up in between the shrimp boats here. This fleet of boats are waiting here for the shrimping season to begin soon. As they wait they have the rust hammered off of them, are sandblasted, then repainted. There is a complete machine shop on the dock and always a lot of work going on during the working hours.

After the work done is done, the mean dogs are released (dogs = Honduran security systems) so we can only use the dock during the work hours. Now, the little yipping why-bother chihuahua dogs that come running up to us along the road don't count. These  tiny scaredy-cats turn tail and run back up to their house as soon as they get within 5 feet of us. Sure are cute though.

In Roatan, there are some curious attractions. Here Jonesy is pointing at the Handicapped Parking Space. Why? Because it is the farthest parking space from all of the stores in this shopping mall. Whose idea was this? I don't think that there are even handicapped parking laws here. Perhaps they are trying to look like an American (USA) shopping center and thought that this would give the mall a certain ambiance.

Just like last year, our Honduran courtesy flag has suffered from the rays of the tropical sun and relentless (and welcomed) trade winds. When we took the flag down when approaching Guatemala this is all that was left of it.

We left Roatan, Honduras in the early morning hours and motored out towards Guatemala. The seas were very calm and the winds were light and variable. Our route took us past the coastline of Honduras, then past some of the outer cays (islands) of Belize and finally to Guatemala arriving at about 10am the following day. It was pretty much an uneventful trip, well, except for the squall with lightening at night and the mystery small sailboat which came within a few feet of hitting us at 2am.
Livingston, Guatemala

We anchored overnight in the protected bay of Grasiosa  because it was Sunday and if we tried to check-in to Guatemala we would have to pay overtime charges. We're too thrifty for that! Bright and early Monday morning we motored over to Livingston, Guatemala, and uneventfully crossed the sandbar.

First, the officials (Port Captain, Medical Doctor, Immigration, our Agent the popular Raul of ServaMar, and a couple of other folks) arrived by launcha to our boat to start the paperwork cha-cha. There were 3 French-flagged boats waiting ahead of us but it all went very quickly and professionally. Raul kindly allowed Jonesy to ride back into town with him so we wouldn't have to lower our dinghy from the davits (which is a pain). I stayed aboard to guard the boat (Guatemalan security system?) In town Jonesy shopped for bread and bananas and waited for the documentation to be completed. After paying $410 US for our 90-day visas and an annual permit for our boat he came back out to me in a water taxi launcha.
s/v Southern Star - they were robbed by PIRATES

While Jonesy was ashore another US flagged boat showed up - s/v Southern Star out of New York. Bad news. They were robbed at gunpoint while motoring 3 miles off of the coast of Honduras! While we do travel in this same area, we always do so at least 16-miles off of the coast for this very reason. You can read the story in the captain's own words here: Pirates attack sailboat

We left Livingston (which is also a scary place) and headed on up the Rio Dulce to our summer camp at Mario's Marina. The jungle gorge of the river was beautiful even though we had overcast skies and the occasional drizzle.
June 2012 019
June 2012 022As usual, the river gorge was lush and green. Even the water was a bright green! Knitting? Oh yes! Here's the latest pair of finished socks. These are using a few leftover yarns and a touch of fair isle color work. I ribbed (1x1) around the ankle and gusset for a hugging fit just because I could. Should I write this up as a pattern? Not the colors as they aren't special, but the patterning as a guideline for other folks to use?
June 2012 016
June 2012 014

The current pair of socks for the kids in Kazakhstan uses odd balls of Regia hot pink and purple colors in my Handsome Devil Sock pattern.

So, we're back in our same slip at Mario's and have already feasted on the Wednesday night Taco Bar! Whooo hoooo - tamales, empanadas, chicken fajitas, beans, rice, beef, and all the fixings. New this year is a wonderful hot sauce for those of us who like it "Mexican style" versus Central American bland. Yum! We'll be busy for a couple of days making the transition between cruising off the grid and the connected life and activities of the marina. The A/C is on - the electrical power is on - the shadetree awnings are installed and life is good.

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