Thursday, August 30, 2012

 

Aliens?

This past week as Jonesy and I were heading out of the local town of Rio Dulce (aka Fronteras) for our 2+ mile walk we heard a bizarre sound. The constant, eerie high-pitched squeal sounded like it was straight out of a horror flick. We couldn't see the source of the noise, but it was getting steadily louder as we walked. It could have been aliens, but nobody else looked worried. We wove and dodged our way around the chaos of the busy town, and finally, around a parked over-sized delivery truck there it was! The source! I had to share this little video I took...
video

Nope. Not aliens at all. Just a delivery of literally thousands of baby chicks! Each box has 78 chicks in it and there were stacks and stacks of boxes. Rio Dulce is an agricultural area with many farm supply stores and baby chicks for sale is a common sight. At this number of chicks in one area though the sound is not sweet peeps, but a roar!

Our walks take us through a beautiful natural area. We've seen many different butterflies including the spectacular Blue Morpho. This is a grasshopper which was dead in the road. At first I thought it was a piece of vegetation because the wings are the same colors as young leaves - yellow and red and the body is brown speckled. This sure was a big guy!

Speaking of aliens, Jonesy will become an illegal alien in just a few days here in Guatemala when his 90-day visa expires. When I left and visited the states I got a fresh 90-day visa when I came back. So we will leave tomorrow morning to go to Belize for 72 hours. We did this 2 years ago too, but that trip wasn't a lot of fun 'cause I ended up in the hospital with a cranky gallbladder.

The seas are calm here in the Western Caribbean and the weather looks good for the boat trip from Guatemala to Belize - so off we go! There's not much to do in the little town of Punta Gorda where we'll be staying so we'll just have to entertain ourselves. I'm planning a lot of knitting!

And speaking of knitting (yippeee!) here are a couple more pairs of completed socks for the kids in the orphanage in Kazakhstan. These were knit from the yarns donated by my fellow knitting campers this summer. No fancy pattern work - just plain stockinette stitch and real wool.

Oh! Here's the Coca-Cola delivery boat dropping off beverages to our marina for the restaurant and store. Because we live along a river without road access, everything is delivered by boat. This is how Jonesy gets his diet Coke which is called "Coca Light" here. And of course, I get the Coke for the occasional Rum & Coke adult beverage. Life is good...off to Belize!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

 

River Life

Jonesy and heliconia blooms at Mario's
It's been a week now since I returned to Guatemala and life on the Rio Dulce (river). My bags have been unpacked and believe it or not all the boat parts and other household purchases have been safely stowed. Or, in the case of the indoor/outdoor thermometer and the new overhead light in the salon, have already been installed by Jonesy.

Most of the sock yarn has even been packaged in XL Ziploc stowage bags and added to the stash to provide additional insulation until I need it. But of course a few skeins have been left out so that I can lovingly gaze at them and dream of the socks that they will become. In fact, one more pair of socks is just waiting for me to weave in the ends and another pair has been started since the last blog. No, I'm not an especially fast knitter. I just have plenty of time to play with yarn and pointy needles.

$5 veggies
Last week as I rode the bus from Guatemala City and crossed the high bridge over the river on the last few meters of the trip, I looked down and saw a man paddling his dugout wood canoe. It struck me as so exotic! But then I was also surprised that I had even noticed it. I realized that after a month in the United States, I was once again seeing everyday scenes here as "new" experiences. That's why we need to travel, if even back to first-world countries. It's so that we can observe and appreciate even the simplest differences in the places we go.

Life here in the tropical lowlands of Guatemala on the Caribbean side of the country has been slowly changing during the 3 years that we have been spending the summer/fall months here. For example take a look at the photo of $5 worth of vegetables that I bought the other day in the town of Rio Dulce/Fronteras. Those are swiss chard, romaine lettuce, broccoli, snow peas and peaches tucked in with the common local vegetables (potatoes, peppers, papaya, tomatoes, and limes). These things in the first list are very exotic to the local population. Earlier this year when I purchased broccoli at a large commercial grocery store the cashier had to ask what it was so that she could ring it up!
2/3rds of the Regatta participants going at it

A Regatta on Lago Izabal was held yesterday upriver about 2 miles from where we are in the marina. Only 3 sailboats participated in this racing event. Really, I'm not surprised there were so few as many of us don't move our boats once we are safely tucked into a marina for the hurricane season.

Why? Because we postpone many boat projects for this time of year so we are often not in operating condition. Plus, our boat is our HOME and we have everything we own on it. Racing means you go very fast (relatively speaking) - and that makes us mono-hulls heel (tippy) over. When we heel over everything that isn't in a locker or tied down goes sliding to the down side of the boat. Then after tacking (turning sharply) everything slides again to the other side which is now downhill. Not an issue when you have a "bare" boat as a play toy, but us live-aboards got stuff!

The spectators
Anyway we had fun riding along with Trish and Bob in their nifty speed boat up to the lake. The other spectators were already there and partying heartily in their two dinghies. Have you ever watched a regatta? It's all about the party on shore (or floating as we do) because there isn't really much to see. Although we did get to observe the leading boat get too close to the buoy marker for a turn and actually run into it. Then he sailed along towing the marker with him for a while! OK- that's all the excitement.

Jonesy and Trish speeding along
Too much "excitement" for us, so we cruised down the river for a little sight-seeing. Along the shore we studied the big houses of wealthy Guatemaltecas and their fancy yachts. Suddenly a massive gray hunk rose from the water and just as quickly disappeared. It was a manatee! These elusive giants are very rarely seen as they spend their lives underwater except for occasional breaths and are quite timid. We had seen one in the same place the day before which was the first time that Jonesy spotted one.

There was no use hanging around in the hot tropical sun for another spotting because we had probably scared it off with the boat engine. So we then crept up some little tributary rivers for some more nature watching.
Giant lily pads

These quiet backwaters are where it's possible to see a large variety of birds. But this time we only just caught a glimpse of a bright blue medium sized bird flying too quickly to get a good look. Late afternoon isn't that great for bird watching anyway. We simply appreciated the peace and quiet, the giant lily pads, butterflies, common birds like kiskadees and egrets, and the bromeliads which grew so thickly on the trees.

Life is good on "the rio" and we're fortunate to be a part of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

 

Oregon Tripping and Knitting

Looking south towards Newport from Cascade Head
So, do you think that the Oregon coastline is cold, windy and socked in with fog? I did, but it isn't always as you can see from this photo from the top of Cascade Head! What a fabulous few days we had here! We (Carol and I) drove out to the coast to spend a couple of days just immersing ourselves in the natural beauty. Carol hiked my slug-prone carcass through the woods and out to the top for this view. It was actually HOT out in the sun.

Salmon River Estuary
To the left side of the top photo is the Salmon River estuary. This area used to be diked up and used for cattle grazing but now they are working to return the estuary to it's natural state. We were very, very lucky to be able to stay in a house which sits right down at sea level in the estuary. From the rear deck of the house, I sat and knit while soaking in the scenery and watching the wildlife. We were treated by the antics of a family of 4 river otters. So cute! We watched them slide down the bank of the Salmon River and swim around right in front of us. Then they would dive down to get dinner, coming up munching their catch.

Sunset on the Salmon River Estuary
 A bald eagle flew by, a large seagull visited and stood on the deck a few times (waiting for treats?), and great blue herons noisily flew by squawking way too loudly early in the morning.

When evening fell, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. The sky was reflected upon the still water. Still water? It must have been that special point in time when the tide was neither rising or falling and there was no wind. I can't imagine how rarely this must happen combined with a sunny day.

The house was built with large glass floor-to-ceiling windows on the 2 sides which faced the estuary. When it got too chilly to sit outside on the deck, we moved inside and still had the same view. I'm sure a lucky gal to have friends who have access to vacant houses in beautiful places.

Here I am, sitting and knitting. You know that's what I do best. So, what knitting kept me so preoccupied you may ask?

Terry knitting inside house - yes, inside
3 more pairs of socks of course! Remember that giant pile of sock yarn that was donated to me by fellow campers at knitting camp? Well, I'm doing my best to churn out socks for the kids in Kazakhstan. And because I was also teaching a sock knitting class while in Oregon, I had plenty of encouragement from the excitement shown by these new sock knitters.

Heather has GOT SOCK
The class was small (5 learners), casual and very enjoyable. We knit outside for all of our sessions and even had a special chance to visit the farmland of one of the students to knit by the family pond. And here is that gal - who is also the winner for finishing her first sock first! Check out Heather's wild socks! Great job! And thank you Heather for sharing your family's heritage with us and a wonderful afternoon of knitting, chatting and eating.

The pond with Mary's Peak in the background







Hiking on Mary's Peak, Oregon
See that mountain in the distance in this photo of the pond? Well, that is Mary's Peak which is close to Carol's house and I actually got to hike it. We took her dogs - Lucy and Lucky up for a wilderness hike one afternoon. Because we were in the forest and out of the sunshine it was chilly. I had to wear my (one and only) sweater and jeans. It felt so strange to be wearing so many clothes!




Carol, being a naturalist and garden writer, pointed out all the flowers and plants to me which made the hike that much more interesting. We even got to sample some salmon berries along the way. Delicious! When on the coast we also filled our tummies with thimble berries which I declare to now be my favorite berry. They have a rich, deep red flavor which is intense and creamy in my mouth.

Salmon Berries
Dogs. Yep, Carol has two black dogs. They are very friendly, loving and cute as heck. I already miss them terribly. Lucy I had met last year and she even remembered me!

Lucky is new (one month) to the family. She was adopted after being abandoned under a sagebrush in eastern Oregon.
Lucy (standing) Lucky (on lap) and Terry 










See that goat bell on my lap between Lucky's legs? Well, this little gal has an issue with chasing prey and there is plenty around to chase - deer, rabbits, and more. To give the wildlife a fair chance, she has been equipped with the bell when she is out and about. She is so adaptable - it never even fazed her to wear a harness (because she slips out of a collar) and now the bell.


Opal Magic yarn
Okay - enough chatter, here are photos of the recent finished socks which have already been sent off to the Motherless Child Foundation to be hand-carried to Kazakhstan. Many, many more to come...




Self-patterning wool from Italy

Red Heart - Heart and Sole yarn


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