Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 

Pet Sitting

Admiral and Terry
Welcome to the Niki Wiki Adventure Camp for Boat Pets. This week we have on board an adorable little dog named Admiral. His human traveled up to Mexico to help sail a boat back down here to Guatemala so we get the pleasure of a temporary pet. Yes. It is a pleasure with this little guy. He is so smart and well-trained! We're having a blast and I'm (Terry) getting a lot of exercise taking the dog out for walks.

The amount of time available for knitting has decreased because of these duties though. That and the fact that Admiral loves to sleep on laps. It's been more than six years since I had my own Niki kitty sleeping on my lap so we both, Admiral and I, needed to work out the dynamics. After a couple of days he's learned to relax during Arts and Crafts time and not to be bothered by yarn tickles or the occasional poke from a knitting needle. Oh, and because he has to go do his "business" in the morning, I have to get dressed and off the boat and can't laze about in my sleeping tee-shirt all morning. But it does mean too that I've had the privilege of hearing and seeing the parrots in the trees on these mornings.

Ginger
Last week was our Cat camp session. We pet-sat a lovely cat, Ginger on our next slip over neighbor's sailboat. They went out to the Sapodilla Cayes, Belize to do some scuba diving which Ginger certainly would not have enjoyed. She was much happier staying home and being entertained by the Niki Wiki Camp Counselor.

A new Mystery Lace Sock Knit Along has begun on the Nicole Rodgers Designs group on Ravelry with a beautiful sock pattern. Although the pattern is named Eggplant Parmigiana, I have chosen a bright chartreuse hand-dyed yarn I picked up at the last Sock Summit convention. So far we have only recieved the "clues" (instructions) for the cuff which is worked in broken rib stitch. Hopefully there will be a girl in Kazakhstan who will enjoy wearing lace patterned, bright colored socks. Here is a quick photo of our progress so far...


Jonesy has been busy with some final preventative maintenance on the boat before our planned exit the first week of February. But, he found a problem on the engine. Actually, we're very fortunate that we found this before we headed out to sea and had some sort of a failure. But, now it means that our schedule may have to slip. Dang. He found that the auxillary shaft coupling for the raw water pump has exploded away leaving just bits behind! He took this photo a couple of years ago when it was still in place which is a good thing because we have emailed the picture to the engine supply company. Now we need to get a new one down here to us - that's the tricky hard part! If Jonesy had a spare, we'd be ready to go in one day. On boats, it's always something.
Perkins Engine Raw Water


Yesterday I met up with a group of gals for the first time to work on rag rugs to sell to support an animal charity. "Freddy's Friends" is run by Pam and she administers wormings, vitamins, and information to the local residents so that they can take better care of their pets and farm animals. These rag rugs are sold at our twice-monthly cruiser swap meets. I helped to rip up sheets into strips and roll these into balls. Other crafters, including Pam, crochet them into thick area rugs of various sizes.
Crocheted Rag Rugs

Freddy's Friends at work
I got involved with Freddy's Friends just this past Sunday at one of the swap meets. Pam was selling the rugs there and had information about the work she does with the animals.

These past few weeks Jonesy and I have been feeding an emaciated little black dog who lives out in the jungle where we walk. I have only been able to get close to her one time, and that was because she was so weak she literally stumpled and fell on the side of the road. I hand fed her what I had been able to buy in town - just some dry Purina dog chow, some chicken ham, and sliced american cheese. Now, Pam has supplied me with some worming medicine and liquid vitamins. But, we haven't seen the dog this week yet. I hope I can get her to get close to me again so I can squirt the meds in her mouth. We'll keep walking and looking for her.

So that's how we've spent the last week or so, enjoying other peoples' pets, crafting, and preparing for our trip to sail up to Belize and Mexico. Come on engine supply house and airfreight and get that part to us NOW!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

 

Socks, socks, socks

Just a little knitting update. Socks. That's about it this past week (that I can share photos). I've been knitting socks for the kids in Kazakhstan. And SEEING my knit socks ON THE FEET of kids in the orphanage! One of the photos of a teenaged girl taken this past December showed that she was wearing a pair of my monster socks. Not only was she wearing them, but she wore the legs on the outside of her pants so that the color patterning would be visible. Cool. Way cool.

So that has motivated me to keep on knitting those socks. The measurements this year have 3 of the boys with 12" long feet! That's a lot of knitting. This gray pair is 12".  Not real exciting unless you have big, cold feet.

Then I finally finished darning in all the yarn ends on a 10 1/2" pair of socks knit from leftover small balls of yarn. Of course, there are more socks on the needles. too.

NEW AFGHAN KNITALONG
Today is the first day of our year-long Afghan Knitalong on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group. This project features strips of 11 different pattern stitches developed by 11 designers. Each month a new strip will be released as a free pattern. This way folks can knit smaller amounts spread out over a year and have a completed afghan at the end! Look for my strip in a few months.

Also on the Holiday Mystery Gifts group this year, we are releasing 24 different little patterns for ornaments for an Advent Calendar of Ornaments project. Soon I'll be able to share with you what I've developed as part of this knitalong.

All's well here in Guatemala as the countdown to tearing ourselves away from the dock continues...20 days...

Monday, January 07, 2013

 

Leaf Cutting Ants

video


We see these Leaf Cutter Ants everywhere! They parade through the grass here at the marina and create little channels/ant highways. The day we took this video along the road where we walk, the ants were carrying bits of these bright orange flowers. The parade of colors facinated us so we stopped and watched for a while. We are so lucky to have the freedom to stop and explore when it strikes our fancy.



Thursday, January 03, 2013

 

Celebrations on the Rio Dulce - Part 2

Livingston, Guatemala
Many other boaters have thrown off their dock lines, headed down the Rio and out to the Western Caribbean cruising grounds. Not us. Not yet. No worries. We've been out there in December and January and the weather can be rough (windy, cold, high seas) plus the water temps are a still little on the chilly side. As we have no agenda or obligations, don't have to go back to Canada or the States for work, grand kids, house upkeep or whatever we are spoiled rotten. We can wait until the seas are calm. We've learned to stay right here in Guatemala for these extra months and enjoy the cooler temps (OK, we did run the A/C yesterday) and get some knitting boat chores done.

Pororo Street drummers, Livingston Guatemala
This also gives us travel opportunities! In late December just before Christmas, I (Jonesy stayed home on the boat) jumped aboard a launcha river boat with a small group of folks and took a trip down-river to the Caribbean town of Livingstone for a different sort of celebration. Pororo is an annual festival celebrated by the Garifuna in remembrance of their arrival to this area. People, young and old (but mostly teen aged) dance wildly for 2 days. Garifuna are descendants of African slaves from St. Vincent and other islands in the Caribbean. After the slave revolts, these people were set out in boats towards the western Caribbean (not humanely, it's a terrible history).
Recycled oil jugs make a hanging garden

Flower petals in a stone trough
As long as we were in the area some of us decided to go on a more natural adventure.

3-mile walk from Livingston to the 7 Altars falls
Near Livingston on the Caribbean coastline is a remarkable natural set of cascading waterfalls and freshwater pools called Los Siente Altares - The Seven Altars. Hey - let's walk the beach 3 miles to go swim in the falls!

It was a lovely walk. It would have been perfect if it wasn't for the large amount of plastic trash piled up at the high tide line. Unfortunately this beach is down wind from the whole Caribbean which means that any plastic that is tossed into the sea will eventually get washed ashore. This has really created a blight throughout Central America and Panama.

Dugout cayuco with nets on the beach
There wasn't much activity or civilization along this stretch of shoreline which was a welcome change  from the chaos of the town of Livingston. The water was shallow so we passed flocks of Common Egrets out fishing as well as several human fishermen. When there was a stream cutting across the beach there was often a makeshift bridge over it. The big hanging bridge landmark however was out of commission due to construction. So we paid 2Q each (about 25 cents) to be paddled across a large river.

This hanging bridge is at the end of a little local road to/from Livingston (there are no roads connecting Livingston to the interior of Guatemala) so there was a lot of foot (now floating) traffic of local people. Why? Because not only were the Garifuna having a celebration, it was the monthly distribution of food support from the European Community to the women. We saw mostly Mayan women out here as they don't celebrate the Pororo going on in town. We heard that they rent out their colorful woven traditional skirts to the dancers for a few bucks during the festival. Each woman was hauling home a giant clear plastic bag filled with sacks of wheat flour and other foods.

Andrea crosses a beach stream bridge
The people of Guatemala have a severe issue with malnutrition. Thankfully there are many programs of support from other nations to help them develop better farming practices and other food production and education initiatives. In the meantime, food is needed to keep people alive and healthy enough to work for themselves.

The Seven Altars are a series of waterfalls that are fed by local rains. There hasn't been much rain lately because we are currently in the dry season so that meant that the "falls" weren't, umm, falling. But that also meant that we could see what the rock structure was beneath the usual flow of water which was also interesting!

Wooden hand cart
Also, because it was dry, it wasn't quite so slippery to hike up across the rocks and on the trails through the jungle. It was hot and steamy in the jungle. I think we were all wet before we even got to swim in the fresh water - from sweat that is.

Finally we reached the top pool where there was plenty of water for swimming There were several young lads who were jumping off of the cliffs into the pool - it was that deep and they were that brave (and young and fool-hardy). I just simply slipped into the pool from a low rock. Wowza! The water was COLD! What a shock to the body after being so over-heated for hours! I haven't felt such cold temperatures in years and I cherished the long, frigid moments.


Terry swims in the COLD water of the Seven Altars
Tuckered out, we opted to hire a launcha to take us back along the coastline all the way to town for just a few bucks. Live and learn, we didn't even know that a boat ride was an option. But then we would have missed our lovely walk along the beach and all that we saw.

Back at the hotel, we met up with other members of our group and had a wonderful meal in the outside patio area before retiring for the night. After a leisurely breakfast the next morning we headed out in the launcha again for the trip back up the river to our marina homes.

Rio Dulce gorge
This time, we took our time as we traveled through the gorgeous gorge in the jungle. Our driver stopped along the way to show us giant iguanas in the trees. We even stopped at the Hot Water Springs which I had never been to before. Why? Because we are usually on our sailboat Niki Wiki and have to worry about the depth of the water due to our keel below. Plus we are usually either A) leaving the Rio and are excited to get out there and cruise, or B) coming in to the Rio after a cruising season and are exhausted and ready to tie up to the dock and vegetate.

Hot Water Springs on the Rio Dulce, Guatemala
So this was my opportunity! The hot geo-thermal water steams up from right out of the cliff at river level. The folks from this community project have erected a stone and concrete wall to enclose some of the hot water and create a bath of sorts. You can select your perfect water temperature by moving about until you get the desired mix of hot water and the cool water from the river.

Hot Water Springs
There was new construction taking place which looked like there might even be a little restaurant in the future. What a treat to stop and relax! And next time even stay a while and eat.

Farther up the river where the land flattens out our launcha river (now guide) took us through a remote lagoon off of the beaten river track to show us more wildlife. We saw more iguanas and many nesting cormorants on the isolated islands. The shallower, and thus warmer water was encrusted with water lilies.

Even though this is a remote area (and one we have been advised never to anchor in overnight), there are a few families who have made their homes in this marshy flatland. Men paddled their dugout cayucos along the river to head out to fish, collect firewood, or whatever was on their chore list for the day. I certainly hope they weren't out hunting iguanas which they do eat.

Water lilies in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Oops! It wasn't so remote that there weren't a couple of groups of children who quickly paddled out to us and grabbed the sides of our launcha to sell us trinkets. I mean YOUNG children with no adults! They had their little boats filled with the usual carved wood and seashell "treasures". They had their pitch phrases down pat..."10 Quetzales" which is about $1.25US they kept chanting and holding up some sort of shell jewelry. Actually, the rustic wood carving was done from some very lovely dark woods. So, sucker that I am, I bought a little star shaped trivet for 10 Q. I need more trivets. Really.
Mayan children along the Rio Dulce



KNITTING CONTENT
Still working on socks for the kids in Kaz. I find this sort of knitting so relaxing and comforting, so I just am doing more of it. Plus, I have turned over the management of the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group to a couple of great gals. That means I don't have to keep involved daily and can just drift, knit, eat, sleep, and play.

But I did manage to finally sew on 2 buttons to my Gansey Mystery Hood with neck-warmer. Then I stalked one of the kitchen workers here at the marina and got her to model it for me. So now I have my own photo for the pattern...AND some optional instructions to knit the hat all in One-Piece! The original instructions create a flat piece that you need to seam up to create the hood. It is very simple to knit. The optional seamless version uses short-rows and picking up stitches to avoid all seaming. The only sewing is to add the 2 buttons at the neck.

The New and Improved pattern is free on Ravelry.com and I'll also put the link here for you too.

FREE PATTERN Gansey Style Mystery Hood
Gansey Style Mystery Hood modeled by Candy

Remember I talked about upgrading the stairs down into our boat? Well, we finished them! Our friend on s/v Kajun Diva has a walking foot on her sewing machine so she stitched two rows of stitching which created channels on the wool rug runner. I then cut ("steeked" is knitting geek terminology) the runner into 5 pieces for the 5 steps.  Just to be sure there would be no unraveling, I sealed the raw edges of these new stair treads with silicone seal. It was a messy ooey-gooey job.

I just happened to have a can of Elmer's Glue Craft Adhesive spray on the boat. We sprayed the backs of the wool treads and the stairs and stuck those puppies down. It took both of us to do this and yes, our hands, arms, and everything else was sticky too.
Wool stair treads woven in Mexico
Next, Jonesy drilled starter holes and added little  screws with washers on the bottoms to really hold it all in place. Ta-da! They are so firmly attached and are not slippery at all. We love them.

Yes, we know Ryan that you and your brother "ingress the boat by swinging in like a monkey" but you will be allowed to actual use these steps. In fact, we are impatiently waiting for the pitter patter of your feet anywhere you wish to tread (its your boat too) sailing vessel Niki Wiki.



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