Valparaiso: Street Art meets UNESCO heritage

Beneath my tree-hugging, nature-gal exterior, there must be an urbanite yearning to break free. That could explain the excited buzz I felt in Valparaiso, Chile, one of the South Pacific’s most important ports. I liked everything about the place: the setting, the walkability, the new discoveries around every corner, the street scenes, most of the people I saw. What made it so?

Color! It’s everywhere: walls, doors, telephone poles and trash cans, stair risers and retaining walls, not to mention the big sky and sea so often visible.

It is still being built, but I'm looking forward to seeing how they domthe rooms and other details.
This is a hotel being build out of shipping containers. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do the rooms and other details.

Color!

Much of it is in the form of graffiti: writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place, says an online dictionary.

It is easy to think of graffiti as a kind of vandalism. There’s a lot of graffiti I just hate to see. That bubble script and things that look like letters but can’t be read (failed fonts, I call them) signal a potentially fatal failure to connect the rising generation to their history, or maybe their culture’s failure to engage all its members. So, it’s not necessarily a good thing.

But in Valparaiso, they are learning to adapt. Perhaps the citizens and city government were bowing to the inevitable, or maybe they just learned how to channel ordinary graffiti into Street Art. Valparaiso has taken what might be considered a flaw, and made it into a feature. More than a feature even: an attraction.

I don’t know how it has been arranged between the owners of the walls, the aspiring artists, and the sensibilities of the public – wouldn’t it make an interesting study? However they’re doing it, I would say that a good number of the images that are painted on the structures of Valparaiso are attractive and intriguing, or at least more amusing than the blank/neutral canvases they replaced. The open-air art museum that is Valparaiso is a good part of what make the city so appealing to me.

Mind you, Valparaiso* is not Disneyland. It does feel like there’s hard living a few streets further back (or up), poverty and politicization for sure, and some of the hard and ramshackle that comes with port cities.

The nice thing about my pocket camera is that it lives in my pocket and slides out easily, and gets used alot. Here are a few favorites. In the gallery at the bottom of the post are dozens more snapshots.

We could see this tribute to Vincent van Gogh from our window.
We could see this tribute to Vincent van Gogh from our window. Remember, this is painted on a concrete wall, two stories high. When I went to look up a possible title, I realized just what a referential mish-mash of van Gogh-isms it is, but Wow!

 

Visible from a terrace several hundred feet away. The striped legs I recognize as a form of decoration once used by the now-extinguished indigenous people from Tierra del Fuego.
Viewed from a terrace several hundred feet away. The striped legs I recognize as a form of decoration once used by a no-longer extant indigenous people from Tierra del Fuego.

 

I just like the sense of wonder and trepidation that this ship in ice invokes.
I just like the sense of wonder and trepidation that this ship in ice evokes.

But first, about the city

With about 275,000 residents (and in the associated suburbs, a total of close to a million), the Valparaiso conurbation forms Chile’s second largest city and its main seaport, at about 33 degrees South, 71 degrees and a half West.  (You can tell I’ve been reading Wikipedia again, and Britannica too). UNESCO has named it a World Heritage Site for its history, setting, and architecture.

I heard people calling this building ugly, and maybe it is rather odd.But I appreciate how they worked with what was there to get something more functionally modern . It wouldn't work at all if the blue tinted glass didn't extend into the older part.
I heard people calling this building ugly, and maybe it is. But I appreciate how they worked with what was there to get something more functionally modern. And I’m glad they took the blue glass down onto the original windows.
In addition to being bright, there's a two-story van-Gogh on the side
In addition to being orange, there’s a two-story van-Gogh on the side wall. Correction: van Gogh is on the yellow hostel to the right of this one.

First of all, the setting is grand, a big amphitheater of a bay whose hills are sprinkled with bright-colored houses, or weathered and peeling ones, wood, metal, concrete, brick, in a cacophony of 19th century housing styles and textures; 20th and 21st centuries too, of course.

Container port, old town, new town, maybe Viña del Mar and points beyond
Container port, old town, new town, maybe Viña del Mar and points beyond.

There is an potent aura of history too. In the 1800s especially, when sailing vessels and steamships could get around Cape Horn, but needed a port to stop at afterward, Valparaiso was that place.

Valpo was perhaps at the peak of its strength in 1863' about to start building up the hill and out to sea.
Valpo was perhaps at the peak of its strength in 1863, about to start building up the hill and out to sea.

English, Germans, Italians, French, seamen, sheep herders, whalers, California-bound gold miners, they came from all over, and often they stayed and built, multiplied, and sometimes prospered.

Home of the world's oldest Spanish-speaking newspaper, this building used to be on the waterfront but there's been significant landfilling.
Home of the world’s oldest Spanish-speaking newspaper, this building used to be on the waterfront but there’s been significant landfilling and now it’s several blocks inland.

At first the town was built along the small coastal shelf, but as it grew it expanded, with landfill to seaward, and up the hill, aided by fifteen or twenty ascensors, a kind of elevator to make it easier to reach the ‘mezzanine’. These were each privately built and charged a toll. Some no longer operate, but most have now been taken over by the municipality, with an operative toll taker.

I think this one was under repair, but you get the idea. UNESCO likes the ascensores too.
I think this one was under repair, but you get the idea. UNESCO likes the ascensors too.
Concepcion and Alegre are two of the most-visited, and painted, of Valparaiso's districts.
Concepcion and Alegre are two of the most-visited, and painted, of Valparaiso’s districts.

We were there in December, the southern hemisphere summer in fact and demeanor. (It’s easy to fall in love in the summer.) At latitude 33 South, and strongly affected by the ocean and the Humboldt current, it’s generally sunny and pleasant (not hot). Winters are said to be mild, maybe rainy, maybe foggy.

So many dogs roam the streets. They look well fed - we see people putting out kibbles and tubs of water, and stepping patiently over the dog-mat into the store. But these dogs aren'r curb-trained, so mind yournstep.
So many dogs roam the streets. Compared to tropical  street dogs, these dogs seem less-diseased, better fed, and of a more noble lineage. We see people putting out kibbles and tubs of water, and stepping patiently over the dog-mat into the store. But they aren’t curb-trained, so watch your step.

Natural Disasters

I need to mention other natural disasters as well. Chile is a very seismically active place; earthquakes and tsunamis have both affected Valparaiso. In fact there was a major quake in 1906, just like in San Francisco, California, to which the geography and climate, and maybe even the general vibe of Valpo, is has been compared.

Forest fires have also caused problems (are causing them right now in other parts of the country) which are exacerbated by the hilly terrain, the steep and convoluted cobblestone roads, and wind flow in the bowl. A big fire this year after Christmas, south of the port, destroyed hundreds of homes.

Panama Canal Takes A Toll

Valparaiso’s boom times were dealt a strong blow when the Panama canal opened in 1914. But they kept improving the port and today it exports growing quantities of wine, copper, and fresh fruit. It’s also a (relatively) popular cruise ship stop, and may also host beyond Panamax-sized ships.

It's always a challenge to figure out the logistics of this operation, but entertaining.
It’s always a challenge to figure out the logistics of this operation, but entertaining.

With four universities (my dentist in Guaymas is a graduate of one) and offices of the Chilean Congress and several other government agencies, there is plenty of new blood coming into town. That would account for the clubs and bars and galleries and the general sense of life on the streets, even in my limited up-at-dawn, down-at-dusk time frame. The southern hemisphere summer allows plenty of dusk.

Photo Gallery of Street Art and Interesting Buildings

That’s more than enough of the dry bones of history. Here is a gallery of photos taken on various walks around town.

I’ve skipped a lot of captions and titles – sometimes it’s hard to chose a mere handful of descriptive words for some pretty fantastical paintings. Probably some duplicates too.

Leon Trotsky’s house at Coyoacán

The home-in-exile of the Russian communist notable Leon Trotsky is just a few blocks away from the Casa Azul so of course we had to drop in. I vaguely remembered Trotsky from my political science studies in school; with Josef Stalin and Vladimir Lenin, he was prominent in the Russian Revolution as it progressed through Bolshevism and into Communism and the Soviet Union. Trotsky was head of the Red Army.

While Frida Kahlo’s house is full of color and light and art, her neighbor and sometimes friend Leon Trotsky lived in a dimmer, dingier place. (There’s supposed to be a ‘featured image’  at the top of the post, but it seems not to be viewable in mobile devices, so maybe it will show up in the photo Gallery below). And someone in the peanut gallery is saying, well look at where they came from. No wonder her Mexican light is sunnier than his high-latitude somber.

Memorably, maybe from a Trivial Pursuits card, Trotsky was assassinated by being bashed in the head with an ice axe. That’s the event that took place in this house, and why, perhaps, it is still a public attraction. We were two of the five visitors in attendance.

But how and why did an exiled communist leader come to be living in Mexico City, and why was he finally assassinated so long after the tempest of the Russian Revolution? The Wikipedia entries on this subject are, I hate to say, more than I want to know.  The particulars about whether government would lead the people, or whether the workers should be empowered first caused everlasting infighting. These people disagreed about everything, it seems.

Suffice it (I hope) to say that Trotsky was an ally of Lenin. As head of the Red Army, he seemed an obvious choice to succeed Lenin, who suffered a series of strokes starting in 1922. However, when Lenin died in 1924, Trotsky was politically outmaneuvered by Joseph Stalin. Here I am quoting and paraphrasing from http://history1900s.about.com/od/people/p/trotsky.htm

From that point on, Trotsky was slowly but surely pushed out of important roles in the Soviet government. First he was exiled to the very remote Alma-Ata. Apparently that wasn’t far away enough, so in February 1929, Trotsky was banished from the entire Soviet Union.

Writing prolifically during his exile, Trotsky continued to criticize Stalin and his increasing bureaucratic grasp, from homes in Norway, Turkey and France. He came to Mexico in 1936 under the aegis of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and lived in the Casa Azul for a year or so.

Then there was some kind of disagreement, and eventually Trotsky moved to this house a few blocks away.

Stalin, meanwhile, named Trotsky as the major conspirator in a fabricated plot to remove Stalin from power. As part of the Great Purge, 1936-1938, 16 of Stalin’s rivals were charged with aiding Trotsky in this treasonous plot.

Stalin and the white light where Trotsky has been erased from the photo, on his was to being completely purged by Stalin
Stalin and the white light where Trotsky has been erased from the photo, as he was being completely written out of the public record by Stalin. PrePhotoshop too.

All 16 were found guilty and executed. Trotsky, condemned in absentia, was also on the execution list.

Photos of Stalin's enemies.
Each of these men was accused of blocking or betraying Stalin in some way, and each of them was executed.

On May 24, 1940, at 4 AM, Soviet agents broke in and machine-gunned Trotsky’s house in Coyohuacan. Although Trotsky and his wife and grandson were home asleep, all survived the attack. The tour guide carefully points out bullet holes in the wall just above the bed of Trotsky’s 8-years old grandson, and adds the comment that this attack failed because the would-be assassins were drunk.

Bedroom, bullet holes in wall.
The holes in the wall are said to be left from the machine gun attack in May 1940. The family all survived. The guide said it was because the attackers were drunk.

Trotsky knew that he would always be a target and had taken several security measures.

Trotsky house Mexico City floor plan
Security staff lived in the part of the house that’s in the shadow of the plan, but for some reason they were locked in the night of the machine gun attack.

Watch towers were built in the corners and the perimeter wall was raised.

Watch towers were built in the corners of the property and walls were raised
Watch towers were built in the corners of the property and walls were raised

The lovely big windows still stand but the bottom portions on the perimeter are bricked in. And doorways were reduced to slow down an intruder.

After the machine gun episode, the doorways were reduced in size. Imagine being reminded of how endangered you are every time you walk in or out.
After the machine gun episode, doorways were reduced in size.

Imagine being so constantly reminded of how endangered your life might be! Trotsky was said to work hard on his writing and publications in opposition to Stalin’s brand of Communism. And in his spare time, he bred chickens – the coops, but not the chickens, are still there along a side wall.

On August 20, 1940, Trotsky was not so lucky. An insider, friend to Trotsky’s secretary, and Mexican Communist named Ramon Mercader, gained access to his study. As Trotsky was sitting at his desk in his study reading a document Mercader had brought  him for editing,  Mercader punctured Trotsky’s skull with a mountaineering ice pick.

Trotsky's desk remains as it was, or so they say. It looks quite tidy to me, not at all like any desk I've ever had.
Trotsky’s desk remains as it was, or so they say. It looks quite tidy to me, not at all like any desk I’ve ever had.

Trotsky was cogent enough to indicate that Mercader should be held rather than be shot by the guards, but died of his injuries the next day. Mercader served twenty years in Mexican prison, was decorated by the Soviet Union after his release, and died in Cuba in 1978.

I was surprised, a bit appalled to see that this photo of the dying man had been published in the newspaper. It was 1940. And I'm not too appalled to reproduce it here, so...
I was surprised, and a bit appalled, to see that this photo of the dying man had been published in the newspaper. It was 1940. And I’m not too appalled to reproduce it here, so…

so, that’s the history of Leon Trotsky’s death in Mexico City as gleaned by an interested observer visiting the museum that has taken over his house. Hope it kept you awake, perhaps contemplating how and why these same ‘interventions’ are managed these days in the Soviet Union. (And elsewhere, perhaps)

 

 

Outward Bound for Inland Travel- Chile Ahoy!

In our travelling rigs, we wait patiently (good internet available) for our flight to Mexico City..
In our travelling rigs, we wait patiently (good internet available) for our flight to Mexico City..

Doug and I are sitting in Cuidad Obregon’s very civilized (small, modern) airport waiting for Interjet to whish us away to the Big City of Mexico, aka Mexico, or the DF, Distrito Federal. We decided to do a little land travel this year while we still have the oomph to lift our backpacks.
We are aiming for Patagonia Chile and maybe Argentina too. I’d also like to see the geysers in the Atacama desert which is all the way at the other end of a really long -2670 miles- country. So we’re starting in the middle, Santiago, where all the planes fly.
We’ll stay in hostels, which we find good for meeting other travellers and getting useful information. We usually ride the buses (South American long-distance buses can make Greyhound look very long in the tooth) but as I said, here we are in an airport having balked at the prospect of a 25-hour ride through Mexico.
Given that the trip plan is to have no plan beyond movement and serendipity, the most befuddling part so far has been the packing. We started with carry-on sized convertible backpacks with a capacity of ~42 liters and put our hiking shoes (they are not even boots, but they weigh five pounds each pair). The bag is full.

Well, actually not. I got 20 more pounds of stuff in mine, and Doug in his, but it was packed, unpacked, repacked, reconfigured, substituted, sat upon and reshuffled so many times that I’m not sure what actually made the team. Less is better, it is said, but how many summer clothes make a layer of glacier-proof winter wear?

The entire pre-travel process actually makes me a little anxious. Nobody like to pay too much or make the wrong decisions, but I eventually reach a stage where I’ll push the next button that appears rather than parse the possibilities any longer. Then for weeks I worry that I’ve made a mistake on the booking, or have the connection on a different day than the origination, or mis-marked my calendar,  forgot to set the alarm clock or the day of the week. But none that happened this time despite the energy I wasted wondering if I had gone wrong.

So here we are, waiting to board. If you get this you’ll know none of what I feared came to pass (as usual). The trip is underway, and taking on a life of its own.

Learning the surf landing, watching the swell

waves breaking anchored boats

Every so often there’s an adrenaline-rush day for the small craft operators in Bahia Tenacatita, as illustrated in this photo taken by Aimee aboard sv Terrapin. Is the “Featured Image” missing above? Visit this post on GalivantsTravels.com.

West Coast accessories?

The first time we saw a dinghy with wheels, on a shiny new boat from California, we thought it was another example of what some of us from the little states in the eastern US think of as West Coast, over-the top, accessorizing.
Hauling the boat up the beach is easy with drop-down wheels bolted to the transom and the horsepower of the bocce players.
Hauling the boat up the beach is easy when the wheels  bolted to the transom are flipped down. Horsepower from the bocce players is useful too.
However we’re finding that a lot of the anchorages in the Pacific are open to the swell of half the Pacific ocean, and have marginal headlands to hide behind, or bays to enclose us. Our present dinghy is a ten-foot AB Alumina inflatable, more like an SUV than a kayak, as is appropriate for its duties as our one and only ‘do anything everywhere’ transportation interface. Doug has always wanted a strong dinghy,  but it also has its disadvantages.
At nearly 200 pounds when loaded with a 15 hp outboard and a full tank, it’s not easy to drag up the beach. Being inflatable, it’s not a good rowing boat. Despite its aluminum floor, we wouldn’t want to drag it over rocks, or even sand. And on some beaches you have to pull the boat up pronto, before the next wave, and pull it a long way. Once we understood what the wheels were for, we wanted some.
One basic theory is to put down your wheels and wait just beyond the line where the waves reveal themselves. When you see a potential big one, rev up and try to stay just on its back side. That way you get carried as far in as possible up. Then, hop out of the boat (you’re dressed for wetting, I hope) and haul it up before the next wave breaks. The steeper the beach, the more important this becomes. In some places, with careful timing, and a lot of luck, one might feasibly hop out in dry pants, maybe even dry shoes!
A second theory, which works pretty well on the flat beach of Tenacatita, is to not deploy the wheels. Sometimes the wheels hitting the ground can brake you before you’re clear of the surf break. But then you have the full weight of the dinghy to deal with; the trouble is getting it far enough up the beach to avoid it washing away on the incoming tide on a long day away.
 The local pangueros are expert at landing on the beach – that’s what their boats are designed for.  But they have 20′ high-bowed boats*,  bigger engines, and a transom deeper in the water, so the prop keeps a better bite. They often back in, with the propellor a bit lifted and the bow lifting nicely to the breakers. Sometimes someone (the junior crew member!) jumps in the water to keep everything lined up. Usually when a panga delivers you to a beach, you can step right off onto sand.
The panga is designed to be operated from a beach.

 Most important lesson so far

Don’t get in front of the breaking wave if at all possible, and especially, don’t get sideways to it. Also, the kill switch, which turns the engine off when the clip is pulled: you want its lanyard on your wrist and the switch in good working order. You could dump the dinghy, douse your outboard in salt water, lose whatever you were carrying, etc. Better not to chop up the remains while you’re at it. Who needs that kind of excitement?

This is the surf landing we're practicing up for.
This is the surf landing we’re practicing up for. This photo was borrowed from the blog svyolo.com, in a post called Pitchpoled in Tenacatita.

Two families with four young children between them, headed ashore in kayaks last year, and got in too far to turn back. They got dumped on the way in, and as conditions worsened with the tide, they decided to stay at the hotel down at the end of the beach, rather than take on the waves they photographed above.

It’s an interesting story, since the hotel isn’t set up for that kind of guest, and they weren’t set up to be there. But it reinforces one of our rules, which is: when you go ashore, no matter where you think you are going, always take shoes and always take money.

Feel the surge!

The other day we had some surge-y conditions, and I don’t think anyone went ashore. According to  surf sites like magicseaweed.com, there was a 2.3 meter swell train from the northwest, trending down some violent-looking weather systems battering northern California. And there was a 1.4 meter southwesterly swell, can’t say what is generating that without looking south of the equator. These were long period swells, up and down every 15 or 20 seconds. Listening, particularly in the wee hours, you can hear the boom of surf on the other side of the bay.

The swell, often 20 feet tall every 20 seconds, is getting them cranked in Hawail, but it, or similar swells, can affect coasts thousands of miles away.
This swell, often 20 feet tall every 20 seconds, is getting them cranked in Hawail. This, or similar swells, can affect coasts thousands of miles away. magic seaweed.com

We are well-anchored, but it is disconcerting to watch our neighbors zooming forward, as if they’re getting underway, and to know that we’re doing the same ourselves. We just can’t  feel the conveyor belt we’re riding.

Feel the Roll too

But we can certainly feel the side-to-side rolling that comes when the swell and the wind are perpendicular. There’s an accessory for that too. The flopper-stopper is rigged to hang from a pole stuck out the side of the boat. In the water is something that resists being lifted, but sinks readily, like a weighted platform, bucket, basket/check valve, or a big flat hinge. Even if it doesn’t stop the roll completely, it breaks the harmonic cycle.  That’s one accessory we haven’t yet acquired.

The 'traffic cone' flopper stopper slows down the boat's roll.
The ‘traffic cone’ flopper stopper slows down the boat’s roll.

And no one is going ashore today, at least not in their dinghies. Surfing in would be one problem, getting back out would be another kind, and maybe more difficult.

Landing on the beach lessons cancelled today.
Landing on the beach lessons cancelled today. Photo courtesy of sf-terrapin.com

Launch techniques

We’re learning that the wheels aren’t always the answer to getting out either. The problem is that they leave the bow of the dinghy down, easy for the waves to break into while you’re trying to get into the dinghy, get the engine started, get the passenger aboard, stay steered straight out, etc.

They're just about to make their move, and did a great job of it, for an appreciative audience.
They’re just about to make their move, and did a great job of it, for an appreciative audience.

As for ourselves, well, we sometimes come home wet, and glad of a dry bag for storing things. It does help to decide early who is calling the shots, or you’ll both get doused in the space between go, go, go and wait, wait, wait!

Footnote about the panga

*from Wikipedia, I learned this about the ubiquitous panga.

  • The original panga design was developed by Yamaha as part of a World Bank project circa 1970.
  • Key features of the panga design are a high bow, narrow waterline beam, and a flotation bulge along the gunwale, or top edge of the hull. The high bow provides buoyancy for retrieving heavy nets, and minimizes spray coming over the bow. The narrow beam allows the hull to be propelled by a modest-sized outboard motor. The flotation bulge along the gunwale provides increased stability at high angles of roll.
  • The original Yamaha panga design had a length of 22 feet (6.7 m), and a waterline beam of approximately 5 feet 6 inches (1.7 m).
  • Pangas are usually between 19 and 28 feet (5.8 and 8.5 m) in length, with capacities ranging from 1 to 5 short tons (0.89 to 4.46 long tons; 0.91 to 4.54 t) and powered by outboard motors of between 45 and 200 hp (34 and 149 kW). Their planing hulls are capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots (40 mph; 65 km/h)

What’s to like about living in the shipyard

Living on the hard, which is to say, on the boat while it is out of the water, is like a cross between a refugee camp and a trailer park, according to Doug. I think of it as a peculiar gated community, or maybe a half-way house, twixt life ashore and life afloat.  Some of us get launched in a couple days, while others have been here for months, even years. We inmates can and do leave the premises from time to time but often remain quite near our cells, often at arm’s length.

Ten steps up, ten steps down
Ten steps up, ten steps down, but look at that shiny paint!

There are some issues related to our hovering home,  mostly to do with plumbing. The nicer bathroom is 500 steps away,  a five-minute walk, or a two-minute bike ride.  Plan ahead! There are showers, and the hot water heater is turned on, hallelujah. In June, 104 degrees, you’d like to have a water cooler instead. Whatever the season, water conservation is mandatory, and the taps in the yard are turned off overnight.

For drinking and cooking water, we’re hauling 20-liter garafons up the ladder. Hector Manuel,  the two-toot, blue cap water guy  (as opposed to the siren water guy whose garafons have yellow caps) honks past daily. We wash up with the marina’s non-potable water, which we dispense to ourselves via a garden sprayer. The main advantage to peeing into a milk jug (via a folding funnel for those of us lacking extension tubing)  is that there is no flushing required.

Watch, and you’ll see most everyone at some point in their day leaves the boat with a roll of toilet paper, a milk jug or a bucket. The genteel  among us put the jugs and paper in bags, but if not:  Don’t look at that jug. Especially don’t glance into the bucket. The lucky folks are the ones with the composting toilets aboard.

Damon Doug Shane
Doug’s purple glove is being passed from boat to boat, to be used for that last little dab of bottom paint under the keel where the blocks were.

There is a goodly amount of opinion-sharing, information-exchange, and just plain bull-shooting.  On the plus side, there is almost always  someone with the tool, the experience, the address or directions, the microballoons, the software, the great idea, a few ounces of sympathy or a shred of information. The Boat-Yard Mind is a powerful thing, and so is its toolbox.

 

Easing the furler towards the masthead.
Need a hand with something? Here you can get a dozen.

The social life is good

Pot luck dinners are the go-to event for every occasion. We’ve had birthday parties, pre-launch parties, Christmas and Thanksgiving of course, even a December 21 Solstice party.

We’re newbies to Mexico cruising, but one of the first things we’ve learned is that everybody  brings their own chair to a gathering. There are no fallen palm trees around here, no driftwood, and apparently, not too many willing to stand up, except for the food line.

Thanksgiving potluck dinner, and weren't we all thankful for something!
Thanksgiving potluck dinner, and weren’t we all thankful for something!

DSC08830 Desiree spoon

DSC08836 Connie and Mel make Xmas music

DSC08834 white elephant

The Christmas pot luck dinner featured plates of good food and and a white elephant “under-50-pesos or something off the boat” gift exchange. The rules were a little complicated, but someone could chose the gift you already had rather than unwrap something unknown from the stack. The bottles of tequila and wine all made the rounds several times. We also had music from our resident troubador.

Goofing Off? Who, Me?

Work alternates with goofing off
All work and no play..or is it the other way around?
Graeme and John admiring the machine shop's 2015 calendar.
Machine shops the world around use the same calendar.

Problems worse than ours

There's always someone with a bigger project or a worse set of problems than ours.

There’s always someone with a bigger project or a worse set of problems than ours.

It’s a reminder that Marina Guaymas is a shipyard, not a fancy marina. We’re here to get ourselves ready to leave, not to loll about on beach chairs! But it really helps that the marina staff is friendly and helpful. “If you’re happy, I’m happy” says Arnulfo the yard manager, and he means it.

Sheep Eat Our Garbage!

In their own gated communities around our perimeter are a couple dozen sheep whose diets we are encouraged to supplement if we’d like to. There are some loose sheep in the other part of the yard too. Watch out for ‘Pinto’ the butting male! He’s a bruiser.

Their tails are down, their ears are big, so these are definitely sheep, despite their long legs.

They don't like egg shells or garlic cloves, but it seems like everything else is in play, including squeezed out limon, and avocado skins.
They don’t like egg shells or garlic cloves, but it seems like everything else is edible, including squeezed out limón and grapefruit peels.

Every so often…

Someone escapes.

Every so often one of gets launched. Here it's a sister ship to Galivant, Salish Sea.
Here it’s a sister ship to Galivant, the Valiant 40 Salish Sea, making her stately procession to the travelift slip.

Best of all

We’ve made a lot of friends here. Maybe it’s due to adversity, or the common bonds of boatyard life, but really, it’s been a lot of fun.

One of the things we like best about cruising is that we get to spend time with people we wouldn’t have even met in our other life.

We Splashed!

We’re spending the first weekend of the New Year of 2015 in the water. The yard was fine, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be liking this floating stuff better. Un feliz, saludable y próspero año nuevo a todos.