Changes in latitudes, changes in attitude… the itinerant life continues to sand off our rough edges. Once the bare bloody skin heals over I’m sure we’ll be much more tolerant of chaos. Or just skinless.
Repairs Needed, Chaos Ensues
After arriving in Puerto Vallarta and finding a nut in the bilge, Jon discovered that the coupling between the propeller shaft and the engine transmission was no longer as coupled as it had been. The two parts joined at a heavy-duty plastic flange and though rusted together were no longer in lock step. This looked like a nasty job and Jon tried to find someone to help, but no luck. So we decided to haul out before taking any more trips and risking losing use of our engine. We hauled out Wednesday and moved into a pet-friendly hotel rather than try to haul 45 pounds of squirming Zoë up a 12 foot ladder. Not to mention that living on the boat in the boatyard is a dispiriting and filthy way to live – Zoë was a useful excuse. As long as we were out we thought we’d paint at least one coat on our bottom.
That was the plan and we pretty much stuck to it, going back in the water today, Saturday. The plan seemed simple enough, but… changes are disruptive. We have been living on the boat without break since mid October. Then last week we left the boat for a little vacation – renting a car and driving south. To leave again while trying to get jobs done – was strangely even more exhausting. The first thing we did was leave one of the bags on our dock. Just sitting there. Never saw it. Luckily that night once we realized it had not arrived we were able to email one of our dock neighbors who put it back in our cockpit. The next day I took Zoë to the beach for some much needed exercise. The beach bag with towel, dog supplies, water bottle etc was missing when we got to the hotel that evening. I found it the following morning lying near the boat. I continually brought the beach stuff to the hotel and forgot the beach stuff for the beach. My mind was all a tizzy. I felt paradoxically bored and stressed. I am not usually someone that loses track of things. I have systems for that. I keep things organized. I notice things. Until I don’t. They say when fighter pilots get overwhelmed with all the things going on they don’t even hear the insistent screaming of the warning that someone has a weapon locked on them. We miss things when we’re stressed or overextended.
And I guess that’s the sign of a newbie cruiser. Everything seems big to us, complicated, absorbing. I remember hearing the story of the newbie cruiser who tells the experienced cruiser of his woes, eyes widened, worried or excited, not sure he’ll figure out how to fix it. Experienced cruiser meets the same newbie cruiser a year or two later and asks how things are going. The former newbie now says “fine, not much has broken or if it did it was no big deal”. Things are still big for us.
Downside of Relative Luxury
Yes, the air conditioning in the hotel was a treat. The internet was wonderful. The four flight walk up was no big deal. Yes the pool was a great concept – except I had to watch Zoë and she wasn’t allowed in the pool area so I couldn’t swim either. By the time Jon got home late each evening I was already cool and settled in, ready for dinner not swimming. The hotel’s dog park seemed a great idea – except that there were never dogs there and it was very muddy. After Zoë zoomed about and chased a few balls (it took me 2 days to actually get the balls to the dog park) she grew bored and hot and we would go back to the hotel room. One afternoon I dashed into the toilet on our return to the room and Zoë of course followed me in – getting her feet wet in the shower room – and then tracked great black tracks all through the tile in the room while I was occupied on the toilet. I used a towel to clean up her mess then washed her feet thoroughly in the shower. Whew… disaster averted. Until that afternoon when the cleaning crew fined us 200 pesos for a dirty towel and a bloody sheet (when Jon is working on the boat he comes to bed bloody most nights – it’s like living with a professional boxer). Strangely they left the sheet and towel there on the floor as if to further mark our shame.
Dog Friendly Town
The cabbies were great about having a dog in their cabs. Good thing because the buses are closed to animals. One morning as we walked up the line of cabs to get into the first one Zoë suddenly slipped her lead and went after one of the feral chickens that inhabit that part of PV. The chicken led her out into traffic, then slipped back into the fenced field she had escaped from. Zoë however didn’t fit into the hole in the fence so she ran back along the side of the fence looking for another opening. She was very pleased with herself, despite having touched no chicken when we finally caught her again. The cabbies were delighted with the show and egged on Zoë in the struggle with the “pollo”, suggesting various ways the catch could be prepared. I thought the pollo clearly had the upper hand and was not in the least worried. Strangely this cooking theme was continued later when she lunged after an iguana at the marina and one of the fishermen gravely recommended poaching it in garlic and butter. Talking to Zoë not me.
Immediately next to the hotel on Blvd Francisco Medina Ascencio (main drag of PV) was something called the Food Park. It was reminiscent of Food Courts in malls, but … not. For one thing the food was great, they served $1.50 a pint beer as well as wine and sangria, they welcomed dogs, and the whole thing was outdoors with a roof overhead. Breezy and delightful to hang out in. One night we had fabulous pizza with prosciutto and arugula on top, another quite an estimable Shawarma, the third we had good sushi. They also had stands selling chocolate dipped strawberries, ice cream and treats, as well as hamburgers, seafood and such. The table were comfortable and plenty of room for a large puppy to lie down next to the table. We lingered here each night we visited. Being a 100 yards from our room was just good luck!
We are now back in the marina and back in our boat. Whew. Lots of cleaning to do after just 3 days in the yard – they are filthy places as I said – but today and tomorrow to get ship shape again and we head to La Cruz anchorage on Monday for an extended stay. Probably. We have been in Mexico for almost 7 weeks and the dinghy has never been deployed – so we have a whole new anchorage lifestyle to explore. Changes!