Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holy Crap!

We are one week away from leaving civilization and heading back to the simplicity of Ohana.  Yikes!  I thought I'd be super excited, but right now I'm just plain stressed.  We have a lot to cram into a short amount of time.  On the to do list - celebrate Thanksgiving (duh), spend as much time as we can with family, purchase Christmas gifts to for the girls, get Luna vet certified for the flight, and of course pack all of the crap that we have accumulated since May.

Speaking of packing... You may be wondering what a family of four would deem necessary items to schlep over the Mexican border and bring to a 41 foot sailboat.  We all have our own ideas of "necessary" items.  For Jake, it includes cruising guides, screws, anemometer, emergency water rations, underwater flashlight, fishing lures, fuel filters, and the newest version of the Delorme tracking device.  For Katelyn, it includes the latest music from 1D and 5SOS, converse, jeans, jean jackets, leather jackets (on the beach in 90 degrees???), books, and journals.  For Hannah, it includes every trinket and rock she has collected over the past 7 months, books, Barbies, giant stuffed dogs, baby dolls that cry, etc, etc, etc... And for me, well lets just say I have regressed a bit on my shopping restraint.  I will be packing a pressure cooker, fabric for new throw pillows, curtains, cockpit cushions, contact paper, sewing needles, acrylic wine glasses, lime squeezer, immersion blender, electric knife, Christmas lights, a selfie stick (super excited about that!!!), and a new underwater camera.  As you can see we all have our priorities on the boat.

Ziplock space saver bags are my new best friend.  I was able to scrunch 6 cushions for our cockpit in these bags.  They all fit in one suitcase.  Amazing! 

Random crap (mostly Hannah's) that we have to fit in a suitcase somehow...

We ended up with 6 checked suitcase, 4 carry on rollers and 4 backpacks.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

And so it begins...

The countdown has officially begun...
7 Countries...2 Oceans...6 Months (approximately)

Our tickets are in hand and we will be returning back to Chiapas, Mexico and 'Ohana the first week of December to begin our next big journey south. After a week of boat projects and getting things ready we will head out into the vast Pacific Ocean and make way to El Salvador, our first Central American country. Continuing south we will also be visiting Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. From the Pacific Ocean side of Panama we will be transiting the Panama Canal and enter the Atlantic Ocean (say Caribbean!!!).
With stops to offshore Columbian islands, we will be cruising and exploring the Western Caribbean. Our final destination will be the "Sunshine State" of Florida!
More to come, stay tuned...

United Mexican States
Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Republic of El Salvador
República de El Salvador

Republic of Honduras
República de Honduras

Republic of Nicaragua
República de Nicaragua

Republic of Costa Rica
República de Costa Rica

Republic of Panama
República de Panamá

Republic of Colombia
República de Colombia 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mexican Memories

As our time here in Arizona winds down, we begin to reflect on our six month tour of Mexico.  Although we are heading back to our beloved home Ohana, securely stored in Tapachula.  That will be our final port of call in Mexico.  The end of the road.  The beginning of a whole new journey and exploration of Central America – El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama.  We will soon be pulling out of the Port of Chiapas with zarpes in hand and ready for a new adventure.  

We have had good intentions of posting about our learning experience while traversing the Pacific Coast of Mexico.  Not only about the culture of a new country of exploration, but also our experiences while cruising full time for 9 months beginning in Half Moon Bay, CA.  Being that we have been sucked into the landlubber lifestyle for six months, we have been much too busy and much too uninspired to share.  So, what better time than now?

What we learned about Mexico:

Don’t expect to find a toilet seat in any public restroom – or toilet paper… BYOTP, I can not stress this enough!

There are amazing Mexican woman who will be happy (well I don’t know that for a fact) to do a family of four’s laundry for less than 10 bucks.  Everything comes back perfectly folded and smelling like a Snuggle bear.  We used this service SEVERAL times in many different locations and only once were we missing something.  I returned the next day with my Spanglish and was able to get my sheet back.

People are genuinely nice.

When walking into a store, restaurant, any place really, people actually acknowledge you with a greeting and a smile.

Nachos are better in the US.

Walmart – it’s everywhere.

Shampoo, conditioner, lotion are cheap.  Sunscreen and bug spray, not cheap.

Milk comes in a box, unrefrigerated until opened. 

Eggs are not refrigerated.  They are “real” eggs though.  Sometimes they even have a little poo and feathers left on them.  We noticed the difference right away when we bought eggs in Arizona.  The yolks are unnaturally bright yellow and the whites are more watery.  I don’t even want to know why.

Raw chicken skin is yellow.  That’s right, chickens eat corn when they are not raised in Foster Farms slaughter houses.

It is important to ALWAYS watch your step when walking around town.  You can expect many different levels of concrete, holes, glass, wires, etc., etc.

Chimichangas are American.

Tacos sometimes mean taquitos and other times they are actual tacos.  It’s a nice surprise.

Anything broken can be repaired in Mexico.  The Mexicans are forced out of financial necessity to make do with what they have and repair something instead of running to the nearest big box store to buy another one.  Good for them.

There are TONS of Canadians cruising and vacationing in Mexico.  I often found myself picking up a Canadian accent rather than Spanish.

Don’t expect to find any needed boat parts, and if you do, expect to pay 3x as much as West Marine.  Yikes!

Mexican food carts are amazing!  Seriously, never got sick from eating off of one.

Pretzels.  Where are the pretzels?  They were very hard to find.

Jamaica is a drink made from dried hibiscus flowers and tastes amazing.

No need for cups, some drinks can be served in plastic baggies with a straw.

A Mexican fishing license is a waste of money.  We did not catch nearly enough to justify the $46 per person (including the kids) fee.  And of course, no one ever verified that we had them.

Tacos al Pastor.  I could eat them every day for the rest of my life.

Fresh produce galore.  Every day is a farmers market in Mexico.

No cars necessary, there are plenty of taxis and buses to get around in.

Families and children are cherished in Mexico.  Some random stranger once kissed Hannah on the top of her head and it wasn’t creepy at all.  If that had happened in the US I probably would have tackled the guy and kicked him in the you know where…

Trust.  We once loaded our malfunctioning outboard motor  into a taxi with a guy that we had known for maybe a week, entrusting him to return it in working condition.  And he did.

The only place we were truly uncomfortable (safety wise) in was Acapulco.

We also learned a lot about ourselves and the cruising lifestyle in general:

Conserving water really sucks.  If money were not an issue, we would most definitely invest in a watermaker.

We learned to adapt to whatever food we could find in each port.  We experimented and tried new things.  We ate a LOT of fresh food – fruits and veggies galore.

We learned to work together as a team and that a little bit of respect goes a long way.

I learned that dolphins are my new favorite animal.

We learned to be patient.  Patience is a constant factor in EVERYTHING – waiting for a weather window, waiting for the wind to fill the sails, waiting for the girls to get along, waiting for a marina with decent showers…

As we sit here in Arizona reflecting on our life, we learned that we made the right decision.  We have no regrets about living on a boat and traveling together as a family.  Learning to let go of obstacles that are implanted by society is the first step to freedom.  I thank God for our open mindedness and ability to take that first step.  Our possibilities are endless.