Sunday, February 22, 2009

One more week

One more week until we leave David. Brian and I are looking forward to clean water to anchor and swim in. The water here in the estuary is a greenish brown. Brian is looking forward to surfing again, and not spending any money for a while. Shopping tip: Panama's prices are 1/3 to 1/10 of prices in the States, except for health food.

In case y'all are wondering, I ended up buying 8 liters of olive oil and 3 liters of corn oil.

Here's some interesting things I've learned about Panama:
1. Their currency is called the "Balboa" and it looks suspiciously like American money. Actually, it is. Yup. All dollars here say, "official note of the U.S. Federal Reserve" or however that goes. Occasionally when I get change back I'll receive a penny, dime or quarter that is the right size and shape and color of ours at home but it has a Panamanian picture and Spanish words to tell how many cents it is.

2. Women here don't wear tampons. How I know this is that there are aisles and aisles of feminine products but only in one store have I seen tampons included. More info than you ever wanted to know.

3. Many people don't own cars. Makes things easy for us. There is a very easy, consistent bus system to get you anywhere in town for 30 cents.

4. There are multiple political parties here. Currently they are having elections for president and 4 parties made an alliance to support one candidate. 2 other parties allied behind a second candidate, and the last candidate is only supported by one party. What a novel idea, more than 2 viable parties.

5. When you enter a store in Mexico they often greet you by saying, "pasale" which means come in. When you enter a store here and approach a clerk, they all say "diga" which means something like "say it" (is that right Erin?). This makes me laugh inside. They're so direct. No fussing around with, "hello, how are you?" No, "What can I do for you?" Just "Tell me what you want".

6. There are lots of security guards here in stores, in front of stores. They carry guns. I don't like this. It feels like a police state.

7. About 25% of the food in the grocery stores is labeled in only English. This seems odd because few of the people we've met in this city even speak English.
How are the people going to read the labels to find out how much MSG is in everything?

8. I am taller than about 90% of the women and taller than more than half of the men. Brian towers over everyone.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

how much olive oil?

My mind is full of question after question, these days.  How much olive oil do we use per month?  How many pounds of flour will I need between here and Fiji? How many pounds of rice?How many trinkets should I buy to give to kids in the South Pacific? How much produce will I be able to keep from rotting before we can eat it?  Will the sail repair supplies, charts of the S. Pacific, and spare parts for the motor arrive before we have to leave? Is my First Aid cabinet stocked with enough prescriptions? Will I have to give Brian stitches at some point? I hope not! 

When I get to the check out counter of any of the 5 grocery stores I've studied like a cop on his beat, I feel apologetic.  I have regularly spent more money on 2 overflowing carts of canned goods and cartons of juice or milk than the check-out clerk makes in 2 weeks.  And there's more food to buy! Yet, slowly, slowly, I'm filling the cupboards on Nomad and moving things around to fit more packages. 

Our visa expires here in 11 days.  We've accomplished many of the projects we wanted to and have a few left.  If only the strong winds would stop long enough for Brian to paint the boom!  Once that's done, we can get started on my "sail taco" (a sail cover built onto the boom that allows easier dousing of the main sail).  Brian's sacroiliac joint in his lower back has been giving him a lot of pain.  Despite his sister's consultations over the phone, we can't adjust him in a way that gives long term relief.  So, we're off to a doctor this afternoon.

I've been reading our cruising guides, sailors' blogs and some books about the S. Pacific.  Finally, I know that Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa are in the Marquesas, and Raritonga is in the Tuomotus.  I figure, the more I know about our trip, the less anxious I'll be.  I'm especially excited about the Marquesas island where they make a traditional "tapa cloth" which are designs on bark fabric.  The colors in the designs are made by roots and leaves of trees. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

so many awesome flowers

On our hike near Cerro Punta I had a hard time restraining myself from taking pictures! Here's a few. Ok, one's not a flower but those giant green leaves are so endearing..

Friday, February 13, 2009

Escape from boat work.

Yesterday, I finished my sewing project reinforcing our sun awning and Brian finalized all the boat parts being shipped to us. We packed in about 5 minutes and hopped on a local bus to a small town on the side of a(inactive) volcano called Cerro Punto. We are so sick of working on Nomad! We have escaped to a beautiful wooden floored lodge where there are no project for us to do. There are only rain forests to hike through and a cozy balcony outside our room to watch the hummingbirds from. I have also challenged Brian to a game of Fusball. I expect to lose.

Here's where we are:

where are all the iguanas?

up until a couple of days ago, I'd been wondering where the iguanas and other wildlife might be. Anchored in a mangrove estuary there should be plenty of iguanas in trees or basking on the mud flats. Nothing. Brian saw one, slowly making his way across the muddy flat exposed next to the marina parking lot at low tide. He pointed it out to me and I watched it and took pictures. Soon, we heard shouts and excitement outside. A few of the marina workers had spotted our handsome reptile. Soon they were lobbing fist sized rocks at the iguana. They were all very bad aims. One narrowly missed and all the rest were wildly off. The iguana made it to the edge of the water and dove in. Still the 8 - 12 men gathered around didn't lose interest. They called over two men in a small dugout canoe that were paddling by. For half an hour, men called back and forth to look in one place or the other. Then the iguana was spotted again. He'd crawled under a pier. The excitement was on. The whole time, Brian and I were secretly rooting for the big creature. Only after an hour of futile hunting did people finally disperse.

Now I know why I haven't seen much wild life. It's all being hunted and eaten! I guess I should have put the facts together when the security guard told me how delicious the peccaries were that they catch in the mangroves.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tree Enth

Here's a picture of a mangrove tree near the Marina. It reminds me of a Tree Enth from the Lord of the Rings.


We have been in David, Panama for 9 days. Almost every single one of those days has been spent researching items on the internet or taking the bus to town to hunt down desired items.

Items I'm looking for are all related to food, medicine, or navigation. Finding food items without MSG is very difficult. MSG is in campbell's soup, soy sauce, powdered soup mixes, sausage, Chef Boyardee products, bags of chips, etc. Even "natural" foods have it sometimes.

Brian's searches all have to do with the engine. Spare parts, engine lubricants, gaskets, tubes, pumps, and other things I don't even know.

In the evenings, around 6pm we stop what we're doing and pull some cold drinks out of the fridge. We lower our dinghy into the water and go for an evening drive up and down the various fingers of the river/estuary we are in. This is instead of an evening stroll. The town next to the marina isn't very pleasant to walk in.
That's a glimpse of our daily life lately.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sunset at Pavones, Costa Rica

(Note: This was written before the Panama entries. It is out of chronological order)
Pavones- where the Bar, “Esquina del Mar” opens by 10am to welcome surfers paddling in from their morning sessions. 20 and 30year olds with unshaved chins and bare chests sit at the counter that gives them a direct view of the sets coming in, or not. I just sent Brian off on the yellow school bus to Golfito. Today is his turn to try recovering a full propane tank. He’ll ride 2 hours 20 minutes and have 30 minutes to obtain our fuel for the next 2 months of cooking, then back on the same bus for the last run of the day to Pavones. (author’s note: Brian returned with an empty propane canister.)

Meanwhile I’m tucked behind the low seawall under almond trees, coconut palms and others, listening to the dance beat and repetitive lyrics from the “Esquina del Mar.” I can see Nomad nose into the wind as surfers languidly wait close to shore for the next set to roll in.

From Pavones there are a couple of surf spots to check out on our trip around Punta Armuelles, and the border of Panama. We’re looking forward to exploring the reported clear waters and beautiful islands between here and Panama City. Pavones has been a nice place to stop. It’s a quiet yet living town with soccer games all weekend. Locals picnic from the backs of their cars parked next to the ocean or by the cold clear river that empties into it just south of town. Travelers are not a novelty and yet we don’t feel like every local sees dollar bills walking down the street as we approach. It’s a comfortable, clean small village in a beautiful setting. Palm trees lean out over the beaches and scarlet macaws announce themselves overhead. There are pleasant places to sit in the shade.

Maybe the reason I like Pavones so much is that it is so UNLIKE Golfito. The dirty broken looking bars with drunks wandering the street at all times of day are only part of the unpleasantness of the place. The only clean shady place to be was at Tierra Mar, the cruiser “clubhouse” next to where we anchored.


1. The well-known surf spot in Northern Costa Rica, is also known as Bahia Potrero Grande. It is also a sea turtle nesting ground. We didn't see the turtles but did see the mama's tracks up to her nest and some shriveled egg peelings. That's in Brian's hand.

2. Ollie's with off shore wind. For all you surf junkies.