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Position Report, 2006-02-24
Well, we are back in La Paz and on Guenevere once more. We may have said it before, but it amazes us, even after you retire, there is just not enough time to do all that you want to do in a day.
We have not posted a report for some time now as we felt that you might not be as interested in our land travels as in our boating, but we have received many emails requesting info on our trip.
Our recent travels started last November 15; we took our first plane trip since we entered Mexico on our boat. We flew from La Paz to LA. Stayed one night and then got a sleeper car aboard an Amtrak train to Michigan. This was also a first for us. We stayed for a couple of weeks with Greg's brother's family. They have twin boys about 2 years old. We just got to telling them apart when we hopped on another train to St. Lewis to visit some old time friends who own a VERY nice horse ranch. (www.bootonranch.com). Where we greeted the arrival of a new baby colt! That's always a happy event. We had a great time playing rancher. From there it was another train to Phoenix to visit two of our son's. We spent the holidays with them in one of their houses (they have a few). One of the boys has a van that he was not using and we borrowed it and drove to the San Francisco bay area. As it turned out, we were not able to use the van, but did secure another "Baja" van.
It seems that we have been away from Guenevere for so long and even though we had a great time visiting friends and family, there still was not enough time to see everyone we would have liked to visit, so hugs and kisses and please know that you are always in our thoughts.
During the trip we purchased a lot of new and replacement items for the boat and it would have been very hard to get it back here without driving. A note to anyone currently outfitting their boat, solar panels are hard to get! I ordered a set last October from the only place that said they might be able to get them by December. As of January 20, 06, they STILL had not received them from the manufacturer!
On the drive back to La Paz, we got word that Allyson; a boat neighbor from La Paz was in San Diego and about to take the bus back. We offered her a ride and she accompanied us. What fun it was! Our sides still hurt from all of the laughing (or was it the hike to the caves?).
We had a wonderful drive back with no problems. We were going to write it up when we got the e-mail below from Allyson. We think her account, although a bit skewed, is somewhat accurate, and a lot more fun!
We took, and have been taking, a lot of video of our travels. During the trip back we stopped to go whale watching and view some prehistoric cave paintings. We have put a bit of video on the web in a spot we can share them with you. If you have a high-speed connection it will play just fine. The originals look MUCH better, but this way, we can share it.
For the whale watching trip take a look at the video link: http://www.youtube.com/?v=Xf20_YGpF4k.
For the cave paintings trip take a look at the video link: http://www.youtube.com/?v=tImaIPBM68I
We are now very busy waking up all the systems aboard Guenevere that we had preserved before we departed for the USA. This has been the longest we have ever been away from.
This is the email:
Wed, 08 Feb 2006 01:21:11 -0500
Subject: Libel and Slander, Rocks and Whales
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Hi Greg and Jill,
Here is my version of events, and I am sticking to it! I took a little poetic license here and there, and I realize that I did not give you two enough Kudos for taking such good care of me on the mountain.
So let me say here, thank you both mucho for including me in your fun,
Yes, we ("Guenevere" Greg and Jill and I) rolled into La Paz Sunday afternoon (stopping at the Club Marlin for lunch) and were just in time to make the rounds of the Superbowl parties. We didn't know which friends were at which parties, but we knew where the parties were so we just went to each one. We had a good time as usual.
Looking back, seeing the whales near San Ignacio was really wonderful.
The night before we headed out to see the grey guys we were all sitting around the dinner table, in the little palapa "dining room" at the yurt bed and breakfast, and asked fellow travelers how their whale trip went. From them we learned it would be great but cold.
The next morning we all put on our pajamas under our clothes, coated ourselves with sunscreen, searched out hats, found our sunglasses and spent a minute or so enjoying how silly we all looked. Jill and I looked like overstuffed sausages, and I was particularly colorful with my pj's hanging below my pant cuffs. The upside to these fashion statements was that we were never cold.
We went in one of those great "will it get us there, or not ?" Mexican vans, and were feeling very smug and smart because we avoided subjecting our own van to 40 km of washboard roads. It was a great ride through miles of desert with interesting landmarks (like a dead horse on the road with vultures).
So yeah, we enjoyed knowing that the driver knew where he was going because there was not even a hint of a sign or indication of which way to go - just turn left off the back road out of town and head out into the nothingness! So it took about an hour and a half to get to the whales.
The whale lagoon closest to San Ignacio looked to be a lot larger than the one I visited last year, but there were less pangas and the docking facilities were non-existent - the pangas pulled up to the rocks and we scrambled aboard. Just as we approached the viewing area a whale breached about two hundred yards from our panga. Majestic! Then we saw pairs of mothers and babies swimming around at close range. It was all strangely casual. How can they be so graceful? How can all that power be so controlled? It is just so hard to take in all the sensations, sights and sounds. But the really great part was that a mother brought her baby over to visit us. It was as if that huge baby was just a puppy, he loved being petted and would lift his head (with a yellow polka dot near his blowhole) out of the water often to look at us. His favorite thing was to be splashed! I swear that if he could have found a way to crawl into the boat he would have! Meanwhile, the mother just lingered under the panga and watched her baby play, often rolling onto her side to adjust her view. Occasionally she would come up to get a petting, and she would mist us by puffing out of her blowhole. Interesting side note - the whole time the moms are in the lagoon they do not eat - so there is no fishy smell no matter how much water they blow. Now think of our little panga full of gringos petting a baby as long as the boat, and visualize a huge shadow - three times as big and wide as the boat itself - lurking benevolently below. Trust is essential on both sides of the water. And I wonder if the whales were as euphoric as we were?
Since last year I lost a lot of spontaneous viewing time trying to take pictures, I let Greg do all the photo stuff. Later this week I think he will have edited the photos and I hope to send you some. But be advised - no picture can capture the experience.
On the way home most of us suffered from what Jill and Greg have dubbed FAP - fresh air poisoning. This is a condition causing sleep. The Germans even snored! Late stages of FAP cause tremendous appetite enhancement. Thank goodness for the giant sized dinner Terry had waiting for us at our yurt heaven.
So we proudly checked off "petting a whale" from our list of things we wish to do before we are too old and feeble to care. And buoyed by our day with the whales, Jill was eager to check off another adventure - to see a pre-historic cave painting. Cool! Another day, another adventure! So that very evening we went to the parks office and registered to see the caves. A guide was arranged. Seemed simple - a little walk in the desert. A walk sounded good, after all we would be in the car for 10 more hours to get to La Paz - we reasoned it would be good to stretch our legs and do a little sight seeing.
We set off after a good Canadian style breakfast: banana pancakes, eggs, juice, fresh fruit, toast, bacon and sausage. Thank goodness we fortified ourselves, and took lamb sandwiches along for a picnic lunch, some bottled water also a good idea.
Directions: drive south from San Ignacio for 20 km and turn left at the Santa Marta road sign - the road would take us out to the mountains - 40 km - thru arroyos and around hills and mountains. At the last rancho we would meet our guide, Manuel Ojeda. Eventually we found clues that we were on the right road, we stopped to take frivolous pictures in arroyos - three smiling happy gringos. Innocent. Eager. Excited. NIAVE! We were a little puzzled about how to tell which was the "last" rancho. But OK we found the Ojeda rancho.. Eventually... Sr.Ojeda was a solid looking guy of 54 years - tanned leathery with a white hat, a well worn flannel long sleeved shirt and footgear that was a cross between sneakers and hiking boots. No English. Fine. We drove another 10 km, stopping just the other side of "East Jesus", off went Sr. Ojeda -like a mountain goat. By his pace we realized he wanted to spend the least amount of time possible earning his guide fees. And who mentioned that the trail would be continually uphill? Who told us the cave was at the TOP of a mountain? And a discernable "trail" would have been nice! Good news: the no English part was no problem - who had any breath to talk? Twenty minutes into this two hour "walk" I found enough breath and Spanish to ask how high the cave was, then made the meters to feet calculation - then re-calculated - then asked again to check that I had understood. OK - 3000 ft. No wonder we couldn't stop puffing! Should I translate this information for my friends? The two hour walk turned into 3.5 hours and I thought Greg and Jill might have to heft me up the last 300 yards like a sack of potatoes. In the end no help was forthcoming happen because Jill had mild heat stroke and Greg was a little green with the high off the ground thing. Actually, Jill and Greg were in a lot better shape than I - at least they have normal length legs. The last hour I think we typically climbed 10 feet and would then take 10 minutes to catch our breath. We literally crawled the last 300 vertical feet (only after we had a half hour rest on a rock). Sr. Ojeda, meanwhile, had not even broken a sweat and had 3/4 of his water left. And if the cave had not promised to be shady I would have NEVER seen the paintings!
Fortunately the majority of the paintings were not only mystically beautiful but also directly overhead - so we could lay flat on our backs in the shade to view them. This saved our very lifes! And yes, those magical masterpieces of some centuries dead nomadic artist were worth every torturous step!! Wow. And to think that he carried his paints and utensils up that mountain with him, then constructed some sort of bosun's chair from which to dangle himself from the cliff while he painted. Ages later some exhausted gringos were awestruck. Isn't life strange?
Hello, now we had to go DOWN - and you know I need a steading hand just to go down stairs. And did I mention that friend, Greg, is afraid of heights? So basically we were exhausted going up the mountain, and at least two of us were terrified going downhill. I spent a lot of time acquiescing to my center of gravity: scooting down rocky mounds on my (thankfully) ample butt. It was a lovely day! And Senora Ojeda was non too pleased either, since husband Manual was late for dinner! I swear that if Greg had not helped me all the way down the mountain, I would STILL be up there.
And just a hint - Senor Ojeda should ask for his guide fee BEFORE he has exhausted his gringo victims - his tip might have been a tad more generous.
Now it is dusk and we have 40 km of up and down dirt road to negotiate - before the light fades. Oh and there were cows - lots of cows - not in the least bit of a hurry.
First stop when we got back to the yurts (three minutes before total moonless darkness) - the bathroom. There we stuck our heads under the cold water faucets, scrubbed our faces and hands and tried to eek enough energy out of our legs to get us to the dinner table. And just when was Greg going to mention that the back of my pants were torn away? Just before dinner, he said! (I am trying to figure out how to make a piece of survival art out of my poor $5 green Target pants).
Pork loin roast, potatoes, roasted peppers, tossed green salad and apple pie alamode never tasted soooo good. Thank goodness Terry had it all ready for us and we had just enough energy to raise the food to our mouths. Then Terry said: "What, you didn't opt to ride the mules out to the caves?" Mules? Who said anything about a mule option?
Bottom line: the paintings were beautiful, the agony is behind us, and we feel accomplished. And what a story we have to tell!! Personally, I start out by pointing at Jill and Greg and saying loudly: "They tried to kill me!!" We laugh a lot - now.
Even the following day we were done in, and were only able to drive as far as Loreto. By 3pm we were checked into a La Pinta Hotel where we sucked down icy margheritas and took a long siesta before dinner.
Loreto is that town they wrote up in the Wall Street Journal, you might recall. It has a great airport, a very simple downtown with a low voltage social scene. It is the site of the very first Spanish Mission - still in regular use to this day. At best Loreto is old-fashioned charming, at its worse it is filled with too many foreigners, at times.
Definitely a place to invest - there is still waterfront property to be had.
As I might have mentioned we were very fortunate - not one problem with our disreputable van, "Brown Betsy". She never even hiccupped. Every time we crested a steep hill to start snaking down the other side, Greg was really glad he re-did those aft brake cylinders, and we felt very smug with all our emergency parts, flares, fire extinguisher and the like. Just goes to show that if you plan for the worst it often forgets to happen.
By tomorrow we might finish unloading the van. Hurrying is not a really big thing to do around here. Meanwhile, all my friends have arrived to pick up their items - flavored coffee, computer batteries, Gorilla Glue, walnuts, cheddar cheese, mail, stamps. It is so easy to make friends smile.
So I am trying to drop back into the La Paz lifestyle, coffee at the clubhouse, tamale lunch from Sra. Imelda, siesta from one to three, dominoes at four. Aft deck visiting with friends. Early to bed because tomorrow its back to Curves.
It was so easy to get right back into the La Paz atmosphere. Meeting, greeting friends and catching up on news, dinners, art exhibits, Curves, Spanish Class, Bayfest planning, circus and Carnavale. Is it any wonder that we have trouble keeping up with our report?
Circus, Bayfest, Carnavale-sounds like the subject of our next report.
call us up on a map and see where we are! To do this just click on the a link I have placed below...