24 December 2012

Christmas Cocktail

Ean's invented a special Colombian Christmas Cocktail.  ¡Salud!

Now and always, wishing for the world, friends and loved ones, MORE JOY EVERYWHERE!

23 December 2012

Month Five in Colombia and Counting

Still in Cartagena. To explain, allow me to make a short story long.

Me and my dad on the aft deck of m/v Andante, 1979
When I was 11 years old, my parents took me out of school, and we embarked on what my family has since called "the boat trip." (I wrote about it briefly on the "forebears" page of our website.). Many years later, when I was grown up and in the Navy, my dad felt compelled to write a book about the boat trip. I found the idea of my dad as an author to be astonishing, since I never thought he had much to say - at least, as I recalled, he never had much to say to me. But a whole book he did indeed write. After reading the manuscript, I told him he needed an editor and that he used too much passive voice.

Now many more years have passed, and so has my dad. My mom is turning 83, and Ean and I have embarked on our own crazy "boat trip": let's call it Boat Trip 2.0. I find myself, more than ever, wondering about my parents and "their" boat trip. I wonder what it meant to them. I wonder if they had any inkling of the impact it would have on their daughter's life. I wonder why my dad felt compelled to write it out, so many years afterward. And now I'm wondering what Boat Trip 2.0 will mean, to me and Ean. My first boat trip had such a drastic influence on me. Who will I be, after Boat Trip 2.0? Who will Ean be, and how will we be, together?

We invited my mom to spend Christmas with us here in Cartagena. We found a sweet little one-bedroom apartment for her in the Walled City, and we have all been working to put together an updated version of my dad's book. The book, which my dad accurately entitled "Our Powerboat Experience," was self-published, and he never actually tried to sell it to anyone - he and my mom gave copies to their friends and to anyone else who expressed an interest. Apparently, many of his readers wished that the book included pictures and a map. This, definitely, we can do. All the boat trip pictures have been digitized, and we sorted through them and chose the best ones. Ean has started the painstaking process of restoring them with Photoshop. Actually, a lot of them were kinda crappy to begin with, so he is trying not only to restore them but to enhance them. We're thinking that we can figure out how to do an e-book that has a map with hyperlinks, so readers can link directly from the map to the text.

Besides the visual aids, there are other stories and details that my mom wishes had been included, and I'm asking her to fill in the gaps. For me, it's another shot at understanding the thoughts and feelings that motivated my parents to seek out such adventure. And a reminder of what made me.

My mom departs on January 1. Shortly thereafter, we will be headed for Panama.

15 December 2012

Kids in Colombia

Children.  I haven't had or raised any, but as a teacher and then an elementary school principal, I called several hundred children "mine."  

Today - here are some pictures of school kids in Colombia.  When we visit tourist attractions, we sometimes run into school groups.  The kids make me smile wistfully.  They help me remember who I have been.  Today, especially, these pictures tug at my heart.  

This first one was taken during our recent trip to Medellín.

A field trip to the Medellín Botanical Gardens
After walking around Medellín's Botanical Gardens, my mom and I disappeared into los baños to powder our noses while Ean waited outside.  When we returned, we found Ean surrounded by kids.  Like hummingbirds to a bright red flower, they had been drawn by THE IPAD.  I took this picture of them, using the iPad, of course.  Then they all wanted to know how their names would be pronounced in English.  We couldn't figure out why they wanted to hear their beautiful names in flat-sounding American English.  Como se dice Jessica?  Well, that would be "Jessica."  Angelina?  Angeline.  Juan Diego?  Uh, JOHN.  Sorry, dude.

03 December 2012

Raft-Up: Non-Productive Crewmembers Waste Space!

Fernando Botero's Cat.  Beautiful, but non-productive.
"Have nothing in your house [or boat] that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." William Morris

Space is a strictly limited commodity on a boat, so what you choose to bring aboard speaks volumes (sorry) about your priorities. When we prepared to move on to JOY, we sold or gave away a vast majority of our Stuff. But what about the stuff that came with us? This month, Raft-Up bloggers discuss our "Space Splurges" - the stuff that we brought on board that maybe we shouldn't have, but just couldn't live without.

So I pondered this topic. For about five seconds. In my mind's eye, I scrolled past the bronze bird sculpture, the electric tea kettle, the pink plastic buddha, the heating pad, and the martini shaker. Seriously, we have all these things on JOY and could not live without them. But the space used by these small items is nothing compared to our major space wasters: we call them Isabel, Percy, and Tucker.

Isabel, Percy, and Tucker are the cats. Cats on a catamaran. Cute idea. But really, they are NOT useful. And oh my heavens, let me tell you about the space we waste on them. We have three litter boxes, which we've arrayed in the forward berths. Hard to walk in there, and they scatter the litter, so the remaining walkable space is a bit crumbly. We store newspapers and bags for litter box clean up. And the litter itself. It is heavy and comes in big boxes. Then there's the food. As landlubbers, our darlings ate both canned food and dry food, and we have continued this feeding regimen on the boat. Three cats can go through three or four cans of food a day, plus dry food. And the food and water dishes take up a pretty substantial portion of our floor space. We have a scratching post, as well, which also takes up valuable floor space.  Throw in a bit of cat first aid and cat medicine. And cat carriers, in case we want to take them to the vet or pack them into the life raft. And a file folder stuffed with cat paperwork.

26 November 2012

Follow the Fat Lady's Feet

A typical street scene in Cartagena's Walled City
Cartagena's Walled City is about seven blocks by eight, but using "blocks" as a descriptor lacks precision. The fantastically enormous wall undulates around the shoreline, compressing and stretching each "block." There are several plazas and parks, which might be square-shaped but are just as likely to have triangular or trapezoidal twists. Four-hundred-year-old churches anchor the plazas, monasteries have been made over into $400-a-night hotels, and the oldest and most substantial edificios are linked by crowded and narrow streets. The street names change at every "corner" - another imprecise term - and each name, each crooked block, comes with a story.

We have spent hours and hours wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere, people-watching, and snapping photos of colorful colonial-era buildings with giant doors and balconies draped with bougainvillea. You might think that after such extensive walking in such a small area, we would have some sense of how to get around. Alas, our refrain is, "we've been here before," but with no understanding of how it came to be so or what might come next. We have no schema.

06 November 2012

Raft-up: Step Away from the Broccoli

This month, the raft-up bloggers grapple with that oh-so-necessary aspect of the cruising life, provisioning. And a funny thing happened on the way to my writing about it: we changed our lives--for the better, me suspects.

When I volunteered to report in for Team JOY on this month's topic, I planned from the outset for it to be another in our inexhaustible series of hapless cruiser articles wherein I illustrate with a profundity of wit that we have no clue what we're doing. But alas, at times even I tire of our chronic ineptitude. And then there is my poor beloved who has with great forbearance waited for me to get over my need to confess publicly all our inadequacies. She needn't worry; there could hardly be enough time for that in just one circumnavigation.

If it weren't for the avocados, the others probably wouldn't stand a chance.
In light of wanting more admirable facts to work with, I posed a question to both of us recently. As a prelude to what was bound to be yet another rotely assembled grocery--er, provisioning list, I asked us to think back over the previous week's meals. "Forget what we bought to eat," I said "what did we really eat. Cause that's what we'll eat again this week and next and the week after. That's who we are". In truth (there I go again), it's who we've been singly and collectively since birth.

03 November 2012

A Sailing Lesson in Santa Marta

When the student is ready, the master appears. - a Buddhist proverb

Oh my, that's an awfully big rip you have there.  Lucky for us, That's s/v Juffa across the fairway.
For the past year and a half, we have been trying to learn how to sail. Most of our learning has been sans instructor, in The School of Hard Knocks. Our lessons have come accompanied by jammed fingers, stubbed toes, broken arms, rope burns, ripped sails, sunglasses overboard, frayed tempers, bruises, recriminations and tears. With rare moments of sheer terror. Oh happy days. Perhaps I'm painting too bleak a picture. Truth told, we've also had those magical moments, when we adjust our sail trim, pick up eight-tenths of a knot, and find glory in the ability to master the forces of the wind for our purposes. But anyway.

Early on, we did have some actual instruction on the art of sailing - almost all of it through the Hoofers, a sailing club at University of Wisconsin - Madison. Over Memorial Day weekend (2011), we took a beginners' course (ASA101) on Lake Mendota in a teeny little J-24, which we feared would tip over at any moment. We had a few more lessons that summer in Madison, and then in early July, we took ASA103/104 during a three-day cruise around Door County on a 47' Beneteau. ASA stands for American Sailing Association, by the way, and these are good basic courses that we did in a sort of slapdash rush. After we bought Joy, our broker came out with us one afternoon to give us an "orientation" sail on the South River. From that point on, until a couple of weeks ago, it was all on-the-job training with no adequate supervision.

And then we met Brits Bill and Caroline on s/v Juffa, a Fountaine Pajot Lavezzi that was parked across the fairway in Marina Santa Marta. Bill and Caroline's boat is newer and spiffier than ours, but otherwise quite similar. And Bill and Caroline Know What They're Doing. If there was an actual certification required to sail a boat around the world, it could be called ASA 9-They-Know-What-They're-Doing, and Bill and Caroline would have it. Or they would have the British version, I guess. We met them at our first cruisers' potluck - an important rite of passage (click here to read about it). Then we had drinks on their boat, and dinner together on someone else's boat, and they had drinks on our boat. As they got to know us, Bill and Caroline began to pity us - in the nicest sort of way, of course, and we took absolutely no offence, especially since it led to our Best. Sailing Lesson. Ever.

First Bill, who is good-humored and easy-going and does NOT act like a know-it-all, even though he is one, happened to notice that we were using our spinnaker halyard as a topping lift. Which is NOT tickety-boo, as they might say in the British Navy. So of course we told him our topping lift story, which Ean wrote about here. The upshot of that previous adventure: the line that holds up the end of our boom, which is subsequently supposed to go in to and down the mast so we can raise and lower said boom, had been pulled out of the mast (notice my clever use of passive voice here).

Then Bill watched us unfurl and lower our big genoa, so we could examine the two-foot-long rip in our sail. Our preliminary plan: sail tape. In Great Inagua, we had taped the torn luff of this same sail, and it had held up well for several hundred miles of sailing. But Bill, while admiring our tape job, had a better plan. Also, he couldn't bear to look at our jury-rigged topping lift.

02 November 2012

The Weight of Witches and Warlocks

We made our first foray to the Walled City, yesterday. It is a beautifully preserved section of Cartagena which dates back to the colonial period. Several (most, in fact) of Cartagena's  museums are there, one of which, the Museo Historico de Cartagena, occupies what was once the Palacio de la Inquisition. Though today, most of the grounds have been given over to more humane historical pursuits (the Cartagena Historical Society holds their meetings there), the Sala de Tormentos and the adjoining Càmara de Tormentos house a few of the devices used during the Inquisition to Interrogate presumed witches and their conspirators.
Most of the explanatory signage is in Spanish. However, a couple of informational plaques are in English (only, oddly), including this one titled "The Weight of Witches and Warlocks". It enumerates the questions put to alleged witches in the 17th century during interrogations. (So as to not make presumptions regarding the intentions of the translator, I have copied the questions exactly as they appear on the plaque.)

29 October 2012

Escape to Barranquilla!

Puerto Limbo: A nice place to visit, but we had to live there.
Sure, we could have made a beeline from Santa Marta (read: escape Santa Marta with what was left of our sanity and our diminished lives) to Cartagena. But doing so would undoubtedly have meant procrastinating on those nagging offline projects. Given even the most pathetic facsimile of an Internet signal, we have this tendency to ignore our actual, corporeal necessities in favor of a world for whose infrastructural shortcomings we take no responsibility.  It is a world in which we get to play and, when they arise, the solutions to our undire problems are easily workaroundable.

But, we opted for a rare stab at adulthood. We stopped off in a bay halfway between Santa Marta and Cartagena so utterly out of touch with the virtual world that the only way to stave off boredom was by doing responsible sorts of things like taping up our sail and remantling the wiring of our starboard head. And so it came to pass that we anchored, and thanks to a low pressure system which caused an "unusual weather pattern" (i.e., southwest winds), were unintentionally sequestered in what has come to be known (by us) as "Puerto Limbo".

But it wasn't all bad. Puerto Velero (as its owners prefer to call it), the brand new, only-been-open-for-two-months marina we anchored near has a restaurant headed by an executive chef. (Why don't more tiki bars serve amuse bouches? ). Plus, I got to engage in my new hobby: fly swatting. No, "swatting" doesn't really do it justice: fly killing, fly massacring, a full-out fly pogrom. However, despite my prowess at decimating their numbers, I am fairly sure I have been scarred for life. Drawn to our cats' food like heroin, there were no less than...oh, never mind, suffice it to say it was disgustifying.

Eventually, the combination of lack of web access and plague of fly drove us off JOY. We went into the marina, docked the boat, hired a driver, and hightailed it to Barranquilla. Talk about making lemonade from lemons...

In Barranquilla, even the pigeons live in high rises
Barranquilla, Colombia, birthplace of the pop singer Shakira, and home to what is reputed to be one of the two best Carnavals on the planet (the other being Rio de Janeiro) is everything Santa Marta is not: clean, modern, booming. There are road work and building construction projects everywhere. It is telling that I have more to say about Barranquilla after spending not quite two days there, than I have to say about Santa Marta after more than two months. To be fair, Santa Marta is hugely popular with Colombianos who come to play on its beaches; beaches, sad to say that suffer greatly in comparison with places famed for their beaches such as Chicago and Sheboygan.

It is said that there is nothing like traveling to make one miss one's home. If that is true, then for us there's no place like upmarket malls, there's no place like upmarket malls. We sniff 'em out like pigs do truffles. It's the sense of the known, the familiar in a land so far from either. For one thing, our lack of Spanish is not a hindrance there. Owing to Colombianos' adoration of all things (North) American, half of the shop names and nearly all of the signs are in English. We've no idea how the people who live here manage it, but for us it's like being wormholed back to the States. I mean there are two--count 'em TWO--"Mac Center" stores in Barranquilla (one per mall) where everyone speaks better English than we do. Truly, the clearest  indication that one is not Stateside is that they are still on iPad 2. Is it any wonder that Colombia is the third happiest nation in the world?

Rest assured, there is still much that is Colombian if one dares to leave the safety of the shopping mall. Street vendors peddle all manner of foods, donkey carts share space with cars even during rush hour even on the busiest streets, individuals subletting their cell phone minutes constitute a microbusiness replacement for phone booths, public markets are blocks and block long where people sell merchandise identical to that sold in the stores directly behind them, stop signs are utterly ignored by everyone and the use of turn signals has been supplanted by horns which communicate everything from "hola" to "watch out, you're about to bang into the corner of my car!"Oh, and people are ridiculously friendly and helpful which may go back to that whole being almost the most happy people in the world thing.

Not all of our time in Barranquilla was spent in slavish pursuit of things to conspicuously consume. We did spent an hour or so making a thorough inspection of the current exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. (So, it's a very small museum.) When we arrived, the only other art admirers were a couple of teenage girls, one of whom took pictures of her friend coyly poised next to each work of art. "Well, when in Colombia...", we decided. Following the girls' "school" of art appreciation, Jane and I took pictures of one another with works we liked.

Paisaje by Hernando del Villar
Cartagena by Hernando del Villar

We could easily have whiled away more therapeutic hours in Barranquilla, but the weather was finally becoming amenable to sailing. Moreover, unabated, the flies posed a serious threat to the life of our cats, if for no other reason than the direct competition for our pets' food they posed.

Once an homage to Greek architecture; now a shrine to discount housewares

Nothing hits the spot like a gourmet pizza and a can of wine after a hard day of sightseeing

Our time at Puerto Velero was not without its benefits, however, and I refer not only to the six bags of garbage we were able to offload. Construction on the marina will not be completed until 2014. When it is fully operational, it will offer the widest array of amenities of any marina on the Caribbean coast. To celebrate its grand opening, the Antigua Sailing Week Regatta will, for the first time, be stopping there. On hand to greet the racers will be Juan Carlos I, King of Spain. We are invited.

21 October 2012

JOY-ography 101 -The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Today, we begin our 287+ part series with a VirtualVisit to the central and west Asian nation of Afghanistan.*


(Queue rousing rendition of Aghan National Anthem)

Our visit to this rugged, mountainous country begins in Kabul, the nation's capital. We land at the Khaja Rawash Airport (also known as the Kabul International Airport). As we deplane, we thank our Ariana Afghan Airlines flights attendants for taking good care of us. Though we chose to start our visit in Kabul, it certainly wasn't our only choice. Had we been coming from the south, we would have landed at the Kandahar International Airport. If our flight took off from Tehran, we would have arrived at the Hirat International Airport, and if Uzebekistan had been the previous stop on our itinerary, we'd have flown into the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport. In total, Afghanistan has approximately 53 airports.

As we leave the airport, we notice the Afghan flag flying proudly. Afghanistan has made more changes to its flag in the 20th century than any other country, but the colors black, red and green have appeared in most of them. The black band signifies the past, red is for the blood shed for independence, and green can represent hope for the future, agricultural prosperity, or Islam. The image in the center of the flag is the Afghan emblem.

At 652,230 sq km (251,830 sq mi), Afganistan is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas and the 41st largest country in the world. Its more than 30 million people make it the 40th most populous nation. Kabul, the largest of its 34 provinces, is home to approximately 10% of Afghans.

18 October 2012

It's Been An "Interesting" Year

We had decided we wanted to do something interesting with our lives.  We were at a crossroads: not fully embedded in our current realities, not completely committed to our goals for the future....  And Ean said, "If you don't do anything interesting, you aren't."  We decided that buying a boat and cruising around the world would be... interesting.  And one year ago today, we moved aboard s/v More Joy Everywhere.

"May you live in interesting times": it is said to be both a blessing and a curse.  Indeed we have found it to be so, during this, our first year as cruisers.

On the one hand: "Poof! We're Interesting"!  We have a lot of great stories to tell.  We're off on a grand adventure, living an unlikely life.  Some people, it seems, find us funny and thought-provoking.  Others, apparently, think we're nuts.  Either way: interesting!  Mission accomplished.  According to this blog post from Forbes, How To Be More Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps), we have got it going on.

16 October 2012

Anti-Inspirational Poster #003

Dedicated to those intrepid cruisers who are, just now, preparing to drive down the ever-scenic and lovely Intracoastal Waterway.

11 October 2012

Dear Brad and Lindsay

Thank you for making the walk back down (well, first up then down) the hill from La Victoria to Minca as painless as it could possibly be. It was a pleasure to spend what miraculously seemed like too little time with you.

Mickey, regaling us with one of his many tales
We hope you guys found Mickey, the owner of the finca, as fascinating as we did. Imagine having the courage to attempt to take back your family's coffee estate from armed insurgents and actually managing to do it, or successfully negotiating with paramilitary assassins for your mother's life with nothing but your wits! Meeting people like him is one of the main reasons I decided to trade in my former life for this one.  And even if he never gets his spring water in biodegradable, pyramid-shaped bottles project, or his free-range egg project, or his fresh fruit project, or any of those other money-making schemes of his off the ground, even if, in the end, he is nothing other than the owner of a 120 year old coffee plantation, the only water pressure driven one in all of Colombia, he will still be one of the most interesting people I've ever met.

06 October 2012

Raft-Up: Keeping My Head Above Water

(photo by www.photositesag.com)
Sundowners aboard Juffa, a Fountaine Pajot Lavezzi, parked across the fairway from us at the Marina Santa Marta. Great conversation, great stories, a tour of their boat, and some great advice (Thank you, Caroline and Bill, for your hospitality). Eventually, we had to bid them good night. We had many garments to dry before we slept.

They had pulled into their slip bow first, starboard side to the finger pier. On their cat, just as on ours, the swim platforms at the stern end of the hulls are almost always the best boarding and de-boarding points. They were tied not more than 2 ft. (about a half meter) from the pier. Jane went first: grabbed a stanchion and swung/jumped off the boat onto the end of the pier. My turn. No life jacket. I'm so used to this feeling, the pressure in my chest, the buzzing in my ears, I hardly notice it now. More, I notice how embarrassed I am by it. I handed Jane my empty beer can, grabbed the stanchion, sat on down at the edge of the swim platform, stretched out my leg as far as I could and slid off, closing my eyes at the last second, hoping that I'd correctly gauged the gap. I did. The pier wobbled a bit under my weight, but I was OK, safe. We walked back to JOY, parked stern to, the bottom step of her swim platform not more than 8 inches (.2 meters) from the dock. Still, as I stepped across the  chasm, narrow as it was, there was that familiar moment of apprehension when I was more aware of the blackness that separated ship from shore than how easy it would be to step over it.

This month's "Raft-UP" topic is "fear" and when Jane and I discussed which one of us should take it on it was no contest. Jane is singularly unqualified to talk about fear; she doesn't have any. She is, with the exception of adolescent boys overstocked with testosterone, the most fearless person I've ever met. It is so annoying. That's not to say she doesn't get afraid in scary situations; she just doesn't have any abiding fears. Fear isn't something she has to negotiate with on a daily basis. Me? Yeah, I'm not like that.

I'm not saying I'm riddled with fears, that my life is ruled by them. It's not. It's ruled by only two. The lesser of which is a--fear doesn't even begin to cover it--dread terror of an accidental encounter with water. Nah, go ahead laugh; it IS funny in an absurd sort of way. I think it's pretty funny, too, when I'm not scooting around on my butt and remembering the occasions when I've gone under, the terror of flailing helplessly, sure that I was about to die.

I am often asked, as you might imagine, how I ended up being a cruiser when I can't swim and have an aversion to water. I've been asked this so often that now Jane and I respond in unison. "Well, first I (he) couldn't swim, then we bought a boat." More inexplicable yet is that this whole sailing around the world idea was originally mine. I can't imagine what I was thinking, really. Maybe I was just kidding.

30 September 2012

Another First in Our First Year

Pretending to steer - captain ducked out of sight - during our charter in Annapolis

Our first year of cruising has been full of "firsts."  Our most recent "first" sparked some reminiscing - along the lines of, "You've come a long way baby."

Here are some important firsts that happened BEFORE we started cruising.
First time we saw a catamaran - on the hard, in the snow, in Milwaukee. (Feb 2011) 
First time we sailed on a catamaran - a two-day charter in Annapolis. (May 2011) 
First sailing lessons - through the Hoofers of UW-Madison. (Jun 2011) 
First circumnavigation - of Door County, WI. (Jul 2011)
First days of boat ownership - we flew to Annapolis to visit "our" boat for a few days. (Sep 2011)

29 September 2012

The Backside of the Dream

We're coming up on our one-year cruising anniversary, and Ean and I have been reflecting on our new life. We're still pretty clueless.  We've found this life to be more difficult than we expected.  Things break all the time and we don't know how to fix them.  Ean misses toast.  I miss floor space.  We hate being mono-lingual and sand.

We read a lot of cruising blogs and check-in with several cruisers who have facebook pages.  These people, as I have noted previously, are mostly
younger and prettier and smarter and more creative than we are.  They fix engines, install solar panels, sew cushions, grow sprouts, revarnish their teak, and understand how their systems work.  In their spare time, they sketch, make jewelry, write poetry, play the banjo, kayak, scuba dive, take fabulous underwater pictures, and never watch television.
Recently, a few of these cruisers, in their spare spare time, have begun posting lovely scenes with life-affirming messages.  For example, there will be an image of a sailboat, at anchor off a perfect deserted beach, and inscribed across the top, in an aesthetically pleasing font, a sentiment about Living Your Life: mindfully, in the moment, to the fullest, or whatnot.

These cruisers - they are inspiring.  We admire and envy them.  Early on, we, too, aspired to be inspiring.  But as it turns out, Ean and I - we're more like a cautionary tale.  But that's okay.  We've come to accept and even embrace our identity. In fact, we've come to understand it as a mission.

This mission: to anti-inspire others.  We're here to maintain the balance of the universe.  Our message to aspiring cruisers, or anyone who dares to dream of casting off the ties that bind and living a life full of fun/adventure and/or intention/meaning:  Is it too late to get your deposit back?

Here, humbly presented, for the first time in graphical format, an Expression of Anti-Inspiration.

28 September 2012

A is for...

Well, it happened again. I knew it would, it does every time we meet non-American cruisers: that "I Am So Out of My League" feeling. The embarrassment began the minute we introduced ourselves--in English as we always do, as we must because it's our only language, but the second, third, or fourth language for whomever we are meeting. Linguistic survivor's guilt, I call it. Directly after introductions, there is the de rigeur ice-breaker, the corollary of "So, what do you do?"  For sailors and world travelers it's, "So, where are you coming from?" This invariably elicits an enviable enumeration of countries that either makes perfect geographical sense or otherwise begs questions with ultimately intriguing answers--if, that is, one knows where in the world anything is to begin with.

26 September 2012

Taking Pictures of "The Natives"

This is NOT the story of how we accidentally took a 17 mile hike up one side of a big mountain and down the other side. (You can see a map of the hike - with elevation changes! - here.)  It's not about my over-taxed cardiovascular system, and its valiant and ultimately successful efforts to keep my brain oxygenated during the first 300 meters of the hike (we're talking vertical meters: up, of course). Or my legs, which trembled with exhaustion as we stepped our way down a giant boulder staircase, while I wondered every time I committed myself to the next rock: Will this leg, at this moment, support my weght? Or my feet, inside my decade-old tennis shoes, performing like champs up until about mile 15, at which point they both failed catastrophically, sprouting huge and painful blisters.

It's not a story about Ean, who slipped off a rock while crossing a stream in the first few miles of the hike, landing with his full weight on his right thigh muscle. He ended up in the stream, which was shallow and sandy-bottomed - but still, a fear of drowning is hard to reason with. The psychological effects of the accident were magnified on the aforementioned giant boulder staircase, where the same slip and fall might have been deadly. Ean didn't own up to the terror, during the hike, nor to his blisters, rubbed raw in his Keens. And oh by the way, his thigh muscle would have really appreciated a day of taking it easy....

No, I'm not going to whine, here (or hardly at all) about how old and out-of-shape we are. Instead, I really want to talk about "the natives" - los indigenos - the indigenous folk - that we met along the way.

This woman was selling jewelry made of beads and seeds, and we bought a couple of bracelets.  There were amulets painted with the words, "love," and "peace." 
Yes, we DID have their permission to take this picture! Does that make it okay?

25 September 2012


Right there Under the RainbowThe Western Coast of HaitiSmall Village on Western CoastPierre Fish Market BoatHaitian Fishing BoatHarold (L) & Friends
Karma (L) and LoleEdissonJasmine (L) and MakendyKekePepeA Gift from the Guys
Boats docked for Market Day at Madam BernardBoat at Madam BernardBoats at Madam BernardMan Navigating in Madam Bernard HarborDonkey Parking LotEan Gets Adopted at Sister Flora's Orphanage
Cane Sugar for SalePay at the PumpHorse at Port Morgan HotelVita's HouseCalvesCow
Haiti, a set on Flickr.
A fond backward glance at a very special couple of days in and around Ile a Vache.