Thursday, November 26, 2009

Back in the water

Well, you may have noticed that we don’t post much stuff on our blog lately but really there is not much to say. For the past month we’ve been intensively working on Chocobo to make her a beauty while the boat was on the ground. So here she is back in the water after sanding the old paint on the bottom hulls and applying one coat of primer and two coats of antifouling paint to prevent all the living organisms in the ocean from transforming our hulls into a moving reef. We also cleaned thoroughly the hulls over the water line and applied 6 coats of Poli-Glow a liquid polymer that protects the fiberglass against the sun and the water and makes the surface look shinny as if it’s been waxed. Just these two things may not seem a lot of work but trust me you wouldn’t believe how much surface a catamaran has. At one point I had the feeling of painting the exterior of my house with a tooth brush and with an average temperature of 45°C (113°F) during the day when considering the humidity factor we would drink and sweat up to 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per day! We went through 5 bottles of Poli-Glow, 1 gallon of primer paint and 4 gallons of Micron-66 antifouling paint. This last one cost $359.00 per gallon; ouch!!! But cleaning and shining the boat is not all we did. We also got a brand new jib sail (that’s the front sail covered with the yellow cover) since the old one started to rip itself apart probably in despair and to finish it once and for all with the unbearable heat of the south Caribbean. Danielle also resupplied the boat with food as we almost ate everything before we left for Peru, burp! She managed to buy for over $1600.00 worth of grocery going back and forth every day to the supermarket and the most extraordinary thing is that she also managed to fit all this on the boat. Well, who has never dreamed of sleeping next to a box of Corn Flakes after all? No, I’m just kidding we didn’t have to put food baskets in our bed to fit it all in but we’ve heard of sailors who actually did that as they couldn’t fit all their stuff in the storage areas of the boat. By the way, a storage area on a boat is basically any hole you can find that would fit the item you desperately need to store hence transforming the whole boat into a giant cabinet with stuff all over it. If you are lucky the items of the same kind will be grouped together in the same place but this is often not the case. This is why you can find our navigation binocular and our wine glasses in the same basket or the flour pales sitting beside the paint and spare parts bins!
But now that the boat is all set and we got food for the next 4 months we are ready to go sailing again. The hurricane season in the Caribbean is over and we will now head west first to the Island of Aruba for a quick stop and then to the San Blas archipelago on the North coast of Panama. But for this we are a bit nervous since the trip from Aruba to Porvenir in the San Blas will take us 4 days and 4 nights at sea making this trip the longest in our trip so far.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The boat elf

We couldn’t believe it when we managed to take this picture of the boat elf that lives on Chocobo. Everybody knows they exist but nobody ever caught one on picture or even saw one! Let me explain a bit more here. You see every sailor knows that there are two elves living on a boat. The first one is the boat goblin and the preferred game of this little rascal is to break things on your boat. This little creature is evil and extremely good at hiding itself in the smallest spaces on your boat where you can’t catch him and throw him overboard. He would go during the night and gnaw on your electrical wire inside the electronic equipments so next time you use a device, which was perfectly working the day before, would just not work and this, of course, while you are trying to get the anchor out or rising a sail with the electrical which that one of a sudden becomes manual. We all know that things don’t break just like that! The only explanation is the boat goblin. But sometimes the boat goblin gets bored at breaking things and becomes more sophisticated. He will then play with the electrical wire so your refrigerator would stop working but as soon as you start looking at the problem it starts to work again! Or he would put salt on the gas knob of your BBQ so it doesn’t turn anymore. Sometimes, while on the way, he will get into the autopilot control box and spin the compass so your boat makes a 90° turn for no reasons. And I am not getting in telling you what he does when he gets into the engine room otherwise I will need two pages!But this picture is not one of the boat goblin but of the other elf living on a boat; the boat elf. This elf is the opposite of the boat goblin. This is the one that fixes everything the boat goblin broke. He’s a very busy elf and works probably as much as Santa’s elves. All the time, the boat elf would work at opening the walls of the boat to access the broken equipments and try to figure out what the hell the boat goblin did this time. He would cramp himself in the engine compartment or stand feet over head to access a piece of pluming that would never be in a convenient and accessible place! But to do his repair the boat elf needs money so without you realizing it or could do anything about it he would suck out of your wallet a couple of thousand dollars just like that, pouf, gone! One particularity about this is that the amounts of money he takes are always in thousands of dollars never $8.99 or $34.99 hell no! In this case we caught the boat elf in picture just before he was going to sand the old paint off the hull and because the paint is green and when you sand the dust gets all over you then at the end of the day he was little green elf!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Good Bye Peru.

For the last two weeks of our trip in Peru we decided to take it smooth and spend about a week in Arequipa, which we really liked on our way south, and the last week in Lima where we still need to see parts of the city and especially the Miraflores sector where this picture was taken. All in all this trip has been incredible as we saw things and scenery that we will probably never see elsewhere. The people in Peru are nice and peaceful. At no time, even in the not so recommended areas of the cities we went, have we felt unsafe or being bothered by more than the streets vendors just trying to make a living of some sort. We visited, at our speed, two large countries during 55 days during which we were sick 3 times, slept in 6 different buses and 13 different hostel rooms and this had cost us about $4600.00 plus $1300.00 for the plane tickets, which is less than a two week all inclusive trip in the Caribbean. This post is about the few last things we did and saw in this wonderful trip we had.

One thing we really wanted to try before leaving Peru was to try the famous “guy” (pronounced goowee), which is essentially a guinea pig! In Arequipa we chose a fancy and expensive restaurant where they serve this typical dish of Peru. Hey! If you have to eat a rat you may as well eat it with class don’t you think? As a matter of fact, after coming back to Peru we decided to spend a bit more on the food in order to have better quality and give our digesting system a rest after a month an half of hard beating. The guinea pig was not bad at all but the little rotten didn’t have much meat and I would have appreciated if they had cut the head before serving it. By the way it really tastes like chicken! As of Danielle smile it is not clear if she’s happy of having better food as she had a tender piece of veal, or just laughing at me with my rat!

Arequipa is surrounded by three volcanoes and one of them is the beautiful mount Misti. Danielle wanted to go climb it but the only problem is that going at the top of this peak about 5800m (19,000fts) high usually requires at least two days from the base and a good set of equipment. So, from our hotel in the center of Arequipa we walked toward Misti and would see how far we would go. Well, we made it as far as the base of the volcano and the trip back and forth took us 6½ hours with a share of good blisters on our toes in bonus!

On our way back from Misti Danielle saw that weird bug on the ground. She said “Oh my god Roger, look at this bug! What the hell is this?” We looked puzzled at the large beast until I flipped it just to realize it was …. a plastic toy! So good for the exotic ethnological experience ;-)

On another of our walking explorations of Arequipa we crossed that University department of biology where they seem to keep live specimens of their study right on the front yard! At least they found a very ecological way of mowing the lawn and fertilizing it at the same time

The bus ride from Arequipa to Lima takes over 15 hours and we decided to take the overnight trip in this incredibly comfortable bus where the seats can be inclined to a total straight horizontal position. You may think that we paid over $200.00 for this? Not at all, this trip in the executive class, offered by the company Flores, cost s/100.00 or $33.00 per person. Ask Greyhound to beat that!

By looking at the pictures of Peru and Bolivia on our web site one may think that everyone down here is poor, wears typical clothing and lives in a mud house. Well it is not like that at all. Peru is relatively well developed, a bit less for Bolivia, and there are large areas of the big cities where people live like anyone in developed countries with large and modern buildings, wearing jeans and t-shirts or suits and ties. At some points if it wasn’t of the unique architecture and the physical attributes we wouldn’t know we are in South America. But of course, like many places in the world we see a huge contrast between the wealthy ones and the less fortunate ones. What determines on what side of the fence a Peruvian will be is less than clear but there is a definite positive energy in the population of Peru that makes us think that they do have hope to get a better life and they are ready to work hard to achieve it. Unfortunately, in Bolivia we didn’t feel that energy in the population during the short two weeks we were there. We thought at first that we may have a false feeling due to our fatigue but as soon as we came back to Peru it struck us again. People in Peru are way more motivated than in Bolivia for reasons we don’t know yet as if the Bolivians had given up on hoping for better. At least this is the feeling we had and hopefully we are wrong about that.

This last picture of the cliffs in Lima tells more than we may think at first. It shows the magnificence of nature that prevails everywhere you go in Peru. Then the large buildings tell us that Peruvians belong here and are a great society strong and absolutely proud of what they are. Finally the canopy of clouds covering the city of Lima is just a fact of nature in the city capital. In Lima there is just no sun. For some meteorological reasons the city is almost permanently covered by clouds and the sun may show up only briefly during the day but not without being partially shaded by a thin layer of clouds. This, like the harsh desert environment of the south or the unbearable jungle showing no pity of the north, are probably reminders to these people that nothing will ever be easy for them in this country of the extremes.