Friday, February 28, 2014

About Our Cruising Life

When we left on this adventure anybody who knew me well was concerned about me staying busy and not getting bored.  Daniel said he was worried about what I was going todo when I ran out of books. To be honest, I was just as concerned.  Also, I have received many notes asking me what the boat is like so I decided to talk about the boat and how I am spending my days. 

Mobile Bay Alabama 

First let me tell you about our boat. It is a 34.5 Beneteau sailboat. It is not a cruiser. It is not a racer. It is somewhere in between. So its not as heavy as a cruiser, think pirates of the Caribbean and not as sleek as a racer, think America cup. What it is for me is a 34.5 foot mobile trailer only without as much headroom and its shaped like a V in the front instead of rectangular. The boat is a 1984 and that may sound old but for a well maintained boat she’s like me, this side of vintage. 

First let me give you a warning when looking at the pictures. It is very hard to capture the size of the boat. Beds seem smaller than they are, rooms seem bigger. Its like when you stand on a mountain top that is glorious and about 300 feet high take a picture to show a friend and it appears to be a knoll. Pictures are deceiving. 

So the boat is separated into sections. We have a bow birth that has two small cupboards for clothes. The V shaped bed comfortably sleeps 2 and fits king size sheets. Underneath the bed is storage and a 150 liter water bladder. That being said when the rum has been extra good and Marc is snoring there isn’t enough room for both of us. By the way these pictures were taken when we were starting. Things look different now. Not so much blue, more red. We are redoing a wall beside the stove in mexican tile. Storage... 

The main salon (fancy word for small living area) has a table that will seat four comfortably. Under the bench seats there is more storage, a battery bank that supply’s electricity, and another 200 liter water tank. I have a small galley kitchen with a propane stove/oven, refrigerator & double sink (to be honest if you put both sinks together they aren’t as big as one side was in my house). We also have a Nav station.

When we left every inch of storage was used. I didn't know what we needed or where we were going to get it. Of the many blogs I read some said provisioning was everywhere. Some were full of stories of deprivation. So far I have found that even in areas that were limited we have ate well. What I did learn about provisioning is that to save money and energy, store what you need as much as possible. I have learned to love scouring the local markets trying new ingredients, bartering and enjoying the sites and sounds. 

Behind the galley is the head (bathroom) and wet locker (place to hang damp clothes). Behind the Nav station is another berth to sleep two but I am presently using it as my spare room, basement, linen closet, pantry and cold storage. 

Outside we have a covered cock pit where we eat on nice days, steer the boat and enjoy the ride. Underneath the cock pit seating is our storage for tools ect and a holding tank for our septic. 

As I said we do have electricity to run fridges and lights ect but are aware of how much we use. We have a bank of solar panels so that we can harness the energy of the sun in the South.  We have a small TV so that we can watch movies or TV shows that are stored on an external hard drive. We very seldom do though as there always seems to be so much to do. For us phone usage is minimal if not non existent  We have tried to organize our lives so that we have eliminated all our monthly bills and that meant giving up our cell phone. One, having our phone from Canada was crazy expensive. Two, we wanted to go back to living in the moment. I have to say this was hard.  We have realized that we had coped easily without text and internet on a constant basis. The first two weeks of withdrawal were the worst. I do spend time writing as we travel then when we spend a night at a marina or visitor centre I enjoy the use of their internet to post my blog, Facebook, Skype, Face Time and make internet phone calls using magic jack. Family and friends know when I have contact because I am burning up the internet. I do struggle with not having instant access to the kids but I am beginning to think thats a bigger problem for me than them. 

So what do I do all day? It still surprises me where all the time goes. I sleep much sounder than I did in my working life. I no longer get up at 05:30 to pack it all in. We tend to go to bed early and get up early but for the most part don’t move to fast to get going. I still get my coffee in bed daily.  I try to exercise each day which I have found to be a chore. Currently I am doing a yoga class in the mornings. Of course there are always chores to be done. Salt water plays havoc with everything so cleaning is a constant. It just a lot more fun scrubbing the bottom of a boat in crystal clear water with a bathing suite on. Daily living tasks like laundry seem to expel more energy. We try to stop tasks by 13:00 daily and just enjoy wherever we are. We walk, swim, snorkel, fish, read, explore. I am making a poor attempt at learning spanish and am enjoying learning to cook mexican cuisine.  My idea of calm while staying busy. And the interesting people we meet well, thats a whole other blog.
Marc and I spend many, many hours together and though not every moment is utopic I am blessed that we can be in the same small space and still enjoy each others company.  I am no longer worried how to fill my days I am just happy to be here, with Marc, living our dream. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We Just Keep Being Handed Amazing Blessings & Opportunities

One night we were out eating with friends in Isla Mujeres  Mexico and we met and chatted with another couple who told us that they were staying in the sea shell house. “Have you seen it?” We hadn't, so of course the next day the four of us piled into a golf cart to investigate. Sure enough on the gulf side of the island  there it was this strange but beautiful house shaped like a shell. Well two buildings really. As it goes, on sunday we met back up with Bonnie and Larry the shell house renters and they graciously invited us to join them for dinner and a tour. Whats a girl to say? No. I think not. It was a big resounding YES. So here goes... 

First and foremost the company was fun and we are thankful to have enjoyed the evening with them. Secondly the house was strange,interesting, wonderful. Think walking into a sea shell. Ever watch sponge bob square pants? The theme song under the sea quietly wormed its way in my head. Of course anyone who knows me knows I had to do some investigating. 

In 1994 the famous mexican architect Eduardo Ocampo arrived in Isla Mujeres to work on a resort here. While on the island he built a house for himself. His brother the famous artist Octavio Ocampo visited frequently. Eduardo had two pieces of land with wonderful caribbean sea views, so he built this summer home for his brother. 
Of course, this could not be just  any house. Octavio, a famous Mexican painter needed something unique. Eduardo having been influenced by the "mountains" of seashells all around was inspired to actually construct a seashell. This would be the vacation home of his brother, it would be rounded on the inside, a spiral staircase, the door the mouth of the shell. The floor in the sitting area is brushed concrete with the illusion of spirals that you see in a shell. Each and every detail of the buildings are inspired by a shell. 
Years later Eduardo would be tickled to learn that the islanders had created a sort of legend which goes like this ... 

The fisherman of Isla Holbox met with the fisherman of Isla Mujeres to boast of their individual islands...Isla Holbox sounded "Our island is where you find the biggest fish in the world !"
The fisherman of Isla Mujeres responded "We are proud to have the biggest shell in the world !"
The biggest shell ?
Yes the biggest shell !!!
When we found it we made ceviche for all of the islanders...and then we sold it to a gringo that lives in it now !"
Though the owners are not gringos...they still laugh when they hear the legend.
There are two adjacent buildings Moon Shell and Queen Conch that share a pool and ocean views.  The smaller Moon Shell has a bedroom and bathroom, while Queen Conch has a kitchenette, sitting room,  second floor bedroom and bath.  Each area is completely decked out in seashell decor, with conch shower heads, shell decorated mirrors, and even a giant shell beds. Sadly the buildings are becoming a little worn with time

Picture in Sitting Area

We saw two pieces of art by Ocampo who was known for his paintings that detailed images together to create larger images - the optical illusions fading back and stepping forward as you study the piece. notice neptune (I think) looking at the girl but also the girls face in the branches of coral. Also hard to tell from my picture but the spray of water seemed life like with the illusion of faces. I was shocked that this famous mexican artist who has done work for President Jimmy Carter, Jane Fonda and Cher hangs in a place that is rented out. 

Picture in the Moon Shell Bedroom

Hot and Cold Running Shell 

Shower Head
I should have turned it on harder but I just couldn't waste the water

 Seriously these picture do not do justice to the work and attention to detail found through out the property. The fences were made with mounds of shells and coral shaped  like waves circling the property.

The pool view from the second story bedroom in the Queen Conch

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Please let me apologize right off the get go

Please let me apologize right off the get go. I know I fill the blog with pictures but I just can’t help it. I love to take pictures. And today I found a new toy to play with. I can take pictures while snorkeling. I always could with the gopro but I found the video shaky. I am working on that. What I did find out is that I can shoot underwater stills. Sooooo beyond excited. But I will promise not to overload you with shots. Well at least not until Daniel comes with my new camera. 

Permanent sculptures have been installed in the National Park of Isla Mujeres