As the Propellor Turns...  2010
S/V Calico Jack
May 2010...   Peru & Bolivia:  Running the Coast

Our 2nd Anniversary Trip was decided upon while we were on the plane back from our 1st Anninversary Trip!  Peru and the Inca Trail have been on my wish list for about a decade but Travis was a bit indifferent about the whole idea until we met someone in Costa Rica who'd done it.  This man told us about the uphill journey he had taken.  He was a chain smoker at the time, and a little older than the average person who tackles the trail.  In his group was a young 20-something girl who told him, "You're gonna die!  I've trained for months on the stairmaster to do this trip!"  However, when it came to breaktime, he was the one puffing on his cigarette at the rest stop as she arrived in tears.  Man, I love stories like that!  As for us, we were uncertain as to how our bodies would react to the altitude given that we are at or below sea level everyday -quite a transition up to 14,000ft for us!  Well, the trip kicked our butts, to put it plainly.  I fared better than Travis but between the dehli-belly, the altitude sickness, the sore knees, the wrecked feet and the toothache/bacterial infection that resulted in an emergency root canal at midnight in Cusco (!) this was our most challenging trip ever.  Maybe we've just been lucky so far but we've never needed much more than Pepto, Immodium and Advil in our emergency kit as far as medications go.  Next time, we'll be loaded up with some heavy duty stuff.

Still, it's a trip we'd do all over again, knees, feet, teeth and bellies be damned.  This was our first time traveling with a group and we found the schedule grueling at times because so much was packed into each day and there was no option to take down-time when you weren't feeling up to the next adventure -at least not without missing something good.  We often questioned if we were really on vacation as we dragged our tired butts out of bed as early as 4 or 5 am to continue on to the next adventure but I kept remembering why we chose to go with a group to begin with: to see as much of this amazing country as possible.  With someone else taking care of transfers and accommodations, you have the time to see and do so much more.  Travelling with a group can be iffy because you never know who's going to be in the mix but we were delighted with our small group of 8 and we all got along famously.  One was my old high school friend, Alain, who we planned our trip with and the rest were British save one Russian.  We really lucked out with a fantastic bunch of people and I think we've made some friends that we'll likely be seeing again someday.

Our 23 days took us over hill and dale and we encountered a variety of landscapes, all of them radically different.  From the desert coastal regions to the mountainous beauty of the highlands to the steamy jungle... we took in a lot.  Of particular interest on the trip was the cuisine.  It's not surprising that we enjoyed the food but the three distinct regions each offered their very own special brand of eats -there was very little crossover.  Peru offers 74 kinds of corn and over 3000 varieties of potato, one of which was so rich it tasted somewhat like an egg yolk.  Everything was so very fresh, untouched by chemicals and grown in their own neighborhood/backyard.  One morning I was eating an egg so fresh that the chicken was pitching a fit outside!  Ha!  Eating the freshest food and drinking bottled water for the month, I wasn't aware that we were doing a cleanse of sorts until we got home.  It took a good week to get over the stomach cramps as I got reacquainted with tap water chemicals and whatever they spray on my veggies that I don't want to know about.  Makes you think!

January/February 2010...   New Year's Snippets

We kicked off 2010 with our annual New Year's Day Hangover Brunch.  It was our usual come & go tea (caesar!), this year ending at almost 10pm so we'll call it a success!  The weather forecast was iffy so we held it across the street at the canvas shop but apart from a mid-afternoon shower, it was a gorgeous day.  The next day, however, marked the beginning of a 6-week cold spell that had us all miserable.  We were hitting record lows.  Iguanas were falling out of trees (really!) and crops were freezing in the northern part of the state.  The Home Depot couldn't keep space heaters in stock and some of us had to get creative: propane stove + fan = central heating on the boat!  And I heard a program on the radio that had people calling in describing their sweaters.  They were either 1970s style, in pristine condition, or some tattered rag holding on for dear life, full of holes.  Keep in mind that we usually have only a few sweater days per year, and as we only have a couple of pairs of pants as well, the laundry machines were going around and around.  It was certainly a season ripe for the shameful socks-in-sandals look (mandals, as I've heard them called).  Oh, and we weren't suffering alone -we had Barty staying with us.  Since she arrived directly from Cayman, she wasn't appreciating the frigid conditions, either.

The cold weather certainly put us behind on projects at the canvas shop, as there are a lot of materials that you can't install in frigid conditions (it sags when it heats up).  It put a damper on my motorcycle riding, too (yes, I'm a wuss) and Travis invested in a dry suit for his underwater work -brrr!!   We did, however, manage to take the boat out for the Wrecker's Race in January.  Always good to get off the dock!
Such the Snotty Yachty!
Wrecker's Race January 2010
March/April 2010...   Transitions

After almost 3 collective years at Key West Sail & Canvas it was time for a departure.  "That's all I have to say about that." 

I wasn't sure what I was going to do next -maybe bartending/serving again, or something completely different but what with us leaving in May for our 2nd anniversary trip, it was pointless to find a job for only a month.  It looked like 30 days ripe for getting our own projects done!  I often compare us to the cobbler who wears a beat-up pair of shoes because he's too busy to fix his own.  Dammit, we should have the best canvas on the dock!  And while I've been slowly getting things done, the list is still long -and our cockpit cushions an embarrassment.  Even though they've served us well enough for several years, I curse them every time I lay eyes on them.  So!  We went looking for a spot to rent short term just to set up a machine and get our own things done.  Since Travis has such a good rapport with Robbie's Marina, it was the first place we checked out, figuring maybe we could get their old canvas shop for a reasonable price short-term.  The place was an abandoned, airless hole devoid of sunshine, but it would do for a month. 

The owner's response was positive, but not what we expected: "You know... we want a canvas shop here at the marina..."  Robbie's Marina is in the beginning stages of becoming Robbie's Maritime Center: one-stop shopping for boats.  In one location you can have your electrical done, your engine worked on, your propellor adjusted, your welding taken care of...  and your canvas & upholstery.  After much deliberation, Travis and I determined that while it was a big step, it was the only thing that made sense.  We could recoup our investment (we walked away from our investment at the old shop) by building a new shop and putting it up for sale.  Voila, our cruising kitty again!  Our deal was that we would gut the old pit and the marina would take care of the building exterior, the walls and ceiling and trims inside.  We would then paint and build the shop within that space and set it up for business, running it for awhile until it sold.

Now, we aren't naive about Key West Time.  We figured that if the building got a new skin and the walls & ceilings were up in time for us to put a fresh coat of paint down before we left we'd be in good shape -our timeframe doubled their estimate.  However, there were complications and we were still waiting on the skin by month's end.  Hopefully there would be plenty of progress while we were gone for the month of May...

As a side note, we are now a 6-wheel, 2-propellor family.  Travis bought a skiff for the dog.  Yep, the dog.  Since it's a longer commute to work and Sadie won't ride on the scooter, water transit is the best way of getting around.  Truth be told, it's good practice for me since I plan to get my captain's license soon, but it's still strangely Sadie's boat.  She loves riding on the bow, ears flapping in the wind, and it's sometimes hard to keep her off of her new commuter -when we return home from walks we are often heard saying, "On the boat. No, the BIG boat!"    The new skiff has been dubbed the SS Wet Dog.

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April ended up being busy anyway.  Even though no canvas work was accomplished on Calico Jack, I did a couple of jobs for others.  Our upcoming trip took some organizing and I did some catch-up work on a to-do list that's a couple of years old! 

And the running joke was that Travis was uncomfortable with my working so nearby him as I could actually see what he does in a day.  Here is a photo of Travis in his new helmet with underwater communication system.  I call it "12 Leagues Under Sean's Pool".  The boys spent the afternoon playing with the new toy (ahem!) I mean, new sophisticated piece of money-making equipment.  Chris dropped us off at home as he and Travis made plans to hit happy hour after theirs naps, then it was off to the bachelor party.  "Seriously, do you guys just mess around all day, smear some grease and fuel on yourselves and show up to happy hour?!" 
Up Next: 
Peru & Bolivia Chapter 2: Going Up!
This first group of photos covers only the first few days -like I said, jam-packed!  Landing in the capital of Lima, we headed south by bus along the coast to Pisco, Ica and Nasca.  Along the way: some tasty drinks & eats, some quirky wildlife, surprise sand dunes and a mummy or two...

Photos & Videos: Peru & Bolivia
As the propellor turns...