Sunday, January 31, 2010


It is Sunday and we have just returned from the SuperMax market with all kinds of goodies!  What fun we had!  I am sending some pics to match up with my quite boring descriptions of our latest adventures with Sidewinder. At least you will be able to enjoy some of the wonderful people we have been fortunate to meet. The first few photos are the working scene which surrounds us. We had a great barbecue a week ago and what a feast we had! The silly guy with the great personality is Lauri, our Finnish friend, and his wife, Aninna, was just as special. Josie and Steve are from England and have been cruising for 12 years;  they certainly have learned to enjoy this life! Marc and Sylvia just left to go back home to Germany and work while their vessel, Rachel III, is having work done on her. Three Spaniards from Mallorca just arrived a week ago and their beautiful yacht is now parked next to us. Lauri adopted a marine family of cats and now they are mine to feed; I just can't tell you how difficult that is for me!  Saying good-bye to Lauri and Aninna was a bit sad, but it is the part of cruising that just is the way it is. Perhaps we will find them in Australia where they will settle and start a family.  Life is good!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fun with Fiberglass

Finally it is the end of the very intense work week, and I can really take a deep breath without fiberglass filling my lungs. Sorry I haven´t written all week. We cannot get the internet on the boat as of yet, and my mornings seem to be way too short. I could get up a little earlier instead of 6:30, when I naturally awaken, but I seem to wake up in the night so often, and we have been going to bed rather late this week. While David is interneting in the early morn, I find a niche where I can meditate before the loud noises begin, around 7;15. I don´t think I have ever been surrounded by so much noise for so many hours ever in my life. The resin/epoxy fiberglass cutting and painting are quite the zen activities when I can ignore the white noise, and I certainly am learning a shitload of techniques I truly hope I will never have to use again.

We have been sitting on old buckets, alongside Alfredo, working from 7:30 til 1:15 or so, making lunch on the boat (I have been making lunch), and working again from 2:15 until 5:00 or so. The body craves a shower each day to free itself from the little itchy fibers which cling everywhere, and then we have been trying to play ping pong, swim, or workout after that, just to give ourselves some fun time and stretch out the aching back and feet. This week we went out to dinner in Salinas twice with our next door boat neighbors and Finnish friends, Lauri and Aninna, who just left on their boat for Peru, and two other couples, Josie and Steve from England and Jerrald and Anns from the Netherlands, joined us the second night. They are all very interesting people and are great ping pong players, making the game wonderfully competitive. We laugh and sweat, and the exercise feels great. I think I made dinner once this week, and it seemed so tedious after working all day, and I didn`t have a chance to sit until it was served around 9 P.M. Hopefully I can figure out some meals to prepare ahead of time, so we don´t have to go out so much.  

Today was an especially beautiful day, and the water was even pretty for the first time. I had a chance to have a sunset swim, take a warm shower, and watch the full orange moon rise here this evening; it has been quite mellow with just David and me. The moon is shimmering on the water right now and I am looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow, even though we have to make a trip to the SuperMax store to pick up food and staples. We have had no rain so far, and that is good for our circumstances. I know that Peru and other parts of Ecuador are experiencing some heavy rains, and we do hope that all of that will subside when we have the time to take off and do more traveling. Right now the Machu Picchu train tracks are being repaired after the last mudslides at the beginning of the week. It looks like we will continue working on Sidewinder all next week: after Monday, when we will finally finish the fiberglassing, she will be sanded and ready for the next step, the anti-fouling paint on the bottom. I think that will be easy compared to this week!

Alfredo has been a wonderful worker and has tried to teach me all the words needed to communicate effectively about the work we are doing. Phew! At least it has given me a chance to speak the language, but I still don´t understand much. Thank goodness I am able to be understood most often. Daniela is here for four days, and Alex has a giant smile on his face; we will try to find some time to be with them. What social butterflies we are!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fixing the Boat

This work is definitely kicking our butts!!! Forgive me for going into such detail about what we are doing, but I think that I need to write this down for my own info as well as to vent to you.  First of all, we originally were not going to be doing this work. But over the last few months George´s workload has increased with other cruisers who are here to see that their work is being done, and the rainy season's approach has intensified his need to get things done. So here we are, wanting to get on with the work, and George has only one semi-skilled worker, Alfredo, to help us get started. George was not available on the first day, so we three began the fiberglassing process with the materials David thought were the ones to use. I began, knowing absolutely nothing, but also didn´t realize David was not far behind me.  Here's what I wrote earlier:

The fiberglass we are using to fill in the holes is hard to work with and very itchy (it makes me quite bitchy!).  It's difficult to tell whether or not we are filling the holes correctly until Geo stops by to let us know about our mistakes; the epoxy goes off quite quickly as we are trying to fill the holes and sometimes doesn´t properly take hold. We have quite a few holes we did the first day, using the incorrect material first, and now we have to dig out and sand portions, add other material, and redo them. We are both learning the process, and George is so busy that he relies on the skilled workers, who only speak Spanish, to communicate with us. Unfortunately the first day, the most dense fiberglass material we should have used first was not even introduced to us. Yesterday, our second day, a friend of Alfredo´s and skilled worker who is working on a different project, stopped by to inspect what we had done our first day, and he showed us the more dense material we should have used. This is called mat and should be used first and last. It is a better filler but is very messy! It would have been nice to know this when we started. Oh well! This is a motivation for us to become more proficient at the language but a pain in the ass to have to look up each word we need to know and then remember it! YIKES!  Oh well, we are in Ecuador! I think in a few days we will be quite the skilled fiberglass workers and then we will get to move on and learn the next phase of the bottom process. 

It was quite funny yesterday working with David. We grunted and groaned because our necks were sore, my hand ached from cutting fiberglass material and feet hurt from standing on concrete all day. As I work, I tend to continually ask questions about the process, and David said with a frustrated tone,  "You´re sure a talker, aren't you!" I thought that was very funny and will have to make use of that one!  We have laughed about it often since that moment. I know he is used to workers just doing what they have been told to do and I certainly don´t fit into that mold! And, can you even imagine David not talking?  :)

The nephew of the Ecuadorian President threw a huge party after he got married last evening and the place was so festive with a fabulous live band, flowers and lights, and incredible food made by Alex and staff; we enjoyed it from a distance with new cruiser friends, after we played some intense games of ping pong. We are continuing to have some fun just to keep ourselves smiling and of course, life is good. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back to Work

If I can get the boat back in an organized state today, while David works on the last of the grinding, we will be ready to re-fiberglass the holes tomorrow, if George can find a spare skilled worker.  The marina is very busy right now with many projects needing to be done before the real rainy season begins. We had a little rain early this morning, which was a pleasant surprise for us. The toxic fiberglass dust is a bit of a problem around here, and the rain helps to keep it down, as long as it is a gentle sprinkle. Let's hope for only light sprinkles right now. -Suzi

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Words Can Never Adequately Describe Our Time at Home

These pictures tell much of the magic of being at home with family and friends, life in the paradise of Laguna Beach, and also of being back in Ecuador after a day of exploring Banos.  What a great life we have! On our way to Tahoe we had the pleasure of visiting David's niece and family, along with his nephew, wife, sister and brother-in law. We fell in love with Allison and Courtney, who enjoyed their hand-made gifts from Ecuador. Christmas skiing was fabulous in Tahoe with Casey (our son), Julie (David's ex-wife), and Haven (Casey's cousin). Special friends Catfish and Larry arrived at Squaw Valley to ski with David, Suzi, Julie, and Jon L, our very own mountain guide and coach.

On the way back to Laguna, David, very handsome in his shirt and tie, paid tribute to his cherished mother, Barbara, who passed away last spring, and he reconnected with lots of family and friends. New Year's Eve at Kris and Marc's house was a celebration to say good-bye to Paula and Tom (David's orthopedic surgeon) and was a wonderful way for us to be with those we love. Celebrating Jo Jo's birthday was a tribute to our incredible nurturing-gardener-tenant and a great time with special  friends. (Off to Hawaii go Jo Jo and Fergie this summer. We wish them well!) Back in Ecuador, free from tariffs (YAY!), David and I explored Banos during the day after resting the night before in a little hostel, and now we are busy on Sidewinder, getting ready to begin the next leg of our journey. Before heading to the Galapagos, we will make our way to Cuenca, Ecuador, and visit Machu Picchu in Peru. What a life we have been given! Thank you to all who are a vital part of our beings.

Life On the Hard in Ecuador With So Many Fond Memories of Home

     In some respects, now that we are back in Puerto Lucia, it is as if we never left, but our visit home filled us with renewed spirit and energy to ready ourselves for the next leg of our journey. Our Ecuadorian friends, Alex, Daniela, Mario, and Gallo, all graciously greeted us, and no matter how much toxic dust there is in the marina, we have an ocean view, an old little refrigerator plugged in to shore power below Sidewinder, and the intense sun is shining. Alex has prepared some beautiful salads and yummy meals of meat for us, welcoming us back to life here.
Our memories of special times connecting with family and friends remain a vital part of who we are today and help us to be the best we can be.
     What an amazing time we had back in California! Sister Jane welcomed us with warm hugs and a comfy ride to Norwalk where the dear Honda CRV awaited our arrival. Jumping onto the 5 freeway, we were swept into the incredibly fast moving pace of Southern California.  The art of multi-tasking is perfected in America and you feel lucky if you can fit into anyone's busy schedule. Fortunately for us, we were embraced by everyone we visited, and our hearts and souls were continuously nourished. David and I were so fortunate to have lovely Lynnie's house in which to drop our bags and take a deep breath. She and wonderful Brad welcomed us royally, and the entire time we were in the area, we always had a place to go without feeling like we were imposing. David spent hours gathering the information needed to get boat supplies; thank goodness for his tenacity, as I had a difficult time doing anything other than getting my fill of being with my beloved friends. We managed to hike, seriously talk, giggle, hug, discuss vital issues, eat, drink, and just enjoy the warmth of being together. I have missed my girlfriends soooo much. Having time with Kris, Margo, Paula, Marolyn, Jo Jo, Cindy, Kate, Nancy, Lynnie, Tessa, Julie, and Judy gave me such an overwhelming burst of love and left me spinning a bit. I was blessed with attending the Christmas Seminar at the Yoga Center and enjoying some quality time with  friends there, whom I also miss. Being with Guruji helped intensify all that is good about Being.  This was also a time to reconnect with family.
     What a fantastic family time! Thanksgiving at the ranch was even more special than ever because we enjoy everyone in the family so much. On our way to Tahoe it was so wonderful to spend more quality time with Lauren, Darrell, Conor, Cara, and the doggies on the top of the hill in Las Gatos, celebrate with Billy, Laura, and Sky on Billy's real birthday, and enjoy a pre-birthday dinner with Willie and Pat.  We were so fortunate to be with David's niece and family for two days on the way to Tahoe. It was a perfect time to get to know Allison and Courtney, daughters of Jayme and Craig, visit with David's sister, Carol, brother-in law, Jim (who is finally reading the blog again :)) Jimmy, and Susanne. What a special treat!  Christmas with Casey and Julie was sooo wonderful. We skied, while Casey snowboarded, and thoroughly enjoyed having a chance to meet Liz and see Haven, Casey's cousin. We stayed with Barb in Tahoe City; Catfish and Larry joined us for two days, and we had an amazing skiing tour of Squaw Valley with Jon L. What a perfect way to end a very adventurous year and bring in the new. Our journey back south included a family reunion and memorial for David's beautiful mom, Barbara, who passed away last spring. Bobby and Lisa opened their house to us and it was great for David to reconnect with such a longtime friend. We stopped at Rincon on the way down the coast, and the waves were cranking bigtime;  we smiled, so full from our venture.
     Our last two weeks went way too fast but we filled our time enjoying our most special friends. The early New Year's Eve party at Kris and Marc's was a way to say good-bye to Paula and Tom, David's coveted orthopedic surgeon, and a chance to be with everyone. We enjoyed dinner with Jo Jo and Fergie in our upgraded house (now surrounded by lovely gardens created and nurtured by both of them), and Judy hosted an amazing gathering of our talented friends from school who all, except Paul and Ellen, arrived after a full week of those crazy kids. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening with the Wacholder family, on the edge of paradise. Our last evening was spent with our dear friends, Marc and Kris, and we relished every moment of time together. The warmth of friendships remains in our hearts, and we feel nourished and whole.
     Overall reflections:  We slept in many beds and we vote Cindy and Mickey's bed to be the ultimate; of course, it also helps to be nestled in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean inside a magical space they have created. Sunsets in Laguna are as good as it gets. Michael and Kate give the most wonderful massages and haved helped heal our physical and spiritual beings, readying us for our next adventure. We are so lucky to have such great family members who are also friends, and we now realize what wonderful friends we do have. Words do not adequately describe our experience at home. What a paradise we live in. We carry with us the intense love and thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back Aboard Sidewinder

We soooo lucked out when we arrived in Quito; somehow we blew right through customs without the blink of an eye, as if there was nothing in our four very heavy 70 lb. bags. It was amazing.

We arrived this morning around 7 a.m. after taking the all night bus from Banos to La Libertad. On the way up the hill to Ambato, our bus stopped so we could all witness the exploding volcano close by. We didn´t have a chance to grab the camera, but it was unbelievably dramatic just to watch as if we were on a tour bus. 

When we arrived in Ambato, Alex and Daniela met us just to say hi and give us hugs. How very cool is that?!  We were boarded by police in the middle of the night and did not catch much sleep. We spent most of the day washing our very dirty Sidewinder so that we could open her up without fiberglass dust going inside everywhere, and we also wanted to be able to sit out in the cockpit and have a cocktail to welcome ourselves to this very different reality. We are both extremely tired, and we will be sleeping as soon as the sun goes down. It was a beautiful day here and life is good. PHEW!!!

We will download pictures tomorrow and tell you about our day in Banos riding bikes and doing a bit of a hike. Onward to the next journey of mucho trabajo. Love to all, Suzi and David 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Safely Back in Ecuador

After an incredibly frantic day of packing on Monday (during which they found their treasured iPod), Suzi and David made it to LAX where they had to surrender their Trader Joe's purchases but were allowed to board the plane, along with their four bags, each of which weighed 70 pounds! I just heard from Suzi in the Quito airport waiting for the bus that will deliver them to the boat at Puerto Lucia. Here's a lovely line from her email that applies to many of you: "I am still completely blown away by the love from family and friends and just how much home means to me." The adventure continues! Thanks to all who continue to follow the blog.