Search This Blog

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lovely Belize

 Ava and Evie enjoying sunset on Hunting Cay. 

 John at the BBQ. Yummy!

Me lovin' on our new Genni. Have I mentioned how much I love our new sail? She's so soft and nice. 

 Queen's Cay where we swam with Tiger Sharks, giant Rays, and huge Sea Turtles. Exhilarating!

 Ava and Soli in their matching suits. See the zinc on Soli's face? That's because she had that severe allergic reaction to the Trimethoprim and her skin was really sensitive to the sun.

I love this gorgeous picture of Amy enjoying some quiet time in the shade of the Genni.

Emerson making pancakes from scratch! He is so hired. 

Darling Placencia architecture. 

We love our beverages. And our Happy Hour. 

The whole scurvy crew including Amy, Ava, & John Cawrse. 

If you look closely you can actually see raindrops hitting the water just past the dock. 

One of the many charming sand pathways running through this little town. Have I mentioned how darling this village is? I may never leave...

How guapo is my capitan? See Balance in the background? 

An ugly storm front blowing in. We barely made it back to the boat and took the laundry off the life lines before all H-E-doublehockystick broke loose. It was a doozy. 

I love trying to identify islan' fruit. These are sea grapes. 

Exploring the mile long side-walk that runs parallel to the beach in Placencia. 

And the adventure continues...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Semana Santa in Antigua

During Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Antigua residents make these amazing Alfombras (carpets) out of dyed sawdust, pine needles, and flowers. They are created as offerings to Jesus as the story of his crucifixion and death are recounted. Purple robed cucaruchos carry huge, heavy floats bearing statues of Jesus in different stages of his ordeal through the streets adorned with the alfombras. The mood is festive and somber at the same time. The making of the alfombras is festive as families and neighbors work tirelessly (and often well into the night and early hours of the morning) to complete their intricately detailed carpets. Some alfombras include fruit and breads as offerings. As the processions go by the mood becomes somber and some people dab their eyes with hankies as Christ's ordeal is displayed. Starting on Thursday around noon and completing on Saturday morning, the processions move through the labyrinth of streets in Antigua on a predetermined route. The people of each street know when the procession will be coming and prepare their alfombras in time for it to pass by. So at any point in time lookilu's like us can walk around town and see alfombras in varying stages of completion. My understudying (which is slightly fuzzy) is that different churches around town are responsible for different stages of the story. For example, La Iglesia San Francisco started on Thursday with the carrying of the float depicting Jesus bearing the cross. The next day, Iglesia La Merced (with cucaruchos in black robes) carried a float with Jesus in a glass casket. The processions were very moving and I found myself getting choked up now and again not only in response to the processions, but also in awe of how lucky we are to be able to share with Soleil a little of the magic that is her birthright. 

Waiting for the procession with our friends the Cawrses. 

The Cucaruchos carrying the wooden float with Jesus bearing the cross. They burn incense and pound bass drums as they march across the Sawdust Carpets. Beautiful and quite moving.  

The kids were excited to get their hands on some sawdust after the procession went by. See Volcan de Agua in the background. I love that volcano. It's so majestic. 

Neighbors and families join forces and spend hours to create masterpieces in the streets as offerings for the coming procession. 

Nearly too cool for sawdust carpets: my darling first born. 

Beautiful Mayan women outside the market on Tres Avenida hard at work on their sweet smelling alfombra of pine needles and flowers. 

The statues on the floats are incredible detailed and realistic.

In front of our casita in Antigua. Then...

...and Now. 

P.S. Since this picture was taken in Antigua we returned to the boat, which was docked at Tijax Jungle Lodge, traveled back up the Rio Dulce, and explored the southern Cays of Belize with our friends, the Cawrses. We had a great time with our friends, but it was a stressful week for me as ALL of my kids were sick with different ailments. Fevers, stomach pain, colds, coughing, barfing, delirium, staph infections (you do NOT want to know where), and one severe allergic reaction to sulfa drugs. Being on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean with no internet and nary a clinic in sight was just about more than I could handle. Because, you see: I'm not a doctor! (Although you would think I was studying for the boards with all the medical books I have on the boat. Who says I never read?) Thanks to my Mama (a P.A.) for all the time on the phone helping me to get everyone sorted (and for interpreting those pics of the staph infections. Gross, I know. I'm sorry.) And I owe a shout out to our dear friend Dr. Ron who not only took my desperate satellite phone call from the middle of the ocean and had all the answers, but who had recommended that I have prednisone in my medicine bag just in case of "severe allergic reactions".  Thanks, Ron! You're a life saver. 
So except for a few more gray hairs and some scaring in several unsightly locations, we're nearly 100% recovered. We've been relaxing here in Placencia, Belize for the last several days. What a darling little beach village! You must visit if you ever get the chance. Our friends left earlier in the week and as much fun as it is to share the boat with friends it sure is nice to have it to ourselves (and cruise around naked to our hearts' content). Next stop: (if Dave is successful in tearing me away from this darling village with unlimited ice cream, lattes, and a clinic) is the islands of the Belize Barrier Reef (second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia). Stay tuned...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Reflections (on the Sea)

Six weeks after leaving the comfort of our heavenly bungalow style abode with flush toilet in California, we have safely arrived in Antigua, Guatemala for Semana Santa and the famed sawdust carpets. It is so absolutely marvelous to be "home" and the sawdust carpets are every bit as enchanting as I'd hoped. You may recall that the kids and I lived here five years ago at the end of Soli's adoption. Read more about those adventures here

 The first chapter of our sailing adventure was a relative success, all things considered. We dropped our dear friends, the Culbecks, off at the airport in Guatemala City a few days ago. I’m happy to report that after a month of sharing 38 feet of sailboat amongst the 10 of us we still consider each other “dear friends”. I won’t lie; it wasn’t always pretty. 3.8 feet of personal space doesn’t leave a lot of "breathing room", if you know what I mean. There were plenty of melt-downs. I mean red-in-the-face, knock-down, drag-out, foot stomping, door slamming, hair pulling, mast climbing, teeth clenching, screaming, pouting, hitting, cussing, biting, spitting, crying, full-throttle freaking out melt-downs! 

And that was just me. 

Add to that, 6 kids in the throws of varying stages of puberty, and let me just was one spicy boat. Throw in 50 hour crossings with no land in sight, large quantities of barf, sweaty hot days, biting bugs, sub par refrigeration, the permanent smell of fish guts and absolutely no ice for beverages to numb the pain. In retrospect, it’s a miracle we survived it. 

But survive we did. And with our sense of humor mostly in tact. Thanks for cruising with us, Culbecks! Next year, let's just meet at the Ritz in Panama City and call it a day. Nah! Who needs breakfast buffets when you can eat rice? Again. Love you guys! 
Now. It’s always more entertaining to hear about the tribulations of any adventure, but there were plenty of highlights, too. Namely:
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand now why you came this way. (But then you barf.)
Sharing the magic of phosphorescent algae on a sunrise watch with an nine year old daughter. 
Jibing the genoa all by yourself. 
Scopolamine patches for sea sickness found at the bottom of the medicine bag. Expired in ’03. Still work. Gracias a Dios. 
Fireflies and Schnitzel sans kids at Manati, the German restaurant on Guanaja.  
Snorkeling with a five year old daughter and having her tell you through her snorkel, “Ahm, ook! Een Ajel Ish”. (Mom, look! Queen Angel Fish). Good work, Amma Onnie. 
Watching the sea pups climb to the TIPPY TOP of the mast (Do you have any idea how high that is?) and SLIDE down the head stay. (Actually, I couldn’t watch that. I just know it happened. I'm still not sure how I feel about it.)
That heavenly spit of land, Water Cay (so apropo), and walking the length of it, hand in hand, with your honey. South West Cays off of Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. 

Seeing the sparkle in the eyes of a five year old daughter as she sets sight on her beautiful birth country for the first time in memory. 
Telling the kids the story of “how I met your mother” while eating pizza at the very restaurant on the Rio Dulce where it all began 17 years ago. 

The beautiful sight of Guanaja on the horizon and dolphins on the bow after an all night  crossing.

Watching with pride as a 15 year old son and an 11 year old son thrive in this life on the sea and fall so naturally into their places as “son of a son of a sailor”. 

A freshly caught mahi-mahi and a thoroughly entertaining game of chess. A typical scene in our cock-pit whilst underway. 

 Is that fresh sushi? Yes it is. 

 Banana boats and a beach bon-fire on Vivarios. 

 Hand dumping the port holding tank. Oh, the joys... 

 A ginormous barracuda that we reeled in. But not before a shark had made lunch of the rear section. We felt like we were paying off the mafioso of the ocean, "Take the barracuda! Just don't harm the children!"

 Emerson keeping an eye for coral heads on the way in to Albuquerque Cays. 

 Anchor Drill. 

 Evie, so happy not to be barfing on this crossing. 

 Land Ho. Look at those happy faces. Glad to be on solid ground in San Andres. 

Sunrise watch with Soleil. 

 Dolphins off the bow. 

 They had such fun surfing the wake of our boat. 

 Cay and gorgeous waters off of Guanaja. 

 We call this Engine Yoga. 

 Guanaja settlement. AKA: The Cay

Charming neighborhood on "The Cay". 

Carver on his way up the mast.

We squeeze in home schooling whenever (and wherever) possible.

We're heading back to the boat and the Rio Dulce tomorrow with our new crew, The Cawrse's. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sail on the Wild Side

We may have a budding cinematographer on our hands. Now that he's not bogged down by such pesky things out this cool trailer Emerson made in iMovie:

Click Here

(Be sure to make it full screen and turn up the volume.)