Tuesday, July 3, 2007

June 28, 2007  Thursday

A quiet day at anchor.  We never even got off the boat.  Bill spent most of the day cleaning up both computers.  We also took turns hand-washing the cushions on the saloon settee and seats.  These are ultra-suede and clean up very nicely.  We took the cushions up into the cockpit and cleaned them with a brush and Woolite and Clorox 2 non-chlorine bleach mixed with hot water.  They look so nice now.  I recently spent several days on my hands and knees scrubbing the blue fiberglass floor lockers with Soft Scrub with bleach and a stiff brush.  The floor lockers cleaned up several shades; Bill didn’t realize that there had been so much dirt build-up until he saw them clean again.  Those floors really looked dingy but now they are a bright blue again.  We have agreed that no one wears shoes down inside the boat any more because shoes track in too much dirt from the docks and dirt roads.  Today we also washed all the little back pillows that we use in the cockpit.  We have been leaving them in the cockpit overnight lately and that was a dumb thing to do because they were getting slightly mildewed.  Those will now go back to being brought downstairs at night.  We both feel better when everything on the boat is all nice and clean.

Tracking our DHL shipment now shows that it has cleared Customs this morning.  But it is supposedly still sitting on the mainland in someplace called Maiquetia. 

Mañana. mañana, mañana.

Bill also got the Spanish tutoring program off the old computer and put it on the laptop that we now use daily.  A little late to learn much Spanish for our time in Venezuela, but maybe I will pick up a little Spanish by the time we reach Cartagena.

We have decided that as soon as we receive the DHL shipment (new outhaul for our mainsail) that we would like to sail down to the mainland and visit Laguna Grande and Laguna Chica in the Golfo de Cariaco.   We want to see Laguna Grande but we are also ready to get on to Bonaire.  We have seen and done all of Isla Margarita and it is time to move on ----- if we ever receive that darn DHL shipment.  All of our friends have already sailed on either to the outer islands, the mainland or to Bonaire.  There are not that many moorings in Bonaire and we want to arrive before they are all filled.  Anchoring is prohibited everywhere in Bonaire.  That is how they keep their coral alive and pristine.

July 3, 2007 Tuesday

Finally!! We finally received our DHL shipment today!  I was beginning to feel like we were being held hostage in Venezuela by DHL.  Also, a several more boats arrived yesterday; one of which were our friends Ed & Linda on DREAMTIME.  We had to go to the DHL office to pick up our package (tracking had shown it on the delivery truck for 2 days but it wasn’t getting delivered), so Ed & Linda shared a taxi with us and then we all went out to Sambil mall for shopping and lunch in the cold air-conditioning.  (More beautifully presented delicious sushi for me!) This is Ed & Linda’s first visit to Venezuela so we were sort of showing them the lay of the land.  Linda was very glad to find this nice mall.  Like most men, Ed could not care less.

Back to the boat this afternoon and we installed our new mainsail outhaul.  Bill came up with a few improvisations that enabled us to really tighten the outhaul before he did the final whipping.  This time we feel like the outhaul is correct.  Of course, we won’t know for certain until we sail with it in some heavy winds; but it certainly seems tight and correct.  Bill also had ordered new lines for the mainsail traveler and both car travelers (most boats do not have these but we do).   Now that this project is complete we must decide if we want to clear out tomorrow or wait until Friday.  Thursday is a holiday here---VZ Independence Day---and government offices will be closed. 

We need to plan everything right so that we arrive in Bonaire on a Saturday or a Sunday, so this will require a bit of planning concerning sailing times between here to Bonaire or alternatively from Laguna Grande to Bonaire.  Don’t want to arrive during the night and don’t want to arrive on a weekday.  If you arrive on a weekend then you simply visit the police station instead of the Immigration office.  Immigration officials there can be a real PITA, so informed cruisers all try to arrive on weekends.

An observation about the supermarkets here.  They employ easily 6 to 7 times the number of employees that the same business would employ back in the US.  Many of these employees just stand around and talk amongst themselves all day.  Many of them have the job of watching shoppers.  One would assume that shoplifting is a major problem throughout the Eastern Caribbean and here in Venezuela.  There will be a “guard” at each end of every aisle in the supermarkets.  And you must check any packages or backpacks at the door; you are not allowed to carry anything into a store except a small handbag.  We were a bit taken aback by this at first but now we are used to it and ignore the “guards” like everyone else.

A few other observations while on a shopping trip yesterday, the sunglass kiosk in the supermarket tells something about the wealthier shoppers.  They carry name brands like DKNY, BC BG, Vogue, Fendi, Police and Ray Ban.  Those are some fairly expensive name brands to be selling in a supermarket kiosk.  And the liquor babes!  Bill loves watching the liquor babes.  These are very good looking young women dressed in very tight black pants and low-cut tank tops.  They work in the liquor and wine department at the supermarket, and they are very attractive.  We have not figured out exactly what work they do in the liquor department.  All we have seen them do is stand around and look beautiful.  Maybe that is all that is required to bring more men into the liquor section.  Not really sure how it sells more liquor because these women really do nothing except stand around.  What a job.

We always enjoy a great lunch at the supermarket restaurant; for a cost ranging from $3.98 to $6.58 for both of us.  Can’t buy food and cook your own meals for that price.  The soup yesterday was called Sopa de Res.  Our dictionary says that res means animal.  So, they were serving animal soup.  We opted not to try that particular delicacy.  Bill had huge servings of black beans and rice, and I had a Caesar salad.  We both had a soft drink.  The total was $3.98.  Gotta love it.

A few more observations.  One is that some of the Europeans on the bus from the marina to the supermarket are the worst people in the world about not tipping.  And most of them have apparently never discovered deodorant.  This is especially true of the German cruisers.  We cannot believe that they can’t tip the young man who boxes their groceries and loads them into the truck and then unloads them at the marina.  You are only requested to tip this guy 2500 Bolivars per person; so 5,000 per couple.  At the current rate of exchange, that is a whopping $1.43.  This young guy must buy his own boxing tape and black markers to mark the box.  Tipping him $1.43 for his boxing and carrying services is dirt cheap.  And these cheap-ass cruisers are stiffing him on the tip.  What trashy people.  I am proud to say that we have not seen one American ignore the expected tip.  I’m sure there are cheap Americans too, but we just haven’t seen any acting quite that cheap.

This observation is about the homes of the poor people on the main boulevards.  Someone (Chavez government?) has built pastel colored facades in front of these homes.  These are attractive and have white doors and window sills, etc.  This is obviously done to hide the poorest of the poor.  But when going down the street in a bus or taxi you can often see inside some of the open doors.  The level of poverty exhibited through these open doors is shocking.  Some of these are worse than the worst living conditions that we have seen in Mexico.  They have nothing but dirt ground and pieces of tin strung together as a partial shelter.  Stones on the ground make a “stove.”  No plumbing of any kind.  These people have no hope of rising above this level of poverty.  Contrary to what the media in the US says, Chavez is good for the poor people.  He is providing them with free medical care and unbelievably inexpensive medications; price controls on all basic foods; and all government workers and military just got a 30% increase in wages.  No wonder they re-elect him.  Bill says that democracy is not for all countries, especially one like Venezuela.

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