Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Too much rain; best hot dogs in the world; and the nicest bullfighter ever.

October 26, 2007 Friday

Yesterday’s heavy rains all day long nearly drove everyone nuts.  You can only play computer games or read books for just so many hours before you go stir-crazy.  But Heather on SCOTT FREE saved the sanity of a few of us by getting on the VHF and asking people to play dominoes at the bar.  Seven of us met in mid-afternoon and played until almost dark, when the electricity again went down.  I lost, but who cared; we all just wanted off our boats for a few hours.

This morning a mechanic came and serviced our generator.  Nothing wrong with it but it was time for some routine maintenance.  Bill probably could have done it but he wanted to watch a professional do it first.  The mechanic said our generator looks brand new; did not find a thing wrong with it.  Next time Bill will probably do this scheduled maintenance himself.  I don’t know what was done and really don’t care as long as it works correctly.

While Bill was watching the mechanic, I plotted our routes to the San Blas Islands.  We don’t know where we want to go; it will totally depend on the weather and the adverse current when we leave this protected bay.  So that meant that I had to plot numerous variations of routes, all of which end somewhere between Puerto Perme near the ultra-traditional Kuna village of Anachucuna on the mainland of Panama and the Pinos channel entering the San Blas Islands.  Still haven’t decided if we will do a straight shot across or if we will stop at the Rosarios, the San Bernardos and/or Isla Fuerte along the way.  Heck, we still haven’t decided if we want to go down to Zapzurro or blow that off.  

We received very good news from Globalstar this morning.  We had hundreds of minutes that were scheduled to expire 31 Dec 2007.  We have not been able to use that phone hardly at all because can never obtain and hold a signal long enough.  Bill complained and asked some questions.  Next thing we know, we received an email saying that we now have until 31 Dec 2008 to use all these minutes.  AND, and this is a big AND, Globalstar has recently put up 4 new satellites and repositioned some others; so their service has improved significantly.  Our phone actually was receiving strong signal today and we were able to retrieve voice mail; something that we have not been able to do in a couple of months.  Now if it will just work in the San Blas Islands we will be delightfully surprised.  And I now take back all my complaining about Globalstar.  They really are trying hard to provide better signal service and to improve their customer service.

Last Sunday at the flea market here in the marina Bill bought a Mini M SAT phone.  It doesn’t work (which he knew when he bought it), but we are hopeful that Sven the wonder electrical engineer will be able to repair it.  It is at his shop now.  The Mimi M phone should work worldwide, whereas the Globalstar will not.

Colombia will be holding various political elections over the weekend and Monday.  So all sales of liquor and beer and wine are banned from 6:00 p.m. tonight until Tuesday morning.  Bet that will really hurt the restaurant businesses.  Someone made an announcement about this on the VHF yesterday and we got a chuckle from all the cruisers who said they were headed down to the supermarket in the rain to buy beer so they would not run out over the weekend.  Guess some of them can’t go a day or two without beer or wine or mixed drinks.

October 28, 2007 Sunday

Another rainy, dreary day.  It appears that this slow rain isn’t going to stop today at all.  Bill is shopping online for all kinds of boat stuff; I am reading and playing computer games and searching for new recipes – none of which sound interesting enough to make me want to heat up the galley to try one.  All I can say is:  thank God we are at a dock with A/C running.  Would hate to be out on anchor in this weather in a closed up boat.  Bill says he now understands what they mean by wet season vs. dry season.  Wet season in this part of the world extends from late April through November. 

The weather forecast for this week is all wrong for our passage to the San Blas.  Winds are predicted to be from the WSW or SSW all week, ranging from 10 knots up to 35.  So we have delayed our departure plans.  Maybe next Sunday we will leave here.  Will have to make that decision by Wednesday, I guess, in order to get our zarpe in time.  It usually takes several days to clear out of Cartagena.

About half-dozen boats arrived today from Aruba or Curacao.  We have met all of them up-island at one time or another, so this week will be an opportunity to visit some old new faces.

October 30, 2007 Tuesday

Rain finally stopped this afternoon, thank goodness.  The dreary gray is depressing.  On Sunday night a heavy rainstorm blew through and several boats in the anchorage dragged anchor.  Some boats started their engines and took evasive action to avoid being hit, but owner of the catamaran TANDEM didn’t awaken and go sit in his cockpit during the rainstorm and was unaware of the potential problem until he was hit.  Don’t know how much damage was sustained by either boat, hopefully nothing serious.

Last night we went to La Carreta (a/k/a The Burger House) with Buddy & Melissa on INDIGO MOON, one of the boats that arrived here Sunday.  We had met them in Bonaire but hadn’t had an opportunity to visit with them back then.  The burgers were okay (never as good as what we grill on the boat), and we enjoyed talking with Buddy & Melissa.  The burgers were served with the normal leaf of lettuce, mayo and ketchup, the ground beef patty, and a slice of cheese, plus what is apparently a Colombian variation of hamburguesa --a slice of green tomato and a thin slice of ham.  Strange; but it tasted okay.  BTW, they do not sell pickles here.  Hard to find any kind of pickle at all in the supermarkets.  Sliced dill pickles like we use on sandwiches in the US are unknown in most of the Caribbean; that is just an American thing.  Since Bill likes dill pickles and he eats a lot of sandwiches, I usually buy every jar of pickles on the shelf when lucky enough to find any.   

This morning we went back to old town Cartagena and walked around.  I was searching for a moisture proof salt shaker and possibly costumes for the Halloween party tomorrow night.  Didn’t find either.  Then we walked back to the hot dog man and the bullfighter bar that we had visited weeks ago.  The hot dog was just as good as last time, covered with crushed potato chips.  Found out what the mystery sauce is that he dispenses on top of the ketchup and mustard and mayo and thousand island dressing looking stuff --- it is a pineapple sauce.  Would never have guessed that a pineapple sauce would be good on a hot dog, but it is.  That also settles the question of what the almost clear sauce was that was put on the table with our hamburguesas last night—it also was pineapple sauce.  None of us tried it on our hamburgers.  But it is good on hot dogs.

After talking with hot dog man and Colombia at the bullfighter bar, then we walked along the top of the old wall that runs along the seaside.  Took a couple of photos to show you just how wide these walls are and how high.  No wonder the city was never after these walls were constructed. 

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