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La Vida en La Paz

November/December 18

See what I did there? Dazzled you with my español right? You'd be forgiven for assuming that after 18 months of living in Mexico we'd be well on the way to fluency, but in all honestly my español could only be described as execrable. Daz is much better than me. I think the classes he was forced to take in high school have probably served him well as a foundation, and he's not afraid to subject Uber drivers and boat maintenance people to his cogitations on preterite vs. imperfect grammar rules and indicative conjugations. I, however, can barely stutter my way through the basic “Hello, my name is Linda, what is your name?” type sentences without somehow adding in random words that confuse the poor recipient with my mangled sentence structure and atrocious accent. I think the key here is consistency and I'm consistently bad at doing anything good consistently, thus my poor Spanish. Speaking of names – I think I want to change mine. It's fine for English speaking countries but Spanish speaking? No. It's just embarrassing. For those non-Spanish speakers out there, Linda in Spanish means “pretty” and in this case, a misnomer if ever there was one. But can you imagine this? Someone: “Hello, my name is Arthur, what's yours?” Me: “Hi, my name is pretty.” Arthur: “Well, I'm sure it is, but what is it?” Me: “No - My name is Pretty, with a capital 'P'. I'm Pretty.” Uh-huh. Sure you are. <insert eyeroll> See what I mean? It would be like a bloke shaking hands with a new work colleague and introducing himself as Handsome. “Hi Paul, I'm Handsome. Want to get lunch?” Uhhh...dude. No. Just no. Of course, the Mexicans are so sweet about it and always smile and say “Oh si si, eres muy linda!!” And I'm like ugh, please ground, swallow me up. Henceforth I think I'll introduce myself as Maria – it's universal and it's almost my middle name and I have a very dear friend, who I miss greatly, named Maria. I did think of calling myself Margarita, but that's a whole different level of confusion, so Maria it will be. Anyway, I digress...Life in La Paz...

We got the boat sorted, met lovely dock neighbors, found our way into town to get some provisions, checked out the restaurants and pools at the marina and before we knew it Daz was heading back to Cabo, this time by bus, to catch his flight to Ohio. He was spending Thanksgiving with his girls and I was staying on the boat. Needless to say I was given much in the way of instruction for various boaty type things that on land are a given and never thought about, but on a boat are critical for comfort and safety. I would come to realize I didn't pay enough attention to that very pointed and reiterated instruction, but not until a few days later. Of course.

We always meet the loveliest people on the docks. Laird and Glenda, fellow Hunter owners (S/V Winterlude) from Canada, invited us down for coffee every morning on their boat, and while Daz was away they had me over for dinner almost every night. Glenda took me into town for the weekly Farmers Market and I was happy to have Quinn, their Portuguese Water Dog, aboard Eione for an evening when they went out for dinner.

It's always so nice to know there's someone there to help if things go awry and we're always happy to return the favor of course. Anyway, life was good – weather was perfect, beach walks, drinks aboard Winterlude, reading my book...all good things. Until I detected a really rank odour in the boat.

Now, when I say Daz gave me instructions for various boat things, the thing he was most adamant about, the most insistent, the most uncompromising, was the holding tank. He said I needed to call the marina to have it pumped out and not to forget, it was almost full.

Well...I thought he was wrong. The needle on the gauge clearly said it was only half full, and with just me on the boat I wouldn't have to call them out for a few more days. So I continued my blissful life, reading, napping, eating broccoli...but that smell was just getting worse. I'd wake up in the morning thinking “Wow, they must be emptying the tank of one of the large boats that came in overnight...peee-yewwww that stinks.” But the smell never dissipated, it just hung around. I thought maybe the marina just smells like this all the time? Maybe I'd call the office about it and tell them they need to do something about their whiffy marina.

One of the chores on my to-do list while Daz was away was to clean the bilge. For the non-boaters out there, this is the area under the floorboards, the lowest point of the boat, and all things tend to accumulate there eventually. Condensation from the refrigerator, Oreo crumbs, hair, screws, dust bunnies (or as Daz calls them, ghost turds) – all sorts of things that when mixed together are rather disgusting, so we like to vacuum it out each week.

So, I pulled up the floorboards, stuck my head in the bilge and all I saw was wavelets of a veritable cesspool of sewerage, gently rippling with the rocking of the boat and the stench....oh the stench. It was the stench of failure. Failure and shit. My failure. And my..well, you know. But you saw this coming, right?

Instead of doing as I was told (my Dad will say I haven't done what I'm told for 53 years – why start now?) very explicitly I might add, I didn't have the holding tank emptied. I thought because the needle only showed half full that I had plenty of time before I had to have it emptied. But no. The gauge was stuck and Daz had checked the level at the actual tank and it was almost full. So, with my repeated flushing, the tank was distending until it just couldn't take any more, and the contents of the tank started to seep out of the top because the seal failed.

Where was all this effluent going? Into the bilge of course, the lowest point of the boat. How was it getting there? By running down the side of the tank and under our bed to get to that lowest point. Did I swear at that point? Yes, you bet I did, like a f*cking sailor.

I made the call to the marina for the pumpout (I know, akin to shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.) The mattress had to be pulled out. All the boards for the storage under the bed had to be pulled up and everything pulled out and cleaned. A hose had to be run inside to flush all this from the highest point to the bilge, so the pumps could run and empty it. Gallons of water and bleach, countless pairs of gloves and rolls of paper towel, 4 bottles of tea-tree oil, putting the boat back together, repairing the seal and hours of self-castigation later, I had to face the abject humiliation of telling Daz that I didn't listen, that he's always right, that once again I'm my own worst enemy and yes I know, he told me it needed to be emptied, IknowIknowIKNOW! Argh! Great lesson in reflexive verbs – I'd done all this to myself!

While I had been tearing the boat apart and wailing about my idiocy, Daz was having a lovely time with his girls. He flew into Columbus Ohio to meet up with Lauren and then they went on a little roadtrip to Philadelphia to stay with Breann for a few days. They did some shopping, bought a turkey and all the fixings for a long overdue Thanksgiving Day together then did some touristing around Philly. It's not often he gets to spend Thanksgiving with them and it's lovely that they were all able to make it work.

Upon his return we went on a fun road trip with the Winterlude crew to Todos Santos, a small village on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsular just a few hours from La Paz.

A lovely little town, it's most famous for it's 'Hotel California', the one you can check out of at any time, but you can never leave according to the Eagles. The entire town has embraced the song and it's seemingly played in a loop. Bars serve pink champagne, there's a few mission bells around, you get the picture. There was a menu board somewhere that listed “Callitas”, even though I'm pretty sure I read an interview with Don Henley a few years back where he was saying it was a made up word, it just fit with the line...anyway, not ones to let an opportunity to sell to gullible tourists pass them by, the locals have come up with a perfect item to eat as you sip that pink champagne! Only one problem. None of it is true!

The subject of litigation for years between the owners and the band, the Eagles take exception to the active marketing of the hotel as that which inspired the song. Codswallop, or something to that effect, says the band. The song isn't even about a hotel much less the small one built in the 50's in an out of the way pueblo on the Baja. A hotel none of the songwriters knew of or had ever visited. Still, this is Mexico,and a small annoyance such as a multi million dollar lawsuit was never likely to quell any entrepreneurial efforts to cash in on an opportunity to make money, legal or not. In any case, we had a wonderful day with our friends and I'd definitely go back!

Our year ended with completing a few boat projects, finishing up some work and other mundane trivialities of life in general. We had a lovely Christmas Day at the beach, devoid of the stress of gifts, last minute shopping at a mall and Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”. Can't even describe how great that felt!

We'd done a lot this year. Went to Australia. Left my GBI family. Daz went to the Phillipines. Pulled off a surprise trip to Thailand for Daz's 50th. Drove from Washington to Mexico in my little red Fiat singing 80's songs the whole way. Sailed 1000 nautical miles. Met lots of new friends. Hosted old friends on the boat. Learned more than I ever though I would know about the inner workings of a marine head. Visited beautiful anchorages and small villages. Missed our family and friends in far off places. Drank too much gin on more than one occasion. Did lots of boat work. Spent way too much on said boat work.

So many wonderful things. And so many more to come!

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