Monday, November 5, 2012

La Paused in La Paz

Life is easy in a nice marina – and Marina Palmira is a very nice marina: sturdy docks; water; power; clean showers laundry facilities; shuttle to town; small tienda/chandlery;  two dock-side restaurants and . . . . drum roll please: access to the nearby hotel’s swimming pool! 

La Paz itself is very easy to adapt to (see prior posts about its charms).  And now that we have a car, we find that we are less efficient – if we don’t remember to get X at the store – we can just go back tomorrow.  Thus we have succumbed to the local cruiser condition of being “La Paused”.
Not that we have been completely idle! Oh, no:

WE VOTED – AND WE HOPE YOU HAVE TOO:  And an expensive proposition it was.  Our mail-in ballots arrived at our San Francisco address after we departed for Mexico.  So, we had them forwarded, along with other mail, to us in La Paz via Federal Express.  Realizing that our ballots had to be received by November 6 to be counted (we had somehow thought they only needed to be mailed by November 6) we paid to have them sent by UPS to Sacramento where friends Ken and Claudia Carlson have placed them into the US Mail in a timely fashion.  Ken tells us that our package was apparently reviewed by the Office of Homeland Security – but that they didn’t open our ballots! 

We were willing to pay $35 dollars to get our ballots in on time (even though they will have little effect on California’s Electoral College vote) because this was Bryce’s first vote for President (he became a nuevo Americano in 2011)!  And there’s the psychological comfort of knowing that however tomorrow’s election and the subsequent litigation turns out – WE voted for the best candidates and the “right” policies.  Obama/Biden 2012! 

 stored in the salon and the V-berth (for non-sailors: the “living room” and the “bedroom”) and have been putting them back on.  On went the sails, the dingy hoist, the outboard motor for the dingy, the cockpit table (aka the breakfast nook), the safety equipment, the bar-b-que, the new anchor chain and the anchor.  Into little storage places went the new salt, sugar, paper towels and rice.  We installed the bimini (the shade at the stern) and, with the help of our neighbor Robert, the solar panels.  It had been a year since Bryce and Frank designed and built the solar panel braces. . . so it took a bit of head scratching to figure out how to put them back together.   

 Hmmmm - now how was it this thing worked?
Note to selves: don’t throw away installation instructions, and if it’s something self-manufactured . . . make a note – a year is a long time between installations!

WE CELEBRATED DIA DE MUERTOSMolly attended a lecture at a Spanish language school about the Day of the Dead and learned that, though the celebration has its roots in pre-Hispanic tradition, the current form of the celebration dates from the 18th century.  There are actually two days during which the dead are honored – the first day (November 1 – Todos los Santos) is for those that died in childhood or in youth, and the next day (November 2 – Fieles Difuntos) is for those that died after attaining adulthood.  Much like American or Canadian Thanksgiving or Christmas, the holiday includes a few common elements, but the celebration is primarily a reflection of each family’s separate “culture”.

The common theme is an altar honoring the departed, erected for the purpose of inviting them to return to their home and family for the day.  Sometimes this alter is in the home, and sometimes at the cemetery.  Altars usually include an image of a religious figure that was important to the deceased (Christo, la Virgin de Guadalupe, or a patron saint), marigolds, candles and offerings of favorite foods or drink.  As the lecturer mentioned tequila and cigarettes, Molly envisioned an altar including Diet Dr. Pepper and mini-Snickers bars. . . the ambrosia of her teenage years.  The altar also includes pictures of the deceased, at least one of which is placed facing a mirror.  Though the lecture was in Spanish, and she understood only about seventy percent of it (and pretty proud of that, actually!) Molly thinks that the point of the mirror is for the deceased to see him- or her-self reflected in the mirror along with the surrounding family. 

The more commercial aspects of the day include a sweet-bread flavored with anise seed that is topped with dough formed in the shape of crossed bones.  These pan de muertos are sold at all the grocery stores either as large loaves or packages of many small loaves.  It’s clearly a celebration for large families, not two people living on a small boat.  Fortunately, Molly got a chance to try the bread at the lecture, and figure out it apparently is an acquired taste, so we were spared the purchase of a large loaf of something we didn’t really love.
What we did purchase was a calavera – a skull made of sugar.  They’re everywhere.  There must be a giant plant extruding sugar skulls at a ferocious rate all through October somewhere in Mexico – note the UPC bar code! 

Indigenous Art . . . With Bar Code.

We placed our sugar skull in our altar place (next to the St. Christopher and the Buddha friends have provided us) to honor our departed family members.  On November 2, we unwrapped it and took a small bite.  Hmmm – it tasted as you might imagine: a tablespoon of sugar with that funky chemically flavor of colored icing.  We (reverently) sent it off to the great trash bin on the dock before it attracted any bugs.  We hope Howard (Bryce’s father) and Bob and Patti (Molly’s parents) came to visit us, and if they did, that they did not try the calavera, but that they enjoyed the thought that their crazy old children were living on a little boat in Mexico.  Molly is concerned that her mother is now worried that her daughter is living without air conditioning . . . something she often said was mankind’s greatest invention after indoor plumbing. 

The important take-away for us is that it’s nice to have a particular day set aside to invite those 
that we have loved to return to us for a party.  We’re planning on making this a part of our annual celebration ritual -- though we think we’ll keep the sugar skull inside its wrapper for direct deposit into the landfill next year. 

WE DID A GOOD DEED:  We joined fellow boaters in participating in the clean-up of nearby Balandra Beach one Sunday.  We were hot and sweaty by the end of our efforts – and had a huge Costco bag of trash to add to the pile being hauled off the beach. 

Litter Patrol
We picked up enough cigarette butts to atone for our former lives as smokers, and we learned that styrofoam lives longer in the blazing Baja sun than does the thin plastic used to make drinking cups (those would literally disintegrate in our hands as we tried to pick them up).   Longer lived still are chip packages.  We felt very virtuous about our efforts, and more importantly, were reminded not to purchase things in styrofoam and to keep our (oft forgotten) pledge to take reusable plastic with us to dinner to use as our take-home box! 

WE WILL OVERCOME THE INDOLENCE OF BEING LA PAUSED!  We are planning to depart La Paz on Thursday the 8th.  We need to buy propane and some food (we hear re-provisioning in the little villages in the Gulfo de California is limited), and get the dingy inflated and strapped onto the deck.  But there’s no need to rush anything really.  We’re retired you know.  Once we depart we’ll travel north to – well, however far we get.  We will write as we away.   

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