Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Isla de providencia

hello crazy horse readers

we are now on la isla de providencia, a columbian island off the coast of nicaragua. we had a great 3 night, 3 day passage (350 miles and done with no hours put on the engine) from jamaica to hear and are having fun on the 16 km circumfrance island. we´ve been here for a few days and already have rented four scooters to tour the island in style, broke a chain off one of them on a bad section of the road, hiked up a little mountain, climbed palm trees to get coconuts which we hacked open with our rusty machete that we found a few months back, seen families of five riding down the street on motorcycles on the island there are few cars. everyone rides scooters or motorcycles. we are working on our spanish and i bought a spanish novel today and am determined to read the whole thing, doing justice to all the pain that those spanish stories that i had to read in spanish cass brought me.

caught another mahi mahi on the way down here which was delightful. very few boats here in the harbor and very few tourists here now so it is a very mellow feel, especially compared to jamaica where we were always approached to see if we wanted a taxi or illegal substances. we love being in spanish speaking country and love being near such lushious volcanic mountains. we have a few more days here and then plan to go to san andreas, fifty miles south, and then to colon, panama.

adios

Sunday, February 06, 2005

More of jamaica

still in port antonio, jamaica, but we've had some interesting forrays into the countryside. first was a raft trip down the rio grande river. eight miles inland out to the ocean on rafts made of bamboo by the captains of the rafts. two people sit on this very long flat bundel of maybe 15 bamboo rods, in a nice chair of bamboo. then the captain stands out at the very front and poles our way through the small rapids. very fun and we have good video footage of it.

then back to port antonio and for me, an afternoon of soccer. i got a real ball here and even some new turfs so i was happy to run to the local field in hopes of some exercise. i was the only white person on the field of perhpas more than a hundred of all ages and all playin in little games around the large field. i started juggling by myself and eventually drew in five others, so we got a 3 on 3 game and played until it was too dark to see. it was great to run around, and fun to play with a 2 foot ditch running through our mini field that was on the side of the big field. the ball was considered out if it went into the ditch but you could pass it to someone on the other side of the ditch and still be in fair play as long as it didn't fall in. and they even asked if i was coming back tomorrow - a question which i took to be a great compliment. not having played in a while i guess i held my own. they didn't talk to me much, and i still can only get a few words here and there when they are talking but i can understand them mostly when they speak to me without their native slang. the next day we went inland again tor three hours to st. catherine where a woman that had lived with rob's family was living. it was very neat to drive through the countryside and see many little and big (kinston) cities of jamaica. the house was made of concrete, there were goats everywhere, and we were the only whites in the whole town as far as we could see. and everyone said hello by saying, "you alright?" and the customary response is, "ya man". there was a funeral there the next day which we ended up going to, for the woman's brother in law. the service was a new experience and involved an open casket, many amens, many songs, a few cell phone rings, and much jesus talk. the burial followed in which the casket was lowered into a cement cell covered by boards, then plywood, then a crosshatched frame of rebar, and then cemented over as we all sang songs in the hot sun, while a boy was rolling around an old tire in the adjacent field and a few more were practicing their cricket in the farther field. quite an experience with many images we will not forget.

then we said goodbye to norma and her jamaican family and rode back three hours with dickey, who gave us more lessons in the jamaican tounge, much to everyone's enjoyment as we bumped along with the loud regee that came nonstop from dickey's speakers.

now we prepare for the super bowl, which we will watch in the marina television, (not much market here for american football - it's all soccer and cricket here) and we'll get our immunizations tomorrow of yellow fever, typhoid and hep. A, with malaria pills soon to follow. our dingy still is holding up though we can put no pressure on the floor of it so we must look funny going back and forth all on the side tubes.

hope you are all well, and i welcome updates from all of your lives. i may not be able to responde to each of them, but i very much value news from all of you back home. thank you to those who have done so already. it is nice to know that people enjoy getting the updates from crazy horse. adios, go patriots!
ben

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Jamaica

hi everyone,

we're now in port antonio, jamaica - arrived yesterday morning. we finally left georgetown, on grand exuma island of the bahamas a week or so ago. we were all very ready to leave and hoist the sails. we sailed north east to get around the north tip of long island. we had to motor for most of the 20 miles and once we got around the north tip, we shut down the engine, hoisted our light wind sails and proceded to not find the wind we were hoping for, though we were not sure it was going to be there. so for the experience, instead of motoring back an hour to an anchorage we passed, we tried to slowly make our way south.

throughout the night we drifted, mostly in cirlces, about 12 miles to the north. it was a beautiful night and none of us really minded having easy two hour solo watches of two hours under a beautiful sky and on a calm sea. during ted's 0600-0700 watch, we finally got some wind and the other three of us awoke to finally a little bit of progress - we were actually going south again, but still had much ground to make up.

the highlight of that leg of our journey came an hour later when a full sized 30 ft long minke whale surfaced right next to our boat. it was about thirty feet long and we all took turns dunking our heads in the water with a mask on while the others held our feet. it was so amazing to see this huge animal move with such ease under the water, back and forth underneath our boat, turning on its side to peer up at us, staying with us for about half an hour. grey on top, light grey on the bottom with a white stripe on its fins. it was perhaps the coolest wild animal experience any of us had ever had. from there we continued all day and night after the wind finally kicked in from the north east 10-15 knots and sailed through the third night finally making it to great inagua island at 5:00 am.

we had still not caught any mahi mahi fish, and this was driving us crazy since we have had hooks over the side at every opportunity. and during this passage we once had three on the lines at one time. but one ripped the lure free of the line, and the other two somehow wriggled off the lines. devestation - especially since a boat we were travelling with had caught a few.

at great inagua, we checked out with customs, got some more food and prepared to head for jamaica. during that time we discovered the floor of our dingy had separated from the outer inflateable tubes. it still could drive all of us to the beach but we had only about six inches between the top of the tubes and the water on the inside. it was quite funny, though now we're trying to make some sort of fix. right now we're using some friends boat while they are docked and we are now at anchor.

the passage to jamaica went well, and took about 48 hours. we went with another boat named the great escape: a retired couple from california: duey and nan. duey is a retired navy carrier pilot who flew F-18s. needless to say i have had many questions for him. we were a bit concened about the guantlet between cuba and haiti, so we traveled together, checkin in with each other every two hours on the single sideband radio, giving our positions with a 100 mile offset to confuse any bad guys and were ready to go stealth if we needed to. duey also talked about a water cannon that he had and mentioned that he had gasoline. (didn't really know what he meant by that except that maybe he would make a flame thrower and use some of his military combat experience)

the passage was uneventful - we had good winds and relatively calm seas, practiced some celestial navigation, and admired the mountains of cuba while we kept on the lookout for fast moving ocean ships and refugee boats. one of the highlights, though, was finally hooking and retrieving our first mahi mahi. delicious and beautiful in all its colors. we thanked the fish for its sacrifice and enjoyed its taste with our customary rice dinner. so into jamaica we came, checked in with customs and immigration and were off to explore town. my exploration highlight was watching a school gym period on a field where i was serching for a soccer game. everyone was running hard, lifting weights, throwing the discuss (into the track, nearly hitting one of the runners) or doing sit ups. it was a very active scene, everyone was running as hard as they could, the track was a run down field with worn stripes and rocks on it most kids were barefoot. it was interesting to compare it to the u.s. high schools. you can do a lot with a little if you are creative and willing.

my dad has passed his third ham radio test so we are now in contact with him daily on the single sideband radio. it is wonderful to be in contact with my parents and it is great to be able to hear about all my siblings and other things like the cold weather without paying a dollar a minute. so that's about it from jamaica. we plan to stay here for a week or two. enough to watch the superbowl - go patriots, see some of the inland island, fix our tender, and get some shots for central america. it's nice to be in the jungle type climate and my tarzan instincts are returning. the adventure is continueing and it's nice to have a new flag flying from our starboard spreaders.

all the best to everyone at home.

ben