Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Westward Bound: To the East!

Tomorrow I am leaving the continent again. I will fly westward in an airplane built by a questionable company (its an A330, if that helps) and fly off into tomorrow. Then after arriving in tomorrow we'll continue to fly until we land in Beijing. So I am very excited about the trip, but not excited about the jet lag that will pursue me over there. It is like a shadow, but unlike Peter Pan, I cannot (I think) lose it. So I am at my Dad's house right now, and after a few hours of hard labor he has agreed to take me to the airport tomorrow. Which is nice, because taking the bus and the train all get me there either 12 hours early or 10 minutes late. A difficult choice. So at my Dad's place there are some Wood Ducks that are nesting in a little box in a tree. I tried to sneak up to get a picture of them, but the wouldn't have it, so they flew off after I got this far away shot. Then I started up the lawnmower and maybe they won't ever come back, it was so noisy.
I have my Visa, and my Passport, and my ticket. I'm not bringing much in the way of clothes, because I think it will be warm over there, and if needed I can buy things, I think I can get them when I need them. Then I don't have to bring a lot of things too. I am just going with my backpack and my camera. If there are places in China that I should go and take a picture of, please let me know. Like normal, I am going without a plan.
I hope I can get internet in China to blog some more, but I have heard that this blog is blocked by the chinese government, so I may not be able to post anything. There are ways around this sort of thing, and I will try, but if this is the last post in a while, I am sorry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I am back in the USA! I arrived into LAX last Wednesday, spent the evening with my friend Matt and flew to Seattle on Thursday, to see my friends there. Then Saturday morning I took a train to Bellingham. But the story goes on! Monday morning I went up to Vancouver to try to get a visa at the Chinese Consulate there. First I had to get to Canada, where the border guards are all friendly. There was no wait, so I went straight in, but they asked me some questions that I answered wrongly to, so they sent me in for a thorough search. They inspected my brain through a experimental surgical procedure that made me smell things funny and made my arms and legs twitch occasionally, and then they poked around in my lungs and liver for telltale signs of a lie. But they found none. There were no lies within me, and eventually they had to sew me up and search the car instead. Then finally they let me go after about an hour and I got to go onward and sit in traffic to get to Vancouver. Such a lovely thing waiting in traffic is. It is nothing like waiting for the wind to blow on the boat, where you can ignore the world and take a nap or something. Not so in traffic. You must be alert. I have decided I do not like traffic. After the boat, there is no comfortable place to eat in a car, or lie down and sleep while you are going along. And the autopilot just doesn't work. So then I got to the consulate, where I waited in line and eventually discovered that I wasn't going to be able to make the same-day service. Which means they would have my passport, and I can't go back to the USA without it. So I went to talk to one of the information people, and discovered that in fact they wouldn't give me a visa here anyways! I am not welcome in Canada-China Visa land. I need to go to San Francisco.
Now San Francisco is a long ways away, so after thinking about how to figure it all out, I have decided not to go, but to mail it away and wait until next week and see if I get the visa. So now I am in Bellingham for a week. I also played frisbee last night, and it was wonderful, but I am out of shape terribly, so I am sore. Tomorrow I will play again.
I don't have a passport anymore, the postal service has it right now, and soon the Chinese will have it. After that I may get it back with a modification and I hope soon.
Then off to China in a bit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Last night in Mexico...

I went wandering around San Blas last night, being my last night in Mexico. I went down to the Church in the center of town just as the sun was setting, and it was painted nicely by the evening colors. Out front there was a gate, so I got a shot looking up at the gate entrance. The twilight down here lasts only a short time, so the colors soon faded, and as they did, I went to a taco stand to get myself dinner. The tacos, of course are excellent, and always seem to be 10 pesos, though on some rare occasions you can find 8 peso tacos. The majority of the difference is the size, and the amount of stuff they put in them. In Puerto Vallerta, they are small, but the same price. In San Blas, they are big. So the smaller the town, the bigger the taco. I will test this theory by going out into the desert to a place where there are two roads that intersect and find a taco stand there run by coyotes and road-runners (and maybe a burro) with tacos that are the size of bedsheets. And filled with heaven. But first I have to get a new visa to come back to Mexico. So that will have to be a later post.
After dinner, I went into the square. This wasn't a long trek, since the Church and the Plaza are always next to each other, and also because the taco stand was on the corner of the plaza. I had to cross the street. So now it is getting dark enough to make longer exposure pictures, and then the lights come on! So everything is orange from the very excited electrons bubbling around in Sodium vapors. The trees in the plaza, as the sun sets, become full of Grackels, black birds like a small crow with a slender bill. They screech and grack (I think that describes it nicely) and make a lot of noise. During the day there are pigeons, but they disappear at dusk. A mariachi band starts up, their light music fighting against the deepening dark. And finally the lamps flick on and paint everyone with an unnatural orange, but brightening the mood. I took a couple pictures, but not many, since the attitude is more of relaxation than of work. The pictures seemed like a slight rebuff to the atmosphere.
I am nearly gone from this place, nearly gone from the boat, and I tried to make pictures to show that effect. It was my last night in Mexico.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Summer Camp

Altair is "up on her legs" for the summer now. I am taking everything down and tomorrow I will fly back to the USA again. In preparation for my return, I charged up my cell phone, and over the last couple days I've been sad to see that I can't turn it on. But then yesterday I saw the power button is on the top of it, and I realized that I had forgotten how to turn it on! I wonder if I will remember how to use it. This last week in San Blas has been nice, and I spent a lot of time with a couple off a boat called Kasasa, who are very generous with their apple juice. They just left this morning, and I "helped" push them off. Well, I didn't do anything, actually. But watching them go is bringing that spirit back into me where I want to get moving some more. So I am eager about getting out of here and on the plane.
But at the same time, there is a part of me that is going to really miss Altair. I've been living aboard for a year now, and have spent nearly every night in her bosom. To go somewhere else will be very strange.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

River trip

There is a nice estuary that I have been anchored in (until today) and one of the other boats out there (Lady Lexi) came over and offered to drive me up the river to see what we could see. So I brought my camera, and we saw a few neat things, including nesting Great Blue Herons and a Crested Caracara. There aren't too many of the Caracaras so that was a neat one to see. I also went surfing at the mouth of the estuary, and I think I'll go again, because it was lots of fun. But its a long walk. There is a lot of bird life (and insect life) around here. I am really beginning to like San Blas.

More pictures from the trip with Abe and Katrina

Here are a few more pictures from the end of the trip. Those of you that have met Katrina might not know this, but she is actually from the future. She was sent back in time to help. She is, in fact a Terminator.
Abe, on the other hand, like any good ethnobotanist, keeps his eye firmly fixed in the present, looking at the ground in search of life.
We were on this beach that extends for 80 miles or more, and there is no people on it. The reason that nobody is there is that the beach is surrounded by an elite security force of Delta Mosquitoes. They may be small, but they aren't to be trifled with. But, with our resident (and friendly) Terminator, we were able to negotiate passage through the militant insects.
We were on a bird watching tour, in search of a turkey relative that I couldn't get a good picture of. But I did get Woody the Woodpecker to stand still enough. The sunset light painted him up nicely too. But the security forces were closing in on us, and our visa to Lonely Beach Paradise was fast running out. We then scampered through the underbrush back to the boat, and here is a picture of her last days in the water.
Since that picture, I have taken all the sails off and will strip her even more, taking all the lines and cloth parts, so that she will suffer the least from the sun. I also took the poor flags down (finally).
So the trip with Abe and Katerminator was a success. They fly out tomorrow from Mexico City.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The last sail...

Altair just did her last sailing for about 6 months. I will put her up in "summer camp" in San Blas for this coming summer (and hurricane season) and leave her to the elements. Then I will fly back to the USA for a little bit while I get ready to go to China!
But here is a little report about the trip with Abe and Katrina. We just got back from Isla Isabella, where I took my Dad when he was down here (so it seems to be a family destination). It is a great place to get bird poop all over your shoes, and there are lots LOTS of birds out there to poop on you. The water was pretty clear, so I was able to go spearfishing every day out there. And I caught a lot of fish! I got two big Amberjacks, a Leopard Grouper, and on the last day, I caught the prize, a Yellowtail. I haven't ever shot a Yellowtail before, so I was very excited to get one. And he was very pretty. Most of the times I got fish, I went around to the other boats and gave them pieces, so I made a lot of friends too!