- Category: Travel
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I thought I would share with all of you an event that Liz and I experienced yesterday.
As you may know, Puerto Vallarta is a popular place for people to prepare for the "puddle jump" to the South Pacific. Latitude 38 Magazine tries to keep track of people heading over - this year over 200 boats signed up with them, leaving from all over the Pacific Coast. A large number of them are leaving from here.
We made good friends with the owners of a Nordhavn 64 called Oso Blanco (White Bear, after their 7 year old son, Bear). They've been planning this trip for years, and after all that time, they were able to start yesterday. If you ever met Eric, the owner, you would know that starting on April 1 sort of matches his sensibilities. Eric has logged 25000 miles in Nordhavn cruisers, but even with all that, Lloyds of London was reluctant to give him insurance without people on board who had actually done the puddle jump previously. He was able to convince the underwriter that he would buddy-cruise with another Nordhavn that had people on board with experience of that passage, and Eric would take three extra friends onboard with experience of long-distance cruising.
Nordhavns are known as expedition cruisers - powerboats with enough fuel and standby systems to give them incredible range. Oso has a range of around 3500 miles, and is equipped with an entirely separate get-home engine system that they can use in case the main engine packs it in during the trip. For this trip, Eric bought an extra flexible fuel bladder for another 300 gallons of fuel. When you get going, there's really nothing out there as a stopping point until you reach the Marquesas, which is their first destination, only 2700 miles away.
The whole Puddle Jump thing has been a real eye opener for Liz and I. When you go to the marina, there are crowds of kids running around. Whole families are making these trips, many with pretty small children on board. Obviously, the vessel of choice is a sailboat, but these days there are a few long distance trawlers who are making the trip. What an amazing thing for a kid to be involved in. It reminds us of the kids we met while we were living internationally: a little smarter, a little more worldly, and a lot more self sufficient. The parents are different too: They don't freak out when their kids are jumping from the dock to boats or driving their scooters down the docks at high speed in imminent danger of going into the water.
For us, as our new friends head over the horizon, it has been a mixture of happiness and sadness. We're obviously happy for them to be following their dreams, but sad to be the people standing on the dock, tears in the eyes, waving goodbye to such good friends. Casting off their lines and watching them cruise out of the marina, with Bear and his mother standing on the back deck waving, us knowing it would be months or years before we have a chance to see them again. Then turning and walking back down the dock with other friends, all of us in tears, joking about how one of those "Left Behind" books ought to be written about us.
It was a special moment that Liz and I will never forget.
In 1971, Frank Zappa released “200 Motels”, a film about life on the road for a touring rock musician in the early 70s. It was apparently frenetic and plotless, but fun in the end.
A lot like our road trip this year.
Starting from our Miata's home in Gentry, Arkansas, we visited 12 states and put over 4700 miles on the odometer. We went as far south as Florida and as far north as Indiana, from the hills of the Ozarks to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We rode three ferries. In total we spent 25 days on the road, sleeping a single night in 10 different motels, staying with friends the other nights. We ate way too much barbecue and fried fish. We avoided the freeways when we could.
I'm not one for detailed logs of trips – they are usually only interesting for the original participants and besides, I don't remember that sort of stuff anyway.
I did, however, think about what I would tell people who decide to do such as trip in a two-seat roadster. Here is what I came up with (in no particular order of importance):
Well, it's 8:40 pm and I got home about 20 minutes ago. The last 8 hours or so have been quite an adventure.
Do you remember the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The knights were riding through a town that was rife with plague. A man was pushing a cart through the town calling "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!". A man walks of a house carrying an old man, presumably his relative, saying "here's one!", at which time the old man over his shoulder says, "I'm not dead yet! I'm getting better!"
I guess at times like these, one resorts to dark humor. The fact is that the evil swine flu plague never materialized, and both Mexican and US governments are being "cautiously optimistic" that what's going on now isn't any worse than the normal flu that kills over 39,000 people in the US every year. People here in Puerto Vallarta are more than a little ticked off that all their tourist business has vaporized, and they have to deal with the kids being home from school. To get the kids out of the house, one local tour company, Vallarta Adventures, has offered any of their tours for $500 pesos each (about $36US). We are swimming with dolphins this week and next week we are enjoying a catamaran tour out to a local beach for kayaking and snorkelling. These tours are usually around $100US per person, so this is quite a savings!
(Note: I guess my humor is a little too dark - some read the above and immediately assumed I had the flu. That is not true. There have been no cases of H1N1 here!)
So, what's the deal with H1N1? Here are the facts (from Associated Press):
Total fatalities from H1N1 globally: 20 (19 in Mexico and 1 in the USA)
Total reported cases: 800 (this in no way is an indication of the total number of people who may have gotten H1N1, as many cases have been so mild that people just got the flu and got better)
All Mexican cases have been isolated to two states around Mexico City. There have been ZERO reports of H1N1 in Jalisco or Nayarit states. Even so, all our schools are shut down, cruise ships aren't stopping, nightclubs and restaurants are closed. Puerto Vallarta is empty.
The good news is that the panic on this thing seems to have peaked, and people seem to be turning their anger at the media for scaring the hell out of them. Of course, it doesn't help that the WHO and CDC have been playing fast and loose with their new "Pandemic Threat Level" indicators, which they have never used before. Hopefully, when this thing finally blows over there will be a little soul searching on the part of those organizations to understand what they really achieved by using their cool new scale.
That's about the extent of our situation around here. We enjoy the warm days and cool evenings. I just looked out the window and noticed that the hummingbirds are back - they must not have read the memo from the FAA about unnecessary travel to Mexico. We enjoy a glass of wine occasionally, and head to the beach when it all just gets too stressful. Liz made a great cherry pie which we had with homemade vanilla bean ice cream - Mexican vanilla is the best!
It's tough, but we will soldier on...