A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: suzeevee

A Mast Full of Bees!

sunny 27 °C

What’s all the commotion about? Why’s everyone looking up? I couldn’t see anything. Not until someone said “bees” and, straining my eyes, I could just make out a very agitated swarm of little black dots circling the top of our neighbours mast – 65 feet above!
L’alize, a South African built Compass 47, had become home to a hive of bees displaced from another boat across the jetty almost a year before. Her owner and skipper, Andy, was getting the boat ready to sail from it’s berth in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, where she’s been for the last 4 years. Now Andy wants to relocate her to Florida where it will be easier for his wife and young family to fly out from the UK and do some sailing in warmer climes.
Obviously, before he sets sail he had to get rid of the infestation. The question is “how”? But apparently this is not the first time the Guatemalan staff at the marina have had to deal with this problem. In the absence of the local beekeeper, they are extremely resourceful. Jaime sends his friend off to the jungle to gather tree moss while he rigs up the vacuum cleaner.
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The plan is to burn the moss in a can and then suck up the smoke through the vacuum which is piped up through a hole in the bottom of the mast.
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Meanwhile, Andy wraps cling-film all around to seal any other possible outlets.
All of a sudden the mast is no longer and L’alize becomes a steamship with smoke pouring out her highest point. This works fine for a while. The bees go mad and they fly out the top of the mast in a frenzy but all they do is circle around and are reluctant to leave.
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More drastic measures are required. There’s just no avoiding it – Jaime, clad in long sleeved shirt and long pants (in sweltering heat and humidity, I might add) dons what looks like an old mosquito net and armed with a can of insect killer, is hoisted to the top of the mast to do battle with the bees. Legs and arms flailing freely he heroically strikes out and suffers only a few stings before being let down. Fortunately, he’s not allergic!
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The spray seems to have done the trick and the bees start dropping from on high upon the deck beneath. In fact all the boats in the vicinity are blessed with a carpet of bees for the next couple of days. But L’alize’s mast is clear – of live bees, that is. On unwrapping it, Andy is inundated with dead insects and debris pouring out of every orifice. It will no doubt take a few raisings of the main sail to clear the inside of the mast. I’m just wondering if Andy and family will have honey on tap for their next voyage!
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Posted by suzeevee 07:53 Archived in Guatemala Tagged boats sailing central_america bees Comments (0)

Moving on to San Miguel

Monday 18 July 2011

I finally had enough of the mosquitoes!!!
Time to move on so I decided to try out Couchsurfing for the first time. A friend in San Jose del Cabo introduced me and for those of you not in the know, it is a wonderful resource for travellers. Basically it’s a really simple concept – you join (for free) as a host and/or traveller and you can travel all over the world staying with someone for free. The hosts seem to enjoy it as much as the travellers because of their stories so it’s a win/win situation.
After a day of travelling by buses and taxis, complete with the runs, I arrived at my hostess, Joyce’s, at 10.30 in San Miguel de Allende. I was shown up to the roof terrace and was entranced by the magical view over the rooftops of the city with its many churches and cathedral – the lights sparkling and shimmering. Definitely a city to look forward to!

Posted by suzeevee 20:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day trip to Santiago Ixcuintlan - photos only

Saturday 16 July 2011

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Posted by suzeevee 20:11 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Every Dog Has His Day (not for sensitive viewers)

Saturday 9 July 2011

Amaranth announced there was a free clinic in Aticama today. The vet was coming to do sterilisations on the dogs and cats that roam the streets and could we go and help her round up some animals?
Katherine and she had already been to San Blas and collected two dogs that they knew of and we eventually arrived at the clinic with the promise of two more. The clinic turned out to be a vacant house – the operating table an old wooden kitchen table standing on four concrete blocks to bring it up to height. There was a single light bulb suspended from a wire in the ceiling and held in position by string – the rest of the light was provided by the open window next to the table.
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Instruments and medical supplies had been bought from the fund-raising efforts of a group of dedicated ex-pats, including Amaranth, determined to make a difference in the lives of these hapless animals who are certainly not treated the way pets are pampered in the first world. Often maltreated and half starved, Mexican dogs and cats are far down on the list of priorities, which is hardly surprising when roofs are made of tar paper and walls are concrete blocks stacked on top of each other and tied in place by wire because cement is too expensive.
The banner outside proclaims CLINICA GRATIS and slowly people bring their animals, unsure of this sterilisation (particularly of males) in this macho society. Audrey, Kate and Amaranth welcome them and get the animals settled. The vet and his apprentice son work diligently in what could only be termed adverse surroundings. Preliminary shots are given, followed by the full anaesthesia after which the animals are tied with string to the table, prepped and operated on by caring hands before being laid on sheets on the floor to recover. We stand by, helping where we can – turning a dog onto his other side, making sure the cat is not too near the edge of the table. I move from animal to animal, giving Reiki healing to speed recovery and just sending love to all.
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I go out to the back yard. One of the dogs Amaranth and Katherine brought in earlier is now out of his cage, waiting his turn. My eyes well up. This poor dog is just skin and bone – a head and tail held together by ribcage and spine. His back right leg has been broken and is useless because a) it was never set and b) he was tied by the foot either by string but more probably wire which was so tight it ate into his flesh leaving a deep scar. He is just lying there. I sit next to him and put my hands on him. Whatever happens, somehow I want him to know, even if it’s just for these few minutes, that there is love in this world, he is loved. Unbelievably, I am rewarded with a couple of wags of his tail. The vet decides to operate on him despite his frail condition and he makes it through the op.
All in all twelve animals went under the knife – seven dogs and five cats – not bad for a day’s work. Amaranth and Wally brought the two stays from San Blas home to recuperate, along with another little dog from Aticama. Katherine has adopted the one whom she befriended several weeks ago and has named her Sol, due to her sunny nature. I am looking after my skinny friend, who is now dining on hamburger meat, which he takes very sparingly. He is recovering slowly and is now asking to go out, which he manages very gamely on three legs. I am very happy to report that he wags his tail much more frequently. He is incredibly brave and full of spirit. I have named him Lancelot.
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Many thanks to the dedicated ladies, Audrey, Kate and Barb, of Bahia Matanchen Animales as well as all the other volunteers. Anyone wishing to donate to this worthy cause must just please contact me and I'll send you the details.

Posted by suzeevee 19:53 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Independence Day(s)

Monday 4 July 2011

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The 4th of July brought an invitation to a party. The die-hard ex-pats, the ones who didn’t leave to escape the bugs and humidity, got together to celebrate the independence days of Canada (1st July) as well as the USA. It was a pot-luck affair, with everyone contributing and was hosted at one of the big houses on the hill – Gringo Hill.
Perched at the highest point on the edge of a cliff overlooking the beach, this house was in the most perfect position to take full advantage of the setting sun as it slipped into the ocean at the close of another day.
The house, lovely as it was, was completely overshadowed by the most magnificent tropical garden. Not being a great one for small talk, I grabbed my camera and discreetly left to explore the grounds. It was heaven – great racemes of brilliantly hued flowers hung down from enormous leaves of every shade of green. The scents were as intoxicating as the blooms and it left my senses reeling.
Only when the light failed did I leave wonderland and went back to eat – off Stars and Stripes plates accompanied by fireworks shooting out into the night sky over the crashing sea. A perfect end to a magical evening.
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Posted by suzeevee 19:44 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Monsoons, Mangoes and Mosquitoes

Life on Slow Living Farm

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It wasn’t until the Sunday evening after my arrival in Aticama that the rains started. Then they forgot to stop. Or so it seemed to me. And this wasn’t the gentle light rain that I’m used to going on for days. This was serious rain, accompanied by deep growling thunder and lightning that ripped the sky apart, testing the very foundations. Occasionally there would be a brief interlude, the heavy clouds rising slightly, but the sun was always defeated in it’s attempts to break through, just not enough to stop the temperature rising dramatically, which in its turn started a whole other sequence of events.
With the heat came the humidity, great inescapable swathes of dampness causing the sweat to run blindingly into your eyes, down your back, hands slick, unable to grasp anything with conviction. Taking a cold shower would only make matters worse, so you learn to live with the constant dripping and damp clothes.
Humidity means mosquitoes, and they came in droves. Black ones and blue ones, they descend in a dense dark cloud to engulf you as soon as you step out of the safety of the screened house. Long sleeves and long pants are the order of the day if you have to be outside and even then you’re not safe – a bee-keepers suit would be more appropriate. Consequently most of the work ends up being indoors. Which brings me to....
Mangos! Hundreds of them. The heat and humidity are the perfect environment for their ripening and we can’t keep up. The plump golden fruit are brought to the ground from the tree by gravity’s force and they fall faster than we can pick them. We run around doing our best not to disturb the clouds of insects that rise at our approach, legs and arms flailing at our buzzing, blood sucking assailants in a half crazed dance, all the while filling our baskets with as many mangos as we can carry. The balance have to remain but are surprisingly quickly absorbed back into the ground, completing the circle of life.
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Off to the kitchen on the third floor then and the mosquito-free (or relatively) zone to peel and process these glorious sweet gifts from god. All manner of culinary delights are lovingly prepared – ice-cream, juice, jam, cobbler, puree, bread, scones. This happens with the lychees and passion fruit that are also ready in this season. Nothing goes to waste. The peels are thrown from the window onto the best thought out position for a compost heap ever invented – directly three floors below. Whether frozen, dried or just simply eaten straight from the tree, the fruits of our labour are enjoyed by all – and will continue to be in the many months to come.
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Posted by suzeevee 15:28 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

The Man in the White Hat

Sunday 26 June 2011

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The bus from San Blas dropped us off at the plaza in Aticama, amid throngs of people all sporting the red and white of the PRI party. They were waiting for Roberto Sandovar, the favourite running for governor of Nayarit. The mood was festive, with music blaring, flags waving and young and old caught up in the excitement of it all. Children were running around and dancing – showing off and generally entertaining the crowd until suddenly, like a turning tide, everyone rushed off to the roadside to greet the great man.
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His trademark is a white cowboy hat and crisp white shirt, very dashing as he does his typical politician bit of holding up small children, shaking hands and back patting. He jumps up on the sea wall to a great cheer and hand on heart, promises the people what they came to hear. Surely, he must be a good guy because the man in the white hat always wins!
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Posted by suzeevee 13:59 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

San Blas – or maybe Sand Blast!

Sunday 26 June 2011

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Every Sunday, Amarantha goes to mass in the new cathedral in San Blas. Paloma and I take her up on her offer of a lift and we head to the beach after a brief exploration of the town. Yesterday we had rain but today was clear blue skies and very hot, so we were determined to make the most of the sunshine.
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After a twenty minute walk with no shade, we arrived at the start of a long line of ramadas – the typical beach restaurants that are nothing more than a palm roof canopy over plastic tables and chairs in the sand. Something to quench the thirst we had developed seemed to be in order so we headed to a table closest to the sea and were immediately enveloped in a black swarm of mosquitoes. Hopping and jumping around to escape their vicious bites, our waitress (who appeared to be totally unaffected) could not understand why we declined her offer of cool refrescos. The pair of us ran as fast as we could, shedding clothes en route, to immerse ourselves in the warm waters of the Pacific. Now we understood why there wasn’t another soul at any of the restaurants, although even the beach itself was very quiet.
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There is something about a long, deserted swathe of sand that draws one to walk as far as you can – and that is exactly what Paloma and I did – never venturing too far from the sanctuary of the breaking waves. There was hardly a breeze and the oyster catchers amused us with their antics at the water edge, always staying a constant distance ahead of us. They weren’t the only ones fishing in the vanishing waters. A couple of young boys, still fully clad, were sitting sifting the sand to collect tiny shells which they would take home for supper. This was obviously a favourite thing to do because as we headed back, whole families had come down, with grannies, mothers and toddlers all sitting in the water as it ebbed and flowed, all fully clad and all sifting sand for these crustaceans as the men folk congregated by their pick-ups, looking on and discussing the things that men discuss, I suppose.
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Eventually, our walk was brought to an end by the estuary of a wide river. Here we stopped to refresh ourselves in the ocean, accompanied by many pelicans enjoying a game of surfing the waves. They were a delight to watch and every so often, one would catch a fish and we’d be amazed at the transformation as its “beak” grew to accommodate the catch.
Our return walk was accompanied by increasing wind and by the time we reached the recommended restaurant, it was whipping the sea into quite a frenzy. Choosing a table to avoid being sand-blasted, we enjoyed our quesadillas and frijoles(beans) washed down with an ice cold beer (and orange juice!), calmly watched by an inquisitive iguana.
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Posted by suzeevee 13:45 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Life on Slow Living Farm

Saturday 25 June 2011

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In the morning I woke up to brilliant sunshine, blue skies and an even more brilliant and bluer sea. What woke me was the sound of a loudhailer extolling the virtues of a candidate in the local election. (I was to discover that this loudhailer announces anything – from meetings in the plaza to the sale of grapes and automobiles – moreover, it must be an extremely effective means of advertising because it goes all day and all evening!)
The casita where Paloma, the other young girl volunteering with me from Spain, and I are staying is quite unique and very charming, even although it is basically a lean to roof with one and a half walls, the others being covered in mosquito netting. Within the space resides our bedroom – the converted camper van that Wally and Amaranth started their dream life together in. The bathroom has 6ft separating walls and the kitchen has a sink built into concrete counters. There are signs of Amaranth and Wally’s creativity all around – from the bamboo pegs in the wall to the bright sun murals painted on the walls. Although Paloma speaks really good English, she encourages me to speak Spanish, which although hard work is excellent practice which I desperately need!
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At 8.00, sure enough, Amaranth arrives and takes me up the hill to the main house – a lovely 3 storey building, designed and built by Wally after the pair of them got married. It’s very unusual, inasmuch as the kitchen, which has a sitting area and dining terrace, is on the top floor, which ensures it is virtually mosquito free without having to have screens. An added bonus is the incredible view over the surrounding countryside to the mountains in the east and the sea in the west. You can see the whole of the bay of Mantachen, from San Blas in the north all the way to Sayulita in the south – quite something!
My first task is peeling a huge bowl of lychees in the kitchen, while Paloma goes off to help Wally in the hen house. It’s Saturday, so we finish early for the weekend – no work on Sunday – I picked a good day to arrive!

Posted by suzeevee 14:56 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Bye-bye Baja....Allo to Aticama

24 June 2011

Almost 2 months on the Baja and it’s time to move on. Jess and I took Roger to the airport, then a couple of hours later she took me to the bus station. She is such a beautiful, caring person and I wish Peter and her all the success in the world in seeing their dream come to fruition. My sincere thanks to them both and to all the others at Raices y Brazos who made my stay so interesting and helped me get in tune with my healing side again.
The journey from San Jose del Cabo to Atticama proved to be pretty straightforward, although somewhat tedious: bus to La Paz, bus to the terminal, ferry overnight to Mazatlan, tuk-tuk to the bus station, bus to Tepic, bus to San Blas and taxi to Aticama, arriving in the dark 36 hours after my initial departure. I’m amazed at how luxurious the buses are in Mexico – they have very comfy seats and usually foot rests; aircon; toilets and let’s not forget the in-transit movies – usually at full volume! When I arrived in Aticama, the telephone in the village wasn’t working, so after some enquiries I found a man who works for Wally and Amaranta, my new hosts at Slow Living Farm. After waking him up and getting him out of bed, he very kindly came with the taxi and showed us where to go – we’d never have found it in the dark without him!
At the gate, we are greeted by a sign warning us of rattle snakes beyond this point. Undeterred, my gallant guide clangs the bell and calls until Wally appears behind his headlamp and opens up for me. I pay the taxi, give my thanks to Manuel and head into the dark with Wally. All I can tell is we are heading downhill through trees which I soon discover are mangos because I am slipping and sliding on the fallen fruit. We soon arrive at my new home and Wally leaves me to settle in for the night, saying Amaranth will come and fetch me for breakfast in the morning about 8.00 – something to look forward to!
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Posted by suzeevee 14:53 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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