Passage from Isla Mujeras, MX to Key West, FL

Well we made it to Key West, FL!  We left Sunday around 1pm and sailed (sometimes in 8-10′ seas/swell for a few hours) until the next afternoon when we started motor sailing.  The trip started off with a pod of dolphins to entertain us as soon as we got into the Yucatan channel.  The self steering wind vane (who we have named Pier as the brand is Voyageur) worked great.  Its a good thing we fixed this while in the Rio Dulce.  The rest of the trip was light wind or no wind so the iron jenny (diesel motor) got a work out and performed well.  We sail much faster than we motor so this slowed us down.  This is the reason we took off Sunday vs Monday.  But we needed to wait till the seas calmed down abit as we had 20-30 N/NW wind due to a front the previous 2 days.  This year has been FULL of North fronts.  We were blessed with no compression loss/injector and belt ripping issues like our season started with.  We were glad to have Vicki on board as it gave us 6 hours off watch schedule versus 3 hours.  So this improved our sleeping time….

There is something about making passage with seeing no other humans around in such a populated world, watching the sun/moon/stars dance, the illumination in the water created by our wake, the changes created by wind/sea, the time to contemplate life, etc.  We did have a death on board during this passage. A small yellow finch may have escaped Cuba and flew to our boat for refuge and respite. We were surprised that after a few minutes it didn’t leave. It found the nearest yellow in our Wararo basket down below and made that its home. We tried to give it water and food and did partake in abit of that. You could tell that it probably was a pet as after abit it allowed us to touch it. Then it got too cold being outside and flew to the inside steps next to diesel engine. It wasn’t long after that that it flew to another area by our computer but then started twitching and soon thereafter even after bringing it outside – it died. It was sad as the bird brought us enjoyment and we hope we gave it comfort. We felt aweful for us not protecting it from the diesel fumes. Vicki gave it a sea burial along with our individual prayers!

Key West is sure a trip from being in Central America. It is a FREE place where people do what they want…. It was fun to explore and people watch. It is a ways out there from other civilization and sure not apart of the deep south.

What happens next is unknown other than we plan on putting Sojourn on the hard at Green Cove Springs Marina in St. Johns River, FL for a bottom job/blister repair, possible survey and downtime. We are on that journey now making day/overnight passages. Vicki left us in Marathon, FL. We currently had a great overnight sail to Ft. Lauderdale. We are having Tom’s cousin Jeanine/Ram visit us and a technician look at the watermaker that hasn’t worked to specifications since we bought it in 2008. Next we motor/sail up the next 280nm to St. John’s river. We hope to be back in MN early June.

May you live your dreams!  THANKS for all your support over the last 7 years while we were on our AMAZING journey with Sojourn!  Life is full of changes you learn to accept.  Please keep us posted as to your lives/dreams as we really want to stay in touch with ALL we have met!



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The BIG island to the south of Florida

The big island to the South of Florida:

Where do I begin? It has always been on my bucket list to visit so convinced Tom to go this year while our boat was in Isla Mujeras, MX. So we flew from Cancun to Havana along with Vicki Staudte who met us at the airport. We obtained the tickets from a travel agent in Isla.

Arriving at the airport was a trip from the past as our government taxi was a 1957 Chevy – Tom’s dream car. But with all these old cars meant that could be BLACK smoke if they hadn’t replaced the engines yet as there is no emission controls here. They are abit more expensive 30 CUC than hiring a yellow taxi which we did other times. The driver told us they only have 5 classic cars refit with Toyota engine (most refit with diesel) in the gov’t fleet. There are 2 currencies – the tourist currency CUC and the local currency National Pesos (used for govt veges/meat, bread/sweet markets and private small street eateries (palabra’s). 1 CUC (same as $1US) is approximately 25 National Pesos. Gov’t taxi drivers make 13 CUC/day and private make slightly more.

They brought us to the Casa Elizabeth in historica Havana where her 86 yr old mother Conception Elana, husband, 2 – 80 yr old Aunts, 2 adult children, cousin Leonardo and 3 rooms for rent. Most of the older casa particulars (private homes renting rooms) are a narrow, long slice of a 2-3 story side by side building with a balcony or terrace if on the top floor. A room with 2 beds/3 people average $20-30 CUC/US with private bath, fans and A/C. For extra income they provide breakfast $4 CUC or dinner for $7-10 CUC/US per person if you choose. We were told that owners that rent out rooms make the most private income. The gov’t does tax them like any other gov’t restaurant run by an owner.

We did a lot of sight seeing, walking, night music groups, dancing and people watching. They appear to accept gays but not sure if they allow marriage. Throughout our trip we gave away soap, toothbrush/paste, paper/pens, soap bubble toy, etc. Pam/Dennis on S/V Glyde met us our first day there so was fun to explore with them. During our guided tour bus trip, we got off to find the local gov’t Coppelia where all they sell is various forms of ice cream. If you have National Pesos, you stand in line for a vacated seat to buy ice cream at local vs tourist prices (CUC). Its amazing to watch locals with 2-3 bowels each having 5 scoops of ice cream, some with cake, coconut, etc. They average 5 Nat’l Pesos per bowel. It was quite an experience! As we traveled throughout the country, we found more but they did not always have ice cream to sell.

We were told that a gov’t employee never receives enough money to live even with the food provided by the gov’t (1 chicken/mo., daily bread/rice/coffee/eggs/etc.) But they all appear happy with very few homeless as the gov’t rents out all the homes and fincas (farms). Now realize that most of these places were taken from the families after the revolution. An average finca is 7-16 hectors. The families grow most of what they need to eat but for income they sell to the gov’t tobacco, yuca or other root veggies, pineapple, banana, beef, etc. They do grow a lot of tobacco for cigars. The planting season starts in September and ends in March and usually grows in the hilly areas. I learned that the plant has 5 different leaf sections with different qualities/use within the cigar. The entire family gets involved in the growing, drying and rolling of cigars by hand. Most farmers don’t have tractors so use oxen for all the field work which brings me back to my farming childhood watching my dad/brothers using work horses. The gov’t takes 90% of the earnings. I believe they average 3000 cigars or 80-100 CUC is their net. We learned the names of cigars were Cohiba, monte cristo, etc. We were told that Raul is possibly going to make a change such that the families start renting the farms and they keep the proceeds. We also understand that 2 months ago travel to other countries was opened up but most can’t afford the airline costs.

We went to the Viazul (higher end bus) bus terminal to head to Vinales. Some of the other local buses that take you to smaller towns are old military trucks with a narrow slat for ventilation and crowded with standing room only. We were approached by private taxi’s that would drive the 3 of us there for the same price. So after inspecting the car we choose to take it as it would get us there faster. We spent about 3-5 days in each town we stopped at. We had found the Havana casa on the internet and the Vinales Casa in the Lonely Planet while in MX but most casa owners will have friends/relatives in various towns to call to make a reservation for you. We hiked for sunrise views by visiting the few indigenous Los Aquaticos who healed with water, road horse thru Valle Anacon/Vincente for sunset views, biked to various valleys in this farming area with beautiful vistas. The casa owners father had a organic farm we hiked to which was amazing how he had so many types of crops. He was self taught and obtained organic certifications. Adrian was the 27 yr old guide for the sunrise hike. He spoke good English so we had a good discussion about the political system. Nothing solved but to continue to have HOPE. We heard and saw the national bird, Tocaroro displaying red/blue/white. They have the royal palm all over but minimal animals.

We went next to Playa Giron to do some diving $25/dive. I dove 2 dives and wasn’t that impressed with fish life but coral was in good shape. I think the best diving is on the outer islands Key Largo/Juventudes, etc. We immediately saw ALOT of SMELLY dead land crabs on the coastal road. We were told that they come in herds from the hills to feast in preparation to return to the hills to have sex and then return again to the playa to lay their eggs. Then parent/babies return to the hills again. During this 1.5 month process lots get squished.

Cuban’s can’t get internet in their homes. So they pay to have other foreigners order the service for the casa’s home telephone number. Its abit slow and unreliable but its better than nothing. They will get their service taken away if they skype or go to other forbidden sights.

The military won’t take gays for the mandatory 2 year service for men. Some women enlist in the 1 year of service so they can get free college without having to pass their version of the SAT test. Like in Guatemala we didn’t see any advertising billboards unless it was political propaganda.

Cienfuego was our next destination via Viazul bus. This is where a lot of cruisers stop in the Marlin Marina to do some land travel. As in most towns, the modes of taxi transportation change. Here the horse carts started to carry 6-9 people so we felt sorry for the horses as they were pretty skinny. So far you will see auto taxi’s, 2 seater bicycle taxi’s with radio’s and lights run by batteries, tuk tuk, side car motorcycles, etc. It was very hot and rainy while here so decided to leave for Trinidad.

En route via private taxi to Trinidad, we stopped to purchase some mangos on the coast. Our casa Smith was nice but under construction so after a couple nights we found another Casa Louis Colonial with a great terrace for dinner, vistas and watch the morning come to life. We rented bikes to see the playa/coast but my bike was bad with gear/brakes sticking so very difficult and was hot. A horse cart stopped to pick me up as I was walking with bike up a steep hill. We also took a morning hike to radio tower. Artist Jonny was hanging out at the church ruins and decided to come with. The gov’t was allowing this French business to build a hotel which incorporated this historic church. They would own and reep profits for 10 years before the gov’t would take it under their control. We were in Valle Ingenos/Cerro de la Vigia where Che Guevera and his revolutionary troops hung out. This used to be a large coffee plantation area with one of the homes turned into the psychiatric home for those challenged. We walked around the cobble stoned streets (similar to Antigua, Guatemala) and saw lots of music groups day/night with dancers enjoying themselves. This is a beautiful village with lots to do. We also obtained internet at the Gov’t Ekteles communications business at 3CUC for 30 minutes but it could take up to 5-7 minutes to get logged on and slow at times. Another change was the bug bomb smoke trucks that would travel thru the city around dusk. It was like a mist of fog appeared and you couldn’t see anything. We were abit concerned with health affects as well. They did this in Santiago de Cuba as well but didn’t notice that in Havana.

We also met up with Amanda and Mark on S/V Belvenie to spend a couple days. We would just miss each other in Vinales and Cienfuegos. It was fun to chat about our experiences and listen to music together.

We went to go see the train that takes passengers/locals thru Valle de Los Ingenios to various villages and other passenger trains. The man we spoke to had worked here for 43 years and husband Tom for 36 yrs. He showed us US built locomotion trains from 1914, 1919, 1927 that still worked. We decided to ride the train but didn’t realize that it would take us all day to get back. When they were tying our car on a curve Tom knew this was going to be a problem so saved the engineer by running back to turn the hand brake on our car. You could see the grins on their faces as they tried to chat Spanish to English about the railroad. I got abit bored on this train tour as hadn’t planned on doing this and realized that I felt abit Cuban in not being able to do anything about it so should accept the situation.

The 12 hour Viazul bus ride to Santiago de Cuba was long but interesting landscapes we passed with dairy cows, black soil, lots of crops, then coast and mountains – a pretty trip. We changed casa’s here as the original rooms needed the hallway light on all night as the switch was in a odd unreachable spot and our room had windows to the hallway so lots of light all night long. So we were walking and met Milan a man that spoke good English and worked at the Punta Gorda marina. He suggested another Casa El Mirador. The casa was great with 2 separate bedrooms on the terrace floor. Sort of an odd setup with the bathroom but the views were great of the harbor, etc. It amazed me with how there was such a concentration of rooftops and buildings. You could barely tell where one ended and another started. Milan also introduced us to Robert who worked at the Gov’t bodega of the old Barcardi Rum factory where they also sold cigars. He acquired some of the goods to sell for profit and showed us what he had.

Music groups and artists are great here. We went to the Casa de Las Tradiciones mid afternoon to listen to the groups practice for their night gigs that you would pay $2 CUC to get in. We enjoyed their CD’s. On our way back to Museo de la Lucha Clandistina we met Dr. Fernando who used to be head of the Nuclear Medicine and Research Center since 1991. He went to school in Cuba, Russia and Ottawa, Canada where he got his PhD. Around 1996 he was put into prison for “telling the truth” to some high political person who asked him “why the research center hadn’t come up with a cure for Leukemia”? He told them that part of the reason is the research supplies that were intended for his cancer center are ending up in your hospital. In 2 days he was in prison for 14 months and he was prohibited from working any further. Each year they grant him the visa/permission to leave the country but he doesn’t want to leave until his son graduates with his medical degree. Fernando’s wife divorced him and after a hurricane Sandy destroyed the gov’t shambled home he was squatting at – he started living with an elderly women and basically gets a few sheckles as a historical guide outside of the museum. Fernando came to our casa for further discussion and to dictate a letter to a colleague in Canada. Fernando just had eye surgery so couldn’t see very well.

Milan also found us Eddy, a private taxi to take us to climb La Gran Piedre, Sierra Maestra Mountain range and visit Castillo de San Pedro del Morro fort. He was a funny young man with a small car. He would always say “no problem”. He became our taxi as well between bus and airport terminals. We also obtained info on where I could buy a local bead with silver country map imbedded in it. Pam had one and I was happy to find the artist.

We then went to the small village of Baracoa via Viazul bus which was the most mountainous trip to the Pacific side. It is a very rural farming area. We stayed at casa Yamile y Ramon who was a funny man that eat all his meals with us on the terrace. He would say “I’m sorry for you”. He wants to visit the Washington DC mason center. We took a taxi to hike at the UNESCO Parque Hombolt with a guide. Interesting to learn that each village has a political and military head person to control all the functions with a term of 3-5 years. I was told that there is minimal crime other than theft of killing gov’t cattle which is a longer term than killing a person (10 yrs.). I loved to watch the children play on their home made carts sometimes using their feet as brakes going down hill. You would often see men playing domino’s late afternoon and I always wondered what the women were doing…. We ate 2 new local foods there – cucurucho, a sweet coconut, fruit, honey paste wrapped in a banana leaf and a Bacani, a palm wrapped plantain with coco/crab in the center (similar to a tamale).

The locals are very friendly. Tom contracted a stomach bug upon getting back to Santiago. I quickly went to the market that was just closed. There were a few guys still there and I told them my situation that I wanted to get a papaya and lime for my sick husband as heard that is good for stomach besides banana and rice. They brought me in back and sold me what I needed even though they were on their way home. I decided to put Tom on the amoeba/parasite meds I had from Guatemala and he started to improve. That evening Vicki/I went for a walk towards the Casa de la Traditionals and ran into Fernando. We explained Tom’s symptoms. He immediately wanted to see Tom. So he determined he wanted to go to get some meds but needed to see his doctor friend for the prescription to go to the gov’t pharmacy. I tagged along to see where he was going plus his eyesight is bad.

The following morning we had a flight to Havana. Tom was feeling better. When we arrived back to Casa Elizabeth she had some jelly called Sabia that is supposed to help with stomach cramps. Tom slept most of the day while Vicki/I explored the city some more and went to the artisan market. Most of the museums and Gran Teatro were under renovation since we left the first time so we couldn’t go to a theatre production.

It was a GREAT 3 week trip with lots of fun experiences. Now the journey continues with getting ready to sail Sojourn the 350nm from Isla Mujeras, MX to Florida with Vicki’s assistance. Sojourn hasn’t been back to USA in 7 years! Its been a WONDERFUL journey.

Live your dreams

Rose & Tom


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Isla Mujeras, MX March-April, 2013

The island of beautiful Caribbean water views, biking, eating lots of market/street food (tacos, salbutes, sopes, tlalpeno soup, etc.) meeting new cruisers, bumping into lots of tourists (therefore LOTS of vendors selling various water trips and merchandise) and dealing with the adventures of north cold fronts.

I see the end of this blogging thing and realize that this 7 years of mostly full time cruising has been a BIG GIFT. We are excited about flying to Cuba with Vicki (MN friend) for 3 weeks prior to sailing Sojourn back to FL in May to put here on the hard for possible a year to do some maintenance and determine our next journey….. So I awake each morning listening to the various sounds based on where we are anchored (birds, chickens, dogs, ferries, wind, seas) realizing that things will be different.

Some thoughts or things that are different here:

  • You see lots of bicycle or motorized bicycle food/ice cream/tortilla front loaded carts.
  • Its a great place to tour the island with a bicycle. I actually feel somewhat safe with the drivers and the riding/walking paths they built are actually civilized and BEAUTIFUL. I have been able to borrow bikes but miss my folding bike that got stolen in Bonaire.
  • Most places in Central America and MX have no people begging. They work hard and long hours.
  • Unlike Belize the fees for self check in to Immigration/Customs/Port Captain/Agriculture/Health are consistent. However, the NW Caribbean area certainly makes you check into SO many departments.
  • You continue to see Mayan people dressed in traditional clothing selling their hand made goods.
  • Surprised to see that fish is cheaper at Pt. Morelos. Maybe because the tourists were paying for the trip and the fisherman were just making extra since the tourists didn’t want the fish. I was told that there aren’t that many fish in this area nor fisherman.
  • I found a vendor that was selling LOTS of sea horse skeletons. He said they found them on shore BUT that seems odd to see so many.
  • There seems to be LOTS of cold fronts and WIND that make it to Isla – even more wind strength than at Pt. Morelos. I forget that we keep going north even though we are in the Caribbean.
  • Sold our Cuba cruising guide and charts that I had purchased in Colombia but excited that we will be flying there and traveling around for 3 weeks.
  • Odd that Mexico changes their clocks forward April 7 vs USA on March 10th. So now we are same time again as MN!
  • Just got to Marina del Sol in preparation to leave our boat for Cuba. Guaberto really takes his responsibilities seriously. We came back via dinghy around 10pm and he came down with a flashlight to see what’s up. He also keeps 2 of his 3 dogs out at night for ears. So we know our boat will be safe.
  • Its been great to meet new cruisers that you just know will be lifelong friends.
  • We have had a few more friends come to visit. Louise (MN) came over from her vacation in Cancun to spend a day with us and Karol also from MN came for a 1week. Lourdes from Mexico City also came over for a day while she/Pepe were on vacation in Cancun. It was GREAT fun.
  • When we were in Pt. Morelos we went (against Tom’s desires) to a private residence tour north of Cancun obtaining some cash, free snorkel tour in Isla Mujeras and ferry ride from Cancun to Isla. They allowed us to delay the tickets for 60 days so when Karol came we found the best day to take the free snorkel trip to the cement statues and outside of the Bahia anchorage. It was abit rolly and Karol had some troubles getting acclimated to the seas along with mast so it wasn’t so pleasant for her but it was fun to see. I hated wearing the life vests as didn’t allow me to dive down to take better photos…. We did go snorkeling again with Lourdes which was calmer but the current still rips outside the anchorage so she hangs onto the dinghy which is on a mooring.
  • There have been a few cruiser open mic music jams that have been great fun at Bahia Tortuga. One of the fiddle players Chris on S/V Espirtu has even gotten past his stage fright and played in front of us TWICE.
  • We love the local ice cream vendors where they not only have helado but natural fruit drinks (liquados) and fresh fruit popcicles… Its also very reasonable with my favorite being coconut, lime and coffee.
  • The holding is poor in both the main Bahia and Laguna Macax with soft muck but we have held through the blows. Therefore, small locally owned marinas have popped up that vary in price from $300-700 including water/electricity.

Stay tuned for the next adventures in Cuba.

Keep your dreams alive! Keep us posted to your status.

Hugs Rose & Tom


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Puerto Morelos end of February to Mid March, 2013

Its been FUN! El Cid Marina/Resort is a great place to have visitors and see family in Akumal. I (Rose) didn’t want to spend the money initially but Tom knew it would be a good thing. AND a good place it is (including the occasional free drinks we figured out how to obtain and the nightly shows). I loved doing the instructor led yoga/Pilates each morning on the finger pier jetting out into the bay. The pool was handy during hot days and WiFi access on the boat made life very cushy…. The collectivo’s are easy to figure out and reasonable to get to Cancun to Tulum. We have seen 2-3 northers go by since we have been here. I haven’t felt this cold in a long time while sailing in the Caribbean. I guess this means we are getting closer to the North America and the Canadian fronts. We see the end of our Caribbean journey and look back on all the wonderful things and people we have scene or met and were able to share our journey with some of you! I’m trying to be aware of more daily sites realizing that I won’t see them again in the same way.

We quickly learned how to get around via the collectivos (vans) that are reasonable and travel often up/down the main highway. To get to the highway was a mixture of biking (obtained from the marina), collectivo from Puerto Morelos, El Cid shuttle to end of their property, hitch hiking, walking and sometimes a expensive taxi when it was raining hard. Once to the highway you could take a van to Playa del Carmen and then another to Tulum (stopping off at Akumal) both around 25 pesos. It was the first time in quite awhile that they stopped taking passengers when the seats were full!

We both had teeth issues to deal with. Tom’s was left over from the infected molar that got pulled in Guatemala. So brother Joe suggested a dentist in Playa del Carmen, so after comparing costs in Puerto Morelos, Tom/I would take the collectivo to get his 3 tooth bridge created. Another first in awhile is they have Walmart, and Sam’s Club here but we only used the Walmart for basic items/vegetates. I obtained a cracked molar around the filling but I went to the Puerto dentist as Playa one was gone.

It was great to see some of the Hansmeyer’s in Akumal. Joe/Tony were great hosts and allowed us to hang at their place a few days. We even were able to take Joe out sailing inside the reef passing Puerto Morelos pueblo. Len’s family came down and was great to see them and Joe’s son Ryan’s and daughter Kristin’s family. My siblings are so different but all wonderful!! This whole coast has expanded so much that it was a shock. Our little Akumal destination for our honeymoon in 1989-90 is no longer. The entire coast has been discovered for us tourists and the prices have risen as well. No longer do you travel on rugged single lane road but a 4 lane highway with over passes and gas stations everywhere. A few of the sleepy road side restaurants are still hanging in – but barely as the coast prices rise. Joe took us to his jungle land. There was much more foreign development in the area than I expected as all I could imagine would be the heat, no wind and bugs. We walked into someones property that had beautiful virgin cenotes (underground cave area with fresh water pools)…. Unfortunately a lot of them on the coast have been blown up and developed into tourist traps.

We were shocked to see that Puerto Morelos still had a sleepy, small feel to it. We were told it was because Cancun restricted it from growing as they wanted to keep most of us there. The good news was that they created a marine park out of the reef in front of the town with snorkeling fees and vest requirements. That has probably saved the reef and fish from tourists standing on the reef to adjust their mask. We see now that most of the local workers don’t live in the coastal towns but been moved next to the highway to make room for us. Yikes! We would dinghy out to a mooring ball during calm sunny weather to snorkel this beautiful Barrier Reef (second largest in the world).

Mariana and Luis came to visit us from Guadalajara, MX. She lived with us in Mpls. for 5 months in 2004 in order for her to see some of the US and learn English. She is amazing how well she has retained English and Luis as well. They were both so much fun with their young spirits and laughter. We hope to visit them in Guadalajara when they choose to propose and marry. She was a trooper as she gets car sick – so you could only imagine how the movements of a boat at a dock affected her. Then there was Luis who would get bites from ANY flying object! It felt like it was just yesterday she was living with us! They even got to go on the 80′ yacht to see how others live. That yacht probably was blocking us from being able to listen to the SSB NW net as it has SO MANY electronic things turned on. So we were out of touch with what was going on with our cruising friends.

Next came Tom’s daughter Teresa, husband Wayne for 10 days. We did a lot of stuff with them. We started off with snorkeling, relaxing and going to Cozumel to dive before taking a road trip to Izumal. It took a FULL day to dive in Cozumel – organize ahead of time who to dive with/negotiate price, drive to Playa, take the ferry by 7am, drag all our gear, take a taxi to marina to get on dive boat that was was slow (was supposed to be fast boat), complete 2 dives, find a place to rinse off and reverse the steps. This brought us back to Puerto around 5pm in hopes to rinse off all the gear and hang up to dry before it was dark. Cozumel has ALSO grown since we were there in 2005 and the LARGE groupers/jew fish are fewer and hiding under coral. I didn’t realize before the reason for the quantity of fish was because dive masters were feeding them and that stopped finally around 2003 via a Mexican law in 1996. So its a good/bad thing as now the fish need to find their own food and are more cautious of divers (or there are less of them do to the fishing)….

Wayne had 2 Mexican brothers (Oscar & Alphanzo) from Izamal, MX as roommates about 15-20 years ago. Therefore he would go with them to visit their family in various places around Merida. Wayne and Oscar drove down several times with clothing and medical supplies as their father (Cappy Sosa) was very active in town affairs. So we stayed at Cappy’s Green River Hotel (which used to be a ranch) in this charming, clean, small pueblo called Izamal about an hour east of Merida. Its famous for having a Franciscan monk monastery which the Pope has visited twice! We took day trips to Uxmal Mayan Ruins (40 min. south of Merida) and Merida on Sunday which is the family day in the main square. They also close down the streets near the square for biking. On our way back to Puerto we stopped at Valladolid, another colonial pueblo.

The names of food have always been interesting in Spanish speaking countries but in Mexico I have found it even more delightful for all their taco delights. Things like cochinita, panuchos, sopes, salbutes, huaraches, poc chuc, tortas, churros, huevos munelatos….. In addition to my all time favorite of liquados, pastelitos and many fresh juices. As long as I’m on a roll, the helado (ice cream) of coconut and limon (lime) flavors together are a delight. What’s also interesting is I don’t think they have a name for yellow lemon’s? Maybe we will miss this cruising life more than I think.

There were other MN friends vacationing down here but we didn’t have time to see them as they coincided with above visitors. So Mexico is a popular destination and was a busy place for us. After this next COLD norther blows through we will head north to Isla Mujeras for more guests. From there we plan on flying to Cuba for 3 weeks before sailing Sojourn back to FL.

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Belize and Puerto Morelos, MX – January – end of February, 2013

We attempted to leave Rio Dulce, Guatemala but had injector problems so turned back to Catamaran’s to fix this as there is much more expertise from other cruisers there. It took us a week before we had good weather to leave again. It felt good to leave Guatemala as we had been there since October, 2012 due to Tom’s rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder.

Belize’s check in policies changed again, so we had to take the “Hokey Pokey” water taxi from Placencia into Independencia and then taxi into Big Creek. I still don’t know why they called it that?

We traveled around Belize for a month and visited Lighthouse Atoll between northers which have been alot this year along with lots of rain.  Belize is nice but no clear water making it difficult to navigate unless you are by the reef. There are not very many places to hide in a norther. But when you do get clear water it is BEAUTIFUL.  Last year we explored Southern Belize which has more tiny mangrove cays.  We really enjoyed diving at Lighthouse Reef Atoll with Appleseed (they arrived a few days after us) and were able to get our tanks filled by the Agressor III live aboard dive ship that was on various moorings at night.  We were going to stop at Turneffe Atoll in route to Lighthouse but the wind wrong direction for anchorage and we had a great sail with calm seas so we continued onto Lighthouse.  A huge pod of full size dolphins came to play with Sojourn while in route for about ½ hour. We never get tired of them! We stayed at Lighthouse for about 1 week. We again saw the Belizian fisherman in their small sailboats 20-25′ with outboard motor. There can be from 7-11 fisherman living for a week along with their small wood canoe’s that they use to go diving for mostly lobster as capture the best price. They also spear fish and crab that occasionally they will sell to us for a reasonable price. The main part of the boat is full of ice to keep the lobster fresh.

On the way back to mainland Belize we had alot of wind so didn’t stop at Turneffe as well as another norther coming.  Once the norther was finished, we decided to sail/motor the inside passage of Belize across SKINNY water thru “Porto Stuck” with Appleseed to Cay Caulker.  It was probably the shallowest water we have been through as we draw around 6′ and saw 5.7” on depth meter….  We had to have cleaned the bottom of the keel quite nicely and fortunately it was sea grass and sand.  Maybe fortunate that the wind was on the nose and waves built to keep us rocking off the bottom but not good as we couldn’t sail which would heal us over.  Actually we did take off sailing as the waves were building but got abit scared as we had no depth on any of our electronic charts and not sure what these sticks in the water were marking. Was it reef, poll for fisherman to tie to, marking favorite fish spot or crab/lobster pot, etc. as we never did figure this out.  So we sailed back/forth across our coarse line till we got closer to the anchorage at Cay Caulker.  Once anchored we went into town to find a real delightful restaurant to celebrate Tom’s 61st B-Day along with Super Bowl parties.  That night we had a HUGE squall that lasted over an hour and we were on shore so headed back before it really started to blow and rain. This anchorage is known for dragging.  We were drenched with salt water upon return but fortunately we held and no one dragged onto us. Now isn’t our life romantic! We really enjoyed Cay Caulker but had to move on to Mexico as there was a good 3-5 day weather window before another norther and family/friends coming to visit.

Well we passed up Chinchorro Banks, MX as we would only be able to stay 1 night and the 2 knot current was pushing us past there so fast and got us there at night so decided to keep going. One never knows what’s going to happen with weather….. So then we were going to stop at Cozumel to check in (as alot cheaper than using the agent at Pt. Morelas) and dive for a couple days but its TOO rolly an anchorage out of the NE and when we went by there it was NE SO we continued for El Cid Marina/Resort, Pt. Morelas. Maybe a good thing as we were both SO tired. I was on watch most of the evening as trying to get Tom to sleep but only after drugging him with Benadryl did he sleep. Next time we will drug him right away! 🙂  I can take quick naps and am fine – Tom is another story. It was a BEAUTIFUL starry night with a sliver of a moon. We continued to be in the 2-3 knot current most of the way so our boat speed was 8-9 knots which typically is 6knots. But because of this it changed the sea state with the unexpected NE wind we were sailing close reach and waves were constant and building with the opposing current vs wind. So it was a rougher ride. Thank goodness we got our self steering wind vane fixed in Guatemala — it was a handy 3rd crew! There aren’t very many safe places to anchor/stop along the Mexico coast due to the N/NE cold fronts and the prevailing E/SE winds thus the marina/resort called El Cid that we are staying at.  

Got checked in yesterday so now only thing need to do is import the boat.  So need to go to Cancun via bus on Monday and pay $50.  That is the first time we have had to do that.  Another first was when customs came on boat yesterday they asked to see our tobacco and boose.  We showed and didn’t realize that their rules are the same as if you enter country via airplane — 3 liters total.  Well you can imagine that we were WAY over as its cheaper in Guatemala to purchase so we stocked up not knowing how long we would be in Belize.  So a big excess tax.  We were shocked and told them this has never happened to us in any other country.  They took pity on us and sort of turned their eye after further discussion.  I was surprised they didn’t want a tip but then this check in is more expensive as we have to use an agent that comes down from Cancun with immigration, customs, agriculture and health officials….  The marina will rebate us some based on how long we are here.

We will meet up with Tom’s daughter Teresa/husband Wayne here March 3rd and visit Joe/Jim/Lenny at Akumal various times.  They have nightly events and yoga each day along with other activities. We use the bikes to get to Pt. Morelos and main road to catch collectivos into Cancun or elsewhere.  We may take the boat the 18 nm to Cozumel to dive for a few days when settled weather OR ferry from Playa Del Carmen. We will sail to Isla Mujeras for other friends to come visit and leave boat there while fly from Cancun to Cuba in April. Then probably sail to FL sometime in May.  

Keep in touch!

Live Your Dreams

Rose & Tom

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Copan, Honduras and leaving Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Hola to ALL
We had a great trip to Copan, Honduras for New Years Eve with MI friends (Dave & Ellen).  It started off with a rainy, overflowing bus ride to Morelas about 45 min away before we could get a seat.  You had to be somewhat aggressive just to get a spot to stand. Again I am amazed with the culture differences…  We got on the bus and it was like a sauna with no windows open.  I immediately asked a women if she would open her window.  She tried but I soon realized she hadn’t ever opened a bus window before so I assisted.  Then as we took off the rain stopped and the breeze was cool.  I knew that she was cold but for miles she didn’t attempt to shut — even alittle.  So I asked if I could shut it alittle and she was very pleased. Arrived at Copan around 4pm to no record of our reservation but the inn had room.
We went to the Copan Mayan Ruins New Years Day (end of 13th B’aktun Mayan calendar) and next day MacCaw Mountain where these 2 US gay guys bought some forest to protect it and then built cages to take in/raise injured or birds no one wants anymore.  They breed and release the babies at 2-3 months into the wild.  The detail of the ruins and stellas (built to tell the life of each king that ruled here) are very good as the stone in this region is very hard.  The Spanish REALLY like the firework noise.  Even SMALL children are allowed to set them off.  So you walk through the main park square attempting to dodge any child that may be throwing a popper in your direction. 
We left Copan 5am heading to Guatemala City.  It was a good trip but took us 5 collectivo (local van) or nice bus to make the 5 hour journey for $8 US.  We could of done it with 1 bus for $35 but unclear as to what time it left Copan and if they had seats.  We saw the Ortho Dr to confirm that Tom’s shoulder is doing fine, learned what the shoulder noises were, obtained some different exercises and took the 6 hour bus to Rio Dulce.  Unfortunately our MI friends got the flu and had to stay in Copan another 2 nights before heading back to Rio.  I feel blessed that I survived not getting hit or pooped on while attempting to provision in the village by the excessive traffic on the narrow main road with veggie stands protruding out into the road.  Tuk/tuks, motorcycles, cattle and veggie trucks, tankers etc. all HUNK their way through this small village.  I think I have gained some extra sensory skills.
We thought we were leaving the Rio.  We left the comfort of Catamaran’s Marina heading for what some say — alcoholic/pot smoking Texan Bay for the night and then thought we were crossing the mud/sand bar near high tide in afternoon and anchor off Tres Puntas, leaving Tuesday 4 AM to attempt to get into Placencia, Belize that evening, prior to the high winds coming in on Wednesday.  Its REALLY rainy and squally but to get to Belize  we are somewhat behind the outer reef so shouldn’t be too bad.  It always amazes me how long it takes to get ready to depart even though we thought we were before we left for Copan….
Well we are back at Catamaran’s.  We left and in route to Livingston, Guatemala (before checking out of the country and crossing the bar) we noticed that our diesel engine injector was loosing compression so we turned around and went back to the Rio where we could get some assistance to fix it.  Good thing we had went to Honduras and obtained another 3 months on our immigration/passport.  We will now try for Jan 13th as we fixed the leaking injector (sorta Guatemala engineering by adding a thin copper washer). We are grateful it happened here vs in Belize where there are fewer services and more expensive.  Thanks to Bill on S/V Present Moment for being our diesel mentor….  I (Rose) also got quiet dirty as needed my smaller body/hands to work on things
Since we were delayed abit, we went to the local circus (10Q at 9pm at night — way past our bedtime).  It was interesting and mostly meant for children.  But hey — this is our second childhood.
As we have said in the past, sailing is for sure a sport where your plans are written in sand at low tide…..
Make it a great year and live your dreams!  Keep in touch as we love to receive emails about your life.
Our Love
Rose & Tom
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2012 Minnesota Visit & back to Guatemala – Rio Dulce

Well in April prior to going to MN for what we thought was going to be 6 months, we (Tom’s first time) traveled back to Lago Atitlan to visit the highlands without rain/floods/mudslides.  It was wonderful and also made a stop in Atitlan.  

We also went to see a Orthopedic Dr. Collia to get an MRI on right shoulder and have him look at Tom’s shoulder.  Dr. Collia thought he should first try PT and a cortisone shot.  Tom tried to do the PT but it kept getting worse.  We had another MN friend Dr. look at MRI and he suggested that we have the surgery soon.  So we left MN 2 months early to have the surgery in Guatemala City as we  have a $10K deductible and medical care is good and 1/3 the costs in Guatemala.

We moved into our town home for the first time and both worked PT jobs. We also purchased a used car and drove out to Maine to go sailing with MN friends Barb/Gordon on their S/V Gem going Down East.  It was delightful and reminded us of sailing the remote anchorages of Canadian North Shore Lake Superior EXCEPT the 15-20′ tides.  The most interesting for us was to try to figure out how to get ashore to walk/explore and back to the mother ship via the dinghy within the 6 hour tidal window.  The easiest was if we could find a dock to tie up to but they were far between.  We then continued to drive to New Brunswick and Nova Scottie.  NOW I really want to sail Sojourn there. It had been a LONG time since we had done a land trip and camped in a tent which was so WONDERFUL.  We borrowed a tall tent and obtained a queen inflatable mattress which worked out reasonably well for our old bones.  Peeing at night was the most inconvenient but we endured….  I must say we ended up finding the most diverse campsites (some sorta scary)…..  We drove back to MN via the Canadian roads visiting Old Quebec City and briefly Montreal.  It was a great trip and we hope to continue this each summer. 

We had a great time visiting family and friends along with having Hansmeyer family heritage bus tour and separate 6 sister gatherings. We celebrated grand daughter Clarissa’s nursing degree graduation and the main reason we didn’t sail back to FL last April.  I (Rose) even got to go in September to the BWCA with sister Monica.  I do miss just being around for events like these….

So forwarding now to October 7th we came back to Guatemala City and Tom had his rotator cuff surgery on October 10th. Well Tom had 2 hr surgery at 630am Wednesday in Guatemala City and got into hospital room at 2pm for 1 night to manage pain. Rose stayed there as well. Dr. Collia said tendon tear was worse than he saw on MRI – both vertical and horizontal so had to increase 1 arthroscopic incision about 2″ so he could put in a tendon anchor. Plus bone spurs were the largest he had worked on. He cleaned up scar tissue from other frozen tendons, etc. and started passive therapy right away.  Pain isn’t too bad, much better than I expected..   We were fortunate that the hotel owner had a recliner for Tom to sleep in which made it SO wonderful.

The TOTAL surgery bill came to 37,000 Quetzals = $4600.00 USD. We wouldn’t hesitate to come back for medical care. The entire care/location was great except for not understanding the language so needed Rose to attempt to interpret. I had difficulty especially filling out medical forms — plus we forgot Tom’s Passport but that didn’t seem to matter. Tension in shoulder and swelling of arm/hand but Dr. tells us its normal. Tom had bowel issues so Rose….. That was interesting!  PT is very painful but Tom’s is working through it.

We took the 6 hr bus ride to our boat in Rio 10 days after surgery. Have been REALLY busy and HOT getting Tom figured out for sleeping/heat and boat livable. Unfortunately, we came back to alot of mold/mildew this time, torn tarp, bags to unpack, food to figure out, etc.  Doing surgery in Guat created alot of fear for me making sure all was covered/controlled to lesson my fears… Then the boat was another fear but it all worked out just fine. Its a nice resort/marina with pool and cools down at night so easy to sleep. The marina people speak only Spanish which continues to keep me thinking. The sweet main maintenance guy saw Tom doing his exercises and installed a pulley with line for him to use.  This worked out great and we had thought of this but didn’t get around to it.  This way Tom can do the exercises without having to wait for me to assist.  We have found a PT an hour bus ride away in Morelas but may only go 1/week.   One never knows the adventures you will have in this cruising life!!!  

We probably won’t leave the Rio till high tide across the mud/sand bar January 5th assuming Tom’s PT continues successfully now that he is into the active PT.  We hope to then head to Belize and Mexico (Isla Mujeras) prior to sailing back to FL end of April. While in Mexico we would like to do some land travel in Cuba.  We hope to go to the Bahamas winter 2014 and then explore the east coast and Canadian Maritimes before sailing Sojourn back to Lake Superior. But life is an unknown…..  Live Your Dreams and keep in touch.

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