ADVENTURES AND ORDEALS WITH A FOLDING PROA ON
THE YUCATAN COAST
Part 3. Fixing the boat.
Click on any photo to see a higher resolution (~100k) version. Copyright 2001 Tim Anderson
Notebook 1: friday 2-16-01
Sitting in Tulum pueblo bus station waiting for 7:30am bus to Playa del Carmen to buy vinyl tubing.
"Sharks." Aptly named. They cruise agressively and cost too much.
Lastpm in Tulum town spent 2hrs on telnet sending
show/tell announcement. Then the collectivos didn't run so I got a room
for $15 instead of a taxi. The tubing I seek is to inflate airmattresses
[DRAWING of airmattress with hoses.]
stuffed in the main hull of my canoe. I should get some caulk or liquidnails too, maybe some tarred nylon line. But it's exhausting shopping in a strange town. Even without the language problem and lack of telephone.
pad yard foot
collect shoes to plug tubes, cushion lashings
add bowstrings to boom + yard
sisal lashings on mast
fat lacing on hull
superglue or epoxy outrigger lashing
Hammock needle+string for Nina
Yesterday accompanied Nina to the Cancun Airport.
I stand and wave. She turns and waves back at me as she walks around the
corner of the security-only corridor. Her orange hair is brilliant.
I tried to walk back from the airport to the highway where taxis should
be cheaper according to the guidebook. But got hot and accepted a $10 ride all over town from a talkative Mayan from Tabasco who was supposed to be a hotel shuttle. Practiced my Spanish.
My pronunciation must be okay, cuz the guy next to me on the bus yesterday was jabbering away. He worked two jobs. Daytime building showers. Night time supervisor of public areas at a resort. I wished I could understand him better, because he said many interesting things I only got the edges of. About how hard it is to work in mexico, no pensions or safety net. His relatives in Virginia, and how he felt about going there. All about precolumbian history and how he felt about that. I gathered he was a big fan of the Olmecs. A sympathetic and
articulate guy, with grout and plaster dust on him from working all day in the heat, on his way to work all night at the resort.
He had some cavities but I didn't tell him. Many people here have their upper teeth outlined in silver. Makes their teeth look square like a toltec skull carving. I have a terrible gift. I can smell tooth decay on people. It smells like used dental floss or an old folk's home. I'm usually right, but then most people have some cavities. If a person eats bread without brushing, that can fool me.
[DRAWING Solar still. clear plastic. container. pebble. dirt. dirt. tubing.]
Thatched mud hut with an electrical meter.
There's a red light and a 1khz beep that goes off
when the bus exceeds the speed limit or approved speed for the bus. The
driver uses it like cruise control so it beeps frequently, and then the
bus lurches a little when he takes his foot off the gas. At first I thought
it was a brakelight so standing passengers would know when to grab on. The
bus stops to pick up unlimited numbers of passengers, until they no longer
want to get on. The Mayan grannies in their white and embroidered huipiles
like to get on last so they can stand in the front. Because they're getting
off again in the middle of nowhere.
[DRAWING Vertical post of palapa. Joined horizontal beams]
[DRAWING Cuts made in garbage can lids at Playa del Carmen bus station to make a flap. So you don't have to lift the lid to throw things away.]
Now I'm at the Playa del Carmen beach, a half block from the bus station.
About to eat my can of black bean paste with bread. Lonely Planet guidebook says 3 white women are raped here a week. Cuz of lots of construction workers. "And don't go to the cops. You might recognize someone." Nina, gesturing at some naked breasts at Akumal, said "The culture doesn't support this at all." "Maybe they think free boobies means free sex." It's windy with whitecaps, but surprisingly little surf. I think the current is 3 knots going north. I think that lets the waves stack up, but not go anywhere.
It's 9am and some guys are carousing with beers. Must be their day off. Euro sun worshippers are getting an early start. A couple with naked breasts and naked baby boy are settling into the shade with books and cigarettes. Outboard skiffs bob in the waves, facing the wind at anchor. The sand is light yellow-white and soft. Nina: "parrot fish eat the coral and poop out this sand." The water is light turquoise with dark patches where coral heads are. Probably not much live coral here. All these people and restaurants and hotels make sewage. That makes algae. That chokes the coral. A huge cruise ship inches forward a mile or so out. Low in the haze on the horizon is Cozumel. The wind roars in my ears. Time to eat my luggage and find a hardware store.
[DRAWING Many rickshaws in Yucatan. All very similar. Two wheels in front. Bendix hub. With awning- sticks + a tarp. ]
[DRAWING They all have a plank or two like this across the box- for wife+child or girlfriend to sit on, or a second layer of boxes- so as not to crush the lower boxes or bananas.]
Two sunbleached women in their 30's leaned on a log facing seaward, their backs to us. The Mexican men in their 20's on my left each had a beer. One in white pants and no shirt started walking toward the women. One of his pals passed him, turned, faced him with hands on hips and legs wide, talked and diverted him to one side, then back to the shade on my left. This happened a couple of times, different Samaritan each time. The shirtless guy had a Sioux indian tattoo on his back. Sitting Bull. The women talked and ignored us. One was topless, the other had her upper bra straps under her arms.
The shirtless one made another advance, and his third and final friend followed him. But instead of stopping him, he also took off his shirt. I cringed at the impending encounter. They walked past the women, sat down at a piece of wrecked boat, and arm wrestled, wrestled, and generally clowned around, getting all covered with sand. It was cute.
get another lighter or two
maybe reduce sail 1 ft.
glue hoses on mattresses.
do plugs work?
sew deck on boat
inflate the guts of the boat.
hem sail again so flap lies flat
try solar still
try solar still again in sunnier spot
close off stems of boat
move gunnels back
cut bag in weird way
try square sail [DRAWING]
email dad, nina 11985 12016
[DRAWING mattress valve. 1/4" id pvc clear flexible tube = "mangera" 1m. long.
cut here. old plug. pvc cement. plug tube w/old plug.]
[DRAWING mast base. string. wrap here w/innertube.]
[DRAWING step mast anywhere.]
A ticket auditor was on the bus from Playa del Carmen. He messed up the driver's vibe. They put gringos off way after or way before the right stops. The auditor had one blue eye and one brown one. He looked sharp, but his pants were patched. I didn't know that was allowed here. Maybe this shows he's incorruptible. The red light and the beep didn't come on even once.
My room lastpm in Tulum was awful. It smelled moldy and was hot. The lower sheet was so dirty I could feel it when I touched it with my hand. There was indeed a shower as the boy proudly told me. "con aqua caliente" with hot water, but the drain didn't work, so it flooded the bathroom and probably will add to future moldy smells.
I tied the door shut and hung a clothesline to the hammock hook. I washed my shirt and boxers in the sink- one sleeve had fallen in the toilet when I took it off. "Great." I thought. "Always drop your shirt in Mexican toilets."
I guess that's why you ask to see a couple of rooms and maybe bargain a little, but I didn't have the energy.
At one hardware store the girl drew a map on her hand to another that had more string. "Gordo" she said, indicating my shorts. Maybe she meant "phat" rather than "fat". They were my "Mercedes" brand baggy hip-hop shorts I got on Majuro when I became ashamed of my exposed legs. I feel dressed-up when I wear them, but it might not look that way to others.
I wedged the vent windows to the hall open and turned on the ceiling fan full blast, which meant it was turning slowly. I slept ontop my towel on the top sheet. My wet clothes were on the clothesline over my head. My backpack was airing out from a couple of unlucky bananas that had cushioned my back all day. In the morning my clothes were dry. I'd forgotten that I only need one shirt. I thought I needed two. One to wash and one to wear, like Mother Theresa. But she sleeps in hers. If you take it off at night you can wash it at night when you shower and hang it up. In the morning it'll be dry.
COLD BEAN MUSH:
1 packet "frijoles refritos con chipotle" powder ("makes 5-8 servings")
1 splatch of dry oatmeal
1 glurp of water- mix well
1/2 glurp of cooking oil- yummy calories
mix with a stick and eat with a stick.
My camp. Re-lashing everything with tarred nylon palapa string.
Sometime last night the onshore wind died. I'd set up the sail as a tent, but slept in the "cage" made of 1.1" galvanized tubing covered w/various tarps and a poncho.
[DRAWING of tent frame]
This cage resembles those on the backs of pickup trucks in the region. There are four of these cages among the palm trees here at Bahia Soliman. One is storage behind the restaurant. One has a tent over it and a couple of effeminate German men are staying in it. They have piled coconuts on the lower edge on the windward side to hold it down. Right now they are sunning themselves here X.
[MAP big bay-shallow here. restaurant. cenote. path of conch shells. cage. canoe. little bay. path. deeper.]
They move slowly and awkwardly, as if being barefoot were unusual. Like an ear full of cold water or filing down the horns of a bull.
[DRAWING sail. rubber strap. palmetto. wind. cherub.]
The sail looks like a nice tent when the wind fills it.
Home-made fish scaler- apparently much used. Large quantity of scales on table.
[DRAWING fish scales. wood. many nails. hand-for scale of drawing.]
Ace Hardware 43601 regular body clear pvc cement seems to work fine on soft pvc hoses and airmattresses. Two of the airmattresses have punctures. They all leak from the valves. They must make millions of them at this price. And none of them can be used because they don't hold air. Must be why the guy in the picture on the box is
laying on the ground next to his airmattress, which supports only his book.
It's not a very heavy book, either. Printed on the airmattress pillow in five languages is a warning to keep it away from children and don't use it on the water.
I patched one with a flap of extra from one corner. This airmattress could easily have been born a shower curtain. Actually it's a little lightweight for a shower curtain. 35 pesos = $3.50 from Chedraui.
[DRAWING lashed with polyester thread, then daubed with pvc cement. clear pvc tube. polyester braided cord. cap from airmattress.]
Bend the hose to put the cap in. The cord is short. Cap stays in securely. Doesn't leak.
It's 2:52 pm, I just built my first solar still, and it doesn't seem promising. I think I better buy some water. Of course, it's only 3 hours til sunset, but the sun is fairly high, and the pit is right behind the shiny backside of my hut. 3:02 pm. My solar still is now in the shade of a palmetto. I better start again in the morning. Right now there's an area of no condensation right above the pan I put in to catch the water. Didn't the book say it would work even at night?
When I sail around the corner or out to Banco Chinchorro, I don't know what I'll find. Maybe no coconut trees. Definitely no fresh water or stores to buy it in. So I'll need to be able to make a solar still or I'll have to suck a lot of fish and turtle eyeballs, if I'm lucky enough to find and catch them. This fluid, spinal fluid, and turtle blood have a salinity low enough to sustain human life.
If your food can get wet, it will on the boat. Then moldy. Then no food. Then hunger.
[DRAWING of waterbottles full of dots.] Empty water and juice bottles- left in sun with caps off til dry inside, then filled with oatmeal, lentils, and rice. This should keep the stuff dry.
Made soup mix packets for breakfast. Too salty to eat. Had to dump it in the composting toilet. This experiment wasted some water.
Instructions for the composting toilet.
[DRAWING of hammock]
My hammock- a piece of net I found on the beach. Puts a net pattern on my back. The local product doesn't do that. I ask everyone "?Dorme en hamaca?". They all smile and say yes. "Very cool at night". The smile looks like they're thinking about how nice it is.
All the airmattresses are holding air well. Much better than when new. The patches are beautiful - laying flat - stretching with the rest so it doesn't pucker, edges not wanting to peel
[DRAWING patch. hole. first coat. another coat of cement aruond edge on top. airmattress.]
First coat patch and surface around hole with pvc cement. Put patch on hole. Put peanutbutter jar under and plastic bag over it to squish it down and hold it flat. Work out the bubbles. When it's stuck on, paint more around edges, then squish it between bag and jar or knee or anything smooth til well stuck on.
[DRAWING here's how the patch looks.]
Sat 1-17-01 4:45pm
Yesterday after I bought my hoses+whatnot+bus ticket, I wandered around Playa del Carmen looking for the little Ferretlapeleria where the guy had showed me a nice orage-plastic-handled machete for 45 pesos. "Truper" brand, hecho en Mexico. It was longer than I wanted but I figured I could hacksaw a few inches off it. Then I'd have to take it to a Herreria to have it sharpened. They come blunt. But the steel is incredible. I'm in awe of it. Or stay up all night and wear out a sharpening stone like I did on Majuro.
[DRAWING of knife with triangular blade.] Woodcarving knife from Piste- by Chichen Itza ruins. Made from machete steel. Blade a little longer than index
finger. Handle is metal beaten over pipe [DRAWING] like this. They must wrap the blade with wet rags when they heat and beat the handle, or they'd lose that amazing machete temper. $1 for a carved jaguar's head.
I never found the place, but I came on a scene where the main drag hits the beach. A cop and a couple of soldiers were confronting a tourist. He had a big pile of coconuts at his feet and was clutching two of them. I couldn't hear what language was being spoken. The soldiers were doing windshield-washer-finger at him and gesturing at the tree and the cocounts. This angry goateed Euro lifted his shirt to show how he'd skinned his belly climbing the tree. He wasn't giving up. They got a pile and he got a pile. Then he went and traded one of his for one of theirs. With words and gestures he indicated some self-righteous reason he needed that one. Then he sat down, his three or four coconuts by him, and glared defiantly about. The cops and soldiers went away, back to their regular business of at best doing nothing about rape. I saw that the tourist had bare feet, a net bag with the orange handle of a machete poking out of it. I decided to get by with a jack-knife. I don't spoze this tourist picks flowers in public gardens in his home town, but coconuts seem to be regarded by many as gifts from God to the first taker. Although they are no different from apple trees or rose bushes, chattel-wise. I fear I may have a disease similar to the above tourist's.
The gardeners around the restaurant are young Mayan boys who apparently don't have to go to school.
Things to do with a coconut:
[DRAWING of tree with sharp lower branch] Sharpen the lower branch of a tree. Jam into the coconut where the husk is thick and pry off the husk. That's what pacific islanders do, if they don't have their favorite husking stick with them. If you're not using the nut right away, leave some husk around the stem. That way it'll keep for a while. And you don't have to lug all that husk around with you. When you're ready, pull this off with fingers or teeth, and stick a finger in the monkey's eye to drink it.
As I said, it's 4:45 pm, and my solar still has frosted its plastic skin with dew. Everywhere but over the cooking pot that's supposed to catch the runoff. There's a hose running from the pot out under the plastic- 20pesos/kilo large clear trash bag-polyethylene 3-4mils thick, cut and flattened. From a "Bolsa" 7 to a kilo, buck a pound store. The hose is to suck water out of the pot so it won't overflow. I shouldn't have worried. I could maybe lick the dew off the plastic like the crew of PT109.
[DRAWING dirt. dirt. towel. shirt. dirt. more dirt. imaginary water.]
I put my shirt, Nina's towel and my black nylon windbreaker pants in the hole soaked with cenote water, poured more over them. It might not produce drinking water, but what a great way to bury your clothes in the dirt overnight!
The black pants seem to fog the plastic the most. They are also facing the sun more. Make a note of this: Black things and south-facing things get hot in the sun. Ps=sum(0..infinity:XxSxs@$#%^&*etc...
Sun 2-18-01 9:07 am
Just built another solar still. Found a nice hot place that gets sun all day long.
[DRAWING Original grade. banked sides. north. shirt. pebble. plastic. Imaginary distilled water.]
This time I inclined the hole to the south and banked up the north side. The plastic fogged up right away. That's a good sign. All that work in the hot sun. Man am I thirsty! My effeminate neighbors are Shawn and Eric from New York. Eric has a German accent.
I started the day sewing on my Indian long shirt some more. Its seams are constantly ripping out. Sewing gets me going right in the morning. Sunrise at 6:23 am. I slept in the hammock, wore polypro shirt as pants cuz my real ones were wet and buried in the dirt. Woke up in the night, tossed and turned. "Wow, it's been a long night." It was 9:20pm. I shouldn't have eaten that stack of tortillas. There's no air in them. It's a lot of food. By contrast, a kilo of rice is ~3000 calories, according (160cal *19 servings/kilo) to the bag. No wonder I binge on cookies when I start the day on rice. To get the 3000 calories I get from a pound of oatmeal cookies and 2 quarts of milk and a quart of buttermilk, I'd have to eat more rice than I've ever eaten in a day. I think I'll have some imitation cookie dough now:
Imitation Cookie Dough:
Doesn't need sugar! just hold it in your mouth long enough and your saliva enzymes will break the starch into sugar. Can't taste it? Now spit onto some iodine. It will turn purple. That should prove it to you! Isn't it fun to cook with science instead of heat or ingredients?
This solar still thing better work. Or I'll have to doubt everything I've believed since childhood. What about that movie in science class where the guy poured sewage into a glass-topped box, then drank a jar of the water that dripped off the lid? His solar still was tiny compared to mine, and he was in New Jersey, not sunny southern Mexico. In the movie it took a couple of hours or minutes to work. HA!
10:05 am Some water is starting to dribble down the plastic toward the rock. A drop or two might have landed in the can. The plastic needs to be steeper. Like a roof. and bigger.
[DRAWING oh no! (droplets missing the can)]
[DRAWING polyethylene. rubber band. pebble. cup. waistband. black nylon pants. styrofoam cooler.]
Just made another still, see how this one works.
Both stills now have water in their cups.
Shawn and Eric recommend a spot in a bird sanctuary
between Puerto Escondido and Acapulco on the Pacific side. Bus to taxi to
skiff. Escaped slaves. Black and indian. In lonely planet.
What's around my neck? a: Bright floral lycra tube "snake". c: Pill bottle with cash, passport, creditcards rolled up inside, taped shut. b: Folding knife. I had a whistle, too, for awhile. How will I solve this problem? With money? Whistle? knife?
[DRAWINGS Sri Lanka Sail]
Wolfgang Deutsch "Wolf" "La cueva del chango" av 38 nte. between 5th. av and ocean. Behind hotel Shangri La 8731598 (987) 31598
Lauro makes hammocks at end of Bahias de Punta Soliman road.
Lauro's Loom. 2x4 or equiv pole. holes. wedges. netting needle. Mortises(a)
Supply of string- enough for hammock.(a) wrapped around upper posts. start like this.
Repeat this many times.
Called "french braid" in knot books or something like that. A stacked up series of half-hitches. 1/2 woven part length. wrap tightly. so it ends up like this.
Ron Johnston sez: Karl Franz: "Camping in Mexico"
Ron let me copy his cruising charts of the coast south of here. I made two copies in town and had them laminated. This is a very good thing and a big help.
Thurs 2-22-01 Pata de Perro email 12060
[MAP to Adrian and Theresa's house on Cozumel ]
Tues 2-27-01 8:45 am
Got up as usual before sunrise. Slept in blue tarp hammock. It's sagged so it's not so comfortable. Better protection from wind than bugscreen hammock. Shit and shower, then walked two tankas (bays) up and got some sticks where they'd bulldozed a new road. Frank says it'll be a golf course. His friend Fritz lives in a round palapa with a windmill just up from Oscar y Lalo.
Adrian says groupers and barracuda have ciguaterra here. He says "sig wa terra".
If a big fish doesn't fight enough, that can mean it's poisoned. They eat small barracuda. He gestured with his arms. Looked like a big fish gesture to me. They taste the liver. If it's bitter, "Not the normal good bloody taste" or if it makes your tongue numb, that's ciguaterra.
[DRAWING boat. tarp. airbags. tarp.] Here's how we carried the boat on a car. Rolled up airbags in a tarp, inflated them.
Tues 2-27-01 8:57 am
[DRAWING Waterproof container: two identical plastic bottles. Cut off in middle. Fill with stuff. Jam one into the other. Tape around joint.]
[DRAWING actually, a single bottle would work as well.]
[DRAWING Here's another trick: Plastic bag. Put a layer of plastic between the bottle and the cap.]
[DRAWING Conch. Pound here. With the pointy end of another conch shell to make a hole. That breaks the vacuum so you can pull the animal out of its shell. Legally only Mexicans can do this.]
[DRAWING Tarp. Hole. Dig a hole and throw a tarp over it. Catch rain.]
[DRAWING Use a tarp as a water bucket.] She learned this by watching helicopters use tarps to scoop up water to dump on forest fires.
[DRAWING A piece of flannel makes a great towel.] Light, dries amazingly fast. Her Grandma did this.
[DRAWING Bicycle tent.] Throw a tarp over a bicycle or two to make a tent. She slept this way on highschool trips.
The Furoshiki. Pronounced "Froshki". In Japan, picnickers and furniture movers alike tie up their loads in square pieces of cloth.
[DRAWING bring the corners together. Tie opposite corners to each other with square knots. Use as handle or carry strap.]
[DRAWING a load in a big furoshiki.]
Folding solar still:
[DRAWING ] clear plastic in front. Black felt in back. Front.
[DRAWING IV bag with salt water. medical type hose clamp so it just drips. flat springs in edges so it folds like bandsaw blade, folding hat, etc. string under tension. excess salt water. pure water. insulation.] Insulate back and sides? Actually if this flattens it doesn't really need to fold.
[DRAWING ] stepper motor. windmill blades like on Crete. diode bridge. capacitor. post or tree branch. Wind power for campers. Would work fine here for lights, charge batteries. What I probably need here to work late is so much light I want to stay awake, not merely enough to see my work.
[DRAWING inflated structure-still, raft, etc. elastic balloon-inflates other despite leaks.] Here's a way to keep it inflated without having to pump constantly against leaks. The elastic thing can be a thwart, etc, so change in size is unimportant.
More coconut tricks:
Dry husks are great cooking fuel. Burn hot, turn almost instantly to hot coals.
Chew up coconut meat, spit out and rub on dry skin or sunburn.
Squish dry coconut meat on hinges, etc. for lubrication. I made my pocketknife and folding saw work again this way.
Rub dry coconut meat on metal plates, needles, saw blades, to oil them, prevent rust.
[DRAWING of "genie" type lamp] Burn the oil for illumination.
Coconut sap from injuries to young trunk, branches, and nuts makes a gel or varnish that is water soluble, but not very, when dry.
Soak husks in water for a couple of weeks, pound and twist fibers into cordage.
Sap from flower stalk makes palm wine or toddy. Recut twice or three times daily.
Wood from senile trunk is hard and pretty. Soak in salt water to prevent rot.
How to climb a coconut tree:
[DRAWING make a loop of pandanus leaves, your belt, your towel.]
[DRAWING put your feet in the loop. legs. loop of cloth. trunk.]
[DRAWING use that to grip the trunk with your feet. elbow in your belly. this hand high. this hand low. now your weight is on your elbow in your belly.]
[DRAWING now raise your feet and regrip with them.]
Another way to climb a tree:
[DRAWING if it's inclined, you can walk up it on all fours. pulling with your hands and pushing with your feet.]
[DRAWING There are rough "steps" on the trunk where branches used to be.]
When you get to the top, don't grab the lower branches. They might be ready to fall off. Grab the base of branches higher up. Watch out for scorpions sitting on the base of branches. The gardening boys sometimes stood at the base of a tree for a while throwing sticks and rocks into a tree, I think it was to chase away monsters like this.
Coconuts higher up are usually younger than the ones lower on the tree.
Twist the coconut. Make it spin on its stem like a basketball trick. If it doesn't just fall off and you're tired of spinning it, put your hand on top so the stem is between your fingers and pull it off. It may be very heavy, hurt your feet if it hits them, or knock you off the tree. Keep a good grip. Don't drop coconuts on people. 3 people a year are killed in Costa Rica by falling coconuts. Others are killed or hurt falling from trees. I don't know how many are killed driving cars to coconut-hazard areas.
Rojelio was the hardest working gardener. When he was around the other boys pretended they didn't know how to climb coconut trees. They followed him around and watched him work but didn't seem to learn very much from it. Coconuts are messy trees. This many dead branches accumulated in a very short time. There's a big sign at the entrance saying "No Fires. No Soap. No Sunscreen. No Loud Music." Eco- Tourists like to see signs like this. Soap and sunscreen and almost everything else is bad for the coral reef. The composting toilet is also to protect the reef. Unfortunately the workers at the restaurant use lots of soap because they like to be clean. It runs off into the mangroves in back.
A tiny deer in the restaurant owner's truck. Annother attraction for the Eco-Tourists. Mercedes military trucks and Japanese jeeplets from the Eco-Park Xel-Ha brought a few dozen snorkelers every day. The reef at Xel-Ha is suffering from an oil spill.
How to attach cords to a spar:
[DRAWING nylon strap. melted wax.]
[DRAWING mast. lash on and soak lashings with epoxy, like on a fishing rod. waxed part stays flexible cuz the wax blocks the epoxy from soaking in.] For models, soak lashings with superglue. This works very well.
Re-cutting my sail:
[DRAWING head.15'4" new luff. 16'7" luff. 16'7.5" leech. 15' 7.5" new leech. 11'6" mast attachment. 16'9" foot. 16' new foot. clew. tack.]
[DRAWING my hull is 17' 7" long.]
I got up in the dark as usual this morning, packed up my cooking stuff, walked up and cooked a mess o lentils n rice as the sun came up at the point. A one-liter bottle of dry lentils+rice mixed with a liter+half of water, a couple of tablespoons of brownspice=cumin? a cup or two of vegetable oil and some chili sauce.
Came back, climbed the tallest tree(20 ft, not much) for 3 coconuts. Ate one with the mush. Very good. By noon I've finished it. This is a large volume of food. Let's see how soon I'm hungry again. Every time I try to live on lentils and rice I'll double the volume and add more oil. See if I get dizzy and crave cookies in the afternoon.
Brushed my teeth in the sink. Big mistake. They ran out of water yesterday and this batch is the worst yet. Tasted like rot and decay. Like shit. Do I really know what shit tastes like? Can I admit it? Actually I have memories of playing with and eating shit. My own? My brother or sister's ? I recall it as a joyful activity, and the taste was fine too. No, this wasn't that. Did I taste it or smell it? The composting toilet is right there. I tasted it. Spit it out. This is the taste that sewage smells like. The shit of strangers. A going-to-make-me-sick taste. I suppose they gave the guy some money and told him to get water. Maybe he kept the money and filled the tank from a ditch. Or a cenote full of not just virgins, but men, women, and children, sacrificed to the descending serpent-diving-bee god.
My neighbor- Hare Krishna. Knut Eberhardt Talbruckenstrasse 41
$75 charge thurs mar 15th flt 9:05am bring medical certificate for earache
I told her I had an earache so I was afraid to fly. So she gave me a 2 wk extension.
Yesterday Knut gave me a shock. Today is the first, not the 29th. I was supposed to fly out tomorrow. I haven't got the boat together. I don't even know if I could have it taken apart and to the Cancun airport in time. My "folding canoe" has taken more than a month to assemble. Maybe more depending when you start counting. "A little disorganization" said Knut. He got that right. I was feeling pretty low. Not sexy at all.
I need to have the feeling of doing something well. I can't maintain my marriage if I'm an out-of-work coal miner. I need to be digging that coal, setting charges, riding around on underground railroad hoppers with my headlamp and hard hat on.
I know I can build a good proa. I know more about them than five other people. I probably have unique insight. Here, in my head, is the greatest living store of knowlege. I am the all powerful (todopoderoso in Spanish. isn't that cute?) ruler of earth. And yet I'm still building, not sailing. Still making mistakes. Blunders. Grandad Lackey said "Do you know what a blunder is?" This was supposed to bother me. Make me feel bad. It didn't except it bothered me a little that he would try to make me feel bad or want to. He used to take his teeth out and tell us to try to do it too. Maybe that's how I got my overbite. All those years when my bones were soft trying to push my teeth out with my tongue like he did.
Nina emailed me she's got intestinal parasites. I ate all the same things she did. So maybe I've got them too. Maybe some of these "emotions" I've been having lately have actually been gut fauna feasting on my entrails. The old testament Hebrews had it right. The intestines are the seat of the emotions.
So how did we get it? Maybe that guy in the kitchen who just spent two hours chopping salsa and has really clean fingernails? Maybe they weren't so clean when he got there. Maybe they were full of dirt from his yard. Maybe he's got pigs in his yard. Maybe he's never been well a single day in his life. Maybe he's been a little absent-minded lately, misplacing things. Been inattentive and less responsible than usual. Maybe his brain is swiss cheese from taenia solium larvae, and next week he'll have a seisure, get some antibiotics and die when his immune system recognizes the worms and eats the rest of his brain. Maybe he's got so many weird bacteria and parasites on him the autopsy will take years and fill whole shelves of reports.
All cuz the sewers are bad and the ground never freezes. And animals get to run around eating each other's shit.
Knut said "the guy with all those what you call? Band-aids? His arms are covered with fungus. And he cooks."
But today things are better. The skin is on the boat. The sail and mast are right and rolled up tight. The boat is looking tough. Like it's about to go somewhere.
Days go by. I think "I better pay". I go to the restaurant "Quiero pagar por la campeen." The guy looks at the girl. The girl looks for the receipt book. "?Una noche?" she asks. "Dos noches, una persona." She struggles with the receipt book, makes change, and hands me a blank receipt. Maybe they think I should stay free.
Maybe they get paid the same whether or not anyone shows up and tries to give them money.
The blue tarp sail shows considerable wear from flapping in the wind while covering a heap of boat-materials. Make a note. Flapping wears things out. Like my shirt that fell apart on my back motorcycling around Europe.
My pronunciation must be okay, cuz people jabber away at me using all kinds of words. Sometime I should try to learn the language. Just read newspapers and talk to people all the time. Hang around Avenida de Talleres in some cute no-honky town. See how they do things.
Fri 3-2-01 The Germans behind me, Tanya and Mario, can't cook because the airline took the propane cylinder for their camp stove. They can't find the right kind here. They were asking about the Walmart in Cancun, planning to go all the way there for propane. I suggested getting a can of sterno or canned heat at any little grocery store here and forgetting the campstove completely.
Knut has a campstove that runs on anything. He siphons gas to run it and is very fond of the thing. He says even if you find propane the fittings will be different everywhere you go.
[DRAWING ] My canoe now has antlers at both ends. A place to rest the steering oar a la Kiribati. The oar bit holes in the skin where it rubbed the gunwales before.
[DRAWING ] You could do it this way too if you can't find forks, or if it were too bulky for a folding canoe. Like mast base.
It took a long time to find those grown forks in the jungle. You'd think every tree would have every shape of branch, but I had to look at a lot of trees full of branches before I found a couple of branches that were close enough. And even in very dense dark scrup the saplings look straight, but after you cut one it suddenly gets more crooked.
Malcolm at the cyber-cafe said: don't camp in the middle of nowhere. Camp next to something, a restaurant or house. Ask permission. Give the guy a few pesos to camp. If you're camped out nowhere, your tent might get slashed and your stuff gone.
The Hennequen=sisal lashings have gotten loose. I poured water on them and they tightened up again. Cellulose fibers tighten when wet like a pair of jeans. So tie the lashing with very dry cord. Nylon elongates ~10% when wet. Soak the cord in water before you use it. Tarred nylon, nylon monofilament, polyester, polypropylene are unaffected by moisture, except maybe as a lubricant. Of all these I like tarred nylon the best. Holds very well, unaffected by UV or water, takes a huge shock and snaps back. Innertube lashings are great for hasty structures, but they don't last too well.
I used my flashlight one night for the first time and there were hermit crabs all around my feet. Here's a flash photo of crabs swarming all over a piece of coconut and up a tree trunk.
Two float bags have leaks at the air fittings. Shit. PVC and urethane must not stick together so well. I goobered up one with neoprene contact cement, used a palm leaf midrib to shove and smear it around inside between the cloth and the fitting. Not too happy with this. I'd done the same with PVC solvent cement and it still leaked. So I took my iron to the restaurant, asked to plug it in. Cut off the end of one bag, enough to make patches.
PVC solvent-cement and hot-ironed the fitting in place. Put a Mann-tech patch inside with an airhole in the middle.
[DRAWING ]So the fitting is sandwiched between two layers of Mann-tech welded together around the edges. Then use the iron to weld the open end of the bag shut again. This is a good job. It holds air well.
Both airbags are holding air well. I'm feeling
kind of weak and shaky. Time for some coconuts. Up the tall tree with a
loop of cloth around my ankles. It's windy today from the south. The tree
sways and I grab it to keep from falling off. Two of the high nuts are left.
They are yellow-reddish at the tip. That means they are sweet. My left foot
hurts where the adze scar is against the trunk. I twist off the nut. Thunk!
it hits the ground. This is the sound I hear at dusk when crabs, rats, and
gravity bite through the stems of the nuts they will gnaw on that night.
My legs start to shake. Damn. I must be low on salt. I grab the trunk and
straighten my legs. This is exercise.
A healthy young tree can produce a hundred coconuts a year. A healthy young me can drink a hundred a month.
One morning this guy sprayed all around the campground. Probably for mosquitoes. It struck me as funny because of the "No This, No That" sign. Probably it was bad for the reef, but mosquitoes are bad for business in an open-air restaurant.
Fausto from the restaurant says Casa Mena
in Tulum has cotton string to make a hammock.
email nina damon chelsea levitt 112166 12180 12164 12182
bread beans milk granola bananas pineapple juice sterno eggs notebook
Sun 3-4-01 8am Just had my "lifter's rage" breakfast of 6 eggwhites, hotsauce. In sandwiches with black bean paste on "Bimbo" brand "pan integral". Washed down with Horchata=rice milk. And then a nap. Cooked the eggs over a can of sterno 7 pesos at the market. Better than a camp stove. Cheap, reliable, high ratio of fuel weight to stove weight, easy to get, easy to pack, hard to break. My Bic ballpoint pen is transparent. There's seawater sloshing back and forth in it as I write. Doesn't seem to hurt it any. The water is from repeated soakings of everything with Nina during our early attempts to sail.
The eggs came jumbled in plastic bags. But none broke. The other night I did some lashings by candle light. In a hurricane lamp our israeli neighbors made by cutting [DRAWING ]the top off a clear polycarbonate water bottle. They put sand in the bottom and a candle in the sand. It was windy but the candle stayed lit. Gave plenty of light to work. They left this on a styrofoam cooler with some extra candles by our campsite when they left.
Betty Anne and Debby are my new neighbors. From US and Canandian sides of Niagara falls respectively. They bury their coolers in the sand
[DRAWING ] so the ice lasts longer. They always have cold beer. Neither smoke, they say, but they have cigarettes and smoke them. They've been coming here since the'80's.
[DRAWING ]Put out the "Fuego" brand flaming sterno by putting the lid back on it "pop sproing!" it comes flying off again from the hot fuel gas still expanding. Put it on again and pour a little water on the lid. "Hiss" the water boils a little and the lid gets sucked down onto the can. Don't waste any fuel.
[DRAWING ]The net bag is a tube. loop of cord at the top. Drawstring to close. Loop of cord at bottom is short. Always closed.
[DRAWING ]tied at sides with a series of these knots.
[DRAWING ]tied twice per cell like this.
[DRAWING ]fuck it. use a series of sheet bends. The other knot doesn't work for me. Although I have a bag that uses it fine.
After some putzing around I went sailing today. It was great. Also the conditions were good.
[DRAWING ]rain. hammock. trees with water running down them. Hammock gets wet even if there's a tarp over it.
To be continued... Part 4
End of part 3. which is Notebook 1. A Mead
brand lined notebook with a purple cover I cut down so it would fit in a
Copyright 2001 Tim Anderson