Part 4. Down the coast.
Click on any photo to see a higher resolution (~100k) version. Copyright 2001 Tim Anderson

Notebook 2: Tues 3-6-01 It is 1:15pm.
I am sitting amid scrub palmettoes on a ground tangle of clover and vines. The beach below me is steep here, somewhere south of the Boca Paila bridge, in a small bay in a much larger bay.

Above the high tide mark a long pile of seaweed and every plastic thing that ever fell off a boat, including many bottles containing water and bleach jugs cut off to make bailers. This comprises ~1% of the trash. The rest is rich in flipflops and shoes. I like to think my boat is like a shoe, and hope it is as seaworthy as these shoes, many of which have crossed all the worlds oceans without sinking. But a couple of hours ago I was starting to cross this bay at good speed. Then the bottom of my outrigger ripped open and the float bags started coming out.

I laughed. It was sunny, the wind was toward shore, surf was light on a sand beach. I might not have laughed if it had been cold, with an offshore wind or surf on rocks. But you never know til it happens. Sometimes when these things happen I laugh, and sometimes I curse. Grandpa Lackey said "Profanity is a sign of a weak vocabulary." He only said "Damn" and "Dammit", and passed this on to my mother. A larger vocabulary would include obscenity as well as profanity. In my own lifetime I have added "shit", "oh shit", and "fuck". "Oh shit" I say when I remember I was supposed to be somewhere. The other two I say when something bad happens. I have other words for other situations of course, but "something bad happens" is fresh in my mind.
As I enjoyed my little laugh it ripped more and two float bags popped out, not attached to anything. I was going 10-11 knots surfing down a wave at that time. Dropped the sheet, said one of my words, grabbed the bags as they floated past and started squishing the air out of them as the boat came to a stop. With one bag left the boat heeled and the outrigger sank. I threw the mast out of its perch on the center aka and dropped the sail into the water over the half-sunk ama.
A grey Mexican patrol boat was heading my way. Of course. My mishaps require an audience, and vice versa.

For example my humiliating departure from Punta Soliman yesterday and flipping the canoe over next to those fishermen today. Hey. At the time I thought they'd departed the scene in good taste so as not to increase my shame. But I guess I probably scared the fish away. As the patrol boat roared up and stopped, I coiled up a rope and ignored them. I tried to look bored. This can be done even if you're perched on what looks like a wrecked fleamarket stall, wearing a hawaiian print lycra ski mask. (This prevents sunburn better than lotion. Those arabs have a lot of experience dealing with too much sunshine.)
My great fear is that if I accept any assistance my trip will be over. I'll be declared unfit for navigation and impounded. They asked if I was okay, waited a decent interval for me to change my mind, and sped off to interdict drug traffic, or appear to be doing so. "A cop on the street doing nothing reduces crime." I once read this statistic.

I was sorry I couldn't be friendlier. I have so much sympathy for these guys. They have to wear black uniforms in the hot sun. Black. In the sun. Maybe that's why the beach patrol is so early.
This morning they passed the thicket concealing my boat and myself in the dark. I could have been 180lbs of peruvian flake. But again, I'm sure finding and questioning every sneaky camper would do little good compared to the simple certainty that every Mexican beach has two or three sets of footprints. Vibram lugs and heel, all same tread pattern, printed freshly on them each day, going one direction and not returning. And each is a guy in a black uniform with a machinegun.
A guy from Playa del Carmen said "my friend just walking up the beach in the morning finds a cooler washed up and it's full of cocaine. Then he sees the airplane and suddenly he's in a military operation."

On top this embankment on my carpet of clover and weeds, I'm not visible from the beach or the road. I'm not on a trail. Don't make noise, don't make a fire, don't move around too much or show lights, and you you can "free camp" for free anywhere. I did this 100 days in Europe in '88 with my little motorcycle. Live like an animal.

6:15pm Cooking the last of the lentils over a can of sterno. I took a nap-very tired. Then walked a couple of miles south on the road and back on the beach. The road is a one-lane dirt track through the jungle. A car or truck every half-hour during daylight, none at night. The coast so far has been lined with coconut palms full of nuts, so I don't have to worry about water any more. There's a house or camp or any sign of humans every few miles. The rest is deserted. The beach and palms are on federal property I'm told. 30 meters from the water, all coastline, and legally anyone can go there. Yay Mexico!
The moon is half or 3/4 and bright enough to write this and cast a shadow.
Walking on the road I saw dog tracks, so I cut a stick. A quarter staff-four feet long and about an inch thick. I walked along peeling the bark off and having paranoid fantasies.
This stupid knife with a serrated edge. Scratching up the stick and not getting all the bark off. $6.50us at the the farm supply store, a Taiwan copy of a brandname macho knife. Stainless blade with a hole in it to open with one hand. Serrated to cut what? ropes? throats? Very tough looking and good for opening coconuts.
And here's one now. On the ground, green and heavy.
I cut a hole like this in the side of it and drink it as I walk along.
Good. Sweet. Some nuts on the ground are sour from cracking on landing, or mouth-germs from the critter that chewed it off. Some are fermented and mildly alcoholic. Cutting into the side like that is a Marshallese trick That works with young nuts before the hard inner shell is too thick. Then I bashed it on a tree trunk to split it open,
cut a big chip with sharp edges off the outside of the husk and used that as a spoon to scrape the jelly or young meat off the inside of the nut.

This knife has a soft blade. It's bent from prying chunks out of nuts. Better than breaking like the blade on my Gerber leatherman tool did. I bought this knife to hang on a lifejacket like some cool whitewater pals. To cut ropes and tangles in emergencies. And cuz I like to scavenge drift-junk and seem to need one. One of these lonely nights I'll rub the serrations off with my little sharpening stone. And then break or lose it the next day. My regular jacknife rusts amazingly much in all these saltwater dunkings but has a much better blade. Too bad. I gave it to Coco. "?Quien?" they'd never heard of such a person when I went to drop off the stuff I was getting rid of at the restaurant. "Oh. Kokosh?" A Mayan name. He's from Tabasco. I asked him if he was Mayan, and I think he said no, he was "Chol". Might be a dialect. He used to visit me at the boat. He said we'd go fishing when it was done. Maybe on the way back.

Stuff I don't need, gave to Kokosh:
some blue tarps, remaining pieces of silver tarp.
my other shirt- the slow-drying one.
A couple pairs of plaid boxer shorts, fly sewed shut.
scissors. A knife on a board works as well.
cotton thread. I have a big roll of polyester.
electric iron
extension cord
pocket knife
clothespins- after my stuff was dry
Mercedes hip-hop shorts. Logo on leg.
hose clamps
styrofoam cooler
big plastic bags

I also gave them my epoxy "Para reparar el barco"(I might have invented a word there). Maybe the guy who'll patch their boat can use it. It sank in shallow water at anchor. Filled up not quite to its gunwales. It sat there for a couple of days before they dragged it on shore.
Then I walked back to my campsite and put my boat in the water. As I paddled out they came out to the beach to watch as I dropped the sail on myself, flipped the boat over, grounded it on a coral head, etc. etc. What floundering. With any sense they'd have had me arrested for my own good. Eventually I sailed out the pass, north out of sight before shunting and sailing south along the coast. It was probably about 2-3pm. The boat handled much differently with the stuff loaded in it. That's my excuse. Also I was shaky with sentiment from leaving a place I'd been so long. Also I always flounder the boat when people watch. It happens at other times too, but it doesn't stick in my mind as much. The worry that I'll scare people or get committed to the Coastguard pre-emptive custody for fools hospital adds to my problems with the boat.

I sailed south along the coast, running with the wind. The day had started calm, then the wind came from the north for the first time. A good wind. And the waves were small for a change. As it was I couldn't have handled the waves and swells without the Kiribati(pronounced Kiribus for reasons known to the Gilbertese) style sweep oar steering.
Even with all this leverage, I had to use enough force to bend the oar extension pretty far sometimes with waves surfing the stern around. It's a sapling pole tapering from ~1.5" down to just under an inch over about 7ft. Thicker and stiffer would be better.
The oar is this long. paddle. fork. first aka. lashings. sapling pole. 0-2" I don't know the routine for tying the oar at the new end. Fouls up my routine. And it's a long thing.

Weds 3-7-01 6:30am Just after sunrise. I'm hunkered down over a pot of oatmeal mixed with some granola and oil. Cooking over sterno. Three sticks driven into the ground
to support the pot.
Lightweight tinny stainless 1.5quart saucepan from salvation army.
Three sticks. Closed cell foam lid to save heat and water. Fuego.
Put a windscreen around it.
It cooks faster, saves fuel. Palmetto fronds work well for this.

This sterno is great. No woodsmoke or smell to reveal my position. Lights even in the rain. Nothing to spill, burns a long time. Not too hot, doesn't burn or boil the food over.
6:45am A truck goes by on the road. This oatmeal is great. I put some horchata in it with the water. "orchata" is a sweet vanilla rice milk sold as powder or liquid concentrate. Great stuff. Mexico apparently has all the world's vanilla, and it's better than what we have. They must be stockpiling it as a strategic resource to trade for some of our helium. You can get a gallon jug of vanilla at any little store here for 100 pesos or something ridiculous like that.
[STAIN ]spilled some oatmeal here
Some things, like granola, seem to go right through me without my absorbing much of it. Oatmeal is different. When I was losing weight from Giardia I found I could gain weight by eating some oatmeal in the morning. I think the viscoelasticity of it keeps their flagellae from working right. I bet wherever Giardia originated the staple food is viscoelastic, cuz people figure things out.

Hiking those miles of deserted beach yesterday, I suddenly almost cried. It was warm but not too hot. The water was warm, the surf gentle, the water turquoise. There was no one but me there. Anyone could come here, catch fish, eat coconuts. Why didn't they? I don't know. But in a few years it'll be covered with hotels and the reef will be covered with algae. The first cruise ship just docked at Majual. An international airport and a highway are coming next. There's trash on the beach, but nature put it there from somewhere else. I see the body of a doll. It's dark brown. The southern U.S? The Caribbean? Africa? Everywhere? There's lots of bamboo washed up. Where does that grow? I wish it grew here. The stump of a bamboo looks like this:

four legs and a tail. Like a lizard-grub-dinosaur-monster.
Maybe there aren't more people here cuz there are so few. It scares people. Once on my walk I saw a guy in the distance, but he left the beach as I approached. He was a kid with a dog. Later I saw another guy. I turned and went back to my camp. Had some trouble finding it. A good sign. Besides hiding like I do, you could deal with the fear by camping in a group for safety. Like those kids at the movie set palapas Danny showed us. You could even hire Mexican guards or guides.

Every August there's a hurricane that might kill everyone on the coast. Maybe that's another reason for the lack of a population. Also the Mayans were driven into hiding in the interior in various wars over the centuries, and lived quite well there with their traditional swidden (slash and burn) corn and beans agriculture.

On the road I greeted the driver of each vehicle as it passed !hola!. To one I yelled ?donde esta? They stopped. They were passing me at 5mph as I stood to one side. A British couple, another woman, and a kid. They said "There's nothing at all between here and Punta Allen"."Isn't it wonderful?" "Oh yes" I say.
me: "Do you feel safe?"
they: "Oh yes"
me: "where am I?"
they: "somewhere south of Boca Paila"
I guess I'd sailed past it without seeing a bridge.

Ron from Cleveland with the Helios inflatable canoe had been given warnings about this coast by locals. A cabbie had refused to take him there, or rather talked him out of it. Boca Paila was bad. Too remote. Someone else had camped there and their car was broken into. A father and son returned to their yacht and surprised robbers. The son was shot and paralyzed.
Well, I can tell worse stories than this from everywhere I've ever lived. So you take your precautions and you live as much life as you can. Maybe the Mexicans are scared too? Your kid is missing and you think the ambassador's not doing enough for you? Well, he does nothing at all if your kid is Mexican. Apprehension rates are famously low here. When someone gets hassled by a cop it's not likely to be for something they did.
Don't sleep where you can be seen. People in town don't usually sleep where they can be seen either. Not even "where alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears." As the song "America the beautiful" would have it. At least here there's a place to hide and no-one to see you hiding. My camp could be in a thousand spots on this bay. If someone wants to rob, he'll come down the road looking for a parked car. Or down the coast, looking for a boat at anchor or a camp on the beach. Going a little into the scrub makes the area to search much larger. Enclosed area grows with the square of perimeter. So get off the perimeter. And the visibility is much less. Someone can look at miles of beach or road very quickly. In the jungle it's harder. Before they get to you they'll have run out of time, gotten a real job, or found someone else to rob.

10:52 am Puttering around reducing my load.
Carved a fishing net float from the beach into this shape.

Like an apple core and wound my fishing line on it. MH trick. Got rid of my
plywood hand line spool board. It kinks the line making it hard to handle, and weighs more. Also it had termites.

Here's my camp. road. hammock. palmettoes. boat. tree trunks and scrub. steep bank. flotsam. beach. surf.
The road goes by the word "kinks" but I can't see it. I hear cars go by. Not many. My hammock is in a little clearing someone made by cutting a few palmettoes down. Just big enough for a hammock. You are rarely the first person to hide somewhere. When I lived in my truck I always had vehicle-dwelling neighbors. I guess we looked for the same things in a place to park.

Very tired yesterday. Maybe I'll sleep here again tonight, rest and putter today. I still have too much junk with me. It took dozens of trips to unload the boat, carry it and the stuff up here. Glad I didn't hurt my back. I can do without most of it, but it's hard to get rid of. For one thing, you can't throw things away when you're already away from it all. There's no garbage can or man. I don't feel bad tossing things back on the beach that I collected there earlier, but can't bring myself to add to it.
too many conveniences
A very common and strange way of thinking. Errors or crimes of omission are seen as less serious than crimes of action. To do nothing is almost always excusable. Aren't I just as capable of carrying trash away from the beach as away from my camp 20 feet away? Customs are odd.

Perhaps I'll stop a car, give them my trash and castoffs. Cars go where garbage cans are. I could give them some plastic beach-trash too. Then it will magically go to some giant heap inland where coast lovers won't have to see it. If it's buried it'll last 10,000 years. Disposable. In what sense? At least on the beach it's exposed to UV and crumbles when you step on it. Maybe littering is the solution to the trash problem.
On Staten Island are immense stepped pyramids covering old dumps. One is the largest structure made by man. I want to be buried there in a stone doghouse with columns. So the archaeologists will know how important I was. "See the huge wealth of goods that was sacrificed to accompany him to the next world." Scholars are funny. You can't watch a nature show without some dominant scientist guessing at which animal is "dominant". On Asian shows maybe they talk about how respectful various animals are to their elders.
Inside a landfill the oxygen is all used up and decay has stopped. I've heard "they dug into one and found banana peels that were still good enough to eat." That's what the song "mellow yellow" was about. Getting high on banana peels. You can get high on almost anything. I met a guy who said "My brother and I used to inject beer. You get drunk fast on not much beer that way." I asked "what about bacteria? Beer's fermented." He shrugged "Didn't seem to be a problem. We didn't use Coors. It's not pasteurized." Another time he said "Whenever we needed money we'd cut up a piece of paper into tiny squares, sell it to people as LSD. They'd trip on it and everything." This is extremely dangerous. If you have a bad trip and it turns out you never took a drug, how do you make the trip stop? Many people who die "trying to fly" are actually trying to die. Anything to make the trip stop. Like that kid on the Snoopy World ride at the Minnesota Megamall. He died jumping off the ride because to him it was a bad trip. He'd rather die than endure any more of the nausea and terror.
Head and arms inside jacket- melting end of synthetic cord with a lighter on a windy day.

Sleeping in the cold.
Sleeves pulled into jacket with arms. Arms bare against chest and belly for more warmth sleeping at night. Head wrapped with extra clothes inside hood for more warmth. Face covered for bugs. Feet pulled inside elastic cuffs of nylon pants.

Is it ethical to use or benefit from Nazi research? This was an issue a few years ago. Have you ever heard "90% of the heat is lost through your head"? This came from torturing Polish officers to death in tanks of ice water. They lived longest if their heads and the backs of their necks were covered. The Red Cross and other survival manuals are full of Nazi research results on hypothermia. The Nazis actually tested this stuff. For instance a naked person warms a victim up faster than hot water bottles. The opposite sex warms the victim faster. One woman warms a man faster than two. Recovery is faster if they have sex. They had brothels in the death camps and tested all of this. With rectal and other thermometers. It's in the transcripts from the Nuremburg trials. Truly horrific stuff. Along with other equally cruel research which has no apparent use today. Tests to see how long a person lives with their anus sewed shut. What happens when air bubbles and other things are injected into the bloodstream.
Most of the science in Germany under the NSDAP was pretty bad. They called relativity "Jewish degeneracy" and created a "Nazi physics". Which was no good at all for making an atom bomb, fortunately.

By contrast I have a book called "Hunger Disease" which is clinical studies of malnutrition in the Warsaw ghetto by doctors who were themselves starving. It is dedicated to the black-market traffickers who enabled them to live as long as they did. On about 800 calories a day. "In the first phase, people looked and felt healthier and younger. As if they had gone to a spa for a slimming cure." The subsequent phases were all bad, however.
None of the many people they autopsied had any signs of atherosclerosis. In other words malnutrition cures heart disease. This seemed like big news to me. I ask doctors about this and they generally say something like, "If the food is there, people will eat it, even if they know it's going to kill them eventually."
The leading cause of death in the US is a combination of Gluttony and Sloth. These used to be called deadly sins. Sin cuz it's bad. Deadly cuz it kills you.
Nina says there's a clinic in CA where a doctor cures heart disease with diet and exercise. A crusader with missionary zeal. "Of course, anyone who would go there is already well motivated." also "Studies show that food intake is proportional to the variety of food available."

What I wear to sail. c: Swimsuit shorts-dry fast. a: knot in waist of b: polypro shirt worn as pants. d: neoprene reef boots.
That plypropylene shirt is great. Wear it as a a shirt(yawn) pants, hat, hood, or what my dad called a "dicky", scarf. It dries out fast, is warm. I guess I've had it 16 years. It's got a couple of holes melted in it where Renee shot a bottle rocket at me inside my VW bus. A bigger rocket would have napalmed me with my own undies like those British soldiers in the Falklands. Mosquitoes can bite through it easily.

So on land I wear nylon windbreaker pants. Also to sleep when it's cold. Mine are black or very dark blue. I couldn't find the other ones when packing. These are too hot in the sun. When Nina and I sailed at Paa Mul there was so much spray and waves hitting us these pants got pushed up exposing my legs. Every time I pushed them down they got blasted back up again. My legs got badly sunburned with blisters. So now I wear the polypro shirt as pants to sail. The shorts on top hide the pendular turtleneck. Arms and legs are about the same length? Who knew?
To wear pants as a jacket requires some cutting and sewing. Take a hint from the derelict on the subway. Wear a shirt or sweater as pants.

My big toe hurts a little. Oh yeah. I stubbed it twice on the same rock in the same way when rushing around to depart Punta Soliman with the favoring wind. It bled a little and I cut the hanging flap of skin off. Now if I'm going to get poked by anything, that's the spot. The area around it is kind of red. Looks like I don't have any antiseptic. So I put some superglue (cyanoacrylate) on it. This has worked for me before. I think it locks down the bacteria and cuts off their oxygen without killing my tissue, which gets fed from the inside. If this fails I'll use alcohol. I've still got my 17 peso "Aquardiente de Cana" decanted into a smaller plastic bottle.
Cheap booze is great because: 1. It's cheap. 2. It lasts a lot longer than expensive booze.

How the felled seam works:


two layers of cloth

1.stitch along edge

2. fold open like this

3. stitch again here at a.
That's called a felled seam. It's very strong.
This is a lapped seam or lap seam.

This is a peel seam.
The bottom of my outrigger that ripped out was a peel seam.
I sewed my two 5'x7' blue tarps together like this to make a hammock, or rather it pulled apart like this. Not comfortable. Not bug or water resistant. Not strong. Good thing I used strong thread. #18 tarred nylon. I'll call this a Frankenstein seam, cuz if you were to sew somebody up without medical training, you'd probably do it like this.As I recall, Dr. F. was a chemist.

Cloth is not perfectly limp. It has some compressive strength. It can be made to stand on edge. Like a collar. Or a sleeve that doesn't fall to your armpit when you raise your arm.
Crease a piece of cloth and push down on the top edge. It supports the greatest load right at the crease (a) .
And that is exactly where the first line of stitching lies in the felled seam. When pulled apart a peel seam does this:

90 degrees. The loops of thread pull, the cloth puckers and separates exposing the threads. There are stress concentrations at the thread and the cloth perforated by the thread. This can rip.
A lap seam does this when you pull on it:
90 degrees. Same as a peel seam, but now friction between the two pieces is giving you more strength as well. More than your thread alone.
The felled seam has more friction that that cuz of greatly increased contact area. This friction increases the more you pull. And the seam at the crease can't pucker and pull apart because it falls
EXACTLY at the crease (a) for maximum compressive strength. This seam has far more strength than the thread used to make it.
In short, dear friends, I will sew the bottom of my outrigger together with a felled seam. I was amazed at the strength of a simple seam compared to other joints. Now I think I'm beginning to understand.

Here's a proverb: You don't have to fix it, you just need to improve it a little. This applies to problems that seem insoluble. or: Every little bit helps.
One bug bite is no problem. or four. but five is intolerable. So you don't have to prevent all bug bites for all time, you just need to reduce them. Palms of hands and bottoms of feet are not targets for insects. Your eyes will take care of themselves. Somewhere between naked and fully clothed like a ninja will help you not think about bugs except as funny little clowns, there to entertain you.

You can brush your teeth in water that would give you disease to drink. Except in China, according to Nina. She got sick there from toothbrushing. It's parts per million. Fewer millions, fewer parts.

As I wrote, sitting here on the ground, I kept having to get up and walk around. Sore from sitting or lying on my elbow. So I took up my army poncho.
It has various uses printed on it with directions.

(the quotes are printed on the fabric also)

It has rubbery side and a slippery side. This rubbery coating is thin and very good. I once made a coracle by tying a poncho furoshiki style over a big basket I made of bendy sticks. I floated around on a pond in this boat, was amazed how little it leaked. Adding another layer of poncho reduced the leaking far more
than it should have, to almost nothing. My butt stayed dry while I took a nap and floated around.

Here's another use for a poncho: Oops, turn the page.

I skip odd pairs to prevent print-through, and so I can photocopy two pages at a shot if I want to. Also if I can't get another notebook in time, I've got some spare blank pages to use. I write across the lines cuz it makes me feel like an individual.
Me in great comfort, doing this right now. Somewhere between the "hamaca" of the Arawaks and seen by Columbus. And the camp chair of the plains indian, their sole furniture, and seen by me in the Smithsonian.
a: Poncho folded over once, rubbery side out. It won't work slippery side out. Not enough friction to stay put.

I'm so relaxed I have to pee. Speaking of which, one of the great joys of sleeping in a hammock or on the ground is to roll over on your side and pee without getting out of bed.

When palm branches sway back and forth in the wind they can make a sound just like something. A malicious intruder! A predatory monster! Walking on dry leaves, coming to get you in the night. The Marshallese have a folk tale about this and probably a one-syllable word for it. Like they do for "drink fresh water from a hollow tree","poke a stick into a hole repeatedly, as if for octopus", and "hunt fish on the reef at night with machete and torch."

The following came to me the other night as I was turning in.

Announcer, in a narrator's voice: Ratfuckinese is a very efficient language, refined over the centuries to convey great subtleties in as few syllables as possible.
Older male asian voice, slightly high pitched like general Giap or Hyun Kwong Nhuong: Ratfuckinese is very beautiful lang-wage, very musical. It can say so very much.
Announcer: For instance.
Older ratfucker: Let's say I want to make you mad. I might say
Young male asian voice shouting: Hyung!
Ann.: And that means?
Old: You scared to go potty in front of me.
Ann.: Or?
Old: Well, I might say
Young: Hyang!
Old: which means "you kiss you daddy in a sexy way."
Ann.: Amazing!
Old: But the greatest achievement of ratfuckinese pee-pull is word "Hwen".
Ann.: And what does that mean?
Old: (With very musical inflection) That means every-thiiiing.
Young, cursing a blue streak that doesn't stop, starting here^: Chicken pooped on your face want to fuck your grandma(drums start)when she's passed out but you're scared to so you jerk off(bass starts here) crying like a baby with a thumb in your butt while I give your mom the cane pole I can see you never learned to read or write fucking asshole etc. etc.
and it's a long hip-hop jam with a clearly enunciated heavymetal climax type rap that just doesn't stop until it does.

It gets dark early here. Here's another:

Me: Shut the fuck up and leave me alone.
Radio announcer voice, with heavy reverb: I said, "Smite the people of Gilead."
Me: Why would I want to do that?
Radio: My ways are not your ways.
Me: And you are?
Radio, sounding pleased: I'm God.
Me: Right. You sound like a DJ.
God: They imitate me.
Me: All of them?
God: Some imitate the others.
Me: You know what my Grandad used to say about radio announcers?
God: Want to hear what I used to say about him?
Me: "All you need is a deep voice and a shallow mind."
God: He was a chicken.
Me: It was funny when Aunt Martha said it, but now I've heard it.
God: Indeed you have.
Me: Who are these Gileadites, and what do you have against them?
God: You must find them, and my...
Me: ways are not your ways.
God: You're catching on. Depart at once.
Me: Okay. I mean why should I? Fuck off.
God: Bzzzt!
Me: OW!
Me: That hurt!
God: Electricity. Just like in a radio.
Me: Fuck you.
God: Bzzt!
Me: OW!
God: Bzzt! Bzzt! (A catchy beat)
Me: OW!
God: Bzzzt!
Me: OW!
God: Bzzt! Bzzt!
Me: OW!
God: Get it?
Me: I'm departing at once to smite the people of Gilead.
God: Good. Any last questions?
Me: How exactly do I smite them?
God: Smite them! Smite them!
Me: Um. Cut them off as the Nephremites?, Extinguish their line?
God: Smart boy. My ways are not your ways. But make it Grim and Nasty.
Me: Fuck you. Oops.
God: You get one for free.
Me: Jesus.
God: We are in full agreement on this one.
Me: Buddha?
God: Now you're fishing.
Me: So, what is the truth?
God: Zoroaster, Moloch, ever hear a saying about my ways?
Me: I know what they aren't. So what are they?
God: To some is given this and that. To you is given the job of smiting those damn people.
Me: Damn?
God: It's sort of close. You've got all these words for precipition, and tons of archaic sex words.
Me: But as for your ways?
God: For you, today, my way is the highway. Get on with it.
Me: Hello?

So I had a dream I was the agent of God's wrath to smite the people of Gilead. It kept going, but I fell asleep.

4:12pm I heard american voices on the beach. I high crawled and low crawled out to the edge, peeked at them through a baby palmetto. Hurt my toe again. A couple strolling in shorts and polo shirts, shoes in hand. Reminded me of playing spies as a kid. My sister and I out at night under curfew in Ramallah. Sitting with our heads on a wall letting passersby wonder what they'd just seen, but pretending they didn't. Cuz under military occupation you're better off not seeing anything. Let alone hearing or speaking.

The ladies from bi-shore Niagara were matronizing me: "It did enter my mind you were going to pretend to be dead and hide out in the jungle."
Me: "Just cuz the only good artist is a dead artist it doesn't mean every dead artist is good."
Forinstance, and I retold the tale of Sprax's Chicago cop pal Scott. Who got a landlady's call about a smell and a silent tenant. The guy had hung his paintings all around him, and then hung himself. Get it? A hanging?
And to me, the thing: The lady put the paintings out with the trash. Dying did not make them worth more. If the death-value factor multiplies a value of zero, or the result is too low to cover overhead in the dead art trade, no one will promote your work when you're gone.
I left out what Scott most dwelt on. How it was a loft with high ceilings and the smell and the flies and a hot summer with closed windows and how the guy had kind of puffed up. How when the rope was cut and the guy hit the floor he sort of popped and the mess went all over.

I'm munching on a jar of lentils left over from yesterday. Mmm. That brown spice. Bet it has a name. I'll call it the Nina spice. She's got a giant spice rack and most of the bottles have this one thing in them. Her mom gives it to her for Christmas. She eats a lot of it. The last jar of lentils I ate was starting to go off, but this one is mild. She has a deep groove in her tongue. I exclaimed over it and asked what it symptomized. She said it can be a symptom of protein-carbohydrate malnutrition, "but mine is in the normal range." I think she should eat more protein. I think she should eat like a bodybuilder. I bet her wrist would heal and stop hurting if she had enough protein and food in general in her so her body wasn't looking for spare molecules to keep her legs going, which she uses constantly. And she wouldn't get cold so easily.

Scott was talking about slavic mafia in Chicago. He speaks Polish, so he gets a lot of those cases.
I asked him about all these "Meet Russian Ladies" personals ads. "You are everything a Russian man is not. Sober, employed, and there." "Oh yeah", he said. "Organized crime. The girls are beautiful. They'll marry you all right. Fuck your brains out. Be a perfect wife. And the first time you screw around they'll divorce you, take your house, car, half your money, keep the kids, and give a cut to the Russian mob."
So that's how desperate they are.

Nina said "In those years I ate almost no protein. My friends couldn't believe it." Maybe she likes the high some people get from lack of protein. Like Hare Krishnas.
Food preferences are interesting. Food you hate can keep you alive. But no-one will believe this at the time because the feelings are so intense. Many have starved rather than eat things they didn't want. Just like most Americans spend years knowingly killing themselves with things they want. Before he died from smoking-related cancers, Grandad Lackey told a story about soldiers starving to death in a cornfield because they thought only animals could eat corn.

Actually they could have died of malnutrition while stuffing themselves on corn. If you only eat corn you'll get pellagra from niacin deficiency, because the corn has an enzyme that destroys it. If you prepare it with lime (burnt limestone, not the fruit. they have other tricks with that.) the way the Mayans do, the enzyme is destroyed and you can eat corn as a staple. Their corn is amazing. Ten feet tall. They slash it over their heads so the stalk falls over to pick the ears. They plant beans at the base. The corn uses up nitrogen from the soil. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria in nodules in the roots of the beans puts the nitrogen back. The beans are ground cover for the corn, and climb up the cornstalks to get to the sun. The corn has half the amino acids you need, the beans have the other half. It's a perfect system.

We were skiing at Killington, driving in a car. A cop car pulled in behind us. I said "hope he doesn't pull us over. But you could tell him some secret cop thing and he'd let us go." Scott nodded, yelled "Fuck the police!"

He had other stories about people shooting at him, tough arrests, "And that was before we knew about positional asphyxia", chasing a robber into a dark alley in the projects and pushing his head against the wall. A protruding nail went into the guy's scalp. Cut the top of his head. An inch taller he'd be dead.
It's stressful being a cop. You see people at their worst. You get suspicious. On your guard. Cold and dead inside. More suicides than psychiatrists. Wrecks marriages. Makes you visit friends in New England and go skiing.

Thurs 3-8-01 7am Cooking some oatmeal. Not much food left. Or water. Some cooked lentils in a jar. Wonder if some fish would like to eat them. They're off. Smell like a Japanese delicacy. A Japanese woman acting like a robot doll with a squeaky high-pitched voice would serve us horribly expensive feasts in hundreds of tiny dishes. Watch us eat delicious things. And nasty stuff too. She'd smile a red heart-shaped smile, tilt her ornate head, bend the stiff thick kimono and obi at the waist and kneel like all the pain of a childhood had taught her. Wearing a costume that cost as much as a house and took hours to put on. We'd be trying not to pucker up our faces and spit something out. Then she'd say with a smile, "Americans don't like this."
To return the favor, try root beer. It tastes horrible to many Japanese people. Like some medicine their parents used to torture them with when they were already sick enough.

Last night I slept on the ground. It was okay. Warmer than a hammock. Didn't need all my clothes. This morning I got naked, dug a hole, crapped in it, covered it again, and instead of wiping my butt jumped into the ocean and had a bath. Washing with salt water is okay. It has higher friction than fresh water on skin, hence the "sticky feeling" So I rub oil on myself wherever it's chafing or dry. Prevent "burly he-man inner thigh rash" from making me walk funny. Salt is hydrophilic. In Ramallah sister Imolata (means "burned to death") made 12 piles of salt. She'd look to see if water ran out of a pile. "See! Rain every month!"

Why am I talking about poop all the time? Mexico is famous for making Americans sick with waterborne diseases. Many of these come from shit that gets into the groundwater, or mishandling of shit in general. This coral soil is very porous. If you pour water onto it it doesn't run off, it just soaks in. It mixes with the groundwater that day. It moves around. So a pit latrine is the wrong thing here. The Yucatan is in the midst of a population explosion. What to do with all the sewage? Where can it go without killing the reef? What's the right thing to do when I have to go? I don't know. Someone does. I need to find out.

A cup of oil, a cup of dry bean powder, a few cups of oatmeal. Half a can of sterno. Not much food left. A gallon of water. It's 30km to Punta Allen, and I'm told there's no store there. I put my ear up to the cold lentils and hear them bubble. Into the pot they go!
Hasty spoon-3 cuts with a knife from a palmetto branch.
[DRAWING ]windscreen of palmettoes around sterno fire. The palmetto leaf is shaped like sheetmetal radiance in Orthodox icons.

Last night I got scared of the dark a little. Bagged my stuff up and put it into the clearing. I'd had it all laid out to embarrass me into getting rid of some. Then I took branches and threw them into the tunnel-like path, twig end out. This type of defensive work predates barbed wire and is called an
[DRAWING ]Abbattis. Picture from dictionary.

Then my curiosity overcame my paranoia and I lit a candle to read about where I am. Turns out I'm already inside the Sian Ka'an ("where the sky begins" in Mayan) biosphere reserve. 5000 sq. km. of protected land. A place where my health insurance card won't do me much good. I can't buy things here and am in more danger from crocodiles, snakes, accidents, offshore winds and my own incompetence than from the malice of others. For one thing there are very few of these so-called "others."

In my fear I slept next to my paddle last night. It's a Mohawk brand cheap plastic paddle. Black plastic handle and blade, aluminum shaft. The T boat hook handle is good for fishing the sheet out of the water when I drop it. I hammered the blade out of the tubular shaft so it would fit in one of the 38" long airline checked bags. The black plastic "unbreakable" blade is amazing. Years ago I chopped a carp in half with one in the shallows near Garrison Dam, South Dakota. What a weapon. Good as a shovel for digging latrines, tarp-lined raincatchers, solar stills. Makes a good stool.
stump. paddle blade. butt. Why do so many of the diagrams have my butt in them? Probably because it was sore. From a saltwater sore.When hiking your weight is borne by your feet. When sailing a small boat it's all on your behind.

My folding saw. Like a "sierra saw". Cochlan's. a: Japanese style crosscut teeth, but without enough set. Binds in kerf. b: I sharpened the back on a sheet of 80 grit emery paper on the flat side of my sunglass case. Use as a tiny machete. Sharpened from one side only like Kodama-san the blacksmith's bear knives. Better for limbing and hewing.

one candle is plenty. light is hidden. cut off. waterbottle/sand candle lamp in lap. Clamped with legs. Shines plenty of light on this book. Doing this right now.

Bugs don't seem to bite me through the limestone dust on my feet. Like traditional lime antifouling from Melanesia, Arabia? Maybe salt helps too.
Rear view, very comfortable way to carry the boat. Harness like this. Used by dutch cheese porters.

Fri 3-9-01 5:15am The bugs seem to have lost their taste for me.

Sat 3-10-01 12:15 My food and water is all gone as of yesterday morning. Last night I thought I could sail in the moonlight but I got scared and tired and the wind died. The waves made a strange "velcro" sound on shore. Turned out to be sharp rocks. I ripped up the hull landing on these rocks in small surf at a deserted fishing camp.

Stinky on the beach at the fishing camp. The rocks in the water to the left are part of a small corral. It wouldn't keep fish in without raising the walls with a few rocks.
This morning sewed the rips, smeared contact cement and tar from the beach into them. Tar. Great stuff. A new hot-melt sealant. Re-activate with heat to repair it again. I think this stuff is crude oil with the runny stuff cooked out of it by the sun. Drank a young coconut, ate the jelly. Sampled some ants and termites. The ants are nutty. Very good. And then a little tangy. Formic acid? The termites have no taste I can discern.

Two airbags in the outrigger couldn't hold air yesterday, and it had a ripped zipper seam. I put contact cement around the pvc air fittings. They just don't join to the Manntech urethane coating very well. Moved the hoses around to put less strain on the fittings. Went to the hardware store I mean walked down the beach looking at garbage. Got some decent polypropylene cord and an ABS plastic angle. Made a canoe shoe. Tied it on so I can relaunch without more rips.
and a running shoe to step the heel of the yard in at the bow. "Heel cup". Oh yeah. It's perfect.

Do I have instincts? What are they? I wonder what's going to look delicious to me when I finally get hungry? That iguana looks pretty good. Like a self-propelled hot dog. I don't really feel like eating though. Why aren't I worried? Except about blowing offshore without water. Better husk some nuts. Next stop. Don't want to impose on my absent hosts.
Too many mosquitoes last night. Broke out the bug net. Slept on the beach. "Don't sleep on the beach! Please!" I've heard many warnings. Well, there's a lot of beach and not many people. Hurt my back sleeping on lumpy sand. Maybe now I'll join the chorus. This book got soaked yesterday inside a "dry bag". Dried it on the clothesline in the sun today.

A limestone rock carved into a gargoyle and tied to a tree at the fishing camp. The bay is a couple of miles across. At this end there's no reef pass.

A gaff made from an iron rod and a club with a few fish scales adhering to it. A mexican bill and the photographer's shadow for scale. Iron rods like that are found around the rim of a box spring and some mattresses.

Log bench and a jar with two big hermit crabs in it. Both managed to escape despite their heavy armor.
[DRAWING ]A log bench the beach had carved for me. Top. front. butt.

The full moon is rising a bright orange disk. It's actually a brilliant moonrise. My gear and myself are piled atop another bank just above the beach in a clearing among palmettoes. Somewhere less than ten miles from Punta Allen. According to the driver of a ponga of (Italian?) tourists, some in wetsuits. The two boats drove north to where I was sailing south to point into the water where a coral reef was.

Sun 3-11-01
Selfstow hammock, diamond mine probe, fork+bucket stool, log bench, get re-introduced to the wild like pet eagle or monkey, netknot purpose, what's wrong with feral dogs+cats? am I/we like them? Siphon, auto bailer experiments. 3-string hammock rocker, agave thorn, men, failure and women. Ama density- push on sail, legs in water.

It's 3:45 AM I'm sitting in hammock-made-from-bugscreen writing with cutoff waterbottle cup+sand+candle lamp in lap. The guidebook was rolled up in the cup today without the lid on. It didn't get wet although there was water in the bag. Maybe the shape protected it from water less than this distance deep.

Unless it rolled in a very violent rotation. Which fortunately it didn't do today.
I woke up feeling alert. Made a net bag to hold the critters I'll hunt on the reef in the morning. Limp cloth in the water has tremendous drag due to attached turbulence. It makes vortexes as it sticks to them, billows and slithers through the water. Like a flag in the wind. So a net bag is much better. Alert. Is this the "rapid shallow heartbeat" of dehydration? Drank and nibbled one coconut today. Not nearly enough, but I didn't feel like landing for more. Green, golden red at tip. Sweet and good. 3/16" of meat in it. Ate some as I worked. Hot, not too hungry. Fresh coconuts are under pressure inside. They'll spit, hiss, and squirt you when you stab them. "Your guarantee of freshness". Hiss spit piss. Onomatopoeia?

Sailed pretty far and well today. Not too much floundering. Did some swimming around the boat putting the rig back in order after backwinding it a few times. Easier than walking on the rocking deck of bendy sticks with big gaps between them.
The ponga of tourists stayed long enough to see me sail onto a coral head, take down sail, try again, ground again, and finally stow it and paddle out and around. Boat full of water as usual. Hard and slow to paddle. The 17" gap twixt hull and platform is a good thing for putting a paddle into. The Mayan guide said it was about 10 miles (he really said miles) to Punta Allen. I was pretty ashamed of ramming and standing on coral, not to mention irked and frustrated at probably ripping my canoe's guts.

In the morning (actually 2pm) finally I sailed out of last night's bay. The canoe shoe worked well. Stuffed foam and plastic bottles into the ends of the outrigger because the bags don't quite reach there and because those end bags had gone flat the day before. Couldn't quite clear the point into the wind. Had to shunt and floundered before I relearned the Marshallese tricks. Keep one hand on the sail and have my feet in the water the whole time I'm sitting at the bow messing with the sail. Push and pull on the boom to control the way the canoe drifts. Without doing this the canoe drifts backward, turns and backwinds the sail. Drop everything in a tangle and start from scratch. Every shunt I tuned the boat a little. Took off the canoe shoe. The thing was inspired by an Algonquin trick for running rapids in Adney+Chapelle. The ropes made a hum in the water against the hull, and drag. The boat was much faster without them. Guess I'll do without coconuts.

Pulled on the uphaul and outhaul til the whole sail was drawing well. A nice smooth curve with a pocket by the tack. The "stomach". Pulled in the windward stay. Big improvement. "A hand to the left of the windward rail" I had heard. Sailed "full and by" down the coast. Few people, maybe less garbage on the shore. More colors in the water. I tried different sheet attachment points, friction, grips, etc. Sailed a couple of hours laying down on the hull with the tiller over my head. Very nice. Need photo. As the sun was setting I got into thick coral heads right near shore. Grounded a couple of times, gave up. Dogs on the beach and huge bird tracks. Must be near town. Backed up, beached and lugged it up the bank. Yep, new gashes in the bottom. Try again tomorrow. Propped up one end to let water run out the other end. It comes out by the crossbar lashings but surprisingly little. Takes a long time to drain. Maybe I should stuff tarry pulp in the holes, put in a real drain hose or siphon. This smallbore pump is too slow and too much work.
Maybe an auto bailer would work like on a crew shell. Could try with hose tomorrow.
Lamp on chest would be right for reading light. Candle will run out soon. Without food I'm smelling things I didn't smell before. The vitamin E oil tastes like butter. Some for the lips, some for me. Some more for me. East windy. The trees shake and move the hammock.
Try tying rope to side tree for more rocking in the wind.
Oops! Ouch. Don't rock too much. Those agave thorns are fierce. That's why it hurt so much.
[DRAWING ]It's sharp enough to have gone in 1/4". What a material!
My trees are springy little palmettoes. When I stand up they spring back and pull the hammock up tight. Self-stowing! You could do this with spring, elastic, or counterweight.
Making this net bag, I picked apart some knots with mybig needle. Big enough to read "made in england" on the side. Diamond crossection toward tip. Very nice to pick knots apart. Shove in and twist. Might be better than oval shaped demining probe. Talk to David Levy. Maybe go to the training camp.
Upside down bucket on beach. Someone had fished here. And a big forked stick.
I filled the pail with water and sat on the side of the fork. A good toothbrushing stool. But then the fork broke.

My net bag. Sheetbend hitch shortens those cells a little. So in a big net it would pucker the net and concentrate stress. Hence the complicated I mean simple knot I couldn't manage to imitate on the bag I found.

I imagined this dialogue with Nicola:
He: Man, my penis is huge!
Me: So I hear.
He: Really?
Me: Just from you.
He: Don't believe it? Come on, I'll show you.
Me: Only if it won't change our relationship.
He: I don't know, you haven't seen it yet.

How do they re-introdue captive/pet animals to the wild? Can they do that to me? I should find out what the methods are, compare them to my own. Or am I a domesticated species? What would it mean to introduce a white Tepley turkey to the wild? Or a dachshund?
I know feral housecats are a problem. Just because there are too many of them? All this selective breeding- does it eliminate instincts useful in the wild? Maybe not, if the triggers are never present. Sexual selection. So we're funny looking, hairless, who knows what else. I went to a lecture on the subject once. Clothing and dairy cows. So we don't need hair except to be cute, and lactase is useful to adults. So these are bred in by cultural influences. But wild animals do this too - selective breeding. Does my education and training eliminate my instincts? Does it in animals? Why haven't I heard or know what my instincts are? Those are what it means to be human. Does the man who listens to horses listen to people too?

I'm feeling better about the boat and therefore myself. Maybe because of this I'm thinking how nice it will be see Nina again. It's not sexy to be seen failing. Empathy makes you see yourself through other's eyes. So you're in a different world around different people. I've had a few breakups during machine prototype efforts. I thought it was just stress. But then I didn't want to get back together or really see them again after the stressful situation was over. Maybe it would remind me of how I felt about and saw myself when I was with them. Marriage breakup statistics correlate strongly with unemployment statistics. There was a study of what makes guys "feel like a man." Being a good provider is the number one thing.
Then again, maybe I'm just not longterm monogamous material. Maybe I periodically get bored with a person. Maybe I need to spend time alone not thinking I'm in a couple. I started kissing girls 17 years ago. Now I'm 36 and I'm still not married. Maybe I would be if I could always have that feeling of doing something well. But R+D is many attempts and most of them fail. First attempts at things that work and are worthwhile are usually clumsy. Full of problems with no known solution. As soon as it works or I give up I'm on to the next one. So I'm always working at things I'm incompetent at. Because it's NEW NEW NEW! Maybe I date new people for the same reason I develop new technology. The value of novelty. I'll date a person to learn from them, and I learn more in the beginning. The rate of learning decreases.
I've read that men respond to stress by trying to be alone and women respond to stress by trying to be together. This describes at least two breakups I've been in.

It's 5:40 AM. Light enough to distinguish a white thread from a black thread. Let Ramadan begin. The candle has burnt down. The wick is in the sand. Still burning well from melted wax soaked from the sand. Blow it out.

Tried Nina's foampad-in-the-pants invention today. Worked well at first but then rode up. Knee and butt pads would help in the jagged little boats I build. Could shove foampads in shirt- instant wetsuit.

This book is dry because I rolled it up, wrapped with an innertube strip to hold it. Shoved it in an empty gallon "Crystal" water bottle. 1 9/16" mouth. I left a tail on the wrapstrip to fish it out with but then wadded it up on top so the cap squished it and the book didn't fall over.

The only things that stay dry are in screw-top jars. The only things that stay totally dry are in a screwtop jar with the lid screwed down over sheet plastic and maybe with tape around the cap.

Walking down the beach there are innumerable plastic bottles with the lids on tight. Most have some salt water in them. How did it get in? The same way it'll get into your boat no matter what you do. The same way it gets into your mouth, nose, sinuses, lungs when you're blasted with spray or pounded in the surf.

End of part 4. which is Notebook 2. A Kimberly-Clark Scribe brand lined notebook. Ronald McDonald and pals are whitewater rafting on the cover. Ronald signed the picture. The price tag says $6, but that's pesos. They use the same symbol. I guess that lets them use US made typewriters, cashregisters and computers. The pages are curled from being rolled up in a jar.

To be continued... Part 5
Copyright 2001 Tim Anderson