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December 26, 2012

Catalyst log


Dear Friends and Family,

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and perhaps, in my sharing memories of the celebration here, you will revisit your memories and enjoy the day again as I will by writing this log.

We have traveled around a little with Linsey but unfortunately, we had some days of bad weather which kept us from doing all we would like to do.  We chose to sail back to an anchorage we had already visited because there was a Christmas party being planned there and we wanted to be part of the day with fellow cruisers.

Before the day though, we went out in our hard dinghy to snorkel.  We realized that we had left our ladder on the big boat but thought that we could manage without it.  We won’t do that again!  I had the most difficulty getting in, looking like some beached whale being dragged over the side by Rob, who seemed to get in easily.  Well, about 36 hours after that, Rob had a very sharp pain in his left side.  Both he and Linsey think that it is a bruised rib and the only time we can come up with that he might have gotten hurt was in getting back in to the dinghy.  He rested awhile and on Christmas Eve, he seemed fine to take us out in the dinghy to go caroling.  He said it didn’t hurt then but later that night it started up again and was so tender and sensitive on Christmas Day, he chose to stay on the boat rather than go in for the party.  We were able to get a ride with another boater so Linsey and I enjoyed the party.  Rob did OK and though he is still moving slow, he says he is better today.  Right now, we are not going anyplace until he is up and moving better.  We don’t want to risk slowing the healing.

This happened to him one other time and he was able to start doing things within a few days so we are hopeful that he will be OK soon.

In the mean time, Linsey has been getting jobs to do massage like crazy.  As her reputation builds, the jobs are more and more and today, she may do as many as 6 and that doesn’t include me.  Actually, I am glad she is making money to continue her journey as she has been so good at getting me in shape that I hardly feel the need for the massage as I did when we started this.

Linsey, tentatively has a ride with another boat back to the Panama Canal area on the Atlantic side.  She is hoping to do a canal transit as a line handler on another boat.  She also wants to spend some time in Panama City seeing the locks, etc.   She is likely to leave on Friday which gives her a day to give me a full treatment before she goes.  She will really be missed, not only by us but by the boaters she has treated.  She has touched all our lives both figuratively and literally!

Rob and I will take the few weeks to clean up the boat and do laundry in preparation for a visit from my sister Peggy and her husband Vic.  This has been a long anticipated trip for them to join us and we are so excited about it.  Since they are planning to come by land rather than fly, they can bring provisions and I have given them a huge wish list.  Having an extra person aboard for a month has reduced our provisions by 50% more than I had planned for this month so it won’t hurt to resupply.

Cost of things here is high because it has to be shipped in to the area.  A veggie boat comes by with produce, eggs and some times chicken and wine.  The wine is about double the price of Panama City, the chickens $8 to $10 each and the eggs are $5 per dozen and many are bad when you try to use them.  Still, if you have no other way to get things, you are grateful.  There are some villages where you might find things for less but it is all dependent on when a boat comes in to supply places.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we pay higher than the locals but it is still high for them.  The locals eat a very simple diet so there is not much available as far as variety.  I know I am going to go crazy in the produce section of my supermarket when I get home!

Well, enough of that.  We are eating well and enjoying our life here in Kuna Yala (The land of the Kunas)    Let me share our Christmas with you.

It started on Christmas Eve but before meeting 3 other dinghy loads of carolers, Linsey, Rob and I went ashore on the look out for things to add to make a sea urchin snow man.  Linsey and I found 3 large and one small urchin on the day we snorkeled and Rob hurt his rib.  I knew that shells would not really be available but I found where there had been a fire  so I could find some coal.   After all, don’t snow men have coal for their faces?  That and  a piece of palm husk for hair and I was set.  Here is a picture of us and the dinghy.  Linsey took it and I like it because it shows the island, our boat, the anchorage and the sun beginning to set in the background.


We then met with 3 other dinghy loads of boaters meeting to go caroling to those boats that didn’t join us.


The anchorage was pretty full so we caroled from about 5:30 until about 7.  We had announced that we would expect a shot of rum from the boaters that we sang for and in many instances we got it.  One boater, Connie on the boat Better Days was the organizer and she was great.  She had hats for everyone to wear, maracas to shake, red and green lights to wave etc.  She played a ukulele and lead us in simple Christmas songs.


We not only went to boats but as we passed the island, there were a large number of the family boaters there with children.  Many are French or German.  We came close and sang for them and they sang back in French to us.


We then went to the end of the island where the Kuna family lives and sang for them.  They really enjoyed that.


We got shots of rum on many of the boats but one boat in particular had a way of dispensing the rum.  A guest, who is a nurse, brought a catheter with her.  They put a small funnel on the top and poured a shot of rum that went down the tube in to the mouth of the caroler.


Not everyone dispensed rum  but everyone seemed to enjoy our visit.   Since we sang until after dark, some of the French boaters had returned to their boats and we sang to them again, and they to us.  It was a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve and all we met seemed to enjoy the moment with us.

Rob had managed the boat well that night but on Christmas, he was not doing so well.  He decided that it would be too painful to leave the boat and be ashore all day so he opted to stay on the boat.

Linsey gave a massage that morning and I prepared bread, a salad and a meat casserole to take to the pot luck at 2.  I made the best bread yet of this trip.  I did bread with garlic, parsley and rosemary in the dough and then made a rolled sandwich with pesto, olives and Parmesan cheese.  It was very nice.

While the bread was rising, I borrowed a hot glue gun from Connie and put together a sea urchin snow man.  I made the eyes and mouth of coal and put on the coconut hair.  Linsey suggested a vest out of the red tissue paper we had on board and we put on a ribbon scarf.  I had the small urchin left so chose to put it in front as though it was an offered gift from the snow man.


I took it in and gave it to Connie and Steve as a thank you for the hard work on getting us all together for Christmas.  She loved it and even found a box to keep it safe for years to come.

Another boater gave us a ride to the party and back and Linsey and I enjoyed our day.  The place on the island was wonderful.  There had been a table made of bamboo there already but Connie brought table clothes, tied ribbon to trees, had a poinsettia center piece and had even raked the sand.  She is amazing!


There was no worry that there would not be enough food.  It was all delicious and when she called for time to eat, there was no shyness in crowding to fill plates.  Even when the Kuna family was invited to join us, there were still lots left over!


People who had not brought chairs found a fallen palm to sit on while enjoying their dinner.

P1070602We enjoyed the musicians who brought guitars, a flute and drums, plus the words to Christmas songs.  There was quite a group that sang along.


Clean up was done by rinsing your plate in the water by the shore.  Don’t you love his Santa shorts!!!!


The island was so beautiful and we could see the boats at anchor.  The overly windy and rainy days had given over to a quiet, mostly dry day.  We could have asked for a little more breeze but compared to how it could have been, we were all thankful.

The boaters had all contributed gifts from things they had on board to give to the Kuna family because they had allowed us to use their island for the party.  The family is so nice.  They got some canned goods, rice and macaroni plus some clothes and toys for the children.  There are three boys, one about 10, one 3 and one 9 months old.

One of the things we gave was a blow up beach ball that is like a globe.  It was funny how everyone wanted to crowd around and show people where they were from.  It was a hit.


We also gave a tin of Christmas cookies, a ball cap, 4 tooth brushes, and tooth paste.  Linsey had a Harley scarf, a T-shirt, and a jump rope to give.  It was so great to have an international Christmas with kids there.  Not only the Kuna family, but the French, Germans  and Canadians as well.  The kids just loved the beach and the water and they spend most of their days there.  They have friends to play with and wonderful nature to explore.  The family seemed pleased, if maybe bewildered by some of the things, but they were friendly and gracious and really helped make the spirit of giving associated with the holiday, come alive.


Finally, it was time to head home and find our dinghy among those lined up on shore.


All in all, it was the best Christmas I have experienced in our Caribbean Travels.  Unfortunately, Rob cannot say the same.  Don’t worry about him though.  He is doing better and should be back in the swing of things soon.

Wishing you all a blessed New Year full of wonderful reasons to be thankful.

Fair Winds,

Sue and Rob

Aboard Catalyst

Kuna Yala, Panama

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