Saturday afternoon we relaxed before heading out to Mar Marine for sundowners but the place was empty…. so decamped to Brunos instead. We enjoyed happy hour before returning to Morphie just before the rain started. Talking to the few people around it seems that most of the boats are currently unoccupied so that’s why the bars and restaurants are pretty empty.
Sunday morning we were up early to move our dock lines and fenders in preparation for the varnishing work being started Monday. We wanted to position Morphie further away from the dock and to free up the cleats. We then tied the fenders to the dock and pilings rather than to the boat and removed the jerry cans off the rail – and their fixings – and secured all the other ropes and lines high above the deck. The only victim in the process was a U-bolt that Richard dropped in the water. Oops…. It may be fresh water but it is 20 feet deep and murky so we’ll replace it as we didn’t fancy taking a swim to look for it – especially as water-born amoebic dysentery is endemic here!
The rest of the day we chilled out with the fans blowing at maximum speed – the heat here is brutal and we’re both struggling to maintain our energy levels. To cope we have quickly adopted the local way of working early in the morning – followed by afternoon siestas – and resuming activity later in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. Or it would be if we could see it as the cloud cover is pretty much 100% of the time at the moment.
Sunday late afternoon we decided to take ourselves to the dock palapa to meet cruisers who congregate there every day at 5pm for sundowners. Well…..not that night….they were all sat in one boat’s cockpit watching us. It is pretty clique here…. So feeling slightly uncomfortable we watched the sun go down and returned to Morphie’s cockpit to road-test the re-waterproofed canvas in the rain. We are pleased to report no leaks!
Monday morning and Freddie and Matthew turned up – first job was to remove all the stainless steel from the rail. They got it off bit by bit while Richard and I managed to find places to secure it all on the coachroof – what with that and our scruffy bit of tarpaulin over the boom to keep the deck cool enough to walk on – and we are starting to look like the Clampits LOL.
In the afternoon I prepared some ribs (for us) and dauphinoise potatoes (to share) for the pot luck that Jim, our dock neighbour, had organised for 6pm. We wandered to the shaded cruisers BBQ area – near the boatyard – and cracked open a beer – marred only by the biting red ants and the feasting mosquitos… At around 6.30 pm we were still on our own and Tim came by. He had just come back from Livingstone where they had failed to get their cruising permit extension and, annoyingly, while on anchor overnight vagabonds had cut the lines to their genoa and stolen them along with a pair of sandals from the cockpit. They were pretty fed up about this and we were increasingly frustrated by the no-show of the other cruisers.
So we decided to abandon the pot luck and arranged for Tim and Philippa to come over to Morphie instead. As we were walking back we bumped into Jim and Jean – who were finally on their way to the pot luck almost an hour late – and they asked us not to leave. Apparently everyone was late because they had been playing dominoes. Sorry – no can do – we’ve made alternative arrangements now – bye! Tim and Philippa came onboard and we had a great evening – they enjoyed sharing our food – and we enjoyed their company.
Jim came by later and told us what a great time we had missed but we were still smarting from being sat there like lemons. He was clearly embarrassed – tough!
Tuesday morning we headed into Fronteras and were fascinated by the huge flock of cormorants fishing in the river.
We went to the Café de Paris for breakfast, which is the most modern place in town, enjoyed fresh chocolate croissants and the views from the terrace.
We then went for a wander around town – delving into side roads from the main drag – and found the fish market.
Later on we found the “concrete mall” which is where most of the hardware stores are located so we enjoyed perusing the strange collection of items for sale. We noticed, in the car park, two calves in the back of a small truck and we thought it was a strange place to see them – then suddenly two guys wrestled one of them to the floor and securely tied his legs together. It was very brutal and we realised that they were about to slit his throat so we made a quick exit.
We wandered through the streets and found a small market – selling everything from live chickens, (dead) chicken feet, Tupperware, shoes, pots and pans and sacks of food stuffs. Oh yes and shoe shining stations for the cowboys. They even drive motorcycles between the stalls too! I was happy to find a new handbag to buy as the other one had disintegrated for the princely sum of £6.
We enjoyed the sights, the sounds (yes and the smells) before returning to the main drag to buy some fresh fruit and veg. Richard was very happy with his purchase of a bag of fresh lychees for less than a £1.
Back to Morphie and we handed over dink to Freddie so that he could continue removing the varnish under the rail and went down below to try and keep cool. Later on we went to the pool for a restorative bob and said our farewells to Tim and Philippa who were starting their circuitous route home to the UK the following day.
We had another evening in the cockpit – and another sunset. Woo hoo.
Wednesday morning it was soggy having had torrential rain overnight – we walked to RAM marina to get more cash from the ATM and had breakfast in the marina restaurant. Sadly the internet was poor again but at least there was a breeze. Freddie continued to work hard stripping the varnish.
While there we made arrangements for the local ‘fixer’ Raul to visit us on Thursday so that we can get our cruising permit renewed – an expensive option but it would appear to be the only way to guarantee success. Sadly still no quote from our fabricator / welder – will chase and see what happens…..
Charlie and Saundra came by – they had just returned from Cayo Quemado. They had gone down there to have their rigging replaced but the trip had been a complete disaster as the rigging that had been delivered had the wrong swages on. So they need to sort all that out. We gave them a sympathetic beer before making arrangements to see them on Thursday. Later on we headed into the restaurant to watch the Portugal –v- Wales match – was sorry that Wales didn’t make it through but kudos to them for getting so far in the competition. Back on board and we waved Freddie off and had a quiet evening in the cockpit whilst being treated to another dramatic thunder and lightning show.
Thursday morning Richard took the generator apart to fix something – and gave grateful thanks to YouTube videos!
Then he bailed out dink – which was almost full to the top after last night’s downpour.
Freddie continued stripping the wood while we waited to be informed of Raul’s arrival.
We took our handheld VHF to the restaurant and, the minute it was announced, we took ourselves to the Marina Office and, thankfully, we were only second in line. It cost us Q2100 (£210) to get the nine month permit process underway. There were a lot of boats looking to him to perform this service and it would appear that customs in Livingstone are no longer issuing them to individuals – forcing everyone down the same route. There is a lot of speculation as to why. Very frustrating when we know the cost of the permit is actually only £100 but what can you do? We have to remember that we are in Central South America and that greasing palms is how things get done!
Money paid over and we returned to Morphie. Freddie is doing well….. and we spent the rest of the day chilling. We were supposed to be going out for an early dinner with Charlie and Saundra but, unfortunately, rain stopped play. However, we were invited on board Windsong (Jim and Jean) to celebrate International Chocolate Day in the evening and so we went and joined them for a few glasses of wine. They own a 49 foot Taswell which is very nice and we particularly liked the layout down below which they had designed themselves, but not sure they are going anywhere. We think they may be Rio dwellers only leaving when they have to….. Was a lovely evening and the home-made chocolate truffles went down a treat.
Friday morning we were up early and took ourselves off to Backpackers for breakfast.
When we had eaten we went to their travel agency to enquire about some trips we would like to do. The lady did not speak English and it was hard to get any information out of her in Spanish – so we took away a business card and will try again another day.
Back into Fronteras on the lower level under the bridge we found one of the small shops and the neighbouring hostel had been completely flooded and all the stock ruined. Amazingly resilient people just getting on with the clean up….
We went into the upholstery workshop to give them our dinghy pads. These were custom made for us in Dominica when we realised that dink was getting marked by the arch. So we designed them ourselves and had them made – back in 2012. Now, of course, they are pretty worn and the padding is getting thin – so we’ve cut up a couple of cheap yoga mats to make the padding – and given the workshop these plus some strong heavy-duty vinyl we had on board. Price agreed and they should be ready for us next week. Boat jobs are coming along nicely – shame about the fabricator / welder not getting back to us though…
It was very busy in Fronteras and as Richard walked ahead of me I spotted cows in a big truck and they were just emptying their bowels! Luckily it fell behind Richard and in front of me…..right next to the stalls cooking up the chicken… Don’t think we’ll be trying street food anytime soon! Then a coach pulled in and, as it glided to a halt, the conductor opened its door in preparation for people to get off – and this barely missed Richard as it swung out. Phew, dangerous place this LOL.
Back to Morphie and we got ourselves cleaned up in preparation for Charlie and Saundra coming round to pick us up. They have a launcha here with a nice-sized outboard so we planned to head further up the river to Kangaroos.
We drove up the river under the bridge admiring the views and some of the properties lining the water when suddenly a big wide tail submerged just in front of us – it was a huge manatee. What a treat!
Kangaroos is a quaint water-side restaurant / hostel owned by an Australian (hence the name) which serves Mexican food (because his wife is Mexican). Very nice chilled place for a leisurely lunch – although the mosquitos were a bit much so we all had to resort to Deet to keep them away. It was great to spend some time with them again especially as Saundra is flying home to Texas on Monday – and we had a fun time as always.
After lunch we headed further inland to Lake Izabel and past the fort of San Philippe which was built to repel pirates…although it is actually nearly 20 miles inland. Was great to see the lake – which is huge – and we enjoyed buzzing around admiring the spectacular scenery.
Back to Morphie and we took ourselves off to the pool to cool down. We had literally just got in the water and the heavens opened – we stayed put for a little while as we were wet anyway – but then the thunderstorms started so decided that it wasn’t such a good idea. We ran for cover and watched the rain come down….before finally returning to Morphie…and sitting it out in the cockpit.
The storm was fierce and the deluge almost biblical and, of course, we lost shore power for a while too. We ended up having quite a late night after all as Richard wanted to just watch the light show. And I only screamed once so definitely improving on the fear factor!
This morning – Saturday – and Freddie has just arrived. All the wood has been stripped and chemically cleaned – including the companionway boards – and he is now taping up and rubbing down prior to sealing.
Slow progress but very thorough and we are quite excited about how it will look when finished – and we are very pleased not to be doing it ourselves for the first time in a number of years. Later on we need to try the ATM again as the machine has been empty of cash for a few days and then we’re just going to chill…and, if it doesn’t rain, maybe a few hours in the pool.
Bye for now