Social distancing, self isolate, that’s what all the cool kids are doing, and they’re great new terms for the hip survivor of the apocalypse. The rules are changing so fast all we can do is guess what they’ll be tomorrow. “Get back to Canada! Get back to Canada you irresponsible bums” the internet hoards keep saying. But there’s no toilet paper in Canada and the airline isn’t answering the phone. Today after a few hours on hold I was informed that I need to watch the airline’s website to see when a repatriation flight will be leaving from Puerto Vallarta. “How much notice will we be given?” I ask “I don’t know, check in the morning and go to the airport if there’s a flight. “It’s a four or five hour drive to the airport.” “You better check in the morning then” “Oh good” I say. Comply with the constantly changing rules! Today we bought canned jalapenos and beans. Yum. And Michelob Ultra, 2.6 carbs and half the taste, but at least we won’t get too fat on our self isolating plan. “We need two days to get the boat ready before we go” Kirstyn tells me “Oh good” I say. Our drunk friend Evan stopped by today “I’m going to buy a house for $20,000 two hours south of here! And I’m going to steal back my motorcycle from the guy that stole it from me last year! And I got you an avacado and a propane regulator!” “Ok, have fun Evan” I say. Evan doesn’t know about the apocalypse yet, I’ve been waiting for him to have a moment of sobriety so I can tell him all about this new virus pandemic. Our neighbor walked past us on the way to the shower, can of Lysol held in front of him in the ready position “Can’t be too careful in these uncertain times” he says. I went to the hardware store looking for a ⅝ drill bit this morning. The guy behind the counter scratches his head “You know, not too many people buy a drill bit this size in this town, maybe I have it in a week?” “Huh, maybe I can find it in Tepic?” I ask. “You know, maybe you try Home Depot?” “Si, maybe I try Home Depot.” The guy didn’t look sick, but I noticed we were both careful not to breathe in each other’s direction. Can’t be too careful. At the grocery store, a mechanic parked his work truck by the curb and we awkwardly made small talk walking towards the store entrance while subtly keeping our distance. “You buying supplies?” He asks “Yeah, gotta prepare” I say “Get lots of beans and rice, it’s boring but you won’t die!” He says cheerfully. He makes a good point, the apocalypse isn’t supposed to be fun, I think to myself. I couldn’t help looking down the toilet paper isle as soon as I enter the store. I feel a mix of relief and gloating satisfaction when I see the fully stocked shelves. “Yes!”
Social media is shitshow. Formerly respected news agencies are all over whatever flavor of the day story every other news agency is all over. The comments sections are full of insane arguments, strangers blasting strangers in endless comment battles.
Out of all this I’ve found one bright and shining beacon. A place where facts are dispensed in a polite and respectful manner. A place where please and thank you are the norm and not the exception.
The Facebook Snake Identification Group is my new favorite place on the internet. Weird right? I’ve never been all that interested in snakes, but recently I found what turned out to be a young Boa Constrictor on my boat and joined the group to have the intruder identified. To my pleasant surprise, a fellow identified my snake in minutes, I thanked him and then the moderators closed the thread. I was stunned at what I saw. There was no dissent, no arguments, no discussion. I had my answer. But this isn’t how Facebook works! I was addicted and I’ve since become a fan of some of the snake experts in the group. Most of the photos posted are quickly identified and labeled as venomous and dangerous or nonvenomous and harmless, mildly venomous and not dangerous to humans… But sometimes a photo of a particularly exotic snake will be posted, one that’s difficult to identify. Those are my favorite. Usually what happens is one of the regular contributors will identify the genus and tag other experts who have more knowledge of that type of snake. Inevitably, one of those experts chimes in with the exact species. Then the thread is closed. How can this be happening on Facebook! This is exactly what I need out of the internet, but how do I find more of this?
Yesterday I found a bug on my boat. Is this a baby cockroach I wondered? It was the perfect opportunity to join another group! After I was accepted to the bug identification group I scrolled through the posts, excited to see yet another bastion of polite and respectful discourse. What I found was completely disappointing. Lame spider jokes, misidentification, arguments. I left the group feeling disgusted. If I want crazy drunken arguments I can go to the pub and get in one anytime! At least I have my snake group.
Critters of all shapes and sizes
We’re back in Mexico at the lovely little town of San Blas, and critters are becoming a theme. Of course we’re reunited with T and Merl is here, but San Blas is famous for something even smaller. No-see-ums. These hungry little guys can feast on a drunken gringo if he forgets to take appropriate measures. That brings us to another critter, Senior Spider.
This is a cautionary tale. I want to be really clear, I don’t condone stealing, breaking the law or any sort of crime. Kirstyn and I recently went on a Bonny and Clyde style crime spree. Minus the guns and violent death, but still, we did some things we’re not proud of. Well, maybe a little proudness, but we got caught, Which isn’t something to brag about. Nobody likes getting caught. I’m sure some of you have driven through the little town of Sparwood, in the southeast corner of British Columbia. They claim to have the biggest dumptruck in the world, and it is a big truck. Very big and green, and lots of tourists passing through take selfie’s in front of it. Just on a hunch, I grabbed the oil dipstick, and low and behold, there was a key there. The key for the world’s biggest truck! How could I possibly resist? What would you do if you had the keys to the world’s biggest truck? Well duh, you’d steal it too! Wouldn’t you? So Kirstyn and I took the truck. Surprisingly, it started on the first try, despite having been a tourist attraction for many years. “What should we do with the world’s biggest truck?” “Let’s go get the Vegreville egg!” Kirstyn was jumping into the life of crime with both feet. So we drove to Vegreville Alberta to steal the world’s biggest Easter egg with the world’s biggest truck. The drive there was uneventful, we played it cool and acted as if it was a normal thing to be driving the world’s largest truck through Calgary, we took a detour to Drumheller and checked out the dinosaurs, and man, it’s hard to find parking for that beast. When we got to Vegreville, we loaded up the egg. “What now?” We stared at each other for a moment, then Kirstyn had an idea “The Tisdale paperclip!” It made perfect sense, we already have the world’s biggest truck and the world’s biggest egg and everyone knows that the world’s biggest paperclip is in Tisdale Saskatchewan! I’m sure at this point you’re thinking, don’t do it! Quit while you’re ahead! But the criminal mind doesn’t think that way. To Tisdale! It went off without a hitch, but what next? We talked about Medicine Hat’s tipi and Moose Jaw’s Moose and Duncan has the hockey stick but the ferry is expensive. “Enderby has the world’s largest lawnmower” I suggest “meh” Kirstyn wasn’t impressed by yard maintenance tools. It needed to be bigger than just the biggest random thing that some small town hoped would attract the odd tourist, it needed to be… “Cawker Kansas!” “The world’s biggest ball of string!” We both hollered in unison. Of all the biggest things in the world that small towns had to offer, this was the gold standard, the creme de la creme and soon it would be ours. This would be our most difficult mission so far. We had to cross the most heavily guarded border in North America, aside from the one between Mexico and America. We’d also drawn some heat, the RCMP had put out an all points bulletin on the egg, and it wouldn’t be long before someone noticed the other thefts. So we ran the border at full speed, 27 miles per hour. And off to Kansas we went. By now we’d drawn some attention, we had a couple North Dakota troopers in hot persuit, but I lost them by tossing some donuts out the window. Anyway I don’t want to get into the details, but we’re out on bail facing some serious charges. So this is mostly a public service announcement and plea from the judge for leniency, kids, don’t do crime.
With Kirstyn and the new dog jetting back to Canada to seek employment, I find myself alone with my thoughts. Well, not entirely alone, there’s T, always present T. And Johan, my Swedish friend. So alone would be a slight exaggeration. Where do we find all these Swedish guys? If you’re lucky, you may spot Kirstyn roaming around Vancouver Island. She’s probably in Tofino or Lantzville or some such place at this very moment with a small grey dog in a small grey dog sweater. Leeroy isn’t coming, him and Brian have a routine that’s unbreakable. Meanwhile, my fearless crew and I continue the perilous journey north. Not too far north though. How could I return to BC? At this point it’s been so long I probably couldn’t even find the place! The mere thought of ending this journey and returning to BC to find a job with a dental plan almost makes me weep. Sorry Mom, maybe next year. So what are our plans? We need money, and not being geniuses, the only sure fire way of getting money that we’ve figured out is to get jobs. That’s why I will be returning to Canada temporarily, because there are people there that are willing to pay me to do stuff. But you don’t care about that, what you wanna know is where will our adventures take us after this brief interlude? I don’t know, and if I did know I wouldn’t tell because I’d probably change my mind. Will we roam Mexico forever? No, that would be silly, not that we’ve seen it all but we kinda got the gist of this place. Oh, and FYI, if the government ever takes away your drivers license, the State of Guerrero is handing them out to anyone with some pesos, so there’s no reason to be driving around without one. I’ve got two of them just because I didn’t like the picture on the first one. Let’s review the plan, make bank, fix some boat stuff that’s been neglected, then go do more fun stuff. And you were probably worried we weren’t gonna do more fun stuff, unless you’re my mom, then you were probably worried we were gonna do more fun stuff.
Over the past few weeks we’ve become aware of some of the prolific social media sailors that are out there. Wow, we seem old fashioned and quaint. We don’t even have a drone. How do we compete with that? All those free dive bikini shots and panoramic drone videos! I once climbed a hill to get a great shot of our boat in a beautiful, pristine anchorage with clear turquoise water… but you’ll have to take my word for it because my phone just doesn’t take great pictures. And man was I out of breath. They also have so many friends! Where do they get all those friends! I don’t think I remember ever meeting that many people. If I had that many friends, wow. So rather than take great videos and stunning photographs, and post YouTube videos (I always thought YouTube was for old guys to teach me how to clean a carburetor), I will be describing our glamorous life in intimate detail. Possibly more detail than you ever imagined. I know in the past there have been long stretches where I lost interest and posted nothing at all, or long stretches where everything I posted was lies, or fiction as I sometimes like to call it, but now I pledge my undying loyalty to this blog and you, my fans. Both of you. Hi Mom! That’s not true, I lied again. I’m not really sure my mom reads this.
Intimate detail, here we go. So yesterday, I was sensing that maybe Johan needed some time to be alone and contemplate some things, so I went to the beach, which as luck would have it has a palapa restaurant with cold beer and delicious fish. Whoa! How did that happen! So I had this wonderful dish where they wrap bacon around shrimp and cheese and then roll the whole thing up in a fish fillet and bake it in a creamy sauce. My waitress was very attentive, so I had an endless supply of ice cold beer… Too much detail? Shit.
When we arrived in Puerto Vallarta back in October, it was hot. Sweating was a way of life and sleeping was difficult. But as Mexican ‘winter’ settled in, the temperature started to drop in the evening. For the past week the temperature hasn’t been dropping much at night and once again sleeping is a sweaty affair. Kirstyn has taken to sleeping outdoors the past few nights, taking full advantage of the slight breeze in the anchorage.
The best time for getting some quality sleep is from 5 to 7 am when it’s at its coolest. If you’ve been to Zihuatanejo, you can probably picture the municipal pier and beach in front of town, and off to the NW there’s some cliffs covered in pastel houses and hotels. We’re anchored over there. Crazy thing that a luxury hotel would have someone running a very loud gas powered machine at 5:30 am. Kirstyn rolled around, trying to get as much airflow over her sweaty body as possible, listening to the machine rattle and sputter. At some point the belt came off, the machine gasped and died. Men yelling in Spanish. The cooling breeze dies. Kirstyn peels the bedsheet off her back and wipes her sweat drenched hair off her forehead. The men yell. Please don’t let them have a spare belt.
We all see those tailored adds popping up on Facebook or wherever we do the internet these days. They know what you looked at and show you adds for similar things. Sometimes it seems like your phone is listening to conversations. The hand cream I mentioned I liked but had never actually typed started popping up in ads. Later someone I was chatting with mentioned the name of a Mexican discount airline and I immediately start getting ads for that company on Facebook. Conspiracy worthy stuff, but I’ve never actually bought anything from an ad on Facebook and they seem to have it wrong more than they get it right. During the US election I was getting ads for candidates in Missouri. I get ads telling me they can help me immigrate to Canada. All this tells me that while Facebook has gotten really good at gathering information, they have no clue how to use that information to benefit their advertisers. The hell Facebook, if you’re gonna watch my every move, at least show me a product I might find useful.
There’s a great service here in Zihua. Beer, fuel, water, ice, it all shows up at your boat the next morning, it’s like Amazon but it’s just three super stoned Mexican dudes in a boat. Excellent customer service, five stars for them if they ever go on trip advisor.
We had dinner at a restaurant on Playa la Ropa. Standard Mexican seafood palapa menu, not bad. But they have an excellent view of the mangrove swamp and the crocodiles in the swamp. We didn’t bring Merl.
We’re going home soon, so if you haven’t visited us in Mexico, it’s almost too late. Almost.
Way back in October or maybe September, Kirstyn started talking about getting a new dog. There was a lot of talk about puppies. I voiced my opinion that we already have a perfectly good dog with no major defects so why would we be talking about puppies? Armed with the knowledge that fifty percent of us wanted a new dog, not to replace our current dog but intended to be complementary to him, Kirstyn made the decision to acquire a puppy. Normally I prefer to be part of the decision making process, but I gotta admit, dogs are very affordable in Mexico, they’re practically everywhere, you could in theory, just scoop one up off the street on your way home from the store. But Kirstyn had some specific qualities she was looking for. She wanted a dog that would fill in the gaps in Leeroy’s skillset. She wanted a dog that’s scruffy and cuddly and small enough that it can’t use brute strength to escape her cuddles and snuggles the way Leeroy sometimes does. So we got a new dog from a rescue place near Guadalajara. He was $125 Canadian which covered his veterinary care and shots. He was delivered to us in Puerto Vallarta by a nice old couple that was already going that way and when we got him he was wearing a small blue baseball cap. He also appeared to be starving to death and was missing patches of fur. His breath smelled awful and he was terrified of everything. We decided that he needed a name because ‘new dog’ wasn’t gonna cut it over the long term. We got him on the 24th of November and decided to call him Merlin because his white eyebrows and whiskers made him look like an old wizard. Since then we’ve been calling him Merl and he’s slowly gotten healthier, bigger and so much more energetic. Merl is working out really well so far. Sure, there’s been a few puke incidents and a couple of pee incidents but that’s all fairly normal for a new dog. So far, Merl has learned to sit, lay down and occasionally come when we call. His favourite place is the beach even though there are sometimes scary humans and dogs there. He’s still quite scruffy and snuggly, so Kirstyn’s pretty happy with his skillset. He shares a few of Leeroy’s skills as well such as digging and swimming, so they’ll be able to do fun things together when they meet up back in Canada. Merl also seems to be a very fast runner. We think that he may be part coyote because he has very long orange legs. He’s easily able to outrun all the little dogs at the beach and we haven’t met any big dogs that seem quick enough to keep up to him. I have seen a few big dogs that look fast on recent beach visits but none of them seemed interested in racing a scruffy long legged puppy. Anyway, that’s our current dog situation.