Hurricanes on the horizon

Monday 22nd June.

A very jolly chappie on the morning net points out that we have two potential hurricanes forming roughly 1000 miles SW of the Baja Peninsula, but it’s a lovely sunny day so let’s not worry about them! In fact they are not much of a threat. I use this site at the US National Hurricane Centre for my initial data.
I spend the morning writing up the documentation for the work I did yesterday and then installing and testing it. That takes me right up to my Spanish lesson, which goes well until the end when I pronounce a sentence in a half hearted way, and for some reason, Arturo bursts out laughing, he can’t contain himself, I ask him to explain what I said wrong, as I don’t want this kind of thing happening down the Mercado, but each time he starts to explain, he starts the uncontrollable laughter again. This goes on for far too long, eventually I gather I mispronounced Ba and Ja, with a Ha sound, but I sounded like a grumpy old Mexican. Apparently it’s the funniest thing he has heard in a long time. Oh well.
Perhaps I’m a bit grumpy because we had just spent 15 minutes practicing my pronunciation of the phrase ‘Por Qué and ‘Porque’. The stress, and emphasis seems to be very important as the words can mean a lot more than ‘why and because’. Something I am leaning is that syllables must be pronounced completely flat. no sing song, but stress on the correct syllable is critical. Also I have to do the actions now, to emphasise I mean ‘For God’s sake Why’ I have to be waving my arms in the air shouting ‘Por Qué’

Lesson over and I jump into the dinghy to get away from the heat, and head over to the Magote. This strip of land has many mangroves and inlets along the shoreline, I headed SW and found an interesting inlet/creek. Now as it seems Santa is still having trouble delivering my DJI Mavic Pro Drone, I have had to make do with some google and bing images to show you the aerial view. I have also tried to do a zoom in as the drone descends from the stratosphere with the help of some circles and lines.

Before I enter the mangroves I notice a fire has started in the distance, I think this is probably the La Paz refuse centre, it seems to catch fire a lot.

The entrance to the mangroves is hidden until you are almost on it, the water shallows to just a foot or so and I have to lift the motor up and row towards the entrance. There’s a build up of sand, or a bar as it’s sometimes called, at the entrance, but I can get around the side of it where there is a channel that drops to 1 metre deep once inside the creek.

Inside I can see the bottom well, as in most places there’s only a foot or two of crystal clear water. The small fish are darting around at what seems like a fast pace, but every now and then, a large fish zooms through like an underwater missile, if you blink you miss it, and the little fish, somehow seem to scuttle away even faster.

There’s another half metre of tide to rise yet, but all across the sandy river bed I can see indentations which I work out are foot prints, and I expect someone has been walking through casting their nets here.

I get out my little paddle and work my way deep into the inner reaches of the mangroves, through gaps the dinghy can just fit. Then I find myself in a place with lots of little buzzing flying stinging creatures so I make a quicker retreat.

Once I’m back in the bay I chuck my little anchor over the side and enjoy a very refreshing swim.

The abandoned hotel is the huge building in the distance. I think it needs to go.

I notice the fire is now creating a lot more smoke and the change in wind direction at a certain altitude is quite visible.

Lots of Spanish practice today, but to break the lesson up I head off to the ferreteria for a spot of exercise and to buy some very fine wet & dry sandpaper with a grit rating of 2500, I didn’t even know it came that fine.

Before I went into the ferreteria I realised my bike lock was missing from my basket, I suspect it fell out on the way here, so after my shopping, I head back retracing my route. I recall hitting a hole in the road down a side street that quite shook the bike. I need to find that road. Retracing my steps is a little fraught, as I travelled down two main roads that are one-way, but it makes for more fun. Eventually I find the hole, but there’s no sign of the lock. Now I start to think what might have happened? I have it in my mind, that due to the poverty here, and the fact I’m a little bit out of the centre, that perhaps somebody has picked it up knowing it might have some value. Of course without the key, which is in my pocket, it has little value. So I slowly cycle around the block and sure enough I spot a bedraggled chappie standing on the corner staring at the lock in his hands. I’m now focussed on the fact he has locked it closed. I’m trying to quickly work out the implications of this. He found the lock open. but without a key. At this point the lock is almost useless, it has one last thing it can do, and that is to change to the locked state. Once locked, without the key, it’s all over. What he has done gained him nothing, yet removed his only option. I figure I have the advantage on him now, so I approach and explain that I had lost that lock and would like it back, I reach into my pocket and produce 10 peso, which is about 40p or 50c, I offer it to him, and he says it’s not enough, I look him in the eyes, and he knows his bargaining position is quite weak, especially as I have two new ones on the boat and I don’t even like this fluorescent green lock. He hands over the lock and seems happy. I spend the rest of the journey home wondering if my logic was right for the lock, until I reach the Oxxo store by the marina and indulge myself with a Magnum Double Chocolate.

At some point in the past somebody, probably me, has used an aggressive scourer on the stainless steel sink in the toilet, it’s letting the new shiny tap down and has been bothering me.
I set about sanding the steel down and get quite a decent shine to it, not quite mirror finish, but by starting with 1000 grit then 2500 I manage to get the gouges out.

I need some polishing compound now. I had all of this at home in England, but threw it when I sold the house. Later the urge to do the same polish on the galley sink overcomes me and I spend half an hour on one sink with great results. Of course now I have to do the other sink, and get the polishing compound and buff it up to a mirror finish. This is the problem with having too much time and nowhere to go!
I think I have cracked the future tense in Spanish today ‘voy a’ etc. Arturo seems to have stopped laughing now, which helps! I tried to ask if the adjective always changes gender to follow the noun, and he didn’t understand my question, so I tried to use my new word caluroso, for hot (as in the weather) and wanted to know if it would become calurosa if the hot thing was feminine, so I tried to say would it be ‘calurosa chica’ as I couldn’t think of another feminine noun that might be hot. Rather than answer that question, Arturo gave me a stack of phrases to use instead to mean ‘hot babe’ including chica sabrosa meaning tasty babe, none of which I need, but sabrosa is a good word for restaurants, es muy sabrosa.

Today the supermarket has reinstated the tea mountain. It’s called Jamaica, I think we know it as hibiscus tea. I stuffed a few years supply into a bag with the plan to brew it up when I get back to the boat, in fact I will in reality take it on a tour of a few continents before tipping it overboard. If you know what I’m meant to do with it, do leave a comment. I have been drinking it cold in taco bars and it’s very nice, at least I think that’s what it was.

Hurricane threats are on the up, with 5 possible events showing up, but they are all unlikely to be a problem.

I decide I ought to check if the engine still works, just in case I should ever venture out of here again.

Our trusty Volvo MD22, or Perkins M50 as it was known, or Montego Van 2L diesel in the UK.

Firstly I do the normal checks and see the oil is a bit low. I thought I had topped it up, and looking under the engine I see there is oil in the drip pan.

Not a lot, but there shouldn’t be any.

So I dig out the nappies. If I was rich and stupid, I would use marine oil absorption pads, but I find Kiddies Atifugas work just as well. The biggest problem is getting them past the checkout girl without her wondering if I might have kidnapped a baby or something. I accept I look a bit too old to have a baby. I wonder how Mick Jagger coped.

All clean, well at least as far as I can reach.

I check the engine is in neutral, only to find the gear stick, lever won’t budge. A little bit of firm wiggling and it moves but with a very rough grating manner, I can hear things rubbing/catching in the binacle, so I assume it’s no big deal. I will need to investigate, but for now I can change from ahead to astern.
I turn the key, normally the engine would start within a second, but not today, it takes a couple of attempts letting the starter run for about 5 seconds. Then it starts just fine. I think the fuel must have drained back into the tank as it sat here for the last couple of months. I put it into reverse and the gearbox doesn’t engage, which is a worry, but after some stronger wiggling with the lever, it engages. I’m thinking something is not quite right in the binacle where the lever joins the teleflex cable.
Next I try ahead and astern again, and all is fine. I turn the bow thruster on, but the light on the control stays firmly off. Not good, I suspect a bad connection.
I had every intention of spending Thursday taking it easy and getting really stuck into the Spanish, however I can see myself having to take the binacle apart and also sort out the wiring for the bow thruster. With all this boat stress I think you will understand how I could lose 6 of the last 9 games of Scrabble with Kathy.

Please don’t tell me I’m the only one, who at the grand age of 61 to has just twigged that “The word alphabet is a compound of first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.” I just found this out when I learnt Spanish for alphabet is Alfabeto.
If you own a Baba or similar boat with a knock off Edson binnacle, you may be interested in the rest of today’s activities, however should you be a more normal person, you might as well skip to Friday.

The Binnacle
Off with the cover
Compass gone
Looking remarkably clean inside

Once I could look inside, the problem was apparent. The securing nut for the bolt that keeps the big cog on the spindle sticks out and was catching the small nut on the morse/telefex cable

This only happens when the wheel and gearstick are in a certain position

I need to reposition the cable so that this can’t happen, It’s not going to be a problem in reality as once the forward gear is selected, the lever falls back a little and the nuts don’t touch. To do this I need Kathy waggling the lever while I climb to the back of the engine to adjust the transmission end. Something that is a lot of hassle. As a temporary fix, I file the bolt and nut down to present less of a target for the cable.

My friend visits to watch and somehow my iPhone camera goes arty on me.
A quick coat of varnish, it dries in a few hours in the crazy heat here.

While I have the binnacle in bits I slap a coat of varnish on the compass base, and get rid of a varnish run that had been bugging me for over a year.

All back together and looking smart.

I find where the cables to the bow thruster are joined and wrapped up in tape, expecting some moisture might have got in, but before I start ripping them apart, I consult the manual to find out which wire has the power so I can test that first. Well I’m sure you have heard of the ‘turn it off then back on’ as a way to fix things, looking at the manual, I realised all I had to do was turn it on. Feeling like an idiot, I turn on the big circuit breaker, and all is working fine. I never normally turn this breaker off as there’s no need really, unlike the big breaker for the anchor windlass, that could easily be activated by stepping on the foot switched on the bow.
So all is working again.

Off to Chedraui for supplies, outside a lady has set up a small stall to sell masks, I cycle past thinking I should buy one, and eventually decide to turn around and pick one up while also practising my Spanish. I don’t feel the need to tell her my age this time.
Later the wind gets up and I’m pleasantly soaked motoring over to el Magote for a swim. The outboard stalls a few times, I think the big waves are churning up dirt in tank. I need to investigate.

Spanish homework, then a trip to a Mexican bookshop to buy a book I can practice reading from. I’m going back with Arturo in a week or two, as he can help me get one that doesn’t have long words, but for now, I pick up an attractive book on the history of the peoples of the Baja Peninsula, going back to before the Spanish missions. The bookshop is supposed to be one of the best in town, but has a feel of a Malaysian shop. There’s no love for the books here, all very practical shelving in rows more like a discount supermarket. I think I have been spoiled by the British and American bookshops which are closer to a Diagon Alley (Harry Potter) vibe.

Did someone order too many lamp posts for the square restoration

A check of the hurricanes shows the earlier threats have gone, but there’s a new one called Boris, but as you might expect it’s all wind and won’t last long, it has caused quite a depression though. I’m more worried about the next two as they will start with the letters D & C, which is a lot scarier than Boris 😉 (UK Specific joke)

A very dull day, stinking hot and I don’t do much other than work out how the man with my padlock could have used it. I had been pondering the value of a lock that you don’t have a key for, and eventually it dawned on me that this is how you are reading this blog. It’s called Asymmetric encryption, or Public/Private keys. Basically he could have put my lock on ebay/amazon for Kathy to buy, she could have used it to lock a parcel she sent to me which only I could unlock!
I bet he’s kicking himself now.

Paul Collister.

The end of lockdown?

Monday 15th June 2020

Up early and a bit more coding while it’s cool. Come 3pm and Arturo hasn’t appeared on line, so after a little wait, I pile into the dinghy, and head off to the beach. It’s another stinking hot day and it’s just great to do some swimming in the cooler water.

La Paz has opened up a lot today, I haven’t been into town to see, but the main Malecon (boardwalk/promenade) which runs for several miles along the waterfront is still closed to pedestrians, but vehicles can use it now, and they certainly are. From the far side of the bay, on the Magote beach I can hear the continuous rumble of traffic trundling along. A passenger jet flies overhead having just taken off from the airport and I realise that this is the start of the end of the peace. A lot of people are very excited that they can go out shopping now, or hang out in coffee shops, but not me. I don’t suppose there will ever be such a lull in life again, at least not in my life time. I hope I made the most of it.

I let the wind and the current push me back towards the marina, by the time I get there I could do with another swim to cool down. I think I might do this more often. Today felt like a Sunday, and I toy with the idea of making it a Sunday, thereby working on an 8 day week. I would need a name for the extra day, maybe Exday would work, I would put it between Friday and Saturday. I’m not sure, but I think after 7 weeks, I would be back in step with the rest of the world, and could hop back onto the 7 day week again. I should have started this plan a month ago while everybody treated every day the same. Another thought is to delete wednesday, for a 6 day week, 7 week trial.

These two guys seem happy here, but don’t take their eyes off me as I pass. There’s one in the spreaders too.

Back at the boat and Arturo calls to apologise, but he got a job in a restaurant, in a dodgy part of town and he couldn’t leave when he was expecting to so we reschedule the lesson for the evening.
The lesson goes ahead with Arturo teaching me from an empty restaurant on the waterfront. It seems the dodgy part of town is just a block down from where I am. I think it’s just a little isolated on the beach at night with everything shutdown. Arturo is only doing the work as the owner also runs a diving tourist operation he is hoping to work for.

Sitting down in the cockpit for breakfast and I kick the cafetiere over, covering all my lovely new teak in Mexico’s finest brew. If it’s not one thing ….
My noisy neighbours left a few days ago, and it looks like Paul and Jana on the big motor launch next to me are getting ready to depart soon.
I call Kathy and she laughs when I tell her about Arturo and last nights lesson; Arturo had taught me some good phrases, like ‘en serio’ I’m serious, or are you serious. I asked him if I could have used it when the security guy said I was too old to enter the supermarket. Arturo was surprised, but not enough, in my book, he laughed and said I should use that phrase next time. However instead of saying ‘hey paul, you don’t look that old’, he actually offered to do my shopping for me if I got stuck, which was even worse. Sure Arturo, thanks and see if you can pick up a zimmer frame for me while you’re at it! I did wonder if it was Karma, and when I was offered free entry to the museum as a senior a few months ago I should have refused. What’s the saying, live by the free bus pass, die by the …
Later my neighbours call by and invite me to dinner tomorrow. I’m rather unsure due to Covid, they aren’t taking it too seriously, but I don’t know how to say no. It might be a British thing, but we hate to be rude, so I will just have to catch the virus and die, rather than upset them.

It’s so hot today, but before it reaches its peak, I cycle down the recently opened Malecon to Marina Palmera.

The Magote as viewed from the Malecon, you can just see my private beach right of the apartments

There’s a guy there who has been running a diving school from his yacht, Covid has put an end to that and he’s selling up and heading back to Canada. He had a load of diving and other gear going at very good prices, but I’m a bit late finding out. In the end I buy a used BCD (diving inflatable jacket thing) and a very nice mask and snorkel, all for $60. I also get some good tips on the best places in La Paz for diving equipment and service. Cycling back I stop of at a ferreteria and pick up a small tarp to cover a gap between the big tarp and the little one on the bow, this will keep the sun out of the cabin in the afternoon. Unfortunately Sister Midnight is starting to resemble a refugee camp from the dock.
In the evening I head over to my neighbours for dinner, an experience I will never forget. Starting with my hosts boast of running with the bulls in Pamploma as a young man, to ending with their joint vow not to travel to Florida as there are two many democrats there. I learnt so much about the true origins of Covid, why it had been invented and who it was designed to take out, along with much new information on how to kill it should it ever reappear. I left enlightened and with a much better understanding of the US presidents popularity.

I take the dinghy over to the Magote beach today. It’s been a really hot week, mostly around 37 deg C during the day and sometimes as low as 25 in the night. It’s so nice to have a swim and I try out the new snorkel mask I bought yesterday, only it’s just sand with the odd shell below me. To think the whale sharks are just around the corner, but I’m not allowed to visit them without a guide.
On the way back I snap a couple of pictures of a big mega yacht that seems to live at the end of the marina,

I think it’s a bit ugly, but I now know it’s one of several yachts owned by Carlos Slim, who used to regularly swap places with Bill Gates for the title of Richest Person in the World.

Back on Sister Midnight I received a visit from my new American friends I dined with last night, they had brought some fruit and veg over that they were chucking before they leave for the US. We chatted for a bit and I was asked what I thought about Trump, I explained it was difficult for me as a Brit to criticise another world leader these days, in fact any misplaced feeling of superiority I might have once felt traveling the world has definitely gone now, which is a good thing anyway. I pointed out we have a well educated idiot running the UK, and I thought they had an ignorant idiot running their country. She sighed but reminded me, that despite all of that, he was a financial genius, and America was going to need that after the virus. She pointed out how the economy had been massively on the up since he came into office, I pointed out it was already on the up before he came into office, but apparently that wasn’t significant. The man’s still a genius.

So in for a virion, in for a pound (of SARS-CoV-2 that is) I arrange to meet Arturo and do some shopping downtown at the public market. he has had me rehearsing my lines for shopping, and striking up conversations with people. On our walk to the mercado, I learn a lot of names for street furniture and pavements steps, railings etc. by the time we reach the market I have forgotten them, and with all the confusion in my head I have even forgotten how to say “hello, can I have a kilo of carrots please” not that I ever wanted to buy any carrots. So we sit down outside the market at the bus stop amongst the local people and Arturo whips out his travelling whiteboard and marcadora (marker), and boradora (eraser) and we set about going over all the words I have just learnt and immediately forgotten. I know we will be there until I learn them so I make an almighty effort. Of course the old man sitting over from us is very interested in us and my broken Spanish and Arturo says we must bring him into the conversation, which is a bit scary. So Arturo explains he is my teacher and can he help. the old man is delighted and exclaims in fast La Paz style, he is happy to help foreigners as we are all the same under the eyes of the lord. An interesting start I think. Arturo pushes me hard, “Greet him Paul, Quickly” So I’m in with the old “Hola, Buenas Dias, Como estás”, it’s going well. He replies with some foreign language, probably spanish, who knows. Arturo intervenes and we find out the man has a brother in America, I tell him I am English and I live in a boat in marina La Paz. My boat is very beautiful and I have a house in Liverpool. That’s it for me, out of stock phrases, but Arturo is pushing, say more paul tell him more about yourself, I’m struggling, so. I go with the “Tengo sesenta uno años” I’m sixty one, he replies “I’m 84”, which I’m pleased I understand. But not so pleased when I realise I’m in a bus stop talking to an old man going “I’m 61 you know”, and he’s going “I’m 84 you know”. Kathy and I have agreed that it’s over when we start telling people are age like that!
We move on into the market and I have to buy the vegetables and fish, that goes well, I tell the green grocer “I’m 61 you know” and Arturo starts laughing. That’s it. I can do the age thing, no need for that anymore.
I manage to ask the fishmonger where he gets his tuna from and is it frozen, which it is, and buy 1/4 kg for a very reasonable price.
We head back to the boat and Arturo cooks up a shrimp bouillabaisse type soup.

This takes some time so we practice Spanish which is great. Sometimes I speak French to Arturo which is fun because he doesn’t realise we switched languages right away. I only know a few french phrases, but I can slip in the odd ‘Mais Oui’ instead of ‘si’ and it takes a little while before he twigs. Later he tells me his portuguese is quite good and he learnt it by playing with Brazilians in online World of Warcraft type games.

Once cooked we move into the cockpit for a late lunch. It’s very tasty.

As it’s now about 4pm and very hot I suggest to Arturo we take the dinghy over to the beach for a swim, he’s keen, he hasn’t been to a beach since the start of lockdown in March. We have tried to social distance all day, but I expect if either of us had the virus we both have it now. but we have been in the sunshine and as my new American friends told me, that will kill it! (need an emoticon for a bewildered shaking head at this juncture).
We have a refreshing swim, and on our return we checkout a sunken yacht that has half the hull visible above the waterline. It has had every deck fitting unbolted and a hole cut around the depth transducer. Nothing was wasted, other than a ton of fiberglass that nobody seems to want.
We finish the day at a burrito bar where Arturo has made friends with the owner. As I’m not eating meat these days, my maestro has me go over all the possible fillings with the owner that I could have, in spanish of course, we settle on Champiñons, cebolla, Avocet y salsa. Very tasty.

Yesterday I managed to fix a software bug in my solar data collection system, or so I thought, today it appeared I had actually just added another bug. The changes I made to the software were trivial, and I was sure they would work fine, it’s not easy to test on a live system, and building a test system takes ages, so I winged it, consequently today I sent a few hours fixing my bug and doing proper testing. It didn’t help that one of our data providers choose today to have a fault on their system and they were sending me bad data.
My Americans friends from next door left for America on Thursday and returned on Friday night, I saw them this morning and found out their car had broken down in the desert and they had to limp back to La Paz at 20mph. They are hoping to try again on Tuesday. The Americans on the boat that recently arrived opposite me seem to have declared the Covid incident over, and are having parties in the cockpit, everyone invited, leave your mask at home. Sadly I can’t make it, I have some drying paint that needs my attention.
On my trip to Chedraui I notice work is now progressing on the new building site on the waterfront. The building at the back that I posted a while back, was I thought an abandoned apartment block, but in fact it is a derelict hotel, the Hotel Grand Baja. I found some information on the web..

Derelict and vandalised for the last 25 years!

“1976 seemed to be dominated by the completion of what most considered the pinnacle of the tourism complex in La Paz, the Hotel Presidente Gran Baja California Sur.
The eleven story, five-star resort hotel was the tallest building in the state, and boasted tennis courts, a pool, bars, restaurants, a nightclub, two floors of suites at the top of the hotel, and a total of 250 rooms for guests, who could also make use of the beach on the Bay of La Paz, and the pier, for mooring yachts.

Twenty years later, the Gran Baja would be an abandoned shell, blighted by vandalism and a monument to the failings and near demise of the La Paz complex

Happier days at the hotel

There was talk from the state governor of pushing to get it re-opened, but I can’t see how that will work, especially now. It may not be the last hotel to end up as a derelict eyesore along the coast of BCS. To be fair this is the biggest building in La Paz, and is a bit unusual, but get down to Los Cabos, and there are scores of building like this.

A lazy day again. It’s just too hot to get much anything done. Last night I brought the bike down to the boat and gave it a service while it was cooler, it had been making embarrassing noises when I applied the brakes. It needs new pads. Today I take it back to the bike racks in the marina car park.
I promise if that’s all I can find to write about going forward, I will stop the blog and spare you the tedium of reading it.
I finally managed to code up the web pages I said I would do a week or two back, now I have to update the documentation and do some more testing before I release it, but I will be glad when that’s out and I can get back to being lazy again.

Covid rates have doubled here these last few days, still lowish numbers, but more places are opening and there were queues for some of the beaches this week. Also the UK should be seeing the start of a significant increase around now, but that hasn’t materialised. I suspect in the UK the numbers aren’t accurate, the government are under pressure to get the country open again, and the scientists have all been silenced so we will have to wait and see. Kathy and I review our plans constantly as to when she should come out here or when I should go back there, but right now I think I may take the boat north in July/August and fly home in September for a few weeks, feed the cat and pick up my mail.

Paul Collister.

It’s official, I’m an old man

Monday 8th June 2020
Off to Chedraui, the supermarket for some fresh bread and beer, pleased to see a good stock of my favorite Heineken there, but totally shocked to see that someone has taken 3 bottles out of the six pack.


This beggars belief, not only are those 3 bottles now stranded at some checkout till, but the remaining three bottles are also stuffed. I can only imagine the idiot who did this hasn’t been reading my blog lately. Some people are so irresponsible. And in these times of crisis. I only hope the staff manage to reunite them.

On a much more serious note I heard today that Patrick Childress has just passed away. I mentioned a ‘go fund me’ account for his treatment on our boats facebook page. This was very upsetting. I had been following his progress across the Indian ocean and along the coast of Eastern and Southern Africa with great interest. We will be following his route ourselves in the next few years, we have a lot in common with him and his wife Rebecca. We have similar boats, and try to live a simple life, and enjoy pottering along the seas enjoying as much of the local surroundings and people as we can. Patrick became ill with Covid-19 and although he was clear of the virus, and his lungs seemed to have almost fully recovered and was almost off the ventilator, the rest of his body suffered massively and despite good care in a South African hospital, he didn’t make it.
If Patrick, who seemed very healthy, fit and active can succumb to this virus, then so can anyone else in this marina, and may well do so if they don’t start taking things a bit more seriously.

Guess what, it’s varnish time again. Seems like only a few weeks back I was slapping the varnish down, and that’s probably because it was only a few weeks back. I’m a bit dissapointed at how quickly the finish has dulled since I put the last coat on. I’m going to finish off this tin of Epifanes high gloss varnish and then start experimenting with some other longer lasting finishes. The rub rails have lost most of their varnish so they will be a good place to experiment on. Before it gets too hot I rub down all of the bowsprit / Platform and cap rails but by the time that’s done the temperature is in the 30s so way to hot for varnish. I plan to be up at first light on Wednesday to slap the varnish on.
Later my Spanish lesson is fun, but I can’t remember half of the previous days work, I think I probably learn 1 or 2 nouns or verbs each day. At this rate I should be able to put a sentance together in time for my 80th birthday.
The radio bursts to life in the morning with an enquiry to find the owner of a 30ft sailboat that has left its mooring and is now aground on the Magote shore. No one replies.

Ok, I need some help with a couple of simple questions here related to my recent plumbing activities:

Can you please answer the two polls below

[poll id=”3″]

And, secondly…

[poll id=”4″]

Up early to varnish, it goes on easily and quickly just as the sun is rising, No dew which is great. By 9am it’s all done and I make some breakfast. Later a trip to Chedraui and then Spanish practice for the rest of the day.

now the stainless looks bad.

Coding and documentation for the solar sites system. I spend most of the day on this, mostly sorting out notes and scraps of documentation which are all over the show. It’s a bit better organised, but I’m probably only 10% of the way in. I don’t get paid for the documentation bit. In the afternoon I write some PHP code, test it and deploy it to the live servers in Latvia, I do get paid for that, almost enough to buy a tin of epifanes varnish here 🙂 Tomorrow I have to design and code up in raw html/php a new user interface for part of the system. That’s a days wages so, several tins of varnish.

Arturo has me doing silly pronunciation exercises today, the result seems very subtle to me, but he thinks I’m sounding more Mexican each day!

Arturo and myself on our video call

Sometimes he says, ‘Quick run outside , find a local and repeat what you just said, they will be so confused as you will sound like a local but look like a gringo’. I think he is a good motivator, perhaps not 100% honest.

Perhaps the local birds are mistaking the baba for an aviary, this afternoon I had a hummingbird hanging out in the cockpit. The chaffinch, as Neil has helpfully identified for me, now pops into the main cabin most days to checkout the crumb situation. There’s a little video below

A long bike ride, some groceries, Spanish lessons and bed. It was so hot today, it’s been 30-35 deg C all day and all night, that I wasnt up for anything very energetic.

For the last few days my wifi and cellular data connections have been playing up. It got me wondering what the dock ethernet was like, there’s an RJ45 Ethernet socket on the dock for each boat, next to the power hookup. You have to buy a cable from the chandlers with a proper Marine Connecter on it to be able to use this and I baulked at the price of $40. So instead I have been paying $50 a month for a data plan, which required me to buy a motorola phone to hack so I could get the hotspot to work. Not very clever logic.
So today I bought the cable, plugged in and found I was getting incredible speeds, broadband levels as good as I ever got back home. I’m very happy with that. I’m hoping to get my Pi computer visible on the internet soon so I can monitor the boat from afar. I’m now watching Mexican TV soap operas online to help with my learning, you kind of know the plot, you just need to know a few phrases, like ‘how did he find out’, ‘if I ever get my hands on him’, ‘your going down for this’, ‘he doesnt deserve you’, etc etc.
Once this was all up and running I jumped on my bike and cycled off to Ley Supermarket, I locked my bike to the railings and headed on in for some vegan burgers, being the only place I know that sells them. As you enter the supermarket, you have to wait while a member of staff squirts some antibacterial gel into your palm before you enter, sometimes they even take your temperature. Today the young lady looked kindly at me but didn’t offer the gel, she put her hand up to say I couldn’t enter then waved a security guard over. He asked if I was English, and could I speak Spanish in Spanish, which is something I can understand and reply with ‘poco’ , with a little bit of sincerity. he then pointed to a sign in Spanish that said ‘Seniors are only allowed in before 10AM’, this is a restriction they have implemented to restrict contact between Vulnerable people and the rest of us, or as I must now say, between us vulnerable pensioners and those young uns!
I was a little taken aback, especially as I had just cycled 5km, mostly uphill and didn’t think I looked that old. The humour of it won over and I laughed as I climbed on my bike and cycled off, except I forgot I had chained it to a rail and promptly fell of the bike. Perhaps they know more than me. Nurse Nurse.

In case I forget which country I’m in.

The Present Subjunctive –
It is vital for the data to be precise
In the Present Subjunctive form
It is vital that the data be precise

If the above means something to you, I’m impressed, you probably understand the past subjunctive form as well and the problems of using was instead of were.
My problem is that some of the translations I do from the internet news posts in Spanish use the past subjunctive and present subjunctive forms and I have no idea what they are talking about. I didn’t do very well at English at school, woodwork and physics were my favorite, followed by maths. I still struggle with terms like adjective, personal pronouns, adverbs etc, I’m ok with nouns and verbs.
I think I’m going to have to skip this bit. In all I’m very pleased with my progress, I’m finding I can read over 50% of most things I see when out and about, some of the tweets I get are in Spanish and I’m enjoying working them out. It’s fascinating how the Mexicans can’t hear differences in pronunciation that I think are massive, like when I say the sound ‘ll’ it starts with a ya sound , as in Yazmin, Mexicans say it with more of a Ja sound as in Jasmin, I can say either and they don’t seem to hear any difference, same with Ba and Va, they only say Ba for both, if I say either they hear Ba . Most odd. Yet if I don’t get the rr in Carro right, it sounds like Caro, one is car and they other ‘expensive’ so an expensive car is ‘un caro carro’ .

I sit on the other side of the cockpit for my breakfast today, and my lady chaffinch arrives and seems put out because I’m sitting where she normally finds some breadcrumbs, in fact she flies around me a few times then proceeds to head straight inside to the cooker then breadboard. She’s getting a bit too familiar for my liking. I’m not very pleased with her anyway as I look around the cockpit and see little presents of bird shit she has left everywhere for me. I finish my toast, get the hose pipe and brush out and give the cockpit a good washdown. While I’m doing this I decide to try some of the magic pink cleaner that works so well on the stainless. It performs really well and the grey teak looks like new.

It’s even better when it’s dry

This gets me thinking that I could fix up the caulking that’s a bit rough, glue down the few planks that are lifting, give it a light sand and it will look fantastic. It’s quite worn, but in reality, it’s still thicker than you find on many new modern production boats. I did plan to have it all replaced when I get back to Thailand, but who knows when that will be.
So in a way, I’m grateful to my little fluffy friend for sending me down this path.

Next I pop off to the supermarket for bread and pick up some lovely fresh fish on the way back from my favorite fisherman just around the corner from me.

£5/kilo for some very tasty fillets, enough for 5 meals

The rest of the day is spent coding, mostly making web pages, I hate it, HTML and CSS are two ‘languages’ that are all over the show. I started this solar monitoring web site nearly ten years ago, and it shows, I can’t make user interfaces to save my life, and add in my colour blindness and general bad graphical design taste and you end up with some very ugly screens. On the other hand, if you are a fan of 80’s computers, you will feel right at home.

I finish the day with a huge fish dinner in the cockpit while mosquitos devour my legs.

The latest Coronavirus news is that a lot of places start to open up tomorrow, beaches and national parks open, but with restricted numbers, restaurants with limited capacity etc.
Kathy’s flight back here was cancelled, that was meant to happen in about 4 weeks time, now we have to wait and see. There’s no point in rebooking yet, as flights advertised for July/August still risk being cancelled. Tempting as it is to think everything is getting better, I think in 2-3 weeks time we will have a much clearer idea of the impact of the lifting of restrictions. Until then, I will just have to grin and bear it in the constant sunshine out here. Please stay safe out there, as far as I’m aware the virus hasn’t heard of any changes and plans to carry on as before.

Paul Collister.

Español, Grifo y LEDs (Griffo=tap)

Monday 1st June 2020
Things are meant to start opening up a bit today, but nothing seems to be happening. I go for a cycle to another supermarket a good way on the eastern side of town just for the exercise, but in there I notice a man stacking a fridge with beer, behind the beer I see some alcohol free cans, which are quite nice. I ask him if I can get some and he says “no way José”, pointing a his watch. It takes a minute, then I remember alcohol sales are not allowed after 6 pm. I’m quick with my , “Pero es sin alcohol” and he relents, I’m right in there with “Quatro por favor”, and he passes 4 cans to me, I look at my watch and wonder if I should run to the checkout in case they hit me with the ‘after 6 pm rule‘ instead I go for the “perdon, quatro mas, por favor” and now I have 8 cans, I feel like I’ve just robbed a bank and got away with it, or as they might say in the future, done a Cummings! (Sorry if your not from the British Isles, but Cummings is our much hated leader, apparently, as we are only just realising).
Back on the boat I watch a video about La Paz put out by the President of the hoteliers assoc here. He mentions how La Paz has one of the top 50 beaches in the world, and the best beach in Mexico, and is moving up the most desirable destination list. They hope to have 5 new hotels completed in the coming few years but want to maintain the local feel to the place. Good luck with that mate. It would be a shame if this place ends up like Cabo San Lucas, La Paz is quite Mexican, in a Baja way, but Los Cabos, which includes both holiday destinations of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are just full on Vegas style gringo resorts. Great for a two week piss up, but not for me.

Water appears on the floor of the head, I have seen this for a few days now, at first I thought it was a splash from the shower, the next day when it reappeared I went for a splash from the sink as the culprit, as I hadn’t used the shower, today I had to accept there was a leak somewhere, probably from the sink, and that I was going to have to get on my back on the floor and crane my neck, contort my body and search for the source. Sure enough the tap was leaking.

I will check tomorrow, but I seem to have stopped it leaking by re-attaching the water hose to the copper tube that goes into the tap, however the tap is badly corroded underneath. As you can see the whole fitting is not looking it’s best, and certainly not doing justice to the marble sink top. Quite why somebody thought marble was ok for a worktop is beyond me, is the boat not heavy enough! I’m going to take this opportunity to buy a new mixer tap and replumb below. If I can’t get a suitable tap, then I might look at servicing this tap, it may be possible to get it rechromed here cheaper than buying a new one.
Later I have my Spanish lesson then pop back to Chedrui supermarket to scoop up the remaining Alcohol free beer. I read today that many of the breweries have reopened across Mexico, so I’m hopefull supplies will resume soon.
We had a little excitement tonight when a boater and his male companion where run out of town, or forced to leave the anchorage. Apparently they were naturists but were performing what some consider unatural, or at least, not for public consumption, acts on the foredeck of their boat anchored just off the entrance to the marina. I heard the boat owner is a convicted sex offender and is wanted in the state of California. Later I heard they had returned to the anchorage a little further away from us, and that the cruisers here were organising to get them arrested tomorrow! The most worrying thing to me is that he is alleged to have his 80+ year mother on board who has dementia and, allegedly, can sometimes be heard screaming for help. I would like to say, never a dull moment here, but in fact it has actually been quite dull since January.

The morning radio net has an anouncement under the Emergency Help category, which is reserved for people in desperate need usually, about the flashers. They are anchored outside Marina Cortez and the plan is to get the police to move them on today.
I decide I’m going to tackle the head tap today and head of to the plumbers early in search of a tap, I find one in the second plumbers I visit that is similar to the existing one and costs about $45 or £40. It’s chrome plated and will probably only last 5 years or so, but at that price I’m happy. I also pick up the cable I wanted so I’m now able to start the Cockpit LED lighting project soon.
Of course nothing is simple, once I have pulled out the old hoses, one of them won’t be long enough to reach the new tap, it could do with changing anyway, but chasing it through the bilge I discover a load of corrosion, it never seems to stop. I have to get a grinder on the job to remove the old hose clamps they are in such a bad way. After a few hours of workout contortions the job is done. I’m very pleased. Next I’m going to varnish some of the cabinetry and get the whole room looking smart.

Old tap removed
New tap mounted on base plate and hose barbs fitted
Usual hose clamp mess
Old hose to tap connection, far from ideal. and the new all in one plastic solution. Seems too easy.
Looking up from under the sink
Job done.

On the way back from the hardware store I pop into the supermarket for some fresh bread and can’t believe my eyes when I see the fridge full of cans of Hieneken Zero beer, my favorite. There’s also real beer, the drought is over. Suddenly I get a whiff of the virus pandemic being over, and life being back to normal. It’s a lovely feeling but the reality soon returns at the checkout with the 2 metre distancing and everyone in face masks in the long queues. However I do understand now how an easing of restrictions can lead to people getting carried away with their new freedoms. I’m not going to stockpile the beer, there might be others who like it, but next week I will get a few cans in as I expect the lockdown to return big time soon. Mexico is heading downhill fast.

I put a few more hours into my Spanish this morning in the hope I will perform better in my lesson. Yesterday, my teacher Arturo, insisted on putting all of the women in his household, and there seemed to be quite a few, on the video call with me and getting them to start a conversation. I was quite flummoxed, they were kind, but I think they were keen to get back to peeling spuds or doing the dishes, rather than try to understand my rubbish Spanish.
As it turned out we spent a lot of the lesson trying to find the english way to address teenagers, There is a word in spanish for it, Joven, but I could only come up with scouse terms like La, or ‘alright there lad’, ‘Excuse me young man’ isn’t a phrase I would normally use. I love the vagaries of language that reveal cultural differences. I was reprimanded by responding to a ‘how are you’ from one of the ladies yesterday, with a ‘Good thanks, and you?’ where I used the informal ‘you’, tu instead of usted. I think I blew my chances there!

So after my lesson I jumped on the bike and cycled around town to all the electronic shops I had identified on google. One was shut until September, the other just shut, a third didnt exist, the building that looked so promising on streetview wasnt even there, so I gave up and headed back. On the way I found a new hardware store and picked up some plastic cable trunking I plan to use to mount the LED strip lighting I’m making for the cockpit.
Back at the boat, I make my usual Guacamole, read and watched the sunset, then set about cutting up plastic and gluing LED lights together.

Before it gets too hot I head off to find the Electronic components shop on the outskirts of town. It’s a good long cycle ride, around 12km in all, but interesting.

I don’t know if I’m cycling into a rough area or an upmarket area. I had recently read about a serious stabbing in a car park outside an Oxxo store (7-eleven) out that way, when a down and out had been refused money he had been asking a stranger for. I never worry too much about these things, you could find the same problems within a few miles of where I lived back on Merseyside, I think most big cities are the same. Nonetheless I keep a keen eye on my surroundings.

The eastern end of town.

I find the shop and it has a great selection of bits and bobs I could use. Next I pop over the road to a huge Soriano supermarket in a big edge of town mall/estate. This is better than the one I visited last week as small businesses, taco stalls, bars and shops have grown up around the estate and have allowed it to blend into the area better. from there I drive down a road called Calle Puebla which is ever so pretty and runs for a few miles, lots of individual houses with lovely gardens, and very friendly people who wave and say hola as I cycle past. I could happily live in this street.
Further on and I’m back on familiar turf, near the marina and I spot a gecko on the cycle path.

Like English Mock Tudor, I think this could be Mock Adobe

I fit the LED strips under the solar panels and crudely wire them up to the cigar lighter socket in the cockpit.
Later my Spanish lesson leaves me strugling with very subtle , at least to me, pronunciations. My optimisitic self has always assumed people would work out what I meant if I just got close to the right sounds, but that’s definatley not the case. Arturo wants me to be fluent at counting to 100 by monday, I try and he tells me I have a lot to learn. In particular I’m struggling with Six, or Seis, pronounced Says, or is it Saiz, or maybe Sayis it’s probably none of those. Pondering on this I try to imagine if you can slightly change the pronunciation of six in English and still be understood. I then realise that a slight change to the sentence “I want to buy six dolls for a kids party” might get you arrested if your not very careful with the pronunciation. Tricky stuff this language thing.

Most mornings as I sit in the cockpit having my toast and coffee I’m joined by a little bird that flits around me, sometimes it scares the living daylights out of me by appearing right in front of my face and hovering there for a few seconds before settling on the deck next to me. It seems the cockpit crumbs aren’t good enough for it now, and the cheeky bugger is heading down into the boat most days and checking out the bread board and cooker. I don’t mind too much, it seems to know its way out ok.

After breakfast I pop to the shops for some fresh bread then I launch the dinghy. It needs an outing and I want to ensure the motor is still working ok, at least that’s going to be my defense should the authorities come for me. I’m hoping they won’t spot my swimming trunks, sun tan and beach ball 😉
So I row out of the marina then slowly motor over to the far side of the bay to the stretch of land called El Magote, and beach the dinghy.

Very shallow here
The darker sand is made of the trails of the crabs, nothing like as pretty as the Asian crabs

It’s lovely walking along the shore in the water, On the way back to the marina I stop in the middle of the bay over the big sandbank that splits the bay into two channels, it’s only about 1.5 metres deep, I sling the little grapnal anchor over the side and then jump in and have a wonderful swim. It’s so refreshing and cooling I may do this every other day now.

Mid bay swimming spot looking back towards La Paz

Back at the marina I haul out the dinghy and give it a good wash, it’s not looking bad given that it’s 4 years old now. I think the covers on the sponsons have helped a lot.

Later I see a pelican has joined the fisherman in their joint quest for dinner. As the fisherman guts his catch the Pelican practically eats from his hand. While he is fishing the Pelican sits there motionless. Quite a sight.

A very lazy morning, then in the afternoon I run some cable for the new LED strip lights and fit a switch into the cockpit locker. I have the option of 2 or 4 strips illuminated. I’m very pleased. It works well, the LEDs are a bit too blue, but it’s only a temporary solution until I can find something more homely. I don’t know if the LEDs will survive more than a couple of seasons, I’m expecting to lose the whole shooting match of canopy/solar panels and wind gen should a hurricane come this way anyway.

Bright enough to eat and read by

This week my computers/phone were reminding me to get my flight from London Heathrow back to the boat. I should have been arriving back here a few days ago getting the boat ready for Kathy ,whose flight is due in mid July.
Kathy’s flight hasn’t been cancelled yet, it was booked a long time ago, maybe even last year, way before Covid hit the headlines, so we don’t know if it is going to be cancelled closer to the event. I expect the airlines don’t cancel until the last minute, that way they hang onto your funds, and maybe they are also being optimistic. As it stands Kathy plans to fly if the flight is still on, if it’s cancelled then we will look at all our options. It’s quite a fast moving situation, with the North West of England now with an ‘R’ value of around 1.0 and climbing, the government may bring back full lockdown to Merseyside, in which Kathy will be better off out here, however she would have to transit via Madrid, which shouldn’t be to risky, but then she arrives in Mexico City with no guarantee of an onward flight to La Paz. Regional flights get cancelled hours before take off if they don’t have enough passengers. Hotels are shut and Mexico city is a real hotbed of virus infections now and the hospitals are in a dire state. So getting stuck in the city for a few days isn’t attractive, and should Kathy pickup the virus and needs a hospital the local hospitals in La Paz are getting quite busy now. On the other hand, many are predicting the second wave in the UK has already started and could be quite a big problem there.
I have a new neighbour here in the marina, they arrived in their big catamaran on Friday, they must be based here as there has been a steady stream of visitors to them, nobody is wearing a face mask. I’m going to tell them I might have the virus so to keep a distance, should they speak to me. I think it’s true, any of us could have the virus! 😉

Cuarenta y uno, Cuarenta y dos …..

Paul Collister.

Covid, Box Stores and Flowers

Sunday 24th May 2020:
I woke up feeling quite ill, I had a bad nights sleep and now I had a serious headache. I climbed into the cockpit for some fresh air and had my morning banana and toast & coffee, I could tell I wasnt right, so I ran through my checklist of Covid symptoms: Coughing, no, just the runny nose as usual. Taste & Smell, well that banana didn’t really taste at all, and the coffee was just like hot water. So Covid Rovers 1, Hypochondriac Athletic 0. However many people will confirm my coffee doesn’t taste that good. Breathing, well pretty rubbish really, quite laboured, Covid Rovers 2, Hypochondriac Athletic 0. Better take some readings.
Temperature now 38.5 degrees, in the fever range, pulse 150, double my normal rate, blood pressure through the roof. Looks like Covid is just getting penalty shots now. My breathing is getting harder so I head below and lie down for a bit. While I’m lying down I check out the emergency covid phone number for La Paz and have it handy. After an hour I check my temperature again, it continues to rise nearly reaching 40 deg C, I reach that blissful point where the hallucinations start. So I’m now convinced the Covid has an Anfield style lead over the hypochondriacs, so I put in call in to Dr Reddin in Ireland. He’s not overly concerned and manages to reassure me. I’m lying face down, that really does make the breathing easier.
I pop online to the Mexican Covid reporting site to see how that works just in case things get worse. I fill in the questionnaire, question number 2 being, “How will you pay for any care, insurance details etc”, I can see why the reported number of cases here might be a bit lower than expected. Anyway, they give the team a big boast and tell me to go away and stop being a big girls blouse. Suddenly the team are revived, Covid Rovers 2, Hypochondriac Athletic 2.
You don’t want to know the details of the next few hours, but I lose a lot of weight quickly. Then I sleep for the rest of the day. When I wake, my temperature is down, and my blood pressure is dropping slightly. I can also breathe a lot better. I go back to bed and doze for the rest of the day until nightime when I sleep well.

I spend the morning being very lazy, my temperature is normal again, as is my blood pressure and pulse. I’m thinking I either had food poisoning or a touch of some bug. I’ve had nothing to eat since Saturday and I don’t have anything in, so in the afternoon I pop along to the supermarket to get some bread. Passing along the aisles I spot my old friend the Cervaza cero, this poor bottle has been hidden somewhere, and is now up for grabs. I pop him in my trolley if only to give him a little trip to the till and back. I’m not optimistic.

The beer bottle almost makes it, until the Mexican checkout lady wishes it ‘good luck’ in English and it replies with a ‘thank you’ (if you don’t get that reference, you need to watch this ). Back to the camp for this guy!

I’m exhausted cycling back to the boat, but can’t help noticing lots of taco stalls open, and kids playing in the park. I wonder if the cummings effect is reaching this far.
Later I login with Arturo for my Spanish lesson, but struggle to follow much.

Still feeling rubbish, but eating again now.

It’s really hot now, so I throw another canopy over the bow. I think it helps a little. Sod all else happens today

Sunset from the bow of Sister Midnight

Thursday & Friday are mostly lost, except I have to attend a conference call with some systems guys in Belgium, it’s the end of the day on a Friday for them, and I expect they have beer, chips and mayonnaise calling their name, but it’s 7am for me, and I have to look like a smart computer engineer representing a multinational organisation, worse they want the meeting on ‘Skype for Business’ which I cant get working. As it turns out I’m more together than them, the meeting goes well, they get all the action points, and I get to make breakfast. Later I do some reading and studying of openPlotter, a system I’m looking at implementing on the new boat computer. I think I may have a solution to my intermittent autopilot problem by getting the PI to drive the tillerpilot connected to the monitor windvane.

Saturday arrives and I realise I’m just not getting enough exercise, I’m putting on weight, and given that I’m not eating much, that can only mean I’m not using any calories up. So I decide to head off to the out of town shopping estate, or big box stores, as the Americans call them. I plan to buy cable and connectors from Home Depot (B&Q) and rig up some propper LED lighting in the cockpit. It dawned on me that the PI computer can do PWM lighting control over the LEDs to give me a mood effect, perhaps some AI can predict my mood, but I think I’m getting ahead of myself, first let’s get the wire.

I fail to get the wire, and the connecters, it’s not that they didn’t have some wire, more I hated the whole thing of being in this cavernous store, that could have been anywhere on the planet, and you wouldn’t know based on the store itself. I decided there must be plenty of small ferreterias in town, family businesses that I would rather give my money too.
My trip to the store hadn’t been a good experience. I chose this destination partly as it’s a long cycle away (18km round trip) and the exercise would be good, plus if I was stopped, I had a good excuse for being there, food shopping is allowed and many gringos go to the big box stores for their supplies.

In our travels from Malaysia to here we have seen many modern shopping developments, in many countries but they all generally come down to two types: The Mall, and, The Out of Town Big Box Estate.
The picture below was taken on route, I expect this is what the countryside here would have looked like in every direction for the last tens of thousands of years, certainly back to when humans first arrived here. In fact It would have looked like this up until a few years ago.

Baja coastal terrain

First the road is built, nothing against roads, and the major highways in Baja California have allowed the area to thrive where it was once, only a few decades ago, quite isolated. Many of the resorts down here were very exclusive as the only way to access them back in the 50s and 60s and earlier was by private plane, some of the resorts still have their airstrips that were used by partying celebrities popping down from Holywood for a secluded break.

But these sections of the road are unloved, nobody wants to live next to the box stores, and at some point the box stores estates will look old and faded and a new estate will pop up on the land next to them. So acres of scorched fields sit awaiting that time. I expect the locations are chosen based on the cheapest land available outside of the city.

Acres of car parks surround these buildings and look quite odd when the customers aren’t allowed in. Most of this estate isn’t open as it’s deemed non essential, 10 pin bowling, designer shops, cinemas etc.

If the covid disaster lasts for another year, I expect much of this estate may not reopen. In town, many small businesses will struggle and may fold, but the buildings have performed under many guises before and will find a new life. the city should still be attractive but these estates might slip easily into a dystopian world, it’s hard to love this much poured concrete.

I expect land must have been cheap, and some developer imagined being on the doorstep of Walmart and Home Depot would be a selling point, as a housing development has sprung up over the highway, nestled in the scrub.

This doesn’t feel like progress to me.

The shoppers at Walmart are well protected by armed marines.

I decide to capitalise on my new exercise urge and head off on the bike again. This time in the opposite direction of the ‘out of town box stores’ instead into the heart of La Paz. It’s Sunday, the churches are closed and I expect it to be quiet, however off the main malecon, the streets are busy, quite a lot on stores are open and I notice people queuing at the barbers. I need a haircut, but I’m not ready to get in line for one just yet.
The flowering plants are lovely, I think a lot of it is called Bougainvillia, and the cacti are looking great with the palm trees. I have put some of the pictures of the streets around downtown below.

A Specialist chemist
The Cathedral which is built on the ruins of the original Jesuit mission from the 18th Century
I’m not sure what function the bucket in the tree performs, but many people here won’t go out unless they are carrying one of these buckets.
Street art is everywhere
heading out of town
“No Problem, just pop over, I’m right between the fish, you can’t miss me”
Ships with nowhere to go, waiting for the world to wake up again and be thirsty for oil.
They like their fish here
Some people managed to get a beer
A fine day to dry the washing
great street plants
I was looking forward to having an ice cream all the time I cycled, but there’s a problem 🙁

Back at the marina I snap this guy who seems to have made this spot his home. I would call it a heron, but I’m not sure.

Finally he feels safe from me.

Paul Collister.