Back In Liverpool.

Tuesday 20th
My tooth is kicking off again and I’ve been attacked by something that likes to bite in the night. It’s the worst biting I’ve had to endure for many years, I must have a hundred bites on each hand, some have swollen up a lot. So between the bites and the toothache I didn’t get much sleep. I rush around as best I can doing final jobs on the boat, but I’m exhausted quickly and decide Kathy is just going to have to return to a mess, better I focus on the critical jobs. Arturo comes round for dinner, even though I can’t eat, we have a good laugh and he is invaluable in helping me get the heavy sailbags into the cabin, and also in getting the boat covers and AirCon inside.

Quite a messy boat still

Up early, my hands looks a mess and I’m hoping the airline won’t get worried. I laugh with Kathy on a quick WhatsApp call that I look like I have leprosy. She doesn’t find it quite as funny as me. It’s getting close to flight time before my Covid results appear, I’m Negativo, so will be able to board the flight. The government have said to use the VeriFly app to speed up my processing at heathrow, so I look for the app and can only find one app called VeriFly, written by a company I have never heard of, with not many downloads and a 1 star revue slagging it off. In the days of Pegaus (nasty surveillance app) I don’t want to use it, however when I see it recommended on the BA site as well, I give it a go. I upload my flight details, my details, my test results, my booking ref for the two tests I had to order for the UK (£90)and my personal locator form. It churned for a few minutes before telling me everything was checked and approved. I was impressed, and keen to see if it made a difference.
I locked the boat up at 10:30 and ordered an uber to the airport, after more form filling there I was on a flight to Mexico city.

Boarding at La Paz

Once there I had many hours to kill before the BA flight to Heathrow, I tried to sleep, but there was nowhere to get comfortable. I was feeling a little feverish now and was desperate to get on the BA flight and get my head down.
Once boarded and fed, I was able to lie down, I was in the middle aisle and had all three seats to myself, as did every other passenger travelling alone. I wonder if that change to the seating assignments was built into the software or had to be patched in. I don’t remember future pandemic planning ever being mentioned in any of my software specs. I slept until we were flying over Cork in Ireland and thought fondly of my time there, and for some odd reason an encounter with a man who ran a launderette out in Ballincollig, a small town I used to live and work in. His accent was so strong I couldn’t understand a single word he said. We had a long conversation while I was trying to retrieve my washing once where he explained something to me and I responded with “Sorry, I still didn’t understand any of that” and this repeated for a long time, I think until I went home without my washing.
Soon we were walking the corridors and transporter trains of Heathrow T5. I had a different route from most as I was transiting to a flight to Manchester, at the transit immigration desk, the people in front of me were having a hard time as they had not given an address they were isolating in, nor had they ordered the testing kits, they were told that would all have to be sorted before they could come in. There were only about 20 of us in the queue and I was near the front, but after a scan of my passport I was waved through and reminded to take my Day 2 test. On the one hand I thought this VeriFly app has really worked, but then I thought it more likely he just wasn’t interested in checking anything, because he only mentioned the Day 2 test and not the day 8 test I wondered if he thought I had already been vaccinated, or maybe not come from an AMBER country. I didn’t really care, I only had an hour to find my next flight.
The flight to Manchester was delayed by an hour due to the APU (generator) failing, the cabin had overheated and they had to hook the plane into the airport Aircon. One of the other passengers worked on these planes and was giving a blow by blow account of what was going on to his mate, I loved hearing the technical details, but didn’t like the bit when he said the plane would be pulled out of service as soon as it landed in Manchester.

Yep Rain, must be in Manchester

Arriving in Manchester quite late I missed the train to Liverpool I had hoped for, the next train got halfway and I had to change to a train that had been cancelled, I believe due to staff shortages caused by the pingdemic, as they call it, staff who had been notified they had been in close contact with covid positive people. Contrary to the media, it seems to me the real problem is they might be infected and should isolate, rather than we are losing too many staff because we are getting too many people close to infected people.
Eventually I get into Lime St where Kathy is waiting for me. It’s great to see her at last.

Friday 3oth July
My test results are in and I’m cleared to rejoin humanity. Liverpool people on the whole don’t seem to fussed about masks or social distancing, it’s not required by law, and even where organisations request it, like on the trains or in supermarkets, most people don’t bother. It’s weird. I might be a pessimist, but I have just travelled from the boat to Kathy’s flat wearing a mask (6 in total) for 40 hours with just a break for meals. I had to sleep on the planes with my mask on, even then I thought it was worth doing for the collective good. Saying that, the numbers coming out of the government look quite good. I was expecting them to be much worse.
It’s been a busy 8 days since I arrived, mostly ordering stuff on ebay and Amazon for the boat, getting things renewed and updated online, mostly paperwork. Kathy looked after me well for the first few days when I was exhausted. My bites are mostly deflated now and I have a few big black scabs!
My knife from Friday Harbour has arrived. This was a present to myself. Basically Kathy and I are fans of John Steinbeck, In 1940 he sailed from Monterey, a place we stayed in on SM, in a ship called ‘The Western Flyer’ to The Sea of Cortez to document the intertidal marine life with his good friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts. He wrote a book called ‘The Sea of Cortez” and subsequently ” The log from the sea of Cortez” which documented the voyage. This year I have basically followed his route around the sea. The Western Flyer was later left to rot, until recently when fans of Steinbeck formed the western flyer foundation, with the aim of restoring the boat into a floating classroom where people could continue to study the marine world. Getting back to the knife, some of the old timber frames (White Oak) were beyond repair, and rot free sections were used to make handles for knives produced up in Friday Harbour (San Juan Islands, WA). I bought one of these at a seriously artisanal price, but given the history, the fact they are great knives, and also that they take the guy a week to make each, I figured it was a good deal. You can see how they are made here

The knife made by Dave Ber from the timbers of the Western Flyer

There hasn’t been any hurricanes developing since I left, but today we have one that’s forming and looks like it might get to hurricane strength, but it looks like it will keep heading out to the west and not be an issue. I will be checking the hurricane situation every 6 hours until I return.

Sadly I missed the visit to La Paz of the Mexican Navy tall ship Cuauhtemoc training vessel last Saturday. She looks splendid.

The Cuauhtemoc in La Paz

Paul Collister

Last few days In Mexico

Tuesday 13th July 2021
I’m feeling good and there’s lots of cloud cover today, so the temperature should be lower. A perfect day for replacing the outlet pipes on the toilet!
I need a whole day for this job as so many things can be a problem. There are three hoses, one from the toilet to the Y-Valve, this determines if the waste goes to the holding tank, or out of the boat. From the Y-Valve a hose goes high to the Anti-Syphon fitting, this stops water flowing back from the sea into the toilet, and another hose from the Anti Syphon to the through hull which goes out of the boat. I have pumped lots of water through the system and disinfectant, so it’s not a bad job really, however the hoses are badly clogged with Calcium deposits. It takes about 4 hours to replace the pipes, and I make quite a mess, in the head and also in the cockpit where I’m chopping up the hose. Eventually I get to hose the boat down, then I hose myself down. I’m expecting the system to work much better now, but in fact I can’t really tell much difference.

Calcium deposits inside the hose.

I’m now starting to tidy up the boat and start packing for the trip home next week.

Maria visits most days but doesn’t stay long.

I check the bilge pumps today and find one of them has stopped working, the big one for emergencies only. It turns out to be a break in the wiring hanging down into the bilge. This area is pretty hostile with oil, sea water and engine fumes all hanging around. It takes me a few hours to fix, and I completely cover myself in oil.

I’m finally able to book my covid PCR test, websites in Mexico aren’t really designed for foreigners, or for Chrome it would seem. Stick with firefox or better still Safari if you want the clever javascript to work.
In the evening Arturo and I head off for some Fish Tacos and for me to test out my Spanish a bit more.
After Tacos we walk up to the ice cream shop, and buy some Trolebuses, They have a grand display of famous Mexicans on the wall and Arturo persuades me to ask the owner for permission to take a photograph, so I try with “Puedo tomar una fotografía, por favor?”. The owner very happily agrees and then kicks off a conversation with Arturo who he recognises from a year ago when Arturo first visited the store.

Checkout those Sombreros!, Arturo points out which ones were revolutionaries.

I wake up at 3am with toothache, the same place I had before, where the dentist said I needed root canal treatment. Since one of the fleet here died from covid, presumed to have been caught from his dentist, I’m going to wait until I’m home for treatment, so for now I’m having Codine/Ibuprofen and antibiotics to keep the pain down.

My tooth is up and down pain wise, but I decide to head out to the Magote for a swim today. It’s been rather hot here, 36c+ ish most days, and the last few days, rather humid. However when Arturo arrives, around 3pm, the sky has gone black. Perhaps Tropical storm Guillermo is sending the clouds over, but as the sky darkens, the temp drops a little and squalls start to pass by. Guillerm is passing us way to the south and heading out west. by the time we can see blue sky again, it’s time for dinner so we head off to Restauante El Zarape.

Up early for a PCR test as required by HM Gov back home. It’s not a lot of fun. I had no idea what it feels like to have a 1 foot long cotton button shoved up my nostril and into my frontal lobes. I’m glad that’s over, but I think I have two more tests waiting for me in a box wending its way to Liverpool.
My neighbour returns, they are a 60ft Sailboat, with a dinghy almost as big as Sister Midnight. All very flash. I usually keep my distance from these ships as they are generally on charter to rich folks and the crew run around like crazy servants. However in reality, the crew and skipper are generally nice people, and this proved to be the case again. When they were reversing into the slip, the dockhand lost the stern line and the wind blew the boat onto me. The skipper was on the case and avoided a crash, but not before he saw a concerned Collister rushing to the side with a fender in hand. Once docked he came around to apologise and ask if he had done any damage. He also wanted to know if I had a barbecue gas bottle as the had run out of gas and his guests were waiting for dinner to be cooked, freshly caught Marlin I believe. I lent him a big bottle of gas and he went away happy. Later he returned with the gas, and a plate of fine food he had cooked for me. He is Mexican but said in his best English/American “Thanks you saved my ass there”, which in all honesty is a little over the top for my English sensibilities. Still it’s nice to help a neighbour out, and he will be here during the hurricane season, and has offered to keep an eye on the boat for me as well as Arturo.
Today I have also booked my two AZ Vaccine shots in the UK, the UK does not recognise the Chinese Sinovac yet, so in order to spend my evenings/early mornings raving in the sweaty clubs of liverpool, I will need to have the UK Vaccine passport. Now having two shots of Sinovac, followed by two shots of AZ will either kill me or make me bullet proof. I need to do a little research, but I expect it will be more of the latter.
This reminds me of a little cryptology story I heard. With most symmetric encryptions, you run the algorithm with the secret key on the data to get the encrypted result. You basically repeat the operation to decrypt. However some people had encrypted several documents individually, then added them into a bundle and encrypted the bundle, which accidently decrypted the original. Thinking a double encryption was better when in fact it was the total opposite. I’m no expert, but I’m hoping vaccines are different. I will do my homework.

The following is an extract from the English language Mexican newspaper “The Mexican news daily” and it always surprises me what a diverse country Mexico is.

‘Vaccination is such a vexed issue in some Sierra communities, such as the Mayan town of San Juan Chamula, that if an outsider even mentions it to residents, he runs the risk of being detained, led to the town square by a rope placed around his neck and fined 100 to 200 pesos (US $5-$10), the newspaper Milenio reported.
Neighboring Chamula is the municipality of Zinacantán, where vaccination against a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Mexicans is equally unpopular.
“Everyone agreed not to allow vaccination,” said local artisan Juana Bárbara Vázquez, explaining that people believed that many deaths have been caused by inoculation against Covid-19. “They’re scared,” the 46-year-old told Milenio.
“The truth is I’m not going to get vaccinated either. I think I’m fine as I am because everything is calm here in town, thanks to God nothing has happened to us,” Vázquez said.
She said that most people believe that pox – a traditional corn-based spirit commonly fermented in people’s homes – will protect them from Covid because it’s considered an infallible remedy for all ills.’

So if I wasn’t on the wagon, I could try some of this Pox.

The wind generator blades came in.

Sunset at the weekend.

The Vaquita is a dolphin of which only ten are estimated to exist, and they are only found here in the Northern part of the Sea of Cortez.
They are being caught as Bycatch in the massive illegal gill nets put out to catch Totoaba. Totoaba are only found here as well, but are not yet extinct. These fish are very important to the Chinese as they can make their penises grow and help them live forever and ward off evil spirits. I made that bit up, but it’s roughly right. They only use the bladder from the fish, and one bladder can fetch $10,000.

The Vaquita, about to go extinct

Of course with such prices on offer, the fisherman, and it is claimed their cartel backers have bought big expensive fishing boats and outboards, spent a lot on nets and are not going to let the government or NGOs like Sea Shepherd get in their way. There have been battles between the fishermen and the Navy over the last few years, as these fish and their grounds are protected, but the fishermen need the cash. Petrol bombs have been thrown at the Navy and Sea shepherd ships. More info here
This week the Mexican government announced they are removing the protected areas the fish inhabit and so have basically given in to the mob.
A very sad day, The Vaquita will be lost to this planet very quickly and the Totoaba not long after.
The fish farm Arturo works on is actually all about Totoaba, its ambition was to provide a less damaging supply of fish, but also a percentage of their fish are released into the sea to keep stock levels up. Their cages are well offshore and they claim to be very environmentally safe. But I suspect all fish farms say that.

So this will be my last blog from Mexico until September. I might put a note up to describe the process of repatriating during Covid, but I don’t thing I have much to contribute until Autumn when Kathy and I return and will head off out, back into the sea before the water cools too much.

Paul Collister.

Prepping the boat for my trip home

Monday 5th July 2021
I think Sunday’s meal out with Arturo was too much for me, I have stomach ache today and do sod all.

I’m feeling better so decide to get this oil change done. I understand that it’s better to change the oil before the engine is left standing, rather than after, as the combustion creates sulphur, which in turn becomes sulphuric acid, which if left in the engine oil etches away at the surfaces. However, I’m no expert on this at all.
I am however getting good at changing oil on the boat. The engines oil should be changed every 100 hours, according to Volvo, but people often leave it to 200 hours, but I tend to do it after a decent bit of cruising, and when I’m back at a ‘base’ port. So after my recent trip, now seemed like a good time. The actual hours since the last change is 150, so that’s not too bad.
I think about videoing the operation, as it should be slick and impressive, but I forget.
My aim is to change the oil without spilling any on me, my clothes, or the boat. I’m getting better each time, and I’m so confident I wear a near fresh white t-shirt. The job requires me to suck the oil out of the engine with a special pump, it looks like a bicycle pump, but made of brass with an in and out pipe attached to it.

I run the engine to get the oil hot and runny first, then remove the scrunched up paper plug from one end of the pump, ready to attach to the engine oil sump pipe, but oil starts dripping out, so I position the pump over the dirty oil collection container to let the oil drip, it occurs to me I might speed this up by pumping the pump but it seems stiff. I pull hard on the handle and there’s a big pop and I see a compressed wad of kitchen roll, fly across the cabin, followed by a big squirt of oil. This was the bung in the other end of the pump I forgot about. Basically I have just sprayed the inside of the cabin with dirty engine oil! Scrub my previous boasting. Not sure if this would have looked cool on video after all.

I clean up and push on, only to find I have run out of oil filters, so another trip to the ‘Lubricantes’ shop is in order, they have them for pennies, so I buy three, and having found they fit fine, I’m going to buy another 5 as they will get used. After 3 hours, it’s all done. The engine has a capacity for 6 litres according to Volvo, but I never seem to extract more than 5 litres, so either they are lying, or there is a litre hiding somewhere.

Not feeling great again, so relax and push on with Obama’s second book, covering his time in the White House. I loved his first book, but this is a little harder to read as it’s mostly, “I did this, this happened, I did this, this happened, …..” It’s interesting to see what was going on behind the scenes in the White House as the crash of 2007/8 rolled out.

The drugs are working and I’m up and about again. News on covid here is bleak, the hospitals are full, ventilators all in use. I’m glad I had my two doses. Apparently, there’s lots of social media showing gringos acting like covid is long over in Los Cabos, fueling resentment with many Mexicans who are suffering badly, yet the government are boasting that they are getting the tourism revenue up. It’s very difficult, Los Cabos in particular, and to a large extent La Paz rely on tourist money, people will suffer badly if the tourists vanish, at the moment many government staff, hospital workers, teachers, police etc are not getting paid. so the state government have a real struggle to strike a balance.
I head out to get some boat supplies for various projects including a length of hose for the worst job …

Trident 1.5″ ID, 10ft

Those of you who recognise the hose should have sympathy for me, those who don’t, well you’re better off not knowing.

I have started bringing things inside the boat, like the Man Overboard gear (MOB). It doesn’t need anymore sunlight and probably isn’t fond of hurricanes.

Marina De La Paz, back in the day (sister midnight location – middle right)
A more modern picture of Marina Cortez, now built.

I’m hoping Arturo will keep an eye on the boat while I’m back in the UK. There’s not a lot for him to do unless there is a hurricane, then it’s probably too late to do much. Location is the main thing when it comes to hurricanes, your location and its location. I understand the last time there was a serious hurricane here, the marina took a lot of damage and lost a few boats, I heard a couple of sailors died out in the anchorage, one of a heart attack. Neil the manager here tells me that the reinforcements they fitted, along with some breakwaters should make it quite safe now, but that is yet to be tested. The wind and wave direction is unpredictable and would determine the outcome for me. Above is an older picture of the Marina before they built the Marina Cortez next door. I have an arrow pointing to my location, which is close to, and protected by the landmass that now has a large apartment block on it.
It’s a worry being away for 2 months, bang in the middle of the hurricane season, but statistically the odds are in my favour. but the nature of the path they take is random, so I’m not sure if hurricane Enrique passing directly past us, but having fizzled out, makes the odds better or worse? I think the thing is with ‘Random’ that you can’t tell. I struggle with random and probability, how come you have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a six on a dice, surely you have as much chance of never rolling a six if it’s really random.
Arturo has phoned me, we would be going for dinner now but he tells me he can’t because he has been driven to the middle of the desert, and he can’t tell me why because the driver speaks english and might be listening, but he will call when he gets to La Paz. I’m assuming he hasn’t been kidnapped, I don’t think it’s usual for kidnappers to let you phone friends to adjust dinner appointments, but we shall see.

Later I meet up with Arturo for some Tacos, seems he survived his desert trip.

Saturday 10th July
Feeling good today, so I tackle the quarter berth, the job is to bring in all the bits hanging off the back of the boat, like the lifebuoy, the danbuoy, rescue harness, self steering rudder and vane etc and shove them all in the quarter berth (QB) out of the sun and wind.

However I need to turn off the seacock that supplies cooling sea water to the engine, in case of a leak while I’m away. Access to this seacock is through a small hatch at the back of the QB, So first I empty the area, crawl in and turn it off, but like most jobs things get complicated quickly, the seacock handle has a bit of play in it and it’s not clear if I have it exactly in the off position, also I notice quite a bit of salt building up around the sea water filters top seal. It must be leaking.

I did put a new gasket in a few years ago, but it can’t be working. So I dismantle this, allowing me to see if I actually have turned off the seacock, which amazingly I have. Then I make some new seals, I will order a service kit when I get home, but for now I will have another attempt at making my own gaskets and washers. All goes well, amazingly there’s very little matter in the filter, just a couple of broken shells, I had hoped that might be related to the slight overheating on the engine.
Back together and tested, I turn off the seacock, remove power to the engine so it can’t accidently be started with no water supply and shove everything into the QB from the cockpit. By now the sun has set and it’s time for dinner.

Another hot day, so I dinghy out to the magote and have a swim. It’s generally around 35-36c most days with a lovely cooling breeze in the evenings. So far I haven’t been bothered to setup the aircon, hardly seems worth it now for the few remaining days here. It’s interesting how global warming is playing out. You would think it would make the tropics unbearable, but it seems to be further north that the real problems are. Canada has seen record temperatures, and along the pacific coast of the USA temperatures are crazily high again, with wildfires starting to kick off.
A sumptuous meal on the Malecon with Arturo winds up the day.

Monday 12th July
Today was meant to be the horrible job day (Replacing the sanitation hoses), but I didn’t sleep well and don’t feel like the challenge. My pet mosquito must be quite fat by now, to fat to fly, which might be why I can’t hear her. However I am covered in annoying bites. So I work on the bicycle, the rear wheel is making a disconcerting noise. It turns out the nuts on the axle that hold the bearings in place are loose, and it’s rough as hell, when I turn it. I’m thinking bin job, the bikes been good for a few years now, and axles/bearings are two mechanical for me. However with the wonder of youtube and google, my first search for “Shimano rear bearing service” pops up a video showing exactly what I have to do. However I do need a special tool, but I bet a search on ebay would find that in seconds. Anyway, it’s the brakes and flat tyre that are the main issues right now, so I fix them as best I can and head off to the cycle shop and buy 4 new brake pads and an inner tube for about £5, I also arrange to bring the wheels in for new tyres and bearings when I return to the UK. There’s life in that bike yet.

Paul Collister
La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Hurricane Enrique

Monday 28th June 2021
I just read that the hurricane has claimed two lives further south, strong winds and torrential rain are causing problems there. However it looks like the hurricane is about to be downgraded to a tropical storm and will not be that big of a deal when it arrives here. All the same the marina management visit me and request I remove the furled headsails. It’s blowing quite hard, but a lull is expected later. The two headsails are wrapped around wires that support the mast using a revolving drum and sleeve mechanism. So by pulling on ropes you can release the sail or wrap it up, in the old days it was more difficult to adjust the amount of sail out, with furling systems you can do this all from the cockpit quite easily. The problem comes when the wind takes control, sometimes the sail can flap if not fully furled, then the sail can start to shred near the sheets (ropes to pull it out) and the sail parts from the ropes and starts to unfurl itself. in a viscious wind the sail flails around in quite a dangerous way and is almost impossible to tame. Once it has got enough sail out it presents a big hazard as it can pull the boat around putting lots of force and stresses on the boat and its mooring. I have seen boats almost destroyed by this process. So as soon as the wind dropped, I got both sails down. I will probably bring the mainsail in as well in order to reduce the windage, and to do some minor repairs on it and its sail bag.
I do the shopping, clear in officially, and dump off a load of laundry.

Last night Arturo insisted on treating me to a dinner in a fancy Italian restaurant I haven’t been to before. Very nice it was as well

The view from Cinnarolls cafe on the Malecon, what’s not to like 😉

Later I have a Trolebus (fruit flavoured shaved ice) drink at Cinnaroll’s cafe on the Malecon and enjoy the view as the sun sets. Of course the Malecon is closed as we are on red alert, the Indian/delta variant has been a big hit here, with many people bringing it down from the North to holiday with them. Cabo San Lucas, the fun destination for many visitors from the USA and Canada is now out of beds and respirators for covid patients. Just as the Delta variant was establishing itself in the states, California removed all covid restrictions. At least everyone here seems to be taking it very seriously, it is illegal to be outdoors without a mask, I heard yesterday how many of the marina dock workers have ill family or have lost family to covid. So BCS is still some way from the end, in fact we are now in a worse state than at any point since the start.

Tuesday 29th June.
Farmers market and I restock on vegan pesto, and find a new vegan stall setup. I buy some lentil burgers, partly to see what they are like, but also to show support for the guy who doesn’t have many visitors to his stall.

Enrique fizzled out today, about 50 miles away over Isla Partida. Very disappointing, just some rain in the night.
Flight to Mexico city booked for the 21st and I’m now preparing a list of things that must be done before I leave the boat in exactly 3 weeks time. An oil change must be due, so I grab the logbook to get the mileage and end up pulling up a soggy wad of paper from the chart table. Closer inspection reveals everything on the chart table, log, pilot guides, notebook etc is sitting in a big puddle of rainwater. It suddenly dawns on me that the erratic flashing of the PI Hat LEDs situated next to the chart table might be related to the water, and sure enough, the PI computer is sitting in a plastic box submerged in 1 cm of water. Bugger.
The cabin returns to a familiar configuration, where every surface is now covered with a seperate piece of soggy paper trying to dry.

That’s one good thing about sailing in the tropics, things dry quickly. It turns out I hadn’t closed the portlight in the middle of the night properly, it must have rained harder than I realised. I wash then hang the computer up to dry on the fan and later it comes back to life just long enough to deliver a web page, then it dies again. Fortunately they only cost £30-40 so it’s not the end of the world.

Later I speak with my son Isaac who, with his partner Holly, has just taken the keys for their first property. An apartment in London. Hats off to them for getting on the housing ladder so early, both of them are not long out of university. It’s crazy how inflation and london prices work, but their 2 bed flat has cost more than the four flats and one house I have owned in my lifetime, combined!

Congrats on becoming a homeowner to Holly & Isaac, time to start saving for some furniture

I sit up in the cockpit with toast and coffee for my morning call to Kathy when an old friend comes to join me for toast.

I can’t be sure it’s Maria, but she has very similar markings and struts up to me in a quite bold manner as if to say, ‘come on then, get some food out for me’. As I get up, rather than being startled, she hops back onto the guardrail and waits for me to return with some crumbs which she then eats. Later she is in the cabin checking out the breadboard. She seems to know where everything is so I’m guessing it’s her. I must add some nuts too the shopping list.

In the evening I meet up with Arturo and we get some lovely fish tacos just off the Malecon. While I’m there, Claudia, a Pacena (a person from La Paz) friend calls me to say they are doing second jabs of the Sinovac Vaccine on Friday. This is great news.

Up early and off to the university on the edge of town for my jab. It takes about 40 minutes on the bike, but it’s all good exercise. Unlike Mazatlan, I don’t have a nice English speaking lady to jump out and guide me to the needles, instead there are two long lines snaking around the campus. I use my best spanish and find one if for Pfizer and the other for Sinovac. After 30 minutes in the heat the queue moves forward, but only to reach a lady telling everyone ‘No hay vacuna’, or there isn’t any vaccine. A man in the queue who had confirmed to me I was in the right queue is looking unperturbed, so I assume I should wait. I soon realise that I’m in the Sinovac and other vaccines second dose queue, except they have no other vaccines on offer, other than Sinovac.

There is a sign on the door saying Asta Zenica, presumably from another day, and a man in the queue is getting very agitated with the lady as he has been here for ages waiting for his AZ shot, and he keeps pointing to the sign, even though the women has told him many times there is no AZ vaccine.

I find an official and ask in my best Spanish if I am in the right queue for Sinovac and she points to a different queue several miles long reaching to the Guatemalan border I think, damm. I wander over and find they all think they are in the Pfizer queue, going back to my spot, my space in the queue has gone, and they give me evils, so I wander back to try and find the right place. I strike gold and an official gives me a card with the number 32 on it and sends me into a tent to wait.

After that it’s only 30 minutes till I go inside for paperwork and onto the Jab stations. I’m trying to keep my expectations down, as I have read how they give out the jabs until they run out , then send everyone home. There’s not a booking system like in the UK. I’m thinking about the last flight out of Saigon, the tension, so close…
Three hours in total and I’m back on my bike heading home all jabbed up.
Sadly the Sinovac doesn’t seem to be performing well against the delta variant, and in Asia many people have arrived at hospital with the delta variant after two jabs of Sinovac. Hopefully it will at least take the edge off the disease should I succumb. I’m a little concerned as the UK is probably a bad place to be visiting in 3 weeks time, infections should be at record levels given the relaxation of lockdowns, the football events and the lack of vaccination for young people and schoolkids who I think are going to be spreading the delta variant far and wide. They may not need to worry themselves, but it’s any older unvaccinated people who may be at risk.

Street buskers at a main. highway intersection. Entertaining the drivers waiting for a green light

Back on the boat and up go the covers/canopies, it’s hot work. hopefully tomorrow I can have the lie in I have been looking forward too all week.

Finally I must say a big thank you to the people of Mexico for getting me two jabs of the vaccine. I have always believed that you can tell a lot about a country and its people by how they treat visitors. For a country that’s not very rich, and is struggling to get enough vaccines, it is humbling that they are keen to help foreigners as much as possible. Thank you Mexico.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see how a Mexican, illegally in Britain would be treated, expecting Priti Patel to have a special deportation truck just for this event ready and waiting, but was very pleasantly surprised to find that anyone, legal or not is entitled to free testing/treatment and vaccination. So well done Britain as well.

On Saturday night I met up with Arturo to go for some tacos, we met in the square next to the Art Gallery which I had read had reopened. This is confusing as at the current Covid level I expected it to remain closed, The have a new exhibition starting on Monday, but you have to prebook to visit. We wandered over and found we could walk around now and enjoy the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition for free. The gallery is new and is the first public art gallery in the state of Baja California Sur. I very much enjoyed the exhibits.

I have some nuts for Maria now, but she doesnt seem to be as lively, or as interested as last time.

Paul Collister.