To Do Lists

I often start my day or my week with a very detailed to do list to keep myself organized and focused on my tasks and goals at hand. With this new adventure, I don’t even know where to begin. I will make a list and then add to it and then re-categorize the items on it, all the while it seems like very little of the items are getting done and new items are being added. Talk about overwhelmed. We just stop, take a deep breath and remind ourselves why we are enduring this bit of stress now. For the chance of escaping the stress of a lifetime. For slowing down our internal clock. For learning new skills that can take us wherever we want to go.

My lists include how to wrap up our lives here, what gear to buy for safety, lifestyle gear like clothing and snorkels and stuff just for fun. We are packing up enough of our stuff to live in an apartment or small house when we get back — putting it all in a climate controlled storage unit. The rest of the stuff we are selling. Then there is all the services we have to cut off, too: phones, tv, Internet etc. Takes up a lot of time waiting on hold.

From there we will be more free, but we certainly have a growing list of items to pick up before we go back to Mexico. This becomes increasingly difficult when you still have to research what it is you are adding to the list, the best type and the best price for each item. So we have our work cut out for us!

Just to give you an idea, here is some of the items:
small metric voltage meter
Honda 2000 generator
Oil change pump
Charts for Mexico
Cruising guide
Bosuns chair – to climb the mast
Battery switch
Watertight toolbox
Waterproof camera
EPIRB locator

I realize you may not care about the items listed here, but I just wanted to show you a snapshot of my brain. Haha! Either way, we are getting into cram time and are really have to begin to chip away at this stuff.

We went to West Marine today and looked at all the items they carry and the prices, specifically on things that we know we already have on our boat and things we need long term. It really brought in perspective how much money we saved by buying a very equipped boat.

We bought a few things and left feeling a little better for now.

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We are Back

So after three days of traveling back from the Baja, we are happy to be home, but a bit overwhelmed. We got in on Sunday afternoon and have been busy since then. We have so much to do before we can head back down to live on our boat! There are certain things that are easier to get in the states than elsewhere, like charts of the areas we will discover and plastic baggies (yes, they do not sell baggies in Mexico, weird, huh?*) and a generator and all this other miscellaneous stuff. Thankfully, we have several experienced sailors and livaboards that we now know who are sending us lots of information that will be helpful along the way.

In the mean time, we are speeding up right now, so we can slow down in the long run. We have so much to sell and box up and still work to do and gear to get. We are also trying to see as much of our friends and family while we are still here, so we have to factor in time for entertaining and eating out. We haven’t decided our exact plan of action when we return to the boat because we will have to drive down a lot of items in the car. We want to leave our car on the mainland side of Mexico because it will be easier to get back and forth from the States over there, but our boat rests in a tiny port on the Baja side. Decisions, decisions… We do know, however, that we will be heading down to live in the Sea of Cortez before October 27, 2011. Yup! All of this has just worked out magically. The previous owner of the boat wants to meet us and tell us everything about the tricks and quirks to running her properly and he is leaving the country on October 28.

I also wanted to note that traveling to and from and all around the Baja peninsula was not scary. The biggest question we got about this trip was “Is it safe?” We were told not to drive at night for safety. I thought that was because of the Cartel, but as it turns out, it was really because there are a lot of cows and horses on the roads. Haha! I realize the drug Cartel down there is getting a lot of media in the U.S., but there is a lot more going on than drugs in Mexico. It is a beautiful country with nice people and wonderful family traditions. People still live and love and dream and grow up and succeed in Mexico just like they do here. I’m not saying there isn’t a problem that needs resolving, but I am saying that there is a lot more than that.  There are scary parts of the U.S., too — places others wouldn’t venture to go on vacation or at night. It is the same for Mexico… it’s not the whole country.

Below are some pictures from the days we spent traveling back home. We took a tiny plane from Loreto to Guaymas. Stayed a night there, then took a bus for 11 hours (including stops) to Tucson, AZ. When we arrived to our hotel, the power was out because of a violent storm that had just passed through. We walked 2 blocks away and found one with power. We stayed there and caught our flight at 5:15 am to Houston, the home to DFW!

*Correction – they have baggies in Mexico, but not the common-up-here medium size.

Waiting to board our tiny plane in Loreto Airport

Now that's a puddle jumper!

Me and the Pilot

Stunning views from the plane

The bus was roomy and you could lay down - not a chicken bus ; )

In line to cross the border

We arrived to a crazy storm in Arizona. Can you see the leaning power lines in the background?

Our New Home

Tim, Me, Shelly and Mike just after the sea trial on our new boat

So, we did it. We bought our dream boat! We took her out for a sea trial today and we sailed for the first time in the Sea of Cortez. It was awesome! I can already tell I will be one of those types who continuously tweak the sails for more speed. Keep in mind, we are talking about the speed of a 35 foot liveaboard boat, so we are looking at like 2-6 knots. It is perfectly slow, however, because you have AMAZING views to take in while you are doing it. The water is clear about 100 feet down. Can you imagine? I didn’t really believe that —having been on lakes often — but Shelly dropped a green grape overboard just to see how long we could see it in the water. We sailed away, slowly, remember, before we couldn’t see the grape. It was stunning. Tim took a dive because it was blisteringly hot. We have found ourselves on a sailboat in the sun in Baja Mexico in the hottest part of the year and the hottest part of the month for this area. Just step outside and sweat a gallon a minute. And I thought Texas was hot! Well, it is actually about the same temp, but the humidity here takes the cake. We drank more water and Gatorade in 2 hours than I have in most days.

It was all worth it, though. We have a wonderful new home and we can float around anywhere we want. It hasn’t quite all sunk in yet. We had the boat surveyed by a pro boat builder who has been living in Mexico for the part 22 years — Cecil. He is an 86-year-old Austrian who kept up with the rest of us in that heat. I was so surprised at how good he was at moving around the boat while withstanding the heat.

Our Captain for the day was Ray. He maintains several boats in Puerto Escandito while the owners are out for the summer season. He is so nice, and a friend already. He has the exact same boat make and model as us, so he highly recommended it. We are so excited and can’t wait to head back down for the good cruising months. We have been told by every sailor we have met that the weather switches on October 15. Like clockwork, there is less humidity and a nice breeze every year. Can’t wait for that.

While we have been here we have been greeted with the friendliest people on earth. It seems everyone is incredibly supportive and helpful in whatever way possible. It is really refreshing to slow down and appreciate others. The cruisers (people living on a boat and cruising up and down the coastline) have a code of conduct to help out other cruisers and then pay it forward. They don’t help expecting anything in return, they just help because they are nice and know it will come back around one day. And it does.

Sunrise on the Baja

Shelly teaching me how to raise the head sail and tie a cleat knot.

Me at the helm, while Shelly guides me

Tim at the Helm

Our new kitchen a.k.a galley

Cecil working hard surveying the boat while in the dinette

Our new bedroom a.k.a. V Berth

There she is. Until we meet again.

Down to Business

After relaxing on Sunday we dove right in to what we are looking for — sailboats. We have scoured the internet looking for the perfect boat, but it is a lot like looking for houses in the States… you just don’t know how you feel about it until you see it. So we looked at about four boats yesterday. Some were in the water, some were “on the hard” as they call it. They are stored our of the water this time of year because it is still hurricane season. Hurricane season makes for some of the hottest, most humid days for looking in not air-conditioned boxes (aka boats). We sweated our way through four boats we had looked at online, but just didn’t get that feeling like we could envision our lives in them.

So with that we all agreed we had to go see the Cal 35′ in Puerto Escandito. The port is a tiny little place about 3.5 hours north of where we are staying in La Paz, and it is what they call a “hurricane hidey hole” because it is protected this time of year. It was just stunning! Our boat brokers, Shelly and Mike offered to drive us up there to look at the boat with the man who was caring for it during the off season, Ray. For me, it was one of those times you really just know – this is it. This is the place we will spend the next undetermined amount of time living. The stunning view didn’t hurt either!

With that we decided to come back to La Paz and make an offer on the boat! The whole time we are just wondering what the life is gonna be like and what this all means, but we can’t help but follow it through. The owners counter offered and we accepted! We have been learning SO much every step of the way. Shelly hooked us up with a good friend of hers, Rob, who is a sailing lifestyle coach. He is the type of guy who shows you how to sail like a pro and how to dive, spear fish, be safe and respect the ocean. Just the type of guy we need to help us get started! All at a price, of course.

Tomorrow we will set off on a sea test of the boat, and then have a surveyor tell us everything he sees that is right and wrong with it. From there, we shall see. In the mean time, please enjoy the photos of our journey so far. : )

Sunrise on the roof of our bed and breakfast. This is right before we headed out to see the boat in Puerto Escandito.

The views on the road trip from La Paz to Puerto Escandito were stunning.

Shelly, Mike and Me about to board the dinghy (small boat) to go look at the 35' Cal

Me, Mike, Ray and Shelly on the dinghy heading out to see our boat for the first time.

Tim on our way out to the boat

Our first glimpse of our future boat!

Parked in Paradise

We are Here

We took two planes to Cabo, rented a car, drove to La Paz (about 2 hours away) and have arrived at our hotel – the Casa Buena Bed and Breakfast. It was a beautiful drive until we got into town. We circled and circled, but had the hardest time finding the B&B. We finally ate lunch/dinner at 4:30 p.m. and have to lay down. It is so awesome to be experiencing a different culture fully, but it can be such a challenge to be a foreigner. It is off season right now, so it is really muggy, although everyone still seems to be outside all the time. Tomorrow we will relax a bit, take in some sites and the pool – seems like everyone relaxes on Sunday – then Monday we will start to look at boats! We already met Mike, our broker. He explained a few things about the process, but to be honest, he was losing me a bit because I was so tired and hungry. We can tell he is full of helpful info and ready to help us out with this whole process. We also chatted for a while with the owner of Casa Buena, Milton. He is quite a character, and definitely been around on his sailboat. Here are some pics that we took today. Lots more to come!

Last row of the plane, but excited to go!

Landing

Los Cabos Airport

At our hotel Casa Buena

An Authentic Mexican Restaurant

What is the American Dream, Anyway?

Just to clear a few things up — my goal with the title of this blog is not to be anti-American or discourage patriotism.

It is simply to point out the changes all around us. Many of us are still striving for the American Dream of owning a piece of land, working in an industry we sought after and providing more for our children more than our parents provided for us. But what that means to our father’s father’s father is far different than what it means today. After a few hundred years, that concept has evolved with our nation, and no longer means going west and building a farm. We live in a world where it can mean anything to you. The reason I have quote marks around the “American Dream” in the title is because I am referring to the materialistic, untrue version of the American Dream. Some of our thought processes have failed to evolve with the dream itself. We do not have to fall in line with what our ancestors did to fulfill their American Dream or maybe what they dreamt for us. The beauty of America is the freedom to seek and find your own dream – or even create it. Either way, respect for those individuals who seek their own dream is evident. People who follow their passion and achieve their goals despite what others say and do are respected, just as those who blazed the Oregon Trail or the founders of our country who revolted against those who told them to pay their taxes. That is the American Dream – following your passion and heart.

The man who coined the phase, James Truslow Adams said ,”The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.”

He understood it would change with time, and it would not always mean what it meant in that moment. Material plenty can be fulfilling, but that is not the goal of the dream. It is, rather, being free of social expectations and following your heart. The “American Dream” we are plotting to escape is the false version – the one that tells us the order in which to live out our lives and that materialism is expected.