Belated Happy Halloween – Tom and I as a pair of “blue jeans”!
Journal 27th Month
The whole month of October has been spent in preparation for our departure on November third from the river and onto our next adventure. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen delays, we are now looking at a departure around the middle of November.
So, in light of the fact that we have not done anything terribly exciting the whole month, I am going to share with you a couple of observations.
I am going to relate what a typical shopping trip entails to gather the things we need to survive at a marina in the Rio Dulce. First, let me explain that we are constantly challenged by the limited storage space afforded to those who live within the confines of a 40 foot mono-hull sailboat. First clear you mind of any type of storage you experience while living on land in any type of dwelling. My major dry storage areas reside either behind or under the cushions of our main seating, dining, and entertainment area on the boat known as the “main salon” Think of a cupboard without shelves that would allow you to stack typical cans of, let’s say, soup about four to five high. Now, because it is open space, I have found plastic storage bins that I can fill and then stack a second one on top. That is about as organized as I can get. Fortunately, organization goes with sailing, and so, I can stock up to 6 months of dry provisions in our storage.
Now let’s talk about refrigeration and freezer. Here is where the challenge really begins. Ours is a box that is about deep enough to store twenty four cans of carbonated beverages, 12 stacked on top of 12, on the bottom, with a shelf above on which the tallest thing I can stand on the shelf is a two liter bottle of soda. (Pop for my Michigan readers) Visualize that I could put 12 bottles of soda on the top shelf. That is it, that is all my refrigerator storage space. As for the freezer, visualize what I just described for just the top shelves of my refrigerator and you have the entire storage of foods that will actually stay frozen. Maybe visualize a typical cooler you might take with you on a weekend outing. One lid, you open from the top, everything is stacked on top of everything else. It always seems that what you want is on the bottom and everything has to come out to get to that item. (Tom has written a whole article about this)
Ok, so you see that stocking up is not possible, especially on refrigerated items. No room.
Now, factor in that, here, it is about a 10 minute trip by 11 foot inflatable boat, with a small (9.9 hp) engine to power us up the river to town. Once to town, we tie up and then cable-lock the dingy, engine, and gas tank also to the dock, for security purposes. Now we walk from the river the short distance to the main street. On the main street there are usually hundreds of folks doing exactly what we are doing, going about their daily lives. There are tuk-tuks (three wheeled taxi cabs), dozens of motor cycles, large passenger buses, smaller “chicken” buses, passenger vans, and trucks and cars, going up and down the one main street. Factor in the hundreds of large semi-trucks, most carrying cattle, spewing manure-water, and you have a challenge just making your way down the two lane road with vendors lining both sides of the streets and vehicles parked here and there.
There are vendors right on the main street and then many, many more down the warren of alleys and aisles you pass. In town, there is only one, what you would call, grocery store. Think a small “Mom and Pops” place in the small town next door. This is definitely not a supermarket, but as close as we come in our little town. Here you can find many things, but certainly not everything. Things like baking soda or canned soup are not to be found in this store, don’t ask me why, I guess they are not typical consumables in the Guatemalan diet? So, you go through your shopping list, buy what you find, and move on. Oh by the way, shopping bags? We bring our own, ones with long straps that are very sturdy, as everything we buy we must carry with us. Besides, they charge for plastic bags at the “Familia Dispensia” the grocery store.
Now it is on to find the other things on our list that we would like, such as Pam or Ziplock bags. Both are available here in our little river town, if you know which Tienda (store) sells them! After stopping at five or six small tiendas, walking blocks upon blocks, dodging the manure being slung off the cattle trucks as we navigate the main street, we start buying our fresh produce. Now, if you look carefully and also visit a minimum of three to five produce stalls, you can find better, fresher fruits and vegetables than you will ever find in a supermarket in the States. Here is where Guatemala excels and we have really enjoyed the accessibility of great fresh produce.
Once we are loaded like two pack horses with our treasures we have scored in town, back to the dock we go, load everything in our dingy, make the 10 minute trip back to the boat, unload, put dingy, engine, gas tank away, I can start to unpack and put away all the purchases.
A trip to town will stock us for a week, if we shop wisely, find everything we need, and don’t invite too many people over to dinner!!!
Such is life as a sailor in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala.