Saturday, April 23, 2011


Mexican Holy week is Awsome. The last week we have been slowly working our way north from Puerto Vallata to Mazatlan stopping and spendingthe night ata bunch of little beach towns. Unbeknowst to us the week after Easter in Mexico is a rather large celebration week. So every beach has been packed with tourists coming from the bigcities inland to celebrate their lord and savior by consuming copius amounts of alcohol and food and dancing up a storm in the streets while the local brass bands play. This to us has made the week so much better and I am surprised at how much more tolerable tourists are when I am in Mexico and the toutists are Mexican. The food has been great. The music a joy and the dancing fun. The one strain has been the incessant use of loud dance music. Mexicans seem to love this stuff day and night and although I personally am in heaven the rest of the crew are struggling a bit. Especially when it is blasting across the bay at 7 in the morning. I could not think of anything better to wake up too( bar of course my wife but then I already have that).

So up the coast we go and with our bellies full and ears more in tune to the beat we are merrily setting course for the sea of Cortez.

Dinghy Fever

(Get it? Like Dengue Fever? Maybe you haven't been hanging out in the tropics so it's not top of mind for you? Well then, I hope you've been shredding lots of powder and celebrating the lack of disease carrying, biting insects in your life.)
Let's go ahead and get one thing out of the way. Bioluminescence can almost make me believe in God, or a divine creator or at least a great artist in charge of the whole shebang- the stuff is just gorgeous. Spectacular. Miraculous even. I'll just step on up and call it miraculous. So it was not without guilt and a sense of irony that at 3AM on day two of our small slice of the Aldebaran adventure that I found myself vomiting into said wonder. Phosperescence to contemplate the wonder of life, and seasickness to make me ponder the suffering therein. But Andy had kindly warned me earlier to just let it out, and out it came. Amen. Enough of that story.

A few years back, I heard the plan and said....Hell yes. I love every bit of it. I'm in. And now that it's real, it's a magical mixture of will and determination, youthful folly, kids too smart for their own good, with a heaping of creativity and athleticism and oh, I don't know, how about we throw in some culinary wizardry? And so after the sweat and the tears and the backbreaking work and study, Josh and I were the first lucky passengers to climb onto the wonder that is Aldebaran. We live in Baja Sur about an hour from Cabo san Lucas and met the (slightly bedraggled but eminently cheerful, truth be told) crew at the Cabo Marina. They did stand out from lack of fake boobs and calf implants, but that's neither here nor there. They had just finished a harrowing 6 day passage from Ensenada in Northern Baja- no safe harbor the whole 1000 mile penninsula. Andy Craig, Negasauraus as he is affectionately called on board, had found his own internet cafe. Separate from the internet cafe the rest of the crew were frequenting. Hmmm- sign of trouble, we thought? Nope. The crew are amazing at accessing their needs and finding space where they can. Aldebaran has three bedrooms and one head(A), a salon(1) and a galley(2) that Lisa STRAPS INTO when the the weather is too rough to stand in front of the gimbled(3) stove under her own power. So while the whole word, at least the world with contiguous water and a bit of wind is at their beck and call, personal space is at a bit of a premium.

The plan was to unwind for a few days in Cabo, but the weather pushed us onward after 24 hours in port. So we waved goodbye to the wet t- shirt contests, wound our way through the wave runners, pangas, cruise ships, sea lions, water taxis, pirates ships, party catamarans and humpback whales and headed for Banderas Bay across the Sea of Cortez on the Mexican mainland. Three days of vomiting ensued, with lots of laughter and some rough seas and beautiful meals and overnight helm shifts and watch shifts and dramamine and full moons (*) and sunsets and marlins and turtles and jumping off the bow and catching the ladder at midship to climb back in (note to the ladies- best performed in a one piece suit) And then, ta- dah! We made it to Punta De Mita, and set anchor before midnight, cozied right up behind a surf break. Andy paddled out at first light, and Josh followed suit not too long after. Picture long white sand beaches, taco stands, and Raleigh playing fetch in the blue-green water in a canine lifejacket. I believe this is what is referred to as "living the life."

Then onto Paradise. Paradise Village. Josh and I are thinking of retiring there. This is a joke. But for clean, safe, and affordable, place can't be beat. And I haven't even mentioned the alligator water slide or the the real Siberian tigers and I don't think I will. But I will tell of the beauty that was Aldebaran moored, laundry aflutter, life akimbo, in the shadow of the 30 million dollar, gleaming and true, mega-yacht Vango. ( Guilty pleasure alert- I later googled Vango.) Don quickly powered up the spray can to make us stencilled t- shirts so we could fit into the matching-crew-shirt-culture of Paradise Village.

A week in Paradise was long enough for the crew to attend a wedding, Carl to fall in love/lust/like, Raleigh to shred the window screens, Leslie to hand sew new screens, to eat at Planta Vegetariana in Puerta Vallarta, the refrigeration to be fixed, Carl to find shoes in the garbage, Carl to use the Alligator slide on his own at night, (parents were afraid), the Aldeb crew to win the hearts of all the lifers living in the marina, go hottubbing at the Yacht Club, everyone to have a go doing the dishes on the dock next to Vango, Raleigh to poop on real grass three times a day, attend a movie, restock, have a meeting of the coffee madmen at Cafe Oro Verde, Lisa to make a new best friend on the bus, spring clean, and for all of us to decide we did not like the loud, chubby, entitled kids on the boat one slip over.

And then on to steep and lovely Yelapa- only accessible by boat-where weed is on the menu. (No, we didn't) but we hiked up to waterfall and jumped into the icy water with a view of Aldebaran though the jungle, ate chocolate pie on the sidewalk on the way down to the beach and then fish tacos (served by a tripping waiter) on the sand while the sun set and the fisherman hurled their boats up on shore. We watched a burro train take a load of lumber from a panga up into the jungle and on the walk home Leslie informed me that her budget was indeed the dysentry diet budget.(4) We rocked to sleep that night in our roll-ey mooring. It was a perfect day.

The next day was to be our last with the crew- up early-ish, to the delicious Cafe Bahia for breakfast and homemade scones, served by the whip-thin, chain-smoking, ex- big city chef owner. I had an allergic reaction to the tourist boat about to puke vacationers onto our little slice of quiet heaven, and being unwilling to have the perfect memory of our private Yelapa tarnished, I forced Josh onto a water taxi and off we went.

And to quote the distinguished Mr. Sandberg and his contemporaries, " This is real as it gets- I'm on a boat, m*therf#@%*r don't you ever forget!"

Que la vaya bien, amigos!

a. bathroom, you punk. There are actually two, but the other has been converted into storage.
1. living room/dining room/ guest room/ storage/dog bed/theater/dance floor
3. It swings! So the top is always level. I need a dramamine just thinking about it.
*. A monthly celestial occurance and what happens when you jump off a moving boat in a bikini
4. 60 pesos.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Business Like Showbusiness


Opening Scene:
Don and I are strolling around Puerto Vallarta after having caught the last bit of a Son Jarocho music and dance session at our new friend Wen's cafe and roastery, Cafe Oro Verde. As we pass a "casting" sign, I glance into a spare, tiny office and immediately am met with calls inviting us in. We keep walking, but are stopped by a woman who has run out of the office. "Do you want to be in a commercial for the British Lottery?" she asks, and tells us they are filming Saturday, Sunday and Monday. As it's Tuesday and we are hoping to have our refrigeration done by Friday, we hesitate and decide to come back another day after we discuss matters with the rest of the crew. Walking away laughing at this weird occurrence, we are later hollered at on the boardwalk by some random restauranteur: "Hey, it's Barbie and Ken after a few drinks!" This almost seems like a complement, and thus confirms our bizarre Aryan star quality, planting the seeds that will lead us to delusions of grandeur.

Scene 2, Act One:
Don and I return to PV on Tuesday, and, after a fantastic smoked marlin burrito, cervesas, and "rehearsing" mute reactions of surprise and delight at having won the British lottery, we go to the office and find out we don't get to act at all! We just have get our pictures taken and fill out some info forms, including, "sports proficient at." I write volleyball, sailing and biking. Don writes skateboarding and hockey. British people love winning a million Euros and going for a skate and a volley, no? We are told to come back the next day to see if we're in.

Scene 2, Act Two:
We return on Friday with the entire crew, including Raleigh, having wooed them with tales of the $170 a day we could each potentially make. Pics are snapped, infos are filled--oh and we are asked if we can all scuba dive (Carl and I lie in take three, after convincing ourselves it won't be "real" scuba-ing), and then the casting director asks us to come back at 4pm to meet some kind of scuba casting agent.

Scene 2, Act Three:
Scuba guy is a no show. We are asked to come back tomorrow to where they will be filming downtown.

Scene 3: Downtown Puerto Vallarta:
After wandering around, following signs for "extras", we are told that they will be using some kind of scuba divers' union and they don't need us. "Ma-a-a-a-aybe" he will call--or rather email us since none of us have a local phone number to give--for us to be in a party scene, but at this point we have been given the run-around so much that we don't believe the guy. He gives us bottles of water to appease us.

Scene 4: El Arrayan Restaurant:
I skipped the scene where we were sulking in Cafe Oro Verde, to the scene where Lisa, Carl and I are at El Arrayan, a slow foods restaurant owned by a woman who we'd met at the a fore mentioned music session. Carmen had invited us to come by and enjoy some music by Wen (the coffee guy), his daughter and her boyfriend. So, while Andy and Don are at some mythical jungle skatepark they'd heard about, Carl, Lisa and I are sharing plantain empanadas, jamaica (hibiscus) flower quesadillas and some kind of amazing chipotle garlic sauce with fresh corn chips, along with crisp, cold Modelos on draft, listening to live Son Jarocho music and chatting with Carmen, who has given Lisa three recipe books featuring some of her specialties! All in all, we aren't too fussed with having lost our chance at stardom.

Scene 4, act 2:
Don shows up at the restaurant (Andy, being Andy, went back to the boat to sleep and be frugal), and after hanging out with Wen, his daughter Camilia and her man Daniel for awhile, decide to move along to some party being thrown by one, "Lorena." "Do you know Lorena?" asks Wen of Camilia and Danny; "No, but so-and-so is playing there..." So, we get into their cars and go.

Scene 5: The Party
I'm probably summing this up too quickly, so Don, Lee, Carl, feel free to write a post devoted to the party. Almost everyone here is Israeli, Croatian, or Ukrainian, which none of us realize for about an hour, speaking broken Spanish at them. Oh yeah, and Raleigh has also been dragged to this party. He glumly lays on the floor and sniffs around for food scraps. Wen, Camilia, and Daniel begin playing music, and gradually nearly everyone, including Don and I, grab an instrument (I suddenly think I can play this box thing called the cajon), then this mime shows up to play drums, blowing our minds (the mime talks, while also acting in weird mime-like fashion), and everyone dances like they're Eastern European, except for Carl and I, who dance like Peanuts characters, and we get out of the party at about 4am and blow the budget on a cab back to Paradise.

Final Scene: Tragedy.
Sunday I'm so partied out that it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed to go with the neighbors and Lisa to the Farmers Market at La Cruz. I later can't get myself to go check my email, and everyone else answers negatively to the question of whether or not they got anything from the casting agent. Fine, we were burnt out and spirit-crushed on the Hollywood rat race anyhow. I don't check my email until Tuesday--when, of course, I see an email sent from the casting agent Sunday, asking if Don and I want to work on Monday. ARRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!

I beat myself up for the entire day, even while playing frisbee on the beach and living the lifestyle of a tortured starlet, drinking wine in the middle of the day. And then, I am snapped out of my depression at once by...

A SWORM OF BEES!!! (To be continued...) 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011



greetings from the galley. it hasn't been easy and there have been a few mishaps. we spoke about them a little bit in our last audio post but i thought i'd expound on the subject a little. leaving ventura it was smooth sailing and cooking was easy. in the ensenada marina, easy peasy. when we left ensenada the weather was rough, the waves were huge and frankly, i was terrified. we had ramen that night. the next meal was spaghetti with shrimp, peas and leeks. i unlocked the stove so it would remain level while the boat rocked back and forth. well, for those of you who have never seen this (and this was my first time) it's super scary. it was swaying at approx 45 degree angle with pots full of boiling water. i screamed a lot and made some one stay with me. not rational, i know, but i didn't trust that wobbly thing- we're friends now. also during this time in my learning process i was placing things on the counters, diving back and forth between the stove and the counter as things slid around. not everything survived. one morning i was making bagels. i put 5 bagels in the oven, caught the hummus as it tried to make a break for it. stopped the jam from crashing off the counter. i buttered and jammed half, hummused & avo'd the other half. i put them on a plate and started the ascent to the cockpit starving and ready to eat. as i stepped out of the galley, the door to the electrical panel flies open and knocks all the bagels off the plate. every one lands gooey side down. i, of course, begin screaming and throwing a tantrum. scooping and screaming i prepare to throw the treacherous bagels overboard. both don and andy scream, in unison, "no! we'll eat them!" dinner the next night was a veggie korma with jasmine rice. i had prepared this meal ahead of time so i only had to reheat  and serve. i plated the rice and then turned my attention to the korma. while i had my back turned a bowl of rice went sliding across the counter and took a header straight onto the floor. there was less screaming this time, but not by much. around this time i realized i needed to line the counter so i could stop all this sliding. now i put down a few hot pads and kitchen towels and it's been successful so far. i've been making bread as well. banana walnut and honey oat. and since my oven doesn't have a temperature setting, just a big flame and a little flame on the knob, this is no small feat. let's just say i purchased an oven thermometer and stand there adjusting it for about an hour. you get used to it.
provisioning has been a lot of fun. everything in mexico has sugar in it. i learned very quickly how to translate high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. but the produce has been gorgeous and mostly pretty cheap. a papaya for less than $2 makes me pretty happy. avo's are about $4-5/ kilo- so a little pricey and apples are insane. great prices for tomatoes and when you can find good looking herbs they are about .40 a bunch. 
lelsie and i went to the farmers' market in la cruz the other morning and did pretty well. we found some tahini, which i had given up on. beautiful basil, cherry tomatoes and green beans. we also bought scallops ,which i think were old because they were very chewy and i barely cooked them a minute, but they had a nice flavor. we had a pasta with all those goodies and i made a white wine lemon sauce to go with it and we sopped it all up with a baguette, also purchased at the market. the whole thing cost me about $15 and it made 2 meals for 5 people. i also have tons of basil left over, so savory muffins are on this afternoons agenda. i think that's about all for me. adios!
State of the art cooling

snapping snappers

loverly veg

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gator love


Paradise Village has a number of wildlife exhibits on the grounds---parrots, tigers (Daisy & Diego), and even two alligators.  I've been particularly interested in the alligators.  And by "alligators" of course I mean water slides; the place has two water slides shaped as alligators.  A few days back the gang finally succumbed to my constant barrage of "let's go to the water slides!"  To be fair it seemed like Andy had wanted to go for a while too, but nevertheless we all finally went together.  And aside from me eventually getting asked by security to take mi perro (Raleigh) away from the pool area, I'd say it was a great success.

Side note:  We had a previous attempt at getting on the slides too---a sorry goes out to Alex, Gary & Sabrina for not being able to join when you were here!

Not us---just a stock photo of the slides
After the sliding Lisa found a secret under-walkway grotto area in the pool.  And thanks to our underwater point & shoot we've got some pictures to show it.

Andy & Lee

Les with a smile

now we're underwater

Don looking particularly guapo

what can I say, I've got nice timing when it comes to taking photos

:)  only underwater shot we actually got with all of us in it

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More whales and things

So we are back in Paradise again.  That would be Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallata.  Poeple keep calling this place paradise and one guy said it in a way that has become a catch phrase for us.  It went something like this "well good to meet you guys and welcome the Paradise.  Says it on the sign" as he pointed to the Paradise Village Marina sign.  So now whenever the word paradise comes up or we end up back in Paradise Village Marina someone inevidably mentions "welcome to Paradise, says it on the sign" in a thick drawled out american accent(since I am the only one without an american accent(and yes even that can be disputed) it would imply I am the only one who says this,  that is not true and everyone else says it while trying to thicken their american accent).  However we are not really huge fans of this place as It is way to touristy for us, but we need to be here to get our refrigeration sorted so we will handle a little more Paradise for a bit.

The last week we went for a cruise around Banderas Bay.  We stopped off at a place called Yelapa for a day and stayed almost three.  Nice little place with some nice wildlife.  Mainly dogs looking to be apodted but they were very friendly which is a little unusual for mexico.  Dogs in Mexico are interesting as a few have collars which means an owner and a few get fed by poeple so they follow them around but for the majority it is a free for all.  This means packs of 4,5,6 dogs roaming around like a bunch of 16 year olds, thinking they are way tuffer than they are and looking for trouble.  And then there are the really skinny loaners who are just pathetic and make you want to give them all the food and water you have on you immediately for fear of them dropping over and dying right there.

Evidently in Yalapa every dog gets fed and has some shade to sleep under.  They still have lots of flees and ticks to share if you would like some but they do look happyish.  Christene and Josh left us in Yelapa to go back to their little bit of paradise in Baja.  Christene spent most of the last morning they were with us trying to convince Lisa to adopt a dog they took a particular interest in.  This was while Carl,Don and Leslie were playing frisbie in the ocean with Raleigh and his 4 friends.  Once they started playing a new dog appeared every 10 minutes.  So by the end of that morning we could have easily formed Raleigh's own pack and have invaded the boat with 4 or 5 dogs and probably a good proportion of the flee and tick population in Yelapa.  This would have deffinatly made the upcoming adventures a little itchier.  Other wildlife in Yelapa included lizzards(little and big ones, although the big ones were usually on poeples shoulders and so not sure you could call them wildlife.  Funny that, lizzards are pets and dogs are not in Mexico) the odd random ferral cat, lots of rock crabs, and some funny looking birds with really long legs.

After that we headed back across the bay to Punta de mita.  On the way we hung out with a few more whales (of course) and Carl actually got some pictures of these (I think).  We also encounted a mass of dolphins jumping and charging around.  We hung with them for 10 or 15 minutes before they went back to their jumping and splashing.  There was easily 50 of them if not more and I am pretty sure they were participating in one of those feeding freenzy things that you see on Discovery or Nat Goe.  Punta de mita was great for another 3 days.  Everyone went surfing and we all got to relax a little.  NO wildlife seen other than fish.

Then we turned aroud and came back to Paradise Village and again hung out with a few whales.

So thats about it for the nature watch.   I am sure someone else will be on soon to talk.  One day we will get organised and have some photos for you guys.  But at the moment we are having a few issues getting the whales, dolphins, birds and lizzards to sit and pose properly for the pictures.  we will get there though.