Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Catching up..

I was originally going to call this post "Rust never sleeps" but that phrase is so overused. I figured I should at least change the wording even if I didn't change the meaning. I'm sure you have also heard the cliche: "Cliches become cliche because they are so often true". And it's true about rust never sleeping.

And living in the tropics will teach one a few things about how serious corrosion can get, and how fast. I started doing a post here, and when I looked at all the fresh photos I have I realized that it's been weeks since I posted anything. I have enough new photos for two new posts.


I know not everyone is interested in the nuts and bolts aspect of this life, so I am thinking that maybe I need to just put all the DIY stuff in its own little rusty, gasoline and oil-smelling DIY post. So I'll try to do that and warn everyone that the post after this one is probably going to be about fighting rust and working on outboard motors. You know, that boring, manly, ToolGuy, McGyver greasy, gritty, ugly type stuff I keep getting flung back into kicking and screaming... no matter how hard I want to be off doing something fun instead.

But not this post. This one is about some of what we have been doing without use of the boat.

We still get up before dawn on most mornings.



I think this 'early-to-rise' is an island person kind of thing. We are certainly no wealthier or wiser. What happens is that when you live without air conditioning you tend to keep windows open in the rooms you are sleeping in. Houses here are designed to catch the breezes. And since curtains and drapes blow in the wind and get dirty etc it's easier to just not hang anything heavy over the windows. So, when the sky gets light, so does the bedroom, and there we are. Wide awake. Sleep-in mornings are rare for us. Of course, if you were here staying in a nice air-conditioned hotel room, that would be different. Or so we imagine.

Can you believe we have now been living here over four years, and we have not yet, once, spent a single night in a hotel room on Providenciales? So please, if you ask us for recommendations for hotels here, understand that we can give you our second hand impressions but that we have not personally stayed in a single one of them.

Speaking of running a hotel, we have had three of our five sons staying with us for different parts of the summer and the last one just left here a week ago headed back to Cape Cod. And winter time. Not this wimpy little winter we get here.

We did do a little bit of kayaking over the past few weeks, and even looked for some new spots to explore. Son, Jon, thought this looked interesting, and wanted to see if this was cut through to another canal:



I knew it wasn't. I could see the power lines. Gringo is wise in the way of subtle hints like this. Besides, I am a navigator by nature. (Yeah, yeah I admit that I had studied the sat views of the area while planning the trip but you see this is what navigators do! )

Plus, I am getting to know this island and these canals pretty well. But I hadn't been down this cut before, so what the hey, might as well check it out.

It then became "Hey dad, uh, how long is this boat?" (14 feet)



And after a few seconds of thoughtful silence I hear "How wide would you say this canal is, right here?" (about 8 or 9 feet, plus or minus)

Followed shortly by "How are we going to turn it around?" (we aren't)



Yep, a dead end. We had to back it all the way out. An inflatable boat in a barnacle encrusted hard rock channel. Well, now we know.

We did not take Dooley the Delinquent with us on this trip. And I regretted it when we set off someone's dog alarm. Dooley would have been right in his element with not one, not two, but FOUR dogs to howl at. So, in Dooley's honor, we decided to bark at them in a Dooley-like manner. I don't know what we said, but it worked. We shortly had all four of them howling at us. From a safe distance, of course.



I kept trying to come up with something musical to plug in here. I was looking at these dogs, and remembering the noise they made, and with the little high pitched one in the middle, and the tenor under the boards I was reminded of "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young". Except I was thinking maybe this would be more like "Four Dog Night ". But I couldn't make the analogy work so I gave up on it.

I don't know if it's a seasonal thing that is causing this, but we saw a number of these interesting looking little jellyfish on this trip. We have seen one of these before. La Gringa found one on the beach on North Caicos on our Bottle Creek by Boat trip. They are not very big, but we have learned to treat all these sea creatures with some respect. The most innocuous looking things can sting. In fact, most of them do. Unless they bite. But you can count on them doing one or the other. These things...well, they seem to have a lot of parts.



Realizing that the little point-and-shoot camera is water resistant, Jon took it wading to see if he could get a better photo of the jellyfish. And he came up with this one:



Now, to me, that thing looks more like a steamed vegetable than an animal. A sort of "mushroom & broccoli monster" to hide under the bed and haunt a fussy eater's nightmares. In any case, we didn't touch it. Not on this particular outing, anyhow. We messed with a few of them a couple days later though. I'll put that in the next post, too. Think 'mixmaster'.

This time of year we tend to get a lot of clouds, which make for some pretty varied sunsets. This one wasn't particularly spectacular, but when I first saw it the pinkish cloud looked like some cherubic face peeking down on Providenciales.



Of course the way these things go, by the time I got the camera out and booted up, the shape I thought I saw had changed. But if you use your imagination, squint your eyes just right and mentally go back in time about five or ten minutes from when this was taken......maybe you can understand what it was I thought I saw.



I mean, this cloud had eyebrows and lips. Oh well, you had to be there.

On another kayak trip we decided to go check out "Two Fingers". This is the catamaran that our friend Jay Stubbs had moored inside a mangrove swamp last year to protect it from Hurricanes Hanna and Ike. I had posted a photo of it taken on another excursion a few months back. This is what Two Fingers looked like in March - six months ago:



This is a tried and true method of protecting boats with shallow draft from hurricanes. You put them in a thick area of mangroves, with lines running all directions. As bad as the storm gets, there's really no place for the boat to get blown to. Mangroves are springy. The bottom is soft and silty. And in water this shallow, it's not going to sink. But in this case, Hurricane Ike's 150 mph winds actually snapped the mast off the boat.

We noticed that "Two Fingers" is still sitting in the mangrove swamp a year after the storms, so we peddled and paddled in to take a closer look. The hulls seemed to still be in good shape, but the rigging is a mess:



It looks like most of the parts are there, and I know Jay would be interested in selling this boat if anyone feels like taking on a new project. I had considered it, but I just have too many other things going on right now to tackle something of this magnitude. Anyhow, if we get a sailboat, (WHEN we get a sailboat. I should try to keep positive about this.) it will most likely either be a fun beach cat like a Hobie that we can trailer or something big enough to live on for a week. Which we can't trailer.



The owner of "Two Fingers" also owns "Arielle", one of Sail Provo's day charter boats. "Arielle" has become a standard stop for us in the kayak. It's the only place around to get out of the sun for a few minutes.



And freshly sunburned visitors from the far North seem to really appreciate the cool breeze that blasts between the hulls at water level:



The clouds give us some nice sunrises and sunsets to take photos of but they also mean we get a fair number of afternoon thunderstorms and squalls this time of year. It helps to keep the cisterns full, but also tends to make scheduling outdoor stuff for the afternoons a chancy thing. We had planned to kayak on this day, for example, right about under where this weather was developing:



Typical summer weather, thunderstorms one minute, and then it clears and gets tropical-sun-HOT and humid. The Trade Winds make the sun seem less intense than it really is. The air temp rarely gets much above 90 degrees, but standing in the sun bareheaded for any amount of time can make you light-headed. Even the Haitian landscaping guys try to keep in the shade this time of year:



"Hey man, LOVE yer hat!"


(hat photos by La Gringa. I am terrible with people. She is not.)

One of the positive aspects of living on a small island is that heading to a beach to cool off, even on a cloudy muggy day, only takes a few minutes.



While I had strong young son here, I took advantage of the manpower to get the second piece of La Gringa's office finished and carted up the hill. These things are heavy.



It probably doesn't show in the photo, but in an effort to liven up this plain furniture we asked Brenton at the paint store to mix a bright green into the primer we used. We wanted a good 'stain-killer' sealant on this wood. And then the top coat is tinted blue. And we took some fine sandpaper and sanded through the blue on the edges so that the green shows through.




Kinda like wearing the blue paint thin on purpose. There must be a name for this, but I don't know what it is. The desired result is rustic furniture which I guess by definition is exactly what we have here. With some tropical colors, of course. I think I saw something similar once with an old piece done with what's called milk paint. More pastel, though. We are going for retinal shock here.

I had originally planned to stain and polyurethane this stuff in wood grain, but painting it made so much more sense and was easier. The first pass version had looked like this, on SketchUp "paper":



But that design had to change a little bit. There was not enough support in the center of it all. I had to be able to build this thing in pieces small enough to handle. Oh, and of course we decided to start using a lot more color. So, what actually has evolved looks more like this:



And now I only need to build the 12 foot long desk portion, and it will be green with the blue showing through for a change, and will fit between the two blue pieces and I can move my little laptop off the dining room table, and into the office. And then I can build a new dining room table. A colorful, simple one, of course. We plan to continue this solid, rustic, tropical furniture theme.

Oh, for sure we broke a sweat getting that thing up the Sherpa trail we call a driveway. And we turned La Gringa's office into a momentary shambles moving stuff out of the way to get it in:



I have cut holes in the shelves, etc. and eventually, all those cables and wires will be run through and under things. Out of sight. Nice and neat.

Well, realizing that this post has drifted dangerously close to some DIY stuff here, I am going to stop it at this point. I will cram all the latest DIY drivel into its own post. Get it all into one place where it will be concentrated and easy to ignore. But I don't want to leave it out entirely. DIY stuff is a very, very major part of living on a small, tropical island in another country.

But then, so are the sunsets.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Rust never sleeps"

A friend had an old chevy truck and our favorite saying was, " on a quiet night we could hear it rust".

Anonymous said...

Good to hear from ya'll! Bring on the DIY post!

Travis
RiverRunner

Anonymous said...

Gringo, I have been looking over your local paper, it seems like you all have a alot of crime down there ?

francis said...

What a BEAUTIFUL site-such a treat when you can't go yourself-wonderful photos!! Thanks so much , Francis http://www.geothermalquestions.net

Jay said...

Thanks for the latest update Gringo. LaGringas desk is looking good. I like the color choice.

Anonymous said...

the paint finish is known as 'distressed' probably like the sherpas carrying the thing up the hill!

the jelly fish - is it an 'upside down jelly fish' but upside down if you get my drift?

Brad said...

The kayak must have been a good therapy choice for you after the knee surgery; it has also been great for us to view the wonderings of your choice from a lower to the water perspective. Very enjoyable to view the pictures where you live, we are just now entering our fall season here in the PNW. So I will be relying on them island living pictures to help us thru the coming winter. Keep em coming please
Brad

Anonymous said...

Hi Gringo...

I just thought I'd chime in on "Anonymous'" post about crime in T&C. We have property in Grand Cayman (which we plan to build and move to "Gringo" style soon), and while not T&C, I believe both islands share some similarities - notably in the past a blissful lack of crime. Currently, when one looks over our newspapers there, crime has been rampant lately. Robberies and shootings with some Ganja mixed in for good measure. I don't know whether it is only now making it into the news or if it is an unfortunate symptom of the recession but I think all of our favorite island places are suffering right now... That being said, we live near Toronto, Canada and truthfully, the crime is still not *that* bad!!

Love your blog!!

Anonymous said...

Naw, Gringo, didn't have to be there at all: 'cept for the weak chin, it looks like a Jimmy Durante caricature. (Who else could it be, with a schnoz like that?!)

gw

Sandy Rodley said...

Hi Gringo
I will be visiting T & C in Oct at Beaches resort for a couple of days. Thanks to your postings I cant wait to see the sunrises and sunsets. Any good suggestions for must sees and do's?
Best be prepared for HOT weather?

Mara H. Redden said...

Love the sunset and rises !!!
LOVE the dogs !
And the office looks FAB ! Can you come to Ojai?
Oh and the jellyfish from in the water is incredible and yes it does look edible !

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog.

A question though: I also live very near the water (75 ft) and have to run the AC during the humid summer here in NC. How do you keep the inside of your home dry?

Dire Straits

Francis Bell said...

WOW!!!Great blogsite-I really enjoyed the pictures! Thank you for brightening my day-Francis http://www.geothermalquestions.net

Gringo said...

Okay, it's been another busy week of DIY after DIY, with a couple notable kayak trips thrown in. It's raining and blowing squalls this morning so I will put up another post.

As for the crime, I know it seems like there is a lot. And yes, we have seen an increase lately. But when thinking back over the four years we have lived here, I remember other such crime increases.

I think what happens is that a couple bad guys get semi-organized and start committing crimes. They get away with a couple, and step it up. Eventually, someone turns them in (this is a small country) and they get arrested, and then the crime spree is over for a while. I really think that when these things flare up, it's usually the work of just a handful of known criminals practicing their vocation.

The government is about to kick something like 2000 foreign workers out of the country due to lack of work, and this might help the crime statistics a bit.

But in any case, I don't think there is more crime here than there is in a town of say, forty thousand people in the USA. The difference is that the crime in the USA is more or less constant, and doesn't generate headlines. An armed robbery or similar here is big news, and gets front page coverage.

Gringo said...

Okay, it's been another busy week of DIY after DIY, with a couple notable kayak trips thrown in. It's raining and blowing squalls this morning so I will put up another post.

As for the crime, I know it seems like there is a lot. And yes, we have seen an increase lately. But when thinking back over the four years we have lived here, I remember other such crime increases.

I think what happens is that a couple bad guys get semi-organized and start committing crimes. They get away with a couple, and step it up. Eventually, someone turns them in (this is a small country) and they get arrested, and then the crime spree is over for a while. I really think that when these things flare up, it's usually the work of just a handful of known criminals practicing their vocation.

The government is about to kick something like 2000 foreign workers out of the country due to lack of work, and this might help the crime statistics a bit.

But in any case, I don't think there is more crime here than there is in a town of say, forty thousand people in the USA. The difference is that the crime in the USA is more or less constant, and doesn't generate headlines. An armed robbery or similar here is big news, and gets front page coverage.

Anonymous said...

The jellyfish is a Cassiopeia Andromeda I think. We're seeing more of them 'swimming' here now, rather than hanging out on the bottom in inverted mode. Must be the time of year. And yeah... they'll sting ya!

Mike in Bda

goingtoprovo said...

Need another dose of sunshine, please!