Here’s an update to our decision making process as we move through this unstable time. The only thing that is stable is that we have no plan and we’re sticking to it. Or rather, we have many plans and aren’t sure which one will stick. Is that the same thing? It kind of feels like it to me. Overall, the plan is to get the boat back to Washington. But even that is looking wobbly. Would we even be able to work given the current situation? I can plan on going to bed at a reasonable hour tonight, and that’s pretty much it. Small victories.
Looks like we will be stuck in La Paz for longer than expected. Of course, this is the norm with La Paz (which we call La Pause). It seems like no matter how long you think you will be here, something comes up to keep you from leaving. I’m just going to lean into being here for now. After all, there’s really no hurry. Last time we were in this area we refused to even come into La Paz for fear of getting stuck. We anchored outside of the canal and hitched a ride into town, then Übered back to our boat. It worked. We were only at anchor for a night, then we left. This time we risked entering the bay and now we are at anchor outside Marina de La Paz with no end in sight. We have a lot of little medical things to take care of and this is a place to do it. Things always take longer than we think. As things devolve rapidly here in Mexico, we just try to keep our heads above water.
Like all of the rest of you at home, we’re getting used to life throwing us curve balls on the regular. What stays the same is that everything changes daily. So today we walked several miles down to the CONANP office for the Revilligagados Islands, those offshore islands that seem like they would be the best place to be completely isolated from the world. We’ve looked forward to those for months. We wanted hard copies of our permit. The park ranger (is that what they are called here?) had a worried look on his face as he realized who we were. Yes, we are the boat Galapagos that has that permit and plans to sail to Hawaii, that’s us, sir. He looked at the floor in the way that Mexicans do when they have to tell you some bad news. Mexicans hate to share bad news with you. It makes them feel sad. The bad news is he was just on the phone with the Mexican Navy and they are closing the islands to visitors because of the virus. He was very sorry. Very, very sorry. Things could change for the better, or not, or for the worse, or not. Who knows now in this time of compulsive hand washing?
Well, our disappointment is huge. What else could possibly happen now?
Oh, I’ll tell you what else. While we were in the dermatologist’s office (no findings, and he complimented me on taking care of my skin, thanks be to the Divine one) I saw a post on Facebook referencing the fact that Mexico is no longer checking boats out of the country. WTF? I know this from two sources now that both say that in order for our boat to check out of the country and receive our Zarpe (the paper that tells the world we legally checked out of one country before entering another) we would have to take the boat all the way up to Ensenada, which is just south of Tijuana and many hundreds of miles upwind and current from Cabo San Lucas. Again, WTF? Many times I said this today. Many, many times. I said the full words, ok? I have all the best words.
Of course, we can choose to leave without checking out. After all, we are going home and legally home is where they have to take you in. But the issue is that we might like to come back to Mexico some day and leaving without saying goodbye is bad form. They might hold it against us regardless of the Corona Virus.
Then there is the fact we have crew aboard. It’s kind of unsettling to have crew when you aren’t sure you are going anywhere. Or how long it will take you to get there. But we enjoy his company so we are focusing on that. And when Ryan goes who will play Chess with Michael? Because it won’t be me.
Options swirl in our minds. I put more and more food on the boat, considering yet another trip to Walmart or the local Chedraui. How much more food can we squeeze onto this boat? How long will we need to be self-sufficient? Right now I’m going to say we could live for over two months on the food we currently have stockpiled and I’m probably not done yet because my mother grew up in the depression and I am genetically related to her. Nothing gives me pleasure like a well stocked larder.
Will Mexico soon have supply issues? Will we have grocery stores with nothing on the shelves like I see on social media from back home? Are those images overblown? Because there is a lot of food in Mexican stores. I know that there was a run on hand sanitizer here, though, and now you can’t find it at any price. Good thing we know how to actually wash with soap and water. Remember that? It still works. Do I need to buy toilet paper? I hear that’s quite the commodity lately. Maybe I better get more flour and yeast, and jarred tomato sauce. They import some delicious pesto here and it’s cheap. I will put together yet another list. Provisioning. I know how to do that. I can control that until the stores run out of food.
We have located a water maker and will probably buy it if we can agree on a price. It was a piece of equipment we convinced ourselves we wouldn’t need before we left the dock for this trip, but that was before armegeddon. It’s a Rainman and is new, never used, with all the bits and pieces accounted for. Plug and play. Seems like a good time to be able to make our own water, no?
We could throw ourselves on the mercy of the port captain here in La Paz, say we’re going home, please give us a zarpe and then we could just leave from here, skipping the Pacific side altogether. I wonder if that would work. There’s another boat planning the same trip as we are and they are worried about getting out of the country legally as well. I would really like to go back to the Pacific side one more time, but the population there is much denser and there are more active cases of the virus there. Still, I do live on a boat…I’m in natural isolation at almost all times.
We still consider Hawaii, but if that looks like a poor choice we could just do the clipper route, which means sail way out and do a big tack north, without touching land. The water maker would make that a doable option. It would be many weeks at sea, but talk about quarantine! I don’t know if our crew, Ryan, would be up for that. It’s a lot to ask of someone who has never done any kind of a passage before. And it’s not like he can change his mind in the middle of the sea. If we decide to do that he may need to bail on us and we would understand.
If it’s true that we have to go to Ensenada to check out, we could do a sail out from Cabo San Lucas and then a long tack north to Ensenada but we have not studied that possibility yet. I just know I hate bashing into wind and seas. It’s bad for the boat and it’s bad for crew. It’s just bad. Period. If I have to do it, I want to consider every single other option first.
The morning cruiser’s radio net is fascinating here. Each morning we are privy to the latest fears and myths circulating about this virus. The person whose job it is to keep the conversation focused on the agenda has a hard time lassoing people in and keeping them off the precipice of despair and conspiracy theories. Fake news flies across the radio waves faster than droplets of viral spittle. People get irritated, people tell other people to settle down and not drink the koolaid. We sit, amused and a little alarmed, in the cockpit; our morning entertainment over coffee. Meanwhile, Mexico is closing the national parks.
One of the local news websites for gringos had an article about how people are wearing facemasks in La Paz and how the word on the street is that they are blaming the gringos for bringing this virus to Mexico. Yeah, we are seeing some facemasks, especially from workers in the grocery store. Bottles of hand sanitizer by each door, too. The article stated that the locals were giving the gringos a wider berth than usual. Huh. I call bullshit on that. We’ve been out and about all week and have had no experiences like that at all. Everyone is their usual helpful selves. This website should not be spreading what amounts to nonsense. How are they measuring it anyhow? Pure bull hockey if you ask me and irresponsible as well. I refuse to link to their article.
What will tomorrow bring? Will Mexico close all the island parks as well? Will we have to stay here another year? The one thing we haven’t considered is putting the boat away and flying home. We live on the boat. We don’t have another place to live right now. Our house has other people in it. Our kids do not have room to harbor us for long periods of time. We like living on our boat. Also we live in Washington State, the hotbed of Corona Virus. i bet we are safer here. Why would we go there now, immediately, on an airplane? We plan to be back there in the summer. Hopefully this will have blown over by then. And if not, maybe we will be in Mexico another year after all. Could be worse. It could be raining.
So it’s a good thing we have nothing but time right now. We can wait and see what happens. Time’s going to pass whatever we do. Hope you are all staying well and washing your hands. Stop touching your faces, too.