Thursday, November 7, 2013




You feel pretty continuously grungy on a boat.  Salt, not washing, washing with a very limited amount of fresh water only and so on.

It was time for me to get a bath.  In my underwear and standing on the back of the boat I soaped up then jumped into the water for a bit of exercise.  Paddle around within a meter of the boat ladder.

Ever watch a cute kid walking around with that kind of 'spaced out wonder' that sends you back to thinking of your childhood?  And as he's walking past you in the park he just wallops hell out of your groin with his metal Tonka truck he was carrying?  Having nature try to kill you suddenly and unexpectedly is a lot like that.

Surprise and pain.

So I was floundering around in the water and the weather came up.  Very suddenly.  The tide swept me away from the boat - fortunately toward the shore.  Mind you, it doesn't take a lot of current to prevent me from swimming the direction I want to go.

I yelled to the captain who encouraged me to swim toward the boat until he saw I couldn't make it.  Then, he told me to swim to shore.  Hell, I didn't think I could make that either.

Eventually, I swam the short distance to shore and waited for several minutes as Bernard secured the boat.  The boat is always the first concern in such cases.

Eventually, he came and got my exhausted ass in the dingy.

Scary as hell being stuck on an island in your underwear.


To avoid sunburn I could feel starting, the shirt came back on but not the pants.  Since my 'operation shorts' had been destroyed, I emulated one of my role models 'Quinn the Pantless' (NERO reference) and only wore underwear from the time of my near drowning until we docked.

Though it made me feel a bit sorry for everyone else.

Not sorry enough to put on my damned pants, however.


Remember the Kuna from before?  Well, they seem to own (ie were granted by and subsidized) all the islands in the area.  They have a set of 'vacation home' islands as well.  They aren't particularly nice - they are smaller than the island shown in 'Castaway' and have a hut on them.  The Kuna wait something like five years to be able to take their turn to go stay there.

The reason this is a 'super special' thing for them is that tourist boats pass by and often stop at the islands.

Yes, it's a chance to make some money.

So we anchored near one and the captain was telling us we could go hang out on the island.  I'm pondering buying some overpriced ($2) beers and chilling on land to drink them.

Like many islands, it looked much better from a distance than up close.  The palm trees surrounded what looked to be a charming little hut.  When you got closer, it appeared to be a disease ridden shack you'd want to torch rather than live in - as do many of the Kuna homes.

The old guy whose temporarily in charge wants $2 per person just to be on his island.

What the fuck.

The others and I seem to be in agreement and we're back on the boat.

Something disappointing about poor tribesmen just with their handout as opposed to doing some sort of rudimentary business that would net them more money.

I must confess that I did take this picture of his island then yell "I've gotten a picture of your island for free!  HA!" or something along those lines.


I did forget to mention that the Kuna can be distinguished by their shins and forearms quite easily.  In their culture, having thin shins and forearms is considered attractive.   Like a fat girl who buys new shoes to be pretty instead of just dropping 20 KG, they tightly wrap multicolored bands of thread around their forearms and shins to keep them thin.  I've no idea if it's unhealthy or not but didn't much care either.

In addition to wanting to charge people for setting foot on tiny islands, the Kuna do come around with goods in boats.  One came with some of the moas (quilted or sewn stuff):

"You want to buy one?"

"If I can't carry it, I don't need it and I'm carrying enough."

"You could buy it as a gift?"

"Don't have anyone I like that much."

Oh the looks I get.

If he had beer and nibbles, we may have done some business.

Now to be fair, the Kuna do sometimes bring by fresh fish or crab.  If the smell of seafood didn't make me sick I might have been more excited.   Captain Bernard often bought fresh fish and crab from the natives.  He would buy three crab for ten dollars which I was told is less than a quarter price of a restaurant.

In addition to trying to sell goods, we did have a couple Kuna show up and demand water.  Not a small amount - they had their own large drum with them.  The captain dutifully filled and returned it.  I asked him about it and he told me there was a 'fraternity' at sea.  I'm wondering if that was the Kuna tax.

In the next blog, we set sail (er - use the motor - not enough wind) for the dangerous open sea.  Stay tuned.


Since fresh(-ish) water is a stored, valuable commodity, you need to start the wash with salt water.  Either sit on the back steps if you are anchored or use the nifty bucket with knotted rope to get the salt water.  After scrubbing them off with that, rinse with fresh.


I really hated this toilet.  It looks big in the picture but if you're over age ten it's a small target.  If you are a fat bastard you need to squeeze the business end of your ass into a very small and uncomfortable spot and start shitting.

Once you've managed to get rid of the crap, it's time to manually pump out the waste.  To the right of the toilet is a gray handle.  You pump slowly to get all the shit out.  If it doesn't all go out, you flip the gray switch to 'fill the tank', pump to fill it and then flip it back to 'drain' and keep pumping.

For those who don't like to discuss poop or have others know they poop, I'll bet this is a nightmare.  Everyone on the boat knows you used the toilet as you're spending a couple minutes down there with a noisy slow barely working pump trying to get rid of the shit.

But wait!  There's more!

You may still have shit in your ass!  How do we get rid of that?  We can't use toilet paper!  No - we need to spray it out with a hose that has enough water pressure to dribble out the water in a depressed fashion.

So you need one hand to hold your ass open, one hand to work the sprayer and another to scrub out your ass.

Aside from a few three handed freaks who regard this as 'no big deal'
you are now stuck juggling three things you'd rather not.

Knowing my readers as I do there will be a certain percentage that go try this out in their bathroom.  If your bathroom isn't moving like a slow moving bucking bronco, you haven't had the full 'flavor' experience yet.

And when I was sailing the seas were 'dead calm'.  I can't even imagine the fun of trying this in rough seas!

But enough with my coprophilia.


There really doesn't seem to be any.  This is a bit confusing for me.  Everyone just leaves their crap on their boats and wanders off.  Natives wander around on their boats.  My guess would be that the natives don't rob the boats because if they did people would stop coming to their area and buying stuff from them.


Most of what you do at sea seems to be 'wait'.  You wait until you can go do something else.

This irritated the fuck out of me.  I'm the kind of person who likes to always be doing something.  With my lifestyle, I have plenty of time to think about stuff in silence already.  Activities which encourage this are quite a bummer.

Living aboard a boat doesn't seem to be for the crippled or weak.  The captain is routinely dirty from messing with the engines, anchor, plumbing and so on.  He works his rear off.

A boat would make an excellent money pit.  You see, boats quite naturally want to have everything go wrong with them and then sink into the ocean.  Only someone messing with the boat all of the time and the power of money can keep the boat from following what it wants to do.  Sometimes even these are not enough but in general if you have enough people working on the boat and throw enough money at it, you will get days if not weeks of service from one.  Till it wants more.

If you're a non-smoker on a small boat, you may be fucked.   Smoking in the pilot house during inclement weather (more often than you think) is quite normal as is smoking in the open air.


With the exception of the two wildly overpriced countries (Panama and Costa Rica), the rest had just blended together.  Same basic architecture, food and people.

Overall, Central America seems a bit pricey for what you get.  [Note for those people who think it's just Logan saying this, fuck off, it is not that uncommon to hear from other tourists as well.]

I can't think of anything which would bring me back to Central America.  Been there, done that, done with that.  It made me miss SE Asia where I could get a much better meal for a third of the price and lodging for about two thirds of the price.


"The laid back lifestyle."

Ah.  Saying this brings up images of
laying in a hammock, enjoying the day as time slips by.  Maybe ordering a drink from a passing waiter...

Oh - wait - the waiter is no where to be found.  They are off talking with their friends and ignoring the customers who have all entered the first stages of dehydration.

And the hammock?   Yeah - it actually looks like this
simply because nobody would be bothered to repair or replace it.

When people think about the 'laid back lifestyle' they are thinking about a simpler life for them.  They are not thinking about lazy, incompetent or inept people that may want to have preform a service for them - like fix a toilet.

I'd rather live in a place where the people aren't trying to live a half assed 'idylic lifestyle'.  Translation, they don't work much and are paid appropriately hence they are always poor.

If you're on a vacation, which is more relaxing?  Being tended to or having to go do stuff yourself?  Hell, you've probably already paid big money to get there and since you are on vacation you don't have to work anyway.

Think about that next time you hear someone advertising the natives of a place you were thinking about going on vacation live a 'laid back lifestyle'...

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{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

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{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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