Day: December 26, 2015

Christmas in Mexico

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On Christmas Eve, the 12 of us set out on foot to find an ice cream shop. Since I’d been here before, I knew there was Nutella flavored ice cream somewhere on this island, and we were going to find it! We walked for about 15-20 minutes into town, while Danny rode a bicycle due to a sore foot, and there, next to the town square, we found the treasure.

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Out on the streets, people were excitedly shopping for their final gifts, the smell of food  filled the air from taco stands and children laughed as they ran in between their parents legs while they gathered in groups to converse. A large Christmas tree stood tall in the square, with a beautiful Nativity to its side. These were happy sounds in beautiful surroundings.

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As a family we decided that this would be a different Christmas than those we’d had in the past. Rather than focusing on physical gifts, we wanted to set aside gift exchange between us, and in its place, find humanitarian work to do, and focus on gifts of love for others. Online I found an orphanage close by, where we will go and help in any way we can. They have 35-40 children there, including some with special needs.

On Christmas morning I cooked everyone pancakes and bacon and prepared some fresh paw paw, and everyone loved it. Danny was especially excited for the bacon. After eating we took the creatures out and played in the water for a while. The current is so strong here, and at one point Danny had to go on a ‘rescue mission’ in the dinghy to tow a bunch of kids back to the marina.

I made a big potato salad and Emma baked a cake for the marina Christmas pot luck. Shad and Denise and their creatures joined us as we had quite the feast along with about 50 other people. Everyone mingled and enjoyed each others company, and finally with full  bellies we lay on the trampoline and talked till after sunset.

(I have so many photos to share but my camera seems to be having some issues. )

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The clouds were so beautiful. A thick, bright golden glow shone from them as they spread out above the starboard side of Tanda Malaika.

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The creatures trickled in after a while, hinting about more ice cream, so we all made our way into town once again for round two.

Time came for goodbyes, and each of us gave Skyler an extra long hug. I whispered to her how much I love her through teary eyes, as did Jude, Emma and Mycah, and we walked back to our home talking about how much we miss her already. I loved spending that time with my sweet sister, Denise, and her awesome husband, Shad. We hope they will return to us soon so that we can sail the Eastern Caribbean together.

 

Passage to Isla Mujeres

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We wanted to set sail as early as possible, but waited patiently for the package to arrive. Tanda Malaika was prepped and ready for the journey, so we took advantage of the time and played for a bit. The creatures broke out the paddle boards and Danny and I towed them around behind the dinghy. While out playing we were called on the radio and told that the package was in Roatan, but was on the other side of the Island and would only be delivered to us next week. So, we set sail.

 

From the moment we raised the sails to the time we pulled in to port, we had fantastic winds. It became obvious shortly after setting out that the winds were strong enough that we needed to reef the main, and after a while we reefed the jib as well. With two reefs in each sail, we averaged 9 to 10 knots, sometimes reaching up to almost 15 knots. Winds were 20 to 30 knots and the seas were rough. Huge swells came from the East as we sailed North, putting us on a beam reach, and Tanda Malaika took it all in stride as she rose and fell over swells and billowed beautifully in her sails. Ocean spray would reach 10 ft high as it swept up over the bow and periodically those on watch at the helm would be sprayed as water fanned out over the starboard hull. It was exhilarating! The power of the wind and ocean is something to be respected, and is so amazing to experience as we use it to drive us around the world.

A sea bird found refuge on Tanda Malaika, tucking its head into the warmth beneath it’s wing, and only left us as we passed Cancun.

What should have taken us 2 1/2 days, took us 1 1/2, and at about 2am yesterday morning we pulled in to El Milagro Marina in Isla Mujeres and dropped anchor. Both  vessel and crew were covered with salt, and after quick showers we snuggled down in our berths and rested soundly till morning.

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Skyler’s family were already in Isla Mujeres waiting for her, but she didn’t know it, and when Danny and I set out in the dinghy to check in at the dock, they were there excitedly waiting. They piled into the dinghy with us and Skyler was quite surprised to see them as we pulled up to the stern.

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The slip that we were assigned, is probably about 27ft wide, and Tanda Malaika is 25ft wide. Water is extremely shallow, barely deep enough for our 4 1/2 draft, and the wind was blowing pretty hard, so Danny had to use his amazing ninja Captain skills to back us in to the dock. It’s time to get settled in and explore our surroundings, and to find out more about the humanitarian work opportunities around us.