Month: October 2016

Exploring Old san Juan

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For my birthday yesterday we thought we’d explore Old San Juan. The Ford Expedition we rented from Target rental has been perfect for our sized group. Our first stop was to Castillo San Cristobal, built by Spain to protect against attacks on San Juan. It was finished in 1773 and covers about 27 acres, and is the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the new world.

In 1521 San Juan was founded by Spanish settlers from Caparra.

In 1595 the English attacked and failed miserably, and when fleeing took some prisoners but no treasure – which is what they were after. They attacked again three years later and failed again. Additional construction was added to the fort.

In 1625 the Dutch attacked and took San Juan from the land side and constructed large forms of defense on the land side to prevent attacks from there.

While walking through the vast tunnels, one can’t help but notice how solid and permanent the structure feels.

In the dungeon, drawings on the walls can still be seen, where prisoners sketched ships and wrote of their travels.

Some of the large rooms have big openings, allowing the cool ocean breeze to enter.

In the central court yard, you’re completely protected by towering walls.

In the upper open areas that overlook the ocean, huge piles of cannon balls are neatly stacked and ready.

We watched over the wall facing the ocean as a Coast Guard helicopter demonstrated the retrieval of a victim.

While in the lower court yard we saw an iguana, and watched him for a few minutes.

Looking through one of the arched windows into Old San Juan we could see the huge crowd gathered to watch an airshow.

We walked out and down the streets paved in blue bricks, which are from the ships ballasts.

Airshows are always a family favorite for us, and leaves everyone wanting to take flying lessons from Danny.

The streets of Old San Juan are lined with colorful homes in neat rows – all connected like a giant assortment of crayons.

Danny, Jake and Aidan rode their skateboards all over th place! Emma and Jude showed us some of their skills too.

We ate passion fruit and coconut ice cream from a friendly street vendor, and a man walked up and placed two iguanas on Kjira’s shoulder.

Kjira and Mycah compared skin shades and decided that Alaska has left Kjira whiter than ever before!

We had such an amazing day with our creatures, and love them so much. What a fantastic group of individuals!!!

Kjira is here!!!

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We drove into San Juan to pick Kjira up at the airport, and on the way stopped at Aidan’s favorite skate shop, called El Skate & Bike House. The owners name is Gilbert Marrero and he is the greatest guy. A professional skater with a big heart and loads of passion. He even gave the kids each a free T-shirt with his logo on it. His instagram is @elskateandbikehouse . As we left he made sure we understand that we are family now.

We are so excited to have Kjira with us too now! Danny and I are loving having 6 of our creatures with us, and we wish the other 5 could come too.

On the way home we stopped at a Puerto Rican restaurant to try their traditional Mofongo, which is a dish made with plantain. Usually it is crushed in a guaycan, which is a wooden mortar and mixed with broth, garlic and olive oil. It looks like off colored mashed potatoes with skirt steak or shrimp served over it.

Mycah had a sandwich made with plantain rather than bread.

Aidan was served his meal in a little bowl made of plantains. All the food was so delicious.

When we awoke this morning I was busy doing some things around the boat, and walked over to Jude and Kjira’s room to find all the creatures that were awake conversing and laughing together. What a beautiful sight. I will never get tired of the way they love each other so much.

Danny worked on some projects on Tanda Malaika, one of them being installing an outlet in the stern salon. He cut a hole through the fiberglass,

fished all the wires and nonsense through,

and after hooking everything up, he finished it off with a spiffy looking cover. What a talented guy!

This evening Jake and Mycah have been singing karaoke to us. They have gorgeous voices. I tried to post a couple videos to my Facebook.
I love our family, and the love we have between us.

Jake is here!!!

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We were so excited to drive to San Juan to pick Jake up today. The weather was good and the traffic not too bad.

We greeted him at the airport with big hugs and great excitement. It is so good to see his handsome smile and sweet face. We’re so thrilled to have him with us.

Back here at Palmas del Mar at the Juanjo Yacht Club, we showed him around Tanda Malaika and got him settled into his berth. This has been one of the best marinas we have been in. It is so clean and organized and the staff are extremely helpful. This morning I spoke with the manager asking him advice on what the best approach is to schedule a couple of doctors appointments for the creatures, and he took care of it – arranging everything for me. The facility here is spacious with nice wide docks and well kept grounds.

They have the fanciest laundry room I’ve ever seen at a marina, and it’s even air conditioned!

A beautiful swimming pool overlooking the ocean is available to guests, where we cooled off this evening.

I highly recommend this place to all my cruising friends. It’s a great location in Puerto Rico because it’s the perfect kick off point to leave from to sail out and explore the Spanish Virgin Islands.

This evening we found a cute little friend… A good sized helmet crab!

We set him free outside.

We are so excited for tomorrow evening because Kjira will be arriving. Having 6 of our 11 children on the boat will be so wonderful. We wish all 11 could be here, but we’ll take what we can get. Our Idaho family has arrived home safely, and for that we are grateful.

It’s been a good day.

Reflecting

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The creatures and I drove my Mom, Bernadine and Gabriel to the San Juan airport this morning so they could catch their flights home. Danny stayed on the boat to get some work done.

It took me a second to get back into the groove as far as driving is concerned. I realized this when I saw Bernadine grab the ‘oh crap’ handles a couple of times when a curb jumped in the way as I drove.
We really loved having the three of them on the boat with us, and look forward to when we see each other again. We are so excited to be picking our son, Jake, up at the airport tomorrow, and our daughter, Kjira, the next day!More fun times ahead on Tanda Malaika!!!

The creatures and I had a list of errands to run, so we started at the top and and spent the remainder of the day accomplishing them. The place the creatures were most excited to go to, was Costco. In fact, many a night watch has been spent with them fantasizing about what they’d like to eat there. Samples, hot dogs, provolone sandwiches, chicken baked something or other, pizza and more samples!

Jude has been saving up, and purchased herself a beautiful new Nikon d5500 camera at Costco, which she is excited to create beautiful art with. When we returned to the rental car to load the groceries, we noticed that her and Mycah’s backpacks were missing. After searching high and low and realizing that they’d been stolen from the locked car, we called security and the police. Costco had no exterior video cameras. Jude lost her GoPro and wallet and Mycah lost her GoPro, Nikon and wallet.

The male policeman that came to help was on his first day back at work from having been off to recover from a gun shot wound to his chest. He had entered a bank during a bank robbery and shot both criminals, killing one of them, but not before being shot in the chest. He said that most crime in Puerto Rico is committed by Colombians, and hardly ever by locals.

Even though it has been a busy day, my mind has focused primarily on my brother. Today marks the one year mark of his death. The only thing that seems to bring me peace is looking through photos of his last couple of weeks when his brain tumors were causing him so much pain, and I feel gratitude that he is free from that. I miss him so much. I miss the way he called me names every time he called, the way we made each other laugh, and the way we always felt each others emotions without needing to verbally voice them. I am so grateful that I got to hold his hand all the way through his last breath.

Happy Birthday Danny!

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Today has been Danny’s birthday. I usually have no problem coming up with words to write, but when I think of him I find I am speechless.I am so completely in love with this guy!

We have only been married for 2 1/2 years, and before we were married we’d known each other for 4 years. When we married I loved him so much, I loved his laugh and his humor and I loved how sweet he was with the creatures. I hoped we would grow old together, learning and loving. A year ago tonight I sat with my brother, who was my best friend, as he lay breathing his last hours of breath. The hole that was being ripped through my heart was, in my mind, irreparable. I would never recover from the loss and agony.
Especially over this last year, Danny has become my hero, my lighthouse and shelter in the storm. I have seen empathy, sympathy and love from him that is so warm that I have been able to immerse myself in it and feel his healing sweetness. I have taken his hand as he has patiently reached for me and pulled me from exhaustedly treading in the thick, endless abyss of deep sorrow. From the heavy aching that left me gasping, he has parted the darkness and gently pulled me into a new beginning in which he teaches me to fly and to breath. We are companions, friends, adventurers, humanitarians, we are parents, soul mates, best friends, lovers and working partners. I love him with all that I am and ever will be and I know we will grow old together, and continue to love each other a little deeper every day. I am the luckiest woman in the world.
Happy Birthday Darling, and thank you. I am so grateful you were born.

Salinas to Palmas del Mar

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We continued sailing east today, and a little to the north along the coast of Puerto Rico. It rained much of the night and continued to rain on and off throughout the day. All through the night, lightening and thunder boomed around us, and at one point the girls came in to tell Danny that the plug by the microwave was smoking. He went to turn off the AC power but the breaker had already switched, and after pulling the plug from the wall, one could see the black marks and melted plastic. We thought at first we’d been hit by lightening, but all the rest of the boats electronics were fine.

Some may think the scenes from today to be dreary, but I thought it was beautiful, and for the first time in a long time, nice and cool due to Katabatic winds. Danny taught me about these fancy pants winds while he and I sat at the helm. They are a drainage wind that carries air from high elevation down a slope forced by gravity. They are commonly known as Fall winds.

As we neared Palmas del Mar, in the distance we could see a heavy rainstorm, and skirted around it. I love the way it looks when rain is falling on the ocean.

Once it cleared for the most part, we once again sailed a little closer to land, and I was reminded of scenes from when I hiked a cloud forest in Ecuador a few years ago.

The community surrounding our marina is an interesting one. About 3500 condo’s and homes surround it, half of which are year round residents.

We like the look of the cave at the entrance!

So here we are, safely tied to the dock in the marina, and thinking about all our sweet friends who are in Hurricane Matthews path. Danny is supposed to fly to Miami for a couple of days on the 5th, but at this point who knows if that’s going to happen. The 5th is also the day that my mom, Bernadine and Gabriel fly home.Tonight we pray for those in Cuba and Haiti…

Ponce to Salinas, PR

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Today is my Mom and Gabriel’s birthdays. We are grateful for them both and so glad they are here to share it with us.Before setting sail for Salinas, we thought we’d walk the boardwalk in Ponce. As we exited the dinghy we noticed many tarpon taunting the pelicans, knowing they were too big for them to eat.

I took these photos of the pelicans and they looked at me as if I was nothing but a nuisance, and were absolutely board to death by my presence.

Gabriel, Aidan, Emma and Jude rode their skateboards around until we came across a gentleman selling coconut and passion fruit sorbet. It is important to support the local economy!

Danny is a ninja boarder too.

We are loving Emma’s hair color. I have to photograph it a bunch before it all washes out! What a beauty!!!

A bit farther down the boardwalk, Danny came across a sign…..he’s so subtle when he’s hinting.

Emma pointed it out too! Needless to say, they carried their boards

We enjoyed lazying around for a while, then set out sailing once again.

The creatures love their Ouma!

The sail to Salinas was about 18 nm, and the ocean was a lot calmer today than yesterday.

We finally pulled into the beautiful anchorage in Salinas, and anchored our girl. The mountains surrounding us are so beautiful.

Since we are celebrating two birthdays we thought we’d eat out tonight, and all enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Salinas Marina Restaurant. Bernadine flirted with the locals as usual…

We continue to watch hurricane Matthew move toward Jamaica and the Bahamas, and pray for the many beautiful people we’ve rubbed shoulders with there. Wilhelmina from Crooked Island sent me a video clip today as they prepare to be hit. It just breaks our hearts, knowing that they have lost so much already and are barely getting their feet on the ground from the last hurricane that ripped their community apart. I wish we could be there to help them. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Sailing to Guilligan’s Island and Ponce, Puerto Rico

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This morning we set sail for Isla Guilligan.

Even though Hurricane Matthew has past, we still feel the effects of it. Before long into our sail, winds were around 31 knots and some swells were around 10 ft. The sky was a gorgeous grey and the ocean a brilliant turquoise. What a combination!

After about 10 nm, we arrived at Guilligan’s Island. There’s not much on the island itself, but the beautiful clear bay there is a wonderful place to snorkel around.

The sea grass was thick and rich…a turtles dream buffet, and I came across a beautiful little sea anemone and found tons of operculum, which are usually difficult to find.

An Operculum is a small ‘lid’ found in gastropods that closes the opening of the shell when the creature has retracted, which protects the soft body. They are hard like a shell and have a beautiful spiral pattern on one side. We collected a couple hundred of them.
When we returned to Tanda Malaika, we played for a few minutes, then began our 15 nm voyage to Ponce.

While en route we dyed Emma’s hair purple. Due to our amphibious lifestyle, it will wash out quickly, but it’s pretty while it lasts.

We passed by several beautiful shorelines and islands, one of which had a light house on it. The scene was so picturesque.

At sunset we anchored in Ponce. Music was playing loudly from someplace on shore, and yellow lights glowed from the boardwalk. We’ll call this home for tonight, and tomorrow continue on after exploring for a short while. It is Gabriel and my Mom’s birthdays tomorrow, so South African pancakes are in order!