My Life As An Amobea

The 49th Parallel Ladysmith lies on the 49th parallel. This rock sits on the beach a little to the south where it was deposited during the last period of global warming
The 49th Parallel
Ladysmith lies on the 49th parallel of latitude. This granite and quartz boulder sits on the beach a little to the south where it was deposited almost perfectly by a glacier during the last period of global warming.
Now THAT'S a Boulder! It's the little guy underneath doing to heavy lifting.
Now THAT’S a Boulder!
It’s the little guy underneath doing the heavy lifting.

Last post I mentioned the Ides Of March. Now I’m living them. It’s snot funny! After eight days of gasping and gagging I descended into whimpish submission and made a doctor’s appointment to be told what I already knew. The sawbones advised me that I had pneumonia. So now I’m to trust in these colourful wee pills and to “Get plenty of rest.” I can’t lay down without coughing my lungs inside-out so I sit in a suspended state that is neither sleep nor wakefulness and spend all day staring into a garden-slug beige-green mist, rasping out the next breath while sitting in my living room recliner, aka “The Stinky Chair”, and trying to maintain a state of mindless zen; neither dead nor alive. There are many kinds of courage I do not possess and enduring this state of nothingness is one of them. Writing this paragraph is the most ambitious thing I’ve done in a week. How do people endure a long illness? There is far too much time for introspection. I feel a tide of madness advancing up through the lethargy of this illness, the boredom, and the weakness to change anything. Imagine this, old Fred has lost his voice!

Rootbound Beach Ocean becoming forest, forest becoming ocean
Rootbound Beach
Ocean becoming forest, forest becoming ocean.

The cold rain continues to hammer in tedious monotony. Jack the dog maintains a state of hibernation all the while eager, at a moment’s notice, to bound out into the weather for a change. Any small outing is a grand adventure. I stagger frailly along paths far behind him, my chest squeaking and bubbling pathetically. How we take the fragile, teetering miracle of good health for granted! How I hope to be doing exactly that again soon. Last night my wife took me to a local Chinese restaurant for a bowl of wonton soup, a perfect tonic for my state. I opened the car window to spit another bit of lung out into the pelting wet of the night’s gale. The window wouldn’t close again! We returned home, I fixed the window, we went for another try at the soup. The fortune cookie was utterly inaccurate, I returned to my stinky chair. Everything on the television is beyond my idea of edification, enlightenment or simple non-offensive entertainment. Meanwhile, old ‘Seafire’ continues to languish at the dock, sadly tugging at her lines waiting for the next adventure. Coming soon, coming soon.

Don't shout at me! A very old arbutus tree, and still alive.
Don’t shout at me!
A very old arbutus tree, and still alive.

A week later, I’m still honking like a flock of geese. Things are improving slowly and I can actually sleep lying down again. Now Jill is sick, I’ve shared the wealth and she has spring break to recover. Gee thanks huh! I suppose a benefit of the misery of an illness is to be reminded what a truly fragile species we are. This is only a flu virus that is striking people down locally, it could easily be some other deadly microcosm wiping us out by the millions. It has happened before, many times. I maintain that there is one non-indigenous organism on this planet: us. If we don’t learn how to co-exist as the guests we truly are here, we may well come face to face with antibodies which will erase us from our tenuous and infectious invasion of the earth, the host we insist on exploiting far beyond our minimal needs. There is a natural order to the universe which will be ignored for only so long.

 The dead end...speaking of bikes and feeling poorly!
The dead end…speaking of bikes and feeling poorly!

All the while, my illness seems to have extended a negative karma elsewhere. Problems with my vehicle have had me crawling, repeatedly, underneath on the garage floor doing some nasty work over and over until the gremlin decided to quit fighting. The job was certainly not a cure for a chest infection! It’s extraordinary how a low time seems to attract problems. On a check of ‘Seafire’ I find the big compass at the main helm now has, mysteriously, a split bowl. There is mineral oil leaking all over. One of the joys of getting older is knowing all things pass. Life can be an ordeal or an adventure, it is all about attitude.

Don't go to sea with an empty compass box, and don't buy a Sam Yang compass. Now I need to find a new compass that fits the box I made.
Don’t go to sea with an empty compass box, and don’t buy a Sam Yang compass. Now I need to find a new compass that fits the box I made.
If you like rainbows...you've got to go out in the rain.
If you like rainbows…you’ve got to go out in the rain.
What duck? Some lovely brightness despite the winter gloom.
What duck? Some lovely brightness despite the winter gloom.
The Vortex Dark faces in the sky
The Vortex.
Dark faces in the sky.
 Caw! The crows of spring waiting for something to happen or something to die.
Caw!
The crows of spring waiting for something to happen, or something to die.

Well isn’t it funny how the pickle squirts! A lady in Queens, New York was doing a general search online of the term “Ides Of March” and stumbled on ‘Seafire Chronicles’. She liked my photo of a bicycle leaning on a post at surf’s edge and so now we each have a new friend. Justine Vallinotti posts her own blog. http://midlifecycling.blogspot.ca which is built on her passion for bicycling. It’s a lovely and informative sight, well worth checking out. You’ll find a link to her site on my Blog Roll in the right hand side bar. Another fabulous sight linked there is Sage On Sail, friends of mine from Victoria here on Vancouver Island. They have sailed from Victoria across and up and down the South Pacific. Now they’re sending incredible photos from South Africa as they methodically work their way Eastward along its coast. They are also avid bicycle folks and I believe they are heading up and across the Atlantic for the New York area. So heh! You never know what will happen when you pusha da button! I once set foot in New York for about an hour in the late sixties. I flew in and out of JFK as crew and vowed never to return there again. This old bog-stomper was terrified at the endless city I could see from the air and I’m sure it is even more horrific half a century on. Here rises that issue again about different types of courage. I much prefer the backwoods and wide-open ocean, the thought of which, I know, freezes other folk’s blood. Different strokes for different folks.

Still on the theme of how one little thing can lead to another, the bike business led me to thinking of “Fat Man On A Bicycle”, a BBC 4 travelogue and cooking show hosted by Tom Vernon. It was a good enough show that I still remember it and of course that leads me to recalling “The Two Fat Ladies”, another BBC 4 cooking show featuring two obese women who travelled Britain in their motorcycle and sidecar cooking up wonderfully rich food wherever they stopped. They were deadpan hilarious. While researching the above I stumbled on a site called “Fat Guy Across America” It is about a fellow named Eric Hite who weighs in excess of 500 pounds and is biking across the continent in an effort to regain his health and his marriage to the woman he loves. So all of that comes from taking and posting one photograph of a bicycle.

Spring seems reluctant here. There has been snow on the mountains since mid-September and although there are buds and flowers it remains chilly, even on sunny days. I know it won’t be long until the bitching about “Hot and dry” begins again and every layman can prove global warming. The world economy thrives on paranoia and while many things are in a sorry mess I do get weary of the masses allowing themselves to be steered in someone else’s profitable direction without asking obvious questions. Which leads to this one. Donald Trump!? C’mon folks, really? Is our Western Culture so ruptured that this dude continues to get anyone’s serious consideration as a presidential candidate, even for one day? That terrifies me.

All the more reason to run away to sea. I’ll just have to remember when crossing the US border to not have a black, bushy beard, to not be in the company of any dark-eyed children, to not wear a cowboy hat and when dealing with Homeland Insecurity to never, ever, employ any sense of humour. ON A CLOUDY DAY: Despite another gloomy day, both health and weather-wise, it’s uplifting to go and find some photos in the dull light. Here are a few from today.

Classic Jack. Just add water, Jack is a happy dog.
Classic Jack. Just add water, Jack is a happy dog.
A view to another world. The Holland Creek tunnel in Ladysmith built by the railway over a hundred years ago
A view to another world.
The Holland Creek Tunnel in Ladysmith built by the railway over a hundred years ago.
A Caterpillar among the daffodils. Mainstreet Ladysmith where kids love to play on old tractors.
A Caterpillar among the daffodils. Mainstreet Ladysmith where kids love to play on old tractors.
Pamela's dock. The foreshore of property inherited by Pamela Anderson. Ladysmith is her hometown,. She is the community's most famous export, among coal, lumber and oysters.
Pamela’s dock. The foreshore of property inherited by Pamela Anderson. Ladysmith is her hometown.  She is the community’s most famous export, among coal, lumber and oysters.
Under the Slime Light. Winter verdigris can grow anywhere, even between your toes!
Under the Slime Light. Winter verdigris can grow anywhere, even between your toes!
Shipwright built. Not a straight line anywhere. A beautiful piece of work.
Shipwright built. Not a straight line anywhere.
A beautiful piece of work.

If you like blues music check this out. A friend emailed me some Youtube links with a guitarist named Hank Shizzoe, another named Sonny Landreth, and a band calling itself “Loose Gravel”. It is all good stuff and I’m always amazed at these very talented people who can produce unique sounds. This from a guy who couldn’t carry a tune in a fish tote. Hopefully the next blog has me bounding around like a very frisky Easter rabbit. I’m due for surgery on a bum ankle in a few days and after that who knows? Perhaps I’ll end up with a band named “Wooden Leg”… or “Stumble Gumboot.” The possibilities are endless, the dream is alive.

Walk a small dog who chews a big stick.
Walk a small dog who chews a big stick.
The whole situation! For those with bugs...get well soon.
The whole shituation!
For those with bugs…get well soon. Did you notice the old shitehawk has only one leg?Well put!

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.”

                                                                                      .- George Carlin

The Ides Of March

 

Last Light Seaside Oregon
Last Light
Seaside Oregon

It is March 2nd already, almost a month since my last blog. The pinnacle of my winter is past now, I’ve just returned from my annual pilgrimage to the Fisher Poet’s Gathering in Astoria Oregon. As usual the event was wonderful, reading and listening to the work of over ninety of us, an affirmation of our blue collar love of the sea, the environmental and political issues and the simple raw passion of being on and near the water. The drive down this year seemed long and tedious, with several detours on the roads and an expired passport, but it is all over now with more fond memories filed away.

The most westerly bicycle rack in the USA
The most westerly bicycle rack in the USA
The disciples Longbeach Washington
The disciples
Longbeach Washington
The Baptist
The Baptist

I’ve managed to bring home some insidious virus and I’m not feeling particularly energetic. I’m sitting here in my bunny slippers with a schnozzy nose and bleary eyes so this blog will not hold any creative considerations or polemic perspectives.

In my last blog, ‘The Cowboy Jihad’ was written only with available information, which I confessed at the time. There has since been a lot more digging on the subject among myself and my peers. While in Astoria I managed to share brunch with a lady who has an intimate knowledge of the Burns and Malheur Lake areas in Oregon. There is a very different slant to the story when taken from a local perspective. It seems that the radical ranchers who came from various other states to establish the standoff with the feds were not much welcomed by local folks. The community was/is harshly divided, schools were closed as the event heated up, the National Guard was on standby. Apparently the general local consensus was that folks just wanted these outsiders to go back to their home ranches, pay up their overdue taxes and range lease fees (The arrears total many millions) and let the residents of the epicentre get on with their disrupted lives. Many of the facts we received through the media are grossly slanted or blatant lies.

Old Blue Lips Some Astoria flavour
Old Blue Lips
Some Astoria flavour

I am a Canadian and a US insurrection is none of my business so long as I can cross through my neighbouring country without being shot or imprisoned without just cause. There are plenty of issues here at home to poke my beak into. My resolve is to maintain and inspire the value of a questioning mind and to

Downtown Train Avery old wooden railway caboose on mains street in Astoria
Downtown Train
A very old wooden railway caboose on mains street in Astoria
A restored tram car in Astoria
A restored tram car in Astoria
Astoria Dawn A view from my motel room
Astoria Dawn Rainstorm
A view from my motel room

be aware. For example, two days ago when boarding the ferry M.V. Coho for the crossing to Victoria, I reviewed the Canada Customs form I was handed. I noted that items like switchblade knives and bear spray are “prohibited.” Hand guns are “restricted.” What the hell?

All I want to do is go sailing. The muddy waters of our own greed, apathy and resulting misgovernment are leading us into our own figurative Ides. For me, it’s all reason enough to move along and just be, instead trying to make sense of things. If I can’t be part of the solution then I am part of the problem.

Ready to go Prawn traps in a back alley of Astoria
Ready to go
Prawn traps in a back alley of Astoria
The Liberty Theatre a lovingly restored relic of the 20s and 30s It is gorgeous inside
The Liberty Theatre
a lovingly restored relic of the 20s and 30s It is gorgeous inside
Rooked An amazing chess set in an art gallery window. The board is about five feet square
Rooked
An amazing chess set in an art gallery window. The board is about five feet square.
Another art gallery window. This metal sculpture is about four feet long. The tail, the jaws, the fins and the eyes move. They're cleverly recycled motorcycle lights
Another art gallery window. This metal sculpture is about four feet long. The tail, the jaws, the fins and the eyes move. They’re cleverly recycled motorcycle lights.
Yes Really! A car lot in Port Townsend The cars are all 60s vintage Morris Minors
Yes Really!
A car lot in Port Townsend. The cars are all 60s vintage Morris Minors
Look ma! No airbags, no seatbelts, no radial tires, Wot? No GPS!
Look ma!
No airbags, no seatbelts, no radial tires, Wot? No
GPS!
Real wood! A little English Oak
Real wood! A little English Oak.
An Oscar Meyer Weiner, the dirty old weiner flasher. Even I find this slightly vulgar. "Mommy, what's he squirting on his head?
An Oscar Meyer Weiner, the old flasher. Even I find this image slightly vulgar. “Mommy, what’s he squirting on his head? For some reason he lurks on the edge of the Morris Minor car lot.

 

Well it's not exactly the cover of the Rolling Stone but that's me, the Fisher Poet's poster boy. Reproduced with permission of the "Coast Weekend'
Well it’s not exactly the cover of the Rolling Stone but that’s me, the Fisher Poet’s poster boy.
Reproduced with permission of the “Coast Weekend’

 

____________________________________________________

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

George Orwell

Consensus Reality

Perfect!
Perfect!

While on a gorgeous white shell beach on Saltspring Island recently I noticed a string of small signs on a fence erected just above the high tide line. The tiny signboards essentially said “Private Property, Keep Out” but in reality read something like: “You are presently standing on public property but beyond this line is land of Consensus Reality, please respect it.” Huh?

I get the no trespassing theme but “Consensus Reality”? Come on guys! Saltspring was the ultimate Hippie haven in the Gulf Islands but times have changed. It is now the home of folks wearing locally-made llama wool hats and hand-painted designer gumboots while driving exotic SUV s (Stupid Urban Vanities) that never leave pavement. Maybe old Winston Churchill was right, “Capitalists are Socialists who’ve found an opportunity.” Peace man.

While I’m playing with words here’s one in which I found great delight. As I write, moored across from me is a gleaming white fibreglass castle. It is a gorgeous piece of stuff, whether or not you are awed by status symbols. I descended on the name like the old wordhawk that I am. The boat’s name is ‘ARES’, the Greek god of war. Say no more Admiral! Most folks would read the name as ‘ARIES’, the famous star and Astrological sign. For a boat, that would make sense. However I imagined a conversation between the boat’s owner and a local good old boy who has accosted him. “Dang mister, you Amuricans just can’t spell English. That’s one purty boat but it ain’t the way you spell ARSE!” Maybe the owner is a former Rear Admiral.

Huh?
Huh?

While I was writing my little environmental rant in my last blog, a potentially massive environmental disaster was beginning to uncrumble. We don’t know yet how extensive it is. There lies in the BC interior an area known as the Cariboo. It is bounded on the West by the Fraser River and on the East by the Cariboo Mountains. Despite over a century of exploitation by miners and loggers it is is known for spectacular scenery and pristine waters. A mining operation at the Polley Mountain Mine involved establishing massive tailings ponds behind earthen berms to contain the toxic slurry produced. Slurry, in this case, is the liquified waste from the mining process. Using water is the cheapest way to dispose of unmarketable contents which contain various highly toxic chemicals. The dams on the ponds have burst and billions of litres of slurry flow into Quesnel Lake and all of the subsequent rivers that run between the lake and the Fraser River.

It is possible that a large portion of the heart of our province is being poisoned; unstoppably. Not one government department knows exactly what chemicals or toxins are being released nor what to do to stop the massive discharge. There should have been an ongoing analysis at least by the Ministries of Mines, Of the Environment, and Fish and Wildlife. That no-one knows is a testament of gross apathy and incompetence. This is a disaster which was imminently preventable. Our Federal government is relaxing environmental controls on resource industries and it is an interesting co-incidence with the angst about the Northern Gateway pipeline. Once again, the greed of a few is damaging a broad environment as big as some countries and all living things within it, including people, who live there and anywhere downstream, all the way to the ocean. Then where? Once again it is obvious that the government is in the corporate pocket. How can I not rant?

For more information check out this site:

http://www.envirolawsmatter.ca/environmental_regulation_better_than_a_pound_of_cure?utm_campaign=mtpolley&utm_medium=email&utm_source=envirolawsmatter

Well, I promised that this blog would be about a secret anchorage. It’s a place I’ve been passing by on tug boats and my own yachts for well over a quarter century. Actually I’m more interested in pointing out how we so often pass by wonderful things right at our feet in a quest to get as far away as possible whenever on a vacation. (No I’m not standing down my dreams about Mexico and Central America) I happen to live within the Gulf Islands on a boat, a piece of heaven by any regard. When there’s a good wind it is wonderful to see how far away you can sail in one day and there is generally a notion we all hold that going far is a logical thing to do. An extreme example are the kind of folks who brag about having “Done” Europe in ten days. We all know how much they saw.

I can see for miles... and no-one sees me!
I can see for miles… and no-one sees me!

The anchorage is no secret. It just seems that way when you’ve been going by it for decades in quest of someplace secluded and special. Less than two hours by boat from Silva Bay and within plain view of Porlier Pass it a place big enough to safely hold approximately six anchored yachts.

Into the Jungle
Into the Jungle
Once a had-built house, cozy and warm and golden through the winter storms
Once a had-built house, cozy and warm and golden through the winter storms

There is an abandoned farm and perhaps sawmill in this bay between two islands and one is left wondering about the people and their history here. Ancient native middens and old fire pits in this sheltered bay betray the long presence of the aboriginal people we displaced from this beautiful environment. I’ll be doing my research. Both Islands are privately owned but it is clear that visitors are respectful. There are fabulous beaches nearby and the Porlier Pass area is famous for it’s fishing. A bonus was a live blues concert held on one island. The music was as good as it gets, the band was tight and there was a great sound effect as it all echoed out through the forest. I’m usually incensed by someone else’s imposing music, but this was good. Really good.

A far more recent building, still saveable but returning to the forest it came from
A far more recent building, still saveable but returning to the forest it came from

Hundreds of yachts charged past to herd up in the popular anchorages to the North and South. Good for them! I prefer solitude. The photos say the rest.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

…John Muir

Typical Gulf Island Sandstone beach
Typical Gulf Island Sandstone beach
Miles and miles of Isles
Miles and miles of Isles
Love's labour lost
Love’s labour lost
A cross-section of an aboriginal midden. Native would camp and collect and dry shellfish.Who can guess it took to build these enormous piles of shell?
A cross-section of a shell midden where natives would camp and collect and dry shellfish in preparation for winter. How many millennium did it took to build these enormous piles;  monuments to a successful culture which Europeans brought to an end?
Painted stick, a dire warning of children!
Painted stick, a dire warning of children!
Another dire warning. Old Pencil-Head hisself!
Another dire warning. Old Pencil-Head hisself!
Das Dink! The wheels may look silly but they sure make life a lot easier.
Das Dink! The wheels may look silly but they sure make life a lot easier.
Jungle's edge, a distant sound of drums.
Jungle’s edge, a distant sound of drums.
Waterfront. no wifi but firewood is delivered to your door.
Waterfront.
no wifi but firewood is delivered to your door.
Say no more!
Say no more!
Taste the lime!
Taste the lime!
The shellbacks. Boys, a boat and some dogs.
The shellbacks. Boys, a boat and some dogs.

The Lost Wallet And The Parrot Hunter

The Lost Wallet and The Parrot Hunter

Hotel Erotico La Manzanilla
Hotel Erotico
La Manzanilla

Reluctantly, I’ve begun the trek homeward. I love this place, the native Mexicans and the gringos who are either permanent or regular seasonal come-backs. I could stay here forever and anyone who really missed me could come see me here. But that’s not the way I’m wired and after some misadventures here I have been rescued by my wife Jill, who still loves me for some reason beyond my comprehension. She’s at home in the cold and snow, wind and rain, with a head-cold, performing financial miracles to get me back there. 

Despite first appearances, Mexican dentistry is excellent and cheap
Despite first appearances,
Mexican dentistry is excellent and cheap

Some fellow campers, my forensic research indicates, stole my wallet. I won’t go into the back-tracking, the sleepless night, the quadruple ripping apart of truck and trailer, the long day following and the frustrated hopelessness that overwhelmed me. I posted a noticed on the La Manzanilla online message board, as locally advised, and wonder of wonders, I received a phone call. At a wonderful little bar called ‘The Club.’ A Mexican had turned in my credit cards, driver’s license and so forth. I was out about $250 and the wallet, but I have the good stuff back and a relatively cheap lesson learned. Of course it turned up four hours after I phoned and cancelled the credit and debit cards but all’s well that ends. Special thanks to Bobby, who runs the bar, and Jude, who phoned me. The story was that a local fellow came in with the goods saying they’d been found by a friend. I don’t care about his story, I’m impressed about the honour of the local thieves. Enough said. I can only blame myself for being lazy. I knew better.

Claudio, the hammock-maker and an Indian beadwork artist
Claudio, the hammock-maker and an Indian beadwork artist

Don’t put all your huevos in one basket!” Fortunately I did have my passport and visa hidden away. So yet another don’t for Mexico, and maybe for home. Don’t carry your wallet with cash, credit cards and other important stuff together. Hide your wallet in one place, your cash in another and your cards somewhere else. Carry only enough cash for the moment. That may also help prevent impulse spending.

Gringo cuchina
Gringo cuchina
Mexican cuchina
Mexican cuchina

On the day of the wallet incident (Hier perdito mi cartera)  I drove out to the beach at Tenacatita. It’s a controversial place, overwhelmed by some Mexican tycoons who evicted the hereditary landowners and have hired guards who patrol the place but it is beautiful there and well worth the visit. Unfortunately while kayaking I burst the plexi-glass window out of the bottom of my little boat and had to swim it back to the beach through the surf and swells for about a kilometre. It was a good workout. The snorkeling was fantastic, I’ve shot some good movies of very colourful fish which I will try to post.

In the back of the Cocodrillieo .........WHY?
In the back of the Cocodrillieo
………WHY?
No swimming huh?
No swimming huh?

This past weekend was ‘Rodeo’ in La Manzanilla. The town goes crazy with the dusty streets given over to all sort of madness. Intermittently throughout the days and nights a Mexican jazz band was the fulcrum of artistic delight. It is a blatant combination of amateur Mariachi sounds with a strange twist of what I can only describe as Klesmer music, all over scored with the incessant bop-boop-boop of a tuba. Massively amplified they blew out dental fillings for miles around. Whatever might be lacking in quality is certainly supplemented with enthusiasm. Volume is everything. I repeat that there is nothing tougher than a Mexican boom box.

Patience my arse! Let's eat a gringo.
Patience my arse!
Let’s eat a gringo.
The Lost Beach
The Lost Beach
Some rest for the wicked
Some rest for the wicked
Teamwork and sustainability
Teamwork and sustainability
From the old school
From the old school
Home is where the heart is
Home is where the heart is

Tonight I am sitting alone under the light of brilliant stars and a waxing half-moon. I saw an incredible shooting star. I am all alone. There is no-one else here except in a cemetery a little way off. I sit facing west on a rise between the booming surf of the open Pacific and a lagoon on my right. Strange cries and bestial calls emerge from the lagoon, or perhaps the cemetery. It is utterly magic. I face an un-named cape after driving here on a dusty road that wound from a tiny village through beautiful farm fields. A sign warns that the beach is dangerous for swimming and I have no intention of skinny-dipping in the lagoon. While turning around I sank the truck and trailer in loose sand which was deceptively matted in thick, prickly vegetation. Thanks to the gods, I have a shovel, jack-all and loads of rope with me. I dug everything out but still could not budge the truck. It was hellishly hot and getting dark. A friendly fellow with a jeep towed the truck back onto solid road and refused any tokens of appreciation. In Mexican, he explained, you cannot take money from friends. And so my love of this place grows. Mucho gusto!

The long road home
The long road home
The well in the filed
The well in the field

I’m now sitting and working at my little table in a parking area behind a Pemex station a little north of the junction for Tuxpan. The dreadful mess that is Puerto Vallarta is behind me to the south. Joni Mitchell must have been thinking of Puerto Vallarta when she wrote” They’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” The best word I can use is obscene. It is truly an ultimate piece of pornographic greedy, mindless shame that goes on for miles, right past Nuevo Vallarta. Hell’s teeth!

Tenacatita
Tenacatita
Adios Simba, my loyal amigo
Adios Simba, my loyal amigo

Speaking of which, after I left my idyllic beach camp I pulled into a small roadside cantina to photograph a beautiful old clay oven. A smiling woman came wiggling out. Her grin nearly cracking her heavy makeup. She introduced herself as Lucy and welcomed me with an offer of beer for twenty pesos. When I explained that it was awfully early in the day, she announced that she also “Sold sex”. All the while a young girl was twirling round a wooden post on the veranda, dancing to unheard music like a stripper on a brass pole. Lucy went on to explain that I shouldn’t worry, nothing would get stolen while I was being entertained. I drove off mumbling about having had my wallet stolen already. Mucho gracias!

The oven...
The oven…
...and the brothel
…and the brothel

The drive to Puerto Vallarta climbs over a pass so high that the jungle becomes a predominantly pine forest. The warm air carries a lovely scent and I stopped to take some photos in this incongruous setting. Out of the bushes leapt a young man man with a broad toothless grin. He soon explained he was hunting parrots with his sling shot and had a wonderful repertoire of calls. There are so many new things here that he may have been entirely honest but a pine parrot…. hmmm!

YES!
YES!
The Parrot Hunter
The Parrot Hunter
Pine Jungle
Pine Jungle

Tonight, near sundown, I drove into Tuxpan looking for a road to Santa Cruz, the one north of San Blas that is, not the one south. I didn’t find the turn and had to get the hell out of town before dark. The filthy narrow cobbled streets were lined with surly looking groups of young men. Even the dogs looked mean. For once, my little trailer didn’t elicit any positive responses. I locked my doors and behind closed windows avoided any eye contact as I tacked and gybed my way through this horrible setting. So far, this has to be one of the sorriest places I’ve seen anywhere. I have been told there are much worse places in Mexico. I felt like apologizing for being a gringo. Once clear of the barrios of this place I noticed people wandering about en mass on a broad paved road with no cars present. Once I saw some runway markers I understood. Not many towns can boast an airport that is used as their Malecon.   But then, most runways sit level, clear and unused for ninety-nine percent of the time. I can imagine the fun of buzzing the runway to clear before landing. Just when you think you’ve seen it all! 

Northward ho through the sugar cane fields ...reluctantly
Northward ho through the sugar cane fields
…reluctantly