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June 2017





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My South Yard After Hurriedly Splitting Most Hives


Saturday June 10th

I caught a morning shuttle to the airport and flew to Toronto, then Puerto Vallarta.  Arrived there at 1:10 PM and was met by Karmina, my friend Kevin's girlfriend who was to be my guide and translator for the week.  We walked out of the airport into the heat of mid-day.  Temperatures most of the week were in the mid-twenties to thirties Celsius.

We took a cab to Bucerias and up to my friends' house which was to be my home for the week, then went to see the dentist for a preliminary exam.  After that, we returned to the house and visited a while, agreed to meet tomorrow to visit the dentist again, and then I was left to spend my first night of this 'dental holiday' in Mexico.  I climbed the stairs to the the rooftop patio and I viewed the city and the ocean before turning in.  I did not need blankets and the ceiling fan was a blessing.

Sunday June 11th

Karmina came to meet me and we walked to the bus.  Saving me from the confusion of being in a strange city with a language I could not comprehend and interpreting the discussions with the dentist was Karmina's job and she did it well. At this point, I had no clue about anything and was realizing that while I can read a lot of Spanish and understand some, I was far  out of my depth.  Even taking bus was a challenge.

My reason for rushing down here was to get two root canals and caps.  Additionally, however, I had broken my two front teeth half a century ago and since then the front teeth, besides being jagged, had drifted to leave a large gap, so I had in mind to have them capped if the price was right and time allowed it.

I had investigated having them capped in Tijuana a decade ago, but it seemed somewhat of a vanity and I never did get around to it. The Canadian dentists are hideously expensive and slow and I hate to give them any business at all.  That said though, I would hate to be a dentist.  It is right in down at the bottom of my list of ideal professions, next to proctologist.

Monday June 12th

Karmina met me again and we returned today to the dentists office for the root canals.

My dentist is a young lady with her own practice.  She works alone, with one assistant and one chair and has only one patient at any one time, unlike Canadian dentists who stack patients up and run from chair to chair.  She works her own hours and lives upstairs.  She dresses casually, and has a toddler she carries down from time to time. Nothing was ever in a rush. When we had to wait for chemicals to mix or set, she just waited patiently and did not go running off somewhere.  Amazing. That's something I see in Mexico that is lacking in Canada: patience.

She worked very intently for hours at end, completing the root canals.  I was quite comfortable and even dozed off at one point.

When she was done, Nadia put on temporary caps and then we discussed the front teeth. She spoke Spanish and Karmina translated back and forth. Her opinion was that I needed six additional caps to look right and I agreed to that and some whitening.  I think the whole deal came to around $3,000 Canadian.  I recall that in Canada I was quoted almost that much for just the two root canals and caps -- and that was after the Alberta Government was to pay several thousand. Bandits!

Anyhow that was it for the day, so Karmina and I walked to the nearby beach and had a few beers. 

For some reason, Mexican beer in Mexico does not disagree with me.  Mexican beer sold out of country must be different since I find it affects me adversely.

Karmina takes her job seriously, and was keeping a close watch on me, not that there was any fear for my safety. At one point, I asked Karmina if she ever felt fearful on the streets and she said almost never. 

Despite the fact that the district is a mix of well-kept buildings and some very decrepit premises, and my house is in a gated community, all the people seem honest and friendly.  Everyone says hello and people actually touch one another.  Dogs walk around the streets as freely as people and everyone, dogs and people, seem to get along just fine.  I don't see anyone picking up after the dogs. (I remember when the last remaining horses walked the streets of Toronto pulling milk wagons, but back before my time the biggest pollution issue arising from transportation was horse manure on the streets.  We have forgotten that).

Being there makes me realize how creeping regulation and increasing political correctness has truncated our freedoms here in Canada.  We compare ourselves to the US and since it is far worse there, we think we are superior, but we are not.  Not anymore, if we ever were.  We are sliding down the same slippery slope.  Our media are dominated increasingly by US content and even our news leads with US news and features the latest Trump indignity. We might as well be Americans.

In fact, it has been suggested that North America should be split down the middle and that the east and west should be two different countries.  We in the west have more in common with the western US states than Eastern Canada. The same is true on the east.  Here in Alberta, we are closer to Los Angeles, and even Mexico than to Ottawa. yet Ottawa rules the country and our 'representatives' when sent east to promote our needs and values, seem undergo a change and become easterners, returning to chide us about our ways.

Enough of that. Memory and reading history brings current beliefs and issues into context, revealing our collective insanities, but most of us are blind to our illusions.

In the afternoon, we took a bus out to La Cruz to visit the marina as I wanted to see what was happening there and if there were any Canadian boats. There weren't and the marina was half-empty as this is the off-season. I did swim in the pool, though and we wandered around for a while.

Karmina had thought there might be a street market in La Cruz as this is the day, but, again, this is then off-season for tourists.

Karmina had lived nearby at one time and it seems she knows everyone everywhere around La Cruz, and Bucerias for that matter, greeting people on the street with hugs.  She had worked in various local bars, so I suppose that is a good way to meet everyone sooner or later.

We noticed a party boat coming in and I asked about it.  She said they go to the Islands for a day and are a worthwhile trip.  She thought she could find cheap tickets.

We took the bus back.  I got of at Bucerias.  She stayed on to return home to Puerto Vallarta.

Tuesday June 13th

We began the front teeth.  After Nadia ground them down and took impressions for the lab, and installed temps, Karmina and I were free for a few days.

Karmina felt obliged to keep an eye on me when I went wandering, so we spent a lot of time together. We walked a lot, sat on the beach a lot, drank beer and ate nachos or swam.  She had trained a a lifeguard when younger and enjoyed the water.  We had interests in common and I had nothing pressing to do, so we got along well.

After our marina visit, we both hunted for cheap party boat tickets and she came up with a tour she figured would be good at a price I was willing to pay.   We agreed to meet tomorrow at the marina.

Wednesday June 14th

First thing today I took the bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta.  By now I had gained enough confidence and sense of how the cities are laid out to catch a bus, so got in to a van bus after enquiring and understanding it went downtown.  It didn't, but I managed to figure how to transfer to the right one and arrived at the harbour without further problems. Karmina lives near the bus stop and met me there. 

We walked a block or so and went through security to get into the facility where we joined our group. After a half-hour wait, we were outbound on the catamaran along with fifty or seventy-five others.  I looked around at the group and saw there were a variety of people from kids on up, but I also noted that I was probably older by twenty years than anyone else aboard.

Everything went on in both English and Spanish, but some of the English was a bit hard to understand.  Karmina had to translate some of the English, too.  I am also realizing that I am getting hard of hearing, especially in situations like this.

The trip to the islands took the better part of an hour and once we got there we began with snorkeling. The day was dull and the location below average, but any day with a snorkel beats a day at the desk.  The guides kept a close eye on us.


That was followed by swimming on a beach and standup-up paddle boarding and/or kayaking.

I figured that as a snowboarder and windsurfer, SUP would be a cinch, but I am heavy and the boards were tippy and I went swimming more than paddling.

After, on the way home, we cruised by the nearby island where a French nuclear test had melted out the middle and created a popular lagoon, then headed back to Puerto Vallarta.  I watched the helmsman and halfway back asked if I could steer.  He said sure and so I was at the helm until we entered the harbour.  Cool.

We disembarked, then Karmina walked to her home a few blocks away and I took the bus back to Bucerias, having agreed we would meet in the morning to take a bus to Boca and a water taxi to Las Amimas, a remote beach -- and that her daughter and baby would come along.

Thursday June 15th

We met at the downtown bus stop around nine.  Rebecca is about twenty and the baby is about two months old.  He was a very quiet and easy companion all day.

We caught the bus along the winding, up and down cliff-hanging coast road to Boca, got off and walked down a steep road to a small open cafe and had breakfast. Next we walked a few steps  to the beach and hired a water taxi to go to Las Animas. The trip up along the coast was spectacular.


We arrived at the docks in Las Animas in about fifteen minutes, went ashore and took a table at Mikes.  Apparently SUP was free if we ate and drank there, so we spent the afternoon there. That's our table with the baby stuff on the chair. (below left).  I had better luck with these boards as they are wider and floatier.


*   *   *   Reality Intrudes    *   *    *

Phone coverage was marginal along the way up and as I left the boat, I noticed a voicemail on my phone, so I called and found that Colin had left a message.

I called him, and, over a bad connection, I learned that my Monk 36 trawler, Shongololo, the boat I had spent a month and more getting into top shape recently, had sunk in 85 feet of water at Malibu Rapids up in Princess Louisa Inlet, a remote inlet east of Powell River The boat had been on charter and due to a comedy of errors was in all probability a total loss.

Here is the story as I heard it:  After running aground at high tide through a stupid navigation error  -- right beside a day beacon placed there to prevent such incidents (the only such marker in the whole region) the boat was left high and dry as the tide receded, but tilted enough to take on water through vents. Everyone evacuated.

The coast guard showed up and confused issues, ordered people not to go back aboard, then left abruptly, instructing Cooper by satellite phone to call a rescue company.

Cooper called the company the CG recommended, and apparently the CG and the rescue vessel spoke along the way, but when then rescue vessel finally arrived, they did not talk to anyone who had been on the boat and proceeded to try to pull the boat off the rocks an hour before the tide was up, while the current was still strong, and before the boat floated free.

Apparently they did not try to pump out the heavy load of water onboard and loud scraping was heard by observers on shore.

The boat came free, wobbled around, began sinking, was caught by the current and was carried through the rapids, after which it sank on the other side having been cut free by the 'rescuers' to save themselves from being pulled down with it. 

Unbelievable, right?

What can I say?

Colin had been very busy overnight trying to deal with the problem.

Not much I could do.  I asked if insurance was paying for the boat and was told yes, so said thanks and went on to spend a pleasant day at the beach, on the SUP, swimming and drinking beer.

*   *   *    *   *   *

On the dock, as we were boarding the water taxi to go back, I noticed two soda cans with bees going in and out, a reminder to be careful when drinking sweet beverages outdoors.  A sting ion the throat could be life-threatening even to those who arte not allergic.


*   *   *    *   *   *

We returned to Boca at seven and took the bus back to Puerto Vallarta. The other three got off and I continued to Bucerias alone.

Friday June 16th

Today my teeth had arrived and I had them installed in the morning.  The temps had not lasted too well and I was ready.

I paid my bill and my dental work was over.

After temporary teeth broke                             After (now)

If you are wondering, I did not ask for perfectly straight or gleaming white teeth, After half a century walking around with broken, stained teeth, it would feel fake. I may whiten the bottom ones a bit though, now that I have teeth to be proud of.

I was surprised to find I now have some overbite.  The model I had made a decade or two ago didn't seem to show any overbite at the time, but now that I look....

This model (above) which I gave to the lab is a bit different from what I see in the mirror (above right), but models are just models. The real world sometimes comes close, but at other times? (Maybe I should remind the climate 'scientists'?)

From this web page: "Many patient’s ask “What is an overbite?” - A deep overbite is a malocclusion that is recognized by an excessive degree of overlap of the upper and lower teeth. A ideal overbite has a degree of overlap that would be about one or two millimeters. Many patients have a deep overbite, also called a vertical overbite that is approximately 4 to 10 millimeters deep."

So, ideal is about 3/64 to 5/64th of an inch. My new teeth appear to overlap about 1/8".  That is almost 3mm, just over the 2mm ideal range.  Of course, I am just estimating from looking in the mirror and don't know how the pros measure.

Having an overbite takes some getting used to after so many years of short upper teeth.  Biting is interesting. I used to bite my nails sometimes.  Now I don't know how anymore.  Biting anything takes some thought and that is a good thing.

I'm sure my mouth has changed in a decade or two, too, and I'm glad the new teeth are comfortable -- and that my jaw is not complaining. Changes like this can cause jaw pain if the alignment changes drastically. Actually, when I read online about overbite, I think the Mexican lab came closer to ideal than the previous lab.

I'm happy.

I have a few days to kill now since they always allow a few days after completion for any problems to show up.  My stay will be shorter than most, but I don't leave until Monday afternoon.  I've booked a flight to Vancouver to meet Colin about Shongololo.

We walked to the beach and swam.  Mar Y Sol (Sea And Sun) is my favourite haunt although there are several equally good beach bars nearby.

BTW, here is my friends' little dental tourism poster This one is tattered and faded from being carried around for a while.

Saturday June 17th

Nothing was planned, but Karmina came to Bucerias anyhow and we went to the beach.  As I can recall, I was looking for a kiting school. 

We found one, but the price was $500 US, so we walked down to a nearby beach and spent a few hours at 'Karen's Place, where we watched them setting up for a wedding on the beach. 

I can't believe how much people spend on weddings that end up in divorce a year later.  (probably sometimes over the cost of paying for the wedding).

Ellen and I walked to city hall with two friends, paid ten bucks and were married  almost fifty years.

Sunday June 18th

I had thought to go to Sayulita, but Karmina suggested a trip to La Mita. She had a contact there who did kiting and so we went to Punta La Mita.

We hopped the bus and were there by ten.  Walking down to the shore, were were accosted by the usual salesmen for restaurants and seeing as I wanted breakfast we soon were seated by the shore eating breakfast.

Apparently La Mita is fairly upscale, but I really did not notice other than there were no derelict buildings or trashy empty lots.

Municipal buses in Puerto Vallarta and vicinity are owned by the driver or someone with money and all are part of the municipal system.  They all follow the same routes on schedule, accept the same passes and fares, but every bus is personalized.

On the trip up, the bus stopped as we entered la Mita and a teenage girl got on. Karmina greeted her and I learned it was her younger daughter who lives with her father. They spoke briefly and then a few blocks later, the girl got off and went on her way.

After breakfast, we wandered the shore and along the beach.  We found the kite place, but Karmina's contact had the day off, or maybe the week.  Hard to tell.  It is Mexico.   So we wandered further down the shore and swam, then had lunch and took a bus back in the late afternoon.

Monday June 19th

I'm scheduled to fly after lunch today and traffic is predicted to be bad since they are working on the bridge.

I told Karmina there is no need to meet me in Bucerias, an hour's ride for her, but to meet me at the airport to get the key and say good-bye. The airport is not far from her home.

I caught the bus and was at the airport by 0830.  Traffic was light as it turned out. As a result, I had hours to kill, but it is always better to do that at the airport than to be elsewhere and  find I could not get to my flight at the last minute.

At flight time, the boarding was delayed two hours.  Then again the flight was delayed. This went on until four at which time the flight was cancelled.  By then I was checked in and at the gate.  Apparently it was too hot for the plane to land or take off in Phoenix, our stop along the way.

So, stranded in Puerto Vallarta, I arranged with Karmina to get the key and go home again and took the bus back to Bucerias.

Tuesday June 20th

This time my flight lifted off on time and I arrived at YVR on time. I was to take the ferry to Victoria, but Colin was late picking me up, so I slept on Corinia, a Bavaria 36 at Granville Island for the night.  We had a chance to talk along the way.

Wednesday June 21st

In the morning, Colin drove me to the ferry and we picked up another passenger along the way.  We walked onto the ferry and soon were in Swartz Bay.  Dawn picked us up and drove us to the marina.

Looking back, I'm surprised that don't remember much about the woman except her name began with "m', she was an instructor, small and lithe and fit, and about my age. I gathered she is married, for what that is worth, and going out as a replacement on a cruise and learn. That's it. Why don't I remember more?   I usually remember people. Was I in shock?

We arrived at Port Sidney Marina and my memory is foggy there, too. 

Bob and I were to deliver Mistral, a replacement for Shongololo, to Powell River.  Our departure was to be at noon, so Bob showed up and I then went for supplies.  When I got back, we left, bound for Powell River. It was a beautiful, sunny, calm afternoon.

We made Portlier just after slack and made it through against several knots of current without issue.  Once we got into the Strait, the waves came against us from the port forward quarter and the ride was rough, but we continued.  We had a deadline.

Military test area WG was active, so we had to divert south from the rumb line a bit, but made good progress. We looked for a place to stop overnight and chose Halfmoon Bay, arriving an hour before dark.  After ten tries at anchoring and not getting a good grip, a local suggested that we tie to the public dock.  We did and were not charged for doing so.

Thursday June 22nd

We were up at four and set out at first light.  We got to Powell River and fueled up, then docked at Westview.  Bob got off and ran for the airport to fly PVR to YVR.  I lingered, then took the 1150 ferry to Little River.

Don picked me up and we drove to Oyster River.  We walked down to the dock to a friend's boat and met up with his son, James.  We began mounting sails and pretty soon the owner of the boat came along and we cast off.  There was not much wind so we drifted around a while, then went back in as we had to rush to catch my flight.

I was at YQQ an hour before the flight and returned to Calgary without issue.

In Airdrie, I shopped for groceries, then drove home.

Friday June 23rd

I did not do much today.

Saturday June 24th:

There is a big gap here, but I am filling it in as time permits.

Tuesday June 27th


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