Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I love having the market so close here in Cartagena because I wanted to make quiche for dinner and I needed some nutmeg. But before I could run the dinghy in to get it, I had to figure out what it was in Spanish. Using an online translator I learned that nutmeg is nuez moscado.

We love quiche and I've been using the same recipe for ages. Its from a really old Sunset magazine cookbook. And the best part is we'll have a really easy lunch today.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Speaking of Fans...

When we outfitted our boat for cruising we knew that we would need good fans so we bought three of those expensive Caframo Sirocco ones. We enjoyed their three speeds, timer settings, and fully articulated brackets for several months, but then they started acting up; they would shut off within seconds of turning them on; they would only do one speed; or they wouldn't come on at all.

We cleaned them and fiddled around with the connections, but never could get them to work properly. We put up with that for a couple of months and finally took them all apart and bypassed the switches. They now run 24/7 unless we turn off the circuit to that part of the boat. Which is never because it's so darn hot here. They still look pretty good, and the motor must be well built, but the switches and internal connectors are a bad design.

Somewhere along the way, in desperation, we bought a few 120v fans. They are cheap and they last several months. The 120v issue doesn't matter because we have our inverter on nearly all the time anyway and they use very little power. We can move them around and aim them directly at our sweaty bodies. They caress us with a gentle breeze. We sometimes argue over who gets to be near them. We can't sleep without them. We cry when one dies. I think we are in love with these fans. 

We also have two of these Hella fans that were on the boat when we bought it. They are quiet, have a simple mechanical switch, and still run fine, but they don't seem to move quite as much air as the other fans.

So there you have it; we have eight fans on our boat; three are fine since we rewired them, two are old and small but functional, and three use 120v but we treat them like lovers.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fennel Feast

I found fennel at the market the other day so I made this dish that's been a family favorite for years. I posted about it back in 2007:  Click here

The most difficult part about making the dish was the white beans. I haven't seen canned white beans in ages so I bought some dried white beans and cooked them in the pressure cooker to use as little gas as possible. Unfortunately, they were overcooked. Next time I'll only cook them 10 minutes instead of 15. And with some fresh oregano and a little tweaking, I think I can make this recipe the old family favorite it used to be.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday at D'Res

As usual we went out for a leisurely lunch yesterday. We went to D'Res where we are quite comfortable even though we are always the only gringoes. It has a menu that celebrates beef, seating for about forty, and an open kitchen. The chef/owner is very creative and gracious and always comes out to greet his guests. The food is top notch, yet the prices are inexpensive.

On Sundays they have a man with a guitar playing quiet romantic music. But today we had a special treat; a boy of about twelve got up and took the mic. He seemed a bit nervous at first, but eventually sang two songs. He was pretty good and he got a huge round of applause. His family at the table next to us looked so proud and everyone congratulated him on his performance.

About then a storm started with high winds, thunder, lighting, and heavy rain... and then the power went out.

We paid our bill and walked the three blocks to the marina. Even with our umbrella we got soaked because the rain was blowing sideways and the streets were flooded and we had to put the umbrella away for the dinghy ride out to the boat. Back on the boat we got dried off, endured the pitching and rolling, and cringed at the thunder. I am getting really tired of thunderstorms.

Our Salad
Lomo Mexicano 
Young Musician
The Rain

Cruiser's Fashion Advice

If the shoe (or shirt or shorts or hat) fit, buy it in every color because you'll probably never see it again.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cartagena Drugstore

Malcolm made a visit to the dermatologist last Tuesday and had a little biopsy. The doctor gave him prescription for an antibiotic cream so we visited a local drugstore to get it filled. Not only did we get the cream, but we also got a two month supply of his two blood pressure meds all for only $32.00. Back home this would have cost a fortune. Just one of the advantages of living in South America. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Even Statues Have Lightning Troubles

When were coming into the port of Cartagena we noticed this monument-like thing and wondered what it was, but with all the excitement of our arrival we soon forgot about it. We have just recently learned that it used to be a statue of the Virgin Of Mount Carmel, patron saint of drivers and navigators, but it was struck by lightning on August 9th just three weeks before we arrived.

You can read more about it here:

Above you can see the broken marble, and below you can see what it used to look like. I guess we are not the only ones to have troubles with lightning here in the tropics.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Club Nautico Cartagena

We came into Cartagena over two weeks ago and had no idea what to expect. We had read conflicting reports about the availability of docking and conditions there, but knew we would have to stay for quite a while to repair the lightning damage.

We anchored out at the Club Nautico and are happy to report that it is a bustling, vibrant, well run marina. Although we have chosen to anchor out, we can see that the docks are sturdy. Most boats stern tie using mooring screws at the bow. The marina management helps configure those.

Club Nautico Entry Gate

For our $28.00 weekly dinghy dock fee we get use of the restrooms, showers, laundry room, garbage, potable water, and library. There is a nice restaurant on the premises, and the management will help arrange for repairs, maintenance, and receipt of packages. Taxis are available right out front, and there is a very nice grocery store less than two blocks away. The marina has no fuel dock, but Club de Pesca and Marina Santacruz, both less than 2000' from the anchorage, have fuel docks.

Anchorage and Points of Interest

Dinghy Dock and Patio

Fuel Dock at Marina Santacruz

The neighborhood in which the marina sits is called Manga. Manga is a comfortable residential area with shops and restaurants and three marine supply stores. We see folks walking along the malecon at all hours and we feel safe walking anywhere in the neighborhood. For a $2.00 taxi ride you can get to most tourist attractions, restaurants, and shopping malls. For $3.00 you can get to the Bocagrande neighborhood with its hotels, beaches, and medical offices.

The only fly in the ointment seems to be trying to get parts shipped to a "yacht in transit". From everything we've heard, a hefty duty and/or tax will be charged on the total value of the package. That means the value of the item, the insurance, and the shipping cost. Yikes! Most countries allow things to be shipped to yachts in transit with low or no duty. I wonder why Colombia doesn't do that?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lunch at Bohemia Restaurant

The food is so good here in Cartagena that we would like to eat out every day, but since we have to buy parts for the autopilot and a new inverter, we can't afford that. We have decided that a nice lunch once a week will have to suffice.

Last Sunday we went to Old Town and found the Bohemia restaurant in El Marques Hotel.

Our appetizer was black truffle oil glazed artichokes spears in a bed of aged Parmiggiano and toasted almonds.

My entree was hake wrapped in Serrano ham with citrus infused toast, fennel, and an olive and tomato compote.

Malcolm's entree was Sierra with spinach stems, mushrooms, and an artichoke sauce. 

For dessert I had a white and dark chocolate concoction with hazelnuts and ice cream and passionfruit foam.

Malcolm had coffee five ways: ice cream, cookies, foam, "sand", and cream.

It was all delicious and we were there for over two hours. And when we left...
I felt like this!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Door Knockers of Cartagena

Old Town is full of colonial era buildings with huge wood doors that lead into courtyards. The doors are outfitted with beautiful hardware and interesting knockers. I've been collecting photos of them. I hope you enjoy seeing them too.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Big Red Bus

These big red buses are all over the world in popular tourist destinations and Cartagena is no exception. So the other day we decided to take a whirl on The Big Red Bus.

The bus carried us past the Castillo...

The Old Town...

Bocagrande (where Malcolm is pointing to our boat)...

Near the Old Shoes...

Past countless beautiful flower covered houses...

Past Centenario Park....

With its dozens of booksellers...

And back to the patacón restaurant near the Castillo. Where we enjoyed TexMex patacónes again.

We got the two day pass and the route has a stop only two blocks from the marina, so the next day we rode it to a mall and a big "Walmart" like store where we intend to reprovision in a few weeks.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Cruisers' Library System

Cruiser's read a lot. I mean A LOT. Yet, they rarely buy books because all over the world, in places where cruisers congregate, there are lending libraries just for them. They aren't fancy or well publicized, but cruisers know where to find them and they are popular and well used. They are usually in a restaurant, laundry room, or lounge at marinas where cruisers hang out and the standard procedure is to simply leave the same number of books as you take.

Since we have been cruising we've read a large variety of books by many different authors. Inspired by a friend's recommendation, we read most of Wilber Smith's historical novels about South Africa. With their epic sagas, sweeping settings, and heroic characters, they are both entertaining and educational. We have also read many, many crime novels including several of John Sandford's "Prey" series.

When we were in Panama I read David McCullough's epic narrative, The Path Between The Seas, on the building of the Panama Canal. I think it helped me to understand Panama's problems a little better. To educate myself on the history of the Caribbean I recently read Mitchner's eponymous novel and I must say I found it a little depressing. I hope the reality is better than the novel.

Since the books are free at these cruisers' libraries, I often select ones I wouldn't normally try. For instance, I recently picked up The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. If you think your family is a little odd or wish your childhood had been better, reading this book might change your mind. Her story is fascinating, horrifying, and unforgettable. Another non-fiction book I recently read was Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. It is an eye opening insight into the culture of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After reading Three's a Crew, the Pinkerton family's story of cruising the Pacific Northwest and Alaska in the 1930s, I understood my new Canadian friend Sheila perfectly when she said, "Just throw it in the chuck."

Now that we are in Cartagena we will go through our books again, exchanging the ones we've read for new ones. Who knows what we will get this time? And that is one of the best things about the Cruisers' Library System.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Old Town Cartagena

We had a lovely day Friday exploring the Old Town. With its ancient buildings, narrow streets, and flower-covered balconies, Cartagena has an almost European feel to it. As we wandered the streets admiring the architecture and taking photos we were only asked to buy Panama-style hats four times, emeralds three times, and sunglasses five times. When we politely said, "No, Gracias" they left us alone. I guess it was still early so plenty more tourists would be coming later. We enjoyed the Old Town so much we intend to go back again for further explorations.

Clock Tower Gate

Typical Street With Cathedral Spire in the Distance

Inquisition Palace

Malcolm's Lunch

My Lunch

Bougainvillea Is Everywhere