May 25, 2012

A Lone Jicama in the Cockpit at Sunrise

Education is what remains after one has forgotten 
What one has learned in school.
Albert Einstein 

Jicama in the morning sun
The other morning we found a jicama gently propped up on a cushion in our cockpit. Don’t worry, this is not a case of whodunit but simply what happens when many sailors head back north where it is cooler and a few of us stay south to hold the fort.

As these folks make the pilgrimage ‘home’ they leave for the rest of us foods or drinks they cannot take on the road or across the border. We’ve hardly had to do groceries this week for all the meat, eggs, vegetables, wine, fruits, yogurts, chips, pie crust, etc we’ve been given. Safe travels everyone and know we are thankful and made good use of all you’ve given us.

Green chorizo with rice, avocado, and tomato
Chorizo Verde - the inside scoop...
Speaking of food, we’ve tried a new type of sausage the other day: Green Chorizo (chorizo = several types of pork sausages in natural casings). Typically chorizos are red, filled with peppers and chili powder. In this case the sausages are filled with tomatillo, cilantro, garlic, and spinach powder, to give it this unlikely color. They taste rather green/fresh and are a nice change from the other more commonly available chorizos. We had seen these in store often but never could quite get the courage to try them, thinking they were just an oddity leftover from St-Patrick’s day. They originate from the Toluca area of Mexico near Mexico City and are available year-round. 

Square duros - puffed
Before and after duros (small - uncooked, large - cooked)
We’ve also experimented with duros (a type of puffed/fried wheat pasta). You buy them already cooked from street vendors or you fry them yourselves. They look like simple flat pasta about 1/16” thick of various shapes and sizes. You fry them the same way you would French fries… Hey, I didn’t say they were healthy. You then sprinkle any seasoning you like on them. Here, as usual, they are mostly flavored with lime and chili powder but you can use just about anything.

Even though we didn’t travel much this week we did or saw the following:

Beach covered with colorful kites, boards, people.
Some 140 kites in the distance looking towards Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta
  • Over 140 kite-boarders/surfers sailing from La Cruz to Bucerias on the bay – quite magical to see so many colors in the sky above the blue water. Of course a few of them got tangled along the way and had to work out the kinks while in water…
  • Plants along the main roads are usually watered by large water-trucks loaded with someone on top holding a 3-4” hose dosing the plants with a very strong stream of water as the truck slowly advances along the divider where the plants usually grow. The ones that can take this type of abuse survive… You can imagine how the impatient Mexican drivers react to being behind these trucks… but I digress, the reason I tell you this is that the other day, Mike watched a small pickup truck filled to the rim with 3 pigs in the back stop next to the watering truck at a red light. The drivers exchanged some words and next thing you know, the happy pigs are being showered to the dismay of the drivers who didn’t want to wait once the light turned green… 
Delivery vehicle of choice in many locations
  • These types of bicycles are used commonly around here to carry/deliver items since so many people do not have vehicles.
  • Since buses do not have air conditioning, most people sit on the shady side of the bus making for a lopsided ride. It took us a couple of times of sitting on the sunny side to figure out that was the smart thing to do.
  • Although not of the best quality yet, they have teak plantations here.
  • Teeth cleaning is only $25 instead of the $125 we paid back home before we left. They use the same technology and equipment…
  • New small bakery opened in La Cruz.  So close it's dangerous. 
We haven’t traveled much this week as we are finishing a lot of projects (10 colorful cockpit night lights, 9 feet of reinforced tubing, 8 kilos of laundry, 7 yards of Sunbrella, 6 bungee cords, 5 solar panels, 4 inverters, 3 battery chargers, 2 dinghy wheels, 1 spinnaker sock, and 0 money in the bank!!! – sing along!!!) with the many parts and supplies we brought back from the US when we went there to renew our tourist visas.

I came across the article below and thought I should share as I believe it explains a bit why traveling at times, seems more rewarding… We stay in new places for short periods of time where the ‘end’ is near and therefore savor more or think more positively of what we experience or discover…

Irrational Positivity: Saving the Last for Best

Wray Herbert, Author of ‘On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits’

“The year 2011 was a dismal time in American public life. The nation came close to defaulting, and lost its AAA credit rating for the first time ever. The do-nothing Congress did -- well, nothing. The GOP seriously offered up the likes of Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain as its best and brightest for the country's future. Policemen in riot gear pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters. And public discourse sank to an all-time low in coarseness and partisanship.

So how will we recall 2011 when we look back on it? Most likely with warmth and good cheer.

Say what? That's right. We will most likely remember the end of 2011 -- the holiday festivities and family gatherings -- positively, simply because it is the end of the year. And because we have a positive memory of December 2011, we will also end up with general good feelings about the year gone by.

That, at least, is the implication of some recent research on what's called the "positivity bias." Two University of Michigan psychological scientists, Ed O'Brien and Phoebe Ellsworth, knew from previous research that people are highly sensitive to the timing of events when making judgments. Especially with big life events, we irrationally view "lasts" as positive, and this positive evaluation drives our global judgments. For example, recalling graduation makes most people think of their entire school experience as a good one.

But what about more ordinary "lasts" that we experience more commonly -- like the last chapter of a book, the last spoonful of soup -- or the last days of yet another year? O'Brien and Ellsworth decided to explore this question in one simple laboratory experiment. They told a group of volunteers that they would be part of a taste test for a new Hershey Kiss. This was a ruse; in fact, the volunteers ate five chocolates of different (but unnamed) flavors: milk, dark, crème, caramel and almond. They didn't know in advance how many chocolates they would be tasting and they ate them in random order, rating their enjoyment of each.

But here's the twist. For each of the five chocolates, the experimenter said, "Here is your next chocolate." But for some volunteers, when it came to the fifth chocolate, the experimenter said, "Here is your last chocolate." In other words, some knew this was the last chocolate when they rated it, while others rated it thinking it was just one more in a series. Finally, each volunteer indicated their favorite chocolate, and also rated their enjoyment of the entire experience.

The results were clear. As described in the journal Psychological Science, volunteers found the fifth chocolate more enjoyable when it was identified as "last" rather than "next." What's more, most who ate the "last" chocolate chose that one as their favorite overall; relatively few chose the fifth chocolate as their favorite if it was labeled simply as "next." And finally, those who concluded the "taste testing" with a "last" chocolate described the overall experience as more enjoyable. That is, simply identifying the "last" chocolate as the "last" made eating it more positive, and this emotion colored global judgments of enjoyment.

So endings are powerful, the scientists conclude. Even commonplace endings. This means that relatively pleasant endings can put a positive spin on even long, painful experiences, like the year 2011. And by this time next year, we'll likely have the same warm feelings about 2012.”

With that being said we hope to head to the Sea of Cortez next week or the one after. We’ve had two named hurricanes to date (Aletta and Bud) so the season has begun in earnest. Last night we had our very first real rain in nearly 7 months! We had some rain while sailing along the coast of Baja but managed to sail between rain clouds… It is so nice to finally smell dustless air.

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