Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Art of Ignoring Advice

Back in 1996 our lovely old VW pop top camper proudly displayed her license tags in a holder that read "Old Volks Home" and was registered in Santa Cruz, California, which was very fitting for two old hippies heading out of the USA for all points South.
And practically everyone told us not to go. "It's too dangerous." "The roads are appalling, you'll break down and get attacked." "Do not go anywhere near Chiapas whatever you do."
Well, thank goodness we ignored all this advice.
The roads were perfectly fine. When we did break down, we were helped.
And we absolutely adored the whole Chiapas region. We camped amongst lush green trees and walked all over the town of San Cristobal for over a week. We explored the large market and ate street food. The local vendor selling Zapata freedom fighter dolls was a humourous soul. It was a beautiful and welcoming place.
Before we got to Chiapas though, we travelled all over central and eastern Mexico... with some adventures with howler monkeys and drug runners around the Sian Ka'an Biosphere on the Yucatan peninsular. After Mexico we drove through Guatamala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica .. it was a spectacular 7 month trip.
I am going to be courageous and delve in to the utter mess in my writing room - I hope I emerge intact - to find my journals from the trip. It's all clear in my mind but I want to be sure of my facts before I write. Then I will give you some highlights over the next few weeks.

But here's a couple of photos of San Cristobal, the main town of Chiapas ...
the Zapata dolls, not sure when I lost mine
local family at San Cristobal market, the colours of their traditional clothes are fabulous

the market San Cristobal
getting some good food on the streets of San Cristobal

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The art of tranquility

I am not having a good week. My computer crashed. Which is a disaster. So I am not going to write any observations or reminiscences. I will just wish you peace, light and love for Diwali.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Art of Impromptu Concerts

Life on a sailboat revolves around weather, sails, the best dinghy, finding safe anchorages, provisioning and all the nuances of daily life on water.  A highlight is the people you meet, invariably they are characters of the first order. There is a certain amount of insanity involved with boating types, and if you are lucky, they can sing.

While we were anchored off Formentera we heard of a new harbour being built on Ibiza. You could tie up there, get fresh water and stay a while for free since it was under construction. It was a perfect spot to spend a couple of days while we re-provisioned at the local street market. The half built pier we were tied up to with one other boat was a jumble of huge boulders and a grand spot to celebrate the 4th of July  before heading over to Mallorca.

In the late afternoon we got our little hibachi set up on the rocks, got out the deep yellow chicken pieces, salads and wine all set to toast the 4th. While we got cooking and talking a guy jumped off the other boat and strode down to join us, large bottle of vodka in hand.

"I am Sasha," he said as he took the top off the bottle and threw it away. He looked at Lee. "You are American, I am Russian. Our countries are not friends but we can be."

Without further ado he plopped himself down to join us, our self-invited guest, and told us about himself. Sasha was an opera singer, had misbehaved too many times and got thrown out of the Moscow opera company. It seems it was politically difficult for him to return to Russia and although much of what he said wasn't very clear, he was entertaining.

The level of the vodka in his large bottle sunk steadily. He told outrageous stories before laughing heartily, then while telling another would get weepy and wail, "Oh Sasha! poor Sasha!" as tears poured down his cheeks. Then he started to sing.

The sun sank below the horizon, the sky a soft palette of magentas tipped with red, and the sea softly lapped the giant boulders. We sat entranced as Sasha's powerful voice filled the night with aria after aria. Our very own private opera was a night of pure magic before Sasha suddenly got up, thanked us for inviting him and staggered off. We never saw him again.

A year of so later we anchored in a small bay on the Eastern shore of Mallorca. There is a small village tucked in the far end with restaurant tables lining the quay. Once we were settled we heard this voice calling, "La Rochelle! La Rochelle! Come and join us!"

At water's edge was Barry, a Welshman we'd met a few months earlier. We hopped in the dinghy and rowed over to join him and five of his friends. They were all old friends  visiting him from Wales. The meal was delightful. The dishes got cleared away, more wine was ordered and then they all started to sing in their lyrical native tongue. The Welsh are rightly famous for their magnificent voices and as the sound swelled over the bay in the hush of the evening, I thought, "this setting, this chorus, like Sasha's solo performance, can not be planned. The glorious spontaneity of times like this remain with you for ever."

And it has remained with me. I can close my eyes and the magic returns clear as a bell. It always makes me catch my breath with the same joy and sense of privilege that filled me at the time. The art of music is a gift to be treasured. I wish I had it but am so grateful to those who do.
Ibiza Sunset © Anne Jenkins

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The art of struggle and perfection

Well, this self-publishing saga surely takes you through a very steep learning curve. I uploaded the book and it got rejected twice... leading to more investigation and scratching of head. It seems I really, REALLY, need the one program they've mentioned about a zillion times. So, if all else fails, read the instructions and carry on. I have ordered said program and will cut and paste book to it, make the adjustments I think is needed (from what I can understand of the technical gobblygook) and will try again. Please send me more good vibes... it will work eventually!!
So while I wait for all this to take it's course, I got to thinking about my sailing blogs so far. They've all been about bad weather and learning experiences. And I thought I'd share a few brief thoughts about good weather sailing.
Sailing in good to perfect conditions is about the closest thing I can think of to describe heaven. There is a silence that isn't silent, a peacefulness that envelopes your whole body and soul, a joy that bubbles up and makes you grin at nothing in particular. Even as you surrender yourself to the joy of perfect sailing conditions you scan the horizon for shipping, keep an eye on the weather just in case and fiddle with sails but it does not dampen the joy.
The best thing about good sailing times is you feel all is right with the world.
A few of my perfect sails stay in the top part of happy memories of a lifetime. One was a sail we did from the mainland of Spain to the Balerics. The sea was calm, the wind steady and light but strong enough to keep us at a good clip. We put the auto pilot on and absorbed it all.
One of the best places to really revel in a perfect sail is the pulpit... the stanchions and stuff at the bow for those that don't know all the terminology. You sit down on it facing the boat and give yourself up to the motion of the boat. You can't see when it's going to dip or twist you just feel the flow and listen to the sound of the water rushing over the hull. Lee took this of me in the pulpit en route to the Balerics in 1986.

Another super cool experience is leaving a harbour with all the winds aligned and putting up the cruising chute .. this is a cruising sailors spinnaker. Racing spinnys are just too temperamental. A friend took this photo of Lee and I taking La Rochelle out of the glorious deep Mahon harbour on Menorca and heading out to sea.

It makes me happy just to look at these two photos. There have been many more wonderful sails but both of these were stand outs. The perfect sail. A treasure.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Art of Courage to Face Publishers

Oh! my ... big week for me this week. And I am a little nervous. I think I have finished, polished, formatted, edited and tweeked some more, the first of my cat book series. I am trying to get up the courage to upload it to the e-book site for scrutiny by the experts. I fear they will spit it out with many, many corrections to be done. But I must be brave and do it.
I decided to concentrate on this cat series to start off and to learn the ropes. I have to go the e-book route first due to image sizing. I would do IPAD sketches for the first book ,wouldn't I? Couldn't just do the easier route now, could I?
It's not long, just 38-40 pages of text and sketches. I am channeling Chaussettes, my black tuxedo rescue special needs cat as the voice. I hope to make it a series, a wee book of her musings and sketches and giggles every year. If I can sell a whole bunch, I will donate some of the profit to cat and dog rescue shelters.
Just Us Cats - the group that rescued Chaussettes' mother and her three kittens from a barn, suggested I also do a print version for older animal fans who don't do computers too well. I am looking in to it - given the image sizing, it is tricky, but, I believe I will find a way.
I intend to do my children's book on trucking once I have this under control and have learned a whole lot more. It was too difficult to try and do both at once. So my cats are my guinea pigs! And it is a fun way to experiment.
I finally built up the beginning of my books website. It's only 3 pages, but it's a start. I have 2 of my older books on it and I hope you will check it out and give me some feedback.
So, I think I'll just go over the draft one more time.... take a deep breath and sign on to the publishers. EEEEEK!

Send me positive vibes, okay?
© Anne Jenkins All Rights Reserved