Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving on the Rio

Hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday.  We had a fabulous dinner here at Tortugal Marina with friends. The owner Daphne hosted with the main meal and everyone brought a dish to share.  We had a fantastic evening.

After Dinner

The North Side Crew, Mike, Kim, Patric, Donna, John, Nicole and Dean

After Dinner

Our Host Daphne
We are finishing up the last of our projects and hope to be heading out to the Bay Islands of Honduras in a couple of weeks.

Cheers Kim and Mike

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ka'imi Gets a New Deck

This year while in the Rio Dulce for hurricane season we had planned  to re-caulk and sand the front decks of Ka'imi.  The Marina had a carpenter and teak guy, Daniel Lopez,  that they recommended.  We determined that the  deck was to thin to repair. Daniel said he could take the teak off, lay some fiberglass and paint on non-skid.  The price was very reasonable and he had been recommended by the Marina and other cruisers who had work done by him so we hired him.  His card claims that he does Marine carpentry, varnish, fiberglass and paint, metal polishing and waxing.  Well, we know for sure he does not know how to do fiberglass.  

To make a very long story short we were ripped off.  He started the work July 21st.  They tore the decks up then we waited for Daniel to show up  for work.  We had the Marina help us contact him but he was either unreachable or said he would show up at a certain time but never come.  There were a couple other boats in the Marina that had hired him and they were having the same problems. He was a no show for over three weeks and finally came back on September 17th.  He put one coat of fiberglass on and during the next 5 days spent 1 or 2 hours on the boat then left, even though the weather was good.  We were very discouraged as we had given him two-thirds of the money and we were getting nothing in return.  The fiberglass work that he did was terrible and we could see it would need to be re-done.  He and his crew left resin fingerprints and footprints on our cabin sole, new Lexan hatch and teak railings. What a nightmare.  We also found out that he wasn't even paying his workers their wages. We finally fired him.  Right now, as far as we know, he is banned from working at the Marina.  We would not recommend him for work of any kind.  We had heard he was a good carpenter and  he may be, but he does not know fiberglass and has zero work ethic.  We did not get any of our money back.  After the fact, we heard other people had complaints with Daniel. In our marina Dances with Dragons and Lydia both had complaints with his work.
The bright side to this (if there is one) is that we found Oscar.  He was doing a job on a boat in the Marina and came highly recommended.  We also saw the quality of his work and were very impressed.   Oscar is shown in the picture below with Ludwing who also came highly recommended but was too busy to take our job. He knew Oscar very well, they worked together at one point and Ludwing said he would do a great job.
They started by redoing the work that Daniel had done.  In no time we had 5 layers of fiberglass on the deck.  That is Franklin in the picture below, Oscars nephew and apprentice.  He did very fine work.
Next they measured the boat and made patterns for the non skid gel coat and fiberglass panels that they would custom mold.
The next step was making the non skid gel coat panels.  They start by putting mold release on the mold panel then apply gel coat and two layers of fiberglass.  When dry they peel off the panel and we have custom made decking.
Franklin making his way around the boat.  Doesn't look easy!
The panels have been cut and they will put the deck together like pieces in a puzzle.  First they lay the resin down.
Next they place the piece of decking on top, using large rocks and weights to keep pressure on the panels.
Work in progress.

The picture below is of Jose.  Franklin stepped on a nail and hurt his foot.  He couldn't come to work for two days and Jose stepped in to help out.
All panels are in place and now comes the hard part of making it look pretty.
They ground the seams out, laid two layers of fiberglass in the seams and sealed with gel coat. The gel coat was then polished until it was nice and shiny.
Beautiful decks, they did an excellent job.  They also showed up to work everyday.  Below they are cleaning up some of the resin that Daniel and crew left on our boat.
Thank you Oscar and Franklin for doing such an outstanding job! We would highly recommend these guys for fiberglass and painting work.

Cheers Kim and Mike

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mom Pitteroff Comes to Guatamala City and the Rio Dulce!

We were lucky enough to have Mom Pitteroff come to visit us for the month of October.  It was a long trip to get to Guatemala City so we decided to spend the night at a hotel before we headed back to the Rio Dulce.   Mike and I stayed here for a few days before Mom arrived to get some shopping done for items you just can't find in the town of Fronteres. 

We  stayed at Las Torres Hotel in Zone 10, Guatemala City.  It was a great old Hotel however, be sure to make your reservations via email so that you get a confirmation.  If you click on the link for Las Torres Hotel, you will find an article about the hotel.  It is an old article, because now no one speaks English and we never met anyone named Jorge. We arrived after a 5 hour bus ride, tired and thirsty, to find they didn't have our reservation. Arggghh!  We were told they were full but had a reservation for Maria Maria to arrive at 3:00 PM and if they didn't show we could have that room. Mike and I are thinking Maria Maria, really, don't you think that could be our room and a mistake in the name was made...LOL.  I made the reservations by phone and the girl I spoke with had a limited amount of English and I of Spanish.  We went across the street to the Holiday Inn to see if they had a room just in case, they did it was very expensive but at least we knew we wouldn't be on the streets that night.  Across the street from Las Torres is a bar called Cheers, the awning of the building looks exactly like the awning of the Television sitcom Cheers.  So off we went to Cheers to quench our thirst and await our fate.  It turns out Maria Maria didn't show up and we had ourselves a room.  Yippee!  Below is a picture of the main stairwell of the hotel.  I loved this chair, it was very comfortable.

While in Guatemala City we looked up some friends from Marathon.  Louis and Hiro worked with Mike for a few years. Louis works at a hospital in the City and it was just a few blocks from Las Torres Hotel.  After they finished work that day we all went for a late lunch at San Martin Bakery and Cafe, delicious food, and caught up with them.  They are great guys!
Louis, Hiro & Mike
While waiting for Mom we spent the days trying to find the stores we wanted to shop at.  We were looking for clothes, hardware, items for boat maintenance and food to eat while we were staying here.  The first store was Walmart's to find some food and maybe clothing.  There were 2 Malls within walking distance of the hotel but they were just like walking into a Mall in the USA with Spanish writing.  Everything was super expensive so we ditched the idea of buying clothes there and went to the Cinema. They do have some movies that play in English with Spanish subtitles. 

We had found out that when in the City try to take the yellow taxis because they are metered and much cheaper than the white taxis which are for tourists.  If you get a white taxi you have to negotiate a price before you get in because they will try to charge you as much as they can.  We took a yellow taxi to the Walmart and did our shopping.  When we were done it was pouring rain and we called the yellow taxi number to get a cab.  I thought I had managed to relay where we were and that we needed a Taxi to pick us up.  Feeling a bit proud of myself, we sat back and waited and waited and waited...uh oh...something might have gone wrong in the translation.  My head bowed in disappointment, Mike went in search of someone who spoke English to help us out.  He went into a travel agency and found two Spanish speaking women (no English) and managed to relay our problem.  They called a taxi for us. As it turns out we had contacted them and they had come, we were just waiting in the wrong place.  There was a taxi station at the other end of the parking lot.  We go to the other end of the parking lot and wait by the taxi stand.  Soon, an unmarked vehicle parks in the Taxi spot and a guy comes over to us and says Taxi? We said yes and got into an unmarked non metered car.  We tried to bargain the price but he said there was too much traffic and rain so we paid a higher amount.  We are not sure it was really a Taxi or someone the ladies knew who could make a couple extra bucks. Either way probable not our smartest decision to get in but we made it back to the hotel.  We were glad to get home. Our next shopping day would center around finding a Home Depot type store.  We found out that there is a chain of stores here similar to Home Depot called Cemaco.  I search the Internet for a close location and wrote the name and location of the store to show the taxi driver.  Well.....oops, I wrote the location of a store that was in another part of town, far away, it was called Pradera Concepcion. So we went for a ride, LOL, we were getting kind of nervous because it was taking so long.  On the map I saw on the Internet it was just a couple miles away.  Our taxi driver noticed our nervousness and tried to communicate it was okay we were going exactly where I had written down.  Finally we arrived and it was exactly where I had told him to go.  It cost a few extra dollars but it was a nice store and was attached to another Mall so we shopped and had a great lunch.  The taxi driver gave us his card to call him when we were ready and told us where to wait so we were confident we would get home and we did!  We had our fill of Malls and was ready to get Mom and go home. Finally, after 5 days of running around different parts of the City it was time for Mom to get here.  I had forgotten about Mom having to go through Customs when she arrived and had told her to just wait in baggage claim until I found her.  Oh my, when I realized my mistake she was already in flight and I couldn't reach her.  I left a message on her cell phone but wasn't sure if she would get it.  She didn't...she tried to wait in the baggage claim area but was told in Spanish that she had to leave.  Finally, someone who spoke English came out and explained she had to go through the Customs.  Poor Mom she just thought something was happening in the airport and they were evacuating everyone.  She was quite happy when she finally saw us and so were we!

Next morning we are up and having breakfast at that great restaurant San Martin Bakery and Cafe.   The food there is really delicious, especially the breakfast.  The had a lot of entrees Mom is having the breakfast burrito.
Back home on the Rio Dulce we take Mom out to find the Howler Monkeys that live in the Jungle.  We first had breakfast at Mar Marina.
Unfortunately, we did not get very good pictures of the Howler Monkeys that we did see.  If you look at the picture below it is the black blob in the middle of the picture.  We didn't see many but we could here them loud and clear.  It was a fun trip anyway.
We spent most of the day showing Mom the different waterways through the jungle looking for Howler Monkeys.
Admiral Mom has a special seat in the front of the dinghy.

We took mom on a trip to Castillo de San Felipe a fort dating back to 1644.   It's a great fort to explore, we have other pictures in previous posts.

It's very hard to see, but if you look in the picture below you will notice that Mom is standing in about a foot of water.  It is the rainy season here so the place was flooded. These were the dungeons where the prisoners were kept. It is very dark inside and you need a flashlight to see.  The one I brought didn't work, of course, so we flashed our way through with the camera. 
Thanks for coming to visit Mom we had a BLAST!  We love you!!!!
Add caption
Cheers Kim and Mike


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