August 27, 2006
It is with deep regret that I inform you all that Roger passed away Friday morning. He died at home, in his own room with me by his side. He was in very little pain and seemed gloriously at peace when he passed. I am very glad that I had the opportunity to care for him to the end. I think it was an enriching experience for both of us. I know that I am a better person for having given him so much of myself and I think that he surely must have appreciated how much love went into his care. And because I was with him every day and saw his struggle for life first hand, I was able to truly accept that he NEEDED to let go. His passing was more like something to celebrate rather than something to mourn. I hope that all of you will celebrate Roger's life with me and rejoice that he is no longer in pain. I don't know if there is another dimension or place that we go to when we die... no one knows that. But I know that Roger continues in the hearts and minds of every person he has touched in his lifetime, and in turn every person that those people touch... on into infinity.
I am planning a memorial service of some sort (I haven't figured out the exact form yet) for Friday September 8th at 6PM at the Unitaian Universalist Fellowship of New Bern. Their website is UUFNB.org.
Thank you all for your love, prayers and support during this trying period. Roger and I both really appreciated it.
August 27, 2006
We are sorry to report that Roger Sundman died Friday morning, August 25. No plans are finalized at present.
Bob Hartwell (Claudia's Dad)
|June 28, 2006
Lots of people have asked how Roger is doing and I'm afraid I have just been too busy, too tired or too preoccupied to answer for quite a long time.
Unfortunately, things are not going that well. To summarize what has happened, after six weeks of radiation he still had an area of tumor. We launched into chemotherapy. We tried different types of chemo but it became evident that the tumor was growing rapidly. We are told that once a tumor like this takes off, it is almost impossible to stop. We COULD continue to throw chemo at it, but the chances of any kind of chemo helping at all are VERY, VERY slim, and at best it might SLOW the tumor down. It would NOT cure it, nor would it get him to a quality of life that would be satisfactory to him. No matter what, eventually, the tumor would figure the chemo out and grow again. In the meantime, the chemo would be making Roger VERY, VERY sick.
It doesn't seem to make sense to continue chemo under those circumstances, so we have stopped. Roger is at home. He has difficulty talking beyond short sentences and has a particularly hard time articulating proper names of people, places and things. But he DOES know what is happening around him. He is able to follow conversations
but may not be able to respond appropriately. He is in no pain and
does not need any pain medication at this point.
He usually does like to take phone calls, so if you would like to call, please feel free to do so. Just keep in mind that he does best at
listening to YOU talk, rather than leading the conversation. I have
been making a concerted effort to let him know how important he has been to MY life, how many people's lives he has effected for the better and that sort of thing. You know, the things we usually wait to say until it
is too late. Our phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx*.
Yes, there is no question that this is sad and very painful, but I take solace in the thoughts of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn in his book "No Death, No Fear". He teaches that we should think of life more like a kind of manifestation. Like rain. Sometimes a cloud may manifest into rain. The cloud is not lost, it has become rain. The rain falls to the earth and becomes rivers, oceans and refreshment for plants and animals. The rain has not been lost; it has been manifested as something else. Eventually the plants and animals return their rain element to the earth and the rivers and oceans evaporate into water vapor, which will then manifest into a cloud once more. That cloud will once again rain (or snow, or hail!). The rain may change its manifestation, but it is never lost.
Lives are like this as well. I have been honored to have known this manifestation of Roger, and I will miss him when the conditions that make it possible for "Roger" to be no longer exist. But I know that "Roger" will still be with us. He will be in the air and in the earth and in our hearts. He will not be lost; he will only be changing his manifestation. When conditions are right, "Roger" will manifest again. It may be in a form that is unfamiliar to us as "Roger" (as rain sometimes re-manifests as rivers, oceans, bunnies, clouds or snowflakes), but "Roger" will never be lost.
This is not something I believe, this is something I KNOW.
Love to you all,
* No phone numbers on the internet. If you want the contact information, contact me at 973.229.7219, or contact someone Claudia or Roger's family.
November 16, 2005
Well, there have been a lot of hoops to jump through to get to this
point, but we will start Roger's radiation treatment this week, assuming
all goes well with the planning. The medical group we have chosen
is in Greenville, NC. They are a part of East Carolina University
Medical School. As a teaching facility they use a "team" approach
to planning his radiation, although we are dealing with only one
doctor. And since they are accustomed to "teaching", they
don't mind answering questions.... and I DO ask a lot of questions!
We are checked in to the Hope
Lodge, which is very nice. The phone
number there is XXX.XXX.XXXX and we are in room 210. We will
return home on weekends and our phone number there is XXX.XXX.XXXX.
Roger continues to feel fine and is doing well.
Life's a trip!
* No phone numbers on the internet. If you
want the contact information, contact me at 973.229.7219, or
contact someone Claudia or Roger's family.
October 24, 2005
Okay, we really ARE back in the USA... not in hurricane ravaged
Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I used my pocketmail device yesterday for
the first time since leaving the USA and I guess it had an old message
from our arrival in Isla Mujeres still waiting to be sent! Ignore
that message if you were one of the people who mistakenly received
We flew into Washington, DC on Thursday and were seen at the National
Cancer Institute on Friday. The experience of going to the NCI was
a very good one. We were treated with dignity and respect at all
times, even if there were no hugs, as were so prevalent in Guatemala!
We are told that at least one very important diagnostic study (a
MRI of his spine) had been neglected in Guatemala and that the chemo
drug they had started using on him was determined (particularly
in some recent studies) to be ineffectual for his cancer. Also,
our radiation machines are a generation more evolved than the best
that they have in Guatemala. Here they will be better able to treat
only the cancerous area (with an established margin of safety) without
getting as much radiation on nearby critical areas. So, I'm certainly
glad we decided to come back home!
As a side note, Dr. Fine, the NCI doctor said that KeeKay, our
neurosurgeon, had done an excellent job. The NCI received the CD
ROMs of Roger's MRI's a day earlier than our arrival, as I had sent
them ahead with the pathology slides. Dr. Fine told us that when
he got the discs there were several other doctors nearby. He asked
them all to stick around as he opened the files, explaining that
these were the MRI’s of a man who had had brain surgery in
Guatemala. They all fully expected to see a poorly done surgery
at the least, and possibly a "train wreck".... instead
they found a very well done surgery! Dr. Fine said that KeeKay had
done as good a job of removing the cancer as anyone could have done.
The small amount that he had left behind was left on purpose, and
wisely, as it was too close to a critical area that NO surgeon should
have been messing around near. So, I am VERY glad I trusted my instincts
with KeeKay... who always says it is the "Guy Upstairs"
who guides! his hands. I believe he's right, if a tad on the modest
So, Monday morning I will make a decision as to which radiotherapy
center I think is the best fit for us and then the doctors at the
NCI will consult by phone with the doctors I choose. At the moment,
it sounds like the radiation department at ECU in Greenville, NC
may be the best place within a reasonable distance. Greenville is
about an hour and a half drive, but the American Cancer Society
has a "Hope Lodge" there. Like a "Ronald McDonald"
house for adults, Roger and I should be able to stay there for his
six weeks of daily (Monday through Friday) radiation therapy. That
would make things much easier! Not only would it save hours of daily
commute when Roger is sure to be feeling yucky, but it will give
us both some well needed support from others fighting cancer.
We are also still waiting for the results from the "second
opinion" on the pathology of this tumor from the NCI to be
sure of exactly what we are dealing with. That should be done sometime
this week, but we can move ahead on things even without it.
Otherwise, Roger continues to do very well. You would never notice
anything different about him. When tested at the NCI he failed to
be able to spell the word "world" backwards (hardly a
critical skill, in my opinion!) and had trouble maintaining his
balance when asked to walk backwards "heel to toe.” Otherwise
he was able to perform all the neurological tests asked of him.
He's really doing well!
Life's a trip!
October 22, 2005
From Claudia's Dad
"Claudia called Friday evening
from Donna’s home. (Donna met them at the airport and chauffeured
them around Washington.
They went to the National Cancer Institute
(NCI) and consulted on Roger's case. (NCI doesn't treat patients,
but they know the latest treatment and can recommend the best
treatment and where to get it) They did not recommend Guatemala,
(not as up to date as the US).
There is a recommended hospital in
Ashville, NC so Claudia and Roger will go home to Oriental, NC,
and travel the 90 minutes to Ashville as necessary. (There is
a hospice in Ashville, like the Ronald McDonald house, where they
can stay for free during treatment.) NCI will check periodically
on Roger’s progress. They will stay at Donna's until Sunday.
October 18, 2005
I am very busy right now, making arrangements, so this will have
to be short.
After calling the National Cancer Institute I had some reservations
that Roger was getting the benefit of the most up-to-date information
on his disease, so I made the decision to take him directly to the
NCI for a consultation. We will be flying in to Washington DC (BWI)
on Thursday night and be seen at the NCI on Friday. We will then
go on to North Carolina and probably get radiation treatment there.
October 12, 2005
Thank you all for your support and kind words! Roger and I are
back in Guatemala City... In case you missed the last e-mail report,
in short: Roger has a brain tumor, it is a primary cancer, which
has a fairly good prognosis. He had it operated on, they got most
of it out, now we are doing radiation and chemotherapy. He is doing
REALLY well! If you didn't´t see the extra scar, you would
not notice anything different!
He had his first chemo session on Friday and it went well, he had
no side effects. We are in the planning stage of his radiation therapy.
They need to plot his brain to know exactly where to strike. All
the doctors here are wonderful! And the facilities in Guatemala
City are EXCELLENT!
The flooding you have been hearing about in Guatemala is in no
way affecting us. It is up in the mountains, and unfortunately,
hitting the poorest people the hardest. I have heard that several
of the cruisers we have been hanging out with have gone to help
out. Many others have sent contributions.
Several people have asked for an address for us here.. I don´t
really recommend trying to send us stuff here in Guate City, I don´t
know how long it would take to get here and what would happen to
it once we leave the city. But if you have our address at the marina,
you can send stuff there, if you don´t, I´ll send that
address in the next email ( I don´t have it right now). We
do have a couple of phone numbers here in Guatemala City.
Our cell phone number is: XXX XXX XXXX XXXX*
the cell phone does not work at the apartment (we´re in a
basement apartment), There is a phone in the apartment. *
We´re doing well, don´t worry about us, but this isn´t
over yet, so please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!
* I'm not going to put Roger and Claudia's
phone numbers on the internet. If you want to contact them,
contact me, or someone else in Claudia's family.
October 10, 2005
Hello, the webmaster again,
This is still Claudia's space, but
she's been busy.
Claudia's Dad (my "Uncle Bob"
who taught me more in real life about the practical application
of physics than any school class) was concerned about Claudia
& Roger in view of the floods in Guatemala. He and Cathy hoped
Claudia would contact "someone" who in turn would pass
the information on. Bob utilized some of the skills learned early
in life to contact Roger and Claudia, and within ten minutes of
trying, Claudia called to say that they are OK, and in Guatemala
Roger is receiving additional treatment
and has already completed a treatment, which went well. The flood
has not affected them; they are in the resident hotel as before,
their e-mail is working, but limited and the marina is keeping
close watch on Summerthor.
Continue to keep them in your hearts,
thoughts and prayers.
|October 3, 2005
Where to begin? Well, If you ever need your head opened and a
few extra parts taken out, I can highly recommend a great neurosurgeon
in Guatemala City!
A couple of weeks ago, on September 9th, Roger started acting
a little wackier than normal. He hadn't been feeling well for
about a week, so I thought he might just be dehydrated. I called
the owner of the marina, who is a Physician's Assistant. He looked
at Roger, noticed how "wacky" he was being and began
to think he might have had a mini-stroke. It was very late, so
we decided to keep pushing hydrating fluids on him all through
the night and see the local doctor in the morning. We did that
but since Roger's wackiness was a subtle thing and the doctor
was suffering from Dengue Fever, she didn't think there was much
wrong with him that more IV hydration wouldn't solve. So we hydrated
him some more. And he didn't get any better.
So we hired a taxi to take him to the nearest hospital in Morales,
about 40 minutes away. Now I know you all have a mental picture
of what a hospital in Guatemala must be like, unfortunately, this
hospital probably matches your low expectations. It was pretty
bad! They did EKG's and a chest x-ray and decided that he had
had a heart attack (they DID NOT do the blood
enzyme test that would have proved it). So we treated him for
two days for a heart attack. At that point I had a friend with
me (Gloria) who was a heart patient and spoke fluent Spanish.
She assured me that they were doing the right kinds of things
for a heart attack, even if the conditions were poor. We wanted
to get Roger out of there and on to Guatemala City the very next
day, but we were told that we shouldn't move a heart patient for
at least a week. When we assured the doctor that we would make
the trip in a private car, driven with extreme care, he allowed
us to take him to Guatemala City after only TWO days of treatment.
Guatemala City is about 5 hours away. We got there in the evening
of September 12th. A different friend (Crystal) drove us; she
had her husband's cardiologist standing by and he arrived in the
ER just a few minutes after we did. Now, remember that image you
had of Guatemalan Hospitals, throw it in the waste basket! This
place was as modern, clean and professional as they come! Virtually
all of the doctors spoke English, so I had no problem communicating.
And they were all COMPASSIONATE! Not one doctor
failed to greet me with a sincere hug, left me with a hug and
gave me a hug at any time I looked in the least bit fragile! The
nurses kept the comfort and dignity of the patient in mind at
all times, it was really wonderful!
Okay, so the cardiologist took one look at the EKG's and chest
x-ray, and declared there was nothing wrong with his heart! So
we started looking elsewhere. Enter Dr. Enrique Azmitia Springmuhl,
neurosurgeon or "KeeKay" to his friends, whom our friend
Crystal happened to be! He was also on "standby", just
waiting for Crystal's call. He ordered a CAT scan, and sure enough,
there was a good-sized tumor hanging out in Roger's head!
So, we started treating him for this brain tumor! They started
giving him drugs to reduce the swelling in his brain, which was
a reaction to this tumor. We had an MRI done the next day, to
show better detail of the location of the tumor. And we waited.
It took a few days for the drugs they were giving him to work,
so on September 15th (Independence Day in Guatemala) they operated.
KeeKay had assured me that he could get in and get the tumor out
without damaging any of the parts that make Roger "Roger".
I trusted KeeKay because he has a good soul, you can just feel
that about him. He is unbelievably talented and HUMBLE.
Whenever you thank him, he immediately says, "No, no. Don't
thank me, thank the Guy upstairs, He is the one that guides my
hands!". And besides, KeeKay operated on some collapsed neck
vertebrae on my friend Crystal that could have left her paralyzed
and did spinal surgery on another cruiser I have met. He trained
in the United States and is Board Certified in the USA. What more
could you ask?
He kept his word! Roger is really doing well! He is walking and
talking and eating like a horse! His memory is fine. He has a
gap in his memory about this illness. He doesn't remember acting
strangely, leaving the boat or any of the events up to and including
the surgery. His memory starts up again a few days after surgery
in the Intensive Care Unit. Frankly, this lapse is a Godsend!
For about a week his short-term memory had some blips in it, but
I was told that this had to do with the swelling that was still
happening in his brain (from the twin insults of brain tumor followed
by surgery). It really has cleared up so that now, if you didn't
notice the scar across the top of his head, you'd never know there
was anything different about him.
And the prognosis? Good! It is brain cancer. That's the bad news.
The good news is that it is a PRIMARY brain cancer, not a secondary
or "metastasized" cancer (as in a cancer that started
someplace else in his body and traveled to his brain). That kind
of cancer would be very hard to fight. The primary brain cancer
has a much better prognosis.
We are currently back at the boat. We will return to Guatemala
City at the end of this week. Roger will begin six weeks of radiation
therapy on Friday and will start six months of chemotherapy (one
day every three weeks) starting next week. The oncologist assures
me that he will be using the same drugs and equipment that we
would get in the United States and that the protocol followed
will be the same. We will stay here and get treated in Guatemala.
We trust the doctors here, at least the ones in Guatemala City!
And we don't think we would get better treatment in the USA. These
are good people here!
This thing isn't over yet, so please keep us in your thoughts
Life's a trip!
|September 27, 2005
This is Claudia's space, but she has been too busy lately
to drop a line. Roger needed some medical attention in Guatemala
City, so Roger and Claudia are there for a while. The procedure
went well and Roger is recovering.
I am Claudia and Roger's friend, long enough that we don't
count the years anymore. If you are unaware of the circumstances,
contact me and I will tell you what I can. Keep them in your hearts,
thoughts and prayers.
August 11, 2005
We have settled nicely into life on the Rio Dulce. Mario's Marina
is a nice place to be. We are completely cut off from town, but
only a dinghy ride away. I use the term "town" loosely, as Fronteras
isn't much more than a place to buy essentials of food and supplies
and to catch a bus to someplace else. But it is enough for most
things. There are lots of good people here at Mario's and plenty
of activities to either join or ignore as the fancy takes us.
I've taken up a form of Dominoes called "Mexican Train" played
with 3 to 6 players. It takes some skill, strategy and luck...
and while we DO keep score, nobody really cares who wins!
A few weeks ago I left Roger with the boat and I took off to
Antigua to study Spanish. I stayed with a local Guatemalan family
and there was one other student in the house, a young woman from
London. She was a vegetarian, so the 80-year-old housekeeper made
us all some wonderful veggie-food that was really delicious. I
can't say that I learned enough in the short time I was there
to become anywhere near fluent, but we did cover some things that
had never come up in any Spanish lesson I had taken in the states
and I can really say that I did learn a lot.
Antigua is a beautiful city. It was the former colonial capital
of Central America back when the Spanish were busy raping and
pillaging the new world. They used the local Mayans as slave-labor
to build what can only be described as magnificent churches, monasteries
and government buildings. The local gods seem to have taken their
revenge as a series of sever earthquakes destroyed the city in
the 1700's. The capital moved to a safer location, but many of
the people stayed and simply built around the ruins. Today Antigua
retains much of its colonial period charm. The streets are cobble
stoned and painfully narrow. Some of the churches have been partially
restored, but most still lay in jumbles of bricks, rocks and stone
carvings. For a small fee you can enter the ruins and walk amongst
the remains of walls that were once 10 or 12 feet thick and imagine
what the buildings were once like.
About nine weeks ago, in the town of Fronteras I stumbled on
the broken pavement of what passes for a sidewalk and injured
my ankle. I went to see the local doctor who is very nice and
speaks English very well. She thought that I had just sprained
my ankle and it would get better with some minor help like keeping
it elevated and iced. And it DID get better. It just never got
RIGHT. So, last week, after 8 weeks of walking on it, including
two weeks on the treacherous cobblestones of Antigua, I finally
schlepped my way to the "big town" of Moralas for an x-ray, and
sure enough, it's broken. I am supposed to keep my weigh totally
off of it for SIX weeks! Not exactly possible as there is no room
to use crutches on the boat. But I AM trying my best to keep off
of it. I have a walker I can use off of the boat, but since I
can't really get off the boat without putting too much pressure
on my injured ankle I am trying to stay on board and be a slug.
Thankfully I have the new Harry Potter book and a bunch of new
DVD's to watch.
Roger's been wonderful. He is doing all my off-boat chores like
laundry, grocery shopping and taking the garbage to the dumpster.
He is also being kind and "fetching" things for me around the
boat so I can be more sloth-like. We HAD hoped to do a number
of land trips over the next few weeks to visit Mayan ruins and
other places of interest, but that is just going to have to wait
a while longer. I know I've got to get this ankle healed, and
if I don't do it now, it will only get more difficult. So, I may
not be being a model patient, but I am doing my best.
Life's a trip!
May 11, 2005
We're safely installed at a slip at Mario's Marina, up the Rio
Dulce (Sweet River) in Guatemala. We arrived in Livingston May
5th, after having spent some time in Caye Caulker and Placencia,
Belize. We enjoyed both towns. There was a bit of a sticker shock
at the price of restaurant meals and (more importantly) groceries
in Belize! But, we eventually did find small little "comedas"
at which we could eat for a reasonable price and we just bought
as few groceries as possible. But both towns had unique "flavors"
that were well worth stopping for, and we will probably make a
point of returning to both towns for a revisit when we have more
We were successful in getting "over the bar" at the
mouth of the Rio Dulce without touching bottom. We used a two-fold
tactic. First, we allowed our cruising buddies David and Damon
on "Bruadair" to go first. They very kindly showed us
where NOT to go! They ended up getting stuck for a short time.
Then we took advantage of a rising tide and the kind help of a
local named "Liven" who came out and offered to show
us the deep water for a tip. Sure enough he guided us safely in
for a $6 tip and two cold beers. He became our friend for the
next couple of days we spent anchored in Livingston, helping us
out with a problem and answering our questions. A good man, Liven!
Livingston was interesting. A small town/city that while on the
mainland, might just as well be an island, as it had no roads
to or from it. The river is Livingston's "highway" and
all traffic comes and goes by water. We spent a few days exploring
before making our way up the Rio.
The trip up river was really great! The waterway winds its way
through sheer cliff ways of limestone covered in a thick and lush
jungle vegetation. We were still buddy boating with Bruadair,
so we took an extra long time going up river, as we were both
"posing" for photos along the way. We should have some
very good pictures of our journey as soon as we get a chance to
exchange digital photo files with them.
We landed at Mario's on Sunday and were put into temporary spots
until the owners return on Wednesday... we'll have to see where
we end up on the dock. But we like the place. It has room for
about 75 boats, but a lot of the boats are vacant, their owners
away either traveling or visiting "home". This marina
seems to be the hub of activity among the eight or ten other marinas
of various size in the area. It has a nice restaurant which serves
meals and drinks every day except Monday, when only the bar is
open. As a result, they have made Monday "potluck" night.
They light a grill so you can cook your own meats and everyone
brings a dish to share... and the best part is they let us use
the restaurant plates and utensils, so we don't even have to do
our own dishes! In the mornings, they put on a big pot of free
coffee and everyone congregates as they wake up and watch the
morning news on satellite until 7:30 am when the local cruisers
net comes on the VHF radio and we get the local "river"
news and weather. Very nice! We are told they also hold a nautical
flea market here every Saturday when cruisers from all the other
marinas come to exchange "treasures from the bilge"!
You can visit Mario's website for photos at .
The nearest "town" is Fronteras a mile or so by the
river. Fronteras DOES have a road... and not much else. I would
describe the town as a wide spot on the two lane road, but they
failed even to think to widen the road. As a result, crowds of
pedestrian shoppers, tractor trailer trucks with heavy loads picked
up in Puerto Barrios, and busses of all sizes and configuration
vie for road space. Quite a mess! But you can buy most of your
"staple" foods in the town at reasonable prices. There
are fruit stands and grocery stores, two outboard motor dealers,
two or three pharmacias, a small appliance store that sells fans
and microwaves, but no air conditioners and a small hardware type
store or two, restaurants, bakeries and a fish market... what
more do you need? Well, for THOSE things, you have to take a bus
to Guatemala City. Its about a 4.5 hour trip by bus. We haven't
done that yet, but we plan to in the next week or so just to see
what we can see!
We seem to have arrived just in time for the "rainy"
season. It starts raining in the evening and continues until mid
morning and stops. Not a bad arrangement, actually. Every morning
we wake up to a clean boat!
So, we're here. We're safe. We're hot... oh yes! It's quite warm
here... and humid! And we are having a great time!
Life's a trip!
April 24, 2005
We have made it safely to Caye Caulker, Belize. This island is
beautiful... very Caribbean in flavor. The houses and stores are
painted in wild colors.
The water is the most GORGEOUS tropical blue and crystal clear.
We have a school or tropical fish living under our boat feeding
on the algae growing on the hull and hand-outs of table scraps.
Prices are much higher than in Mexico so it is probably good that
we were only given a 30 day visa for the country... I don't think
our budget would cover much longer of a stay at this time.
There's some weather heading our way... 20 knot winds, nothing
really, but in the very shallow, coral filled waters here, it
is better to move the boat on calm days. At least for a few more
miles... soon we will be in deeper water but still inside the
protection of Belize's barrier reef.
Having a great time! Life's a trip!
April 19, 2005
Just a quick note to say that we are leaving Isla Mujeres tomorrow
morning. We are in the process of checking out of the country
as I type. We will pick up the anchor at first light and head
South for Belize. With luck we will be in San Pedro, Belize in
about 48 hours. We will spend a few days in Belize before continuing
on to Guatemala, making day-trips down the coast of Belize. We
may not get a chance to use the internet in Belize, so don´t
be surprised if you don´t hear from us for a couple of weeks.
The weather is good for the next week at least, and once we get
to Belize we will be inside of the barrier reef, so we will be
We´ll email once we get settled in Guatemala. Until then...
Life´s a trip!
March 16, 2005
We have found Isla Mujeres to be what is know as a ¨tar pit¨
harbor. Once you put the anchor down, it´s hard to pick
it back up again! Except in reality, the ¨holding¨ in
the anchorage is rather poor and boats tend not to stay put in
windy weather... we call it the ¨drag races¨. We had a
wild night last week where about a dozen boats dragged through
the anchorage, some hitting other boats or pulling up THEIR anchors
and sending them adrift.... somehow the cold fronts always seem
to arrive in the middle of the night, too! But... everyone helps
everyone else out, and that´s what makes this such a great
place to hang out!
We are truly enjoying Isla Mujeres! The cost of living is very
low here. We buy tacos for lunch from the various street vendors
for about $1 USD a piece. Fresh produce is good and inexpensive.
Most food prices are less than the USA, with the exception of
food that has to be imported from the USA, which can sometimes
be a little more expensive (other times, not). We enjoy the weekly
potluck dinners held by cruisers and every once in a while someone
will hold a ¨class¨ about something of interest to other
cruisers. Really a great group of people!
Slowly, people are beginning to yank their anchors up and head
South... most of us are heading to the Rio Dulce river in Guatemala
for hurricane season. We have reservations at a marina starting
June 1st. Our plan is to leave here around the first week of April...
we will probably have company on the trip, as others will leave
around then as well. We will ¨gunkhole¨ through Belize,
enjoying the scenery, but not getting ¨stuck¨ anywhere
for too long, as we are hearing that there are now regulations
and charges in most Belize harbors that make ¨loitering¨
less fun than it once was.
Then, on to the Rio Dulce! We have heard wonderful things about
the area and are looking forward to spending an extended period
of time there. I have found on the internet that I can take an
¨immersion¨ spanish class in Guatemala.. get this... one
week of individual instruction (6 hours a day) and Room and Board
in a Guatemala family´s household (three meals a day) runs
a mere $175 for the week! Cool! I am really looking forward to
doing this as we have such a large population of Hispanics in
the USA... and especially in Oriental, NC. It would be nice to
be able to help out the Hispanics in our country as I am certainly
indebted to those bilingual Mexicans here who help us out daily!
Did I mention that we send ¨messages-in-a-bottle¨ whenever
we get into the Gulf Stream? We´ve so far received letters
back from three wonderful people who have picked up our bottles!
It is really neat to find out where they end up and who finds
Don´t forget that our website address has changed since
the first of the year to summerthor.com. My webmaster has been
really busy with his own life, so he has not updated the site
in a while, but he works for ¨postcards¨, so I can´t
really complain! And I am certainly grateful for his efforts...
I wouldn't´t know where to begin!
Life´s a trip!
* WEBMASTERS Note
- It's all true - hopefully the re-design
will make up for the slacker I've been
January 29, 2005
We are really enjoying Isla Mujeres! We have a great group of
cruisers here... probably around 100 English speaking cruising
boats between the anchorage and marinas. Each morning there´s
a "cruiser`s net" on VHF channel 13. From the cruiser`s
net we get the latest weather and exchange information about good
buys and fun things to do. We also get together frequently for
Happy Hours and beach parties ( the last one was broken up by
the local police, but that was WAY past our bedtimes!).
But, of course, the BEST part of being here is the island itself!
Very laid-back. The locals are all very friendly and we are enjoying
learning Spanish by the "immersion" method! Each day
we seem to pick up a little more. Isla Mujeres has a least one
of most of the things you need on a daily basis. There´s
ONE bank. ONE supermarket (with many tiny "mini-supers").
There´s several pharmacies ( this IS Mexico!). ONE church.
You get the idea! Fifteen minutes away by ferry is Cancun. You
can find just about anything you want in Cancun.. including Walmart,
Sam´s Club, Sears, Home Depot and JC Penney.
Food prices are very good here. For our beer-loving friends,
a long neck bottle of the local beer is about $1 at the marina
happy hour. As always, there are cultural "stone walls".
I wear a poncho in the dinghy to keep sea spray off of me. I decided
not to replace mine in Key West because I figured they would be
cheaper here... and the probably WOULD be, if they had any! You
see, its NOT the "rainy season" right now... so NO one
carries raincoats (or umbrellas, for that matter). Never mind
that it rains at least once a week... its NOT the rainy season
and that´s that!
Speed bumps are fun! Isla Mujeres and Cancun are crawling with
them! They incorporate crosswalks into the speed bumps so they
are extra wide and tall. The busses HAVE to go slow to get up
and on top of them... but once on top they gun the engine and
it´s a WILD ride down the other side! FUN!
Every street corner has a time-share hustler. We have been too
busy to partake yet, but the longer we hold out, the more we find
they are willing to pay us to go on the tour. One of these days!
The water here is clear and tropical green. We snorkel on a reef
within sight of our anchor spot. Very pretty! Life´s pretty
We have a friend coming to visit next week. She´ll stay
until the middle/end of February. After that we´ll start
thinking about heading South again. Mexico has this new thing
where it may cost us about $100 for each Mexican port we visit
(except some ports that my charge nothing, its all very confusing),
so we may make a bee-line to Belize... and eventually on to Guatemala.
We´re in the process of making arrangements to stay at a
marina in up the Rio Dulce for hurricane season (very inexpensive
there). We figure we can make road trips from Guatemala. into
the interior and back up into the Yucatan Peninsula if we chose
Life´s a trip!
January 8, 2005
We´re having fun here... internet is a very reasonable
$1.50 per hour. We´re learning our way around. There's a
great group of cruisers here and the locals are very friendly.
Apparently some of the other cruisers have found a way to talk
over the internet for practically nothing... I´m going to
try to figure out how to do that too.
Otherwise things are going well. We are drinking the water and
eating questionable tacos from street vendors with no refrigeration...
and haven´t suffered any ill effect YET!
The weather is beautiful... we swim every day! Come visit if
you get the chance!
January 6, 2005
Well... We´re here! Isla Mujeres, Mexico looks like lots
of fun! We´ve only had the chance to explore a small portion
of this small island so far, but it looks like we´ll have
a great time here!
It was an exciting ride... we are very grateful to have been
able to make the trip with our friends Jean and Danielle on ¨Bear
Away´´ and another boat that are friends of theirs.
They gave us the benefit of their Bluewater experience, which
in turn gave us the courage to just say, "Yes! Lets DO it!"
Otherwise we might STILL be waiting for the "perfect"
weather window 10 years from now!
It took us just under 2 1/2 days from Dry Tortugas. Our First
leg of the trip, from DT to the western tip of Cuba gave us 18-24
kts winds and 6-10 foot seas... but it was coming mostly from
behind the boat, so the ride was pretty good. The sail across
the Yucatan Straights was a little easier... until we got about
20 miles from Isla Mujeres and encountered a current going against
us so swiftly that we were practically standing still!
We arrived and anchored "outside" (between Isla Mujeres
and Cancun) in the very early hours of Jan. 3rd and slept a few
hours. After the sun came up we moved "inside" the harbor
and set the anchor. Since then we have been working with our agent"Miguel"
to get all the paper work and inspections done to legally enter
us and the boat into the country... we are STILL jumping through
hoops today! We´ve been inspected for dangerous fruits and
vegetables and again for animal "pests"... this guy
wanted to know if we had any cockroaches and I can only wonder
if he was afraid OUR cockroaches might harm THEIR cockroaches!
We¨re told the Navy is looking for us... they want to inspect
our boat for drugs, but we haven´t been here long enough
to find any, so I guess they are out of luck!
Life´s a Trip!