We spent the next two days in town. Since Puerto Ayora is the biggest city in the Galapagos Islands, this is where we needed to complete our preparations for the upcoming 30 day sail to the Marquesas. We needed to do laundry, and buy a few groceries - especially pickles. (We didn’t have any pickles on the sail southward, and of course that made me want some pickles.) We still had not acquired a new paddle for the dinghy, despite inquiring about where to find a paddle at every stop from Cabo San Lucas to the present. We needed to make some boat repairs, and we needed to find internet.
One side note here: life without internet is strange. The internet solved so many of life’s little spats. Need to do research regarding whether you have cancer or a broken rib; curious about the process by which coral islands are formed; need to translate the word “Paddle”; need to watch a YouTube video about repairing your engine driven refrigerator compressor? Just fire-up the Google-Box and you have your answer. Out here, there is no Google-Box, no NPR news, and no Perez Hilton. We have to physically hunt these things down, and in the meantime, our curiosities and debates get set aside with a shrug, “we will have to look this up later.” The problem being, by the time we get to internet we have usually forgotten what it was we needed to look up. I’m starting to keep my list in a notebook.
As far as boat repairs go, our top priority was to fix the jib’s connection to its chainplate. We emailed Sonrisa’s benevolent benefactors, former owners John and Sylvia, to inquire as to where we might order a replacement part. They were sure a spare part was made for the jib connection when they bought and installed the jib roller furling; it was stored somewhere in Sonrisa’s (ample) spare parts. Once anchored, it was much easier to pull out every piece of storage behind the starboard salon bunk. There, we found a spare made to solve this very problem. So, in the cool mist of overcast Day 3, we removed the dynama lashing and wrestled the new stainless steel part into place. We retightened the rigging and all should be right with the world again. Thanks John and Sylvia!
In addition, we figured out what was causing the engine to banshee-wail. It actually wasn’t the engine, but the engine driven refrigerator compressor. It was spewing oil all over itself, heating up, and then freaking out. It is a major relief to know that the engine is operating just fine. We have a brand new DC (battery) driven refrigerator compressor Andrew installed in November of 2015, so the engine driven compressor is a redundancy we can live without until Andrew can get the parts to fix it.
In the US, these minor projects would not take two full days to accomplish. Here, though, we experience several complications: First, we do not have a vehicle, so we must walk every where or hail a taxi. We are too cheap to use a taxi. This means that everything we buy, we must carry on our bodies. Groceries and laundry are amazingly heavy. We load up our backpacking packs and make a couple of laps to the boat. Second, everything closes from noon - 2 p.m. for people to eat lunch and enjoy siesta. As a result, about the time we find the marine chandlery store and spot a shiny new paddle in the window, it is closed for lunch.
Food and internet usually come as a pair here. We find a good internet cafe and usually grab Coffee, beers, or fresh fruit smoothies. Today, internet came with a menu of lobster, octopus, shrimp, and mussel ceviche for lunch, $12.00.
I am frustrated by our inefficiency, but it is ok. We are exploring town while we (slowly) manage these administrative tasks.
(1) The locals all ride bicycles, together. They have no qualms about adding another human to the handle bar, cross bar, or pegs near the wheels. Little brothers, buddies, girlfriends...anyone can fit. We have seen mothers place tiny children on the cross bars and pedal along while this tiny child holds onto the handle bars. I wonder if they go for bedtime bicycle rides like we might take a child for a ride in a stroller.
(2) You never know when you might see a boy of about twelve walking down the street with a soccer ball in one hand, and a machete in the other. No one (except these American tourists) takes a second glance. He must work in landscaping? Oh how I wish I got a picture of him, but I felt strange photographing a child with a machete and by the time I got over it, he was lost in the crowd.
(3) There is a reason they don’t sell paddles here or in Mexico. Why buy a paddle when a perfectly good 2x4 will do?
After lunch we returned to the marine chandlery where, we purchased every single paddle available on the Island of Santa Cruz, likely all the Galapagos Islands, possibly all of Latin America. One paddle. Nonetheless, we acquired one shiny new paddle. It even extends from short to long. This paddle is fancy.