Tuesday, June 23, 2009

January 18, 2008

Hello again Everyone,

You last heard from us upon arrival at the Caribbean coast of Yucatan, where the water is warm enough to swim. We went out on a 4-day trial trip in the canoe, north from Cancun, about 20 miles up to Isla Contoy, which is at the NE corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. We were promptly kicked off that island but were generally successful, camping on beaches, paddling through the mangrove swamps that lie behind the beach, and succeeding in our first open crossing. Steve pulled the canoe while swimming much of the time, per the strategy of traveling like that to maximize swimming exercise. We have since solved a few equipment problems: gave the canoe a new paint job, installed new canoe seats, bought new waterproof duffel bags, resolved storage issues, etc. Moreover, we discovered several problems with the traveling strategy itself:
1) The wind (standard Caribbean trade winds, usually from the east) is often too strong to counter either paddling or swimming.
2) The surf is sometimes too heavy to land or launch.
3) Public access to the shoreline is scarce, making camping and reprovisioning difficult.
4) It's hard to carry enough food and water and stow it all in a safe, capsize-proof manner.
5) It's an on-going challenge to avoid sunburn, insect bites, flipper sores, and other skin disorders associated with our environment.

After fixing the problems as best we could we gave up on the idea, though it was never firm anyway, of continuously following the coast in the canoe. Steve can still get his swimming in and life can be much simpler living out the truck while scouting for good diving places along the coast, and using the canoe as an occasional adjunct. So we proceeded south from Cancun looking for places where we can swim out to the reefs that lie along much of the coast. Here and there we find good places to swim, and there we stay a few hours or a few days. We've also been swimming a lot beautiful cenotes, most of which extend down into caves which, naturally, we can't go far into. We've spent time in Puerto Morales, Akumel, and Tulum, our home base the past few days, desirable because there is a public beach RVs can camp on for free, and the reef is unrestricted and only about 300 yards offshore. The water is clear, the fish and turtles are colorful and abundant, and an important Mayan ruin site is just up the beach from us: stone temples overlooking the brilliant aquamarine sea. We've battled rain storms which find surprise leaks in our truck canopy, devised new mosquito net techniques, and utterly failed to make lentils taste good. In other words, things are great and we hope they continue that way! We've befriended a couple of people along the way, one of whom, a skinny galoot from Wisconsin, will probably accompany us for awhile.

We plan to continue following the coast southward swimming wherever we can get access to a good place. For a while we will follow a long barrier-beach peninsula ending at Point Allen, from which point we will have to return to Tulum. After that there are the myriad islands off the coast of Belize, which promise great long-term canoing. perhaps allowing a return to our original travel strategy. So, we'll probably just continue South and see what becomes of it. We've arrived at our general playground - long driving trips are no longer necessary. Steve swims an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, and Ginny swims nearly as much. Our bodies are getting pretty strong and tan. The swimming is good for Steve's back.

We've put up some more pictures for your enjoyment onhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ginnygoon/MexicoTrip. The last 43 are new since you last went to that site. Steve thought there were too many pictures of him and Ginny thought there were too many of her. we settled the dispute mathematically, making the number proportionate to how many people each has on the distribution list, and Steve has more on the list!

ginny and steve

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