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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

Not going blind. No really. Not going blind.

All is well.  Just starting there cuz what follows was a bit intimidating,  Ok, maybe more than a bit.

On Thursday I managed to poke my eye with a cactus.  Totally lame.  Leaned over to pull a deck pot into position only to be poked in the eye with a blue agave.  Square in the eye.  At first I thought - no big deal.  Just a scratch.  Oh how I wish that were the case.

I called my brother.  The one who is now an attorney (and hence on speed dial for near to everything anyway).  He was a paramedic and worked for an Ophthalmologist.  He said, "sis you already know you should go to the ER".  Um.  Well, no actually I didn't.  My eye didn't hurt much.  I didn't figure I was hurt that bad.  He said "get your ass to the ER.  You could lose your eye if you punctured your eye".  He probably saved my eye (will become clear as you read this).  Note to self, don't take eye scrapes lightly.

We went to the ER here in Punta De Mita (cost $25 USD).  The little hospital that is walking distance.  The doctor looked in my eye and asked how long it had been since I injured it.  I said it had been maybe 30 minutes.  The response, "good, then you still have enough time".  Yikes.  Time for what?  To save my eyesight?  The doctor there found an Ophthalmologist in Puerto Vallarta that was on call and willing to come in.  By then it was 9pm and would be close to 10pm by the time we got there.

What we learned when we saw the Ophthalmologist was that I had punctured my cornea.  The liquid inside the eye was leaking out.  Ok, that can't be good, right?  She sent us home with a prescription for antibiotic eye drops and instructions to put them in every hour.  Ok, yeah, not gonna get a lot of sleep tonight.  Sigh.  ($50 USD to see the specialist after hours.  These numbers are not after insurance.  That is the total cost.)

Next day we went back to get a checkup.  I had figured she would say keep doing the eye drops.  Alas.  No.  The hole had not closed and she wanted to do a surgery to close the hole.  Ok, fine and dandy, but we were also supposed to close on the condo this day.  The Ophthalmologist offered to do the procedure in the evening after our signing (without us asking mind you). So we went and singed the papers at 4pm, and then at 5:30 back to the hospital for the procedure.  (Which ultimately cost $1200 USD - for the OR, the Ophthalmologist, and the rest of the staff.  In the US - that would have been 5x or more.)

I asked if it would hurt.  Was told "no".  I think what she meant was that the "super glue" they would use to close the hole wouldn't hurt.  True.  Alas.  The paddles they used to hold the eye lids open were like medieval torture devices.  And the assistant who held them was in training.  So she scratched my eyes something awful.  My brother says this is to be expected.  Yeah - so seems like a technology ready for some innovation.  During the surgery, my head was covered with a sheet, and with COVID, my mouth covered with my mask.  Plus they had instruments sitting on my face.  So I couldn't really talk.  Just whimper.

Meanwhile microscope that they used to find where the hole was in my eye appeared to be state of the art.

So there I am thinking "it's not supposed to hurt, but I am in agony so something must be wrong".  Nope.  This is apparently normal.  Well, not MY normal.  Yeah.  So then I'm having a panic attack, and trying to talk myself out of it.  You are fine.  Just count to 10.  Ok, count to 100.  You will be fine.  Keep breathing.  Keep breathing. Oh yeah.  Good times.  Mind you, none of this has anything to do with the competence of the doctor.  It has everything to do with me not speaking the language so I don't know exactly what is happening.  In the end, they did great.  I got the hole in my eye patched and all was well.  But when the procedure was done I was quietly sobbing.  Fear, pain, and exhaustion from no sleep the night before.  Doesn't matter.  Just at my wits end.

For the next few days, I laid in bed putting antibiotics and anti fungal meds in my eye every few hours.  I fretted I might lose my eyesight in my left eye.  I wondered if I should have flown back to the US to get treatment.  My brother kept assuring me that I was getting the same attention I would have gotten back in the US.  I hoped that was true.

I love my husband.  He was scheduled to fly home on Saturday.  When I came out of surgery on Friday night, he took one look at me and elected to change his flight home to later in the week. Still, its tough to figure out how to best support a vigorously independent woman.  Best I would tell him was that, yes, I wanted breakfast.  Other than that, I would insist on putting in my own medications and following all the other doctor's instructions.  Yes, he could drive me to the doctor because without one eye I had no depth perception.  So, yeah, probably shouldn't drive myself.  What is a guy to do?  I'm near to impossible.  But, hey, he married me, right?

The next day, I had a checkup with another doctor who confirmed that the patch was in place and working as desired.  Thank goodness she warned me that if the hole healed up it might spit the patch out.  Had I not known that, when on Sunday I experienced a pain like a knife in the eye I might have freaked out.  But no, I figured, ok, that is in all likelihood the glue popping out because the hole is healed.  Fortunately the pain lasted only a couple of seconds. 

On Monday, when we saw the Ophthalmologist, she said that the patch had moved.  She hoped it meant it healed.  She decided to remove the patch and the contact lens and see what lay beneath. Fortunately for me, she found that the hole had healed.  Hooray!!!  She decided to put back on a clear contact lens to protect the cornea and instruct me to wear my dark sunglasses for a few more days.  I still have to keep up the antibiotics and anti fungal drugs every few hours.  But I can return to (more or less) normal life.  My eyesight is normal.  Whew.

All this because of a stupid plant.  Its evil looking isn't it?  It might have to be thrown out with the trash.  Stupid plant.

Kitchen Before and After

When we moved into the condo. the Kitchen was painted a blueish purple color.  Bizarre given the wood tones.

And there was this ugly modern picture on the wall.  So not our style.  And the color clashes.  Red painting, blue walls, orange tile and natural wood cabinets.  The combination was jarring.

So we decided to have the blue painted out with white.   Melissa told Irving on a Monday she wanted him to paint the kitchen.  Next day:

Here is the picture of what it looks like after the painting.

We wanted shelves that looked like our table - with the amazing wood found here.  Melissa talked with the owner of the local shop that made the table. For $250 he promised to make and install two shelves that looked beautiful.  He did not disappoint.  All the colorful glassware that was left to us looks great on the new shelves.

Kelly lives here now

Kelly and Nicole visited us for a week.  We had a total blast.  This look here is classic Kelly.  Laughing his ass off.  And making the rest of us laugh just as hard.

Its great to see him so happy with Nicole.  Though she is way out of his league.  At least that is what Kelly says, and we have to agree.  How he landed her is still a mystery to us all.

When Kelly saw the condo view for the first time, he was like, Wow.  "Dad would be so proud of you, sis."  Yeah, that thought has dawned on me too.  I miss Dad.

When Kelly and Nicole departed, they left behind clothes and a few personal items making it clear they would be back.  They threatened to put a lock on the door to "their room".  Instead they just left this behind for us to find the next day - marking their turf.

Marla comes for a visit

Marla came for a visit this week.  She relaxed, read books, and people watched on the beach.  Whole lotta nothin' really.  It was great!  She wished she could have stayed longer since Kelly gets here in few days.

Dave wasn't feeling well, so Melissa and Marla headed out to dinner her last night here.  They brought fish to our table so we could choose.  Marla got a big laugh out of this.  I think she ordered chicken though.

Does a big iguana live here?

Dave tells Melissa that there is a big iguana that lives in the trees around the pool.  Uh huh.  Right.  Sure thing.  Somehow that lizard is always MIA when Dave tries to show it to Melissa.  This afternoon Dave claimed to have seen it poking its nose out checking out the street out front.  Melissa comes running only to see nada yet again.  This time though Dave managed to snap a photo before the guy sneaked off.

The next morning Dave gives a holler to Melissa who is cooking breakfast in the kitchen.  The big guy has decided to put in an appearance on the tree next to the kitchen table!  Well, hello Mr. Lizard!

New outlet

While Bob was here, he tried to repair the exterior deck outlet behind the BBQ on the lower deck.  What he discovered was that the area behind the outlet was so deteriorated that we couldn’t screw in a new outlet plate because there was nothing to hold the screws.  The plate fell to pieces in his hands.  Today Dave decided to use epoxy (his favorite thing) to repair the wall.  He filled in the wall where he needed to screw in the plate to create a flat and solid "wall" where there was none.

And now there is a brand new outlet!


Pots galore

Melissa has been working on replacement of the deck pots.  Turns out that clay pots down here deteriorate over the years.  To the point where they turn back into dirt.  These two are so bad that if you poke at them with your finger they just fall apart.  The remaining dozen pots are in somewhat better shape, but not much.


For weeks, Melissa has been debating over what to replace these pots with.  Condo management says that clay pots have to be maintained to keep this from happening.  Twice a year you have to sand and repaint all of them.  Even with cheap labor down here that amounts to $250/yr.  The condo management recommended fiberglass pots.  But to replace them all is $2000 USD.  Hmm.  What to do.  Research begins.

Turns out that when they do the maintenance on the pots, they just use regular paint.  Research indicates the right thing to do is to first seal the pots with a cement sealant.  That way moisture doesn’t get into the clay to deteriorate it.  Melissa decides the right thing to do is to use a 6 step process – which if luck holds out – shouldn’t have to be done every year:

  1. Clean and prep – Behr has a cement cleaning product that removes oil and dirt and etches the clay so that it will accept sealants
  2. Seal – Melissa intends to use a construction cement sealant that can be used on things that get a lot of moisture under pressure like retaining walls
  3. Prime – Behr has a paint primer intended for cement that will be applied next
  4. Paint – Debate ensued over color.  The existing pots are a classic Mexican red which Dave likes but Melissa is not crazy about.  Melissa takes pictures of the sea in full sun and snags a color off the photo – which then she has formed into a color chip and has paint made from that
  5. Stain – to get a two-tone depth, she plans to use a brown stain over the blue paint
  6. Sealant – finally to get a tough exterior that is easily cleanable, another Behr product to seal cement that can be applied over paint

Sounds like a lot of work right?  But never fear!  We have help here!  Irving will be working nights and loving the extra pay.

Meanwhile, Melissa heads out to buy the pots and the materials.  There is a landscaping/nursery store on the main highway with a ton of pots.  She decides to stop there.  There are hundreds of clay pots to choose from.  The proprietor’s wife comes out to help.  With 4 of the cutest puppies at her heels.  Ok, gotta stop and play with the puppies, right?

She follows Melissa around taking notes as to which pots and how many are needed.  No English, but Melissa’s little bit of Spanish plus a lot of pointing works fine.  Eventually the proprietor arrives – speaking perfect English.  He can deliver the pots today!  There are 16 all total.  $1000 USD.  Gulp.  More than Melissa had figured on, but would much rather pay a local like this than a fiberglass pot factory on the other side of the country.  So she forges ahead.

Onto HomeDepot to get the paint and supplies.  As she walks through the door, a gal with a handful of postcards that say “Behr sale!” on them flags her down.  So when does that ever happen?!  You walk into the store and the thing you need a ton of is on sale!  They flag down a sales rep to help Melissa.  Melissa shows her the shopping list with the pictures of all the products she needs along with the shelf locations (don’t you love HomeDepot shop before you go features?  They work here in Mexico same as back home).  The sales rep has Melissa’s shopping cart filled up within minutes.  Now to have the right color blue mixed.  We review paint chips not finding the right color until the sales rep finds one called “Ocean Blue” (kid you not).  Its exactly right!  Yes, please mix a gallon of that!

A couple of hours later two pick up trucks arrive with the pots.

After much hoisting and lifting…

All the pots are on the upper deck waiting to be processed and painted.  Melissa gets tired just thinking about it.

The proprietor is a riot.  Here he is showing off some of his properties for sale.  Later he explains that he can do our kitchen shelves that we want installed.  We are currently awaiting a quote.  But seriously, nice guy who we are feeling lucky to have found.


Now, just have to get these pots cleaned, sealed, and painted.  Will be weeks of work, no doubt about it!

Rack of Lamb Cooking Lesson

While Bob and Patty are here, Melissa has been doing a bit of cooking.  Cuz, ya know, guests and food.  They go together!  It was fried fish and giant onion rings a few nights ago.  Tonight, a rack of lamb.  Simple as can be – roasted in the oven with rosemary and garlic, with lemon green beans.  And a nice merlot to match. The perfect end to a great week with Bob and Patty!

Bob gets new teeth

When Bob and Patty arrived, Patty (a heart surgeon’s assistant) was curious about health care down here.  She asked whether we try to take care of all our medical appointments, dentist appointments, and so forth before we came down here.  Quite the opposite we explained.  Melissa had just been to have her teeth cleaned last week, and it was $40 USD.  Cheap and great service.  The dentist herself did the cleaning, most trained in the US, and they have modern equipment like ultrasound cleaning equipment.  Bob then explained that he had a tooth that needed a repair that the dentist said would cost $600 after insurance.  Melissa said casually, “yeah probably be $100 here”.  Patty then pressed on, “What about cosmetic stuff?  I’ve always wanted Bob to have his front teeth fixed”.  Melissa offered to make an appointment so they could get a quote – having already decided to come back next year for their vacation!  So Monday morning she called and the dentist had an opening that same day.  So we headed into Bucerias – a 20 minute drive.  The dentist explained that she would fix the tooth for $40, do a whitening for $50, and do veneers for his two eye teeth for $700.  Blink, blink.  Wow.  That’s nearly what the dentist back home was going to charge just to fix the one back tooth.  So we asked how long the process would take.  She asked when Bob was leaving – to which we replied Friday.  She said – I can do the fixing of the tooth in the back, the whitening, and the prep for the veneers tomorrow, and the veneers installation on Thursday.  Blink, blink.  Wow.  Ok.  So Bob decides to go for it.

The next day, Bob remembered the dentist back home saying something about his eye tooth not having enough root to do a veneer.  So when we reached the dentist office, we reported that to the dentist.  She got out the X-Ray machine, and in a matter of minutes was reviewing the film with Bob and Patty on her computer screen – showing them that the root was just fine.  So work proceeds.

Meanwhile, Melissa and Patty went shopping for blankets.  Melissa has wanted some blankets for the foot of the beds.  She needs a teal one, orange one, and a yellow-green one.  We shopped around Bucerias.  We found one of the stalls in the shops near the central square where a kid swore to us that they didn’t make the blankets the way Melissa wanted – in an effort to convince us to buy the ones he had on hand.  Melissa laughed – yeah they do.  So scramble ensues.  A blanket in teal shows up exactly as Melissa had described!  Then more negotiating – they think they can get the other ones from the brother’s shop in Puerto Vallarta.  Uh huh.  Right.  Patty and Melissa stroll along.  Only to be met on the other end of the shops by the same kid – holding an orange blanket – even better than what Melissa had originally described.  He had run all through the shops ahead of us to find the right blanket.  Good on ya kid!  We knew we would likely have located the blanket further along – but boy that kid could hustle and who could blame him?  There are so few people here this year that the shop owners are really hurting.  So what if we paid a bit more than we should have?  When we tried to negotiate – he said “stop being so Mexican!”  Ok, you get paid just for making us laugh.  That’s two blankets down.  Still looking for the third…


We return to retrieve Bob from the dentist, who informs us that the veneers might be ready a day early – tomorrow.  Sure enough, Wednesday morning at 9am they call to report the veneers are done.  This time Dave drives Patty and Bob back to Bucerias.  At which point the dentist says “I made you the veneers as promised.  But we thought that actually a whole set of front veneers would be better.  So we made them for you so you could see.  You can have the originals installed as planned, or you can do this full set for $1000 more.”  Some quick internet research reveals that the price back in the US would likely have been $10,000 for this work.  After some debate, Bob and Patty decide to go for it.

Judge for yourself – here are the before and after pictures!



Sunrise and Sunset over Bahia De Bandaras

Bob and Patty have been up before dawn watching the sunrise over the mountains to the east.

And then watching the sunsets to the west.

And look, the iguana that Dave swears lives by the pool, but mysteriously is never present when Melissa is around, allowed Patty to take his photo!

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