Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  December  2006 
Another Ho Ho  
December 2006 in the Baja was much cooler and windier than the norm. North winds whipped down from California as the Santa Ana winds blew up there.  Both of us on The Cat’s Meow tried to continue working on boat projects, but it was difficult-to-impossible to get much work accomplished in the wind. Robin was frustrated because she could not continue the work she had barely begun, to put new non-skid on the top deck. There were plenty of other, indoor, projects to keep us both busy, however. Robin completed wallpapering a couple of small areas in the main salon, Martin worked on battery/power and water tank jobs. It seems there is never a lack of things to work on, on TCM!!  
As you know, our one and only engine for TCM is still down — after four months. We still wait and work toward getting ‘er put back together. In early December, the crank shaft was removed. This was a biiiiiig job. The mechanic, “Marteeeeen” and helpers, were able to lift the shaft up through the stair well from the engine room to the salon, and believe me it was touch n’ go. This thing was very very heavy, and long, and barely fit through the opening. Whew!  
                                                             The crank shaft is off the boat             
Each year a subasta is held at the Marina de La Paz, which is a fund raiser for the association which provides meals to the poorest children in the city. (Subasta means, loosely, auction.) All manner of items are gathered throughout the year to sell or to auction, and local people bring and sell some of their arts as well. This activity is attended by the local community as well as the “gringo” cruiser folks, and many Christmas presents are purchased during the auction. This is definitely a social event where we find out where some of our boating friends are heading and we meet up with those we have not seen for a while 
As usual, there were those occasions to get together and celebrate something with friends, which as usual meant having a nice dinner. Susan, of the sailboat Maitairoa, celebrated her latest circumnavigation of the sun, and we were there to help her. Hubby Alex arranged for a surprise gathering at the Los Arcos Hotel restaurant, and as you can see we did have a good time.  
                    Birthday girl Susan                                                                                Silly Lisa (Andiamo) always has fun! 
Many of our friends and some of our families say they will come to visit us on The Cat’s Meow, but few really do it. This month we actually had two visits from friends, and we greatly enjoyed them! Cathleen & John, from the Boston area, spent a week including Christmas with us. Since the engine parts still covered the guest quarter’s bed, they stayed in the hotel at our marina. While they were here, we celebrated the “real” new year: the winter solstice. Last year, the gathering was at and around the sailboat Blue Suede Sue. Her captain Mark’s sudden and tragic passing earlier this year was reason enough for us to once again hold the solstice party at Blue Suede Sue. We brought fine eats & drinks, we kept warm in lots of winter clothes, we toasted the setting sun, and we raised a toast to Mark and to Sue, as well.  
                                          View from Blue Suede Sue                                                           The gang that gathered for the winter solstice                                                       Solstice sunset over The Cat’s Meow 
The weather was cool and windy, but also broke and gave us all some nice warm weather for part of the time Cathleen & John spent in the Baja. When the weather was nice, Cathleen got in some kayaking, she and John did a little snorkeling and beachcombing.  
                                                                              John & Cathleen enjoy Balandra beach  
While much of Mexico celebrates the holiday season a little differently than those of us in North America, since La Paz is so close to the United States, they have begun celebrating Christmas in a manner more like the American version, plus the observation of the Day of the Kings, and others. Since Santa Claus has come to the Baja, Christmas wrappings and buying Christmas presents has become more common in the Mexican homes and families. Organizations such as the Rotary Club of La Paz and others accept donations and provide lots of presents for the poor children and families. The Parque de los Ninos — Park for the Children — displays the mounting gifts for about 2 weeks, guarded at night of course, and then gives these presents to the children on Christmas morning.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gifts in the “parque de los ninos”  
One of the marinas in La Paz, Costa Baja, hosts special Christmas activities for the cruising people and the local people alike. One evening, Cathleen, John, Martin & Robin ventured out in the cold to see the live manger scene, piñatas & games for the children, and some beautiful Christmas caroling.  
                                                                   Big piñata, little swinger                                                                 Live manger scene (watched closely…) 
A little later in the month, good friend JoAnna, who lives in the Sedona area, came to stay on TCM. We had been able to clear the guest quarters, so JoAnna was our test case for staying on the boat with us! Her “bathroom” consisted of a porta potty, and a bowl & pitcher, but JoAnna was a great sport and made it all work. It is amazing to me that not one photo was taken of her during her 10 day visit, but believe me, we had funnn. The weather cleared a bit and she had a chance to gather a nice tan, sunning some on the top deck, and getting out to the beaches a couple of times. We kayaked at Balandra beach, but we had to tow (read: pull!) our kayaks over a LOT of sand to get them back to the van, due to a very low tide! Aaaahhh well, it was fun as well as exhausting. We explored the segundas (those great 2nd hand stores), ate wonderful local Mexican food, and talked and talked and talked….. it was much fun. 
View from the Balandra beach  
JoAnna was here for New Year’s Eve, too! As we did last year, we attended a party at friend Olivia’s nice home, here in La Paz. Traditional dishes such as posole and frijoles charros were served, along with many libations including, of course, champagne at the stroke of midnight. It was fun and we were able to stay awake to welcome in the New Year.  
                                                                                                                                                               Happy New Year fiesta at Olivia’s (center) with family and friends 
While we always have some fun and a nice social life with many good friends here in La Paz, most of the time has been spent waiting and waiting for engine parts. It seems impossible that we have had to go through so many problems getting the correct parts for our boat. But, here we are…….still waiting……….. Hopefully, we won’t still be here waiting NEXT holiday season!!!! Come back and find out soon, Cruising  ~  The Cat’s Meow Style