UKOG Passed!

I made it home yesterday, didn’t get much done. I was sooooo tired! I passed out about 3 PM and slept until 11. I woke up in the middle of the night and fiddled around with the huge stack of mail til I got a little sleepy again. I had to try and go back to bed since I had a long day planned.

First thing I had to do was to get my cell phone working again. I don’t know why, but every time I turn it off for a while it only lets me make emergency calls when I come home and turn it back on. It’s very frustrating.

I had to return the rental car I had to drive home yesterday, then headed back up to Houston for the UKOG (UK Oil & Gas) physical. It’s a company requirement for the temp job I’m hoping to get later this week. I tried to get that done while I was in Mexico, but apparently there is not a single doctor in all of Mexico qualified to do that physical. WTF??!!

Why not?

What the hell is so hard about a general physical that no doctor in Mexico is qualified to perform it? I’ve been to a few doctors down there and I’ve been pretty impressed. I don’t think they’re any worse than doctors I’ve been to in the US (or Thailand, or Korea, or Singapore).

It’s really aggravating that I have to have a US Coast Guard physical every year. It is STCW approved and according to international law (treaty) is SUPPOSED to be accepted for every mariner everywhere worldwide. Now, I have to take them for every temp job I go to? Why? Why does the UK not accept the US Coast Guard physical?

So, I spent all afternoon up there, mostly sitting around waiting. It was worse than usual since they told me I needed to get a piss test, so I was holding it. When I got there, I asked if they could go ahead and take my urine sample if the wait was going to be a while. Nope. Grrrrrr!

So I sat there for about 3 hours before they called my name, trying not to pee myself. It was no fun!

I did pass the physical, it was actually less intensive than the USCG physical.

Seems to me the officials who force all these BS laws (treaties) on us sailors in order to have us all be considered equal, had better get on the companies to stop forcing us to keep wasting OUR time and money on these extra BS ‘requirements’. Why don’t these officials who are SUPPOSED to be there to protect the seaman ever protect the seamen instead of only the employers of seamen?

If we’re all equal enough so that a company can hire an Indian or Ukrainian sailor for pennies on the dollar, only to benefit the company (so they can save on crew costs)- then we SHOULD all be equal enough when it actually helps US instead of the companies!

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Moving Day

Class is over and they’ve already started picking up new students for next months class. I need to move out of this apartment I’ve been staying in all month.

I found a nice looking place downtown. I’ll be packing up and moving out later this morning. I still have some food here, I’ll give it to the other girls in the class. They’re all staying on here for at least a few days.

We went out for a celebratory drink last night. We found a place right on the beach with margaritas for only 15 pesos (less than $1)!

I would try to put up a couple of photos, but my computer is refusing to let me see them! It is apparently stuffed full and I need to delete some programs to make room. I’ve already been storing all my photos on thumbdrives, they’re not even on the computer. I have no idea what I can delete without screwing up something I need. I guess that means I can’t look at any photos til I get home to see the computer guy. 馃槮

Graduation!

It’s over. The time flew by so fast. My time in Puerto Vallarta is coming to an end.

I went to class this morning only to have any last minute questions answered and to receive my final documents. I got my TEFL certificate and letter of recommendation. I have an official TEFL website now and it doesn’t look too bad. Check it out! Let me know what you think. 馃檪

We had our class photo taken with our newly minted diplomas, and that was it!

Los Arcos to Las Animas

Sunday the whole group of us from our school went out sailing Bay of Banderas on a friends boat (thanks again Memo!). We had a great time.

We left around 1030 and came back in around 1930. We cruised from the Puerto Vallarta marina down to Los Arcos. We set out a couple of fishing rods and trolled along as we made our way. We passed schools of fish and a few dolphins along the way. It was so nice.

We stopped for a swim at Los Arcos, a big bunch of rocks just offshore. The water was a clear blue-green. There were hundreds of fish swimming around. There were a few other boats there before us and people were busy feeding the fish, swimming, kayaking, and just generally having a good time.

It was so nice to dive in and luxuriate in the cool, clean, clear water. I swam around and took pictures of the fish. I wasn’t brave enough to try swimming through the arches and caves, but some people did.

We headed back out to sail some more after our nice swim, we were on our way to Las Animas Beach. Raul kept watch on the boat as the water taxi ferried us in to the beach. We had lunch over a couple of big margaritas at Los Conos.

The beach was actually pretty busy. Los Conos is right up on the beach. The view of the boats swaying on the bay and the kids making sandcastles on the beach was so relaxing. The few peddlers who wandered by were mostly entertaining, especially this one guy with his pet iguana. He was hilarious. 馃檪

The restaurant was busy and the staff was a little overwhelmed, but they brought us our drinks quickly and the food was good. I had cheese quesadillas. I’m not big on seafood and that’s more their specialty. Everyone’s fish and shrimp looked very well prepared and no one complained about the food. 馃檪

The water ferry took us back out to the boat and we clambered back aboard the Bella Maria. As we were getting underway, friends pulled up to say hi. They were in a little speedboat (the Calypso) and just out having a good time on the water.

We challenged each other with beer and raicilla, whistling and dancing to loud Mexican music. We rode together for about an hour before they got tired of poking around so slow with us and took off for home, leaving us in their wake. Who cared? We still had plenty of beer. They did make off with the last of the raicilla tho. 馃槮

We sailed back towards the marina as the sun set to port and the full moon rose to starboard. It was a magical time. Everyone was in good spirits and happy to have spent the day together.

Cancelled Class

I got up at 0530 this morning to get ready for my 0700 class. I was in the classroom, had my whiteboard ready and my CD cued up. Then I waited nervously for my students to show up.

They skipped class today.

OK with me, but that means I have to double up tomorrow. AND, it means I’ll have to wake up early again. I’m NOT a morning person. 馃槮

I have my lesson plan ready for the 0700 class, I’ll just use the one I wrote for this morning’s class since we didn’t have class. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out which other class I’ll be teaching (tomorrow evening) and then spend time in the afternoon preparing the lesson plan for that one.

Final Week

Class will finish up this week, so things will be busy around here for a couple of days. Actually, I’ve been fairly busy all along. I haven’t been posting much (and probably won’t be) because the internet has been really bad the last couple of days and I can’t stand sitting here trying to work (and not able to get anything done) while I should be out enjoying Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday I spent the morning taking it easy. I had breakfast at the little cantina downstairs, picked up my laundry, picked up a few things at the store. I took the bus down to the marina after it started cooling off a little bit.

I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t bigger. Other than that, it was about what I expected. Lots of expensive shops and plenty of tourists. A few big yachts but most looked like they were actually used and not just show boats like a lot of them you see in Miami or Houston.

As expected, the gates to the docks were locked. I couldn’t get down to the boats to talk to any crew members. I figured there wasn’t much hope, but still worth a try. I wouldn’t mind working on a private vessel again. It might even be fun for a change.

I wandered around for a while, hoping to find a good sailors bar where I could hang out for a while and get the scoop over a few drinks. Sorry to say, I didn’t find any place that looked likely for real sailors to hang out.

I rode the elevator up to the top of the lighthouse聽(El Faro). I thought I might have a snack and watch the sunset. It was a gorgeous view. They only had chicken wings and I just wasn’t in the mood for those, so I took a few pictures and headed back down to wander some more.

I met a nice guy from Tennessee. He was a former USCG mariner so we had a pretty good conversation. It was nice talking to someone who ‘gets it’. I really miss being on the water. Most people just don’t understand. It gets in your blood.

I had a nice steak dinner at a place called the Rincon de Buenos Aires (Argentinian Steak House). They had a special offering of green salad, baked potato and skirt steak for 195 pesos. I paid about $15 for dinner and a drink.

The steak was great, cooked perfectly and plenty big. I could hardly finish it. The baked potato was big, but they didn’t put anything on it but butter.聽I asked for sour cream and they brought some, but it was not the same thing we get at home. The salad was big, but they only had Italian dressing and it wasn’t really very flavorful. They brought out a bread basket with chimichurra sauce, but I didn’t want to fill up on bread.

I did really enjoy my steak, but I wasn’t real impressed with the restaurant other than that. First of all, it was very hot. I was dripping. The hostess tried to help me by pulling my table (which was up against the wall in a dark corner) out so that it was under a ceiling fan. I appreciated the effort, but it didn’t help much.

The waiters were all polite and helpful, but it was very busy so they were slow to come by. A man at the next table flagged them down for me once after I had been waving at them for about 10 minutes.

It was definitely a very popular place. I would go back for the food, but only if I made sure beforehand it was a slow time.

Sunday morning we got to go out sailing with Erica and her friend Memo. He has a beautiful sailboat and kindly offered to take our whole class out sailing for the day. I’ll have more on that later.

Today was Monday. Back to school. I got my last 2 teaching assignments this morning, and so spent some time working on my lesson plans this afternoon. I’ve got early classes tomorrow and Wednesday, and we have another essay due Wednesday too, so I’ll be busy for the next couple of days with school work.

It’s already 2300. I need to get off here and get some sleep. I need to get up EARLY tomorrow! 馃槮

Dancing in Mexico

Here are some photos from the Fiesta Mexicana I took Friday night. I took tons of photos, but since I wasn’t very close to the stage, it was dark, and the dancers almost never slowed down, I couldn’t get many good shots.

I’ve always loved to watch people dance. All kinds of dancing holds my interest. I always wished I wasn’t so clumsy. My father was a great dancer and he tried to teach me a few times, but I never did really get the hang of it.

The dancers at this (free) show are all kids. I would guess the youngest is probably around 10, the oldest low 20s. They are very good!

I have to hand it to ’em. They’re all out there dancing up a storm and most of them don’t even break a sweat! I’m just standing there and I’m wilting.

PS- like before, if you want to see all the photos, go to my new website www.captainjillsjourneys.com

Marina

Last night I went to watch the dancers again (will upload photos later). I got there 45 minutes early and STILL couldn’t get a seat where I could see to take good pictures. So I stood again for the whole show ( 2 hours +45 mins). My back was killing me by the time it was over, but I did at least manage to get some decent pictures this time.

I met my friends from the TEFL course there and we wandered down the Malecon afterwards. We stopped to have dinner and a couple of margaritas. I had plain and they had strawberry. Instead of salt on the rim, they had spicy pepper! I’m glad I stuck with the regular. They were strong! Dinner (for 1) and 6 margaritas for $15! Our waiter turned out to be from Houston.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about our supposed economic recovery (and “free country” status) when so many Mexicans are leaving the US and finding things much better in Mexico? I’ve certainly found things much better here than at home. I would love to live here permanently and I’m seriously considering it. That’s the whole reason I’m getting certified in TEFL. It will finally allow me a way to get out of the US.

I’ll just have to adjust to a serious pay cut (about 90%!) and so far I’m not really ready to accept that.

Today, I’m going to the marina. I’m hoping I can get in to wander around the docks and talk to people there. I’d like to find out about the possibilities of working on some of those yachts. If I can’t get down on the docks (which is more and more common today and a SERIOUS disadvantage to those of us who work aboard), then I’ll try to find a bar where the sailors hang out.

I’ll try to find 聽out through word of mouth if anyone is looking for crew, or if there is someplace with a bulletin board, or if there are any other hang outs. That has worked for me before. When I finished high school on the sailing ships and was supposed to have a job working my way home on a ship from London and it fell through, luckily I found a job helping out on a Thames sailing barge for the summer. I had the best time that summer!

I wouldn’t mind doing something like that again. 馃檪

Sopa de Fideo (Mexican Noodle Soup) Recipe | SAVEUR

The thin vermicelli-like noodles called fideos add starch and body to this elemental Mexican tomato soup.

Source: Sopa de Fideo (Mexican Noodle Soup) Recipe | SAVEUR

Sunset

Today we had ourselves videotaped. We were all nervous in class and spent every minute practicing our grammar points and introductions. We went over to the other classroom (out of the glare) and we each got to present our grammar points in front of the camera. I’ll put up a link when they make it available.

Afterwards, I taught my one student again, we reviewed adverbs and adjectives and then had a few conversations to try and get the idea of how we show interest in English across. I think it went pretty well. Tomorrow we’ll start a new lesson and then it’s the weekend!

I went to watch the sunset on the beach right behind my apartment. There was a girl sitting out near the water with her little dachshund puppy. I enjoyed watching it running around and having so much fun.

It was a beautiful sunset, the tide was low today so I didn’t get soaked like last time. It was nice, with a little breeze and watching the sailboats, birds and the little puppy on the beach. Puerto Vallarta really is a great place to spend time. I could definitely see myself staying here for a while. 馃檪

Indigo

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: indigo. Here’s my entry.

I took the photo a few years ago when we were working out of Singapore a lot. We spent a lot of time in the shipyard there and so we had a few chances to go ashore and see a little bit of the island city. This picture was taken down by the river at Clarke Quay.

Mega

Today was a fairly slow day. Class this morning from 10-1300. Then I worked on my lesson plan for my teaching practice this afternoon. I had the same class as yesterday so it was much easier to prepare the plan today. I practiced my grammar point for the video they’re going to do tomorrow.

I’m going to do the simple past tense. At least I do understand that one. I have the rules down. I just hope I can remember to say them all when I’m in front of the camera. 馃槈

I taught my class this afternoon from 16-1700. It went well. I only had one student show up and she’s a pretty smart girl. She did all her homework and so we were able to cover most of the material. I think I still need to reinforce the difference between adjectives and adverbs. I have to try to make it very simple since I don’t speak much Spanish at all and she doesn’t have a very large English vocabulary. It’s really very challenging.

After class was over I went home (it’s almost right next door) and tried to catch up on my email. I actually saw a couple of job postings so I immediately sent them emails. It would be nice, but I doubt I’ll get any replies. I’m pretty sure one of them was in Ukraine and they almost never crew up with Americans.

I took a walk down to the Mega to find a few things I’d been craving. It’s a big superstore, almost like a super Walmart. It has everything. Groceries, to sporting goods, to electronics. I loaded up 3 bags of groceries (mostly junk food which is even more expensive here than it is at home).

I got peanut butter and jelly, bread, ruffles potato chips, ham, sliced cheese, block cheese, 6 cans of chicken (to make salad), sweet relish, butter, apples, onions, cranberries, TP, fresh baked orange muffins, and about a half dozen packs of M&Ms. I paid only $24.66!

Halfway There!

Today I had my 5th teaching practice. I have 5 more to go, so I’m halfway there! We passed the halfway mark for the class already. It will be finished on Feb 26th. It seems like it has been going by so fast.

The pace of the class has been picking up this week. We’re all very busy with our lesson plans and teaching assignments, we have another essay due Wednesday, and Thursday we have to make our presentations to be video taped.

Sarah gives us a grammar lesson

Sarah gives us a grammar lesson

I’m still confused over a lot of the verb tenses. I don’t remember ever hearing about most of them before. No, never in my life! I remember the past, present and future, but now all of the sudden there are 12 of them! WTF?! What are they and when do we use them all? I still don’t know but I am learning.

Maybe by the time the course is over I will actually know what I’m doing. 馃槈

Inchworm

Here’s my entry for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge. The challenge is to post about a certain crayola crayon color each day, for 120 days. Today’s post color is: inchworm. I have to admit, I’ve never heard of a color called ‘inchworm’ before this. Glad to be involved in such a fun and educational challenge. 馃槈

I took this photo of the lime tree outside my front door blooming last spring. I don’t see any inchworms, but I do see a honey bee right there in the middle. I think the leaves look pretty close to the color “inchworm” for the challenge. 馃檪

Star Trek Parody-Carol Burnett Show

Source: Star Trek Parody-Carol Burnett聽Show

 

That was hilarious! I laughed so hard. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

Thanks to Ascendingstarseed for sharing.

Meyer Lemon Loaf with Blood Orange Glaze

Lemony slices of loaf cake with a sweet blood orange glaze. This Meyer Lemon Loaf with Blood Orange Glaze is the most amazing breakfast for winter.

Source: Meyer Lemon Loaf with Blood Orange聽Glaze

Green-Yellow

Here’s my entry for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge. The challenge is to post about a certain crayola crayon color each day, for 120 days. Today’s post color is: green-yellow.聽

I took this one at the zoo. I love to go to the zoo, just to take photos. This is an emerald tree boa. It was in the process of shedding it’s skin. I think these particular snakes are just so pretty. Snakes don’t really bother me, as long as I can tell they’re not poisonous. 馃槈

Farmers Greens

Here’s another entry for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge for the color green.

I took these photos at the farmers market, downtown Puerto Vallarta last Saturday. There were plenty of ‘greens’ to be seen. 馃槈

Sunday Surfday

We’ve all been looking forward to our excursion to Sayulita and Nahui. We took off at around 1030 this morning, it took around an hour to get to Sayulita.

It’s a funky looking little town, with narrow winding cobblestone streets. Brightly colored 2-3 story houses line the roads. Shops selling clothes, jewelry, crafts, tourist and surfing stuff seemed to be the majority of things to see. There were plenty of bars, restaurants and coffee shops around too.

In the square, they had set up a market with local artists selling their wares. This was the most interesting to me. They were teaching a bunch of little girls how to weave, and they even had a yoga session for the kids. That was fun to watch. 馃檪

The beach was very crowded and full of surfers. It looked like a good place to learn to surf and I guess it must be, since I saw at least 3 different surf schools in the 10 minutes I spent on the beach!

Sayulita seems like a cool little town, but I think a little too crowded for me, and for sure too touristy! I had enough of that in Florida.

So, we piled back into the car and headed to Nahui. It was a nice drive through forested mountains, catching glimpses of the blue-green ocean every few minutes. We arrived to a full parking lot and I was wondering what happened to the nice, quiet isolated beach we were hoping for?

The view from the edge of the cliff behind the parking lot was stunning. The ocean was clear all the way to Tahiti! You could see the mountains lining the bay far off in the distance and a couple of islands way offshore. A few sailboats were out enjoying the beautiful weather offshore.

We found the stairs (thank god) and wandered down the beach til we found a good spot up near the rocky cliffs to camp out.

The water was cold at first but after a minute it was perfect. The waves were a lot bigger than I was used to. We just don’t get large waves in the Gulf of Mexico (except when there’s a hurricane coming close). The waves stirred up a lot of sand and there really wasn’t any calm water til you got out past where the waves started breaking.

I never did manage that. I got washed around pretty good for a while. Gave it up and took a break. The sun started getting to me so I went back in the water for a while. It was OK if I stayed close to shore.

As the afternoon was ending, we were all pretty beat and ready to head back home. I was nodding asleep in the car til we would hit a sleeping policeman going a little too fast. Whoa! That’ll wake you up!

PS- There are a lot of photos in this post, but they’re not showing up here. You’ll have to click on the original post on my other blog to see them. Go to http://www.captainjillsjourneys.com. That address is the proper address for my blog now.

Fresh Bread

Today was the farmers market in the old town. The park was crowded with snowbirds and locals, all out shopping for the weekly needs. I saw people selling home made healthy pet food, potted plants, flowers, home-made clothing, art objects and food. Food from Mexico, India, Thailand, Malaysia, China and the US (gourmet hot dogs).

I was especially impressed with the bread. Check it out…

This is what got me to post the earlier one I did (for the recipe on how to make some great bread at home). Another issue with the new blog is that I can’t ‘press this’ on here. I still can on my old blog.

PS- same thing as yesterday, the photos aren’t showing up here. Click on my new blog to see them http://www.captainjillsjourneys.com