Cabo’s Marina

I’m sorry about neglecting this blog lately. It’s a combination of being busy doing the tourist thing- checking out all the new things to do/see/eat/drink- and just plain laziness. I’ve been meaning to get back on here for at least a week now. So many cool things to talk about…

First, I should explain what I meant in my last post re: wandering around the marina in Cabo San Lucas. 

really wanted to catch a marlin, especially since Cabo San Lucas is known for catching marlin. Those big game, fantastic fighting fish. In all my years of fishing, I’ve never caught one. Never even come close to catching one. I would’ve also liked to go out whale watching or swimming with the whale sharks, but it definitely was not the right season for that, so I ‘settled’ for going out for the marlins. 

I’d been walking around the marina, checking out the boats, trying to see if any of the docks were open so I could talk to the crews (sadly, they were all locked up tight, with guards even). Walking around the marina you run a gauntlet of people trying to sell you everything you can imagine: fishing trips, tours, swim with the dolphins, jet skis, parachute behind the speedboats, souvenirs, restaurants, shops, weed, tequila and of course time shares.

Time shares. The dreaded 90 minutes of hard core pressure. If you want to go and waste that 90 minutes of your hard earned vacation in exchange for a ‘free’ breakfast, or a fishing trip for only $20, then you better have an iron clad wallet (and no credit cards). 

I already have a time share. I’m using my weeks for my accommodations for this trip. I have NO desire to go and waste 90 minutes of my vacation time to hear about any more of them. When anyone mentioned ‘timeshare’, I told them that.

But still, somehow I wound up going fishing through the efforts of ‘Oswaldo’- one of the guys who’d been trying to get me to go look at a timeshare (which he insisted was not one). I should have known better.

We made arrangements that I would meet him at the dock at 0800 Tuesday morning. I made it 100% clear that I was ONLY interested in fishing for marlin. He assured me that his little pangas (small fishing boats) would go out far enough to catch them.

Right. First off, he was 45 minutes late getting to the dock. There went 45 minutes of my fishing time. Then, he insisted that he needed $50 so he could get my fishing license and bait for the trip. I was more than a little upset by this point, but since Ireally wanted to catch a marlin, I gave in and let him “borrow” the money. He promised he’d return it by the time we got back to the dock (with the marlin).

He even gave me his ‘drivers license’ that he ‘needed to do anything’, just as collateral so I’d be sure he’d pay me back.

Of course, he was nowhere to be found when we returned to the dock.

Of course, we did not even attempt to go out far enough to look for a marlin.

I had the entire boat to myself. I would’ve preferred to go with a group, but when I asked around I was told that was very hard to arrange. For $150, I was supposed to go out from 0800-1300, to catch marlin, in a panga.

I have to say, the captain was OK, he was very helpful, even if he wasn’t really into the marlin fishing. We caught dolphins (mahi-mahi) instead. I let him keep them all since I don’t eat seafood anymore. Too many years of nothing else to eat has cured me of any desire to taste fish ever again (weird, but I will eat canned tuna fish if there’s enough other stuff mixed up with it so it doesn’t taste like fish). 😉

It’s always a blast when you’re catching fish. I had a good time on the boat. I always enjoy being out on the water. I know there’s never any guarantee to catch anything so it’s nice that I did catch something (and dolphins are much better eating than marlin anyway).

The big issue came after we got back to the dock. Oswaldo, the guy who set all this up, was nowhere to be found. OK, I was a little pissed, but I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and come back later. I did. I came back later that night and talked to him. He didn’t have my money but promised he’d have it by morning.

Turns out his ‘drivers license’ was nothing but a voter ID. I don’t know what they do with that in Mexico, but it sure as hell isn’t the same as a drivers license and so now I knew for sure he was lying to me.

I came back in the morning (Wednesday). He didn’t have my money, but promised he’d have it that afternoon. I came back that afternoon. After arguing with him over going to the police about my $50, one of his friends gave me $25. Oswaldo still didn’t have any of my money, but swore he’d have it that evening and would bring it to my hotel. He did not.

I returned to the marina the next day (Thursday). He promised he’d have the money by noon. He did not. He promised he’d have the money by 1600 (said he got paid at 1500). He did not have it at 1630. After more arguments, I told him I was going to the Tourist Police station (right next door to the little stand where he was working/hanging out).

Of course, he knew they would already be closed by that time. By now, I was really pissed off. I was making a scene, people were looking at me like I was crazy, but I didn’t care. I was wasting my entire vacation going back and forth to the marina looking for this asshole! I’d already wasted half of Tuesday, all day Wednesday and all day Thursday and I was leaving Cabo Friday afternoon.

I stalked off to find a real policeman. I found a sympathetic guard and told him my story. He called for the police for me. They showed up in force. A half dozen of them interviewed me while another bunch went after Oswaldo. Apparently, they all already knew Oswaldo (and not in a good way).

They asked me if I wanted to ‘press charges’ (that was all in Spanish, so I’m not exactlysure what they said). They had him in their police car and I was told he was going to jail. He was threatening me with all kinds of shit from the cage. So what! When I get pissed, I won’t back off. 

Of course I wouldn’t get any money back from him, but at least he’d be off the streets for a couple of days and not able to screw over any more gullible tourists.

There was a big misunderstanding with the police who thought at first that some men who ran a business where I had met Oswaldo had cheated me out of the fishing trip I’d paid for. I finally got it straightened out, explaining that no- I got the fishing trip and those guys actually had nothing to do with anything. They didn’t do anything wrong and actually tried to help me.

One kind man even paid me back $20 out of his own pocket. So after all the aggravation of the whole thing, I was only out about $5. Lesson learned?

Should I just be a cold hearted bitch and not talk to anybody? Or try to be nice, treat everybody with respect and understand that every once in a while I’ll get taken for a ride, but most people are decent and worth getting to know?

I do have to give a big thumbs up to the Tourist Police. They take their jobs seriously and really want to help keep their city safe for their visitors. Thanks to them, I got all but $5 back and some peace of mind for the rest of my time in Cabo San Lucas. 

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Off to Mexico!


Hola amigos. 😉

I’ve been in Mexico since last Saturday night. The plane was only a few hours late arriving. First we had an engine problem, but they managed to fix that and put us back on the same plane in only a couple of hours. No worries. 😉

Next, as we were heading down the runway, they announced some kind of medical emergency onboard. We waited to see if we would need to go back to the gate again, but after conferring with the doctors over the phone it was decided the person could fly after all.

Two and a half hours after we finally took off, we landed in Cabo (Cabo San Lucas and Cabo San Jose).

After running the gauntlet of time share sellers outside the baggage claim area, I took the shuttle in to town. I’ve been staying at Cabo San Lucas. I wanted to be near the marina, shopping, bars and restaurants, etc.

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I got settled in to my hotel- the Siesta Suites-where I have a nice big room. It has a big comfortable bed in a separate bedroom and plenty of storage. I hang out on the couch in the living room/kitchen. It has a full size refrigerator which is great for leftovers, but no stove for cooking. I have been heating up water for my morning cup of tea and leftovers in the microwave.

There’s a fantastic Italian restaurant that’s almost part of the hotel, a Mexican BBQ pit across the street along with the Fenway bar- Boston centric (“Yankees Suck”)-next to a small crepe place. Next door is a small shop selling souvenirs and also basic groceries. I was able to get one stick of (real) butter and good strawberry jam for my toasted bagels in the morning.

I’ve spent most of my time here just wandering around the marina. I’ll say more about why later. I did go fishing one day, it was OK, but not really what I was looking for. I really wanted to catch a marlin. This is supposed to be the marlin capital of the world. I did see that people were catching them.

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My neighbors here at the hotel caught one each! I may try again when I get to Puerto Vallarta. I’m heading that way this afternoon, but since no direct flights from here to there, I will stay tonight in Guadalajara. I will get to explore just a little bit of that city, but hoping it will give me at least some idea of the atmosphere there.

More later…

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Lesson learned: don’t go to the local beach on the weekend! The rest of the week, there is no one there. 🙂

Friendly Friday: Meeting the Sunrise in the Sky

I meant to get this done earlier, but a lot’s been going on the last couple of days. I found this “Friendly Friday” blog challenge last week on the Manja Mexi Moving blog and made a post for it. This week there’s a different host- the Something to Ponder About blog- and a different subject. 

It’s already Thursday so they’ll probably come out with something new tomorrow. Check out everybody’s posts for sunrise this week. Here’s mine…

I was able to fulfill another bucket list fantasy- ballooning over the incredible landscape of Cappadocia. We floated silently around rock spires and canyons, with only the occasional burst of the burner to give us more height and the clicks of the dozens of cameras. 

We headed out before dawn so we’d be in the air to see the sun rise. it was spectacular. My photos don’t do it justice at all. We slowly drifted down where the ground team met us in a dry field to pack up the balloon while we had a champagne toast to celebrate our morning. 

Morning in Vegueta

I’ve been working here in Las Palmas, Canary Islands for about 3 weeks now. This hitch I’ve been working nights on the DS-11 (drillship-11). I like it. It’s been pretty quiet so far, so I have some time to catch up on writing and photos. I can even go ashore once in a while in the daytime when things are open. 

It’s not often we get the chance to go ashore any more as mariners. At least not when we’re working for any of the oilfield companies. It makes such a huge difference in crew morale. I don’t even know how they get away with it. In the Deep Sea fleet, companies must pay overtime if they restrict us to the ship. No such thing in the oilfield. 😦

I do very much prefer sailing deep sea. Of course I would be doing that if I could. I have been looking for the opportunity to get back out there since I was laid off my last ‘regular’ job- late 2015. There still is nothing out there. 

In the meantime, I’m happy to get any work anywhere. It’s been so long between jobs! This gig is one of the best I’ve had lately. I love working overseas (outside the USA). The traveling was one of the main reasons I chose to sail as a career. The other was that the job depended on your skills and knowledge- not what you looked like or how you dressed or talked (too bad that’s changed so much).

I’ve been able to go ashore a couple of times this hitch. It’s just so nice to be able to get off, walk around, see something different.

Plaza de las Ranas

Tuesday morning I met my friend Josito who lives in town. He works here too, but he’s on his off time. I took a cab from the ship in to town and we met at the Plaza de las Ranas (frogs). I get off watch at 7 am and need to get some sleep before watch, so I wanted to get to town as early as possible. But the people here like to stay up late and they don’t get started early in the morning.

Nothing was open, the streets were empty at 0800 when I met Josito. We decided to go to the market in Vegueta- the old town. The market was old too, it opened in 1863. It was full of individual little shops selling fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, breads- and pastries that made my mouth water (I skipped breakfast). Josito explained that lots of the shops were closed because so many locals go on vacation this time of year.

I wasn’t really shopping for food anyway. I just like to see how other people do. I always like to go look around the grocery stores whenever I travel. Just to see what’s the same and what’s different.

Here, we met a very friendly storekeeper who answered all my questions about his exotic wares. He had so many things on display: guavas, mangos, papayas, passion fruit, huge (6″) tomatoes, raspberries, dragonfruit, lychees, kumquats, loquats, 4-5 different kinds of bananas, all kinds of spices fresh or dried and packaged.

Jose and Josito
me and Jose at his fruit and vegetable stand

He had things I’d never seen before like guanoabana (not sure of spelling). It’s the big green fruit in the photo, above the tomatoes. It was white and fibrous inside, full of juice, and tasted very tart. Jose let us taste anything we wanted. I have to admit, I was not thrilled with a lot of the tropical fruits. We bought a big bunch of Canary Island bananas to bring back to the ship.

Vegueta is compact, it’s easy to wander around the old cobblestone streets and find all the major attractions: the Cathedral, casa Colon, the market and lots of little shops, bars and restaurants. We stopped for a snack as we wandered the neighborhood.

The Cathedral de Canaries (or Cathedral of Santa Ana) is one of the most important historic sites in Las Palmas. They started building it around 1500, they built and rebuilt it over 500 years (that’s why the different architectural styles- gothic, renaissance and neoclassical). It’s dedicated to St Ann.

The people here haul a float through the town with her statue and a huge silver ‘crown’ that surrounds the entire statue. They keep the float in a barred off section of the cathedral. There’s Semana Santa (Easter Week) and Corpus Christi in June, and the feast on the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral on November 26. I imagine these processions must be a real sight to see.

You’re allowed to go up the towers of the cathedral. The view should be fantastic, since these towers are the highest point for miles around. There’s an elevator, it costs 1.5 euros, but there was no one in attendance so we had to pass on going up.

The walls of the cathedral are hung with beautiful old paintings of Jesus, Mary and the saints. A gorgeous pipe organ stands close to the entrance on the left. They were having a small funeral in one of the chapels while we were there. I felt like an intruder so didn’t get too close to that side of the church.

I took a close look at the pulpit, with its excellent carvings of angels and saints. I’m not really religious, so can’t say much more about the place except that it was cool, quiet and peaceful. A nice place to relax and rest and meditate or pray if you want.

Next to the famous Viva Vegueta sign, we found the Iglesia de San Agustin, another beautifully decorated church. It’s not as grand as the Cathedral, but had some very interesting artwork inside. It’s also mentioned as the Sanctuary ofSt Rita, patron saint of “impossible causes” (also of abused women). I had an aunt named after her. Mary Rita- quite a saint herself. 

There were quite a few more churches to explore around Vegueta, including the Ermita de San Antonio Abad, which was where Columbus prayed while he was here. I would’ve liked to check it out, but it wasn’t open while I was there.

I never have enough time to explore when I’m working, but at least I got the chance to see a few of the more interesting things around Las Palmas. The old area of Vegueta was a perfect choice to spend the morning. I did get to see the Casa Colon too, but it would be too long a post to write it up here. Check back later. 😉 

Friendly Friday: Istanbul

I was looking at everybody’s posts for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge, and I just had to post one more time. 🙂 

When I made my post the other day, I totally forgot about all the other places in Istanbul where they had such beautiful tile work. Different than the gorgeous stuff some people were posting from Portugal, but beautiful in another way altogether. Combined with the architecture, the artistry with the tile work makes so many of their buildings really special.

Here are a few photos I took in the mosques. I was really affected by how much time and effort went into building these places. The total devotion it must take to spend years, decades, centuries even- to build something so impressive.

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque with thousands of blue tiles decorating the interior

Those were from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The photos below, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure they were in the Hagia Sophia. It was a Christian cathedral before it became a mosque and it’s now a museum. The shimmering gold tiles of these mosaics really shine when the sun hits them. 

Imagine the skill and patience it must’ve taken to make these things. How to make sure all those little pieces go together just right. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle! And all such a long time ago too. Of course, they didn’t have the internet to distract them back then. 😉

One more note re: tile. Have you heard of Dixie Friend Gay? She’s a modern day mosaic artist with some absolutely stunning projects. Here’s a photo I took to pique your interest. Check out this earlier post...

View From the Harbor

I’ve been here in Las Palmas (Canary Islands) since July 10. I’ve been working nights, from 7 pm to 7 am every day. I’ll be doing that until I go home. I’m scheduled to leave August 8th (early). 

It’s interesting watching what’s going on around the harbor. Yes, it’s really sad to see so many drill ships stacked up over here, but at least I can see they’re working on 3 of them. That’s a good sign. They must have work coming up or they wouldn’t be spending any money. It would be great to see them all leave soon.

My old ship the Discoverer India was docked right in front of us for a couple of weeks. I watched their dive boat working on their stern and the bunker operations over the last couple of days. They just left last night. 

Discoverer India

I never realized how busy this port was. Other than all the drill ships, I see quite a few LNG ships coming and going. There are a few ferries every day- they go to Tenerife and around the islands. You can even take a ferry all the way to Spain (in about 40 hours).

There’s a container terminal right across from me. I see the container ships working there almost every night. There’s a yacht harbor a little further across. There are hundreds of boats over there. The sailboats are fun to watch, especially when they want to get so close to the big ships passing by.

LNG ship in the harbor, Las Palmas, Canary Islands

Yes, sailboats do have the right of way over power driven vessels- but- common sense should prevail, best get out of the way of someone 100 times bigger than you are that takes a half mile to stop.

The weather has been overcast since I’ve been here. I’ve been told this is normal for this time of year. Not to expect much sunshine. It doesn’t rain. We’ve only had one night with just a drizzle, not even enough to really wet the decks, but it looks like it’s going to rain every day.

I can see the lights of the city climbing up the hills across the water. It makes me want to take a ride over and explore. I did get to go over one day last week. My cab driver told me that one guy actually did try to swim over once…

A “Scottish guy, off one of the drill ships” took a swim for the city, they had police boats and helicopters tracking him down. The company sent him home, no doubt the Spanish officials were in complete agreement on that. I bet whichever company that was does not allow shore leave any more. Sadly, most don’t no matter what. 😦

Harbor scene at night

Songs of the Sea: Smooth Sailing

Since it looks like I won’t be going to work any time soon, I’ve been looking at the travel posts in my email more closely. I get dozens of them every day. I usually just delete them because I’ve been on call for work for so long. I can’t make any kind of plans for more than a week or two in advance. 

Since I got back from my last (only one week long) job, I’ve been calling everyone for the last 3 weeks. No one has anything in the works. So, I thought I shouldn’t waste my time here at home, doing nothing, with no prospects of work. I could go to Mexico and get my paperwork started. I’ve been trying to move out of the US for years and finally got a temporary residency visa for Mexico. 🙂

I’ve been considering moving to Mazatlan, but it seems no one has direct flights anymore. That means I will have to change my plans. Mazatlan will have to wait. As long as I am still even trying to work, I will need to be close to an airport with direct flights to Houston.

I am still trying to move to Mexico, now I just need to figure out where. Puerto Vallarta? Cabo San Lucas? Guadalajara? or San Miguel de Allende? Anybody have any other suggestions?

In the meantime, those travel ads are making me even more anxious to get out of here! This song by Dennis “Menace” Roberts reminds me of the good times down in the islands. I love the music and the video is fun. Nice that they’re using real people in it instead of models too. 🙂 

I wish I could get back down there. Now, or some time soon I hope! 🙂 

Bangkok: Market Day

I’m always amazed any time I visit a foreign market. They’re just so interesting compared to shopping at home. You never know what you’ll come across. The variety of products on offer is incredible. Not to mention the whole experience of all the different sights, smells, and sounds. 

Bright red and gold decorations for luck and prosperity hang from overhead. Colorful orange, purple, red and green fruits with weird spikes, scales or bumps overflow into the passageways wafting their exotic sensuous scents into the air. Frangipani incense competes with the smoke of numerous bar-b-que grills cooking up fresh caught prawns or satay on a stick. Occasional motorbikes putter through the lanes, beeping along to clear the way. Blind karaoke singers toting their tape decks tap their way along, hoping for tips of appreciation from the crowds passing through. 

I always go to check out the nearby markets when I’m traveling. Last time I was in Bangkok, I went to Pratunam (mostly clothes) and Chatuchak (humongous ‘flea market’). Since I was staying in Chinatown this trip, I only had to cross the street to find myself wandering through winding lanes packed with stalls selling everything from teacups to electronics, wedding supplies, shoes, toys, hair and makeup supplies, Christmas decorations, jewelry, coffee, tea and snacks. 

Then there was the food. 

I have no idea what most of these edible items actually were. The vendors were happy to offer samples, but I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try many of their wares. It seems strange to me that they always have so many more varieties of things to eat than we do. I’ve never seen so many different kinds of fruits or vegetables in a store in the US. 

Maybe I’m being paranoid, a germaphobic American,  but I always wonder how they can sell their meats and seafood out in the open like they do all day. They don’t get sick, or at least I don’t think they have any more digestive issues than we do with all our sterile, plastic packed, refrigerated grocery meat departments. 

I suppose if I ever get around to moving out of the States like I keep trying to find a way to do, I’ll get used to the idea. I’ll probably even work up the nerve to try some of those more unusual things I’ve wrinkled up my nose at. Here’s to hoping that day comes soon! 🙂

Arrival in Istanbul

Yes!!!

I’m finally out of the house and off on another adventure! I’ve spent the last couple of days on the road and have now settled in a bit in Istanbul (Turkey).

After a long flight (almost 13 hours) , and a loooong line at immigration, my driver was waiting outside the baggage claim to take me to the hotel. I chose the Osmanhan Hotel. It looked comfortable and convenient from the website. Also, not a chain, which is nice.

After 2 days with no sleep, I was too tired to do anything but hit the sack. The bed was very comfortable (pillow top mattress and down comforter). Sweet. 🙂

More later…

Met the Buzcador in Berwick

Sorry to have been out of touch for so long. I got a last minute job offer, and tho it was not what I was hoping for I was happy to get it.

I didn’t have much time to get ready, so I left the house with a lot of stuff unfinished. I meant to leave the house about 6 am, but with all the last minute stuff, and then phone calls all morning, I didn’t get on the road til around 10.

It was probably for the best. That allowed me to miss all the traffic in Houston and all along the way. It took me about 6 hours to drive from my house in Lake Jackson to where the boat was, in Berwick LA.

I had to meet a lady when I got close, to get passport photos taken for my Panama seaman’s book application. That took about an hour. I got to the boat about 5, already pretty tired.

The Buzcador was tied up next to a deck barge at Basin Fleeting, along the Atchafalaya River in Berwick. She was an old ex-Tidewater AHTS (anchor handling tug supply) and looked in pretty rough shape.

I drug my gear up the gangway and one of the crew showed me my room. I was pretty happy with it. It had just one bunk, a couch, 2 portholes where I could check the weather, a desk, plenty of storage space and my own head (bathroom). It also had a TV and DVD player, but I never bothered to turn them on so I don’t know if they worked or not.

I met the Captain, who I had worked with before on another boat. He was the one who pretty much got me this position. He had worked with this company before (I had never heard of them), and had made the winning bid to deliver the Buzcador to Colombia.

I hired on as AB. Of course I was hoping to get a mates position, but since I’ve been out of work for so long I was so happy just to get the AB job! At least it would get me out of the house and onto a boat. We were going on a voyage. Out of the Gulf of Mexico! I’m always excited about the chance to go somewhere new and interesting!

I met the other deckhands and QMED that night. I met the rest of the crew the next day. All together, there would be 8 of us making the trip. Captain Todd, Mate Noel, AB Sid, OS Marvin, QMED Wilson, Chief Engineer Carlos, and client rep Yesid.

We spent the next couple of days at the dock, working furiously to get the boat ready for the voyage. She had been cold stacked (tied to the dock with no crew) for years. Any boat will deteriorate if she’s not run regularly. The rust on deck is the last thing to worry about, it’s the machinery that is always the most concern. We had plenty to deal with in all departments.

While we were still at the dock, we had drills. Good thing, since it took a good, long while to get the fire pumps to work correctly. Electricians were still working on the alarm systems. We had outside mechanics to help too. Deck department was busy with cleaning, securing the ship for sea, preparing paperwork and voyage planning. Engineers definitely had the short end of the stick on this trip!

I’ll post more later, hopefully with more pictures. Like I said yesterday, I’m STILL having problems with my computers/internet!

I’m Back. Sorta

Hey! I made it!! The trip only took about 3 times longer than expected. I didn’t think I’d be out of touch for nearly so long. I’m so glad to see so many of you stuck around and didn’t jump ship on me.

We brought the ship into Cartagena (Columbia) this morning. It took us a couple of hours to get cleared by customs & immigration and to turn the ship over to it’s new owners.

Then it was off to find a hotel for the night (thanks to the personal generosity of the captain). Since we had no internet onboard, we had no way to look for anything beforehand. We had a recommendation for one from our Columbian client and we went there.

We wound up going to another place. It’s actually an apartment and close to the beach. We were all just happy to be off the ship. First order of duty was dinner and drinks! Cervezas! Margaritias!! The captain treated us to a nice dinner at the place across the street. Everybody came back to the apt and crashed afterward. I went for a walk.

I’ll tell you more of the story over the next few days. It’s after midnight and I’ll be up at 0630 in the morning. We leave here at 0730 for the airport. My flight leaves around 1030 (I still don’t know the exact details).

I heard my flight(s) will arrive into New Orleans around 2300. Then I still have to get back to the dock where I left my truck. It’s about a 6 hour drive from there to get home. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make that drive after being up all day. I’m not so good at staying up past 24 hours anymore.

So I won’t actually be home for another day or two. Look for me to catch up after that. 🙂