Our days here in Salinas have admittedly been somewhat lacking in adventure... Being stationary provides us with a mailing address... which makes it very easy for us to spend money. We've ordered things we've needed for a while, and things to make our lives a little easier using our Amazon Prime membership until I'm starting to feel a little guilty.
But I've rationalized that once we leave here, it may be some time before we have this opportunity again... so.... We've also rationalized ourselves into getting a new phone plan. So far, our Plan-for-keeping-connected has worked very well. But very soon we will be continuing on to islands where we may stay only briefly. Sure we can still get sim cards for our iPad but with the added obstacle of a new foreign language... Spanish was difficult enough but throw in French?
So we rationalized that if we deduct the cost of iPad data... we could do what so many other cruisers have done and sign up for a T-Mobile One account. Our old iPhone is dying. We terminated our long-time AT&T account when we left the states... but we kept our phone number... the one that connects our entire lives... and ported it through Google Voice. The problem with Google Voice is that it needs a phone # - a Plan - to forward to... So we set up Skype.
The Skype has been great with a couple of drawbacks. We have to have either data or wi-fi for it to work... and we have to be on the computer or iPad to hear it ring. So we've missed calls. It gives us great transcripts of voice messages via email... but it was still a missed call.
So, rationalization again... with the T-Mobile One plan, we can have a US phone number where people can call us... we can still use the Skype to receive calls on our old phone number that everyone knows... they'll just forward to our new phone through Google Voice. I know... complicated. But once it's all set up, it works very well.
But what about the added cost of the new phone number? How do we rationalize that? Well, we only shut down our old AT&T account because we wouldn't be able to use it in the islands. With this T-Mobile account, we WILL be able to use it... throughout the Caribbean. We've added a data line for the iPad and splurged with the T-Mobile One PLUS, which speeds up our data. So we can have a mobile hot spot through the iPad to run our computers... and it's unlimited data.
Friends who are already down as far as Grenada tell us that while there are some places that have no coverage, it has been pretty good overall. And I would say that "pretty good overall" is better than nothing!
So we're paying for a new phone number and iPad (high speed) data for about $115 per month plus taxes...
We're paying for Skype services for less than $100 per year (allows us to keep our long-time phone number through Google)
And what are we getting? Well, we have basically three phone numbers that will all ring to our phone... We get high speed unlimited data on the iPad with mobile hot spot functionality in the states and throughout the Caribbean... We get unlimited text and data throughout the US and Caribbean... This allows us to tether data service to our Macs and our Apple TV.
Now... if only we could figure out a way to stream US video services outside the US without paying for a VPN... Well guess you can't have it all!
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Sunday, September 18, 2016
|Setting out to test the Tribord
I found that the haters all sounded like hard core types who don't consider that there are people in this world who just want to float around on top of the water and gaze at the scenery below without ever diving deeper than a few feet from the surface. For those people... give the Tribord a pass. But for the others... people like me... this is what you've been waiting for!
|Looking for just the right snorkel spot... no... not here!
That planted the seed... but after speaking to my Dive-Master-Brother about it... I was not ready to commit. He said that we wouldn't be able to dive beneath the surface because it would be impossible to clear our ears... and for that reason alone we shouldn't buy them. So I waited. And I mulled it over.
Tribord Easybreath website... I was sold! I went online to Amazon, read lots of reviews and found several videos that answered that one nagging question about diving below the surface... And then I ordered two... a pink one for me, and a blue one for Bruce!
|This spot looks just right!
Finally they arrived and we ripped open the boxes and tried the masks on. They felt really funny but seemed to be made well.
|My guinea pig...He's always willing to go first!
We wore the masks for a little while to see if we felt any restrictions or if they had any sign that the breath we expelled wasn't exiting the mask sufficiently like some of the reviews said... nope. They seem fine. I was a little worried that I had ordered mine too large because I could feel air flowing out the mask up around my forehead when I blew out rapidly... I hoped that it wouldn't leak. Maybe the force of the water will push the mask closer to my face to make a better seal... Maybe I should tighten the elastic straps... A full two days passed before we had our chance to go out and give them a try!
Within seconds Bruce was in the water and swimming away as I watched anxiously for signs of sputtering or choking... All GOOD!
I joined Bruce in the water and asked him if he could swim beneath the surface with the mask on. He immediately proved to me that not only could he do that... but he could also dive down to the bottom... some six feet or so... with very little noticeable difference between this mask and the traditional kind.
I have always had a problem finding a mask that would accommodate my nose. It's big. AND since having a deviated septum surgically altered some years ago, my nose can not tolerate any type of pressure. The discomfort I normally feel where the snorkel mouthpiece pushes up against the mask beneath my nose is usually what ends our snorkeling. I just can't take it for very long. Today... I felt ZERO discomfort in my nose OR mouth. The awful mouthpiece I'm used to wearing while snorkeling is a distant memory...
Unfortunately Bruce can NOT understand me when I speak to him wearing the mask under water... But then maybe he's faking that.
There were some strange sounds that were a little disconcerting at first. They seemed to correspond with my breathing so I assume the sound is caused by the air traveling up through the sides of the mask and maybe the little mechanism inside the snorkel. I got used to it quickly and it wasn't a big deal.
After snorkeling for some time, I began to feel the pressure of the mask on my face between my cheekbones and nose. The one remotely negative thing I can say about the Tribord is that it left warpaint-like red marks on my cheeks from the way the mask fit my face... This might be different for other people, but Bruce experienced the same thing. But I would gladly trade the pressure I'm used to feeling from snorkel and mask for this small amount of discomfort... in a heartbeat!
Bruce was already in the dinghy when I returned and I asked him what he thought. I can't remember the last time I've heard this much enthusiasm in his voice over anything! He was ecstatic. He said he would never use the old type of mask again!
|Back to the boat for one more test...
We both agreed that keeping our faces dry and having absolutely no salt water in our mouths is the best part!
We can't be happier with our new toys and we wish we had bought them sooner! If you aren't an avid skindiver and are happy with remaining relatively near the surface, we think you will love the Tribord Easybreath!
We have no affiliation with the Tribord Easybreath... we are just happy users!
Thursday, September 15, 2016
|Sahara Dust Haze
Our rationale was this: If a storm came off the coast of Africa and headed our way... by the time it reached Puerto Rico it would still be a weak storm having had either insufficient time to develop or would have inhospitable conditions.
This year we had weeks of hazy skies from Sahara Dust blowing off the African coast. The dust that blanketed this part of the Caribbean essentially kept the sea temperatures down so that storms were slow to develop.
|Our sunrise view
|Lots of lovely wi-fi at the snack bar... Every morning we took our computers and surfed the internet...
Days spent doing things like making grocery runs with our little cart...
Other critters from which Bruce protected me... Iguanas!
|Introducing JM and Michael to the others...
|Walking through town on our way to the festival
|Local statue celebrating the fishermen
|A day at the festival!
|Local rice dish... very popular!
|Pinchos! Our favorite street-rood!
|Janet Lee sharing her fan with me... it was HOT!
|Little shack that opened up some days to sell lunch
|A home along the way that sells empanadillas ... yummy street food!
|We rode the streets of town...
|Random Creepy Santa
|We'll take the big one!
|And THAT ONE!!!
|Poor Bruce... he always gets the ugly jobs...
|It seems like it's always storming over the mountains.
|Tarpon hang out here at the marina all the time.
|We did some laundry onboard...
|Brunch for about $5 at the local bakery. We went there a LOT!
More friends arrived, this time it was Kimberly and John-Michael from Louisiana aboard their boat, Pura Vida. They stayed for a month and we did some adventuring with them...
|Bryce (Smidgen) laying it all out there
One evening we were sitting around talking with them and another couple, also coincidentally from Louisiana... and somebody suggested we have a Gumbo pot luck! Two nights later, we contributed cornbread to their two pots of delicious authentic gumbo. Sometimes it's easier to get forgiveness than permission, and we got chewed out a little by the marina for having a renegade pot luck...(read your contract people) but it was already done... so there you have it.
|Bruce and Kenny (Smidgen) serving it up
That got us going... we went out to Los Jobos and staked out a spot to move the boat should the storm develop into a hurricane before it got to us.
Meanwhile, we continued enjoying Puerto Rico...
Since we had saved the expense of buying a car, we rented one a few times while we were here.
|Not much room to pull over but stunning views!
|Las Tetas de Cayey!
|Never pass a bakery...
|Lunch! We had no idea what we were ordering... The daily special!
A second word of advice... Google sucks! SO many times it took us to the back entrance (or not) of the thing we wanted to see... SO many times it took us to a dead end or roadblock where there had once been a through street but no longer... or maybe there was NEVER a street... But it was an adventure and we eventually found our way.
Hot Springs for a future visit. Bruce didn't want to sit in hot water during the day...
|Our route except the middle is missing...
|This piece was more than 2,000 years old.
We weren't able to get a tour in English, but there was one docent there who spoke to John-Michael in Spanish and he relayed the information. It was fascinating.
Our luck just seems to be continuing with attractions we wish to see being closed... This time it was Museo Castillo Serralles... a castle owned by the family who owns the Don Q rum distillery (also not giving tours)
Cruceta del Vigia and took a look around.
This structure reminded us very much of the Columbus Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic... in that both are very ugly and left us wondering why they were ever built.
So at this point our summer is half over. We are in the thick of hurricane season and we've decided to stay through Mid-November...
We have completely settled into our lives here in sleepy little Salinas, PR and the time seems to just stretch out before us... We can't believe we've been within this 160 mile area for almost six months. Six. Months.