Friday, August 6, 2010

The World Could Use a Few Less Wasps

So as planned we left Puerto Escondido yesterday morning, and even got some sailing in on our way to Isla Carmen, another beautiful spot here in the Sea of Cortez. Of course, it was still hot, but we were feeling positive about getting to the anchorage and doing a little swimming. As soon as we arrived, we were swarmed with wasps. We've known wasps can be a problem throughout Mexico - we've been swarmed before - and have been told to make sure there is no open fresh water whatsoever on your boat. This means covering up dishes that have just been washed, and showering after sundown when the bees go away. We've also been given a number of different pieces of advice in terms of what to do once they arrive, including spraying them with a concoction of dish soap, a tablespoon of chili sauce, a tablespoon of vinegar, some baking soda and the kitchen sink. We've found that a heavily concentrated spray bottle full of dish soap does the trick (in addition to making our decks incredibly slippery - it's all a trade-off). We've also been told that placing a bowl of sugar water somewhere on your boat where you don't go will keep them away from the places you do go, so we opted to give this one a try as well. I think the bowl of sugar water just brought more. Hundreds of them drowned in the water, but there were still thousands around. We had to keep our hatches and doors closed so that they wouldn't get in, and when it's 115 degrees, it's a sweat box extraordinaire on the inside. We decided to just go for a swim after our two fly swatters and the sugar water were clearly losing the battle.

The water was a bath. In addition, perhaps because I am sweating so much, as soon as my skin gets into water, it becomes prunelike - just like when you've been in a bath for too long. After a couple of hours, we decided we needed to eat, and because the kids were begging for comfort food (Ramen!), I decided it was something I could throw together quickly. Showering was out of the question, so I just proceeded straight to boiling the water inside the boat with the windows closed (our screens, by the way, do not fit properly - we tried to tape them up with electrical tape but lost the battle on that one too). Now the sauna became a steam bath. We decided to eat outside on the trampoline, enjoying the sunset. It sure was beautiful, and it seemed like within a matter of seconds, the wasps were gone. The night was turning out to be not so bad after all.

Now a couple of days before, a wasp tickled my shin, so I used my other foot to wipe it away without realizing it was a wasp, and of course got stung in two places. My shin and ankle swelled up pretty badly and it was both painful and itchy, but I got through it with Cortizone cream and and Benadryl. Fast forward to yesterday, and while trying to fit the screens into the windows, I bent down and caught a wasp between my thigh and hip as I was crouching. Bam. Stung again. This time, the sting swelled up immediately. I took Benadryl immediately too. Today the area is red, at least 4 inches long and 3 inches wide and swollen. In case I am developing a severe allergy to wasp stings, we have the epi-pens on the ready. But while I sit here fighting the wasps for a second day, I am petrified.

Back to the narrative. We were at sunset when I digressed. Because of my Benadryl, I fell asleep practically in my soup bowl, right there on the trampoline. All of us decided to bring out pillows and we all fell asleep on the trampoline. It was a gorgeous night, and dishwashing could wait until the morning. Michael offhandedly said, "Now all we need is a Chubasco," which is a severe weather cell that is common over the Sea of Cortez during this time of year, with lightning and strong winds, as well as sometimes rain. At about midnight, the winds did indeed begin to pick up. We turned on our wind meter and saw that there were around 20 - 25 knots of wind. As it got stronger, we heard our friends on Iron Maiden on the radio and chatted with them. They were anchored at a different island and had a clear view of the weather cells making their way over to us. We quickly took down our canvas over our cockpit, tied down the mainsail, took everything in side, took down the BBQ, and placed all our hand-held electronics in the oven to avoid having them get fried if we were to be struck by lightning. Michael even disconnected our Single Sideband Radio and our second chart plotter, but the rest of our electrical equipment is just too complicated to disconnect, so we had to take our chances. We let out more chain as our anchor had started to drag. The winds grew to over 35 knots. We all lay awake in the cockpit, waiting. Eventually we must have all fallen asleep as the storm passed by around 4 a.m. and I had a fabulous sleep (my best in days due to the breezes) until I was woken at 7 a.m. to the sound of wasps swarming once again.

We had planned to get up around 7 a.m. and do an early morning hike at Balandra Cove on Isla Carmen (a different Balandra than the one near La Paz), as the trail is known for seeing Big Horned Sheep and Desert Iguanas (we know someone who caught one for a pet for a few days - without our Bearded Dragons, we thought that would be fun). However, we decided instead to get the heck out of there - enough with the wasps.

By 10 a.m. we were anchored at Isla Coronado where the bees are not supposed to be so bad. However, the wasps once again found their way to our boat. I sat there for an hour spraying them with the soapy water, and it seemed to have done the trick. We still have about a dozen roaming around at any one time, but we are managing still. Michael and I took long naps to catch up on last nights lack of sleep, while the kids played a four hour game of Monopoly. Homeschooling is out of the question in this heat. I've killed at least 100 wasps today alone, while making challah and dinner for tonight. The kids and Michael went into the water to scrape the bottom of the boat (something that needs to be done at least once a month to avoid build-up of barnacles, green hair and the like, which slows your boat speed if you do not maintain it), but both kids got stung by jelly fish. Again, it's a trade off - wasps or jellies?

We are trying to stay positive, as I hate being a complainer. I like to pride myself on examining challenging situations and figuring out what to do to change it. After all, if you keep doing the same things everyday, you're going to get the same results, right? Michael and I were concerned about the summer in the Sea, with the severe heat and little civilization, but we said we'd try it and if it didn't work out, we'd make a change. So now what? Twenty-five days until we're out of here for our three week trip to California, but in the meantime, it's so hot and sweaty that it's hard to do anything, let alone think.

A Prisoner in my Own Boat,

P.S. As I post this via Single Sideband Radio (there's no internet in the wilderness), the buzzing has gotten much louder. I just picked up my head and saw that the wasps have greatly increased in number again. Back to battle, but at least I know they'll disappear at sunset in about an hour and a half.

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  1. Although I had many a laugh reading this (as I'm sure you will when you look back and read this), I did feel for all of you. Now besides wishing you cooler weather and good fishing, I also hope for you to get rid of those %^&?!+~ wasps!

  2. This is sounding less and less fun by the minute! The heat alone would have me on a plane to some AC! Good for you for persevering...I think!?
    As for us, our weather this weekend is stunning. Not an ounce of humidity, finally! We took the kids on a road trip yesterday and today to camp country to check out a few overnight camps, since Hannah seems to be getting ready to venture out. We visited Winnebagoe (flashback, bigtime!) so we got to see Marlee and Russell who are having a great time, then we spent Shabbat evening at Camp George which I loved, and then today we went to Timberlane, which reminded me of a magnificent country club. We then stopped at White Pine and picked Hailey up from camp, as she really had had enough and wanted to come home. It was a great, informative couple of days. But of course, we still have no idea where we will sendthe kids!
    Anyway, tomorrow is a much needed down day. We have had bad colds circulating in our house for almost 4 weeks and the kids were just swabbed for strep. We should have the results back on Monday. In the meantime, they are loving camp and have asked (or should I say...begged!) to stay for the full 8 weeks. For the price, I can't do anything else with them. Plus, I'll be happy they're busy as I'll be busy at 44!
    Anyway...have fun, stay cool and sting-free.

  3. Bzzz. I love reading about your adventure after meeting you while we were visiting Qualchan in Tenacatita Bay.

    Here is a story about a big swarm of bees.