June 12th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Dry land

I had to be off to the market early, so I was up at the crack of dawn + made tea.  I took Val in a cup, + she promptly hit me in the mouth.  She claimed it was an accident, but I’m not so sure.  Anyway, she rowed me in – it’s not possible for anyone to row in + tie the dinghy off, because there’s a heavy swell + no rubber buffers – + I trotted off.  (“This little piggie…”)  On the way, I met a remarkably amiable shopkeeper, who changed $20 for me, at a favourable rate.  The market was great – it’s a permanent concrete arrangement, but seems to take place in a haphazard manner.  People arrive on the morning bus, lug their wares over to a stall, + set up shop.  Things had been underway for about 10 minutes when I arrived, so I had to make a snap decision about priorities – there wasn’t very much of anything at all – except maybe limes.  I hesitated at a stall with some grapefruit + green bananas, but saw that the big rush was for meat, so that had to be no. 1.  There were 2 lines – sort of, pushy, jostly sort of lines they were – one male, one female.  It’s a shame I wasn’t a woman, since their line moved at twice the speed.  But it was great entertainment to watch the butcher – like watching any craftsman at work, I suppose – who was not only good at his job, but also had flair.  He had 5 big sides of beef hanging up, + as people arrived at the front of the counter they would shout a number – usually 4 – signifying how many pounds of meat they wanted.  So far as I could tell, that was the end of the purchasing discrimination.  His north wind sharp knife would whip down, + there was the exact weight of meat in the scale.  Marvellous.  Reaching the end of the side, he would have to wield a heavy axe to break the bones, a tree trunk in the corner serving as a chopping block.  And always, his axe fell with deadly accuracy.  When my turn came, I asked for 10 lbs (tho’ asked is not exactly the right word – I shouted out my request before someone else could snatch my turn), + he let me have 6, divided half + half between ribs + the lean meat.  When I had to pay, they were lacking in small change, so he lopped me off another small piece of meat.  Fairly well pleased with my purchases, I set out to see what else I could buy.  To my delight, the grapefruit were still there, + I was able to buy green bananas.  In fact, I bought something of everything they had on offer (except lettuce – too much of a rush for that): yucca, oranges + limes, plus what I’ve already mentioned.

And so, heavily laden, I returned (ordering a heavy load of bread en route) + Val rowed out to meet me.  Our water tanker was supposed to arrive at about this time, so we repeated yesterday’s exercise at mooring.  It must have been the practice, but this time the operation went perfectly.  However, no water tanker appeared, either at its appointed time or, for that matter, at any time during the day.  After we waited a couple of hours, Val + I went in to town to do some shopping.  It was really nice to be back to wandering around again, on our own, looking in shops, chatting with people (our Spanish seems better than ever.)  And the people here (the village is called San Cristobal) are so amazingly friendly, especially the shopkeeper/money changer + all his family.  Returned with one heavy load of shopping, then back again in the afternoon for another batch – a great load of bread, eggs, cans of hot dogs… the sort of stuff every yachtie needs.  And then back again once more – to our friendly shopkeeper, who else? – for a couple of jugs of water, the boat being completely dry in that respect.

A nice friendly evening, once we’d given up on the water + returned to our anchorage, with dinner + a beer, + then an attempt by Val + I to row in for 1 more in town.  We had to give up + return, when the “beach” we’d been aiming for turned out to be fronted with jagged black rocks – we barely escaped with our boat + bones intact.  So, backgammon instead.  Running score 76-50, to me.

And so, the end of Vol II (not that I have any confidence that Vol I will ever be seen again.)  That one finished with us in San Diego, this one in the Galapagos.  And the rest…?  Hmmm.

A long diary entry – you can see that I have been missing the stimulation of life on shore, as suddenly there was much to write about.  And clearly the market was a remarkable place.  But typically, when I returned my purchases were scrutinised very closely, and Alma was clearly of the opinion that, as a male, I was hopeless at shopping, and had clearly been ripped off.  (Have to say, not sure where this memory came from, as it clearly isn’t in the diary.  I do have other sources, of course – Val’s and my memories, letters home, the writing I did immediately after we returned.)

But having commended our memories, this is another clear example of them letting us down.  Val was convinced that she had stepped foot on no more of the Galapagos than the end of the jetty, but this indicates otherwise.  Not that that was much more than indicated in the photo; there was very little indeed to San Cristobal.

But a pleasant evening, so it seems, with beer(!) and a relatively convivial dinner.

And then, the end of another diary – Volume 2 – with thoughts of what was to come…

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