Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ruth's Update

Lightning, Radar, Kittens and Impetigo. The Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) question would ask what do they have in common or something of that sort and then there would be an option for none of the above or in our case, all of the above. Maya and Kai have been doing sample SAT questions online this morning because the Oregon School District warned us that if Maya doesn't take her Third Grade SAT test, then she might not be able to get her driver's license. Well, keeping 9 year old Maya out of the driver's seat is something I support fullheartedly, especially since she can't reach the gas and brake pedals.

But, back to the hypothetical SAT question. Lightning, radar, kittens and impetigo have a lot in common in this month's life on board Kamaya.

Lightning and Radar

Lightning and radar don't go well together, and when they do, the result spells trouble. Somewhere in Costa Rica, probably when we were sailing around Drake's Bay, and encountered a big storm where lightning blazed the sky and thunder banged and cracked loudly, we experienced a "near-hit" that fried our radar. Caput. It didn't work anymore, making it difficult for us to spot ships and understand the lay of the land at night. So we "blindly" made our way to Panama City where thanks to insurance, we were able to get a new radar installed as well as do lots of work on the boat. Now we're back in action.

As I write, we've made it out of Panama City and are now anchored in Contadora, one of the few developed islands in Las Perlas where the posh Panamanians come to swim, fish and play. The water is clear and warm and teaming with food for the humpback whales that frolic around. The Shah of Iran called Contadora home for a short time and this small island is also the place where secret political talks occur in the very fancy homes built with stellar views. One of the most famous talks included former General Manuel Noriega just before the US instigated Operation Just Cause. Remember that? With characters like Oliver North and loud rock music that US Marines blasted in Christmas 1989 around the house where Noriega sought shelter.


Somehow Maya has impetigo, the same contagious skin disease that infected some of the kids in the Gorge while we were visiting this summer. Once you've learned to say the word, you're half way there to curing it. It's fairly common and can start with an irritated insect bite and then it grows fast, especially if itched and not treated with bactroban or some sort of strong ointment. If it's severe, which Maya's was, then antibiotics cure it pretty quickly. Fortunately, Maya is on the mend and today, she can finally jump in the clear water.

Mochito the Kitten

Lastly, we've agonized about the possibility of adopting a cute little kitten that our friend Roger and his wife Gladis found near the anchorage in Panama City. The little tiger kitten was abandoned by his mother and had a broken tail. Roger has a huge heart, especially for cats, and he was feeding the kitten and bathing him. He had brought him to the Balboa Yacht Club where there are a lot of stray cats who Tito, the manager of the yard, takes care of. They had named him "Mochito" which is related to the fact that the tip of his tail was cut off.

One day, Roger and Gladis graciously took me to a number of grocery stores in Panama City so I could provision the boat. At the end of the day, they were were going to take Mochito to their home in Panama City for a flea bath. Maya and Kai came along for this part of the journey and took a quick liking to the kitty. For the week, we kept Mochito on the boat and didn't get any sleep, but had such fun playing with him. Maya and Kai stepped to the plate and took incredible care of Mochito.

We made lists of the pros and cons of keeping Mochito with us on Kamaya and we agonized over the decision. On the positive side, the kitten was cute, fun, needed a home, would come in handy if mice ever boarded the boat and, most important, he was a bundle of love and the kids were super excited to have a new friend to play with. But on the negative side, Mochito was nocturnal, needed feeding, attention and kitty liter and some of the places where we're going like Hawaii and New Zealand require quarantining animals. Moreover, when we travel inland, we would need to find someone to take of the cat. So all this combined, we opted to leave the kitten with Tito. Fortunately, when we brought Mochito to the yacht club, Tito's eyes lit up and the other workers seemed super happy that Mochito returned.

But all this has made us realize the importance of neutering cats and we encourage all to help minimize the number of unwanted animals roaming the earth.

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