I should preface this by saying it's been a long week, and I'm not quite done being tired and cranky; but don't worry, I'm having fun.

Hey kids! Did you know that Harry Potter is keeping you from communicating with God?

Mona and I left the boat last week. We were in Tenacatita, a beautiful bay in the middle of nowhere, and Greg announced on Christmas Day that he was feeling rushed and didn't want to be making bad decisions about the weather in Tehuantepec and the Papagayos in the interest of Just Getting There, so he wasn't going to Zihuatenejo until March, if then, and he didn't really know what he was going to do. He said he would probably stay in Tenacatita for a few weeks or months, maybe leaving the boat there unattended for a month or so.

This went way past our threshold of how much bullshit we could put up with and still have a good time. We wanted to leave Mexico sooner than March, and we also had a great deal of stuff with us that needed to get to Florida. And now the asshole just tosses everything out the window, expecting us to put up with it just like we've put up with him treating us like shit. Um, no.

We had a couple other crew on at that point, Joe and Hannah, a couple of Outward Bound instructors. Greg's commitment to them was to take them to Zihuatenejo; they wanted to get off at Tenacatita and just make their way, but Mona and I couldn't travel with our stuff, and we needed to be dropped someplace where we could mail most of it home. So Joe and Hannah agreed to ask to be dropped off with us at Manzanillo. Greg didn't even want to do that: the fucker wanted to leave us in Barra de Navidad, a little resort town of 2,000 people, which would have been roughly equivalent to leaving us in Tenacatita. So with some delay (God forbid anything should happen quickly), we pulled anchor and went to Manzanillo.

When we got there, we anchored in the harbor, but Greg didn't feel comfortable leaving the boat there, so we went across the bay to anchor in front of a resort; he had some sort of rationale in his head about Port Captains and checking in, or something. He and I and Joe and Hannah went to shore to explore; Joe and Hannah had the handheld VHF, and would call the boat and Greg would go pick them up. I'm not sure if Greg fell asleep, or the handheld's batteries were dead, or what, but they didn't get picked up. That was enough for them (this was now the second day after Greg had dropped the bombshell), so they swam out to the boat, collected their stuff and passports, and left the following beautiful note:

Dear Scirocco,

We were feeling a bit like hostages, so we've caught an early bus. Dinghy's at the marina dock, it's a fine swim--I did it last night.

Fair winds,
J + H

We were jealous. It caused a bit of hassle for Greg, since when a boat changes crew, the Port Captain wants to see the passports of the departing crew. That was smoothed over with a couple of baseball hats (I don't know--it's what the Port Captain wanted), but Greg feels like they screwed him over, notwithstanding that he basically forced them off the boat 150 miles shy of the promised destination. His lack of awareness about the world astonishes me: he was similarly somewhat bewildered that we should want to leave the boat.

We finally managed to get all our stuff into a nice $70/night hotel (US$7.80: cold water that didn't run 24 hours, but the people were nice, and it was clean), the Casa Doña Juanita; and then Greg gave us our passports, we settled up the last of the bills, I sold him my 12V inverter, and we were free on Thursday afternoon. Mailing our stuff was an adventure: not wanting to use the Mexican postal service, which costs at least as much as the private services and which I don't trust, I tracked down the only two private companies in Manzanillo (pop. 80,000) that would ship packages to the US: Redpack, and DHL. Of course, they're both at least 8km outside the center of town, and they, like the postal service, only ship airmail (apparently every place in Mexico that says it ships UPS, doesn't; the only explanation I got was that there were "too many problems"). So I filled out customs manifests and sent about 80kg of stuff to California, via Federal Express. Overkill, of course, but it should have left today, and it will get there by the end of next week.

Saturday at 1600 we got on a bus for León, the nearest large city to Guanajuato; getting off the bus, we discovered that stuff like my wallet and passport had fallen out of my pocket, and the wallet had disappeared. No money lost--ever since the cops in México state asked for more money when they saw it in my wallet, I've kept the majority of my cash in another pocket, and in this case there was no cash in the wallet--but I lost my ATM and credit card, and my driver's license.

We got into Guanajuato at around 0530, only to discover that this is a high tourist season, from Christmas through Three Kings' Day on January 6th, and there just aren't any vacancies. So we parked in a corner near the University and slept a little bit, with blankets on the very cold stone. It's much colder here than it was three weeks ago.

We did finally get a room, and we're winding down and relaxing to enjoy the area. We'll be here for some weeks, then head up to the East Coast (don't ask me how) to see our families for a little while. And then, at last, we return to the Land of Plentiful Sushi and Indian Food, the Bay Area. We're looking forward to our friends, who we miss so much; and I'm looking forward to hopefully getting back to work.

So we're free, with time to read stuff like this. We saw Fellowship of the Ring last night, for a little under US$3 each; it was good, although it was an adaptation, so many things were missing or glossed over. But it was mostly sensible. It made me think, though, of the problem of having a film version of a book, especially if it's a good or well-known film version (the 1978 animated film is neither, so it does not raise the question): children will grow up actually attaching a face to Frodo Baggins, and that face is Elijah Wood. Or Ian McKellen as Gandalf, or Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn. As it happens, I like those choices, but setting it down in pictures takes away fluidity from the novels; the faces are now etched in stone, and I wonder if that doesn't take away from the ability of the novels to stimulate the imagination. Or if it doesn't degrade them somehow, that children who may see the movie first might be perhaps bored by the extended descriptions and history of the novels, or disappointed to discover that the books don't have any wizard's duel between Gandalf and Saruman.

This won't get any easier as we develop things like 3D entertainment and immersive VR, as we will, because we're human and we like to do things like that. How will the books affect someone who has been able to play a character in the film? Interact with it to change the course of the plot?

I consider it a bit of a loss, although I'm certain I'm getting older. Technology does not, by default, enrich our lives.

That's the news from Lake Wobegon, gang. Have a happy and safe New Year.

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