It is almost Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful. To count our blessings. And I am really, really trying. Trying not to be discouraged. Trying to combat the part of me that is NOT in love with this adventure. Trying to find the good in every day. Trying to give in and enjoy the experience. Trying to be grateful for the chance to be living my husband’s dream accompanied by my three amazing children. And since we are therefore also approaching the end of November, it means that we’ve been doing the “cruising thing” now for three whole months. I think that typically this is a time when people like me who are new to cruising hit some kind of “come to Jesus” wall about the whole experience. I find myself incredulous that it has only been three months and not a little freaked out that we have SEVEN more months to go. I have not written for a while. I guess part of me has collapsed into some stage of grief about the whole connectivity issue and its frustrations and part of me is not sure how to write this next entry. I don’t want anyone to think the wrong thing if I were to vent or express out loud some of the emotions I have been going through lately with this “adventure”. I will admit that I did hit some low points lately: the first was when after returning from my first shopping trip to the Mega in San Juan del Cabo, I discovered that my iPhone was no longer in my purse. I have not been using it as a phone but just that day we figured out how to Skype call for cheap and my phone was perfect for that. Also, I was using it as a camera. And now it is gone. No blog photos. My Nikon is not easy to drag around with me. My connectivity to the world FURTHER diminished; I am yet further hobbled. And then, even lower I sank when I slipped in the cockpit while anchored in Ensenada de los Muertos and severely twisted my ankle (yes, I know, I tend to do this) and cried and cried and cried. My family stood there staring at me as they had not seen me cry since the last time I fell with my ankle, in Florida, just before our wedding four years ago. They did NOT know what to do. It hurt, for sure. But it was also some sort of a wall that I hit. The before-the-last straw or something. I just wanted it all to be over. I am seasick or have headaches most of the time. I am sweaty and stinky and salty and dirty and tired. The kids are frustrated and frustrating. I HATE THE HOMESCHOOLING. Bad moods abound. The food thing is way too hard. I feel lonely and DONE. And then, as if I wasn’t feeling badly enough, my ankle was twisted and swollen and painful and getting around or even off the boat became a huge issue. Perhaps it was some sort of a sign. Let’s just take a moment here, Jen, and show you that it CAN get worse so stop your pathetic whining!!! All my life I have loved travel and traveling. I love exploring different cultures and I love languages. But cruising is quite a different way to travel. We are constantly moving. A day or two here and then off again. We kiss the shores and stop briefly at marinas or anchorages. I venture boldly into shopping centers for food and then scuttle back to the boat. We are with other cruisers and ex-pats but rarely get to engage with Mexico or Mexicans. It is quite hard on the kids, really, thus far, and I am not sure how to make things better. Samey is getting pretty wigged out. Exhausted. Talking about home all the time. Wants to see her friend Keegan and her cousin Cora. Wants Fresca. Get me that NOW, she says to me. Constant defiance and melt-downs. Angry, mean talk and she is even physically acting out. She is constantly asking for screen time to escape. She is dirty, stinky and covered in mosquito bites. She is having poop issues. Is scared by the diarrhea we all have. Ben is fairing well as he gets to spend time with a couple of friends he has made with other kid boats but when it comes to his schoolwork, things are dismal. Also covered in bug bites, he has trouble with the basic maths that were never an issue for him, his spelling tests are getting worse not better, his handwriting is abysmal, barely legible, his ability to focus on school is so awful and so incredibly frustrating that it makes us scream and pull our hair out just to get anything done at all with him every day. We’ve adapted our approach to try and lessen the stress it is for us all, with Marcus doing the math with him first and enhancing it with math fact drilling, then we have him write a journal entry (two half pages of writing), and then I attempt to do a few of his other subjects before he lapses completely and can’t focus at all. He is doing a pretty good job with reading, though. Comes easily and he seems to be still enjoying the Charlie Bone series. We have some new friends who finally decided to just STOP schooling on the boat of their 12 year old son, Ben, for their sanity. I find it brave and bold. Their son is a smart and charming young man. It is very tempting… Max is actually doing pretty well. Super helpful with the boat and the kids. Not tidy – his v-berth room is atrocious once again - or clean – he likes to be salty and sleep outside - and school continues to be a challenge. It is an independent study curriculum and he is not an independent worker. But Marcus sets his daily program and this helps a lot. He fell behind in his Algebra work during the Baha Ha-Ha and was having a hard time understanding it on his own but our friends on Sand Dollar have stepped in to assist and are helping him get past the horribly written math lesson he is on currently. We stopped doing the other subjects for a while to help him get caught up. He is probably doing the best of the kids right now. I am proud of him. We are currently in La Paz. It is a charming place, a famous stop for cruisers. It is FULL right now as the Ha-Ha fleet has inundated the town and marinas. It seems everywhere we go we are surrounded by others from the fleet and this is both nice and frustrating. I never thought that what we were doing would be “original” or “new” but seriously. We are NOT breaking any new ground here. And everyone seems to be doing the same thing we are. AT THE SAME TIME. But again, we’ve met some great people. Today, I snuck away with my new friend Julie from Sea Otter (Bend, Oregon) and another couple – Rick and Patty - on Fais Do Do (Los Angeles, CA) and we took the free Marina shuttle in to town. We went to some really quirky stores in the center of town. One called La Super even had baby pins with plastic duckies on them for cloth diapers! I had not seen them for ages! Bins and bins of the craziest stuff. Then we hopped on a bus (hilarious!) and went to the Mega grocery store and the bank. Then, a cab ride back. I loved it because I was kid-free, Julie is deep and fun, I got to actually see town and people and stores and a bus. And the grocery store was a little less of a mystery this time, too. Marcus has followed, for a long time, a blog by a couple on a boat called Rebel Heart. They were here in La Paz and have two little girls – one 3 and one 9 months old who has chicken pox! We met them and they were INCREDIBLY helpful to us with tons of tips and ideas and Charlotte even went with me to the Mega, showed me some items she likes and helped me at Telcel to get an USB internet stick for my computer which entailed standing in line and at the counter for over an hour (her one afternoon off from her little ones!) just to purchase the stick and get it running. But now I should have internet when I need it when we can’t find internet cafes and hotspots. I should say I feel relieved and part of me does. Charlotte was inspiring because she is so deep into cruising. They will leave in 2014 to do the “Pacific Puddle Jump” which is a fleet that leaves from Mexico to do the Atlantic crossing over to the French Polynesia. With a toddler and an infant. She is amazing! And she freely admits how incredibly hard this is. To cruise. With children. And all of the rest of it. And she does it with grace and humor. A true inspiration for me. We’ll be here at the marina called Palmira through Thanksgiving. There is a Thanksgiving celebration here on Turkey Day that we’ll take part in. 200 people and 25 turkeys. Should be amusing. Until then we’ll continue to take care of some boat projects. Today, we had the boat cleaned and buffed and waxed. Appa looks great. The steering wheel and the propeller are concerns. We need propane. I will admit, however, since I am spilling my guts, that Marcus is lucky that I am such a newbie at sailing and boats. This is NOT the boat I would have chosen for cruising if I had known then what I know now and had seen the other boats people are on for this kind of a trip. Appa is really a racing boat, not a cruising boat. But, she is a great boat, too. Just not really as comfortable or as cruising friendly as MOST of the other boats I have seen! The marina we are in is decent. Our slip is convenient, our neighbors are interesting, the pool is pathetic but at least the kids can swim. We are going to attempt (I hope!) to go out on the dinghy to see and possibly swim with the whale sharks. Our next move, next weekend, will be to do an overnight passage of the Sea of Cortex to Mazatlan. Great. Seasick again!