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The Evolution of 4Creature Comforts Continues...

Updated: Jun 21

When Creature Comforts was open on Post Alley in Seattle, we were friendly with other local store owners, several of which were importers. One store, Milagros, was owned by Patrick who imported from Guatemala. We became good friends over the years. When he discovered that we had Yacht Opportunity on the Rio Dulce, he suggested traveling together in search of unique crafts. He lived in Huehuetenango with his girlfriend, Maria, in the winter.

Huehuetenango, is in the highlands of Western Guatemala, at the foot of the Cuchumatanes which is the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Central America. We had left Opportunity at Mario’s Marina on the Rio Dulce, on the Eastern shores of Guatemala.

Another dear friend, Laura, planned to come visit us on the river in January. Laura was my masseuse when we lived on Kauai and she still lived there. I was excited to join Geddy at the marina in January of 1994, knowing that we had an active journey ahead. I was envious of Pat’s Spanish skills. He suggested that we stay with a local family in Huehuetenango for two weeks of concentrated language lessons. And so we did. Geddy lasted one night, deciding this wasn’t for him. He was willing to speak fluent bad Spanish and everyone loved him for it. I truly desired to improve my limited Spanish. Laura and I stayed with the family, going on outings with Geddy and Pat in the evenings. In the end, I gained a lot of knowledge but found it difficult to get the words out of my mouth. I am not a linguist! I am still studying daily! Laura continued traveling solo while we joined Pat in his truck for a road trip seeking unique crafts. Pat has these indio women riveted with his gift of gab...a huge asset as an importer.

We put a 20 ’ container of goods together...rugs, wood carvings, masks, huipils, hand-woven fabrics, quilts, flutes, and more. We had handbags made from leather and handwoven fabrics. Geddy had several suit jackets made from handwoven fabric in wild patterns as well. Paul in Antigua organized the shipment for us. Pat knew the area really well. He took us to all his favorite crafters and local people. This charming cook welcomed us into her home...and yes, that turkey in the kitchen will be dinner! This was not a tourist restaurant.

By mid-February, we returned to Opportunity, moving her to a different spot on the Rio Dulce, the Catamaran Marina. This was a better place for us but I sure missed Screech, the tiny owl.

Geddy surprised me for my 44th birthday, March 22nd, with a trip to the Mayan ruins, Tikal. He hired Moonie and his private plane to fly us to the ruins located directly North 175 miles from us on the river. What a treat! The Mayan culture was so sophisticated and fascinating. Tikal, which translates to the watering hole, is one of the largest archeological centers of Mayan civilization.

We sailed out of the Rio Dulce on March 26th heading towards Puerto Cortes, Honduras. A bit of a rough voyage, but we made it. We needed to check out their port facilities which are the most advanced in Central America. The problem was that they were geared for big ships, not 55’ sailboats! Intrepid Geddy managed to make arrangements for a later date to continue Opportunity's refit. We didn’t stay long, setting sail for Roatan on April 1st. What drew us to Roatan was our friend John and his girlfriend Karen. John owned his shop, Off the Wall Diving, in Coxen Hole. We were able to dock at the port. While using John’s jeep, we saw an iguana seemingly dead in the middle of the road. I had her on my lap when she surprised me by coming back to life. We brought her aboard Opportunity, not sure if we’d keep her or not. We named her April. She adapted to us and the boat with ease, although she was really good at getting lost on board. Because of that and since her health seemed good, we decided to release her...hoping she wasn’t caught for dinner! We took her to a remote spot to give her an edge for survival.

We left Opportunity at the dock, & flew to La Ceiba with John & Karen. Always looking at land and deals, we found a gorgeous stretch of beach backed by majestic mountains in El Porvenir. The borders of this land were two streams. We really liked the idea of opening a bed and breakfast there on the beach and buying Standard Fruit railway cars for the cabins.

We rode local horses on the beach to explore the area in depth. We hired a lawyer, Pablo, from El Porvenir to purchase the land. Several things changed our plans. First, there was no guarantee we’d pull off this land sale due to the complicated laws and more importantly, we saw women doing their laundry in the streams. Their legs were covered in sores. We discovered that Standard Fruit used massive pesticides polluting the streams. This was the deal breaker. With those dreams crushed, we traveled to Trujillo. We visited their fort. Fortaleza de Santa Barbara, hot springs... and the treat of a lifetime!

This is an ocelot kitten with fur softer than dandelion fuzz. We went for massages in the jungle outskirts of Trujillo and while we were waiting we were introduced to this darling one-month-old orphaned creature. I am a kitty person, but this was over the top. And to add to the day's pleasure, the massage was given by two women at the same time...blissful!

We all flew back to Roatan. We arrived at a bit of sad news. A fellow yachtie was owned by a parrot. Our friend Patty loved this bird and they often gave each other kisses. He accidentally (?) bit her lower lip off! Fortunately, she was able to have it sewn back on.

We sailed on to Port Royal, Roatan before continuing on to Cayos Cochinos. ..a collection of tiny islands. Less than 100 people are living there, all Garifuna people. Our friend that we met in Madagascar, Sky, flew into La Ceiba for a visit and diving. We sailed to La Ceiba, picked him up, and sailed back to Cayos Cochinos. The virgin white sand beaches, swaying palms, and crystal clear turquoise water are remarkable. The diving is reported to be spectacular. Sky and I had GPS coordinates to a dive site with underground mountains and neon-colored sponges. We took the dingy for a 45-minute journey to our special spot, geared up but once in the water, I couldn’t descend. It was inexplicable ...until I got back on the dingy to inspect my gear and found a hole gnawed into my BC tubing. I was so upset because there was nothing to be done but return to Opportunity. We had picked up a rat on the Roatan dock. We had attempted to capture him with no success. Since I rinse dive gear with fresh water after a dive, it would seem that this rat, desperate for water, gnawed his way into a bit of water in the tubing. He had been a nuisance, now he was a menace!

We sailed to the small island of Utila in high winds overnight on 5/19. We rafted up to Camelot, a 75’ yacht, due to the rough seas. The owner, an old sailor Val, was super friendly. His yacht was once a beauty, now a bit worse for the wear but still had a baby grand piano in it. We witnessed a small plane crash on the tiny runway due to wild boars. The plane was totaled but everyone was OK! We cleared out at tiny Puerto Este on Utila and set sail back to the Rio Dulce on May 21st. It was sweltering weather with extreme humidity when we returned. We were waiting to clear in when that pesky rat showed up on deck. Geddy swiftly swept him off the deck into the water. That ended that hitchhiker chapter!

Back at the Catamaran Marina, we laid low during the day and did our closing up the boat process in the coolest hours. We left for Florida on June 12th. At the airport in Guat City, I remember being called to have my bag inspected. I was carrying skulls and metal boat parts, but what they were interested in was my senna powder. Mom needed this at the end of her cancer and I got in the habit of taking the powder for good gut health. The inspector was convinced it was some type of pot. They wanted to detain us while they analyzed it. I was so ready to leave, that I threw a fit. I told them if it was a controlled substance they could have me arrested in Florida...I was getting on the plane….and we did! I knew it was not an issue. There was no one waiting to put me in jail in Florida.

We visited several old friends in Ft. Meyers Beach including my childhood neighbor, Arthur. He had a collection of over 100 birds!

We also made a visit to Epcot Center. This was such a contrast to living in the jungle and sailing remote areas, that it was hard to enjoy it!

Back to the rental house in Kingston after journeying for five and a half months. We decided to have a big birthday party for Geddy.

His niece Sharon and her girlfriend, Lisa flew in from L.A. They were visiting because Lisa had an interest in selling our antique Thai statues, but then they were there to help organize the party. Geddy was turning 48 on June 23rd. Jerry Jeff Walker & his band came to stay overnight after a gig in Alaska. They were to play but they were so exhausted they disappointed everyone and flaked out.

This is not the most flattering picture of Jerry Jeff but this is the state he was in. We all had a blast in any case. Just a week before Sharon arrived, we had a bear on the property voraciously eating plums. He stayed for hours gorging. We had told Sharon the story. When Sharon was in her bedroom, Geddy donned a full-headed bear mask with bear gloves and climbed up to the roof line hosting the window to Sharon’s bedroom. He growled and scratched at the window and as you can imagine scared her close to death. It’s a good thing she loved him! Geddy is wearing one of his unconventional suit jackets he had made in Guatemala with handwoven fabric.

My Dad visited around July 4th again, still working on the construction of the house beside the “barn”. We took a trip to Leavenworth where I was selling antique goods to Smallwood’s Fruit and Antique stand. We continued on to Winthrop, staying at the Sun Mountain Lodge where I had a yummy horseback ride. On our return, we continued to work on the new house project. We were at the point where we started to be able to embellish the house with Thai findings. We used antique ox cart backs & fronts for deck décor and stair risers...also used in the barn. The colorful cat pillows and bed coverings are from the Guatemalan shipment of hand-woven rugs and things.

Here I am at my sales counter in the “barn” hosting the first annual Thanksgiving Open House at The Barn at Owl’s Peak. And my first show at the Hansville Community Center in June. In this era, I started making sand casted garden art, inspired by Nick Young of Mount Vernon.

Bumbershoot this year brought us Bonnie Raitt. We were able to enjoy backstage passes with our dear friends, Priscilla and Tom. A bonus was that our friend from Kauai, Charlie Musselwhite was there as well.

We completed the new house and moved in on Nov. 15th. Another mammoth moving project from our Kingston rental...such a sense of relief to be in our own home with the “barn” right there with us! Next year will bring some huge life changes for us. Stay tuned!


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