The Vilisar Times

The life and times of Ronald and Kathleen and our voyages aboard S/V Vilisar, a 34.5-foot wooden Wm-Atkin-designed sailing cutter launched in Victoria, BC, Canada, in 1974. Since we moved aboard in 2001 Vilisar has been to Alaska, British Columbia, California, Mexico, The Galapagos and mainland Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador, 17 December 2008

We leave on the tide tomorrow morning headed north to Panama´s Islas Las Perlas between Panama City and the Columbian border. Won´t likely be able to post a blog until we reach Panama in early January.

So, a Happy Christmas to All and the best of everything in 2009 from

Kathleen & Ronaldo
aboard S/V Vilisar, Victoira, British Columbia, Canada

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador, 09 December 2008

Bahía de Caraquéz, Ecuador, Monday, December 08, 2008

Several times we have been invited to family functions by our friend, Washington (“Wacho”) Moreira. We have been honoured by his friendship and, through him, of Consuelo and their three children, George, Gema and Fiorella. Wacho and Consuelo were married for many years and, although they are no longer, they remain friends and Wacho takes an interest in his children.

Gema just recently turned eleven. She is a pretty though shy girl, a good student (she leads her class) and has ambitions someday to be a doctor. Like most Ecuadorians, it is difficult to get her to smile for the camera; Ecuadorians invariably compose their faces to be blank even though they will be smiling broadly just before and after. Whatever the reason, to photograph a smile of anyone but a spontaneous small child here, you have to catch the subject somewhat unawares.

On Saturday morning we are invited to be present at Gema’s (aka “Gemita’s”) First Communion. After dressing in our best clothes (‘dressing up’ is a challenge for cruisers), we walk the two blocks from the marina up to the front of the church with the blue roof to find a few scattered groups, but not the crowd we expected. We ask and are told that First Communion would take place at 1100, and not at 0900, as we had been led to believe. We wait patiently back at the marina until Wacho shows up and whisks us off to Consuelo’s apartment on Av. Bolívar in the centre of town. There we sit in the parlour while around us mild chaos ensues. Eventually, Gemita appears in her communion dress.

First Communion is a big thing. The boys are all dressed in black suits or white guayaveras; their hair is gelled and combed assiduously into place. The girls are dressed like brides with floor length gowns. For us Protestants, it can be a bit much, especially when there are 100 kids bunched together at church. We all walk the two blocks along the main shopping street behind Gemita to get to the church and she immediately slides into her assigned place. The rest of us bunch up in a pew off to the side.

The kids go out again and process back down the centre aisle with a candle in hand. The breeze blowing through the church is pleasant but makes keeping the candles alight difficult. I imagine mothers will be trying to get red wax out of clothing tonight.

The priest is tall, has a dark beard and long hair that makes me thing of Albrecht Dürer’s self-portrait or a rock star. The music is provided by a small combo made up of two electric guitars and a percussion set as well as a pair of singers, one male and one female. Two little boys enthusiastically shake maracas and a tambourine. The singers croon into their mikes. The band seems only to be able to play the key of C+, which of course is too low for everybody and the music is the modern Roman Catholic pastiche of campfire songs. But everyone seems happy. But everyone seems to know the words and sings along.

After a rather long briefing (aka sermon) by the Padre, the eucharist finally begins, and eventually each child gets to take his or her First Communion. By this time many parents, mainly mothers, are out of control. They push up the side aisles to get THE PHOTO of their little darling receiving the intincted wafer. Cellphones go off around us and conversations are carried on. The atmosphere has degenerated; it is rather like a market or a bus terminal. Once the mass ends, everybody pushes forward to the altar steps for photographs by the professionals photographers as well as family’s own amateur photographers. Expect Latin Americans to ignore queuing as a matter of principle. I am surprised they managed to stay disciplined enough to queu for the communion when it was finally distributed. A bad scene. Eventually, we push through the crowd, or, better, are pushed through by family members so we can hove our pictures taken too.

Finally, after 90 minutes, it is over and we are marching back to Consuelo’s house. A quite girl, Gemita seems thoroughly glad to have it all done withand to get into something more comfortable than her princess dress. Wacho, Kathleen and I head over for lunch at appropriately named, Restaurant El Maná (as in ‘manna from heaven’). Instead of bread found on the ground however, it is almuerzos tipico, a set lunch.