Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rub A Dub Dub, Three Men In a Tub

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three.

     -  English rhyme, 1830 (a later version used in Mother Goose rhymes)

Pope’s brother Henry and friend John flew to Nassau a few days ago, in anticipation of catching a connecting flight on tiny Flamingo Air to Staniel Cay, an island in the Exumas chain with an airstrip. To their chagrin, we were still languishing in Nassau. We are now three men in a tub (boat without an engine) and me.
We are still only fantasizing about swimming with stingrays and snorkeling over stunning coral reefs. The replacement parts shipped from the U.S. via overnight express—at considerable expense--came with bolts that didn’t fit our engine. Our diesel mechanic, Albert the Wizard of the Bahamas, hired a machine shop to reshape the diameter and threads of the six bolts. The engine MAY actually reappear at our dock in the next 24-48 hours.
Meanwhile, the extra manpower, while a strain on our limited accommodations, is a bonus for morale. More people to share the cooking, cleanup, and cost of beer, whiskey, and lettuce. (...OK, so I was fantasizing about the cleanup....)

More people to take turns watching our gear while swimming on Paradise Island.
More people to row the dinghy when the outboard engine quits after hitting debris floating in Nassau Harbor.

More important is the entertainment value. Nothing like a few knaves to liven up the party! Retelling tales (probably for the hundredth time) about getting in trouble as strapping young men back in Maryland has lifted Pope out of depression and stopped the wringing of hands over the latest engine setbacks.

The large quantities of sunset cocktails—with rum, the Bahamian favorite--may have also helped!




Friday, January 24, 2014

Hiccups in the Throat of the Ocean

Dear readers:  a few weeks ago, I regaled you with the suspenseful tale of crossing the 9,000-foot-deep Tongue of the Ocean at night. Exciting stuff.

It pains me to admit that Amber & Pope’s Extraordinary Adventure has degenerated into Life at a Gas Station. Instead of tossing us down its gaping throat, the ocean has lodged us, like a lump in its throat, in the constricted channel at Nassau. The latest hiccup in the engine repair is that the bolts that came with the replacement crankshaft don’t fit our flywheel.  

We have been here 25 days. Occasionally, Pope gets agitated and I get depressed. As my friend Linda keeps reminding me, however, there are compensations to being stuck here:

1. We didn’t drown. Every day I sit in the sun and give thanks to Mother Earth.

2. Our friends and housesitter are shoveling snow, cleaning house, trudging to the grocery store, and performing their normal jobs, interspersed with huddling by the radiator or shivering under the blankets, tussling with colds and flu. We are also hard at work: today I cleaned the oil and slimy biofilms out of the bilge and washed throw rugs in a bucket. Pope repaired an anchor clasp and sail guides. But…. It’s 70 degrees. We are wearing shorts and T-shirts. We are healthy. We have no deadlines, and nobody’s standards to meet but our own.

3. It’s cloudy now. But before long, the sun will pop out and dry the rugs and the boat. If the wind calms down, we’ll row the dinghy across Nassau Harbor to Paradise Island and walk to the clear turquoise blue beach. Pope’s brother Henry arrived Wednesday. Since we can’t take him snorkeling in the Exumas as planned, we will entertain him Nassau-style.

4. Since Henry arrived, we bought a freshly caught hog snapper from a gnarled old fisherman and paid an enterprising young man to clean it (total $15). We bought two conchs off a boat and paid a friendly woman in a carry-out lunch shack to fry it up (total $10). Today, when the boats come in about 3:30 or 4:00, Pope and Henry plan to buy Bahamian cracked lobster (brown polka-dotted critters sized midway between lobster and crawfish). Tofu, vegetables, and whole wheat cous-cous are available across the street at Fresh Market, a Whole Foods take-off.

5. I’m reading books and taking yoga classes on Paradise Island; the ashram provides a free boat to get there. I’ve been to a Toastmasters club meeting and, if we stay another week, can do it again.

We may be stuck in the constricted throat of the ocean, with occasional hiccups disturbing our equilibrium. But overall, the life goes down easy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seeing Nassau: Amber's Excellent Adventures (Finally!)

This (see diagram) has pretty much been our life the last two weeks. Time to branch out, get out and about!

Though Nassau wasn’t our destination, there are worse places to be stuck.

The sewage stinks as it’s dumped into the harbor. Trash lines the streets. Locks and bars on the shops and serious barbed wire corroborate the headlines about shootings and robberies. Half of the buildings downtown are boarded up.

On the bright side, the sun shines. There are 11 beaches on New Providence Island and six across the bridge on Paradise Island. People say “good morning” and help you find your bus. Bus drivers go out of their way to drop you at your destination.

Once we got the engine out, and the boat cleaned up, I enlarged my focus. No reason to let my mind turn to mush lollygagging about the dock. Let Pope handle the diesel mechanics. Time for a vacation.
I took a wonderfully relaxing yoga class and vegeterian meal at the Shivananda ashram, which I discovered 30 years ago on another trip to Nassau, while walking up the beach from a hotel on Paradise Island. I’ve always wanted to return.

I walked the beaches and swam at two that seemed relatively clean—Nirvana Love Beach and Jaws Beach (where Flipper 3 was filmed), both on the west coast.

Judy and Dave from the sailboat Wren joined Pope and me to see ruins from the colonial and Lucayan periods at Clifton Heritage Park, on the southwest corner of the island.

We stopped at the Fish Fry, a strip of conch restaurants, and ate peas and rice and guava duff on a windy balcony.
Pope and I strolled to two forts from the British colonial period.
Today, I was welcomed as a guest at the meeting of Achievers of Excellence Toastmasters club, which meets at Princess Margaret Hospital in downtown Nassau. A few customs different from ours: banging on the table in lieu of clapping hands; addressing each other by last name--I was "Toastmaster Jones"; formal parliamentary rules used at the meeting, including taking minutes and approving them.

Tonight, happy hour at a boaters' restaurant near the docks.




Monday, January 20, 2014

Social Sunday, and Significant Setback

The shipment of engine parts from New England to Florida to Bahamas was incomplete. Our mechanic will start over Monday.

NOW it's really getting depressing here. Another week of gasoline and sewer fumes. (Besides, I have a rum hangover; read on. Sunday was a beautiful day for sailing south to the Exumas. The sailboats that aren't members of the Broken-Down club left ealy in the morning. 

To cheer ourselves up, we turned to social nourishment--friends in Nassau.

We met up with friend Carole from Washingtion, DC, and girlfriends--the Bahama Mamas (Mary, Carole. Maureen, Marjorie). They are lodged in a beautiful villa at Sunrise Beach on Paradise Island. with beach, pool, and lush gardens. 
Carole graciously agreed to carry a few items home--the broken camera (I will get it repaired back home) and winter clothes I needed on the freezing trip down.

Then, rum cocktails on Echo Ii with crew of other sailboats. Judy and Dave's engine repair on Wren is now completed, and they will leave when a weather window opens. Likewise, Bruce and Gayleen of Pearl dropped off their visiting family at the Nassau airport and are waiting for favorable winds to move on.

Maybe we will see some of them later in the Exumas. We are putting our faith in the Wizard of the Bahamas (see earlier blog post).

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Your Wish is Granted": The Wizard of the Bahamas

Written with Pope Barrow, Guest Blogger

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," boomed the ethereal voice in the movie. But we did.
Last week, our beloved antique boat engine was expropriated by the Bahamas equivalent of the Wizard of Oz--Albert Cartwright, master mechanic.
We are now "landlocked" in Nassau Harbor, at a gas station (see previous blog post) where fishermen bring in their catch.

We have been inducted into an elite cadre of cruisers known as the Broken-Down Boat Club. Membership in this elite yachting organization requires that your boat be immobilized, defunct, as a mode of transportation. Your engine or other parts must be totally or partially destroyed, and—just as important—you must have surrendered your entire life savings to the powerful and all-knowing Diesel Wizard of Oz (or equivalent in the metal-working or sail-making businesses; they all have children headed for college, you know!). Once you have satisfied these requirements, you are in the club and can start drinking rum at noon.

After Albert removed the engine and discovered a junkyard of broken parts inside, including this abraded crankshaft, we began a worldwide search for the rare pieces needed for restoration.
This involved sending smoke signals (no cell phone service here on the dock) to friends, acquaintances, and businesses in Colorado, California, Maryland, Wisconsin, Florida, and England. (Oh wait, maybe that smoke was from Pope burning Amber's copper-bottom pan, trying to make stove-top bread.)
Between all our contacts and the secret contacts of the Wizard of Oz, our wish was granted: we discovered that two M20 Universal crankshafts remained on the planet. (A special thanks to Mike Tabor, Homer Lang, Henry Barrow, Mark Anstey, and Dave Gershwin, who helped scour the planet, i.e., their sources in the diesel engine world). Some had additional helpful suggestions, such as sinking the boat and collecting insurance, or duct-taping an outboard engine to the stern.

After days of searching in vain, it was, in the end, Oz who tracked down the elusive crankshaft, in the back room of a New England Kubota  tractor dealer. Oz is not the most famous mechanic in the Bahamas for nothing. He has his mojo going.

The parts were shipped overnight express (further slimming our wallet) to Florida. If Customs decides to cooperate, the parts could soon be on their way to Nassau. Then we stuff the old ticker back into the heart of our boat, click our heels together, and Echo II will be on the move again! We live in hope. (At least Pope does. Amber has resigned herself to finally getting a relaxing vacation and is over on Paradise Island, practicing yoga.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Living At A Gas Station: What It's REALLY Like

A few weeks ago in Bimini, we reviewed our options for docking overnight in Nassau with other boaters. Like lemmings, we followed each other to the Nassau Harbour Club Marina and Hotel, complete with showers and pool, for $1.75 per foot per night. Everyone automatically dismissed the cheapest option: the Texaco fuel dock.

We've come full circle. Now we live there! When we sailed back to Nassau the second time with engine failure, we bypassed Harbour Club and aimed straight for the fuel pumps.

It's not bad. In fact, I'm feeling pretty relaxed.

We paid our monthly fee to Harbor View Marina, which owns the wooden dock and boat slips (sign at left in photo; locked gate between the pumps and dock.) The dock houses mostly charter fishing boats.

Rubis, formerly Texaco, sells diesel and gas to boaters at the water end of the dock. A 24-hour security guard watches the fuel tanks and fishes after dark.

We use the bathroom at the gas staton on the shore side of the dock (forefront of photo). Pope made friends with the service station coordinator, Daniel, who is lots of fun, loves his laid-back country which nobody hates (and he can catch his dinner, and plant things in his backyard, if he wants to). Daniel wants to know: "What's up with that Chris Christie thing?!" All the bad news from the U.S. is on the TV in the station.

The gas station has free wifi and a snack bar. Every day Pope buys $1 coffee and $6 lunch specials, and checks email. For  five days he has searched the Internet for parts for our 30-year-old, obsolete engine, contacting every cruiser and mechanic he knew, enlisting others at home to make calls.
The lunch menu at the gas station includes pork chops with delicious "peas & rice," the local staple.

On the dock, the boat is hooked up to electricity, so we can use our electric hot plate, water heater, and fans. The heat and humidity are similar to Washington, DC in late summer (without air conditioning), and the no-see-ums harrass me constantly.We  blazenly walked into our old marina down the street two days ago to take a shower. Yesterday I just poured jugs of water over my head. (And did I mention that the boat rocks? And everything is damp?)

I'm relaxed because, for the first time in three months, we are not rushing anywhere, we are not preparing for a crossing or even a short cruise, we are not constantly analyzing the weather forecast, and--most of all--we have stopped tussling with wind, waves, chop, and water depth!

We made friends with Gabe and Gail on the trawler Sea Wolf, whom we docked next to last week at Harbour Club (they left for the Exumas), and Judy and Dave on the 31-foot sailboat Wren, which two days ago got towed to Harbour Club Marina by the Royal Bahamian Navy. It's rare to see a boat as small as our 30-foot in the Bahamas, and this one--no kidding-- also has a broken-down 30-year-old engine. Judy and Dave suggested sailing together to Miami and fixing the engines there. However, they have already been to the Exumas, and we haven't arrived yet!
Today I took off my anxious countenance, gave my chewed fingernsils a rest, and took the bus to lovely turquoise Love Beach, encircled  by reefs. No photos--too risky to leave a camera or wallet on the sand. All the stores here have locked doors; you have to be buzzed in. The headlines scream murder and mayhem. We watch our pockets on the streets.

Still, the beach was beautiful! And tonight, we're cooking beans and rice of our own, at "home"!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Postscript, or Another Chapter? An Empty Sailboat

Empty of its engine, that is. Our trusty 30-year-old diesel was brutally ripped from the bowels of our boat and removed to Albert's Marine engine repair shop. Then came the crushing blow. Bearings and crankshaft worn.

Found a replacement, in Wisconsin, but it is a rebuild, with no guarantee. How much to ship a 325-pound, $3,800 block of steel from the U.S. Midwest to an island 200 miles east of Florida? Don't even want to guess.

We are at the mercy of Albert and crew. They have an excellent reputation for fixing things. They already got a 300-pound engine block out of a rocking boat onto a dock. They sent me away so my anxiety and nail-biting wouldn't interfere.

We paid for a month's dockage at a Texaco fuel dock, where several charter fishing boats are stored. Our mast is on the left.

I am planning sightseeing expeditions. Pope is searching for parts, both online and by contacting marine parts shop in the good ol' USA.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The End ... ?

Trip seems to be over, or at least postponed. We did not make it to the Exumas.

The engine damage discovered  Monday was terminal. The mechanics were wrong to give us the A-OK. (Well, gee, when does that ever happen?)

We are safely back in a marina in Nassau.and will spend a few days arranging boat storage and engine repair or replacement, then decide where to go/what to do, and whether/when to go home.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all, dear readers. I will do my best to continue to find interesting material for this blog, depending on what we decide to do next. For now, I will plan to post an update here and on Facebook, or feel free to email me for an update, in a few days.

All the best for an otherwise happy January!


Monday, January 6, 2014


Nassau Harbor Control to Skipper Pope: You're drifting. Is something wrong?

Pope to The Whole World of Sailors on Channel 16, VHF Radio: Our engine is disabled. We are re-entering the harbor under sail.    [TRANSLATION: Our engine blew up and, despite Pope's heroic attempts to fix it, it won't re-start. We will now demonstrate Pope's skill in sailing safely to a dock, which many sailors don't even bother to practice. But he does.]

Harbor Control: Roger that. We will alert traffic in the harbor.

Pope to Harbour Club Marina: We are disabled and would like to sail up to your fuel dock until we figure out what in the heck to do.

Harbour Club Marina: OK, we will ask the crew of one of the mega-yachts to help you tie up. But you can't stay there on our fuel dock!!!

Captain of Sailboat Pearl to Pope: Can we help? We can tow you into a slip with our dinghy.

Pope to Pearl: You're a life saver!!! Our hero, Bruce!

First Mate Amber to Blog Readers: Here we are again, safely back in a marina, after our oil filter blew out, a mile or two outside the harbor. We were finally on our way to the Exumas and Pope's lifetime dream--or so we thought.  Meant to be? Or not meant to be? Captain Bruce of Pearl maneuvered us into a slip. A mechanic from Albert's Marine, Jason, miraculously appeared a few hours later...

He confirmed Pope's assumption--foul fuel filter, sold to us in St. Augustine as a substitute for the real thing, but with mismatched threads. A $20 mistake that could have cost us a $5,000 engine job, if we hadn't stopped dead when we did. Jason the mechanic held the phone to the engine so his boss Albert could listen, then he checked oil compression. Pronounced verdict: SOUNDS GOOD, OK TO GO! (Even though I am still suspicious of the clacking sounds.)

But we can't leave again this week, having missed the weather window today; a storm is rolling in tonight with 30-35 mph winds.  Captain is depressed. Get well wishes for Captain Pope and his trusty diesel welcome.

Competition for Captain Runaground

I am very spoiled. And I hope you were too, dear readers. My Olympus FE-310 camera took spectacularly crisp, clear photos for two and a half months. It slipped into a coma after its third dose of saltwater spray, and flat-lined last Monday.

In Nassau, I bought a Vivitar 8400 underwater camera and got it ready for the next big story. Didn’t take long.

We pulled out of Harbour Club Marina Sunday and anchored down the channel, ready to depart at daybreak for the Exumas. Pope crept slowly around the 3-foot shoals in the middle of the harbor.
What to our wondering eyes should appear, shortly after we anchored, but a very large sailboat hard aground on a shoal and listing severely, a few hundred yards away. An opportunity to test the new camera!
The Vivitar photos are nowhere near as clear as those of the Olympus; a real disappointment. But there weren’t a lot of cameras for sale in Nassau. If you look closely, you can see the upper deck of the boat, Dreamland, facing toward us (instead of being horizontal), and the port-side rail leaning precariously close to the water. Having heard of the attention surrounding the exploits of Captain Runaground, no doubt, the crew was determined to usurp the title.

There is no TowBoat US here to tow the boat off the sandbank. The crew sat on the deck, feet braced, waiting for the tide to slooooooowwwwly rise to high tide, around 11 pm or so.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

In Search of Rotella

Yesterday I travelled all over New Providence Island on a mission from God. At least, I think it must have been from Him; the request came from the Pope that I'm traveling with (who is a pretty exalted being, in my book). He asked me to find some Rotella.
This is our sixth day in historic Nassau, home base for the Bahamas tourist. We are waiting for a weather window to cross the ocean once more, to the Exumas. The castle towers of Atlantis mega-resort are a glance over the shoulder. Music blares day and night, and rum is rampant around the docks. The security guards at our marina keep a large bottle tucked under their table.

And of course, the wind blows and...did I mention that things on the boat get damp? The air is thick with salt spray. The daytime temperatures are 70s-80s and sunny--perfect sunny weather. But humid, just like summer at home. The nighttime dew soaks the deck cushions and drips like rain from the windows. At least that's fresh water. 

Nassau Harbor Club Marina, about a mile east of downtown, is not bad for a city marina; the toilets and showers get cleaned before they get too gross, and use of a hotel pool is included in the cost.  (The expensive marinas near the cruise ship docks probably have luxurious tile showers, air-conditioned lounges, and flowers on the counter.) Within a few blocks from our dock are groceries, marine supplies, and wifi at Starbucks.

The major drawbacks in Nassau harbor are crime (boat burglars aren’t deterred even if you’re on board at the time) and the waves created by cruise ships, mail boats, fishing vessels, and pleasure craft.

For those very few of you who might be contemplating life aboard a boat, let me offer some perspective.

In Nassau, Pope has changed the fuel filter and mended the sail. He also set about changing the oil.
I cooked and cleaned, organized storage areas, and sewed a mosquito net. To accomplish all these tasks, we got on and off the boat roughly 10 times a day, using a rope to pull the boat close enough to the dock to climb up or jump down, depending on the tide. We move carefully to avoid injury--a constant risk on a swaying vessel containing sharp edges on benches, fire extinguishers, ladders, halyards, and cleats. We do not always succeed and have the evidence to prove it, on our legs and arms. 

The constant movement is taking a mental as well as physical toll on me. I have just about reached my limit for tolerating a kitchen, bedroom, and bath that roll from side to side, front to back, over and over and over again, 24 hours a day. Torture, a la The Pit and the Pendulum. The incessant rocking has driven me nearly to the precipice of a breakdown!

I seek refuge in shore excursions. When it’s not New Years Eve (see previous post), there’s not much to do in Nassau except eat, drink, and shop. So I have trolled for pasta and sauce, drinking water, a new camera to replace my broken one, fuel filters. We avoid spending big bucks in restaurants and bars and instead lay out hundreds every day for spare parts and dried, packaged food to take along to the remote islands of the Exumas.

Which brings me to my mission from God. Or at least from Pope.

We quickly learned our lesson about bringing supplies from home. Here in Nassau, a big city with lots of marine services, Pope and I spent five days walking the streets and nine phone calls searching for exactly the right kind of oil for our Universal diesel engine--Rotella 30-weight. In vain. Nobody had seen it. Knowledgeable cruisers bring it from the United States. The crew on the boat next door, taking pity on us novices, even offered to sell us some of his. But that didn't solve the problem of taking enough with us to the Exumas.

I can be very tenacious when the stakes are big--in this case, the security of knowing we can keep the engine operating even if--especially if!--we're out in the middle of nowhere. If the oil isn't available in Nassau, it sure isn't going to be found on remote beaches with nothing but iguanas!

In the Exumas, we expect very little in the way of shops or services. We must be self-sufficient. We stocked up with groceries in Miami--or so we thought. Now we wish we had crammed every corner full of canned goods. At each stop since Florida, the cost of food, fuel and water has gone up—now up to $8 for a box of Raisin Bran or Oreos; $6 for Triscuits to serve at happy hour; $5/gallon for diesel, $3/gallon for drinking water, and 50 cents/gallon for non-potable water.
Our quarter berth, instead of being available for guest quarters (which would be quite cramped anyway), holds an alternator, starter, belts and hoses, 3 or 4 fuel filters, large food bins, blankets, and other supplies. In addition to two folding bikes.
I took the city bus around the island, to Solomon's Super Center, sort of like WalMart, and to Marathon Mall, where I stocked up on more supplies and bought my new camera. But Rotella diesel engine oil, 30-weight? None.
Yesterday, I gave up on the Yellow Pages and the bus and let my feet do the walking. I went to all the gas stations and marine stores on East Bay Street,--where the marinas are concentrated--including the stores we had called, which claimed to stock only 40-weight oil. Sure enough, tucked into a corner shelf at Harbourside Marine (one of the "no's)", I spotted the white and yellow label. Success!
Pope, claiming atheism and not willing to admit to miracles from a heavenly benefactor, claims my background as a CIA investigator had something to do with the fact that I was able to track down an extremely elusive product despite all the obstacles and obfuscation. We plunked down our $120 (2 gallons for us, and a gallon to pay back the crew next door) and smiled all the way home. We're good for two or three months in the Exumas.
Dear readers, I apologize for the transition of this blog from exciting adventures to mundane trivia. I fear our life--which consists mostly of rocking and rolling and waiting around for weather windows--may be getting too boring to continue entertaining you in the style to which you've become accustomed.....

.....Would it help if I told you we had drinks last night with Jim, the former chef at the Inn at Little Washington in rural Virginia, and later chef and co-owner of the nearby Bleu Rock Inn? Jim is now happily ensconced on a dive boat, a massive catamaran docked in Nassau that caters to scuba divers from all over the world who dive, snorkel, and swim the reefs and underwater caves of the Exumas.He cooks gourmet dinners finished with rum drinks and bananas flambe, then leads the flock out to the local nightclubs and karaoke joints of Nassau.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let the Partying Begin!

Monday we worked hard, resisting the Tongue of the Ocean’s attempts to swallow us alive.  Tuesday we played.

Bruce and Gayleen of the sailboat Pearl (“sailing buddies” on the passage from Bimini, even though we lost track of each other during the ngiht) are in a neighboring slip at the Nassau Harbor Club Marina. They joined us at sunset for camp-style dinners (potatoes, carrots, onions, sausage or tofu) roasted in foil over our propane grill. We set our alarms for 4:30 am and retired to cabins for a short snooze.

It was shorter than we anticipated: a horn blared at midnight, loud enough to wake the dead. Maybe that was the intent. The harbor lit up with fireworks, amid shouts and music.  Happy New Year!
At 4:30 am we hoofed it to downtown Nassau—a half-hour walk—to catch the remainder of Junkanoo, a joyous street celebration and costume parade ushering in the new year. The party starts each year at 1, 2, or 3 am, or thereabouts, and continues until it’s finished. Some say 9 am; some say noon.


Our weary bodies gave in at 7:30 am; we headed for a bus stop for the return trip.
Pope and I are commemorating the holiday by rejuvenating our boat for a new year; I continued work on a mosquito net for the companionway, an hours-long hand-sewing job in the absence of a sewing machine. Pope mended a tear in the dodger, the awning over the companionway that protects us from the worst of the salt spray while underway; then, he sat down for the grueling stitching of a long tear in the jib (front sail) resulting from the thrashing it took on the passages. Tomorrow, we are due for an oil change, new fuel filter, and search for a new digital camera.

If I get ambitious, I might scrub the dirty deck, sadly neglected among all the other repairs and maintenance. Tonight, a really special treat: our first pizza in two months, from Domino’s! My mouth is watering in anticipation. Nassau is the closest we’ll get to a big city in the Bahamas.
Across the street is Fresh Market (similar to Whole Foods); prices are about twice as much as in the USA. $7.50 for a bottle of salad dressing; $3.50 for a can of organic beans; a roll of paper towels set me back $3.99. Everything is imported. Starbucks next door is open til 6 pm; blogging from there. Air conditioning! A welcome distraction from the hot day and incessant itching of no-see-um bites!