Following is a message about our 57th-Year Reunion from Rod
fantastic trombone player passed away yesterday of a heart attack.
Roxann will post his obituary as soon as it appears in the Statesman.
Website address: http://boisehighclassof1965.com
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Sent from my phone
one I had the most respect for. He was a serious guy. This world is a
lesser place with his passing.
From: Douglas Cochrane
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 9:19 PM
Subject: Re: John King's Passing
We have a nice private guest suite awaiting your arrival.
Orion is for sale in Anacortes. Our ocean voyaging has come to an end. Aging happens.
We will take a gap year then probably by a smaller simpler boat suitable for
cruising the Salish Sea from here to Alaska.
Douglas & Gerry Cochrane
1307 Pear St NE, Olympia WA 98506
On Apr 19, 2017, at 2:10 PM, W RAND SUE ANN BAXTER
Hi Doug--Roxann and I did check with each other and see if you only took the
other one out to lunch and we were out of luck!
wasn't the case.....
I would love to see you and Gerry. How is it living on land? Do you still have
your beautiful boat?
Big hugs--Sue Ann
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 8:20 AM
To: W RAND SUE ANN BAXTER
Subject: Re: John King's Passing
I cut my Boise visit short so I was unable to call you. Gerry and I have moved
ashore so we are more accessible than before. If you happen to be near Olympia, please give us a call.
1307 Pear St. NE, Olympia WA 98506
On Apr 19, 2017, at 6:38 AM, W RAND SUE ANN BAXTER
Thank you, Doug, for your kind words. I know he will be missed.
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 10:19 PM
To: John Spoljaric
Cc: Beth Mather; Charles and Carol Wardle; Dallas Young; Gwyn Tipton; Jerry Williams; Jim Tibbs; Lynn Johnson; Michael Maher; Ray Grant; Roxann Howell
Dehlin; Sally Tom; Shirley ewing; W RAND SUE ANN BAXTER
Subject: Re: John King's Passing
legs :-) Roxann
they are all very positive: the many things I loved about the man. In fact
he never was a kid, even in the 7th grade he was already a man, sporting a
3 PM shadow at age 12 ! And, he always was just more mature than me;
more focused than most of us. I really saw him as a brusquely warm and
funny grown up , dedicated to every task with the integrity of a wise and
John was a driving force within our incredible BHS Band and Orchestra.
He and Mr. Shelton formed a growing immutable force, into unstoppable
success. Once, Mr. Shelton confided in me that he had watched John all
during his junior high years; waiting excitedly to get John in his band.
Mel was a builder of people; and, he built a lot of very fine people. John was
his apprentice and understudy. Of course, his own career built upon all that
Mr. Shelton had given him; all that he gathered from his own resources; and,
doubtlessly from all the other mentors he attracted. I suspect John was
also a dedicated builder of people during his career.
Another very significant person in John's life was John Spoljaric. In
the 7th grade band at NJHS, the two Johns formed a friendship that
grew and lasted for more than 6 decades. At first John King was pretty
seclusive and shy. John Spoljaric was the band's social sparkplug. He made
friends of all of us, especially John King. Spoljaric brought out King's
hidden personality and his incredible wit. It is my opinion that this influence
enabled John King to become a very able social being. Success in life can
be measured in many parameters, but the greatest of these measurements
is the quality of John King's soul in the eyes of God.
to me in the BHS orchestra. In my eyes and ears he was a perfect musician,
always prepared and serious. When he played the trombone, all of us were in
awe, and when Mel Shelton gave him a solo opportunity the room would grow
quiet. The way John could play complicated runs was unbelievable. He was
Pam was my first girlfriend. We were in the 4th grade.
She loved horses so I invited her to our farm on North 36th
street to go riding on one of our horses. At that age I could
hardly saddle a horse.
We rode all day with her behind me, hugging me so she
wouldn't fall off. We rode up to the hills where Hillside
Junior High is now located. Pam's home was right
there behind the bakery at Hill Road and 36th street.
A few days after that horse ride, either she or I asked
the other if we wanted to go "steady". I was very shy but I
think I was the one that asked her. So I tied a knot in
her chain and that was it.
I don't think we even talked much after that and
have no idea how long she kept the knot in her
chain. I remember Pamela as a wonderful person
and hope that she is now living in green pastures
with lots of beautiful horses to ride.
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2015
Dear Sue Ann,
I am amazed at the effort you have put into keeping track of our
huge class of '65. Without people like you, we might never meet again
as a group.
We were so lucky to grow up in Boise when we did. Boise was a
wealthy city for its size, thanks in part to its location and the Idaho
gold rush. People like Harry Morrison, Joe Albertson, and Jack Simplot
led the way. Our generation reaped the benefits of that wealth as our
parents were willing to invest in our education. So BHS got a well-equipped
ndustrial Arts building, a shiny new music building with private practice
rooms and fancy uniforms for the marching band, the Thunderbirds,
and the cheerleaders. The sports programs got plenty of support
against the new arch rival, the dreaded Borah Lions.
That wealth spilled over to the nearby Andrew Carnegie public library,
which was the equivalent of the high speed Internet in its time, a source of
information on a myriad of topics. We got well educated, dedicated
teachers like Miss Kinyon, Helen Farrer, Pat Bieter, Jim Hopper, and
Mel Shelton. We graduated with a better education than many present
day college students.
Since most travel in those days was by train, many famous people
chose to stop in Boise between Salt Lake and Portland. So we got to a
ttend concerts by the like of Jascha Heifetz, Raphael Mendez, Louis
Armstrong, Al Hirt, and Country Joe McDonald. Not to mention the local
talent displayed during Music Week and the spectacles put on by Henry
Von der Heide, when hundreds of innocent children froze their nookies off
creeching the final notes of the Star-Spangled Banner as Air Force
Reserves jets roared overhead,
When we graduated Boise High, we had opportunities to go in a
hundreds different directions. And now we gather again, having gone in
hundreds of directions. Some went to prison, rightly or wrongly. Others of
us beat Sheriff Shiny to the border and got our higher education in the
Haight Ashbury. We have doctors, lawyers, judges, executives, financial
wizards, engineers, entrepreneurs, and even the odd ski bum or sea gypsy
in our cohort.
Looking back we have much to be grateful for and much incentive to pass
it on to the generations to follow. Let's spend our remaining years focused
outwardly to make the world around us a better place.
Well done, Class of 1965! Pass it on...
Respectfully submitted, Douglas Cochrane
I'm pleased to pass this on to our classmates - what a wonderful
Blog from Douglas Cochrane
Greetings from M/V Orion, March 1, 2013
We’ve had several queries about where we are and
what we are doing so I guess it’s time for another
newsletter from the fine ship Orion. This message
comes with the usual caveat – if you don’t have time
or interest for our adventures, let us know and we’ll
take you off the list.
We spent a wonderful month or so with family and friends
in Oregon for the holidays, including a trip to Kansas for
Thanksgiving with our son Steven and family, a trip to
San Antonio with daughter Firiel and son in law Shawn
to hear grandsons Jered and Brady play in the OSU band
at the Alamo bowl, and a fun trip to Hawaii with our
daughter Kris and her family. Then we headed south by
car, bound for La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico. Most folks would
hop a plane and be there the same day. But Orion has
a canine infestation and we won’t put them in the
hold of a plane. So we piled dogs and a ton of supplies
in a rental van and took off on another adventure.
Our friends Spike and Mariana Webb joined us in
Ensenada. They live there, know the Baja well, and
are fluent in Spanish. Together we spent three days
wending our way down through very interesting and
varied terrain. Part of the time the highway runs
near the Pacific Ocean. Part of the time was the
sort of desert you’d expect from the Baja with
huge saguaro cactus and one long stretch that looks
like an enormous boulder field.
We spent a night at Baja’s oldest restaurant/motel
in El Rosario. The proprietress is 106 years old and
still sharp as a tack. Her large family keeps the business
going. It is a favorite stopping spot for the Baja off
road crowd and is filled with autographed photos of
famous drivers from around the world.
The next night was at Santa Rosalia, a copper mining
town that was originally French. It was very interesting
since the buildings are all wood instead of adobe or stone.
The church was designed and fabricated from metal by
Eiffel in France and shipped over for erection.
From there to La Paz was largely along the Sea of
Cortez. It was beautiful with many large coves filled
with cruising boats. La Paz itself is one of our favorite
cities with a long beautiful malecon (boardwalk or
promenade) along the shore with bandstands, bronze
sculptures, restaurants, and little craft booths. A
week after leaving Oregon, we arrived back aboard
Orion at the Costa Baja Resort and Marina.
After a short stay our friends Stan and Diane Heirshberg
joined us for the passage across the Sea of Cortez.
We were a little nervous about the crossing since our
buddy boating friends Rick and Nicki Hudson got spanked
pretty hard a couple of weeks earlier on their crossing.
But our timing was perfect – flat seas, no moon, a myriad
of stars like you rarely see from the well-lit shores.
On the midnight watch I stepped outside to look for traffic
and saw that we were surrounded by dolphins. It was a
dark night with lots of phosphorescence in the water. I
could see the dolphins deep in the water, with a glowing
trail behind them. When they broached to breathe the
sparkles went everywhere. It was so magical I could scarcely
stand to go back inside. They ran with us for over an hour.
After a 25 hour passage, we arrived at the El Cid marina in
Mazatlan. It is a cute little pocket harbor in the midst of a
lovely resort. Best of all, we found that we had arrived just
in time for Carnival, the local celebration of Mardi Gras. The
town was all dressed up for a party – and what a party it was!
All along the malecon were booths and walking vendors
selling everything from masks to beer. A friend of ours
said their bus driver coming into town stopped in the
middle of traffic, ran over to a beer stand for a refreshment,
then continued driving into town.
The locals had claimed their spaces along the malecon by
mid-afternoon. Yachtistas signed up for a wonderful Mexican
buffet at one of the local hotels, which included reserved
seating. The parade started at 5:00 P.M. at the far south
end of town. It didn’t reach our location until 7:30 and didn’t
finish passing us until nearly 10:00. The first thing in the
parade was a large cargo van filled with rockets. A fellow
walked in front of the van and kept arming himself with a
handful of rockets which he would aim at the sky and ignite.
We were happy he didn’t stumble and fire one into the
crowd. (This was not an OSHA approved activity!)
The parade was amazing. Marching bands – some marching
in step, others wandering along with maybe just the drum
and one trumpet playing his own melody. Lots of dance clubs
of all sorts with kids, adults, and oldsters. Elegant, gaudy
floats with rock or mariachi bands and princesses vying for
Queen of the Carnival.
There was a lot of interaction with the crowd. The pretty
girl sitting in front of us was wooed by a number of young
men marching by, who would stop and pull her into the street
for a dance and maybe a kiss. People would run out in the
street to get their pictures taken with friends in the parade.
The Mexicans are generally a very joyful people and this was
one of their favorite times of the year.
The frosting on the cake was the Brazilian floats at the end.
Suffice it to say that the beauty of the young women and men
was surpassed only by the skimpiness of their elaborate costumes.
It was not something we see in the Yachats Fourth of July parade.
We also took a tour with two women tour guides to a charming
inland village, very clean and nicely painted in bright colors. The
lunch restaurant was beautiful with many plants, parrots in cages,
and chickens walking under the tables. Stan called Gerry into the
mens room to see the artwork and she got a picture of him kissing
a clay pig. Turns out the pig was actually the urinal but who cares?
It was the best time. It was a treat to head inland and see a non-
After a few days, we headed south on an overnight run to San Blas,
a dusty little town with a pretty church and active market. It was
very buggy and hard to get the dogs ashore so we made a quick
shore visit and continued south.
Our favorite anchorage to date was at the beautiful little village of
Chacala. Our good friends Denny and Lauri Justis have been going
there for a month or so every winter so we stopped by for a visit.
What a place! It is an easy though rolly anchorage, with a long sandy
beach with asmall surf and palapas selling good food and margaritas.
Sun, ocean and good friends - it doesn’t get any better than this.
One day we took a collective – an 8 passenger taxi that runs from the
small villages out to the highway – to Las Varas, the nearby market
town. Ostensibly we were going shopping but the real reason was to
sightsee and have lunch. It worked – we found the best rellenos con
camarones of our life.
The funniest part of the day was our trip home. We flagged down
a collective that was headed to Chacala. Six of us and the driver
in an 8 passenger van. Then the driver told us he needed to stop by
the school to pick up his chico. No problemo! So the chico and his
friends started piling in. It was like the clown act at the circus
where the clowns keep pouring out of the little car, but in reverse.
By the time we left the curb there were 17 people aboard, stacked
on each other, sitting on the floor, etc. As we pulled away, I
encouraged everyone to fasten their seat belts. Another non-OSHA event.
There are three marinas in Banderas Bay: La Cruz, Marina
Vallarta, and Paradise Village. We’ve done the Goldilocks routine
here. First we went to La Cruz which is a pleasant new marina n
ext to dusty little fishing village. Next was Marina Vallarta, which
is the closest to the old town of Puerto Vallarta and the malecon.
It was a well-protected marina completely surrounded by high rise
condos, restaurants, and shops. Unfortunately the marina is in
receivership and the docks were literally falling apart. Stan and D
iane jumped ship as it is the closest marina to the airport.
Choice #3, Paradise Village was just right! It is a five star resort
with a nice marina attached. We have several friends here, new
and used, including Rick and Nicki who buddy boated down Oregon,
California, and the Baja with us and are now headed North, returning
to the States at the end of the season.
Next Sunday our good friends Mike and Meri Justis will come aboard
and we’ll do a quick trip back to Chacala then spend a few days
seeing more or Puerto Vallarta, followed by cruising south to snorkeling
coves then to Barra de Navidad, another great resort marina.
It is such fun bouncing between anchorages and fine marinas. We
like the remote spots with the peace and quiet just as much as we
do the resorts with their pools, palapas, activities, and dining.
Our future plans are fluid. We are driven by the whim. But the
current fantasy includes Costa Rica, Ecuador, then a trip through
the Panama Canal in the Fall.
Look forward to seeing all of you when the opportunity arises.
Douglas & Gerry Cochrane Sailing on the M/V Orion, Nordhavn 57
P.S. Occasionally one of you expresses concern about the safety
of cruising in Mexico. My Uncle Don did a bit of research on the
subject and reports that the murder rate in Mexico is 10 in 100,000.
The murder rate in Baltimore is 33 in 100,000.
We would love each of you to start a blog. It could be about your career,
how may kids did you have, successes, losses, health challenges,
what you are doing in retirement....etc. We want to hear from you!
Thanks, Sue Ann Gilster Baxter, Roxann Howell Dehlin, Jessie Thaten Allen,
Sue Hansen Lenon, Dallas Flahaven Young, & Mike Maher.
This Classmate Blog, aka WHERE WE ARE NOW section is being created
for this event at the suggestion of Bob Manning. This gathering
will be a little different from the others in that there will be no formal
"program" (like the Sat. nite program we have had in the past).
We also want to go beyond our "we beat Borah football game and our
heroic players" because we have covered that - although
IT WAS SUCH a monumental event that 45 years later we are still elated over it.
"Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days
. . .
Glory days yeah goin back
Glory days aw he ain't never had
Glory days, glory days "
Bruce Springsteen lyrics submitted by Mike Maher
For some, those are glory days that won’t come back.
For others, they were not glory days. And for others, they
ere glory days that continue. LET'S BLOG!
“Cruising provides total freedom – if you can stand it” -
Scott Flanders, M/V Egret
CHANGE OF ADDRESS
This will be the last newsletter sent in this fashion via email.
Yes, it is true – the Cochranes are joining the 20th Century.
We now have a website (partially complete) and a blog! In the
future, and even now in the present, you may read our little
words of wisdom and wit online accompanied by photos,
videos, song, and dance.
Check it out at www.CochranesAdrift.com.
Before we describe our experiences in Colombia, let’s take a few
minutes to talk about people. In Portobelo we met two great guys
who had just come through the Canal. The locals tended to be a
bit ho hum about this since lots of people have been through the
Canal. But for Geoff and Omar, as for us, it was a once in a lifetime
Over the next months we crossed paths repeatedly with Geoff and
Omar on their fine Formosa 52 “Un Mundo” (“One World” in English).
Soon we decided to buddy boat around the San Blas islands and
later on the overnighter to Cartagena. Now we enjoy time together
several times a week.
Near the end of the time we were in the San Blas Islands, we happened
to meet Dave and Jan on the sailing vessel “Baraka”. Our meeting was
pure chance as both boats rendered assistance to an old German
fellow on a catamaran who got in trouble in some rough weather.
Coincidentally Dave and Jan were within a mile or two of closing the
loop on their 27 year long circumnavigation. Naturally Gerry and Geoff
organized a celebration party for them that evening.
Thanks to an introduction from Dave and Jan we met Fred and Judy
on “S/V Wings”, a small racing sailboat, when we arrived in Cartagena.
Fred and Judy are avid racers and have campaigned their boat all over
the world as they made a 17 year west-about circumnavigation. Fred is
a wealth of knowledge about racing and boats and was on the photo
boat for two America’s Cup series.
On another dock we met Rob and Andy of “S/V Akka”. They are also
avid racers and Rob is a judge at some large regattas. Naturally we all
got together several times during the recent America’s Cup series to enjoy
the incredible boats in that exciting campaign.
This is the cruising community. We make friends everywhere we go.
Some become close friends as we sail together or cross paths in multiple
places. Some take off for far distant places and we hear from them only
occasionally through emails, blogs, and (surprisingly often) other cruisers.
This is a different kind of community but very rewarding. Cruisers as a
rule are interesting, adventurous, successful people who are living their
dreams. They are focused people who accomplish a lot, yet they are mostly
very flexible and willing to change plans on a whim for an interesting
Orion left the Kuna Yala nation with Douglas, Gerry, 18 year old grandson
Nic, and Eleanor on board, bound for Cartagena, Colombia. We were glad
to be buddy boating with Jeff and Omar on S/V Un Mundo. Going into
unknown waters, to an unknown country is a bit intimidating and it was
comforting to know we had a friend in hailing distance if needed.
Fortunately all went well on the 33 hour run. It was very lumpy as we
were going ‘uphill’ (against the wind and current) but other than a sea
sick grandson and first mate it was an okay run. We were happy to
pull into Cartagena harbor on the morning of July 17. Our reserved slip
at Club de Pesca, a private yacht club, was not available yet so we
anchored out then headed ashore to explore Manga, our new
neighborhood. (The poodle was very grateful for shore leave!)
We thoroughly enjoyed Cartagena. It is our favorite port. It is a historic,
walled city with old forts and monasteries. It is also very European –
vibrant and lively with great restaurants, good markets, and fine boat
services. If we decided to live on the land, this city could be on thelist,
if only our family would join us.
ENTERING BAHIA DE CARTEGENA DE INDIAS
The bay of Cartagena is large and interesting. There are two ways to
enter. The main entrance to the West is Boca Chica. This is the main
shipping channel and is very busy with freighters, tankers, and container
ships. Coming from Panama, especially if the seas are rough, this is the easiest
entry as the channel is wider and you get into protected waters sooner.
Closer to the city is Boca Grande. This is an interesting entrance as during
the days of the colonial wars between nations and against pirates, the
Spaniards built an underwater wall across this channel. There is one very
narrow passage, marked with small red and green buoys, where there
is sufficient depth for a deep draft vessel to pass safely.
We were told about a movie team that was too busy filming to check their
charts, hit the wall, and sank their substantial ship. According to Geoff, they
were following Hollywood rules, which means, “Normal rules don’t apply.”
Except in this case…
WHERE TO STAY
Let’s talk first about boat accommodations. In Cartagena they are limited.
There are two primary marinas and one anchorage that are safe for visiting
yachtistas, all within shouting distance of each other in the East end of the
large bay. We have experienced time at each location and can describe
the pros and cons of each.
CLUB de PESCA
Club de Pesca Yacht Club is the premier moorage in the area. It is first class
with a mix of concrete and wooden docks, good power (30 and 50 amp)
and potable water. The docks are a sort of modified Med tie, in which
there are short fingers off the main dock and concrete pilings outboard
of them. Backing in, you toss a loop over thepilings on each side for your
bow and spring lines, then back down near themain dock and cross tie
from the stern to hold the boat between the short fingers. We have seen
this configuration several times in Cartagena and Panama.
This marina is very expensive, with dockage prices per foot comparable to
daily rates of the best marinas in the U.S. (with no weekly or monthly
discounts) plus taxes, electricity, and water. For reasons involving supply
and demand, it is also almost always full so it is important to bookearly to
get a visitors slip. This can be challenging as no one in management
answers their email nor do they speak English.
On the plus side, this is an amazing spot, located literally within the walls
of an ancient fort. Entry from the street (past a uniformed and armed
guard) is via an arched tunnel through the walls of the fort. Surrounding
the parking lot are the wide and heavy walls with slotted gunnery positions
(which provide wonderful spots for the young folks to share a private
moment in the evenings for spooning and tippling.)
Security is good. There is a second guard at the locked gate between the
parking lot and the marina itself. And there are cameras and anarmed guard
at the end of the dock where Orion was tied.
The YC has strict rules about who is allowed inside. All contractors must
show proof of insurance. All visitors must be approved by the yacht owner.
In our case, they soon got tired of approving all our friends and just let them
through after the first time or two. The staff is very friendly as is typical in
The marina has two fine restaurants on property, good clean showers and
restrooms. It was built for locals so there isn’t much of a liveaboard population.
Most of the boats have a Captain who comes every day to wash, fix, and prepare
the boat. Weekends get busy with a Friday night get together on the dock and
lots of boats heading out to the nearby islands.
We moored at de Pesca for six weeks.
Nearby is the Club Nautico. It has a rather spotty history and at this point
is in the middle of a lengthy rebuild of the facilities. The docks are fixed,
high, and rough. Almost all boats are moored Mediterranean-style. However,
rather than drop your bow anchor before backing down to the dock, Nautico
provides a diver who takes your bow lines down to fixed moorings at the bow.
Space is at a premium and it is stimulating to back your large vessel in between
two others, trying to get close enough to the dock behind without hitting the
concrete, whilst the diver gets your bow lines secured. Since our captain hates
having to make adjustments in the middle of the night, we set five bow lines to
the moorings and four spring lines to the dock.
Nautico has a good community of cruisers.
Just offshore of Club Nautico is an anchorage. We anchored out several times
waiting for a slip to open up. Holding is reported to be fair to poor. The boats
tend to be anchored too close together for our comfort.
When the williwaws, known locally as Culo de Pollo winds, blow up in a
hurry, it gets very lumpy and the anchorage sometimes enjoys an exciting
round of Bumper Boats, with boats ending up ashore. These winds usually
come from the South, about 200 degrees so it is wise to check in this direction
to see what might drag down on you in a gale. Likewise it is good to make sure
you have room below in case your anchor slips.
This whole area of the bay gets a lot of traffic, especially from the pangas
and water taxis which, according to Latin culture, must operate at full speed
at all times. Hence the anchorage and marinas get pretty lumpy, especially on
the weekends when the local yachtistas and sport fishermen join parade in
and out, also at high speed. Extra lines and chafing gear are recommended.
Visitors to Cartagena who don’t have a boat have many options for hotels from
fine to cheap. Most of the high end hotels are on Boca Grande, a connected
island that is the high class neighborhood. Filled withimposing towers, Boca Grande
has beaches, harbor views, fine dining, and basically an American-like experience.
Another excellent option is the San Diego neighborhood. This old area is within
the walls of the Old City. It reminds us of New Orleans with its narrow streets
and overhanging balconies. This is a pleasant place to find lodging, fine dining,
clubs, and a true Colombian experience.
Students and lesser beings gravitate toward Getsemani, a pleasant “suburb”
f the Old City. Here you will find inexpensive lodging, pubs, cafes, and street
Security throughout the area is very good. The city values its guest’s safety. We
have felt safe walking about day and night in the Manga neighborhood, where
both marinas and the anchorage are located, and to the Old City, which is
about 15 minutes walk from there. Nicolas and Gerry were alone when Douglas
had to go to Florida and we spend many hours walking the wall and exploring the
city and Nicolas would go into the city at night with his Colombian friends.
There are a lot of Policia, both in cars and on motorcycles, singly or in pairs. I
only observed one incidence of street crime. A young man was accused of
something – shoplifting, purse snatching, or drugs? Within a minute or two, two
cops showed up on a motorcycle and braced him against a car. Over the next
couple of minutes, it was like Attack of the Killer Bees as police motorcycles and
cars swarmed from streets, alleys, and sidewalks into the area. It caused quite
If we don’t feel like walking, fleets of ever present, tiny yellow taxis zip around for
very reasonable prices. There is also a large contingent of unofficial motorcycle
“taxis”. Apparently any rider who has an extra helmet is fair game to give you a ride –
and an adrenaline rush! The motorcycles provide so much competition to the licensed
taxis that the city has implemented No Motorcycle Days twice a month to give the
taxis a break. It feels strange on those days to have no bikes dodging through the
There are certainly neighborhoods or barrios where strangers are not safe, as is
true in your hometown. When we needed to go into the industrial zone for parts, we
used a trusted taxi driver or took one of thelocals along.
Cartagena has a rich, diverse culture as it has been a prosperous busy port since
the Spaniards came here in the 1500s. The wonderful foods reflect that diversity
having influences from Africa and the Mideast, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
It is very multi-cultural with a polyglot of races, a rainbow of colors of brown, and
widely disparate incomes within a small space. You’ll see things like a woman in a
bright native dress selling fruit out of a basket balanced on top of her head to a
stylishly dressed woman driving a late model Mercedes. We found it interesting
how few people speakmore than a little English but they are generally helpful when
it comes to communication difficulties. Our meager Española is improving. Gerry is
taking classes so we can better understand our hosts. Nic, who had a good grasp
on the language, was able to communicate very well after a few weeks.
There are many street vendors with pushcarts who sing or howl (depending upon
your ear) about what they have for sale. This can range from small sweet cups of
coffee to a variety of fruit. I saw a man carrying a dozen brooms and mops. Another
was trying to sell a used toilet along with some old lumber, and bits of pipe from his
In addition there are many donkey drawn carts (which Eleanor found very interesting),
typically rickety affairs that look like they werebuilt from flotsam and junkyard remnants.
The donkeys are mostly small and malnourished. Often they are hauling lumber but
nothing like you see at your local Home Depot. Most of the lumber used here for
any construction looks like it was planed with a machete then soaked in the sea
for a long time.
Traffic is interesting given that big buses, little yellow taxis, and swarms of small
motorbikes and scooters are competing for the same space with horse drawn
carts and pedal taxis. Despite a lot of honking and crowding past each other, it seems
that everyone gets along fine. It is rare to see an angry face in traffic. Even very
aggressive drivers are often surprisingly polite when they realize that someone needs
to change lanes.
One day as we were leaving the boatyard there was a sudden heavy downpour.
The houses in the poor barrio had gutter systems consisting of a drain pipe that shot
the rainwater at roof level out into the street. As we drove down the narrow dirt
lane people came out of their houses and enjoyed a fresh water shower under
the warm rain from the gutter pipes.
A few minutes later on a busy multilane street, I saw a horse and cart pulled off to
the side, the horse munching on a bit of grass. The owner had run for cover
On a Saturday evening I arrived in the same barrio just as the sun was going
down. The dirt street had become a patio. People had set up plastic tables and
chairs and were playing dominoes or other board or card games. Everyone was
enjoying the cool of the evening. Children were runningabout and stared at the
gringo, though unfailingly polite when spoken to. Without any begrudging fuss,
folks moved their chairs and kick their empty beer bottles aside so we could
One evening in the boatyard a young man brought me a couple of slices of
watermelon on a plate. It was so delicious it reminded me of my childhood. Later I
realized that I hadn’t had a properly ripened watermelon in years. Modern supermarket
management has developed techniques to deliver beautiful looking fruit seemingly ripe –
except the fruit doesn’t taste very good. It is picked early, shipped for hundreds or
thousands of miles, and forced to ripen on schedule for sale. The watermelon Nestor
gave me was grown locally and picked when it was ready to eat.
The next day he gave me half a mango for my breakfast. As with the watermelon,
the mango was delicious. I’d never cared for mango that much. Guess why? The
workers here in the barrio are poor by American standards but they get better
fruit than rich Americans. Who is the poorer?
THE OLD CITY
Cartagena is an ancient city dominated by an amazing series of forts, built in the
1500’s and 1600’s to protect the gold and emeralds being “liberated” from the Incas
from being stolen by the dastardly pirates and English. The forts and most of the
walled city are well preserved. But unlike so many old cities in which the old
neighborhoods are either run down or Disney-fied for the tourists, the old city of
Cartagena is very real and vibrant, with many businesses, restaurants and bars,
and street vendors. It is teeming with locals day and night.
Centro, as the old city is called, resembles a European city with hints of New
Orleans. The walls are wide enough to have walkways, restaurants, bars, and
street vendors along much of their length. There areseveral large plazas, including
one anchored by Donde Fidel’s, the loudest and most crowded bar I’ve ever seen.
Salsa dancing is the rage and there are many good Cuban owned bars. The city
hosts many fine museums. Theater is very active here and we see Teatros in
The San Diego neighborhood is a charming residential area within the walls with
narrow streets and overhanging balconies. One night some friends took me for
dinner on the plaza then to an upscale lounge where there was a great Cuban
band playing. The dance floor was crowded for much of the night by nicely
dressed couples salsa dancing.
Getsemani, another nearby neighborhood, is a more middle class area but vibrant
with a plaza in from of the old church where locals hang out in the evenings. One
night we stopped for drinks at a nice tapas bar. Someone had set up a screen
and a projector in the plaza in front of the church and was playing movies for
the community. Street vendors sold food or small bottles of local rum. A young
man set up a barbershop on the sidewalk consisting of a chair, battery powered
lippers, a pair of scissors, and a razor.
The women of Cartagena are stunningly beautiful. Because of the polyglot nature
of the populous it is hard to describe what their beauty is like. In general terms,
they are often tall and slender. Their beauty is asmuch internal as external. They
seem to carry themselves with attitude, but not attitude focused outwardly like a
dare, but inwardly as if they are contentwithin their own skins, as if they know
they are beautiful and therefore they are.
Most women dress with style. After living for a couple of decades with the joys of
Seattle grunge, it is nice to see people who care about their clothing and how it
enhances their beauty. This is, however, a great city in which to be a podiatrist. Many
women wear towering FMP’s or the new clunky sandals with very tall soles. It
reminds me of Groucho Marx’s comment about ballerinas, “Why don’t they just hire
Obesity is rare. For the most part, a “fat” person in Colombia is about the size
of the average American as observed at the food court of a local mall. Truly fat
people are rare enough that I notice them with surprise.
One of the joys of my life is reading good books. I especially like the non-fiction tales
by people with a quirky sense of curiosity and a unique way of telling a story. Bill
Bryson traveled thousands of miles to walk on a remote beach in Australia where
a prime minister drowned, shortly after warning his people of the dangers of
swimming there. Paul Thoreau rode many long miserable days on the Siberian
Express, simply because he likes to ride the rails and experience the vastly
different cultures of the world.
A recent favorite of mine is a book called “Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,000
Bath Toys Lost at Sea and the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists,
and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them” by Donovan Hohn.
Why anyone would be inspired to travel the world in search of lost rubber duckies is
beyond me, but I am sure glad that Mr. Hohn chose this field of interest. He shares the
story from their creation to destruction and in the process uncovers more information
about plastics and their horrible impact on our oceans, environment, and some self-
induced challenges to the long term survival of the human race than most folks ever
This story is especially poignant to us as we visit remote uninhabited islands only to
find their beaches and nearby mangrove thickets and palm forests covered with
plastic trash. Charlie Moore, an amateur oceanographer, is quoted in Hohn’s book as
saying, “When we throw something away, there is no ‘away’. The ocean is the
Moby Duck is a fascinating, often amusing, and sobering tale of a self-proclaimed
Fool and his travails in pursuit of knowledge. The generation before mine created the
most horrendous and long lived chemical and nuclear poisons imaginable. My generation
has littered the world to its farthest reaches with plastic crap that will last for hundreds
of years. We are all fascinating, often amusing Fools. And we struggle to use and
dispose of less plastic on our boat with mixed results.
The only break in the TransAmerican highway between Cape Horn and Alaska is the
Darien region between Panama and Colombia. Not only is this area ruggedly impassable
– it also is home to the FARQ guerillas. Think about what this means for the (mostly)
young people who are hitchhiking, backpacking, bicycling, or riding motorcycles from
one continent to the other. You literally can’t get there from here.
So some entrepreneurial boaters have come up with a solution – the backpacker boat.
Say you have a large catamaran and little or no income. So you hang around the coffee
shops in Getsemani where the youth hostels are, shilling rides to Panama. When you
get a boatload of people signed up, you load the bikes and motorcycles on the
foredeck, the crowd of backpacks and people wherever they can fit, and off you go. It
only takes a couple of days to reach the San Blas Island if the weather is good and
another day to Portobello or Colon.
I can’t tell you what the galley or the heads smell like by the time the boat arrives with its
overload of young dreadlocks. But with any luck, the captain soon picks up a bunch of
kids in Panama who want to see South America. And so it goes…
One of the hobbies of some locals is raising and training canaries. They teach their
canaries to dance and sing on command. Periodically there are large competitions with
dozens or hundreds of canaries and trainers all trying to outperform the others.
One young man in the boatyard raised an especially fine canary and sold it for $600, a
small fortune for a guy that earns $20/day as a guard.
All Latin men seem to be adept at whistling. Not only do they whistle and sing as they
work, they whistle signals to each other, even from far across the water.
Javier and Rinaldo, identical twins who are working on a Geoff’sboat, have carried this
to perfection. They have their own private language, carried on by soft whistles. Senor
Geoff will say to Javier, “Let’s thrubolt that assembly. I’ll pick up some 1/4x2 flat head
machine screws.” Javier will whistle a little ditty. Rinaldo will answer with another ditty.
Then Javierwill say to Geoff, “Rinaldo says you better get 2-1/2” screws or they will be
Reportedly they can even whistle in English instead of Spanish, though it is slower.
Never play bridge against these guys!
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Life in a foreign country is interesting and challenging. However it can be rather lonely
being so far from friends and family. So if you are sitting around with nothing to do,
drop us a note and catch us up on all the news with you and yours. Look forward to
seeing you on the soonest occasion.
All the best!
Douglas & Gerry on the M/V Orion
John (Johnny) King
Good Morning Sue Ann and Roxann,
I was very young when I met Johnny (John) King. We became instant
friends along with John Spoljaric. We grew up in the northwest part
of Boise. The three of us were in Band together for a number of
years in Junior High and High school, and we loved Mel Shelton.
Forgive me if my dates are a little off but it was however, 50 plus
I grew up in a musically inclined family and learned at a very young
age musical talent. A talent that most certainly escaped me but I
could recognize it through other family members. My sister Kay
went to Wichita State as did Johnny on music scholarships thanks
to Mel Shelton’s influence who was also a Wichita State graduate.
Other than my senior year at Boise High when I dropped out of Band
I sat second chair in the baritone section. In my sophomore class I
sat next to my older brother Steve who was Band president. Bob my
younger brother one year behind me also played the baritone. What
impressed me more than anything was looking to my left to the
trombone section and seeing a boy that played his trombone “like
it was a part of him”. Confidence, beautiful tones, and at times
playing louder than anyone else in the brass wind section.
Johnny approached me one day and asked if I would participate in a
duet with him at a judging event in, I believe Nyssa, Oregon. I said,
“Johnny are you crazy, I can’t play anywhere near your ability and
talent”. He then said he always wanted to play a melody and harmonize
the melody with a trombone and baritone. I said okay but I hope you
know that I am going to let you down and embarrass you. He made me
practice our duet over and over for weeks until I finally got it and it
started to sound really good. We both got blue ribbons, something I
would have never achieved on my own. “Johnny King made me better
than a I really was”.
As I read all the comments about his life and how he made so many
of us better than ourselves I was not surprised. As a young man
Johnny impressed me so much that I begged and almost threatened
him to come to my grandmother Thomas’s home to perform a concert
for us. I made my mother and father attend and other family members.
I will never forget Johnny standing before us with that confidence and
beautiful sound from his trombone playing by memory one song after
another. He mesmerized each of us with that “one boy” concert he
I was so proud to be his friend and the impression he made on me,
my family, and so many others in his lifetime.
Boise High graduate 1965