Return to London life

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Well, this photo is the new view I have when I open my curtains in the morning. Slightly different to the ones I’ve been waking up to over the last nearly two years! There’s even a Starbucks which I hate just as much as McDonald’s. The US should really just stay in the US. However, it’s a nice friendly reminder that I’m back on land. Charming!

That’s right! No blue skies, no sun brutally hitting my face to tell me to get up before the bed gets soaked in my sweat. No gentle movement of the waves, speed boats flying by or music blaring to make me smile in the morning.  That was then and this is now. No sense in dwelling in it as it won’t change anything.

I can’t sit up and stick my head out the window (not that I would want too!!) and breath in the lovely fresh air. Instead I wake up freezing, afraid to stick my head out from under the covers and have a throbbing sore throat from the mould that I am no doubt ingesting in this damp room. Welcome back to London!

Yesterday, which was my first full day back, was tough. I went to the supermarket and instantly got tears in my eyes because it wasn’t the Carulla that I had gotten used to in Cartagena. I distracted myself by wandering around the clothing section looking for warm pyjamas and slippers. It worked. Things have changed a lot since I was last here 20 months ago so I spent time observing that. Then the sadness came back as I was in the fruit and vegetable aisle. I was comparing the price, quality and selection to that in Cartagena and found myself yearning to be back there. I yearned to be back with Captain Cool cooking together in our beautiful little boat and eating al fresco in the cockpit.  I even had the thought, “Fine, I don’t care. I’ll just go back!! I have no idea what I’m doing and at least I know what I’m getting myself into in Cartagena.” Luckily that urge was quickly squashed when I remembered the unbearable heat, how I felt sick all of the time and the increasing disagreements CC and I were having about a certain life choice of his.

Instead, I remembered how when I was in Colombia, I used to think, “Oh how I miss London! It’s such a great city!” Granted, I only wanted to come back for a visit, but the thought, “Nothing is permanent,” entered my  mind and I was in complete agreement. I thought my sea life was permanent and look where I am! The truth is, nothing is permanent and that offers me comfort at this time. I know this feeling of being an alien, uncomfortable where I am and totally uncertain about where I’m going to live and work is only temporary. Thank goodness!! I reassured myself that this phase is only a part of the process to get me back on the sea and I happily browsed up and down all of the aisles. I smiled at the foods I used to eat, how the packaging has changed and marvelled at all of the foods that my stomach can digest. Such selection!

After wandering up and down each aisle re-familiarising myself with English products, I bounced to the checkout, only to realise the only difference in my shopping trolley from Carulla, was coconut oil and almond butter. Oh well, old habits are hard to break, eh?

The truth is, London is a great city and if I allow myself to enjoy the now I will be one happy Londoner. Sure many people complain about the weather, but actually there is so much to offer it’s not even noticeable. I don’t enjoy permanently shivering, but I lived with it before without complaining, so I will re-adjust. There are a million activities to do in this city in all weather conditions for all pocket book sizes. When you walk down the street, there is always someone out and about. Sure there are a ton  of cars, taxis and buses, but there are also tons of people on the streets. This is something that the majority of the cities in the USA lacks.

I love walking amongst people. We all have a common purpose of getting somewhere. They want to do it as quickly as possible, I’m still on sea time and to be honest, never want to leave sea time. The idea of going back to a life of planning every single minute of the day, having so many activities going on that I need to set alarms to remind myself and frantically rushing to get from A to B doesn’t appeal to me anymore. London doesn’t have to be like that. But I’m glad there are people like that because it reminds me of how much I’ve grown. Not only that, but it brings a certain energy to the city. Sure people are in a rush and staring at their phones as they walk, but chances are if you stop them to ask a question, they will take the time to help you or reject you. It’s nice to know that even in a big city most people are willing to help.

Then there is the true gold of being back in London, my friends. The amount of “Welcome back!” “I’m glad you’re back!” “When can we meet up?” texts was overwhelming. I went from having friends on a text only basis at certain times of the day due to different time zones, to having friends in real life that I can actually see and hug. It’s amazing! I have been moved to tears on many occasions. I guess I had become so accustomed to not having friends near me that I forgot just how many good ones I have in my life and how great it is to spend face to face time with them.

I’m grateful that I can almost see the river from my bedroom window (another reason to hate Starbucks!), I have a tree that I can admire when I open my curtains and the river is a two minute walk away. I’m still connected with nature, just not as intensely.

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I have a lot to do and I could easily spend my time panicking, but I know it will all be ok, so I’m just rolling with it. A job will come my way, a great housing opportunity will present itself and in the mean time I will enjoy being reunited with my friends. Some of whom I picked up along my travels! And if it all goes shit, I have two beautiful friends outside of London who have offered me their spare room if I need to get my feet on the ground. So really, what do I have to be worried or sad about? I’ve been kind to the universe, she knows what I want and it will all come to me when the time is right. Now I have to get going and enjoy a non virtual life 🙂

 

A heart breaking turn of events

 

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There has been a reason for my silence. As you know, I’ve been land locked for about 5 weeks now. I’m writing this from the airport with a knot in my throat and a pain so deep in my heart, I just can’t think about it or I would crumble to the ground.

 

Florida didn’t go to plan, there are some beautiful and some comical moments. I’ve been writing the whole time, I just couldn’t share that part of my life, live. I was truly living in the moment because I knew the inevitable and I wanted to soak in every beautiful moment and just be present.

 

Today I said goodbye to a great love. Probably the best love of my life, it just hurts to say that because he’s gone to a different part of the world to where I’m going. In fact, at this exact moment I’m writing, his plane is supposed to be taking off to Colombia, while waiting for a flight to London.  Maybe that’s why the tears are flowing so freely from my eyes. It’s real.

 

It wasn’t an easy choice, it wasn’t even a well thought out choice if I’m honest. I just knew it had to be. I didn’t like doing charters for various reasons. It was a terrible job and I didn’t even make enough to survive. People didn’t seem to understand the concept of tipping, yet I couldn’t stop going the extra mile and then feeling angry when it was rewarded with a simple thank you (if that). Why do something so unenjoyable for nothing?? Sure I was on the sea, it was beautiful, I got to sail, I learned how to sail, I saw beautiful fish I had only seen in photos, swam in waters that were so clear I could see 10 meters to the bottom. Even as I write this after living it for two years, it still feels like a dream. Already a distant dream…

 

But there were the negatives, the not having a bed during charters, not having a space or the time to clear the energies of others and re-generate. Or on the flip side, having too much of that time and feeling totally useless. The days, weeks and odd occasion, months, I was in Cartagena lying on our beautiful bed, looking up through the hatch watching the mast bob back and forth as the speed boats zoomed by with Reggaeton at full blast. And feeling like absolute shit. The heat made me ill, the water or food or something we never quite figured out, made it difficult to get out of bed sometimes. There was so little I could eat without getting stomach pains or bad bloating which made me want to do nothing but lie down and get rid of the gas in any way I could.

 

Sure I had a dream life, but that last paragraph just made it impossible. I really couldn’t win. If we had a lot of charters, I was feeling energetically drained and tired and craving for my space. Then we could go periods without having charters and I absolutely loved the space we had, but the environment just made it difficult to enjoy. Our relationship suffered because of it and because CC is so beautiful, he sucked it up and rolled with it. He has this amazing ability to forget about all the negatives about someone or a situation and just walk through life with a smile and loving almost every moment. Of course he has his days, but they are so far and few between. I used to think people like him were lying to themselves and severely disturbed. Guess what, they aren’t. It works, it’s possible and there is nothing wrong with them. Unless you call a passion for life and seeing the best of everything a disease. He has given me something to strive for.

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However, while I was dripping with sweat just from lying down, and dreading the hunger pains in my stomach because it felt like a battle to find something to please it, I was losing myself. I looked at CC smiling and joking away and thought, “Ha! If only life was that easy. He doesn’t get it. He can eat everything. The heat doesn’t make him sick.” The truth is, it is that easy if you find your ‘thing.’ Of course I wasn’t miserable all the time. There were cloudy days and I could play in the rain to cool off during the rainy season. After months of trying everything he could think of, CC finally started to crack my difficult stomach and I could enjoy our final days more and more. Or maybe I was enjoying them because I knew they were ending.

 

It just got to a point where I was complaining in my head more than I wasn’t and I thought as beautiful as this life is, enough is enough. I need to change my environment because life is just too short to lie in sweat feeling like someone is cutting your stomach open while playing hide and seek with the sun and listening to others enjoy themselves.

 

The choice I’m making isn’t the choice I want. What I really want is my own sailboat and to sail around the world with CC, at our own pace with our own agenda. The 10 days we sailed together just proved that we are not only compatible as life partners, but as crew mates as well. This is truly a rare find more precious than gold. I want to teach yoga and give massage all around the world. I want to make an income by writing because I love it and a sailor’s life fosters such a beautiful environment to do it. I have put my desires out there and I am waiting for it to come to me. I will be patient.

 

Unfortunately I was born in ‘the system’ and I was raised in a culture where you are nothing without an incredibly expensive piece of paper to tell you that you’re something and can get a job. I followed that route and accrued all of the debts with it. You see, the USA is great like that. They make education so expensive that you have to work (if you have the right degree, know the right people, etc) in order to pay your bills, but you need more degrees to get a good paying job to spend your life paying off those loans. I admit it, I’m not great with money. I have enough to survive, but what I thrive on is traveling and so I chose to use extra money to enrich myself with life experience. Do I regret it? No, I’m just having some anger issues with the system at the moment. So far I have yet to hear of a country which has such a ridiculously expensive education system and hungry bankers who feed off those who aren’t able to find jobs or who choose to live a different path.

 

So, I’m giving in. Temporarily of course. I have a plan to work for a while (don’t ask me how long, life can change in an instant) and pay off a good chunk, then I will save for my sailboat and I will go. I will be free again and I will live as I have been living, in a dream world even I can’t imagine. I will continue to see beautiful things, be outside of the rat race and I will drink in every single moment; good or bad. CC has the same long term plan. I hope one day we will raise the sails together smiling at each other while he laughs at me doing my happy sea dance with the biggest most sincere smile I have ever had, screaming at the top of my lungs, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Estoy libre!!! El mar te amo!!” It means, “I am free! I love you sea!”

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While I write this with a heavy heart, not looking forward to entering the system once again, even if it is (hopefully) only for a short while, I just have to look forward. I want to follow CC’s method and walk through life smiling and seeing only the most vibrant colours. Maybe I need this time to work on that myself before we can be reunited. Or maybe we won’t be reunited, only the future knows the answer. I am done planning, I am done having expectations and I am simply rolling with the punches and keeping my eyes open for any bridges that open for me. Much like the bridges that opened for us on our last sail together on the Intracoastal Waterway.  However, if anyone has a spare sailboat they’re not using….

Longing for the open sea

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I woke up this morning feeling low. It wasn’t just because Captain Cool wasn’t lying next to me for the first time in three months. It was because when I woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep, I was thinking thinking thinking. The only way I could eventually fall back asleep was when I imagined I was back on the boat being gently rocked to sleep.

 

I woke up feeling low because I miss the sea more than you can imagine. I’ve been on land for just over three weeks and it all feels so empty and claustrophobic. I have no calm place to escape, I have no freedom. Now that I’m in Florida, I don’t even have the freedom of a car to take me to an escape. I just have a tiny little box room with no fresh air since the humidity requires air conditioning. I look out the window and I see houses, houses, houses. Or to me, empty souls, filled with false hopes and a lifetime of “working hard” for dreams that still don’t make people happy. Don’t get defensive, it’s just one perspective of looking at life.
I closed my eyes and pictured the endless sea. I mean endless. The trip from Colombia to Florida was better than any dream I could’ve imagined. I had no expectations as I had never done any open sea sailing for that length of time and wondered if I would like it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, I was at times scared, tired of the violent motion at times and sometimes begged for calm seas, but overall it was just the most peaceful, beautiful and amazing thing I have ever experienced.
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When we got close to land, I cried. I cried because I didn’t want to leave the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. I didn’t want to arrive in a country where materialism and beauty thrive, where there is order and judgments everywhere you walk. You see, I am 37, not married, without children, without a career, without a house, a car, make-up and a wardrobe of clothes. To me this is pure freedom and peace, but in the USA, there is something wrong with me. It’s a fight to keep my peace when there are constant judgments being thrown at me from all directions. The only people who don’t seem to judge me are children and teenagers. When I went to my cousin’s house, her 15 year old daughter had a friend over and she said to her friend, “Do you remember the cousin I talk about who lives on a boat? This is her!” Then she turned to me and said, “I just think living on a boat and what you’re doing is really cool so I talk about you a lot.” How wonderful! If only the world could see through a young person’s eyes. But they don’t and now I feel like I’ve been thrown to the coyotes. I don’t regret my choices, I agree with my cousin’s daughter. It’s just tiring and energetically draining to be faced with so many judgments and questions. Let me live my life and you live yours. Sadly in a world where people are constantly comparing themselves to others and trying to be the best, this philosophy doesn’t exist.
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Back to the beauty of the sea… When I woke up, there was always a 360 degree view of pure beauty. During the day, the sun was out or it was cloudy, the night sky was lit up or cloudy and it was always beautiful. There were no buildings obstructing the view, there were rarely ships to disturb the horizon and it was incredibly peaceful. When you have this type of view, the clouds are endless and allow you to see what type of weather is coming, is passing or has passed. It’s beautiful how the clouds change personalities and I reveled in the fact there was no pattern, it was what it was at that moment.  I was outside most of the time until my body needed a break from the beautiful wind that was dancing us to our destination. I have never felt more connected with Mother Nature, myself or with Captain Cool. You see in a trip like this, you have to give up control and trust everything. You have to trust the boat, the weather, your instinct and the instinct of the people or person you’re sailing with. There is a certain exhilaration in giving up all control and simply trusting. I breathed in this exhilaration every single second and my soul smiled.
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The waves are incredibly hypnotizing. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot, but I also took many breaks or spent hours just gazing at the waves. They can be so therapeutic and seem to have a life of their own.  When they were big during a confused sea, I would smile when two waves met because it was like they were giving each other a high five. Sometimes it seemed liked they were trying to step on each other’s shoulders so that they could see what we were doing inside the boat. We had the pleasure of the most up to date autopilot which was incredibly smart. It calculated algorithms with the pattern of the waves so that Trade Wins sailed smoothly and beautifully over the waves no matter how big or confused the sea was.  It was mesmerizing watching her dance over these waves. The bow would lift up and gently fall back down over the waves. It was as if the sailboat and the waves were lost lovers that had been reunited after years and years. I felt privileged to be a part of their romance.
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Night time was my absolute favourite. That is really when I felt so alone and to me, that sensation was comforting. CC would be inside reading or sleeping and I would gaze at the stars and lose time. I love to make up my own constellations and try to figure out what the Greeks and Romans were thinking when they named the constellations. Sometimes I saw it, often times I didn’t! I liked watching how the night sky rotated as we neared daylight. It’s a kind of meditation for me. I gaze at the stars and think about how far they are, how many people over all the centuries have gazed at these same stars, how the stars don’t run out even though there are so many beautiful shooting stars on a nightly basis. I thought about how the people in my life in the same hemisphere may have been gazing at those same stars at the same time. We were so far apart, yet we always have the same sky.
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We were blessed with the moon every night. During the trip we experienced a full moon and so at some point every night, the moon greeted us with her bright bunny. We made a habit of placing cushions on the deck and laid down cuddling each other while we waited for the moon to rise. We would remember what time it set the night before so that we could plan dinner and sleeping around the moon rise. It was so beautiful. When it was nearly full and full, it peeked it’s lovely head out of the horizon with a reddish orange brilliance. We had the best view, no obstructions except sometimes the clouds, and even then it would make a beautiful picture as the red lit up the clouds or shot it’s red rays out around the clouds. This is Mother Nature at her absolute most gorgeous and we got to witness that every night. Clear from obstructions of buildings, city lights and people. Just us and Mother Nature.
It is on the open sea with no type of two way communication when you realise just how much technology taints you. I did not miss it one bit. I felt so relaxed and at peace that no one could contact me. I wasn’t able to hear about bad news, good news or the mindless newsfeed of Facebook. I had no technology to distract me from the book I was reading, the meal I was cooking or eating, the meditation I was doing or the conversation that CC and I were having. I was truly in the moment and what a great place it was.  Yes, there is a time and a place for technology, but as the years go by, we become more and more reliant on technology, to the point that sometimes we forget there are people around us or that it would be much more satisfying to meet someone face to face rather than have a text conversation.  On the sea, the only place to get lost is in my thoughts, the conversation we’re having or the maneuver we’re doing. I re-connected with my soul and felt so refreshed.
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Now that I’m back on land, I’m trying to keep this peace. It’s not easy and I am constantly having internal conversations to keep my balance. Sometimes the only thing that makes my heart feel light again is when I think that everything I’m doing right now is working towards getting me back on the sea. The place where my heart sings, my soul dances and there is no one to judge what I am doing or tell me that I’m doing it wrong. For the moment, I’m asking the universe to get me back living on a boat because after a crazy day of being on land, the best way for me to de-stress is to make a tea and sit in the cockpit as I watch the world fly by in all it’s craziness, while I feel the rhythm of the waves rock me into a peaceful and relaxing slow state of mind. A place where I know that it is pointless to worry about things because the universe is only going to bring me what I focus on. The comforting motion of the waves reminds me that the best way to get through life is to sit back and relax because the more I fight and stress, the more the opposite of what I want is going to happen.