Sailor’s drunken debauchery

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Do you ever wonder why we use the term drunk as a sailor? Or why so many sailors tend to get legless when they arrive on shore? Maybe not, but the psychologist in me has.  When I woke up at 8 am on Friday morning, I could see the islands of Pico and Faial (The Azores) in the distance with their majestically volcanic beauty. It was a partly cloudy day, but the sun was shining.  I was looking forward to having an explore, a few drinks with my crew members to celebrate an amazing 12 day journey and then SLEEP! I wanted an early night so that I could wake up to the sun rising and do a full yoga session, instead of the seated and lying down routines I was doing during the sail.

 

When we knew that we were going to be on land in the next 24 hours, the deckhand expressed her interest in drinking herself “into a coma.” The other crew members agreed they were also looking forward to a drink. I was cool. One or two was all I needed since I had such a great time in a peaceful place and really liked the state of mind I was in. The Captain and Engineer were talking about getting shitfaced and the chef and other delivery crew were looking forward to a party. I sat there thinking how I would probably be the only one rested, with a clear and pain free head on Saturday.

 

Let me just tell you something you probably already know, states of mind change.  I too was hurting on Saturday.  We got to land and when I was ready to turn my phone on, I was bombarded with messages. I had actually debated on staying off social media since I told everyone I would be offline for about three weeks.  I was just going to send my family an email saying I was the happiest I’ve ever been. Then I took my selfish hat off and realised that there were other people who would really like to hear from me too and I didn’t have their email so I should go on social media. For me, it’s an adjustment and slight shock coming back to society after being outside of it, I mean totally outside of it for a couple of weeks. I just replied to what I could handle and then went off.

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I can only imagine how the sailors of the early days felt when they hit land. My conditions are brilliant. I have a huge comfy bed, a nice big shower with endless water (we have a watermaker), fresh gourmet food that’s cooked for me, clean dry clothes and a dry boat. Back in the 1700 and 1800’s, they had leaky boats where they were constantly bailing water out of the bilges (worst job on a ship), no showers, limited water and dried food that lacked variety. Many people became sick and I don’t even want to imagine the smell inside those boats. They carried live animals, were damp, musty and the scent of body odour must’ve been overwhelming.  I can imagine why the first thing sailors of those days wanted to do when they got off a boat after months or sometimes years of being on sea, is to get drunk and have sex. Makes sense.

 

For me, it was almost a mourning of leaving a beautiful place. Even if people were crabby or there were tense situations, I stayed in my own bubble of happiness and deflected the negativity. Being on land, I receive so much more energy that I have to deflect and most often times, fail at. It leaves me low on energy and sometimes struggling to keep afloat.   

 

Anyway, I went off with the deckhand exploring the beautiful, quiet and quaint town of Horta. It’s not very big so it didn’t take very long. She has a degree in fashion so we went into some shops and she was teaching me some things about how clothes are made.  Then she said, “I want a drink.” I did too. We had two mini beers and thought it was weird we weren’t feeling the effects of alcohol after two weeks of not drinking. We had another mini one and a shot of the local liquor and thought, “Oh ok. Now we are.” The rest of the crew had gone off to do their own things, so we had all agreed to meet in Peter’s, the famous sailor’s bar that most people go to when they arrive. We merrily made our way there in the rain, debating on whether or not to stop off at some more local pubs. We decided they may be wondering where we went off to, so we splashed through the rain to meet them.

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Everyone was already there so we joined them at the table where they quickly discovered what our Horta tour consisted of.  The captain ordered some big beers and a round of tequila shots to celebrate our safe arrival on land. Let’s just say it went uphill from there. Even though we spend all this time together on a boat, we don’t really get much time to chat. We are all on different schedules because of the watch pattern.  The odd times we did eat together, it was a quick meal and then one or more usually went off to bed.  At the pub we were busy chatting with lips made loose from alcohol about life stories we may not have shared otherwise. There was lots of laughter going around, lots of funny little dares to do. I would pop outside now and again and start chatting with whoever was outside smoking. It was great fun!

 

The deckhand and I went out with another sailor to a club somewhere. That’s all a bit hazy. I remember being in a car thinking I should probably be going to bed instead of out dancing. We got to the club and I remember thinking it was cool and how I really was quite legless. The deckhand told me we both spilled more beer than we drank, a good thing for us! Then we decided that the rest of the crew needed to join us, so we went back to the boat to round them up. The dock is a lot lower than us, like about two meters, so how we managed to stand on the wobbly steps and jump up to the boat without falling in, is a mystery to us!

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We struggled to unlock the door for about 20 minutes and as I was about to pee my pants, the Captain came up behind us to say that we were opening the wrong door. We laughed hysterically as it took him three seconds to open the right door. Next thing I remember, I woke up the next morning wearing only my pyjama shirt and underwear, my clothes strewn everywhere on the floor and the shower door open. I guess I thought I needed a shower to wash off the alcohol!

 

The next morning we all slowly woke up and have yet to fit all the pieces of the evening together, but we had great fun sharing the parts we remembered. I had fun hearing what I missed after I went to bed!  We suffered together as we worked on the boat so that we could sit down and rest again. There was talk of going out again. Only the two people who managed a nap that afternoon went out again. The rest of us stayed in pretending that we were going to go out while we curled up on the sofa watching movies.

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I guess that doesn’t really answer why us sailors engage in drunken debauchery, but it’s a little glimpse into it! Perhaps it’s our way of acclimatizing back into society, relief that we didn’t die at sea or maybe to fill a guilty conscience of being away and out of contact from family and loved ones for so long. Or maybe those of us that engage in it are secret alcoholics who have to make up for all the days they lost at sea! Who knows, all I know is that it can help bond crew (sometimes probably break them too!) and as long as no one gets hurt, makes for a fun way to celebrate making it to land safe and sound. Let’s hope the arrival in Palma is just as positive….       

The man on the plane

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Have you ever seen that movie where girl sit nexts to guy on a plane and they start talking and live happily ever after? Well, my life is a movie. The happily ever after hasn’t happened, nor do I think it will, but I do have my own romantic plane story. It happened on my way from London to St Maarten and was on the Paris to St Maarten lag.

 

I walked up to aisle 39 and was happy to see that the aisle seat next to me was empty. I used to pray that a hot guy would sit next to me so that we could fall in love and have babies, but I had long since give up that dream when no one interesting ever sat next to me on the hundreds of flights I’ve taken. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy place his bag on the seat next to me. I carried on being busy on a phone that was already off and he said, “Bonjour.” I had my initial knee jerk reaction of eye rolling and thinking, “Oh god, here, we go. Just don’t talk to me.”  Then I looked at him and he smiled a really kind and big smile and some butterflies appeared in my stomach as I flashed my pearly whites back at him and said, “Bonjour.” I sussed him out from the corner of my eye. After all, I was sat in sailor class, so he could be a sailor. I looked at his bag, he was definitely an outdoors man, but his clothes didn’t really say sailor. However, his longish wild hair and strong hands suggested maybe he was. I wasn’t sure what language he spoke. I couldn’t see the book he had tucked in the seat pocket, so I had a little look over his shoulder while he sent some text messages. Ah, Spanish!! Perfect!

 

Then I saw that he was writing to a woman and he was sorry he didn’t get a chance to call her before we left, but he loved her. Damn, always the way. So I put my head back and closed my eyes hoping to sleep the whole flight since I had such an early start to get to the airport.

 

After a little sleep, I opened my eyes and after 10 minutes he asked me in English why I was going to St Maarten. I told him I had just gotten my first job in the yachting industry on a motor yacht, although sailboats were really my thing.  He told me that he was going to race on a sailboat. I sighed out of jealousy and asked him about his job.  He has my ideal life. He recently bought his own sailboat and does delivery and race crew work for money. PERFECT!!!! He said he could help me find work if it didn’t work out with the motor yacht. It’s all about connections. I started thinking maybe it wasn’t so bad if I was a bit more outgoing, even on a plane.

 

I was actually really sleepy so after a chat, I got comfortable. Cliche, but true, our arms were touching on the armrest between us. I felt a warm electric shock running through my body and thought, “Oh Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this kind of energy connection with anyone.” I slept off and on, he always got me a drink or held my food tray for me if I was sleeping or in the bathroom. One time I woke up and he was sleeping so I positioned myself to be a little more cosy to him.  I could feel the warmth of his positive energy seering into my body as our lower backs and arms touched. It felt like a drug and I couldn’t get enough. In a sleepy state, I could feel him move and snuggle closer into me. I wanted to turn around and snuggle into his chest, but I restrained myself.

 

I could go on and on about the little romantic moments we shared in that oh so short 8 hour flight, but I’m sure some of you are already about to be sick, so I will just share one more. He was born in France, but spent a lot of time in St Martin so he knew the area very well. He was pointing out to me the islands as we passed them, which involved him leaning over me to point out the window. His face was so close, I could feel the warmth of his breath. I stopped listening to what he was saying because I was just willing him to turn his head and start kissing me. My heart was racing and I was so sad the flight was about to be over.

 

After we got off the plane, we ran ahead of everyone as he told me the immigration line queues up quickly and can take hours. We exchanged numbers as we waited for our luggage. I didn’t get any signal on my phone, so he waited outside with me to make sure I was ok. I realised I knew the name of the boat, but not the marina where I was staying. After a slight panic, I saw who I thought was the Captain and waved at him. I gave the plane man a big hug and thanked him for everything. As I ran off into the warm suffocating heat of the Caribbean he shouted, “I’ll message you!” I smiled and waved thinking, “Yeah right, that will never happen.”

 

I went on the boat, met everyone and settled in. I turned on wifi and received this message, “Thanks so much for the nice chat on the plane. I really wanted to kiss you.” I smiled a huge smile and squealed. It was a two way thing after all!!

 

As I said in the beginning, who knows if I will ever see him again (although we’ve had occasional contact in the last two months and he’s sailing his boat to Palma, where I am, at the moment…) or how the story will end. If nothing else, I take it as a beautiful message from the universe to remind me to always enjoy the moment and look forward. At that time, I had been pining for Captain Cool, thinking how nice it would be if I was flying to a job with him instead of with some strangers I had only spoken to for 15 minutes on the phone.  After I met the man on the plane and felt the spark, I was comforted that everything will be ok. There is no reason to feel sad that the chapter with CC has ended, but that I should be grateful the chapter existed. I learned how to sail, I learned so much about the sea and I learned how to love and live on a boat. These are all important lessons I will use in the future. Why be sad about them? The memories will not leave me and will always give me a smile. Whether it’s with the man on the plane, a different sailor or alone, the best way to live life is to keep walking with a smile and open eyes. I needed that reminder and for that, I’m grateful for that gift I received from the man on the plane.   

 

 

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 🙂

 

Idle hands can make a busy mind…


I’ve moved countries twice, survived through numerous break ups, moved more than 20 times in 18 years, traveled for months solo and moved to a non-English speaking country. I’m the master of change and transition, right? WRONG!!!

Lately I’ve been hating it in Cartagena. When I see the sun in the morning, I close my eyes and pray it’s nighttime so that I can breathe deeply without breaking into a sweat. I can’t seem to make friends here, although to be honest, it could be my racism towards English speaking people. They aren’t all bad, I just don’t find most of their ideas and conversations valuable enough to waste the precious moments I have in this life. In Colombia, it’s not very cultural to have female friends outside of family due to the high rate of jealousy that exists in relationships and since CC has no female family here, I’m on my own. I converse with his nephews sometimes and random women who are complaining about the queue we’re standing in, but to call them true friendships would be a bit of a stretch. I know I have people here to help me if I’m super stuck, about a practical thing that is. There’s little time for emotional crying in this culture!

The work is drying up for various reasons, mafia style politics amongst the charter companies (who are not run by the mafia), the year long process of getting new electronic equipment to replace what was damaged by lightening, sea time laws changing, my realisation at how little I get paid to deal with snobby, perverted and/or demanding passengers. They aren’t all like that mind you, but the enjoyable ones seem to be few and farther between these days. 

The yoga here is non-existent. The classes that are offered are either not my type of yoga or are more than my measly wage allows me (note it’s the low season which means there is no wage…). There’s a donation only class, but I’m a teacher myself and feel that what I can donate is too insulting to attend with regularity. I’ve thought about starting my own class, but my unpredictable work schedule makes that a struggle. 

If you’re worried I may be contemplating suicide, don’t worry. I find little things in my day to keep going and things aren’t all that bad. I am a yogini after all and believe everything is happening as it should. So I sit in the shade or sometimes in air conditioning in puddles of my own sweat with a smile (probably what causes the sweat!) in hopes that Buddha, Krishna or really whatever higher being, out there sees my patience and will bring me my rewards sooner rather than later. 

What the hell does this have to do with change and transition? Well, I’m happy to announce that CC received his US visa. No, we didn’t get married. He applied for a crew visa as we’re delivering trusty old Trade Wins to Florida! Eight to ten days of open sea sailing, just the two of us! Something I’ve been dreaming of. Will we stop? Only if the weather or necessary repairs force us to. It will be my longest sail yet and probably a challenge, but one I welcome with open arms as the sea provides me with an indescribable peace and balance. The waves wash away whatever worries I have and I’m left in a state of bliss. 

The famous question is…What will we do after? Yes people love planning! I don’t have a clue! That’s how I like living my life, if you haven’t noticed. Right now we’re planning on staying for a while to do some sailing courses (because those pieces of paper are so much more important than experience…) and scope out boats there. I may return to waitress days to build up my student loan paying account. Or we may get there and an opportunity presents itself which changes everything. I may run far away the minute I touch US ground, who knows??

This time is hard for me. We won’t leave until after hurricane season mid to end November. The boat is in pieces so not really charter-able. That just leaves endless jobs to prepare our baby for her biggest sail with us yet. IN THIS HEAT!!! It’s the heat I can’t stand. CC is in Bogota for 10 days to get the visa, do paperwork and see his son. The jobs we have to do require money, which we don’t have, so I’m here left to my own devices. Read: Think of many random scenarios which have yet to happen.

I was an expert in this field in my other life. I was ready for at least 10 different situations, none of which happened when it was go time. All that time spent fighting or explaining to people in my head went to waste. Things went smoothly and I enjoyed myself, how annoying!! As time wore on, I became good at slowing down and taking each day as it comes, not having expectations or these pointless mind conversations. 

However this change is scary to me. Yes I’m moving (TEMPORARILY!!!) to my country of birth, but remember I left it and for very good personal reasons have never wanted to go back. I’m doing it for CC and for opportunities outside of the country it may lead to. There’s a possibility of his adult son entering into our lives. I’ve yet to meet him and am sure he’s a lovely person, but I don’t want a son or even to be part of a family unit. The only reason I caved into advances from a man with a child, was because the child was an adult and living a very long bus ride away. 

So last night as I laid awake guarding our luxury dinghy (there have been many dinghy robberies as of late), I ran through a million scenarios. CC and I’s relationship has grown particularly deeper over the last few months and we have a beautiful existence at the moment. I want him to have his son close as he’s been wanting it since his son moved away 16 years ago. However, I don’t want his son (or anyone for that matter) in our space full time. Everything changes. Yes, sometimes for good. As I tried to think of the advantages of this possibility, more and more made up scenarios happened in my head. Of course all ended in a tragic and dramatic end to my relationship with CC. Lack of sleep, the beginnings of a cold and the feelings from these scenarios led to tears and a cold (on my part) conversation with CC the next morning. Suddenly everything he did was wrong and I had a lot to be mad about. He was shocked saying he thought I would be happy after the good news of his visa and that we can sail together to Florida. 

I chatted with a friend, had a couple of cups of tea and called him back. I explained that a comment he made the day before made me sad. We discussed things and reached an understanding on both parts. He actually said to me, “Why are you so sad about things that haven’t happened? Things are too complicated to happen quickly (related to comment from yesterday).” Of course my perceptions of the situation were fuelled by his comment, but he’s right. Even if what he says is true, things can happen in an instant to change the whole path of the future. I know that because I’ve had many many life changing instants. 

I took a deep breath, felt a bit sheepish about my (almost) unfounded tantrum and finished my book. I don’t know what will happen in the future or even later tonight (I just hope it doesn’t involve an attempted dinghy robbery because that is one scenario I am prepared for and they will face a fight, with an army!!). I’m choosing not to make life complicated by making up more scenarios about Florida, because life really isn’t complicated. It only becomes complicated when we fight it. I have love, support, a home and food (until the money runs out, by which time CC should be back). There are many moments in the day that bring a smile to my face. With a positive attitude, I know that whatever journey the future holds for me, it will be a great adventure. 

Freedom from technology


One thing I really enjoy about sailing life is forced disconnection from technology. Sure, there are systems you can get where you’re connected in the middle of the sea, but to me, it defeats the true purpose of sailing. The true purpose of sea living. 

I have two Facebook accounts, one for business and people I’ve met travelling and another for family and long time friends. I don’t accept stranger friend requests on the latter account and have strict “privacy” settings. As I stupidly decided to download Facebook messenger for my business account, I was bombarded with messages from strangers as well as the acquaintances I had met. I had some time, so responded and was then immediately replied to. I became overwhelmed and stressed and turned off wifi. 

As the years go by, we seem to lose touch with reality more and more. I don’t mean reality in the sense of sanity, I mean about living and dealing with humans who are actually in front of us. Not the ones we see on FaceTime, Facebook, Skype or whatever else is out there, but the ones that we can touch, hug and can’t turn off. 

I’m currently reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, and in the 1600’s, people in New England used to receive letters from ships that arrived from England and sent replies on the ship when it returned. This would take months! On the continent, they used to send messengers to get people which might take days or weeks. No one complained, they waited with anticipation (or maybe dread depending on the theme of the letters!) and got on with their lives. There was no conversations with friends such as, “He read my message like five hours ago and still hasn’t replied. Do you think he’s with someone else?” Or “She read my message a couple hours and now she’s online but isn’t replying, is she mad? How rude!”

People complain the government is watching our every movement, they don’t even care (if you’re behaving legally) or know who you are. You should be more concerned that your friends can monitor your every online movement! How many times have you checked to see when someone who hasn’t replied within 30 seconds, is on another app? I used to! Newsflash!!! Who cares?!?! They have a life and other people in it and they will reply to you when they can devote the time. It doesn’t mean you are insignificant, that they are mad or disgusted with what you said. They have more than one important person in their life and a lot of things to do, so they will reply when they can. 

On the flip side, I used to feel this pressure to reply immediately. Why? Because I knew people could monitor my every move and I didn’t want to cause bad feelings. Do you know how tiring and time consuming that is?? When I was living in London and had a monthly plan, I was always connected which meant I was rarely with the people in front of me. I was too busy trying to save the feelings of people who sometimes were on another continent. 

Last year, I spent some time with with my sister and her three children. I was there for an extended amount of time so even though I promised myself that I wasn’t going to be on my phone during their waking hours in the house (which truthfully is so little), I justified being on it for a little bit (as if “a little” really exists!) because I was there for longer than a couple weeks. One time my littlest niece came up to me while I was on the phone, grabbed my arm and said, “Auntie, why are you on the phone all the time? I want to play.” I looked into her sweet little gorgeous face and said, “You know what sweetheart? You’re absolutely right. I’m going to turn off my phone.” So mid-message I turned it off and have since changed my way of thinking about the immediacy of replying.

I know people can see I read their messages days previously and haven’t replied. Sometimes I say I saw it and will reply later, sometimes I forget about it all together because I receive other messages that push that one down. Guess what? I haven’t lost any friends, no one has sent me angry messages, they simply accept that’s how I am. They know and trust I’m still their friend even if I haven’t replied for months. I know my friends who do the same still love me and value my friendship. 

Life isn’t about having a device attached to your hand, it’s about connecting with what and who is in front of you. Turn off your phone and have a conversation with the person in front of you. Devote a specific amount of time to pay attention to your internet device instead of all day as soon as someone replies. Pick up a pen and write a letter. Do something even crazier and send it, the receiver will be filled with joy! I think you may also notice how much more relaxed and enjoyable life is. I sure did. 

I’m writing this early morning in a beautiful lagoon and I can hear my partner getting up. I’m going to turn my phone off, give him a good morning kiss and take a dip in this beautiful quiet lagoon before the rest of the world joins us to appreciate the beauty that is all around us. 

Change is possible

Wow, I didn’t realise just how much I’ve changed until I spent time on boats with landlubbers.I left Jamaica for Panama on a motor yacht with a beautiful group of New Zealanders. Life is a crazy thing. It’s interesting how some people firmly believe that people don’t change. Ask my Aunt, she knows they do. She knows me as well as my parents, but without the parent bias. I’m sure she could give you a run down on all the various changes I’ve gone through in my 37 short years of life. 

Five years ago, I would’ve come on this boat and thought, “Wow! How brilliant that I found a boat of people who are so similar to me.” Their sense of humour and outlook on life matched mine up until about two or three years ago. I was caught up in the rat race as well, concerned about the clothes I wore and how I looked, bored there was nothing to do, impatient, incredibly sarcastic and always winding people up. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s common in the British culture and for ten years, I had fun and felt like I fit in. 

Fortunately, this travel bug does things to a person. If a person is open to receive it, it teaches you a lot about other ways to live, other morals and other perspectives on what it means to survive. You see all of those things I mentioned above? None of them apply to my personality now. As my clothes were hanging on a line to dry, I could see how my shirts have started to thin due to frequent use and hand washing. A lot of my underwear is forming holes. I own no designer clothing or anything over $10. I have one fancy bra that is worn and stretched out. I quite often forget to brush my hair, it’s always in a ponytail, what’s the point? I can’t even tell you the last time I used a blow dryer. Straighteners?? Even longer! The mascara and eye liner I use for special occasions is never used because I’ve gone so long without wearing it that I feel like a clown when I do. Plus I usually forget it’s on, so I itch my eyes and then have to run to the bathroom to fix it. 

I don’t care about wages or pay rises for I don’t have to live in a cool part of London, spend a lot of money to travel (I know how to do it cheaply now!) and buy the latest fashion. I told someone the other day that in the last year I made $2500 and she said, “Oh my god. How did you survive?” I said my food and accommodation is paid for, there isn’t a lot more I need. Her reply? “That’s amazing!” Yeah it is. It’s amazing because I no longer have to be bound by the rules society sets for me. I don’t have the material worries I was culturally brought up to have. I make my own rules and live in a way that brings me peace and contentment. 

Sure people talk down about my life and make fun of me. I know at least one person did it on the most recent boat. It doesn’t bother me. Now I get to walk through life relaxed and with a smile. Before I discovered this way of life, my shoulders were always hunched, my mind was infected with worry and stress and I was always striving to find something better instead of living for the moment. People who think I’m weird just haven’t found their peace yet, I get it. 

I guess that’s one reason why I feel so relaxed with Captain Cool. He’s the same. He also thinks I’m most beautiful when I’m natural so there’s no pressure to buy fancy clothes and spend all that time putting a false face on. For I could spend all that time applying make up and doing my hair and I’m still the same on the inside. That’s what I want people to see, not some beautiful face that isn’t even mine. CC encourages me to wear protective clothing so I don’t get sun burned. He doesn’t care that I don’t wear the latest sailing fashion or a bikini to get rid of the many farmer tans I have. While I’ve had a good time in the last few months, I’m really looking forward to sharing life again with someone who has similar views. With someone who just gets it without words and judgment. Someone I can just simply be with. 

I may not have a lot of money or a lot of things, and that’s exactly how I want it. I have something money can’t buy and those with money, try to buy. I sleep at night all through the night, I wake up refreshed and ready to join the day, even if I only had a few hours of sleep. I don’t worry about time, career goals, clothes, my weight, my age, fitting in, having the best, being the best, pensions or things that are never going to happen. I simply live in peace and at one with nature. Life has never been so beautiful, even during the difficult times. Why would I ask for more?

Return to reality

It sucks. I hate it. It’s like I’ve been in a horrible car accident and now I have to deal with the aftermath. I was in a horrible car accident when I was 18, so I know. 

Maybe coming back to reality in Montego Bay, Jamaica wasn’t a good place, but I don’t know where would’ve been a good place. Captain America loves it here. Probably because he has money and a penis so he isn’t harassed in the same way as I am and the effects of being ripped off aren’t so detrimental to his pocketbook. 

I looked to fly out of here, well prices have gone up significantly in the last six weeks. There aren’t any boats here to try and leave with. I am on my last dollars and need to spend wisely. 

Now I’m just filled with panic and worry I made the wrong decision. Maybe I should’ve gone on the boat to Panama or the boat to Guatemala. I can easily get to where I can find work from those places. But I didn’t and something told me not to go so I have to trust it. I have to be calm and believe it will all work out. It always does. Something always comes along when I just relax and trust. Sometimes that’s harder to do than other times…

The people in the marina are nice (minus the quarantine officer who disagreed with Captain America about me being a spring chicken!!!), we of course got ripped off trying to take a taxi into town. Luckily not my money. I never would’ve gotten in the car with him. Then we sit at the marina bar. The locals seem nice, an American comes up and we start talking. 

I just don’t get it. I try to embrace the fact people like being around me and my energy. Of course it gets me things, but more often than not it gets me in uncomfortable situations I have to get out of. Not dangerous ones, just “no I don’t like you like that” situations. I just treat all men and women like this.

So I’m talking with the American and say how it’s annoying to travel alone as a woman because many times people think if I’m nice and ask to be taken around, they think I want sex with them. I have learned how to ward that off and my experience in Cuba was thankfully not like that. You would think this would be a hint, right? 

Nope! He asks what boat I’m on so maybe we can all meet tomorrow. Then he says he’ll show me the boat he is on. We go there, then he starts with this crap about knowing he was going to meet an amazing woman tonight and blah, blah, the same compliments I’ve heard a million times. I switched off and started thinking how great it would be to just have friends. Just friends. No obligation, no being on guard that my personality is going to be misinterpreted that I want sex. Just someone to spend time with. I had that in Cuba, I guess I should be grateful I had a few days of that. Maybe that’s why the effect is harder now. 

I make my excuses to leave, he pretends to be a gentlemen and walk me back. He hugs me, tries to go in for a kiss which I avoid and then asks for another hug. My heart fell. Being in Jamaica is easier when I’m with a man and Captain America and I don’t travel the same way. Oh well, I guess I will get lots of reading done on the boat until I can get out of this country. 

Some people say I should be grateful for my looks and for the attention I get. I am when it’s the right person! Try walking down the street with a sign that says, “Will have sex with anyone and everyone,” as apparently that’s what my energy reads. I don’t enjoy it. I am constantly on guard. I want to be me and smile and be friendly and treat people like humans, but it’s usually misinterpreted. I hate it. I need to learn to manage it better so I don’t have to be on guard. I know that’s my issue. I wouldn’t change my looks or personality and I certainly can’t change how people react to me so it’s me that needs to manage it to go through life more relaxed. 

Not only that crap, but I have to answer questions from so many people. My parents, friends, immigration, myself. They are normal questions but I don’t live a normal life so I don’t have the answers people want. Or even answers for myself!! Cubans have a different mind frame, they don’t ask those kinds of questions. Sailors don’t ask those kind of questions. I’m not used to them after a month break. 

Then dealing with banks, flights, finding a job, my feelings of not being with Captain Cool, etc. The list goes on in reality. All I can do is close my eyes, think of Ben and the other beautiful people I met in Cuba and wish I could teleport myself there with lots of money so I can stay longer. It gives me a moment of tranquility to get through the next question. 

This is just an adjustment. I’m used to change, it doesn’t get easier, I just know how to deal with it better. I’m ok for I still have a sense of self and peace and that it will all work out. I’m just experiencing culture shock for the millionth time. I’m experiencing coming down from an incredible high. 

So what do I do? Meditate, do yoga and stay calm. I have asked the universe to send me a boat to where I am supposed to be. I should open it up a bit more to an opportunity to where I need to me. Hell, the American said he would pay me to stay here. Yuck, the things I would have to do… No, I value myself too much! That definitely wasn’t the opportunity!! 

Move forward, have faith. It will all be ok. It always is.