September 27, 2010

Of Movies, Mayhem and Chance German Tourists

There are days when I wake up and all of this seems utterly inconvenient. Friends I'd like to talk to aren't reachable, food I'd like to eat isn't obtainable and mosquitoes I'd like dead have bitten me in that low place between my shoulder blades that is really hard to reach. In these moments a home, a proper home with a bathtub and a front door that leads to something other than water, is all I really want.
But other people, lots of other people, want what I have. And sometimes the only way to see how amazing our life is, is to watch someone else's face when they experience it for the first time.
Tina and Ulle are traveling from Alaska to Argentina on the BMW motorcycle they brought from Germany. We learned this when we sat next to them at one of BLA's three sit-down restaurants. We were struck by the fact that tourists had actually meandered into our little village, and they were struck by how romantic our life seems. Over dinner conversation it came up that Tina had never sailed before and Ullie had only windsurfed. So we invited them for a sail.
We set off in the mid-afternoon breeze. As we sailed Ulle and Tina couldn't stop congratulation each other on their fine luck. Ulle informed us he was now going to sell his bike and buy a sailboat, Tina said she was going to take sailing lessons. Inviting random strangers aboard has been one of the cooler aspects of cruising. We've made friends with all sorts of people this way and in turn been invited into their lives. But more than that, we've vicariously experienced the same joy we felt when we first conceived our life. When this happens the inconvenience recedes and even things like that new tear in our mainsail and the mosquitoes that just won't die just seem like part of it.
When we got back to the anchorage we sent Maia off for a movie and pizza party on Adios 3 along with the five other kids in the anchorage. Then we headed out for dinner with Tina and Ulle. During dinner we watched a big thunderhead build across the Sea. But the locals in the restaurant assured us that the storm was far away and wouldn't bother us. So we ordered another margarita.
As the storm built we started to think about heading back to the boat. There was another big party of cruisers in the restaurant and Meri and Jim from Hotspur had arrived to take advantage of the date night that came with the movie party-reassuring us there was no rush. But when the first gust hit we said our good byes and started racing for the dinghy. By the time we were underway, the waves were breaking over the bow and the sky was bright with lightening.
We decided that with the chaos of the storm and the danger posed by a dinghy trip in rough seas, when dozens of fishermen were rushing back into harbour under navy escort, that the kids were all safer on Adios 3. So we pulled up the dinghy and hunkered down for the blow.
There were moments when it seemed even more than inconvenient: Our daughter was out of reach; A big power boat was dragging toward us; The navy boat was zooming back and forth to escort in the fishermen, who themselves were seeking a safe place to go when there wasn't one; We were too close to one boat when the wind was gusting from one direction and too close to another when it shifted.
But through it all I heard Ulle's voice, "You are not so isolated from life, the way you live. Which is good." As the Chubasco blew the force of the wind stung my cheeks. The seas heaved and spray coated the boat. As it rained the desert took on a heavy sweet smell. And lightening made the sky brightly dramatic as thunder rumbled from a reassuring distance.
There was no way to separate ourselves from the weather and I briefly envied Tina and Ulle their solid, secure hotel. But the storm passed and when Maia could finally return home her hug felt sweeter and tighter than ever. "It's like I'm back from a long journey," she told me as I tucked her into her still rocking bed. "I'm glad I'm home."
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