We planned to do New Year’s Eve with our friends on Macushla but when the wind was predicted to hit 30 kts just about prime celebration time we agreed to postpone the party so we could be on our own boats during a blow. Jack and I took the opportunity to have a long-delayed silver anniversary dinner. We were married August 28th, 1990, but when the date rolled around this year I was struggling with a bad back and then we were occupied with getting ourselves back on track and out of the red zone for cyclone season. Better late than never, we say.
We enjoyed a meal that perfectly embodies our life on Escape Velocity. Our first course soup was made with chestnuts we bought in Martinique. That was followed by pasta from El Salvador with our last batch of pesto sauce that I made and froze in the Galapagos, and a salad of fresh New Zealand tomatoes and cucumbers. Dessert was rice pudding made with rice from Tonga flavored with rum and vanilla from French Polynesia. And to top it off, a 1999 Chateau Lafleur Pomerol from our friend Jeff in Pittsburgh that weathered the years of ocean miles just fine and we’re glad we saved it for this occasion. While we ate I saw that Jack was wearing a sweater he bought in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, while we were on our epic winter road trip to find a boat.
Our life is like this. We take with us a little bit of everywhere we’ve been. Each item in our pantry, fridge or freezer triggers a memory — walking through the dusty streets of Isabela, Galapagos, to find a few carrots here, a cabbage there, then post-dismasting discovering an abundance of fresh basil at the market in Santa Cruz and freezing a dozen or so batches of pesto sauce; hiring a driver in El Salvador who spoke no English to take us to the capital to provision at the big supermarkets where I was thrilled to find, among other things, a five pound bag of wild rice for $14; riding funky rental bikes in Huahine, Society Islands, and stopping at a front yard vanilla “plantation” where I bought a tiny bottle of extract. We don’t so much buy souvenirs as adapt our life to our surroundings. When I clean the boat I use a bucket we bought in Hiva Oa, Marquesas. The labels on the cleaning products are in Spanish or French and I remember where I bought each one. The paperbacks we read we pick up at the book exchanges we find anyplace cruising boats gather. Jack is acquiring a wardrobe of T-shirts and caps from everywhere we’ve been.
None of this is unique among cruisers. We find what we need where we can, or learn to adapt or go without. We fall in love with local specialties like tostones in Costa Rica, or doubles in Trinidad, only to say goodbye to them forever when we leave. On the other hand we haven’t been anyplace where we didn’t find Doritos, Oreos, cornflakes or pizza. French Islands mean daily baguettes and croissants. You can find marmite and golden syrup anywhere the English ever called their own. Provisioning is always a learning experience. I just bought a bag of rolled oats and the package has a recipe for Anzac biscuits, which I had to look up. I’ll make some today while we’re boat bound in pouring rain and the oven will warm the cabin.
We are global citizens, always eager for new experiences, always meeting new people. As long distance cruisers we don’t just tour the places we go, we actually live in them. We shop where the locals shop, eat what the locals eat, drink the local beer, and often pound the pavement looking for elusive parts or tradesmen so our magic carpets can take us to the next new place. We love it.
All of this is to say we hope the coming year brings more of the same, and we wish you a year full of your heart’s desire, whatever that may be. And to my husband of 25+ years, I’m glad we’re sharing this incredible adventure. There’s no one in the world I’d rather be with.