Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Barra Good-Bye

Barra was our furthest point south and now that we have turned around and are heading north, I feel as though we've accomplished much of what we set out to do...sail approximately 450 miles, as the crow flies, and 700 miles in total, explored ports, anchorages, and towns, met new and old friends, tested ourselves in ways we hadn't before, and learned more about ourselves as individuals and as a family.

I, for one, feel more light-hearted as this adventure continues to move forward.  I don't take things quite as seriously as I did before this experience and I am happy to say I shake big and little things off easier than I did before we set sail. I've finally seen how getting upset doesn't help (why does it take so long to learn this stuff?). I still get cranky at times but more often than not I resort to humor to get past the nuisances that crop up throughout the day.  How is it that this "new me" has taken shape?  Well, it may be because life is somewhat simplified and simmered down to a bare minimum on a relatively small boat. You have the typical responsibilities and activities like cooking, cleaning, home schooling, entertainment, socializing, personal development (not in prioritized order mind you), but within those categories there are less options out here than in a typical land-based lifestyle.  So life becomes pretty focused on a few things rather than stuffed chock full of so many things that it's hard to focus on any of them.  I'll try to remember that when we get back to Loreto!

Home schooling is concentrated into 3 - 4 hours each day.  That time not only gives me time with the children but I get to read many of the books I have wanted to read for years.  It serves us all so well.

Cooking/cleaning.  To me, cooking always takes far more time than it's worth. Shopping for food feels the same.  I opt for making enough of one dish to span a meal or two. That helps.  Having 4 - 5 meals that everyone enjoys and can be made easily helps too. Even if the dishes are repetitive, they taste good going down and nobody starves.  Cleaning...well, as I said, it's a fairly small boat and we stay on top of our chores so clean-up is a lot easier than in any house I've ever lived in.

Entertainment.  Right now our life is our entertainment so I don't have to do too much to make things happen.  Activities like swimming, surfing, snorkeling, beach combing, land explorations, etc., are the elements that make up most of our fun each day.  Reading is also on that list and takes us way beyond home schooling.  Reading as a family has become one of our favorite pastimes and my guess is it will continue to be that way after we return to Loreto. 
Once in a while we run down the battery a bit and watch a dvd. That's BIG entertainment in the kid's book.  We all squish into the queen size bed mid-ship (aka., the dining room table collapsed and made into a bed) and set up the computer to watch a dvd we borrowed from another cruiser family or downloaded onto our computer from itunes.  Hoodwinked was a favorite as were Bedtime Stories and The Secret of Roan Inish.
Getting ready to watch a dvd. Look at the room left for Mom and Dad!?!

Socializing.  The kids seek out other kids easily so when there are kid boats around it's natural for them to congregate at the beach or at each others boats.  One of the nice things for me as a parent is that I don't need to drive the kids all over the neighborhood to have them connect with their friends.  Chandler and Henry Wyatt dinghy themselves to other boats or to shore and then stay in touch via the VHF radio.  It seems so much more balanced than the suburban shuffle I hear my friends partaking in back in the States.  
Chandler swinging on a lounge swing, at a hotel that welcomed cruisers to use their pool, with Maia and Carolyne (and Henry pushing from behind)
We adults get in on the action too.  Meeting at the beach, a cafe, a shared walk to the laundry, and occasionally dinner out or at each other''s boats, rounds out our social life with interesting people doing what we've mutually chosen to do with our lives.

Personal development.  I definitely find more time out here for inspirational reading and study.  Reading the Bible and Science and Health is the foundation of my day.  I also read articles online at www.spirituality.com.  The best part is when I get really quiet and feel that wonderful sense of inspiration that inevitably comes.

In fact I found a "calm" in Barra that I had not found elsewhere on this trip.  Perhaps it was the extremely calm lagoon we anchored in and the amount of time we spent there...three weeks.
The crowded but calm anchorage at Barra

 Perhaps it was the funky town where I could stroll around in my bathing suit and cover-up without feeling exposed or looking like an "ugly American."

Ann shopping for fresh veggies and fruits

It could have been the low-key, genuinely thoughtful people who ran the laundry, the cafe, and the public showers.
Doug and Henry with a load of clean laundry!
 Maybe I simply got used to this way of traveling and found my groove. Who knows?  Regardless, it felt good and leaving Barra wasn't as easy as it would have been had it not been that friends from the U.S. recently announced they were coming to visit us in Loreto the first week in April. That gave me something to look forward to as we worked our way north.  Not that I need something to look forward to; this lifestyle has plenty in it to enjoy and be grateful for, but knowing friends are coming to share some of this adventure with us is an exciting "add-on".

As we slowly worked our way out of the Barra lagoon the French Baker was making his morning rounds and granted our wish by pulling up alongside HanaCrew and selling us a few final croissants for our journey.  Without stopping the engine Doug maneuvered the boat, as did the French Baker his, so we would coast alongside one another for the sale to take place.  What a fitting end to a lovely stay in Barra! 

Ann making that final French Baker purchase

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