Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good News Bad News - Back in the USA

Nearly 5,000 nautical miles under our hull!!

Granddaughter Makenna welcoming Grandpa Andy back
I find myself dealing with an unexpected mixed bag of emotions.  I’m delighted to be back home in the USA and able to reconnect more often with friends and family.  However, a part of my soul is sadden to have left the chain of lovely, enchanting islands. I now clearly understand why some boaters arrive in the Caribbean and never leave!   A piece of our hearts will remain there forever.  We cherish our memories of those wonderful islands and the even more delightful and friendly individuals we met in the islands and along the way.  It is actually bittersweet to be back.
We made it back before Baby #3 was born!!
Makenna & Picket on Finally Fun

Courtesy Flags from the various countries we visited that we flew on Finally Fun
Andy and I have been reminiscing about our trip and talking about things we’ll need to do as we settle back into the USA after 14 months away.

 Practice driving our car before heading out into traffic.   Both the car and the boat have a wheel, BUT.....

Andy driving with wheel on the right
Remember that in the USA, we’ll need to drive on the RIGHT....and not on the LEFT as we had to do the few times we did rent a car.
Remember to look carefully before stepping out to cross a street.  We’ve been looking mostly in the OPPOSITE direction as drivers are on the left for much of where we've been, even in the US Virgin Islands.  The thought of Splat Like a Bug on a Windshield has haunted me the entire time in the islands and now that thought will continue until we adapt totally and consistently.

This guy is quite the talker!
Decipher all the changes relating to How to Communicate.  We need cell phones, with new phone numbers, new carriers and new contracts.   How does all that overlap into computer wifi time?   Ugh, how to get started and figure it all out with all the new technology and new toys seems overwhelming.  Guess I’ll ask the grandkids...they ‘get’ it.

Our satellite TV faded out once we got out of range at Long Island in the Bahamas a year ago.   We’ve continue to be able to pick up satellite radio and news, so it is not like we’ve been living in a cave... Do we even want TV back with its mindless stream of reality shows, daytime soaps and the like?  

Carnival- Better live than on any TV!
Ugggg, Style Matters in the USA.  I’ve been digging in the back of our closets to find more than the T-shirts and shorts we’ve been living in for the past 14 months.   Now, we’ve got to also remember to change those t-shirts and shorts more often....boaters get away with the tattered, stained look more often than not.
We've gotten hair cuts since arriving in the USA

Sharon's idea of Dress Shoes
Learn to wear SHOES much more often.   Dressing for dinner aboard another boat means taking a shower and putting on clean clothes.   Shoes are not necessary.   There is no need for them just to hop into our dingy, traverse a short distance to the other boat where we always have to promptly take our shoes OFF to enter the new boat.  (Non-boaters -- the flooring on most boats is soft teak.  Shoes scuff and scratch, even if ‘boat shoes’.)   If I do wear shoes just for ‘show’, I often forget I had them on, necessitating a return trip the next day to retrieve them!!    

Selling fruits & vegs boat to boat
Get ready for the physical effect of overstimulation of sights, smells and choices.  Grocery shopping in the USA has already proven to be overwhelming - huge stores, shelves ladened with goods, fresh meats and fresh milk.  Prices are more reasonable than what we’ve paid over the past 14 months.   A few islands, especially the large French islands do have large stores with many goods, but many many of the products are from the USA or other countries and are, therefore, imported goods which translates into Expensive.   

Prepare for disappointment when standing in the same fancy USA grocery store aisles.  I will so miss the island markets teeming with locals selling fresh fruits and produce picked off their land that morning.  No Picked Green Many Months Too Early stuff there!  
I already miss the fresh papaya (Paw Paw it’s called down island); mangos of every variety large and small; limes and tiny Key Limes; bananas, especially the Fig Banana, a tiny one a little larger than a fat man’s thumb, that tastes like a blend of banana and lime; pineapples that are so very sweet and            passion fruit. 

No need for 'Organic' is naturally so
I’ll have to watch my language in the grocery stores.....Cilantro was known as “Shadow Benny”, basil looks and tastes different in the islands, green beans are more than two feet long and on and on it goes.  No American will be able to 'translate' for me!

Fishermen patiently answer my questions
I think we will always remember to smile & greet every store employee, taxi or bus driver, or actually everyone and anyone we encounter.   It’s considered RUDE everywhere in the islands to just walk in and ask for what you want or ask a question or try to pay for something.  EVERY transaction, every encounter in the islands should start with something friendly along the lines of “Hello, How are you?”  And waiting for the answer is important!!!  Then, and only then, should one segue into the transaction. 
Martin teaching us how to prepare conch
I’ll also so miss the friendly banter with locals selling their wares in the markets.  Always answering my questions with smiles and sometimes laughter when I’d ask “What IS this?” or “How do I PREPARE this?” or  “How do we EAT this?”,  the islanders were patient.  I probably made their day and they definitely made mine at every encounter....even when I suspected or KNEW I was overcharged just because I was NOT a local!!
Bus station in Grenada
I hate the thought of having to utilize our car much more often to run errands and to shop.   I’ve loved catching the efficient local island buses for $1 or so as my mode of transportation when the distances were too great for our two feet.  Grocery bags instead of the backpacks will be the norm now, too.   Somehow, I think the islands have it right!   

Thank, Thoreau, for the inspiration...."Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you've imagined.:

And on the very positive side, we’ve accomplished our dream, learned a lot about ourselves and about other countries, strengthened our boating skills and truly learned that the world doesn't have to move at the light speed of the USA.  Bigger is not better.....  

Maybe, just maybe, a tiny bit of that ‘no worry mon - we get it done’ (which translates to Whenever) has rubbed off on me, the Type A....That is the Good News part!
Double rainbows are common in the islands


  1. Wow---what experiences you've had. I'm sure it is culture shock to come back here---Hell--I live here and I get culture shock at times---wish we could go back to the 50's!! Welcome home---hope to see you. Carrie having 5th knee surgery this week so I'll be doing a lot of helping out there---watching both boys today because no school!!

  2. Beautiful post, Sharon, and a perfect description of the life we live as cruisers. Have a wonderful time back "home". I'll be looking for the post of the next destination your wandering spirit leads you to!

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  4. I'm starting the blog here and going backwards in time. It's been fun already - nice writing and photography.

  5. enjoy your trip of Musandam Khasab and have dinner with your friends and family..