Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dispatch 16 Dirt Dwelling

June 28-Oct 19 2006
Living on land is delightful in some ways, especially when it’s in the US, in our hometown and we are getting a paycheck. First of all, everything is so darn easy—everyone (mostly) understands you when you ask questions, there are more consumer goods than we ever remembered, the weather has been beautiful and our visit is temporary. We are having a blast.

We have continued our wild social scene, now back with all our Seattle friends. We have been the recipients of the most astounding acts of generosity from friends offering us a place to live and cars to drive during our whole stay. My (Betsy’s) work has been welcoming and really very fun. I realized I missed work and really enjoyed flexing my medical muscles again. This has led to a new plan for us which is to arrange work for a few months each year while we continue to travel. Richard was offered unexpected work as well. With all his experience around boats and refitting ours, friends hired him to do work on theirs. He was then offered a job to captain a Valiant 40 from Seattle to San Francisco for its new owner and was hired to outfit it for the ocean passage prior to captaining it down the coast. Life is good.

I must have been the rare happy doctor and I realize my colleagues could have just thrown me out for my cheeriness. I’d come to work and crow about how fun it all was as they had just finished plowing through a couple feet of paperwork, the detritus of the previous day’s worth of work, and that was before the day even began! Then I’d go hopping off to exercise at lunch as they piled through more of the crap. The rare rainy day in summery Seattle, I’d stand at the window and mope, “This weather sucks, I’ve got to get out of here,” and they’d laugh tolerantly. I must have been insufferable, but, boy it was fun to be helpful and feel so stimulated. Short timer’s syndrome is only fun for the one who has it!

We made progress on our future plans for cruising. We have decided to carry on south to Central America so we can explore the land and culture of those countries, end up in Ecuador and probably sail from there to the Galapagos and then to the South Pacific. We don’t know how long this journey will take because we have adopted a philosophy of trying to enjoy the countries we visit to the fullest and not be pressed by a schedule. Whether we return to the US for work in another year or find work along the way remains to be seen.

We assiduously avoided looking at weather reports from Mexico. What would we be able to do anyway if a bad storm should come? Of course our studied indifference was fake and our friends would often be the first to ask with anxiety, “How’s your boat doing with that hurricane now in Mexico?” “Yikes,” we’d gulp, “what hurricane?” running off to the NOAA site on our computer to check. Well, we’ll see how our boat is when we return which looks like it will be early November.

One fabulous thing about cruising is that we meet people who enjoy travel and, in each of our gypsy lifestyles, we end up running into each other with happy rendezvous. Jeff and Deirdre have been wonderful long distance friends ever since we met in Craig, Alaska in 2001 and we’ve had rare but wonderful visits and/or phone calls from them ever since. They’ve had great advice for us over the years in preparing to cruise as they’ve sailed from Seattle to Alaska and eventually to New Zealand in the path we hope to follow. We were thrilled to have them visit with us on and off in Seattle over a 10 day period as they were land cruising the US and we enjoyed several delightful dinners, long with stories they tell so well.

Also in Seattle for our first month were Jay and Danica, with depth of cruising advice for us as they’ve spent the last 3 years traveling through Mexico and Central America and had left their boat in Panama to return for some work in the US. We spent hours with them to learn more about what to expect and how to proceed and heard their great cruising stories. They got us pretty psyched about the next part of our journey.

One day while walking around Green Lake, a local park, Betsy heard her name called and found Michael, the son of the family we went to Copper Canyon with in Mexico. He was in Seattle visiting a girl friend he had met when they stopped in Hawaii on their sail home. It was an almost unbelievable coincidence. At a boaters rendezvous, we met 3 more of our cruiser friends from Mexico not knowing they would be there. The cruiser community is like a small town—it’s great to belong.

We decided that we might enjoy a car tour back to Mexico so we could visit family and friends along the way. With that in mind we bought a vehicle, a 1991 Dodge Caravan with 173,000 miles on it, which Richard used for his work vehicle. It’s serviceable other than the strong smell of cigarettes it came with and so far it is running. We plan to take off land cruising in October starting with a flight to Ohio to visit my family then driving south via Colorado, Utah and Arizona on our way to Mexico to visit more family and friends.

While we started to catalogue all the many people we wanted to thank by name, we realized that there was the risk of forgetting someone and the very public nature of the blogsite, so we will just say that nobody could have better friends than we have. You have all been so generous, warm and welcoming and we deeply enjoyed the many wonderful meals together and hours of stimulating conversation. Thank you for sharing your lives with us and supporting our adventure in so many ways.