September 23, 2008
“France”. I grew up with the idea that to go to this place it calls for a distinguished and well cultured, even wealthy individual. lol... I also remember from our own history that they gave us a statue, taught us about liberty and helped us fight for our independence. These days they have a reputation for being rude when you don’t attempt to speak their language while in their country, and they turned on US recently when they didn’t believe in the fight. hmmm... A good old traveling friend of mine, “English Owen” and I set off for France from the south coast of England last week after being refused entrance to the UK. In the mariners world the “French” are sticklers for safety, insurance, and paperwork. In the English world, the French are traditionally second best and overall rude. Owen and I set off with low expectations for the crowd ahead. We crossed the channel, dropped anchor, and slept till a squad of customs duardos knocked on the hull. We endured an exhaustive but friendly shake down, and then set foot in the land of tiny coffee and fresh bread. We walked around the old Napoleonic streets and grinned at the refined cafes that stretched out onto the sidewalks and into the public squares. Owen tried his luck with the native tongue and instantly this older couple was walking us around the town in search of the best Creperie. We were on our heels how nice everyone seemed. Then we sailed to the next town… where a local drove us to a Saturday Farmer’s market to do our shopping, bought us coffee and toured us around an entire Island. At our next destination upon landfall we were invited to a potluck and disco party by a stagecoach driver. Then in the next town we met a large group of air traffic controllers who were unexpectedly interesting and fun. The next day a bicyclist in full leotard zoomed past as I stood on a foot path admiring boats in the bay. He screeched on his breaks and came back to enjoy the view and have a chat. It worked great; since I couldn’t speak he would! Shoot you don’t both have to speak French, just one, and he was able to keep the “conversation” going the whole time. I learned all about his bike schedule and the walking trials around the town of Brest. That evening Owen and I met a group of students who entertained us for hours singing and humming hundreds of songs that we all knew from the eighties, nineties and today till the Bars closed down. The day after that a couple of organic farmers picked me up hitch hiking and we ended up going out for dinner, playing pool and having drinks till two in the morning. Owen, being full blood English is particularly upset. Day after day were having astonishing ease with travel. Without coming here it’s easy to boycott French fries and generalize about a people. Having this past week’s experiences we would say that the Frenchies are lovely. These folks will stop what they are doing and spend their entire day with you. I guess a snear in Paris is the same as a honk from a New York cabby, don’t take it personal, go beyond Paris when you’re in France, and get out of the way when you’re in New York. Renewed and excited about the French, Owen took a bullet train to Paris and then a flight back to London and I caught some easterly winds around the Finistair peninsula to Belle Ile. Today I discovered I am living my dream. I look out at my view of the world and I want for nothing. Maybe its because the people I often meet are on their dream vacation. Sailing is a lot of work, I put in more all-nighters than any sixty hour a week guy on Wall Street, but the reward is direct and intrinsically evolving. Sailing offers little control, and it’s the slowest means to do anything, but somehow I feel I get to go directly for what I am after. It’s a lifestyle where one doesn’t have to wait fifty one weeks doing something unrelated in exchange for a week of the dream. Every day is a view that a camera cant capture and my big screen comes with all the sensations of smell, temperature and emotion. Now I am dead broke but I feel like I am the wealthiest guy on earth. I hope to avoid the lifestyle of buying a car to get to a job that pays my car payment. Please help to remind me of all of this if I get lost because it’s time to get a job, so I can afford to buy some time off again.