December 06, 2009

December to remember

It's Europe and the streets are filled with fashionably dressed Christmas shoppers. The intricate city of Barcelona wraps around a large port filled with mega yachts and wintering cruisers from all around the globe. In amongst the glimmering boats on display is that little white sail boat from America with four bath towels drying on the life lines. Noche is like the clown car that missed a turn and fell behind the circus.
I started a couch surfing account, and now am mother hen for backpackers traveling through Europe. I woke up this morning and there was a beautiful Brazilian girl snuggled up next to my nineteen year old German couch surfer, out on the deck was a bag full of groceries a bottle of wine and two books on the Balearic Islands that a stranger had brought to us in the night. Its just like Christmas around here, except I am wearing flip flops and board shorts (not so much because it is blazing hot on the Coasta Brava, but because laundry is so expensive).

So here is the update:
Since my parents are the only one's that read this blog and they came for the French Canals, I can save them for latter. We made it to the Mediterranean! I am sailing in the Mediterranean. Wow get out the pencil and cross something off the list of things to do in life. I know everyone else knows this, but the Med is in fact expensive, and the winter winds are unpredictably strong, and the sea state is a mess. So the images I had of clear water, petite villages and cocktail parties on Noche were congered from postcard images taken during the summer. The good news is when I pull up to a petite village the office that collects money has dust on the door knob and the money collector is on holiday, so its free. People don't sail the Med in the Winter.

Ok the real update. I got Ludo. The Ya Ya sisterhood road trip is almost complete.

Two months ago, I met a kid my age on dock in Bordeaux and he helped me remove the mast so Noche could qualify as a Canal boat. Ludo and his father had spent two years completely restoring and preparing a boat to sail from France to Cuba, and were scheduled to depart the following week. We kept in touch and a month later he called me with news that his mother was ill and his sail boat would be parked for another year. He was on the next train to Noche and now we are sailing the Med together. He speaks Portuguese, French, English, Spanish, knows good cheese and can read a wine bottle so he is handy as it gets on Noche.

I have always had a pang of fear about traveling alone, but each time I set off, I learn again and again that you are only alone for one or two days.
If you follow a calling you'll meet like minded people along the way. I meet alot of people who say, they would love to do what I am doing. Its a phrase that I do not understand. I feel like I am working down the list of things I want to do before I die, and everyday I am anxious because I don't think I have enough time. I cant imagine how I would feel if I wasn't doing my list, if I was doing something else instead. Life can take a turn and those dreams we've saved for later might not happen. Ludo and his father will sail some day, and in the meantime Noche will fill in the gap.
Yesterday, we met a Lithuanian girl and her French Canadian boy friend who have been living in Barcelona for six months. She is a bartender, living off 800 euros a month, and he passes out flyers for a discotheque and rakes in 400 euros a month. They have an apartment, nice clothes, etc and look like every other Barcelonan. They took Ludo and I rockclimbing all day, and hosted us around the city. She speaks six languages, and is in her second year of her masters in sociology. He speaks four languages and skateboards all day. This city is full of young people from all over the world, and the lingua franca is English. I speak broken English, burn 400 euros a week, and don't have nice clothes. There is no real point to my story other than, my jaw dropped when I learned how much money they live lavishly on, and how extravagantly well cultured citizens of the world can be.

I am doing this cliche voyage of simplicty, sailing around the world, powered by the wind, and my head spins when I meet a 22 year old Belgian kid who has walked from his home in Antwerp to Tibet and back with out ever paying for a bus or train. Or when a wispy 19 year old French girl trumps me by thumbing it from Mexico to Canada with homemade signs and seventy bucks. There are so many amazing stories out there and I never stop being amazed by how people can do so much with no fear and no money. You can go round the world by lifting your thumb. That is amazing. It's proof that people are good natured and you don't have to be afraid. I continue to learn every day out here.

How about this one: If you sleep eight hours, you'll sleep a third of your life. If you sleep six hours, you'll sleep a quarter of it. If you remember your dreams, you'll experience it all.

Here is the latest. We are newly inspired to rock climb so we will be sailing to the Balearic Islands to do some deep water soloing and I have always wanted to do this experiment: Take a thousand bucks and see how far it gets me. Due to the current "crisis" lets start with five hundred US. I want to dispell the myth that lack of money is a barrier to traveling. So I will be doing this experiment soon and documenting every penny. 500 US is 300 Euros so I should be back with a report very soon.