It was after recovering from four or five covid tests with Qtips thrust to the back of my brain, that I began to feel normal again. Quarantined on a catamaran for days except for testing. We had ventured out of shelter in place to another land, another place and way of life. One that had interestingly been shattered by a hurricane just three years ago. The people there were resilient though. Actually happy, even masked up. Grateful to be alive, still.
I suppose what amazed me the most while traveling this time was the number of people bravely but skittishly trying to go somewhere other than the cocoon they had been couped up in for the last 15 months. Strangely, I missed my privacy that isolation had provided. A kind of comfort that was now shattered by encounters with hundreds of people from all walks of life. A collage of humanity in all shapes and sizes bustling about a now crowded airport. We shared this strange new experience – the commonality of venturing out.
My favorite encounter though was with Wendell. He was running a little shop called Wendell’s World in Jost Van Dyke. He sat behind his counter playing his guitar while people meandered in and out 6 feet apart. Aghast at his worn wares which were at least four years old (probably acquired prior to the hurricane) that had ravaged the islands in 2018. He was singing though. My guess is that he sang all the time. He wasn’t shy, he wasn’t super loud, he was just playing and softly singing. After he had finished one song I asked him to play another and he said, “Is it okay to play you one I wrote.” But of course, I nodded. Chuckling if he had any idea of the latent song writer that listened intently before him. He ended up playing a few beautiful songs. I was able to record them. I was the only one in the store at the time. It was like a private concert. He reminded me of Taj Mahal or someone like that – but much more authentic. Rough on the edges, but full of heart.
On this journey I forgot how much I loved the sun and the water and sailing. Our sails were full on the second day as we thrashed across the Sir Francis Drake channel pinging between islands trying to work our way up to the Bitter End. Unfortunately, it had been decimated in the hurricane and had not yet been rebuilt. Although disappointed we loved seeing places we had seen once before in 2017.
Life on the boat this time around was not bad. I’m fairly sure we went through a bottle of rum a day and God knows how many beers. Never brashly drunk. Just calm, while rolling with the rocking of the boat and waves. We laughed and played and swam and enjoyed our time at sea.
Who knows what the coming months will bring. I was saddened to hear about the ravaging of Covid in India and surrounding countries. And even in Canada to the north of us. We’ve been lucky in our country to have gotten vaccinated so quickly. It now seems obvious that it may well be months, if not years, before other countries are fully vaccinated. Another reason to be grateful. At a least for now.