It’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I needed a vacation, so I took one. The vacation included a vacation from updating the site, but not from writing. Strangely enough, the vacation involved a trip back stateside – where most of my friends leave when they take vacation.
No reason for worry. All is well.
After Dan left, I took some time to regroup and then did some boatwork and then got ready for a trip back “home” – to Texas. Lauren took off for places unknown. I was alone again and it was good.
There was some organization necessary to leave the boat. Funny how something that provides so much freedom can be such an anchor when you try to leave it.
The marina here was full. There was a more expensive marina open, but I’m broke. There was the ghetto marina down the way, but that was in the ghetto – and what I have onboard I’d like to keep onboard. I could leave the boat anchored, but if we got a Cullo de Pollo (a storm with heavy winds/rain common here this time of year) my boat could drag or (more likely) another boat could drag into mine.
The solution came from somebody else. Kenny was sailing a boat that he had been the unofficial guardian of back to Panama. They were trying to sell the boat. The boat was on the market here (Colombia) for too long, and the owner – a very wealthy Frenchman – decided Panama would be better. Kenny was the guy in charge of moving this boat from Colombia to Panama. The reason this mattered to me was that the boat was effectively moored here, though technically moorings are illegal.
But sailors are an inventive bunch, and probably have less respect for rules than most.
And so, to skirt the issue of a mooring – they’d simply dropped an 800 pound anchor in the bay and tied off to that. The anchor is the best mooring I’ve ever ran across, but it was still an anchor – and therefore, if anyone cared – it was semi-legal. Of course this is Colombia and there’s the everpresent question – who gives a shit?
A fair question.
So the Frenchman’s boat sailed to Panama, leaving this massive anchor to my disposal while I returned stateside to do silly amounts of paperwork and work on taxes and deal with things and see family and watch Netflix in A/C while ordering Chinese takeout. Or Thai.
In order to nullify the risk of someone else’s boat bumping mine, or something going horribly wrong onboard without someone onboard – I left a local guy that I’d grown to trust onboard. For about $40/day, he’d spend the day cleaning, waxing, etc – and watch my boat at night, in the case of a Cullo De Pollo.
There was only a small hangup in the plan, when I went to take money out and found that neither of my credit cards nor my debit cards were working.
That tiny issue compounded further when I needed to pay for overstaying my visa at the airport. Explaining to the customs agent the irony involved in the situation – me trying to leave Colombia, and the only thing holding me here a charge levied against me for the crime of not leaving soon enough – afforded no reprieve.
I fixed it all, though luck was in play. Nothing else was interesting about the travel.
Texas was the same as I’d left it. Only the people had changed. People don’t really change though – more accurately their life situations had changed. Some of them, at least. New kids. Weddings. Moving. New relationships formed, old broken.
Back home I was greeted by a mother that was very happy that I hadn’t been abducted by a local druglord. And it was a boat-Christmas event again – a huge stack of boxes from Amazon and marine chandleries waiting next to my bed. Hot showers were an option for the first time in almost a year. Air conditioning while sleeping. But first I need food. And drink.
A good Mexican Martini and a pile of enchiladas made everything right in the world. Colombia may be Latin America, but Mexican food is something they haven’t figured out.
I’d made the mistake, on a previous return to the state of Texas, of announcing a homecoming. That led to too many people trying to squeeze in facetime to be relaxing, and those that didn’t get facetime ended up being disgruntled. This time it was quieter.
Family visited first. It’s funny that when I lived closer to them I didn’t put as much weight on seeing them. With the increase in physical distance, the time spent with family has more value. That’s a good thing.
Then I needed to move from the Houston area to the Austin area. There was a wedding, and several groups of friends that I hoped to at least have a drink or two with. My motorcycle didn’t fire up right away, which put a kink in the plans.
The battery, no doubt.
I tried charging it to no avail. It was time for a new battery.
Naturally, AGM sportbike batteries are in short supply in a town of 3,000 people. I went to a larger town, no dice. I needed to head back into downtown Houston to find the right battery in stock. So I did.
Then I was off, speeding through 100+ degree weather, in full riding gear, under a broiling sun, across the smoking pavement, riding a bike which constantly registered a temperature over 215 degrees F. A suit crammed into saddlebags, a couple changes of clothes stuffed into a backpack.
Arriving in Austin was exactly what it was supposed to be. I saw my dog. Somebody who cared opened the door. I was greeted with a comfortable, if not familiar, place to lay my head and spend my time how I would like. There were dates set for the wedding. There was a group birthday party. There were things, but not too many things.
But getting exactly what you think you want isn’t always what you actually want.
After the wedding and the birthday party and the trip to Lukenbach, Texas on the motorcycles and the deeper conversations with friend and the centering conversations with those who’d circumnavigated via sailboat – I had nothing to put effort into. Which, I’ve learned, isn’t a healthy state.
Suddenly it was time to ride the motorcycle back to the Houston area and I was leaving and it was hot and everything was unfinished and there was never enough time and too much time.
Back in the Houston area we went to a Houston Texans preseason game. Originally I thought it would be just something to occupy the time, something fun to do with Mom and the little brother. It turns out, though, that even after leaving that kind of thing so far in the rearview – beer and nachos and football is fun.
The airport was the typical struggle – too much crap and not enough space and TSA being jerks and me not having a return ticket so it appearing that I was staying in Colombia forever and them not understanding that a man can leave a country in a boat. The flights being crammed and babies crying onboard.
But it’s nice to have a good excuse to tune out the world and read.
I hit CTG about 11PM. Customs had a huge problem with me importing a Garmin GPS/radar combo, despite the large and clear markings “Yacht in Transit.” Rather than argue, I played dumb gringo and assured them I would never, ever do something so stupid again. That act is becoming my Ace in the hole. How much of it is really an act I remain unsure.
Thanks to good friends here, my dinghy was at the dock when I got there. When I got onboard the boat it was locked but the key was were it was supposed to be. The boat was clean, organized, and better than I’d left it.
I packed everything inside, did a quick check of the major systems, and before I realized it I was asleep.
The next couple of days were an attempt to get back in the swing of things. I needed to get my life, here, back in order. Cell data needed to be purchased. The fridge cleaned out. Groceries purchased. Water hauled. Aguardiente chilled. The bottom cleaned.
Having something to do, whether I did it or not, felt new. Felt good.
In the same way that seeing friends and family felt good, it was good to leave them again. I wonder if people really can grasp that. The feeling of forever leaving. And it being right.
I was heading to the Rosarios soon, a bit of sailing needed to put the world in perspective.