Civilization as I Know It

May 11 Wednesday   Oceanside to Avalon, Santa Island, CA

I’ve puzzled recently over why I’ve lost the happiness I sustained during the adventure. How temporary that permanence now seems.   The return-to-civilization decompression process has me in its grips. The weather is participating in this process. ln Enenada was the 80+ degrees and clear skies that has become my Mexican norm. As soon as I crossed into the U.S. the skies became overcast and the temperatures were in the low 60s.  How does the weather know the  border?

I have been waiting for sun for four days, without success. But i have learned from the sea gods to accept the weather as it is, so it is not the source of my mood.

Then there is sticker shock. I wandered into a pub in Oceanside to exchange use of their wifi for a beer. Beer and drinks are more than double what I’m accustomed to paying.   And slip fees!  But neither the weather nor the sticker shock  is the source of my dower mood. I can adjust to these.

And a little ego thing:   I loved the apparent wealth and celebrity-like attention in Mexico. While I don’t need the attention of a Donald Trump, I do enjoy my modest celebrity status.   Clerks and vendors and fishermen and…   well everyone treats you like you are special. In Mexico, you are the upper class.

And then there is the incomparable natural beauty — the endless coves and turquoise waters.   There is a lot to like in this country.

The heart of the matter is the loss of the cruisers’ community. In Mexican towns where expat cruisers collect there is always a morning cruisers net with the same format (it’s the morning newspaper delivered to your VHF receiver). It begins with medical emergencies and ends with items for trade (expats can not legally buy and sell items in Mexico, so we “trade for coconuts”).   In between you listen for which of your boat friends are in this harbor, and you get to announce your arrival. Everyone takes an interest in everyone else’s welfare.   I’ve experienced real community, and it is not Facebook. There is no equivalent on land.

As I pass the border into the U.S. I am out of range of a morning net. Additionally I see no familiar AIS identification names on my chart-plotter. I am a stranger in my own land. And no one cares (except you my dear blog readers).

My bleakness is with the process of reconciling my ordinary life and the extraordinary experience.   What I call “the ordinary” contains everything I know and all the places I’ve been and everything that is in my wake. There is a sort of weltschmerz (world weariness) wrapped around it all. What I call “the extraordinary” contains everything new that I’ve experienced these past six months. The two are weaving into the fabric of who I am becoming. And I fear I’m becoming ordinary.

Already I’m mixing up locations and can not recall a few. Sadly, the memories can never be as vivid as the experience. Shortly after a crew member departed I would wake up in the morning sensing he/she was still on board, and until I came to my senses I would think of saying “good morning”.  But now the ghosts of my crew friends are becoming distant… perhaps fading into RD’s teak or plastic.

In so many ways my eyes have been opened and my heart swelled. in Mexico. There has been a magic in this adventure beyond reason.

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5 thoughts on “Civilization as I Know It

  1. I love your honest reflections howard. I’m doing a lot of reflecting here as well. Always looking for the right path… the right significance. It’s interesting how the target keeps moving. Oh what a crazy and glorious journey.

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  2. Saw you off in La Paz — or at least managed to say goodbye to you over the radio as you were leaving to head north. And now that you’re 20-some-odd miles off the coast of Palos Verdes (where I am now), you should consider coming on over to San Pedro and letting us buy you a drink at the YC. Seems a shame to have you slip past again so quickly. We’re having weird weather….wish we could offer you better.

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  3. Ah, the source of happiness. That’s a good one. Looks like the California Coast transit is a long one. Hopefully you’ll get some winds at your back…..

    Patrick Edwards Office/Cell: 602-295-2558

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  4. Howard, Been following you over the months and shared vicariously a similar sailing adventure I made decades ago. Glad you back safe on permanent land. Stay in touch. Peter ’62

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