Monday, November 28, 2011

Periods of adjustment

After 53++ years of living on land and 2+ years of living on a boat, it takes approximately 4 nanoseconds to become adjusted to land-life again.

So Cape Town International Airport welcomed us for our visit and we were up and running… and running… wonderful busyness with family and friends: visiting homes, eating out,
hiking Signal Hill (and actually running: Irene’s knees appear to have improved…) and Silvermine;

sundowners at as many beach-view pubs as possible, wonderful wedding weekend in Stellenbosch, enjoying again all the known tourist venues as well as others previously unknown but now known to our children who are locals; climbing Table Mountain…
(Livi and Mark’s home almost in view in the photo below to the left and foreground of Greenpoint Stadium).
We relished the opportunity to spend time with family again, but missed Kay, who could not make it out for the wedding. Irene never misses a chance to get the 3 boys in the picture!
Adjusting to Cape Town is never a problem; adjusting to Pretoria even less so, it having been our home for 30 years. Staying in friends’ homes for two nights then moving to the next accommodating hosts meant lots of adjustment required by said hosts but ease for the guests in every case! More visiting, shopping, eating, drinking, sheer indulgence and enjoyment of the company of Irene’s Mom and tons of our friends meant we were topped up emotionally and ready to go back to the boat…

Or were we? Turns out a period of adjustment of several days was required. Apart from the travel exhaustion (and 60kg luggage is a lot to heave over 30 hours of travelling with several airport changes: did we HAVE to buy all the boat stuff and hence return without any precious rooibos tea!?),there were emotional issues (we actually miss everyone back home) and then…. there were the boat-life environmental issues:

What! THIS tiny bed? No space around it? Storage? One-man galley? Look at all the mould on the roof! Look at all the growth coming into the loos in the flush-water! How and when and where to shop?

But we’re now back in the swing: got the scooter (vehicle hire in Malaysia appears to be illegal – you simply hand over the money and get the keys - no paperwork at all, not even a name or telephone number. If you are stopped: it’s your friend’s bike!), grin cheesily when we ride past water buffalo at the roadside next to the airport

(yes, Langkawi airport is in the background.. this island is delightfully rustic!); and bought, then sterilised, fruit and veg for longer keeping (why do some plums float and others not? Are they like eggs… the floaters going off?);
We found our way through the deodorants ‘WITH WHITENING’ (what! why?) to get the one that definitively proclaims ANTI-WHITENING (not sure that we want that one, either!).

But while we are at the marina we get to enjoy using the microwave and washing machine; as we see others also liberally using the marina water, but in their case to do their washing in a bucket on the pontoon, we are very aware that back-to-the-boat adjustment for others must be much more difficult than ours, with our home-with-mod-cons on the water.

What better place than the still of a marina to do boat chores? Here Rolf is back at work using his favourite piece of equipment: his plank!
Why would you drill holes in a boat? Wheels are being attached to the dinghy to make our adjustment to the dinghy-is-our-car-to-the-beach life easier in future: no more dragging the 125 kg of dinghy, outboard and fuel tank across the sand and cursing our increasing lack of strength.

These are all such minor adjustments to living a life. Meanwhile there are those world-wide who must adjust to great traumas, hardships, events that necessitate huge change and adaptation for them; we are grateful for our equilibrium. However, we are surrounded in this marina (and the same is true of many marinas in Malaysia and Thailand) by many yachties who set off from their homes years ago with a dream that is now being negated by piracy in the Indian Ocean. The yachts are piling up, with skippers and crew confused, frustrated and endlessly questioning their options to continue with their voyage (often a dreamed-of circumnavigation) by getting to the Med via Cape Town (by taking a big-sea southern route, since the route we took north of Madagascar is now considered out of bounds for piracy incidents) or end it here or put their boat on an expensive yacht-carrier. Trying times.

But for us…. A week to prepare here (and provision: we hear that the shelves of supermarkets are empty in Phuket, as no stocks have been received from Bangkok due to the debilitating floods) then we will set off on the trip back to Thailand, where a period of adjustment will no doubt be required again (new bureaucracy, different culture, different rules) but a period of adjustment that we gladly anticipate, followed by an extended stay…. With many visits by friends and family, who will have to do their own adjusting to our world!