One of my favorite aspects of sailing around the world is meeting wonderful new people. Amongst the anchorages, docks and villages the camaraderie and bonds you create with fellow cruisers are strong ones. Sailors are generous people with their time. Away from the rat race we slow down and have more time to devote to friends and our children. After all, traveling at 7 mph, you have a lot of time. We take joy in helping other sailors; it may be giving them a much needed spare part, driving them to the airport 3 hours away, or watching their kids while they run an important errand. These are not things we often do back home after knowing someone just a few days. Amongst cruisers, it is the norm.
One of our best decisions on this cruise was to slow down and spend 3 months in Sanlucar de Guadiana. We enrolled the kids in the local school and became a part of the community. In a village of just 267 people, you make friends quickly. The town mayor was also one of the school teachers. The kids dove head first into the Spanish immersion. I’m very proud of their effort and courage to enter a school mid-year in a completely foreign environment. They thrived and now have a good base of Spanish.
There isn’t really much to do in this little town and you would think that one would get bored very quickly, however our days consisted of a pleasant routine. We would walk the kids to school in the morning and walk back to meet them in the afternoon. In the afternoon, the kids could run around the village, meet friends and play futbol/soccer. Morning walks to the baker for some warm fresh bread passed on his wooden paddle from the brick oven. Planning dinner in the morning and walking to the tiny grocery store for fresh ingredients. Laundry drying on rigging on the sunny days and movies on DVD on the rainy days. Boat maintenance and repairs. Birthday parties for the various village and boat children. The butcher visits by truck on Saturdays and the fishmonger visits on Fridays. Walking in the hills and collecting wild asparagus and oranges. One night the villagers roasted sacks of chestnuts in the square. In the evenings, we would usually walk up to the local watering hole and get a glass of red wine for $1. A grilled pork sandwich with alioli and a beer, which I’m enjoying as I write this, was just $3.50. A whitewashed stone house in the village is for sale for around $30,000.
It is now time to leave. My least favorite aspect of sailing around the world is having to say goodbye to people whose company you and your family have really come to enjoy. It happens to us all the time. I just hope and look forward to the times we can cross wakes with some of them in the future. We dearly want to stay longer but the Caribbean hurricane season starts in June and we need to get back across the Atlantic before then. So we will sail downriver on Wednesday and then head South for Rabat, Morocco. Then the plan is to sail to the Canary Islands and down to the Cape Verde islands. At that point we will cross the Atlantic to French Guiana and sail up the Maroni River to experience the South American jungle. We will then spend the hurricane season in the region from Trinidad to Cartagena before transiting the Panama Canal for the 3rd time. Once the stormy season ends in November we can then sail up Central America to Mexico and the USA. That’s the plan for the moment at least. I may just go have a glass of wine and take a second look at that house in the village.