It is remarkable how, once we relinquish the "move on" mentality, we can be more open to contentment.
Jim and I seemed to take turns at being out of sorts about not being able to get to the Bahamas before Christmas. We were so sure we would be able to do that, having started in Florida at the beginning of November. But once we resigned ourselves, we found lots of happy moments, and when we looked back, there was very little we'd have done differently.
We had an interesting experience at the library on Friday. An elderly couple came along to the area where computer laden people hang out on the second floor. It turned out that the gentleman was 86 and hard of hearing - but he had his laptop! His wife could hear better but didn't understand computers. They were visiting from somewhere north and he wanted to download some files. The library staff person who showed them to the table was much less than helpful and became downright rude as communication broke down about how to log in and what to do. As she finally cursed audibly at them, I gave her my sternest glare (and those who know me, know I can deliver quite an effective one :-) and offered my help to the gentleman. That seemed to defuse the situation - although I am better at defusing than at computers. The couple said thank you, the staff person calmed down, but we still didn't solve the initial problem. Then Jim and another man arrived, and between them, they got the wifi activated on the man's computer and showed him how to log in. It ended well enough, but was upsetting all round - and the helpfulness of fellow computer users sure trumped that of the staffer. I found it worth noting that once we got the mood changed to one of camaraderie and helpfulness, we kept attracting helpful and knowledgeable folks instead of cranky ones!
We hustled back to the marina in time to meet Ron who arrived with a load of books we are taking to the Ragged Island school. Our friends, Marilyn and Bruce (Reflections) head up this impressive program sponsored by SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association). This year over 800 boxes of books are being delivered by 60 cruising boats to 10 schools in the Exumas and out islands. These Bahamian schools use the same Math and Language Arts textbooks as the Charlotte County Public Schools in Florida, and so they are passed on (with the publisher's permission). It is a wonderful program that allows the Bahamian school children to have significantly more up to date books - and enough of them - and gives cruisers a chance to help out. Ron says they still need a few more boats to take books to Georgetown so if any of you have room, drop a line to Marilyn and Bruce at [email protected]
The Florida volunteers have done an amazing job of organization. Each bundle of books is labelled with the grade, school, and boat name. Evidence of Marilyn's organizational skills I do believe!!
Along with Valerie and Graham (Bonnie Lass), we journeyed back to Nancy and Jim's for dinner on Friday evening. Besides enjoying delicious chili and yummy chocolate treats, we viewed the Solitaire slide shows of years past - remembering those beaches and the colour of the water, and exclaiming when our own faces and those of other old friends appeared.
On a sunny Saturday morning, we walked to the Farmers Market held along the beachfront at Humiston Park - an easy walk although it is also on the bus route from the marina. We sampled chocolate croissants, bought spice packets for use later on, listened to some pretty good banjo pickin' and chatted with the Christmas tree vendor - whose dad brings them down from their farm in North Carolina ($68 for a 7 ft fir tree). If we weren't leaving the boat for 2 weeks, it would be a great place to stock up on produce before heading out. There were tasty dips and sauces, jams and jellies, breads and cookies along with gorgeous orchids and other plants. But buyer beware - I almost bought a pretty seagrass basket as a Christmas gift until I asked the question I always ask - "Was this made locally?" Nope - made in Thailand.
Karin and Ed (Passages), Penny and Hal (Volantis) and Valerie and Graham (Bonnie Lass) clambered on board in the evening to share goodies and libations, and it was even warm enough to sit in the cockpit!
On Sunday morning, we dinghied up the harbour to see who had come and who had gone, and stopped for a tour of Bruce's new boat (Zingara - the new one is a Contest 35). It is lovely and it was fun to share in his excitement! After cramming our little dinghy in among the dozens at the dock, we arrived at the laundry room intending to throw in a couple of loads ($2 per wash and $1.50 per dryer) and head straight off for a walk, but that plan changed fast. Connie and Ken (Oz) were standing out front, having just filled a couple of washers themselves. We had heard they were coming this way and were delighted to meet up with these old friends from last year. The chatter between the 3 or 4 boat crews doing laundry kept us there all through the wash and dry cycles so we returned to Madcap with clean clothes and bedding, made a salad for lunch and left the walk for another time.
As the front went through, it was downright chilly and the wind increased steadily through the day so it was more of an inside day by then anyway. I visited the Museum of Art while Jim cleaned out and organized the aft cabin aka garage. Bless his heart for handling that job! He labelled and stowed and made inventory lists, while I gazed at beautiful photography, exquisite glass - including a couple of Chihuly pieces - and imaginative sculptures constructed from pencils and plastic forks and old books and plastic sandals. Bruce (Zingara) came over for dinner in the evening - a chicken version of shepherd's pie - and we were glad to have the oven on to cozy up the cabin.
Monday was filled with odd jobs before we left to go home for Christmas. The weather report called for a good window for a crossing on Thursday, Friday and possibly Saturday, so we know several folks will be gone by the time we get back. Nancy drove us to Budget to pick up our rental car, and on her recommendation, we ate fabulous burgers and fries at Five Guys before heading off to make still more boat purchases (filter for the water hose, replacement high power spotlight). We bundled up our perishables to store in Solitaire's fridge while we are gone and then it was time to pack and clean so we don't come back to a smelly, messy boat!