Rick & Ami's 8 Year Sailing Adventure

...or, how to log 8000 miles in 8 years!

12 January 2010 | Southern Caribbean
01 January 2010 | Bahia de Chalon, Colombia
19 May 2009 | San Blas Islands, Panama
25 December 2008
05 August 2007 | Mochima, Venezuelan coast
25 May 2007 | Trinidad, West Indies
28 February 2007 | Trinidad, West Indies
23 December 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
12 August 2005 | Trinidad
14 July 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
28 June 2005 | St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean
09 December 2004 | Peru
10 June 2004 | Chatham Bay, Union Island, The Grenadines
19 March 2004 | Trinidad, West Indies
22 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
11 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
13 November 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies

Playing Pan in Trinidad

11 December 2003 | Trinidad, West Indies
Just wanted to share with you, just loving my pan experience!

Sunday Scorpions had 4 play-outs, or engagements, all children's Christmas parties in the village of Carenage where the players all live, and in some surrounding neighborhoods. It was wonderful. We set up our pans in the street, and had to move them around whenever a car tried to pass. The kids were delighted. I had trouble playing as so many kids crowded around my pan, openly staring in wonder at my pale skin. I am sure that these kids have not seen a white person before, except on TV. One little boy kept asking me, "You bang dis pan?" in disbelief. Everywhere we went, mothers fed us and brought us drinks. Each part of the village organized a fund to buy one gift for each child. They were cheap toys, but each one was wrapped in butcher paper, with the name of the kid right on it. Probably the only gift each child got. Every member of the community contributed to the fund. How sweet.

These people are so poor, but have a wonderful quality of life it seems. Great community. I have more friends in Caranage now than I ever had in Laguna. Many homes have no running water, but there are spigots in the streets for communal use. Sapo is my sponsor, and protects me to an extreme, hovering around me, insisting I stay by him at all times, watching out for me. Everyone in Carenage is his cousin. And you can see the inbreeding, unfortunately, everyone in the village looks the same, blacker than any black we've ever seen, this gene pool has obviously never seen any outside genes.

Sapo showed me where he lives. A small place behind the house he and his brothers grew up in. Wow. Very inadequate. Dirt floors, no doors or windows, a sink and small fridge and a bed with very old dirty sheets. His brother walks with a bad limp. I asked Sapo what happened. He said 20 years ago he got a cold and didn't go to the doctor and lost use of his leg. Who knows what it really was. These guys have few teeth, those they have look quite dead, not much money for health care. National Geographic doesn't show this kind of stuff.

Last Saturday we went to see our favorite big steel band orchestra, SilverStars. They have 150 players at Carnival, and are poised to perhaps win Panorama this year. Panorama is the big Trinidad and Tobago annual pan competition, the Olympics of pan, and the event to win. Scorpions has invited me to play Panorama with them, which is going to be a lot of work, one month to practice one song. Scorpions will compete in the Traditional Single Small Band category. They will not even place. They are a real traditional, community band, and are not disciplined or focused on improving, they play cuz they love the pan. SilverStars has a bigwig manager, large corporate sponsors, and a beautiful pan yard in St. James. They are among the elite large bands in Trinidad, with their own CD and concert series.

Well, on Saturday, one of the founders of SilverStars invited me to play Panorama with them. Wow, I was stunned, and honored, and flattered. He said they talked about it after seeing me play with Scorpions at the Starlift Pan Yard. He said he'd work with me on the side to make sure I learned the piece well. He said if I didn't agree to play with them that he would have their manager try to convince me! OH, I was stunned! It would be a whole different experience, like going to Yale instead of City College, but right now I am seeing a part of Trinidad I'd never see otherwise, and am loving the old-style traditional band that Scorpions represents. SilverStars' players are educated professionals, middle class, a more comfortable group to be in, for sure. Maybe next year, when I'm better. Scorpions lets me play songs that I've just learned and doesn't care if I make mistakes, and they have more play-outs cuz they are a small band. Oh, I am just loving this so much!

Rick comes to some of the play-outs, but not all. Sapo suggested I get Rick a matching band shirt, say's he's really part of the family, he could beat the "tak-tak" or play the tambourine. Monday night we saw a pan band from Petit Valley, we'd never seen them before, they were incredible, playing classical, jazz, reggae, pop, soca and calypso songs. Mom and Dad, you would have loved when they played "In The Mood", best we've ever heard it!

We're doing some boat projects, installing a water-maker, and a new salon floor, but I can't help thinking that the money we're spending on just the water-maker could pay Sapo's living expenses for 5 years. We're helping out a lot, guess we can't fix the world's poverty problem, and not sure if the poor people we meet consider they have a problem. Many don't work much, live in shanties owned by their families for centuries, and lime a lot and play music and live on a beautiful tropical island where everyone is family. A far cry from the stressed out middle-class professionals of LA.
Vessel Name: Tara Vana
Vessel Make/Model: Nautitech 435 catamaran
Hailing Port: Laguna Beach, CA
Crew: Rick & Ami Bergstrom
About: With little previous sailing experience, we decided to sell everything we owned, buy a cruising catamaran, and explore the world.
Extra: Retired at 40, we've been living aboard Tara Vana in the Caribbean since Sept. 2001. It has been a rich and varied experience. New people. New cultures. Lots of dance and music. And spectacular scenery.

Who: Rick & Ami Bergstrom
Port: Laguna Beach, CA