I went from agates and salt ponds in the Sea of Cortez, to quarantine at a luxury hotel in Tahiti. Seven days down. Three to go. Then, if I pass my fourth COVID test, I will be set free. Free to catch a plane to the Tuamotus and reunite with my beloved Juniper.
I feel like I‘m all loaf and laze. Some days drip by and I don’t know what I’ve done, but I have done. I move between; chair, bed, grass, chair, grass, chair, bed, grass, grass, grass, chair, bed. At this very moment, I am eating a green pamplemousse from the chair and green pulp is everywhere.
I delight in sundown. Night. The insects are a cacophony. Drums beat in the distance. Voices are singing. Strings are strumming. I picture mouths breathing fire, heads adorned in flowers, bodies spinning in skirts made of long blades of grass, and knees flapping like bird wings.
I regret to tell you that my sleep here, is for the most part, dreamless, but that’s ok, because it means that the sleep is deep, and deep sleep is good sleep.
I am in a building with all the other quarantine people. Under surveillance. Every day my phone rings at random times. I pick up. A man says, “I am the security. Checking to see that you are in your room.” Me, “Yes, of course, this is some version of me on the phone speaking to you now from my room.”
Sometimes the hotel staff knocks on the door. Sometimes the man on the other side of the door is topless, wearing only a pareo (sarong) and a wild pig bone necklace. Sometimes I can tell that he is a dancer, and I ask him to show me a traditional dance move, and sometimes he does. One time a man came to fix my hotel phone and his skin was so tan and his eyes were so crystal blue that I could swim in them, and he was deaf. Before he left, he pointed to words that he had written in French on a scrap piece of paper. They translated to, “Can we talk sometime? I am looking for a woman.” I smiled and said, “Darling, I would but I live on the ocean.” Then I felt bad, because he seems like such a nice person and I wondered how many times he has written that on a piece of paper and I do hope he finds a nice lady to hang out with who doesn’t live on the ocean.
I am not here by choice. It was, however, my choice not to get the COVID-19 vaccine and due to that choice, I am here, in this hotel, for ten days. I have no bone to pick about it. I am thinking of it like an artist residency. Like a vacation from my permanent vacation. The French Polynesian government only let’s you choose between two hotels for quarantine, I picked the cheapest. A grape on the grapevine told me it happens to be the nicest too.
A sailing friend has brought me food and wine, so that I won’t starve or lose my mind within the walls of this paradise prison. My green bananas are getting riper every day.
The hotel quarantine building is three levels high. Everyone is supposed to be in rooms on the second or third floor only. When I booked with the hotel, I said to the manager, “Please, I need to touch grass, I need to smell flowers, I need rub my face in dirt. Without some piece of nature, I will go mad, and you will have to call a psychologist, and they will have to put me in an institution, and you will have to tell my family that you are sorry, but I went cuckoo. Do you really want the weight of that on your shoulders?” She laughed a whole lot when I said this. Then she spoke to somebody and they decided that I could have a ground level room. It has a sliding door that goes to a garden; and there are flowers and birds and insects and sunrise and I can sort of see the ocean. There are even no see-ums, and it might be the only time in my life that I enjoy them biting me.
At first, I was the only person on this level. Then the people on the floors above, saw me sniffing the earth from their balconies and some complained because they wanted to sniff the earth too. The ones who did, got to move down, and now we share the grass. I am not allowed to talk to the other people, but I do. We all do. We talk. When you see another human being and you are in quarantine, that is what you want to do. Talk!
Two of my neighbors are sailors; the couple to my right and the couple directly above them. There is an older woman above me who wears lovely hats. Every day her son- who is free to roam the Tahitian streets- comes to speak to her from across the hedge. It is only that hedge that separates us quarantine people from everybody else. There is also a young family with a kid and he runs around eating flowers and pointing at airplanes. There must be tennis courts near because I hear grunting and the bouncing of balls. I found a tennis ball too. In the bushes. Sometimes the little boy and I play catch, but he doesn’t understand the game and he plays catch like a dog plays fetch. I throw the ball and he walks it back over to me.
The other night I watched the movie, Shag. So this morning, naturally, I took a Carolina Shag dance lesson via some video that I found on the internet. This classy grey-haired woman in square heels is teaching me how to do it and I’m falling all over my feet while following, when one of my neighbors knocks on my sliding glass door. I was embarrassed to bits. I slid open the door and said, “Oh, hi, I was just learning how to Shag. You can learn anything on the internet.”
He does Qigong every morning and he’s all about movement, so I doubt he cares about my sloppy dancing, but still. He’s caught me running in place before too. I run in place at least thirty minutes a day and the woman with the nice hats, roots me on from above. When he saw me he said, “Don’t burn a whole in the grass.” I look ridiculous, but I’m just trying to stay in some sort of decent shape, and I’d rather look ridiculous than get so thick that my hips hit both sides of the door frame on my way out of here. Know what I mean?
Thank goodness my neighbor did not see what I did this afternoon. I did this crazy spiritual cleansing on the white sheets of the hotel bed. It’s essentially breathwork, like Wim Hof type stuff but a little wilder. I do stuff like this from time to time in order to change my tune, up my frequency, sluff all the sludge out of me. And Lord knows I needed to tune-up before I hit the high seas again. Anyway, have you seen the exorcist? That’s what it was freaking like. I swear it. All of a sudden, it hit me like a heat wave, and at the crescendo my hands contorted backwards, and my eyes rolled in the back of my head, and lava was spewing out of my mouth, and I was jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box. It was like I was on some drug that hasn’t even been invented yet. But I was stone cold sober. Just me, my breath, my affirmations, God, and a willingness to purge. I have NEVER had a cleansing go that deep. EVER. And after I got rid of all of that, if I’m not a spark with rainbows coming out of every orifice, then I don’t know what. I mean that was something. But now my head is t-h-r-o-b-b-i-n-g, and my mouth is a desert desperate for an oasis, and it’s only 6:30 p.m., and my lights are out.
SEA OF CORTEZ:
*In regards to the Sea of Cortez posts, I didn’t mean to be so cavalier about the charter boat. I was in fact, very good at maintaining the boat. When renting a boat, one can afford more mental freedom when it comes to repairs, because that is a responsibility of the charter company. This is a freedom that owning a boat does not allow. My writing only meant to exaggerate this fact by being laissez-faire. Without the proper tools there is only so much that I can do. Nothing was dire. With the help of a boat neighbor, I was able to get the outboard started by removing the fuel line, starting it, then putting the fuel line back on. I had to do this every time I started the outboard, otherwise it would flood. The outboard carried us for many nautical miles using this trick. As for the transmission error. Juniper’s tranny leaks. I have to monitor her tranny and add ATF frequently. The tranny on the Cat’s starboard engine was low, but just a smidge, and I made sure to monitor the levels and if it had gotten any lower I would have found a way to transfer fluid from one to the other. I had to trust my own eyes over the robots. Once back at the slip, I gave the company a full report of the boat and potential repairs needed.
WILDERNESS OF WAVES: I started a Wilderness of Waves podcast, where I read to you my blog posts, starting from the beginning. I will post a new one each week. Some times they are tear jerkers. Get ready. LISTEN HERE or navigate to PODCAST via the WoW menu.
SUNSHINE & SALT- I also started a podcast of my southern fiction stories. They are short and salty and I read them to you with funny accents. LISTEN HERE.
I am sailing from French Polynesia to Fiji in August and am seeking crew. APPLY HERE
- Must have offshore sailing experience + offshore sailing gear
- Must be willing to share all responsibilities onboard from galley to night watches to repairs
- Must contribute financially to the journey (personal travel costs are not covered + provisions and entry fees are split evenly)
- Must be ok with being documented and documenting
- Must be available to board ship 2 weeks before departure.
FUN QUESTIONS THAT I ASK
*these were inspired by Shackleton’s crew selection process*
- How many nautical miles of offshore sailing experience do you have?
- What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
- Where’s the most remote place on earth you’ve ever been and how did you feel when you were there?
- Do you get seasick?
- What is the highest wind speed and wave swell you have been in?
- Are you ok with keeping watch alone at night?
- Can you catch and clean a fish?
- What is your profession or specialized skill, the thing you know and do better than anybody else?
- What special skills can you bring to the team? Are you mechanically or electrically inclined? A great cook? An astronomy wizard?
- Any other cool talents? (i.e.- tap dancing, singing, diving, juggling, magic tricks, bird calls, surfing, etc.)
- Are you ok getting wet?
- Do you play chess?
- What’s your favorite book?
- Are you spiritual? Please explain
- If you were a sea creature, what would you be?
- Do you drink or do drugs? If so, how often?