Monday, May 28, 2012

Where's your tan?

This is not the most inspired blog in the wolrld, but I’m trying to keep it somewhat relative….hang in there with me.

One of the most popular comments I’ve gotten since arriving in the states is, “I thought you would be darker.”  And they’re right…We’re extremely white for people who live on a boat.  Since it is such a popular subject, I thought I would explain.

Reason #1:  It’s dangerous to have a tan….but you know that.  I come from a long line of white folks and unfortunately, Jake got my skin as well so we lather up every chance we get.  But that’s not the real reason we have no tan, I just felt obligated to put that in here.

Reason #2:  If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you’ll know it rains where we are now.  And rains.  And rains. And rains.  Not real conducive for lying around in a bikini.

Reason #3:  This one will surprise you… the places we have been traveling for the last 7 months are extremely conservative.  Women are to wear skirts below their knees (or at least to the knees) and cover their shoulders.  They even swim in this uniform.  To hang out in my bathing suit and prance around in my short shorts would just be insulting to the locals.  We try to fit in as much as possible and respecting their conservatism is key.  This doesn’t affect Andy too much (although he can’t run around with his shirt off as much as he used to), you’ll find he’s always darker than me…it’s in his genes.

So there you have it…why we don’t have a tan.  It’s not all palm trees, bikinis and margaritas.  Sometimes it’s rainy while wearing too many clothes and drinking hot beer.

More pictures of our travels for the family...

Jake, learning how to shoot an air pistol with his daddy and papa.

Andy, his father and Grand dad

The three stooges

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting acclimated...

Jamie and Jake acting silly

Coming to Oklahoma first was a good way to transition from a tiny island in Micronesia to the big ole USA.  We’re staying in a small town in southwestern Oklahoma and in some aspects, it’s not all that different than what we’re used to.  The electricity has gone out, the phone lines have gone down and we wake up to pig squeals in the morning (not because we’re on a farm but because Aunt Shannon has a pet pig)…and I’ve learned by the way that all that squealing we hear in the islands are not necessarily because they’re being slaughtered, they’re just moody animals.  We had to drive down to Texas to get my drivers license replaced (the one thing I forgot to bring with me) and found out the DMV wasn’t in that particular city any more.  So we had to drive another 45 miles to find a place to get it done.  That’s a very typical experience in the islands and I’m happy to say we went through the whole thing with a lot of patience.

The things that are very different in that we have to get used to is the astronomical leaps in technology that have occurred since we left and the overuse of this technology by everyone under 50.  There is more texting and facebooking and communicating going on in one day than we have done in 6 months.  Conversations are intermittent between texts.  The TV is hooked up to the internet so you can buy movies from your lounge chair.  There is an app for EVERYTHING.  There is even an app for keeping track of your menstrual cycle….are they serious?  My kid, who I thought was already addicted to the iPad, cannot get away from the games.  Every kid we’ve hung out with is proficient on the iPad, iTouch, and iPhone.  I’ve already downloaded 3 new games (I know, that’s my own fault).  I’ve learned all of this by being out here in the middle of nowhere.  I cannot imagine what I will learn when I get to Georgia and Virginia and hang out with all of my technical friends.  It’s all really quite overwhelming.
In between all of this technology though, we’ve managed to have a really good time (and spend a fair amount of time outside in this beautiful weather).  Jake has been able to get to know the whole family and has really cut the ties.  We went a good three days without even seeing him.  We’re off to the city for some good old fashioned grown up fun with Andy’s sister and her husband so I’m going to close with some pictures from our past few weeks….  Enjoy.

Jake got a chance to change his first flat tire.

Tightening up the screws.

Granddad has lots of tractors on his farm.

And a unique tire swing...

...and an apricot orchard where Andy had to climb
the trees...

...and LOTS of cows.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Jake enjoyed the comforter the most.
He's taking a bit to get over the jet lag.
After no less than 36 hours, 5 stops and 3 airplanes, we finally made it to OK on Monday.  The first thing we did was check into our hotel and jump in the cozy down comforters!

We spent our first two days shopping and trying to make ourselves presentable.  The rest of the time has been spent getting reacquainted with our family.  What I love about Andy's family is that it's like you never left.  You just pick right back up where you left off....two years ago.

Jake didn't waste any time getting reacquainted with his cousins either.  I think it took about 2 seconds for them to find some common ground and some serious playtime.  In between freezing to death with all this air conditioning (and 58 degree weather this morning) and trying to finish all the gov't paperwork for Andy's job, we're having a fantastic time.

They were tired of pictures and telling me to
get out of the way...had to watch Star Wars together.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Smelling good in Pohnpei

What are we looking forward to the most?  Air conditioning.  It's hot here.  Not just hot....stinking hot.  And I mean that in the most literal way.  Jake was scratching his neck the other day and black stuff just fell off....dirt.  Hot, sweaty, little boy, disgusting dirt.  I was about to scold him when I had an itch on my back and realized I was even dirtier.  I'll explain briefly that the trade winds have died and what's left is nill.  No one is sailing anywhere.  Poots linger in the air longer than you can fathom.  On a boat with two boy/men...that's no small statement.

I come from Atlanta.  It's hot.  It's sticky.  It's hot.  Here in's hotter.  It's stickier.  It's a lot hotter.  The only saving grace is that it rains 47 times a day so we have enough water to shower multiple times a day.  And it's needed....boy is it needed.

We have actually thrown our pillows out.  Our heads were so dirty that the stink on the pillows was so gross we couldn't stand it another night.  We were sleeping on our old outdoor pillows until we finally found some new ones in the ACE hardware here (by the way...Ace Hardware in the tropics is like a Walmart....they have everything).  The jury is still out on what sinks worse...our heads or the spots where the drool lays.

I have some words that would explain better how hot we are and I have some detailed descriptions that would put the actual stinch under your nose.  But I've been informed that there are children and God loving people following this blog so I feel obliged to refrain (although it would have made this post a hell of a lot funnier).  But don't underestimate how much we stink because it's so stinkin' hot here.  Did I mention our fan died??

So...what are we looking forward to the most?  Air conditioning, stand up showers, washing machines.  We'll smell good, our clothes will smell good, and if all goes well, no one else will know how foul we've actually lived for the past few months.  Our only dilema now is how to get from the boat to the airport without sweating 2 gallons each and having to change clothes....

Friday, May 4, 2012

There's a JackAss on every corner...

So it was bound to happen….I just thought I would see it coming.  You hear of arguments among anchorages…people mad about this and that…neighbors not being very neighborly.  Andy and I are the epitomy of friendly.  We talk to everyone.  We’re not intrusive (truth be known, we prefer our privacy).  But we’re friendly enough to not be considered aloof.  So imagine our surprise tonight when we were sitting in the cabin, about 9:30, watching Top Chef Deserts for about the third time, and we got a loud knock on our hull.  We paused our show, went outside only to meet a guy on a boat next to us very upset.  We have spoken to him before…friendly conversations I thought.  He informed us we were “disturbing the peace” with our generator.  We were too loud and he was tired of it.  His tone was angry, argumentative and he definitely had his cackles up.  Andy, normally the calm one among us, immediately went primitive and gave him his two cents.  Curse words were exchanged and to everyone’s shock, I intervened with calm words.  I know, you might have to read that again.  Andy was upset, Monica was calm.

The problem was, this man is insane.  He not only called us names, he told us we needed to go back to America where we would be happy and he said if he was in America, he would call the police on us (I would call the police on his ugly boat too….if I hadn’t seen him get on and off, I would swear it was abandoned).  He said all this with a very Midwestern accent, mind you.  I’ll skip the details (which are the best part) and say that I finally told him to just leave.  The whole point we were trying to make was that a little friendly “hey, your generator is pretty loud” would have done just fine. 

In the end, Andy went back to the guy’s boat (after a bit of calming down) and smoothed things over.  In reality, I hate that he had to do that.  But we’re leaving our boat in three days and sometimes the people you need to fear the most are your own kind.  This man lives on little more than a raft and is obviously a purest.  We, on the other hand are not.  In fact, he probably hates the fact that we have all the creature comforts and we’re still living the dream.  So, clearing the air and making sure he’s not going to do something stupid while we’re gone is worthwhile.

But before I close, I have to make a few points….
We spent lots of money to make sure we have the quietest generator on the block.  Honda 2000…it’s worth its weight in gold.  In two years, no one has ever peeped a word to us about our noise level.

Andy and I are normal people.  I don’t mean this in a cruiser way.  I mean this in an every day sort of way.  When we go home, we’ll blend right back in.  We’re not out to become ex-pats and make statements against our country.  We don’t think everyone that eats McDonald’s is going to die of heart attacks.  And we don’t think if you use a plastic bag to bring your groceries home that you’re contributing to the demise of our people.  We’re just normal people doing and abnormal thing.

Lastly, we’re nice people.  I can only think of one or two times in my life where ANYONE has ever talked to me like that before.  It hits me in my core.  It hurts my feelings to attack our way of life like that.  You may think I’m being dramatic, but this guy didn’t just come after our generator, he came after us.  It’s absolutely insane and I find myself unable to get over it.

It’s not a good way to leave your boat for a long period of time.  I have to believe that we have enough people looking after us that we’ll be fine.  But you can bet your ass as soon as Jake and I get back, I’m firing up that thing and having a total movie marathon.  There comes a time when you just have to get over yourself.  The pigs squealing here are mind boggling.  I’m woken up every morning by those darn roosters and any given night between Thursday and Monday you can hear some ear splitting Karaoke coming from the villages on either side of the bay.  We are not he problem here.

So, my message to you, my fellow boaters… It’s ok if you have a problem with your neighbor…just don’t forget that you’re still human beings.  One of the shockers of being out here is all the assholes we’ve met disguised as friendly cruisers.  Because we are a unique group of people who have been blessed with the ability to follow our dreams, many of us feel that as soon as we leave the boundries of our blessed country, we have the right to lose our manners as well.  I challenge that.  It’s more important now than ever.