Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Great Escape

Olympic Mountains from Victoria

Many of our friends have remarked that we are so lucky to have escaped the recent frigid weather back home.

An Aside About Escape
I suspect escape through travel (or maybe any other way) is an illusion. First, it seems that my tiresome self stowed away on this voyage and brazenly struts around (knowing how impossible it would be to ship her home):
-Should I keep on colouring my hair? I mean, is there a time a woman should just go grey gracefully? Or am I too young to go grey? You know, I’m tired of all this upkeep. For that matter why not just cut it very very short. What a release that would be, so quick to dry after swimming. But then I’d have short grey hair. Oh dear, I don’t think I’m ready for that. Etc. Etc.

-Oh, maybe I should just stop trying to be a creative artist. What kind of career is that anyway? When I get back I’m going to get a real job. Etc. Etc.

Second, the expenses of life go on. Only the wind is free. Though once in awhile we can trade a T-shirt for a fish.

Meanwhile, back home snow falls and rainstorms have flooded communities, leaving city and home drains unable to keep up with the run-off.

An Aside About Plumbing:
It is hard to be happy if plumbing isn’t right. On the boat it’s pretty simple. We have two choices: we can pump into the holding tank and then try not to think about the fact that we are carrying our sewage around with us. Or we can pump overboard and try not to think about the fact we are pumping it into the sea.
In Mexican cities the smell of sewers often wafts up from the streets. I suspect very few cities have any treatment at all. Progressive plumbing is a long pipe. (For that matter sounds like Victoria).
But people seem to accept the smell as an inescapable part of life. Once, on a plane, I sat next to a man from Lima who ran a chain of hotels. He had a terrible time convincing local staff from small towns, that it was important to clean the washrooms so that they don't smell. “Why do you want to do that?” they would ask. “A kitchen should smell like a kitchen. A bathroom should smell like a bathroom.”

A few days into the New Year, we had plumbing problems of our own. First, with a septic system pump in our house on Protection Island, the other with a flooded basement in a Victorian house in James Bay, we were charmed by when our guard dropped a few years ago. A flood in November resulted in the replacement of its 100 year-old sewer line, but in January the house flooded for the second time.

And so it was that I found myself flying back over the miles we covered so slowly months ago. Which brings me to another facet of the escape illusion. That we are very far away. From the plane I could look down on the coastline of Baja, its long sweeping beaches, offshore islands, and deserted bays, and ponder that we had sailed every inch of it.
My flight times were: 1 1/2 hours from La Paz to LA, 2 hours LA to Vancouver. 2 hours from flipflops and T-shirts to coats, mitts, hats, boots…

A few days later I stood freezing as Mike from the construction company explained to me that they would have to replace the entire perimeter drainage of our quaint house (for the price it would be to rent a small villa in Italy for a year). Still I reminded myself, these are the problems of the privileged.

And there were bonuses. I got to check in with our house on Protection Island, being lovingly cared for (along with the cat) by Louise. And I got to touch base with friends who I have missed very much: Jane, Carol, Denise and Mike, Hazell, Maria, Trudy, Darcy, Jude, and Mary Jo. (Though missed Liz and Frances). Even fit in a run on my beloved Newcastle Island.

Just wish I could have left that little whinger home, but she’s leaning over me now, wheedling away about how I’m never going to finish that novel.

Back in Baja, together with the boys.  We have just visited Isla Carmen, where we walked up an arroyos thick with resin-y, thorny desert plants, and flowering shrubs that were swarming with Costa’s hummingbirds (the males sporting Shriner-purple throats).
This morning we woke at Isla Danzante, to the sound of Pelicans plunging all around the boat. The bay was full of little silver fish and schools of rays, soaring like birds, the tips of their “wings” rippling the surface.
Lindsay and a Tarantula


Narama said...

Hi Alison,

Your brief reunion with the Canadian life that you left behind must have been sweet and also made you appreciate this wonderful year that you are having.

I never tire of looking at the beautiful water colours that you are producing along the way. I did lots of painting when we were first here in the inlet. I summoned a bit of courage and posted some on Facebook. Your blog definitely inspired!

love to you all,
safe sailing!
Heidi (and Stephen)

canayjun/elain said...

Yes, I am still checking in almost daily, and was so happy to see the new post. Sorry about all the floodage problems and wish I had had a chance to see you when you were in Victoria. But I realize you were pretty busy. I am giving a short, four session course on (guess!) Illustrated Journals. I have had a little 'epiphany' about what it is that I do. I have always had a problem calling myself a 'painter', mainly because I don't paint big, 'real' paintings. The other week it occurred to me that I am actually an 'illustrator' and I am very comfortable with that. Leg is healing up, but it looks like I will bear the scars from the skin graft for years to come. Oh well.. my legs weren't that great to begin with.

materfamilias said...

Tell that little whinger I said "She is so!" I've seen you finish too many projects to believe any novel would get the better of you. And I'm looking forward to reading it, to having another book on the Alison shelf.
Still sorry I missed you.

Iheartfashion said...

Your paintings are lovely!
I've always fantasized about doing a year-long boat trip, but for now I'll have to live vicariously through yours.

Alison Watt said...

Narama- love the illustrated journal pages on your facebook, with their mulit-continent conent! The bear series is especially wonderful. Any signs of spring yet?

canayjun/elain-great to hear that your leg is healing. Yes, you are a fabulous illustrator--now you should put an illustration project together--what happened to the bench idea?

materfamilias--thanks, honey. I'll give her a piece of your mind!

Iheartfashion--hey, thanks for visiting the blog. Hope you get that year away some day soon!