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Almost back

We are in Preveza (Greece) packing our things and preparing the boat for its transport back to the US.  We were stressed all year about how we would get the boat back to the US.  Initially, we thought we would make a quick loop around the Med, around Turkey, Egypt, North Africa and sail our boat home.  That idea fell apart by the time we reached Spain back in July when we realized how big the Med is.  We made it to Turkey, obviously, but in terms of voyaging back west, our goal soon became western Greece, which is where Preveza is located. 

While Nidri was a transit stop for British tourists on their way to the rest of the Ionian, Preveza is a spot where yachtsmen come to drop off their boat and leave.  There isn’t much of a feel of tourism here.  There are a few dozen boats moored along the waterfront, which is where you will hear English spoken as often as Greek, but go ½ block in to town and it is all Greek.  To me, Preveza looks like a town that reflects the Greek economy.  It has some beautiful buildings along the waterfront, built in the last decades or so, like a bank and a municipal building of some sort.  They are built in an old Mediterranean-Venetian style with balconies, archways, and tiled facades.  There is also a labyrinth of alleyways and streets lined with cafes and shops.  More cafes than there are people to fill them, certainly.  The waterfront promenade is planted with palm trees and geraniums, and the grass has been cut – but more like it is just mowed down to be kept short rather than really looked after, evidenced by dense long grass growing amongst the flowerbeds.  Still, from a distance, when the details are not readily visible, the waterfront is pretty. 

On the outskirts of town, where we are, the economics of Greece are more apparent.  We are in an unfinished marina whose construction was once started by the town.  The quays are built, water and electric installed, lighting complete.  No grass, no trees, nothing but concrete quays and a dumpster.  A group of Roma (gypsies) live just on the otherside of a fence.  Somehow, like at least a dozen others around Greece, the marina so close to town, was never finished.   Water and electric, though installed, was never turned on.  No parking lots were paved, no buildings were built.  It was 80% finished, and then the money, or interest, or connections ran out.  There were three like this in Mykonos alone.  It is a moneymaker waiting to happen.  Here in Preveza the owners of a marina across the bay (a 20 Euro taxi ride away) saw a business opportunity and somehow, miraculously, must have had the right connections to buy the unfinished marina.  It still looks and feels like a vacant lot – hot, dry, weedy, depressing – but the water and electric are on and a few boats, including ours, pay 10 Euros a night for the spot and the relative quiet, away from the fishbowl of the town’s waterfront.

I always find it amusing to be docked on a waterfront quay in town.  Fishbowl is definitely the right term for that.  I don’t know whether it is a European thing or whether it is worldwide, but people stolling along the waterfront look at the boats and comment among themselves regarding their observations.  If they are alone and do not have someone to share their commentary, they just stop and stare, not saying a word.  Just looking at the boat, looking at us.  They seem to think we are on the other side of a one way mirror, or, that by pulling our boat up to a public arena makes us, by default, the entertainment.  If, after a while, we smile or say hello, they are shocked-like someone on their TV screen just popped out and said hello.  They usually are embarrassed and walk off.  I am tempted to jump up and say BOO!!

We leave here on Monday. We take the bus to Athens, then fly to New York.  We’ll stay with my mom for a few days then spend a weekend in Silver Spring.  The following Thursday we are off to Saltspring Island for a few weeks.  The kids will be in sailing camp, of course.

Preveza makes me feel happy to leave, since it is town that I am not crazy about (I am all about the water…if I cant swim in it, I don’t like the town no matter how nice!).  I am not sure if spending so long in Saltspring is the right thing, but I want a home base and I hope we can get some work done on the house and/or garden. 

I keep thinking about how we talked about this trip for 10 years.  I thought it was a crazy idea and that Code would eventually drop the idea.  For 10 years, he dreamed of this.  He read books about families cruising the world, living aboard, travelling, quitting life for a while to learn about the world.  For 10 years, I dreamed he would forget it.  Christmas of 2010 we started to think about the new year, and it dawned on us that this was the year that we said we would go.  We were not ready, mentally or otherwise.  It freaked us out a little – it was time to put up or shut up. 

So we decided to put up.  Mostly, I think, we were driven by the fear that if we didn’t go this year, when would we go?  So we went to the New York boat show and spent $5000 on a radar, chart plotter, and life raft.  Once we sunk some real cash, it did not feel real (and that feeling stayed until the day we left), but we were at least going through the motions of the right direction. 

My dear mother-in-law died from pancreatic cancer when she was only 61.  I spent a few weeks with her before she died, and much of that time she was semi-lucid.  Somewhere between here and there, wherever she was, she said ‘It is over so fast, I can’t believe that it is over so fast’.  In that moment, I could feel with her how instantaneous life is.   It was heartbreaking to realize how very short it was for her, how short it is for all of us.  I realize how short a year is, how short all the years are – it is over so fast, and later may never come. 

I am so grateful that we had this time to travel as a family.  I am grateful to have learned to be less afraid of taking a risk, and to have learned how very little time we have to squeeze it all in.

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