About two years ago, shortly after Lowe came along, Ali and I started having conversations about what we were doing. What were our plans? Where did we want to go? What did we want to do?
We watched friends leave to cross the Pacific and for a few days we’d say, “Let’s just go, sail around again.” But a week later we’d both admit that we had zero desire to cruise the South Pacific again. We didn’t particularly like it the first time, and after a little reflection we’d realize it would be stupid to sail thousands of miles to do it again. I’d get the “let’s just sail around again” urge every four months or so. It always passed.
We really liked the idea of sailing South America. But the reality of that undertaking would eventually settle in as well. Sailing south along the west coast of South America—against the cold Humboldt Current—is not a light-hearted tropical romp. That trip is for people that enjoy sailing—whether idyllically or bashing into twenty-foot seas. It’s for real, hard-core type sailors—something we most definitely are not.
Then we’d settle on sailing to Panama. Yeah, Panama is cool. Then we can turn left, go straight, or turn right if we change our minds about the South Pacific.
For quite a while we lingered on that idea of sailing to Panama for a season, spending the summer months in a rented condo in the Casco Viejo neighborhood with the locals. That would be fun. Then go through the canal and spend a year in Cartagena, Colombia, renting a condo in the old city there during the worst of the summer heat.
Eventually we came to the conclusion that these were ridiculous plans. Why sail all of these hard-fought miles to leave the boat (paying hundreds of dollars a month for it to languish in a marina) and live ashore? It didn’t make any sense, but we disregarded this fact, and decided that this season we’d head south anyway. We’d bring the boat to Mazatlan this summer, install all sorts of goodies, fix or finish a dozen projects, and get underway in November.
Then the boat broke on the way to Mazatlan and ended up spending the summer in the desert instead—many long hours by bus away from us. No projects got done, and too much time was spent apart while trying to repair the engine.
On November 7th, finally underway again, the plan to sail to Panama remained.
By November 8th I was cursing the boat and its milky oil.
November 13th I was still bummed about the engine woes, but felt confident that I’d find and fix the problem and we’d sail south soon enough.
On November 16th I came home from another day on the boat and said to Ali, “I think I’m done.” That’s all it really took—a decision had finally been reached somewhere on the Sabalo Centro bus between the marina and Old Town.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“With boats. I think I’m done. This just isn’t the way I want to spend my time. Our time.” This had been in the back of my mind for months, but for some reason that day I was ready to accept it. The stupid thing is, the only reason I’d been having a hard time coming to that decision in the first place, is because I really loved our kids’ rooms. I loved how cosy and warm they were and how everything a child could ever want was within arms reach. For the first time in many many years I’d gotten sentimental over an inanimate object.
We talked. And we talked. We talked about how our cruising plans were actually pretty stupid. Cruising to places in order to get off the boat. That’s stupid. Boats are meant to be sailed and lived on, not to be used as an alternative to a car. And while we enjoyed cruising Mexico, we didn’t enjoy the part-time-ness of it. Being a part-time cruiser is far more difficult than being a full-time cruiser. It’s hard work to move on and off and on and off. And it’s a terrible waste of money.
We talked a lot about where we really wanted to travel. Central and South America is our only answer to that question right now. South Pacific? No thanks. Caribbean? I’d sooner have my teeth pulled. Africa? Yeah, but that’s years away by boat, and besides, a boat is not a great way to travel around Africa. SE Asia? Nope. Europe? Nope.
We love the Americas. We love the people, the space, the attitudes, the beaches, the deserts, the mountains—and we especially love the language and culture. Our kids are speaking Spanish amazingly well, and we don’t want to take them away from that yet. We want Spanish to be every bit as natural to them as English.
And we talked about how we wanted to travel this area of the world. Though that was a pretty short conversation. The answer: by motorhome. Because no matter how we travel the globe with our kids we always want to have a home with us. A home of our own.
By that night we were committed to a new course. Our latest boat chapter was coming to a close. It wasn’t an easy decision to sell Bumfuzzle, but we wanted to be free to travel the Americas, and as silly as it might sound, the boat wasn’t providing us freedom, it was providing us with compromises. Expensive compromises. Expensive in terms of money, but more importantly in terms of time. In cruising, life revolves around the seasons. There is just no way around it. You can’t just get up and go. Years slip by in this lifestyle. Literally slip by. And I guess no matter how we’ve tried we just can’t accept having idle feet just yet. We still feel like there is just too much to see and do to simply spend our time waiting for seasons—which is what happens when cruising this area of the world.
So we’re headed off to live the life of motorhome gypsies. Or Overlanders. Or Boondockers. Or whatever it is these people are called. Old fogies? Geriatrics? Bus bums?
On November 19th—three days after deciding we were done cruising for now—in true Bumfuzzle fashion, we bought an R.V. off of Craigslist, sight-unseen. Because really, what could possibly go wrong with that? I mean, it’s only forty-seven years old, and the owners assured us it’s real nice. And they’re from Iowa, so they wouldn’t lie to us. Right?
More details to come obviously, when we get our own camera on this work of art.
Since then things have been a little too crazy around here. Getting the boat in shape has been a challenge, but when you’re selling you have to take care of the list of things that you could have easily lived with, but a potential buyer isn’t going to. We also found out that the house we’ve been staying in was booked after December 18th, meaning we had to be out. And since we were getting the boat ready to sell we really didn’t want to move back aboard. Meaning, we now had a deadline to meet.
And it has been a lot of work to meet that deadline. The first engine fix didn’t pan out, which has required the total removal of the engine, and now a rebuild. So the inside of the boat has been in shambles while I worked on a dozen other projects and even hired a handyman for a few days to help bust out the list. Ali has been left with the job of two rambunctious kids, and a house full of belongings that needed to be pared down to just a few boxes.
I think, really, that if the boat had been working when I left San Carlos that we would have just continued on with what we were doing. We still would have been tied up here in Mazatlan for a while, but eventually we would have sailed out and turned south. How far? Who knows. I tend to believe that we wouldn’t have gone far. We both love this boat as a home, but we’re just not much into the sailing thing.
But the boat wasn’t working, and that gave us more time and more ammunition in the debate that had been going on in our heads. One day a friend who was talking about buying a new truck rig to travel and surf from said, “I still like boats and all, but if you can get to the same place over land, it seems like a better bargain. If you can’t get there over land, then by all means…”
Makes perfect sense to us.
Then one night shortly after that Ali said, “You know, our kids have never seen any ruins.”
To anybody else this may seem a trifle, but for us it was a reminder that with boat travel you really do get bogged down on the coasts. Venturing inland becomes a task that requires a Herculean effort. Especially when you’ve got kids in tow. When Ali and I were sailing around the world it was while we were traipsing around Italy—with the boat in a marina back in Malta—that we realized we really wanted to do a road trip next. You can’t even scratch the surface of a place like Italy with a boat. Much less Peru, the United States, Brazil, Nicaragua. And really, that holds true for just about any country that isn’t an island in the middle of the ocean.
So while it sounds sort of counterintuitive that we feel trapped by a lifestyle that purports to be the ultimate freedom, it really is how we feel. We love living on a boat, but we love traveling over land.
We haven’t had a moment this past month to think about our future in the blue bus, but now that we’re gearing up to go, we’re very excited. Excited for new adventures with the kids. To take them hiking up a mountain/hill, to watch them climb a pyramid, to have bonfires, to camp in the middle of the desert, to explore new cities big and small, to boondock on beaches, and to just drive.
And yeah, it’s the 18th. Time’s up. We’re flying to balmy Minnesota today—where all of our adventures somehow seem to originate from.
Casa Rodante, we’ll see you soon.