Being sequestered on a sailboat in a small Mexican town during the COVID-19 “plague” has been a time of contrasts. Surrounded by beautiful ocean water, but not allowed to swim. Cute cheap places to eat – all closed. Islands to explore – but all closed to anchoring. While things slowly closed around us the things we no longer have – space to spread out or even to exercise, air conditioning, close friends, refrigeration, tv, endless internet on the boat – the lack of these grated in a way they hadn’t when we had other things to do. Giving up these comforts to travel and see new things was worth it. Was it worth it if we sit on our boat in one small place for a year?
It was only after a major meltdown (mine) that I realized another issue. This quarantine is hitting me right in my psychoses – don’t they all? As a “beginner” cruiser I was still depending on my land priorities and mindsets to keep me sane. This meant for me that the little voice in my head is constantly measuring me by my accomplishments. After nearly 40 years of increasing responsibility in my work life I measure my happiness by how useful I’ve been, how much I’ve accomplished, how many checklists I’ve slaughtered. And up until now the changed landscape of cruising has provided that in new flavors. 1300 miles in Mexico, check. Survived tropical storm, check. Living without refrigeration and preparing great meals, check. Learning how to do essentials in a Mexican town, check.
Then as opportunities for note-worthy activities started disappearing I went into overdrive. I put together an easily expandable website for cruisers where each destination could be easily added and then maintained by the community organizers at that destination. I learned about multisite, and events, and new ways of mapping. For new arrivals this would mean being able to quickly find laundries and restaurants, alternator repair and engine help as well as navigate the wealth of cruiser activities that are too often “posted” on paper, facebook, VHF, and word-of-mouth rather than a central place that anyone can get to. Sadly our local marina did not even look at it after I finished and I have decided not to spread the word about this site until marinas are holding events again.
But that effort, reminiscent of my professional years, distracted my from the current situation for several weeks. I was learning and doing and I felt capable. Eventually the glow from that faded and I found myself judging my “uselessness”. I upped the ante on Spanish and was studying an hour a day instead of 15 or 20 minutes. I exercised and cleaned and cooked and baked and oiled the teak. Notice that all these activities take place inside the boat. The boat that was slowly spending more and more hours in the 90s down below. I was drained and exhausted and got a urinary infection from dehydration. We had added air conditioning to the berth, so we were sleeping cool, but the days were passing in pools of sweat. And still my mind said this wasn’t enough, not good enough.
The meltdown arrived and I dragged Jon into it as well. I wanted to change everything at once and give up on this. Luckily the tantrum ended and the unhappiness, now unhidden, unchained made me think, re-think, and dig a little deeper. I saw the grinning genie at the center, cracking his whip and telling me I’m not doing enough.
So now I’m doing the AA thing – a day at a time. I try not to look ahead and try not to evaluate the weight of the added days, just today. That’s all that matters. A couple of miles walk on the beach with the dog is very pleasant. Swimming is lovely and relaxing. The day is lovely. The wind is excellent. It is enjoyable to learn some Spanish. Gee, I feel like pasta salad so I made some. Sleepy in the heat of the day? Take a pleasant nap. The light is golden this afternoon. Dinner is easy just using up what is beginning to wilt. When I’m tired I’ll sleep. I hope I can just keep being happy without the evil genie telling me it’s not enough.
And someday we’ll be able to travel again.