Monthly Archives: July 2013

Run Angela Run

As Thad and Marc left for the city, I was finally able to go for a run. I was so exited that I didn’t realize the distance between San George and Hamilton. For the first 2/3 of the run about 18-20 kilometers, it was amazing. My legs acked in all the right places, my mind was at peace, my heart pumped strong and healthy, I missed the ability of being mobil. I miss the world of the living. And I run though the world of the dead, passing though a cementery and remenecing my runs towards the university crossing the big cementery. Nothing like a good cementery run.
As I continued I realized I was low on energy and also low on water and time. My run became too long 5 kilometers before my destination. I walked and fast walked for the rest of the distance. I made it to the bus station at 5:36 p.m. and Thad had left in a bus at 5:32 p.m.
I had to talk myself into walking to get something to eat, so I went to the surpermarket, where they have an array of meal choices for a very cheap price of 9 Bermudan dollars per pound. The cheapest thing around, I also think the best. The walk to the park where I was planing to eat felt like a super slow marathon. I finally made it, took my shoes off and looked for the first time at all numerous blisters. The where quite a few of them and I sighed at the relief that I didn’t stop until I had food with me. I ate slowly, watching all the people walking though the main street, heading to expensive restaurants painted in pastel colors. The locals didnt know what to make of me streching my legs and feet, while the tourists didn’t really cared.
Steamed vegetables, a bit of meat, and some salad.
I acked all over and it felt so good, and I had the best meal ever. It was all good.

Angela Arvizu

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The small chaos that comes with docking after a long voyage is fun, knowing that we will touch unmoving land mass is always a very exiting experience. We are ready, and the place looks unreal. We stay behind while the captain anchored the boat, the guys were planing to help him do all of this but his insistence that they should stay was too good of an offer to pass up. This action might have cost us. We didn’t anchor on the harbor because it cost the captain 45 dollars per day. This would have been 3 days of comfort, or a lot of adventures in the dingy. Dingy it was.

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The White Horse was the first restaurant we ate at. Expensive doesn’t even explain this island, super expensive might. Lucky for us, this was one of the cheaper places. Even more lucky, Scott treated us to dinner. Finally we are on land and have food, the view, the atmosphere, the full belly and life is good.

We checked out some of the beaches, and learned the bus system. I started to count the people running, and there weren’t many. My body desired to run, and run.

The island was borderline creepy in that it felt like it had too many arrangements, and structure. British-American- semi Caribbean, aalthouugh they made sure of separating themselves from the caribe. And of course the Bermuda shorts with long socks, used appropriately, very sexy. Blue and turquoise waters, populate by small quantity of locals, or hundreds of cruise friendly people. At one point we sat down at a coffee shop with an incredible 20 minute free Internet access, and nest to us were a couple from Utah. It felt unusual to meet some one else from Salt Lake City, after so many months traveling and finally meeting one, it felt unusual.

They had a festival and we were able to enjoy their local dances, food and the free entertainment of tourist watching, courtesy of the nick-nack shops, providing the consumeristic fix. The next day we went to the airport to say good bye to Scott and pick up Marc. It was sad to see him leave, I really like his personality. We had such amazing times with him, but he was going back full of plans.

Welcome to Bermuda a.k.a. Candy Land.

Angela Arvizu


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Arriving to Bermuda


There it is, in the distance, a beautiful green and white scattering of land. We saw a few ships leaving Bermuda, a military ship with a helicopter on the back. Today was one of the few days I felt comfortable taking off my top, and enjoying the sun without the worry of tan lines. These days are rare, and I take full enjoyment in this. Land, beautiful beautiful land.

Angela Arvizu

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Into the Rainbow


As we prepared to set sail for the longest Atlantic stretch, from Bermuda to the western-most island in the Azores, a serious problem was on our minds. Although we were working as crew, and had paid for full room and board, it was abundantly clear that the nourishment provided on board was inadequate. Death had become a serious possibility on the last stretch. And this time things would be worse if we didn’t do something. In response Marc, Angela and I succumbed to the extremely high prices in Bermuda and snuck some snacks aboard.

We started out northbound to catch the trade winds, then curved our way eastward. Day by day I tracked our position as we approached one of the most desolate places in the world. The middle of the ocean is a strange, surreal, and symmetric place. The horizon stretches around to touch itself, like a glassy fun house mirror. You can turn left or right but nothing changes. And you can feel the danger of the waters beneath you – a palpable lurking presence.


Large predatory fish and mammals tended to follow in our wake, probably because of Gwen’s habit of throwing all of his trash into the sea. We got into a bit of an argument over this issue during our first week at sea, but it was a pointless. Apparently all arguments are trumped by the statement, ‘the captain is always right.’ In spite of this flawless logic, Angela and I, and now Marc, have decided that in the future we will spend some hours picking up garbage on the beach to offset the damage that occurred in our presence. That said, rows of sharp teeth in the shadow of our wake pale in comparison to the fear of falling off – of being stranded in this realm of endless symmetry.

When Nature called, I would stand at the back of the boat with one arm wrapped around the aft starboard cable, imagining what it would be like to be drifting off into the distance. If the waters were calm, and if it was light out, it would be possible to survive if someone knew that I had gone overboard. If nobody heard my initial scream there was very little chance they would hear any screams after that. Even if someone noticed that I was missing a minute or two after I fell off, it would be extremely unlikely that they would ever be able to retrace their path accurately enough to find me. If someone saw me fall off during the day, then I suppose my biggest worry would be sharks (we think Angela snagged a shark with the fishing line). But if it was at night, there was little hope of ever being found. What would it be like to tread water in this place, waiting for the inevitable end? What would it be like to be reduced to a tiny speck in the middle of the ocean, waiting to make your trek to the bottom of the sea? Standing there, swaying back and forth, these thoughts would resonate in my mind.

The middle of the ocean is a place to get in touch with your self in a whole new way. Clouds paint the sky, morphing, absorbing each other, constantly transforming. Sunrises and sunsets come and go with little to no events between them. This slow pace quiets you down enough to see the footsteps of your own journey. It enables you to pull on the threads of your remaining fears, so that you might stand naked in front of the constitution of your hopes and dreams. Immersed in isolation you find an endless well of motivation, but have very few ways of directing it. It is like finding a fountain of youth, making you ripe with enthusiasm and vigor, but being unable to take it with you except for the ways in which it transforms you.

As far away from humanity as I could be, in the middle of the ocean, I found myself sailing into the heart of a rainbow. I reinforced my commitment to chasing my dream, following my passions, and braving the wild unknowns that slowly shape the story of my life.


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A few days before Bermuda


A few days before reaching Bermuda, Scott decided to leave the boat. A handsome gentleman, with a well worked body that showed definition had become starved and withering. Scott was ready to go back to his splendid life style, where showers, clean drinking water, work out routines and good food were accessible. Thad has lost a lot of muscle mass, and is looking too thin. For me, I wish I had a kilo or two less.

I want to clarify that the boat had food, flour, beans, mixed cans, salt, cookies and some fresh stuff. But all felt far away, in another place. We lived in a place where one was scrutinized in all movements. Felling like you used too much of this, or did too little food, or cleaned the wrong way, or 100 other details. I always had a lot on my mind every time I cooked. The kitchen became a little home of fear where every moment I expected the captain to tell me that I’m doing something wrong. This stress was something that others would not put up with, they preferred starvation over the stress. They needed easy access food. Crackers and things that didn’t require the usage of the gas, water, salt……… There is nothing worse that sharing a life with someone that tells you they are laid back, but are not; someone that has ways of doing things, but doesn’t tell you, that doesn’t give you access to a kitchen but expects you to cook. And it is difficult dealing with strong incompatibility towards the exchange of ideas. It felt as if conversations simply weren’t allowed, unless they were to agree. This trip keeps getting filled with lessons of life.

Angela Arvizu

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When we sailed within sight of Bermuda we were delighted to see land. For the next seven hours we quietly inched our way towards St. Georges harbor. After surviving a tropical storm it was quite strange for our first step on land to be on the strange netherworld candy-land known as Bermuda.

Bermuda is composed of over 300 islands, strung together by roads, and decorated with pastel colored houses that all have white roofs with diagonal rain catchers on them. The cobblestone and brick roads are mysteriously immaculate. No trash clutters the sides of the roads, and the walkway cracks are magically void of dirt. The minimum wage is over $12 dollars per hour (the Bermuda dollar is equal to value to the US dollar), but everything costs between 2 and 5 times what it would in the states. The locals (including the teenagers) think that $20 for a meal is cheap. There is very low unemployment, and those that live here seem to be laid back, socially entangled, and many of them are protruding a somewhat Jamaican aura – though, without being prompted, they regularly object to any Jamaican connection.

Apparently, at any given time tourists make up about 30% of the island: mostly American, mostly of the extra-large retired type, clamoring to find some nic-nacks to take back home and put on their shelves. They pour in on 5000 passenger cruise ships, in a hurry, wearing brightly colored flower clothes, armed with cheap wind-up water proof cameras and short lived smiles.

Sailboat travelers are definitely in the minority. In our harbor there were about 20 small ships, some anchored, some docked. Those of us anchored had to had to brave the choppy waves and strong winds whenever we wanted to go back or forth to land. Our dingy, of course, was the only one that didn’t have an outboard motor, and its excessive leaks required mouth to dingy resuscitation every time we wanted to use it. This unmidigated disaster, caused by Gwen’s refusal to spend any money whatsoever, led to more than one comical, and somewhat scary tale, which I’ll leave for campfire nights.


The prettiest gem of Bermuda, the part that I like to remember most, is its beaches. We walked for hours along a particular long stretch of soft sand beaches that were separated by towering spires of volcanic rock. We passed through caves, under tunnels, ran through the sand bars that connected stretches of different beaches between waves, and climbed the rocks to stand in erosion carved arches among the tide pools. The walk ending in Horseshoe bay was one of the best beaches I’ve ever explored. Angela, Scott, and I made almost a whole day out of it.

Scott flew home the next day. Enduring the sailboat any longer would have probably killed him. He had already lost 18 pounds of muscle due to starvation and constant subjection to poison in the water (the captain didn’t consider it necessary to provide clean drinking water). He had also nearly died in tropical storm Andrea, an experience that made him more than ready to start the next chapter of his life. And then, of course, the tension between the captain and everyone else was getting to be far too much to bare.

Scott dealt with Gwen very diplomatically, kindly not mentioning any of the real reasons that he was leaving before reaching Europe, and not asking for any refunded money (although the arrangement originally made between each crew member and Gwen was that we pay so much, but if we change our mind part way then he would refund the proportionate amount). We knew that we were going to miss Scott a lot. His ability to remain patient, and try to see the best in every situation was remarkable. We had bonded with him, talked about the important things on our minds, our dilemmas, our hopes and fears. Plus we had survived Gwen together… I mean crossed the Caribbean and the Atlantic from Panama to Bermuda together.

When Scott arrived on the boat, officially paying more than any other crew member, and after being stood up by the captain for 7 hours after flying from the states to meet him and join the crew, he somehow ended up without a bed (the captain, of course, overbooked). Gwen said “sorry, we are all out of beds, but you can sleep in the kitchen on the bench seat.” When the boat was under sail, being tossed about every which way, it was difficult to stay on a bed, let alone on a bench seat, but Scott, who was used to a fair bit of luxury, said to himself (and later told us) “Well I came on this trip to experience something different.”

With Scott leaving I worried that I wouldn’t be able to survive Gwen’s constant barrage of inconsiderate acts. Thankfully Marc flew in from Utah to join the trek to Europe and to fill the social void. He landed within the same hour that Scott left. The next day I took Marc back to the same stretch of beach. We climbed the entire shoreline of rock, standing in places that very few humans had ever stood before. At the end of the day Marc made note of how much fun we had. Pointing to the quantity of bloody scrapes and cuts he had on his arms and legs, he laughed with confidence that he had earned a new treasured memory. Ahhhh – team death punch never let’s me down.

Gwen insisted that I wire the second half of our agreed upon funds before leaving the island. We had originally agreed half up front, and half when we arrive in France, but he had made up his mind that this was no longer acceptable. Hoping that he would try to be a little more tolerable on the upcoming stretch I consented, even though I didn’t have the necessary money. I felt like something was off, but decided to load up my credit card any way; anything to make the next 15-18 day passage more socially bearable.


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Triangle, and 2013 tropical storm Andrea

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As a desert person, the sea fascinates me. Staring into the distance of the sea blue beauty and wide horizon brought feelings of desired adventure. Like a 4 year old that stares out the window into a world of unexplored streets, I looked at the sea with adventure in mind. Leaving the last island in the Caribbean, with Bermuda as the destination, the jokes flowed freely. In the magical mind of the world of unknowns the Bermuda triangle full of it’s mysticism was our next destination. As we embarked, we asked the captain about the weather, he said that a few places had strong winds, but there was nothing to be worried about. We continued on. After a few days, we woke up to a beautiful calm sea, nothing was happening, everything was too calm. If I would have known the tale-tale signs I would have been a bit more fearful. The sea taking a breath, before the storm came to us. With no escape, we had to go on and continue our course. The swells increased in size, and the wind started to blow. Scott was staring, and for the first time I saw our captain worried. With 65 knots winds, and the 8 meter swells the sea became unforgiving of mistakes. Unable to consume food, headache and dehydration took its toll. The boat rocked and tilted toward the left, all we could see from the port window was water. The starboard side would display the waves striving to grab us. Scott maneuvered through the waves for hours, as we uncomfortably laughed and made jokes of a blue death. Sometimes making jokes it’s all that is left. The storm subsided the next day. And the sea went back to its choppy self. Unusually under the circumstances, there was no bonding moment with the captain. This might have been the breaking point. Angela Arvizu

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