Disengaging after connection

We have never stayed in one place long enough to become a part of the local community until this portion of the trip. Through kiting we've made some strong connections with other kiters who have included us in their kiting lives and over time into their home lives. By being a regular presence, meandering about on foot, we have made friends with the shop keepers, the vegetable stand owners, and even found ourselves having beers with the local police. It is difficult to say goodbye to these people.

Everyone seems related to each other on an island and once we know a few people, we start to meet their cousins, brothers and sisters and those people, once the connection to their family member is revealed, welcome us even more than they already did when we were just a random stranger. When we move on to a new island, the people we met on the last island tell us to say hello to their friend/cousin/father and we arrive with a new set of connections already in place.

There comes a time, however, when we start to wonder if we've overstayed our welcome. The shop keepers, friendly as ever, say "you are still here?". We reach the point where we wonder if we have transitioned in their eyes from visitor to "possible new inhabitant" and now they must start to evaluate whether we will be good to live with, whether we will pose a problem for limited resources, etc. We always try to tread lightly but in a small island community every visitor has an impact for good or for bad no matter how lightly they tread.

At that point, we look around at the paradise we are inhabiting, the world class kiting we are enjoying and the friends we have made and think "why would we ever leave?". We leave in part because we have a fear of getting stuck somewhere, as cruisers sometimes happily do, and are inherently wary of becoming too comfortable in a spot. Oh, and we leave to avoid hurricanes. Beyond fear, we leave because part of the reason we voyage is adventure and settling down in one spot too long is not part of that for us right now. We also start to miss sailing itself. Despite our comfort, we start to feel strong urges to pull the anchor, raise the sails, set a course and make new landfalls.

For me, cruising is a delicate balance between comfort and novelty seeking. For me, comfort = reduced anxiety, reduced excitement and novelty = increased excitement, increased anxiety. Because we voyage with our home, I have more creature comforts than I would if I traveled with a backpack. I can take a day to relax inside my comfortable, no-longer-novel home instead of exploring. I can use that chill day to reset my internal gyros and gather energy to enjoy my new backyard. When we are in a place for a long time, I have the additional comfort of knowing the town, seeing the same people, having a handle on the resources and options for play. But, too much comfort, too much settling into the community eliminates the reasons that we personally chose this lifestyle: the excitement of travel. We want new experiences, to see new sights and cultures. So we set aside the comfort we have established, and sail on to a novel place.

Tags

2 comments:

  1. This post touches on some of my exact ponderings. You start as a visitor, everything is vacation, but soon you start to inhabit and you have to make the decision to stay or leave.

    I also want to get immersed in the culture, but want to continue on the adventure.

    I can relate to this post and enjoy very much following your journey.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It seems to be that different people would have different comfort levels in terms of time staying vs. moving on. I met a couple once who spent 4-5 days in a country, constantly moving on for about 3 years. Then there are people who think our 2 years in each country is much too short.

    Glad to hear you are finding some time of stability amongst all the movement--sounds like you are having a blast and discovering beautiful places.

    ReplyDelete