In real life (because we can all agree this is not real life), Nick and I were both drawn to life in the fast lane. The extrovert in each of us has a hard time saying no because we both draw a ton of our energy and inspiration from being around people and trying new things - we are yes people. Weekends were for maximum play, not rest or chores; week nights we routinely overcommitted either chasing music, friends, a networking event, food, or a bumble date. Disclaimer: I refer to we in all of this, but it is a fun fact to know that Nick and I only lived “real life” in SF together for ~4 months. It just turns out we are basically the male/female equivalents of each other when it comes to our social routine. I think this 150 mph lifestyle kept us going in a lot of ways (again, it’s where we get our mojo and shots of adrenaline), but it also significantly contributed to why we were both seeking to go on The Long Cruise. We were tired. We lived this way while operating on 5-6 hours of sleep a night, convincing ourselves it’s all we needed and justifying that 3rd cup of coffee in the mornings. One of the best things about this trip has been the amount of sleep we get each day. I didn’t think I was capable of consistently sleeping for 10 hours a night, but our bodies and more importantly, our minds, are finally in a place where they are calm enough to let rest in. I even talk slower now - a shock to most, I know :) It also helps that we have a no cell phone in the tent policy at night. It’s amazing how being physically removed from that device helps my mind relax too, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night with a need to check it -a habit we both hope to carry back into real life.
Nick and I spent a week back in San Francisco for our friend’s Karen and Steve’s wedding. To be completely honest, we didn’t really know what to expect from a quick trip “home”. Would it still feel like home? Would we feel overwhelmed by the pace after cruising for 4 months? Could we click back in with our friends after being gone for an extended period of time? This obviously goes in the good category because it felt good to step back into our old lives for a few days and see our people (not all and we are sorry if we missed you, it was a whirlwind 3 days), MY DOG!, and attend a beautiful celebration of love - we even got to sneak in quick family time with Nick’s mom, brother, and a happy hour with my brother. However, we walked away from SF for the second time with a slightly different outlook. The first time was filled with nostalgia and a promise, of course we will be back. I think we needed that anchor to allow ourselves to fully fly away from it. But we left under different terms this time. The cruise isn’t a big question mark anymore, it’s a journey we are both loving and thriving in. All the things we were scared of going in have proven to not be so scary - bathroom anyone? Permanent life on the road has almost zero appeal to us, but I think we want multiple cruises in our life, so we are looking at architecting things differently. SF has a lot of the things we love and we will always have a desire to build some sort of life there, but it might not be the permanent life we once envisioned. Who knows, but we have fun bantering the different ideas for now.
Rex gets his own section :) I got to spend 3 days with him and he let me smother him as much as I possibly could. I missed waking up to that little face looking back at me, I missed the way he snuggles in next to me and demands my hand scratch his head, and I really missed his kisses up my nose. Don’t judge, I know it’s weird, you get used to it. I think the thing that makes me happiest though is seeing how much he is loved and how much he is thriving with Kelly, Blair, and Andrew. He even has dog best friend now, Fritz. They adore each other, nap next to each other, chase each other around the house, and Rex is learning from him - and has lost another 2 pounds from the constant play! I was shocked to see some of Rex’s bad behaviors gone - he doesn’t attack every large dog that comes near him, he patiently waits in a seated position to be fed, and he actually walks with you (vs stopping every 2 seconds to mark his territory). As I went to drop him off, there were no tears this time because he ran to the door with his tail wagging. As Blair opened the door, he leaped inside and immediately found Fritz and started playing. As if he instinctively knew, he turned around and came back to my feet for one more goodbye and then ran off again. He’s so happy and as a mom, isn’t that what we really want, to see our babies happy?
I didn’t think we would find a campsite that would rival our love affair with Playa San Diego in Oaxaca, but Punta Mango in El Salvador proved us wrong. This spot was a gem - grass for our feet, very little bugs, amazing sunsets, and an ocean view for a constantly streaming surf report. The surfers from the local hotels would post up there for the day, the local caretaker would shuck freshly caught oysters for lunch, and the night sky provided ample entertainment with its lightening shows. For $2/night (including a bathroom!), we had a hard time saying goodbye.
The mentality around trash in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua has been quite disheartening. I entered Mexico mentally prepared for it, but we were pleasantly surprised to see far less than we imagined. Nick has been to El Salvador multiple times and spoke so highly of it that I think my guard was down and I had a more idyllic vision in my head. I felt guilty for not initially loving it. It didn’t help that we entered El Salvador after a major storm and most of the trash in the rivers found home on the beach shores. It is still quite shocking to see people lackadaisically throw all of their trash out of the public bus windows as we drive down the road. We have talked to a couple of locals about this issue and the government is starting to make it an integral part of the education for young people, but we didn’t get a strong sense that they believed this behavior could be changed in the adults so accustomed to doing it. I think of all the PSA’s I’ve seen throughout my life regarding littering - it’s deeply engrained in us from a young age that it's a bad thing to do. I guess the silver lining is that even America had this issue not so long ago so we are optimistic change is possible.
Up until now, we have had long summer days. If we were on the ocean, we would surf from 730-9, eat breakfast, read/work, surf from 11-?, lunch, siesta/read/work/exercise/?, sunset surf from 530-730, and then eat dinner around 830. We are adjusting to a very new timeline as we get closer and closer to the equator. Sunrise is at 530 (and there is no escaping the sun in a tent) and it is pitch black by 6pm. Since we primarily live outside, this is shifting our day and routine quite a bit. We are waking up earlier and eating dinner closer to 6pm. If the bugs aren’t bad, we can hang out and talk post dinner hour (we have seen some amazing lightening shows), but if the bugs do start to get bad, it means we are up in bed as early as 7pm. It’s a new normal and not quite as ideal with our mostly outdoor setup, but we are making it work. We are thankful for kindles and the ability to download on Netflix.
From day one, we knew this day was going to suck. And it did. Big time. Border crossing days are always hard, but when you have to do two in one day, it pushes even the most patient person (and I wouldn’t classify either myself or Nick as the most patient persons (you can read between the lines there)). On Sunday 10/15/17, we crossed El Salvador to Honduras and then Honduras to Nicaragua. 160 miles that took 14 hours. Remember the title issue? Remember the license plate issue? Here we thought those were resolved with one big happy ending. Unfortunately, here is how the scenario played out. We got our original title, yay! (Thanks, Tom) At the same time, we had to order a new license plate because ours was stolen. We got our new license plate, yay! (Thanks, LeeAnn) Except, the DMV didn’t issue the exact same license plate number so now our brand new title does not have our brand new license plate number on it, it has the old license plate number listed. While this didn’t prevent us from crossing, it definitely added about an hour and a half of headache as we painfully tried to explain the situation in Spanish to all four border crossing agents. Also, we refused to pay bribes to the Honduran police as we were crossing into Nicaragua (it was more of a we are actually out of cash right now and literally can’t pay you anything type of situation) and that added about 2 hours of wait time as they sat behind the desk drinking a coke making the scenario difficult for us because we didn’t give in. We survived and hopefully the worst border crossing day is officially behind us.
We love when friends visit us on the cruise, but mold is not our friend and it is quickly becoming a very unwelcome house guest. It’s the rainy season and every traveler we meet is battling it, whether they live in a van, truck, or RV. Humidity is high and mold loves our interior wood. When we got back from the trip home, still rubbing our eyes from the redeye, we spent the first hour at camp with a bucket of bleach and a scrub brush. We now have a bottle of vinegar on hand and are trying to take a proactive approach. I can’t say the kitchen smells great right now, but it’s an offensive approach that will hopefully help us win this battle.