After sailing around the Mediterranean for two years, spending 18 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean and arriving at the Caribbean Island of St Lucia a few weeks ago, the best way to describe how I felt was ‘shell-shocked’.
Every effort up until our arrival in St Lucia was spent on planning, preparing, organization and actually getting across the Atlantic Ocean. Not one moment was spent considering the climate, culture and differences that we were about to encounter.
Although sailing around the Caribbean is not new to me, and I knew what to expect, I felt as if I entered a totally new world. Having vacations in the Caribbean on a boat is definitely different than bringing your European based home across the pond to stay for a while.
The Caribbean is nothing like the Mediterranean
Everything is different – the air, sea, people, food, scenery, wind, fish and…just everything.
With such a difference I feel slightly lost yet extremely revitalized.
In the Mediterranean I knew the layout. I understood who I was and where I was located in the world. I became accustomed to reviewing the language of the country and I knew it was up to me to be proactive when ordering something at a restaurant or finding a new location. I felt comfortable in the fact that I could name the countries and/or islands around me. I felt at home.
Now that we’re in the Caribbean I feel as if we’re in the same house yet it’s been turned upside down. Like Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, our house has been lifted out of Kansas and planted in a totally new world.
It’s great to go out and speak English
For two years I’ve struggled with my Italian, Greek, Turkish, French and Spanish. Here in St Lucia I simply speak English and I get English in return! For the first week or two I found myself requesting things in slowly in a simple manner thinking the person I was speaking to didn’t know English well. (I’m sure many of the locals think I have issues…)
Aside from speaking English, I can visit any of the grocery stores and find products I know and recognize. I’ve been devouring cinnamon raisin bagels, American Italian sausages, Jerk Chicken, and on and on (I’ve lived in Europe for almost 20 years but being American, it’s always nice to find American food that I grew up with).
It’s currently WINTER right now and I’m enjoying sun soaked days and perfect breezy evenings IN MY T-SHIRT
Not once have I had to put a sweater on or add layers as the evening drew closer. It’s balmy and it’s January. During the summer in the Mediterranean it got hot but it’s a different hot. And in the winter, in the Med is cold, damp and rainy.
Furthermore, the water here is perfect…and I mean perfect
In the Med I couldn’t last very long as the sea would have patches of warmth and patches of coldness. In two years of swimming and snorkeling in the Med I can count the amount of fish I saw. In the few weeks of being in the Caribbean, I’ve already seen thousands of creatures. The water is clear, the fish are bright and colorful and the temperature is perfect.
But let me stop there – I’m not writing this to bash the Mediterranean
Heck, nothing can beat the variety of cultures, amazing anchorages, diversity of food and the history of Europe. Surely, I won’t be able to find something comparable in the Caribbean to the Parthenon, Olympia, Delphi, the Palace of Knossos (Crete), Pompeii, the Coliseum and on and on. And although the pizza is great here in St Lucia, there’s something far more gratifying about eating a pie in Italy.
So like I said in the beginning of this article, I’m simply shell-shocked.
I suppose, looking back, the Med became ‘normal’ to me and now that I’m in the Caribbean I’m on a new high
Isn’t it interesting about how we, as humans, normalize things? Towards the end of our two-year stay in the Med I definitely tired of seeing ancient amphitheaters. Yes, I’m at fault for trying to hit ever historical archeological finding, but I just couldn’t help it. If you have Pompeii within your reach you’re not going to pass it by!
I have to admit that I also struggled with having to fail (over and over) at speaking a foreign language or dealing with the repercussions of buying baking power instead of backing soda (I often couldn’t understand the packaging and purchased the wrong ingredients).
Furthermore, the Mediterranean is not a great place to actually sail
The wind is either blowing a Force 10 (gale force) or it’s not blowing at all. When we moved locations we’d either get to our next destination completely disheveled, windblown and seasick OR we’d have to motor for hours using up our diesel.
Hopefully these comments don’t make me sound ungrateful. I’m certainly thankful for all of our adventures. I suppose, however, that once one see’s quite a few amazing things they eventually become less amazing. And once someone lives in a particular area, after time, life becomes less spontaneous, uncertain and dare I say, ‘exciting’.
I think I’ll have to scratch the ‘exciting’ bit because since we sold up and sailed away, my life has had more excitement than I ever experienced in my previous 39 years of life.
The moral of my story?
Sailing around the Mediterranean was amazing. I loved every moment of it. Now that we’re in the Caribbean, however, when I look back I can see that life in the Med became somewhat predictable.
In the Caribbean everything is fresh, new and very unpredictable!
People often ask me if I’m getting tired of cruising. In some regards there are a variety of things that annoy me (to name a couple: provisioning for food/water, sleeping in a swell, seasickness, storms). The little day-to-day inconveniences bother me, but as a whole, there’s so much to see and do that I can’t imagine getting tired of exploring this amazing world we have.
The moral of my story is that when you’re cruising around and a location becomes ‘normalized’ you can simply go west and find a whole new world to explore again and again and again.
So…here starts yet another new chapter in my life – the exploration of the Caribbean! Woo Woo!