If the photo is really really professional looking, then the photography credit goes to Paul Woo.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd
You’re going to miss the pre-orientation before everything would almost go to hell with omicron, and then the actual orientation being in the middle of your random shift as official COVID-19 screeners for the NYE Ball Drop in Times Square; desperate times call for desperate measures, and as long as we can lay our hands on these mythical gold standard rapid PCR tests and test negative we’d be cleared to travel. And forging ahead onto 6am flights the next morning out to an island we’ve all never been, we quell our acid reflux of the dry hot pot from the night before and bounce ourselves onto the priority lane so we won’t miss our connecting flight that was about to depart on island time anyway.
You’re going to miss the freedom in the first hour of a new adventure, already missing it before it was over, while you aimlessly wander around ghost town vibes of a shuttered Caribbean capital knowing that nobody you know really knows where you are.
You’re going to miss live music at sunset and before curfew, the rooftop dinner at the only hotel in the city, ordering everything on the menu and half-heartedly saving a plate for one of your own as he lives up to his reputation of the Bad News Brian with flights, taking a bottle of wine back to your suite and downing it within minutes despite the otherwise turtle pace of “We’re Not Really Strangers”, playing music as we patiently stay up and witness a series of your last arrival’s misadventures at an empty taxi stand, then celebrating his eventual deliverance before heading to bed only to wake up to a bunch of unfortunate updates . . .
You’re going to miss when you realize you’re part of a special group of people who don’t freak out even when shit hits the fan, putting sane minds together for alternative itineraries as we continue with the plan because who knows . . . this is what a true adventure is made of.
You’ll miss the best fried fish sandwich you may have ever placed in your mouth, then heading over to the source for seconds and discovering your bias how it was made by the hand of your own people and speaking in 4 different tongues at once, ordering a bunch more because we support our own, revisiting all the sites you had walked by yesterday and then having one more round of rooftop drinks before setting off into the unknown with an unknown driver, the impromptu stops on the road for a mountaintop church, the impromptu lessons on horticulture, and the impromptu shots of locally made rum as you make it to your destination more pleased than you would have expected considering the otherwise unfortunate circumstances, and collecting every little moment and synchronicity in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants caper unfolding in real time.
You’re going to miss appreciating more how the sweet is never as sweet as the sour, with the hope of a replacement skipper to arrive and the first sighting of your home for the next week, picking and setting up your rooms with way less drama this time around because everyone essentially is now almost getting their own private rooms for half the cost, and then having a BBQ al fresco dinner right in the nick of time right before curfew.
You may not miss the awakening to dismay, as if you were a deflated balloon returning back to square one when finding out that your happy and asymptomatic replacement skipper would head to quarantine hotel after testing positive for COVID-19, but you will still miss your very own original skipper from 3 months ago stopping by in person to say hello, receiving thanks for dropping off some gifts for us and informing one of our yachts from the prior trip was sitting right next to us in the marina, and then hope rebuilt by kismet when we would meet another skipper and chef at the marina (who just happened to be sailing with their kids nearby) and how they would agree to take us after one of their friends vouched for us when we dined at one of their restaurants earlier in the marina. You’ll then miss the tiny hands relative to grand conversations late into the night and having one of your own open up to strangers in a way they have never done so before, before falling asleep to an uncertain morning.
You’re going to miss waking up to the light of a new dawn when the third time’s the charm and your new skipper and chef would test negative on both a rapid antigen and PCR, hitting all hands on decks immediately to sail downwind the wild open oceans, feeling the wind at your back for a trip that now appears to be manifesting itself with the right energy and the right signs, the urgency of making it to Rodney Bay in time before the port health office closes that would have left you otherwise stranded in Quarantine Bay, rushing to the office to get stamped and cleared in with your negative PCR tests and proof of full vaccination, the joy of getting your wristbands that made up for your Yacht Week ones, the afternoon coffee to celebrate, the James Bond style mission taking a dinghy out at night for provisional shopping, and your first properly homecooked meal of the trip as you try to belie your surprise how circumstances would make a 180 turn so quickly from the day before, especially as the instruments come out for a night of music under the stars.
You’re going to miss waking up to the gorgeous views of the Pitons revealing themselves along the coastline, spraying an open bottle of champagne for the main event of the week as they loom before you like majestic diamonds on the waves, trying to control yourself as we collectively soon changed into matching swimsuits just for that shot you’ve waited months to take, and then jumping into the deep blue waters for the first time, swimming yourself to abandon, before haggling down and purchasing fresh live lobsters from local fisherman and enjoying them by the reverie of sunset.
But most of all, you’re going to miss the silent reveries on the water while staring up at a night sky full of stars, before drifting off and not knowing what kind of dreams you’d still have if you were already living in one.
You’re going to miss waking up to a delightful breakfast spread and morning coffee, setting off on a dinghy to Sugar Beach to reset your gut and set off on your only workout of the trip. While you may not miss the arduous uphill climbs, taking a wrong fork in the road, debating whether you’d really want to summit the Pitons, and the dismay over what people would call a “waterfall” these days (nothing personal; I blame climate change), you will miss showering away that sweat under the falls, the slow hike along the coastline trying to pick out which one was your yacht, making your greetings to the locals, and the curious exploration of another tiny town before eating a local Creole lunch, picking up more provisional items and the quick sail to “the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean” so you can make it in time to be reunited with a monsooner who at first thought she was merely crashing our orientation 3 months ago, but really was planting the seed to join us anyway at this eleventh hour.
But you won’t miss the mosquitos that fed on us later that night. They were awful.
You’re going to miss raising the roof (literally) to an open deck, licking your wounds to that pesky bloodsucker that tried to keep you up all night, lazily making your way to the spa life at the bay resort, the endless photos at the beach across the bay, inhaling local seafood for lunch, and then bidding au revoir to a double rainbow behind us, sailing out back towards the Pitons for one more look by sunset — and this time they look grander than ever underneath more double rainbows and epic monsoons as the soft mist lands against your face as if dreams became waking life — before retiring in the waters next to Pigeon Island for another night underneath the stars.
You’re going to miss the second to last dinghy ride out to Pigeon Island so you can drop off and say your first goodbye to one of your own, a quick photoshoot on a manmade causeway, and the high energy dance and karaoke party as we got revved up for the incoming crashing of the open sea on our way back to Martinique.
And while you won’t miss the near vomiting in your mouth for 5 hours of Inception-like theatrics in rough seas, you will miss the brief storms that washed worries away as we finally docked by Saint-Anne, the happy smiles of a family reunited, the last opportunity for a swim and dives before it got too cold, the live music over an early dinner by sunset in the foreground, and one final dinghy roundtrip to a charming and somehow fully booked colonial town you could gallivant and feast upon.
You’re going to miss the final sail back to the base marina, the penultimate round of drinks onboard, the attempt to finish off as much of your groceries as you can, waking up to one last breakfast by the sea, counting down the minutes before they finally kick you off this boat, the hugs goodbye to your skipper and chef over promises to sail with them again, the dash to your cab off to a very early arrival to the airport, the roundtrip undertaking to pick up a winter jacket you had forgotten at the first hotel, one of you almost losing and retrieving your phone in the cab, befriending a DJ at the airport who recognizes your group from the shirt one of us had been wearing, the 45 minute flight together to a butterfly-shaped island, getting stuck in traffic with a feisty passive aggressive taxi driver, settling into a charming AirBnB, and ending the trip with how you began it: aimlessly wandering around ghost town vibes of a shuttered Caribbean capital and again knowing that nobody you know really knows where you are.
You’re going to miss the last dinner together outside and again ordering everything on the menu, the happy discovery that this place serves your favorite travel bad habit, inviting over your new friend you had just made in a different country to join in the carousing of sharing stories right before curfew, celebrating the unanimous negative testing for COVID-19 so you can all be cleared to return home, waking up for a surreal brief cup of coffee to the morning haze, taking in stride a stressed out cab driver not wanting be on island time, trying to perfect the outcome of your first espresso vending machine experience, and window shopping airport lounges in Miami Airport before we finally said our goodbyes to the trip — but not each other — as our separate flights would take us back to where we started . . . and ironically closer to each other than ever before.
Because we would know after a trip like this, where despite the looming specter of an external uncontrollable plague force that threatens everyday to cow us into inaction, would instead only serve to remind ourselves what would be possible when we dedicate ourselves in the pursuit of a true adventure . . .
. . . one that dares us to live truth in dreams we’ve always dreamed of.