Monday, June 25, 2007

Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E 10 knots

Our day today was one of our most exhausting and bewildering yet, as the wire really comes down on us needing to get stuff done before we’re ready to leave here. It’s not even so much getting stuff done, but the emotionally draining work of organizing and planning every step that we need to take when we get on land. We can’t just think of someone, pick up the phone, and call them--we have to pick a time to row to shore when it’s not raining and the wind’s not too strong, row across in the ninety-degree sun, do this during BaTelCo hours if we need a new card, find a working pay phone where the ambient noise isn’t too loud, and then pray whoever we’re calling is around. Coordinating with each other, in the frustration of sweat and impatience, tries all our nerves.

We can also never make things simple. Rather than dinghying to the dock where there is free water for the taking, Karl sneaks it off the Peace and Plenty dock after dark. We haven’t seen any sign that that’s not allowed, but he still doesn’t want to be caught. Rather than docking at the fuel dock, Karl lugged fifteen gallons of diesel back and forth the half-mile to the Peace and Plenty and dinghied them back to the boat. He still hasn’t cleaned the fuel in the tank, either, which strikes me as tempting fate, but I’m not in charge of the engine. I’m not the one in charge of engines, though, or in charge of docking.

My duty today was the laundry. After stopping by the cheap laundromat for what felt like the umpteenth time and getting the cold shoulder, I finally got fed up and went for the deluxe, upscale laundromat. It was a different experience, to be sure, tokens for the machines, stacks of Vogues to read, cold sodas in a refrigerator behind the counter. I’m not sure it would always be worth the $12.50 to do two loads of laundry, but it was today. The proprietor was perfectly friendly, but I wasn’t in any mood to socialize. I did use the phone in the corner and got through to my mom for the first time in forever, and even though I spent eighteen minutes on the phone with her (that’s six dollars) it felt like nothing. It’s hard being so far away from our families. Really, really hard.

So I was close to tears by the time we marched past Exuma Docking for the zillionth time that day in the scorching heat, with cars zooming by, and Karl carrying his huge trail backpack full of clean clothes. We had agreed that showers be one of the goals for the day, at least for me, but Karl made a comment to the effect that they were unnecessary as we walked on by. I haven’t taken a real shower in two months. Sun showers are valuable, but they have their place. Every once in a while I need to feel water flowing over my body. Especially when I miss my family and need a good cry. So I was unrelenting and angry and talked my way into the worst shower of my life.

It made a disappointing day that much more disappointing. I didn’t even want a hot shower, because I knew what I needed was cold water, ice-cold water. All I want these days, from anything, is cold. Instead, the cold water in the shower didn’t work. The water never got below scalding, so much so that standing underneath it was enough to make me cry out. I could stand it for exactly ten seconds. I let it run in the desperate hope that the hot-water heater would run out of fuel, but no luck. My only few minutes of comfort were when the water dribbled out as I turned it off--then it was only a little hotter than room temperature, and the seconds when I turned it on before the heater kicked on. The heat would have been intolerable even after a day hiking through knee-deep snow while it was sleeting. In the ninety-degree weather, it was like a brutal kick in the ribs.

So my good cry was suspended, and I tugged on my black tank top and my newly purple-stained brand-new sarong, already sweaty. I should still be grateful for my shower, I know. And I should take this as a sign of God’s condemnation of my selfishness. Karl is still stinky, and happy.

The day ended well, though. I decided to make one last attempt at Peace and Plenty to call my parents, making a desperate plea to the front-desk girls to let me a receive an incoming call. They were gracious, bless them, and when the call came through, they even let me take it in air-conditioned comfort behind the front desk. I talked for longer than I should, but it was so great to hear all the news from home, to go into detail about what happened while we were anchored, to just have a full newsy phone call. I’ve been living for those phone calls since I was eleven years old in boarding school. Back then I only got one call a quarter, one of about an hour, every month. So I need about that much. No more.

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