Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tonight I’m down on my knees

The view from French Wells

I bought my ticket home this morning. Even though I had set my expectations low, it feels like failure. I’m going home with my dad, not even taking the brave step of staying an extra two weeks. As it turned out, based on the events of the day, maybe it was a wise decision.

Dad and I big a fond farewell to my mom at the airport. It was bittersweet saying goodbye--the end of the really fun part of the trip, and the beginning of the intense and stressful part. I always said Mom should come along because of her optimism, and it will be sorely missed. Dad and I are a little less than optimistic on occasion.

We had heard last week of the existence of a free ferry from Church Grove to Long Cay, which zips right past our boat at French Wells, three times a week, and I was excited at the prospect of a new method of transportation, even loaded with fifteen gallons of water and two big bags of still-dirty laundry. Now, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that my father is a missionary and a pastor, and that my faith, while conflicted, is a giant part of my life. (See above quote.) You’ll also know that Karl and I have been know to imbibe a glass or two or three of beer or wine on occasion, even though the majority of my family are teetotalers in the extreme. (Which is why alcohol remains, most often, in the subtext.) Still, Karl and I are big fans of fellowship with any locals we happen to encounter, in any situation, we happen to find ourselves, which does, I admit, get us into trouble.

So I set the scene: my dad and I are deposited at Pokey’s Den, with our piles of luggage, to wait for the departure of the ferry. We’d already gotten a hint from David that some drinking might be going on-- “not the ferry driver?” asked my dad-- “I’d be more afraid if he didn’t drink,” answered David. We arrived and I immediately realized that this scene is going to be bad. A culture clash in the extreme. The Crooked boyz are already hard at work on their livers and their lungs, at ten o’clock in the morning, and my dad and I are to sit for two hours watching them.

We’re not ones to sit silent, though, and eventually my dad breaks into Scripture, at which point one of the guys whips out his Bible, which he carries everywhere he goes (in the pocket next to his half-pint, one imagines), and the boys start matching my dad, chapter for chapter, verse for verse. They’re throwing down. “It’s not what goes into a man’s body that corrupts him,” they say, “it’s what comes out.” Touche.

The atmosphere became heated and uncomfortable. Not to mention some of the pointed innuendo directed my way, “Oh, he’s just your father,” people say, meaning: not your husband. These comments came even from Karl’s very best friends from before, who are, admittedly, sloppy drunk.

We did make it back to Secret safely, only to discover that our propane is out and our backup tank is rusted closed and our VHF is malfunctioning. The prospect of a week out here without communication and coffee is dire indeed. I’m happy with the decision I made this morning to come home. My dad said, “I certainly wouldn’t have wanted you on that ferry without a male companion.”

I do hate that limitation. I really, truly don’t believe anyone on Crooked, no matter how drunk, would bring harm to be more my boat. I do, however, believe that every Bahamian with a boat in the greater Acklins/Crooked/Long Cay area who found out a girl was living alone at French Wells would stop by to take their chances, and things could get very, very uncomfortable for me. I say this not out of egotism, but just in acknowledgment that there are so few women out here, and the macho culture of the Caribbean is such that many believe a woman alone is always actively looking for companionship. Of a certain nature.

Maybe I convince myself of this fact to justify my decision a little bit. I do wish I could stay. I wish I were brave enough. There are women who single-hand through the Bahamas, but maybe they’re better able to remove themselves from the local scene, something I can’t quite figure out how to do. Or maybe they simply know karate.

I have far less privacy in the States anywhere I end up, although I don’t generally have to worry about guys hitting on my with tattooed Karl around. The thought of two uninterrupted months on the boat sounds heavenly, if only I were able to stay actually uninterrupted. I guess I’ll have to wait until I’m reincarnated at Kira Salak or someone braver than I am, someone less in need of human presence. Or at least until I take that knife fighting course Karl’s been after me about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ever since Amy's mom mentioned your blog, I have checked it occasionally. Today was my first time back since early December, and I was saddened to read of Karl's illness.

Your remarks about feeling out of place except when you are abroad, sound much like me and other MKs I have known. We have the blessing of identifying with our culture of upbringing more than with our nationality. At least when we are abroad, we know we don't fit and so we feel at home.

I hope that you will find answers to your quest for meaningful adventure in both your physical and spiritual journeys through life.

Joan (Lovestrand) Farley