A Lack of Patience
I would like to think I'm a pretty patient guy. When trying to take the dinghy to shore to meet up with some friends and Brenda is changing her t-shirt for the 8th time because it's “not comfortable”, I will generally just sit in the dinghy with the engine running and not say a word. Sure, I'll grit my teeth, but being together for as many years as we have been has taught me that saying something like “hurry up, everyone is waiting for us”, well, it will only make the process slower. When we are itching to go to a new anchorage and explore but some threatening weather has us pinned down, I have no problem sitting on the boat and watching the weather pass us by. When we need to check out of a Mexican port town and the official has run out of ink for the stamp that needs to be whacked onto our papers, I don't even flinch. I'm completely happy to sit and wait while he spends over an hour in the back room looking for some ink. In general terms, I am pretty patient, but what I have lost my patience for, is people.
Before you get your panties in a bunch thinking that we are no longer friends, let me explain myself.
First of all, I love people. I take that back...I love some people. Others, not so much. I'm not sure how come some people in this world slipped through the cracks and became so grouchy, miserable, and entitled, but it has happened. These are the people that I've lost patience with. You and me, we are still good.
We are currently anchored in a lagoon next to the little Mexican town of Barra de Navidad. As far as a place to anchor your boat goes, it's about perfect. The lagoon is protected from the ocean swell so our nights are calm and worry free, the town has some of the best tacos in all of Mexico (they are cooked on a BBQ made from an old wheel), and there is a great spot for surfing which is a short dinghy ride away. This place is like a trifecta of goodness – calm nights at anchor, incredible tacos, and surfing. Really, the only thing that makes it better than a trifecta is the fact that some of our good friends are anchored here with us.
There is a water taxi service here in Barra de Navidad that will pick you up from your boat and drop you off in town for a mere 30 pesos round trip (about 75 cents each way). The taxi can pack us and about 15 people in a single boat and the service runs 24/7, so if we are out late at night stuffing our faces with tacos with our good friends, none of us have to worry about driving our dinghies home in the dark, and better yet, we don't have to worry about someone walking off with our dinghy as our faces are getting stuffed. It's what we in the business like to call a win/win situation. Since there are quite a few boats anchored in the lagoon along with us, the taxi is also a great place to meet other sailors who may be heading to shore for tacos too.
Just yesterday, we were taking the water taxi in to town to stuff our faces with more tacos. As we were on our way to town, another sailboat flagged us down for a ride. Within roughly 5 seconds of this sailor setting foot on the water taxi, I knew we weren't going to be friends.
The first interaction we have with just about every new sailor we come in contact with is almost always the same. It's like speed dating. Where are you from, which boat is yours, how long have you been cruising, where are you heading next, any long term plans, etc, etc, etc..... After nearly 3 years of traveling, I am getting tired of that conversation. I guess it works though, because we can tell pretty quickly after that series of questions if we need to go any further, but really, the same old small talk is getting old.
So, back to this guy who jumps in the taxi with us. It starts out good. He has circled the globe and has been cruising for 20 years. He probably has seen some interesting things and been to some amazing places, but the way he told us those things was with an arrogance that said, “I'm better than you because I've been farther.” Then he proceeded to tell us that he's been in Mexico for a handful of years now, and all he can say in Spanish is “more beer, bring me the check, and adios.” Again with an arrogance that said, “I'm in your country and because I have more money than you, you need to serve me.” The way that both of those phrases were said made me uncontrollably turn my back on him and move on. And Brenda, well, she was left to interact with the guy. Sorry Brenda.
For the rest of the ride in to shore, I spent my time making friends with our water taxi driver, Polo, while practicing my Spanish. And I have to say, it was one of those moments when my Spanish was on fire. Polo is from Barra de Navidad, he's 24, he's putting himself through college driving the water taxi, and in August, he'll graduate with a law degree. And better yet, he's already got a job lined up at a law firm in Manzanillo when he graduates. Pretty cool.
After we got out of the water taxi, Brenda said “thanks for leaving me hanging with that guy!” Sorry Brenda. It was uncontrollable. I had zero patience for him.
Now, don't go thinking that I am some jerk who is giving random sailors the cold shoulder. That's just not the case. The greatest joy we've had during our time as wandering vagabonds has been the time we've spent with people we've met along the way. Most of them I should say. But amazingly, we've met a whole lot of people out sailing the world who should have stayed home.
We've met a surprising number of people who think that Mexico should have the same infrastructure as the States, that everyone should speak English, and that all of the products you would find in a grocery store in the States should be found here. This may come as a shock, but if you are sailing in Mexico, or any other foreign country for that matter, it's not going to be the same as the States. That's the whole point. You are in a different country and a different country is different. It's simple math. Embrace it.
I'm not going to sit here and say that traveling in a foreign country is always easy because it's not. Sure, we have our days that would be classified as a heavenly vacation, but most days require some time and effort to get anything done. If you aren't OK with a walk down a dusty and uneven Mexican street in the blazing sun to find a grocery store, if you are expecting a clean and sterile environment, or if you are hoping for someone to speak in perfect English as you order street tacos, well, Mexico maybe isn't for you.
A big part of this adventure that we are on is the effort we put forth. For us, getting to a new town and aimlessly walking a few miles untill we find the grocery store is fun, learning Spanish for no other reason than to show respect for this country we are currently living in is the least we can do (and I love learning the language), admiring the ingenuity that people show in eeking out a living is humbling, eating salsa that melts your face off puts hair on your chest, and more than anything, an adventure isn't supposed to be easy. Easy is a stay in a resort for a few days before you go back to the daily grind.
So, if you happen to be reading this and are planning on sailing to Mexico in the near future, just know that we can happily be friends, but, I have some conditions that need to be met. First and foremost, don't be rude to a native Spanish speaker who can't speak English. That's just ridiculous and you're not someone we'll be hanging out with if you think everyone here should cater to you. Second, cruising isn't a competition. I don't care how many sea miles you've sailed and I don't care how many countries you've been to (unless you have some cool stories to share). And third, never complain to me about how hard this cruising lifestyle is. There has never been one cruiser on earth that has said this is easy. Not one. Ever. It's hard work but it's rewarding, and more importantly, if you embrace the challenges, it's incredibly fun.
To the guy who hopped on the taxi with us yesterday (and to 3 out of the 14 other boats that are currently anchored here), I'll be friendly and wave as I go by, but I'm sad to say we aren't going to be friends. In my ripe old age of 42, my patience has run thin. There are too many people here who enhance our experience to waste time with ones that don't.
|Surf's up in Barra de Navidad|
|The Crew. Our good friends from S/V Mola Mola came to visit for a week. It went by too fast.|
|It's a tough life but Brenda (the Captain) can still give orders while chillaxin on a downwind run to Barra de Navidad|
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