The year in Review
Im a goal setter. Its the thing that gets me out of bed and gets me going. Its what keeps me on task and moving forward. And its what helps me to the be the best version of myself that I can be. But sometimes life – or Covid 19 happens – and the goals need to be tossed out the window. In these times, I like to look at what moved on track this year and how getting derailed in the past has actually been the blessing in disguise that I have needed.
We had planned to be in Portugal for 5 months – Knowing that we can’t really move the boat too much in the winter and knowing also that we don’t have the disposition to live in cold/overcast climates indefinitely, this was a planned stop. It has really been fantastic in hindsight as it offered us so many of the conditions we were hoping for. For one thing, cruising is challenging. Moving the boat and your family -often times constantly -for a whole season (which can be 5-7 months depending on your area and tolerance for lousy weather) takes its toll. It is not unusual for us to just take a mental health day during a particularly aggressive month of cruising to just stop and reset for a day (or few) before doing anything else. While traveling to new cities we have never been before is fun and exciting, it also requires planning which can range from minimal to many days/nights of reading. Getting the boat safely into a dock or harbor is, of course, step one. Planning the route, the weather, the fuel and the tides are just a few of the considerations each of these trips involves. In addition, planning the meals, the sights, the museums, the recreation, the schooling etc all the while making sure that we don’t miss the “must do” in any location and deciding what must wait until our next trip here – is all work. Don’t get me wrong – Im not complaining – its wonderful work and we are thrilled to be doing it but it is work. We aren’t sitting around with umbrella drinks having our laundry and sheets cleaned by staff. All of this is to say that the winter was to be a giant reset essentially giving all of us time to rest, catch up on school, fall into a routine of work/exercise and allow visitors a chance to come see us. We were also excited to actually wake up in the morning and know where the best place to have coffee is or our favorite pizza place after a long day. Lagos, Portugal – YOU DID IT! Honestly -given our hopes for this winter of rest, Lagos nailed it (thanks Marci and George).
But now we are SERIOUSLY ready to move. This is that goal setter in me who looks at the plan and shrieks “We have to GO!” I somehow feel like I am failing, Im falling short of my goals and dreams. I know that Im not the only person in this situation surrounded by amazing good fortune for which I am so speechlessly grateful yet feels “I should be doing something more”. So on the off chance that there is another person out there like me who feels that they are “missing out” or failing to meet their plan or goal, or just basically feeling like a slacker for spending the day doing nothing – playing cards or chess or watching netflix – this is for you – and it is for me. Time for a recap of the year to put into prospective what a few weeks of doing the responsible thing of “hangin’ on the couch, is really about. I would really encourage you to do the same in your life – even mention it on the blog! Its all the virtual friendship anyway! Tell me and each other what we have achieved in the last year before this all happened.
In 5 weeks time, we will have been living aboard Gratitude for a whole year. In that time, we have traveled roughly 6,000 miles (at a basic walking pace), seen 10 countries and 4 islands visiting 20 cities. We have managed to keep ourselves fed and watered and, thank God, afloat for all of it. Alec continues to amazing and delight us with the impeccable manner in which he maintains Gratitude, fixing every issue big or small the moment it arises. Jack has moved into 4th grade and is flying through his studies with a new momentum and commitment that impresses me beyond measure. We have planned a very aggressive and thorough trip to the Baltic region this summer but it is very likely we will be examining a Plan B or even Plan C with this Corona Virus as our immigration concerns are mounting with our protracted stay in Portugal. We crashed and burned on the Portuguese lessons. After committing to lessons both online and in person, it became burdensome to the point of harming Jacks other studies. Basically, we needed to do exactly what we are doing now – we examined the benefit/work ratio and decided that the work, while honorable, was not likely to pay off in any meaningful way. Nearly everyone here speaks English so there was little chance to practice. Really working on and practicing Portuguese would make sense if we had obtained residency here but that never worked out either. Given that we may or may not be here next winter (immigration issues again) there was little point to committing the time necessary to learn this challenging language. Sometimes you just gotta punt.
We have made new friends and old friends have visited. We have thoroughly and completely traveled and learned the Algarve as well as a few other well known Portuguese cities. So even though the cruising goal may become sidelined for the time being, the goal of living overseas continues to thrive. The blog is gaining momentum thanks to readers like you – so thank you – you make it enjoyable to write and to share our experiences with you. I have submitted 2 pieces of work to magazines and I continue to work on and learn how to improve my writing. We have all spent far more time reading this past year than ever before and we all continue to exercise and eat well. So on balance – even though this isn’t exactly what I thought or hoped we would be doing right now, Im going to take a deep breath, thank God for this opportunity to just “be” and send all of you love and calming energy.
Thanks for reading!