It’s been six years since we left the docks of La Cruz to cross the Pacific. I remember waving to friends in the hot sun, and watching as they ran along the breakwater for a final goodbye. One friend called me over the radio once we were ten minutes out, and I began to cry.
Now we’re back. It was early morning, and the decks were wet with dew. We pulled up a long string of flags – from all the places we’ve been – and we blasted ‘Land Ho’ by Supertramp, our traditional coming-into-harbour song. It was silent in the marina, and I spotted a few little kids on their scooters, zooming down the wide flat docks. It was like a weird time warp.
Everything was the same, but so different. The shop where I used to get palatas is still across the town square, but the iguana tree that housed the large lizards has been cut down and the iguanas have moved elsewhere. Our favourite taco restaurant is still here, and the tacos are just as good as I remember, but just up the street is a health food café painted in avocado green. That did not use to be here. For everything that stayed the same, there is one subtle change and each one throws me a bit off balance.
We’ve sailed over 37, 000 nautical miles, and we’ve circumnavigated the world. I don’t know how to feel about this. For months, I’ve been thrilled about being so close to home. We’ve been moving past and jumping from harbour to harbour. And now that I’m here – doing yoga on the docks in the cool morning, walking up to get a stack of hot fresh tortillas before the sun heats up the sleepy town, waving at the cats on all the various boats – I don’t know what I want. I’m fairly sure I want to go home.
But it will be hard. I think leaving this life will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Humans are adaptable creatures, and I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but I’ll miss watching the sun come up from my cockpit while I drink tea, I’ll miss lying around in my pyjamas to do school – hell, I’ll even miss baking cakes in my tiny kitchen and tinier oven.
I’ll go back to the same life that most people live, and I think I’m ok with that. Actually it really annoys me when people tell me that boat kids are ‘superior’ to land kids, that we’re going to have better lives than them simply cause our parents stuck us on a boat. I don’t think that’s true. I have immense respect for the people who are living more traditional lives, because in a way it’s much harder. We don’t have to put down roots. We flit from town to city to island to country. But now I’ll be going home, I’ll have the same backyard every day, I won’t wake up wondering what country I’m in. I’m trying to come to terms with that.
I wonder if this life has changed me in some way, if I’ll have to keep moving to be happy. I hope not. But I’m not sure. What I’m trying to say, is that now a bit of the giddiness has worn off, and I’m realizing that this trip is over. I’m realizing that boat-to-land isn’t going to be a smooth transition. I’m scared. I’m worried. The excitement hasn’t kicked in yet because I’m still mourning the last leg of the journey.