|Cry me a river, why dontcha?|
You know what really bugs me? The fact that, because my husband and I live on a boat in the Caribbean, I have no right to complain about anything. Because, obviously, our life is "perfect" and because of where our GPS coordinates place us on the map, we are allowed to be nothing more than grateful for the sweltering heat, torrential downpours, our ever growing project list and any other slice of life pie that doesn't sit right in our bellies at any given moment. I mean, how dare we complain about these things, right? We're living a life that most people dream of!
When I say that it's hot, I get emails and comments saying, "Well, it's certainly better than shoveling snow!" or if I mention I've been busy, I get a snarky "please" from someone who is (obviously) busier than I, or... when I complain we have a lot to fix, I get "well at least you have a boat to fix!" I'm all for looking on the bright side (I mean, have you read my blog?) but sometimes, the dark side wins and a grievance slips out. Once, when I lamented in a tiny Facebook update about the non-stop rainy and stormy weather in the BVI's, one follower called me "spoiled". Whatever, I get it: we put our story out there for all to see and this gives people the right to talk back. This goes with the territory of having a blog with a large audience. People think our life is a dream and we should be nothing but appreciative for it. Every. Single. Second. After all, they are the ones who sit in traffic every morning, drinking stale coffee and commuting to the job they despise. They are the ones who actually suffer (suffer being a very relative term here). People like us? We just sit around, twiddling our thumbs and wonder what tropical slushy rum drink to order next while we hang out in beach bars yucking it up with colorful folks like Jimmy Buffett.
Um...not so much.
First of all, I would like you all to know that just because we live on a boat in the Caribbean does NOT mean our life is "perfect." Okay, so our backdrop might be a little more dynamic and dramatic than the average midwestern suburb, but that doesn't mean it's always beautiful. Sometimes, islands are a mess... garbage is everywhere, heartbreakingly scrawny stray dogs play in the gutters, and buildings are anything but "quaint". We've visited places where we wouldn't even jump in the water. And, despite what it might seem in the brochures, not every local is welcoming us with open arms and big toothy grins. Some are mean, rude, and don't enjoy our presence. This is still real life down here, complete with good, bad and ugly influences. People imagine that our life is one huge extension of their last all-inclusive vacation in St. Whatever-it-was. Negative, Ghost Rider... Rarely, if ever, are we in the manicured areas of the resorts. Rarely, if ever, do we eat at the five-star buffets offered to week-at-a-time tourists. We take public transportation, not just for a "thrill" or an "experience", but because we have to. We eat at local places not just to be "adventurous" but because that's what makes sense for our budget. I'm not complaining, it's just how it is. We actually prefer it this way. But I promise you, not all of you would enjoy this view. Travel the way we do it is an acquired taste, it's polarizing and not for everyone. Sometimes, it's not even for us. Sometimes, it sucks. Sometime, (GASP!) it's boring.
The majority of our days are not spent lounging under waving palm fronds listening to waves lap up against the shore. Despite what you might think, we work and those days spent hanging on the beach drinking cocktails are the exception, not the norm. I spend a terrific amount of time on our blog and sponsorships and Scott is the relief captain for Island Windjammers. "But your husband only works for one month every three" you say, rolling your eyes at the ease of this schedule. This is true, but the reason this works for us is because we probably SPEND A LOT LESS THAN YOU. We don't have cars, we don't have mortgages, we don't buy fancy clothes and shoes, we don't have school loans, we don't pay for daycare, our social calendar is collecting dust, we have hardly any bills, we don't pay nearly as much for gas and utilities...the list goes on. We don't NEED to work as much because we live on a boat and have chosen to live with a little less than most of our landlubbing peers. This was all part of our plan because to have me "stay at home" with Isla and not have to work was a priority for us. What's more, when the "paid" work is finished, the unpaid work begins. We maintain our boat almost exclusively by ourselves and this is no walk in the park. Ever take apart a toilet and get human excrement on you? If you sign up for this life, I assure you - this is in your future. And that's not even the hard work. Get excited, people.
The truth of the matter is, while many of you look at full-time cruisers and think "How nice! I wish I could live like that," I'd be willing to bet that only a very small percentage of you would actually WANT to live on a boat full-time when push came to shove. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that after a few weeks of living on a boat as we do; dealing with the never-ending upkeep, living in cramped quarters, sailing in nasty weather, struggling to get the lay of the land, sweating your ass off in some dingy harbor, constantly dealing with broken systems and the fact that even the most menial chores take two or three times longer than they do on land - I probably couldn't pay some of you to live on a boat. It is hard work and, while we might make it look easy, believe me - it is not. Life on land is much, much easier. I'm not trying to dissuade anyone, because most people who are gearing up to cruise full-time already know all this (at least, I hope they do) but - as incredible as this life is (and, yes, it is incredible) - it has its...moments.
We have our issues, just like you. We have our bad days, just like you. We have moments where we wonder why we're doing this, and some days we even wish we lived a "normal" life on land. It's far from perfect, but it's our life and, for now, it's the life we want to lead because the positives outweigh the negatives for us. But no life and certainly no person is "perfect" and this is important to be mindful of. "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is". I think it's crucial not to idealize full-time cruising because you are in for one hell of a shock if you are expecting your life to mimic a Jimmy Buffet album. It's like that only some of the time...like, maybe 2%. If you are childless, you might be able to eek it up to around 8 or 10%. Maybe.
So excuse me if I want to complain about the weather/my boat/my hair/cooking...etc. from time to time, but I'm only human. And yes, I live in paradise. But you know what? I am still waiting for the day when I can waste away in Margaritaville. So, how 'bout you play that tune for me on that teeny-tiny violin you're holding? Thanks.