First of all, thanks to everyone who has reached out with the birthday wishes. It was a great day of relaxation, home cooked food and snuggling with the other birthday boy- Scruffy.
As I look back on my 31st lap around the sun, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been lucky enough to experience. From skiing to sailing, to new colleagues and friends, I have quite a few more stamps in my passport and there is no plan to slow down this next year. I also still have 2 more weeks left as reigning Rhode Island Boater of the Year, so I plan to enjoy that massive burden of power as well 🙂
The last few months have been a whirlwind of countries, flights, experiences, but also self-reflection. Many think it must be a dream job to work with a VOR team, and while it does have fulfilling elements, it is a job with stresses and grinds like any other. Long days and nights while balancing life has its trade-offs. I often find myself in awe of the families in the race who have done this for decades.
Last I wrote, I was in Alicante, Spain for the kickoff of the Volvo Ocean Race. Since then, the team has sailed (and won) the first leg into Lisbon, Portugal then also onto Cape Town, South Africa. They are currently in the Southern Ocean bound for Melbourne, Australia while I am back in Rhode Island watching the snow fall outside.
In between all the stopovers, I travel back to lil’ Rhodey. Between Spain and Portugal, it was just a week but Lisbon and Cape Town was nearly a month which allowed for some skiing in Vermont. Right now, it is just 10 days before jet-setting to Australia. Some people go non-stop without ever going home during the race but I have quickly realized the revitalizing nature of just sleeping in your own bed with your dog, spending time with your loved ones, and home-cooked meals keep oneself mentally and emotionally grounded.
As far as the cities so far: Alicante was a vibrant town of outgoing people, Lisbon was full of old culture and Cape Town was a gorgeous backdrop of mountains and sea. Unfortunately, my job does not afford the luxury of time to be a tourist in these cities as I spend most of my time working inside a container that travels around the world with us. So, therefore, I have the same office wherever I go. However, the evenings provide an opportunity to get out of the village and experience all the unique culinary examples and libations of the country 🙂 The Highlights: Tapas and Red Wine = Alicante. Octopus and a White Port = Lisbon. Steak and ALL Wines = Cape Town.
Finally, in Cape Town, my flight on the last day was not until 9 pm, so I got up early on the last day and fit in as much touristing as possible. The night prior, I went to Signal Hill to watch the Sunset over the Southern Ocean. Then I woke up at 6 am to hike the last 2,000 feet up Table Mountain.
When I say hike, I mean it. It was full-on four wheeling, using hands and sometimes knees to scramble up as fast as you can before the trail gets in the sun and the temperatures becoming scorching. I summited just before 8 am and enjoyed watching the dassies, a funny looking rodent that looks like a cross between a bunny rabbit and woodchuck scurrying around and basking in the sun.
I was able to catch a cable car down the mountain in time to get on a ferry bound for Robben Island – the prison island just off Cape Town where Nelson Mandela and thousands of other political prisoners were held during Apartied. It was a powerful and moving experience. Our tour guide was an ex-political prisoner of the island who returned for self-healing but also for a job in tough society.
The afternoon continued with lunch, an aquarium, and a museum extending my level of exhaustion to an all-time high leading to a gratifying sleep on a red-eye to London then onward to Boston.
From here on out, I am going to try to tack on extra days to my trips to get the most of this opportunity that I have luckily been granted. Brandon will be joining me in Australia next week, and my dad plans to come to New Zealand in March. Despite, being surrounded by tons of people, these adventures can be very lonely when you do not have the people you love to experience them alongside you.
What makes our Persistence Adventures fulfilling are the people (and dogs!) I share the memories with. So I look forward to another year of Persistence Adventures.