Departure in 174 days. Jeez-o-Pete the time is galloping by! I keep saying to people “I’ve got more than five months” before leaving home (Oranjemund), for Istanbul, but the weeks are moving along much faster than I’m comfortable with. Not that my comfort makes a whit of difference.
I have been thinking that, for fun, I might just copy and paste the incredible list of stuff that has to be (or that I want to be) taken care of before MV GEMINI pulls away from the dock in Istanbul on 1 Nov. And the previous sentence is an excellent example of the fact that it takes even longer than one would think because I tend to get “distracted” by all kinds of (to me) interesting trivia in the process of actually getting something done. For instance, I wondered how to properly write the name of the ship so I had to look it up. Turns out there is no universally accepted standard for this and there are differences between numerous organizations and sources of standard styles, and even options within some of the styles. There does seem to be a relatively commonly accepted standard of capitalizing the name of the vessel and putting it in italics font (as I show above). But the prefix (in this case MV meaning “motor vessel”) is NOT Italicized. Go figure. Reasons? Maybe for another blog (but I doubt it).
At any rate, I have already accumulated well over 100 things that I have to take care of before leaving land on 1 Nov. I’m very sure that’s a good count, but I haven’t counted them yet. When I “finish” (take that term loosely) the list I will probably publish it JFTHOI*.
The point being, our lives are incredibly complicated and we have little “hooks” into things all over the place that need to be “unhooked” if one starts to do something other than the norm. I pretty much live in that reality, as my friends will attest. I now live in a very small town in sub-Saharan Africa surrounded by a mix of savvy, modern, well-educated people and lots of other folks who have not had the privileged upbringing many of us have had. We privileged few long for the largely imaginary days when you could just “up and go” the way I assumed people would do in a village or a nomadic tribe. I have many friends, here, who were raised in rural villages and return home frequently. They confirm they have to think about who is going to (as a simple example) take care of, and harvest, the mahangu – a grain somewhat like wheat but more nutritious.
Mahangu has been a staple in the diet for many of the tribes here in Namibia for centuries, perhaps millennia.
And who will take care of the cattle? My very dear friends Usie and Christolina (left, center) have a farm in a rural area of eastern Namibia closer to Botswana. They live for the most part in Windhoek, the capital and largest city in Namibia, but they are trying to find a way to move to Oranjemund. When they are not at the farm, his relatives and other villagers take care of everyone else’s property, livestock, and grain fields. It is so much a part of the culture that they don’t even think about it much unless I bring it up.
This may not seem to have much to do with a trip around the world, but the “administrivia” that fills all of our lives, and sometimes demands lists, unites us all. I’ve spent many hours with Christy working on her plans to complete a Master’s in Public Health, and detailing everything necessary to do that. It doesn’t matter the culture, the background, or the hemisphere – lists will be with us forever, and everywhere.
What does all of this have to do with lists? In my case, there is no one else to just pick up my life in mid-stream and keep it going the way people are used to here. So, I must make sure things I take for granted are taken care of while I’m gone. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the same lack of having a family here makes it possible for me to make a trip like this and makes it more difficult to take care of necessary stuff I can’t otherwise just let go of.
For instance, I have a PO Box at my home of record, Sausalito, California (near San Francisco). Over many years, I’ve cut down on stuff landing in my PO Box and I have hardly any junk mail, but once in a while there are organizations (usually state or local government) who simply cannot, or will not, move to a “no paper” existence. So maybe once a month I get something in my PO Box that I MUST deal with. Once I know about it, I can usually take care of it online, which will present no problem on the MV GEMINI since it is set up to continue to be able to work from home – 24/7 worldwide Wifi, etc. My friend Tim has been checking the PO Box every month or two for years and photographs or scans anything I need to care about and sends me the info. It worked out well for many years. But he is likely to be moving in the next year or so and I need to find someone to check the PO Box and tell me what I need to pay attention to. Doable, but not yet resolved. And not straightforward since I have very few contacts left in that area.
That is just one of the >100 items, by the way. I’m still not sure what to do with that particular issue. Sigh… If anyone reading this is around the San Francisco area, let me know. There is no mailing, just checking the box every month or so and email me photos of stuff that matters. It’s also a good way to stay in touch on video so we can determine what matters and what doesn’t.
I’m sure all of you reading have the same experiences when you leave home for a while. It gets you “in touch” with how complicated and intertwined things are in our modern lives. With a three-year trip looming just on the horizon, I am feeling VERY “in touch” with the interdependencies. Even with that, I’m sure I perceive only a small fraction of how much our world is connected, one thing to another. It’s easy to “be in touch” when the lack of those dependencies creates inconveniences. It is less demanding of our attention when the dependencies create what come to be orginary things and possibilities – we tend to take those for granted until they are missing, then they are inconvenient. It amazes me sometimes how we find we absolutely cannot live without something that we didn’t even dream of 10 years ago!
One of the more fun aspects of my current efforts to “cut loose” and go to sea is deciding what to take aboard when it is, shall we say, less than essential? For instance, I want to take my DeLonghi espresso maker – making a latte’ is a morning ritual I like and am used to. I must make sure the unit is certified for marine use, meaning the FRR code (Fire Resistance Rating) is OK. I just wrote DeLonghi, and we’ll see what kind of response I get. Since the request is a bit out of the ordinary, I don’t expect good results first time around, but then I’ve gotten a little (just a little) cynical I suppose.
The same requirement exists for my getting an office chair to save my back from the many hours I’ll spend at a desk working on this blog. I’m now researching good, ergonomic, chairs to ensure it has appropriate FRR for marine use. These seem like small items, but I’m sure they will involve more trouble than would seem apparent.
I have four lists identified in my task management software: (1) Need ON the ship, (2) Do BEFORE we depart, (3) What to get on our brief stop in the USA in Miami (about 18 hours, just to pick up Residents and supplies I presume), and (4) Before leaving Oranjemund.
For example, before leaving Oranjemund I must arrange to store my personal items from the house (arrangements are done – thank you Mike, Michele and Arthur!), pack the items to be stored (already started but will finish the day before I leave), find boxes to store all the valuable crap ierrrr, valuable personal goods!), arrange a property manager to rent my house and care for it while I’m gone, change responsibility to pay utility bills, change Internet/Wifi account, change the alarm system, put my car on blocks and change to non-operational insurance plus commercial/landlord insurance for the house, find a place to store the car for three+ years, figure out what I need to do for Namibian auto registration since I won’t be around for three renewals, get someone a power of attorney in case of … whatever, find someone to take over the English Practice group I run weekly for 10th graders, notify my neighbors, and several other things that need to be done but don’t make sense to write down here.
I may need to help find someone to be Father Christmas for the town off and on. My white hair, beard, and unfortunately my belt length make me a good candidate for that venerable role. Plus it’s fun to wear fur, a red bathrobe, and give presents to the kids! That will be one of the things I miss.
Fortunately, I don’t need to convince myself that this trip is worth the trouble!
For a long time, since I reached retirement age just after getting to Namibia eight years ago (ie: started getting Social Security payments), I have had the luxury of planning my time only when necessary for the projects I had undertaken with the Peace Corps. For the past several years my life has been a LOT more unstructured than it was while I was working for pay. But now faced with time constraints and the sheer volume of “stuff to do” I find myself back in the mode of needing to pick priorities, shuffle time, and generally be more responsible. Oh well.
I’ve had a few interesting questions from friends and readers to the effect of “How do you plan to deal with ______?” Not wanting to bore you with every detail of my life (I hope it’s not too late to worry about that?), please feel free to post questions about preparation, or whatever you want to know. I’ll do my best to answer you specifically, and perhaps put the answer into a blog if it’s the kind of thing people would be interested in. If I get too many questions, I’ll make a list! 😏
Now I’m off to a braai (BBQ) meeting of a town action committee we formed to help this town move into being an independent community from its origins as a housing development for the diamond mining company here. More on that one of these days on my other website WITWIA.COM, which will hold anything I want to say that doesn’t involve the Life At Sea experience. On the menu above, go to “Contact Me > WITWIA” for an explanation of that site, and a link to it.
See you on the next posting
* If you were wondering, JFTHOI means “Just For The Hell Of It”. You might see that off and on in my postings. Mostly to see if you’re paying attention!