The Minimalist Sailor

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Feminism

Wow! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote something here. I can’t really explain what happened, I honestly don’t know. I’ve been traveling a lot to see family and friends, we’ve been busy as usual, Splendid is really over the hill now and getting prettier and ready to take off, a mix of different things.

It’s Saturday, 6:21 pm, and today I feel like sharing something I’ve been thinking about.

Right now it’s sunset and I’m sitting at the table in the main saloon, eating some Argentine liquorice-flavored candy and drinking room temperature gingery chai tea with soymilk in my favorite cup. Alex is in the foredeck, drinking water and looking at the lightning in the sky. It’s not raining but there’s electricity in the air. Alex can smell it. I can’t, but he usually tells me. I’m still here, inside, because we just finished dinner and, in our home, I’m the one in charge of cleaning up and doing dishes. Alex is free to go as soon as we feel ready to get up and do something else, but I have this chore that I like to do right away because I don’t want to postpone it and wait till everything’s dry and stuck to the plates and cutlery, so without giving it any thought I always stay behind and take 10, maybe 15 minutes to do the dishes, put everything away and clean the table, sink and counters. Then I’m free too to join Alex or to do anything else I fancy.

When you have this amazing lifestyle you never HAVE TO go anywhere or do anything really (no kidding). Life is an infinite instant in which you go with the flow and do what you feel like doing at any given moment. Most of the time we have no idea which day of the week it is, Alex often asks me what month it is, even. Of course we have some responsibilities but time is somewhat loose and easily accommodates to our whims and energy.

For some reason I started thinking about these things that I do so automatically nowadays. I remember when my family first visited they felt a bit strange seeing me just get up and clean up without Alex offering to help, my family is not conservative at all so few things are taken for granted, we analyze and discuss customs and traditions naturally and often. I had to verbally explain that Alex was not being lazy or disrespectful at all, that we had divided chores in the way that suited us best and that it really worked for us. Soon they could see what I meant exactly, but it surprised them at first, like it surprises other people we know. It got me thinking about feminism and what that word means. Many times we pass judgment without considering the different variables involved. And times change.

For those of you who might be interested in hearing about a normal day on Splendid, bear with me, you know my posts are quite long but as you can see I might not write for the next 6 months.

Let’s rewind slowly. Have you seen the movie “Memento”? The story unravels backwards, it’s a cool concept, let’s see if I can play with it…

So I’m sitting here at the computer writing this blog. (Jump back a few seconds)

Now I’m drinking my cool chai tea and munching dark brown candies. I think about writing a blog and go to the aft cabin to get my computer (Go back a few more minutes)

Now you see me putting away the salt and the barbecue sauce. I wipe the table. I go get my candy. In a flash I come back with one in my mouth and a few in my hand.

(Let’s jump back a few seconds again) I’m now picking up the only plate left on the table. It has the fish bones in it. I go to the cockpit to throw them into the sea. I stay to see if any fish come from under the boat to eat them. I see none.

I pick up the plates, knives and forks.

I put all the fish bones in one plate.

Alex asks if I don’t mind him going outside to lie in the hammock. I say of course not. I imagine there’s a beautiful sunset outside but I’d rather stay in for a couple more minutes and clean the mess. I’m a bit full and lazy, and that is why I want to do it right now. I think about having something sweet for dessert, remember my candies next to the bed and the response is incredible, like Spinach to Popeye, I spring up and start clearing the table like Speedy Gonzalez.

We eat the most delicious dinner and talk about Splendid, how we are coming to a time where she is almost the way we want her. We talk about some dreams and plans we have for the future. We talk about our families. Alex makes silly remarks and makes me laugh most of the time (I pretend to reprimand him to make him laugh in return) while we enjoy our lovely food. A few times I have to say how delicious the food is “¡Qué rica comida, Pepo!”.

Alex looks for ketchup and there is none left. He decides to go for the barbecue sauce (made with brown sugar) which ends up being the perfect companion for the thick, crunchy, creamy home-made fries we have on the plate.

Alex separates the white meat from the bones and puts the best pieces on my plate. He knows I still find it hard to eat fish so he makes sure I don’t see the head or have to touch the little skeleton. He always makes sure he tells me how proud of me he is, that he loves it that I now eat fish sometimes.

I cut a tomato and put some pieces on Alex’s plate and some on mine. I put some olive oil on it.

Alex fries the snapper and the potatoes (two batches of extra crispy wedges). He looks for paper towels but we are out. He puts a roll of toilet paper on the towel holder and uses it to get some of the oil off the potatoes. He puts some salt on it all and puts the food on the table.

Alex rows us back home. We put the oars on top of the bimini, in between the surfboards, all the snorkeling gear on the deck for it to dry a little. We decide to have a quick shower inside today (most of the time we use the sprayer outside). I am a little hungry so he decides to start cooking right away. He takes four small potatoes and he washes and cuts them.

Alex cleans the fish with his knife on the beach. I’m feeling a little lazy so I stay in the dinghy just feeling the water pushing us toward the sand and then pulling us back. Alex comes back with a headless fish with no scales and he starts rowing. We come across Owen on the way home, I hold on to one of the handles on his dingy and he holds on to out rubrail so that we can talk for a while. The current brings us to a shallow area of some coral and sand but we continue chatting until it starts getting too shallow for Owen’s outboard. We do not have one so we do not really care. That’s one of the wonderful things about having a hard rowing dinghy, it always works and if you touch the sand you just give it a push with an oar, you don’t have to worry about it. My favorite thing about it is that fish get curious about you instead of getting frightened. So dolphins might come and play, you see stingrays passing under you, turtles pop their heads out of the water, it’s so beautiful.

We jump off the boat and go snorkeling, Alex of course has his gun ready. We swim for a few minutes to get to the deeper water. Alex dives down to a beautiful cave and stays down there for a while. I keep swimming but very soon I can hear his spear hit against something. I now hear him yelling “woooo hooo” so I know he caught something interesting. He tells me to swim away and not to look, that he has caught a nice snapper. I’m surprised how fast it all happened. He kills the fish quickly with his knife. We get to the boat, he shows it to me and asks: “Do you think this is enough for the two of us for dinner?” I tell him absolutely. We decide to go home and come back fishing again tomorrow. As Alex starts rowing our boat and I sit back and look at the oars go from white to the most amazing shades of turquoise as they go in and out of the water, I think about our life and smile. Alex reads my mind and says: “We have the most amazing life, don’t we? I mean it, isn’t this the most amazing life a person can have?” I have to agree 100%.

So, going back to feminism, what happened today got me thinking about all its forms, where it began and what it has come to mean today, how the concept changes a little from culture to culture but mostly as time goes by and society evolves. What is considered feminine today? What should we women be getting together and fighting for? What issues are still troubling us? The urgent matters come to mind immediately (domestic violence, sexual aggression, human trafficking, etc.) but then other things are not so cut and dry anymore.

From my view of the world today I can’t help but feeling that fighting for our rights in the workforce was something that was necessary a couple of decades ago but that now the fight should shift back to having the right to not have to compete with men (in the workforce or in any other aspect of our lives). I know this is absolutely personal, I don’t mean to offend anyone or to say that all women (or men) are the same, nothing like that. I’m just sharing with you how I feel today because I think it might be interesting.

I feel so fortunate to have Alex to row the boat when the both of us are in it, and hunt for me and clean the fish and make it look like a white amorphous thing on my plate so that I can eat it. I also love it that he can handle the sails and lines, do (and undo) really tight knots, fix the engine and do all those other tasks that require physical strength I do not have or wish I had. I feel so safe here on Splendid with him. And I mean that in the purest, deepest way.

If you’ve been reading us for a while you know that I’d been traveling the world, by myself, with very little money for nearly 15 years when I met Alex, I loved it and I would be doing it right now if we were not together for some reason. I’m trying to explain that I feel safe in the sense that when I lived on land and had bills I loved teaching but I didn’t like fighting for my salary with some employer. I don’t have that competitive argumentative edge that comes so natural to Alex. I am sensitive and get hurt by confrontation. I love it that Alex is always ready to defend me when someone is rude or unfair. I don’t have to prove anything. I love to be in charge of making the boat a beautiful place to live. I’m so much better at it than him as well. What’s wrong with being the one who keeps the nest cozy? I love it! Having a profession was great while I was out there in the world but this world I live in now is so awesome, natural, stress-free and simple. Living in nature, with lots of free time and basic roles just fits me like a glove, what can I say? I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I can’t help feeling that I have recovered my femininity in some ways and that’s what I thought was interesting today. I watch Mad Men (I adore that show) and I know we’ve come a long way since the 60s; that women needed a change and it was great that we have evolved as a society. But, at the same time, I also feel that I’m delighted to be a housewife, I am not sure that was a change I personally wanted. I feel it is great that more and more families (by choice and not by need) are leaving the big cities and moving to the countryside, the mountains or the sea looking for nature and peace. It’s like going back to the past, but way way further than Mad Men. Back to the time in which men went hunting or fishing and women picked up the grain and collected fruit. And the children grew up with their parents, learning from them. And we woke up at sunrise, had dinner with our faces lit by the fire, told each other stories and fell asleep looking at the stars.

Updated: November 30, -0001 — 00:00

1 Comment

  1. I want to thank the people who commented on this blog post!! I read your beautiful words the other day and responded to them but unfortunately it happened at nearly the same time we re-launched the site and I lost the comments!!

    I’m so sorry about that guys!!! Feel free to re-post them if you have a copy in an email or something, I don’t know how it works, if you get any confirmation or something. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I did read them and that your support is everything to us! This interaction with you is what makes it all special, to hear your stories.

    This website is not a mirror to see our own reflection (boring) but bottles we throw into the sea while we anxiously wait for your bottles to reach us.

    We love you.

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