So, while our second day of the leg indicated that fishing was decidedly fruitful on our route, we had also managed to pack our ice-box with about 30lbs of fish, making it kinda superfluous to throw the lines out again. Ellen has never really been a huge fan of the whole “killing animals” thing, and our parents will be happy to know that John and I have been well conditioned to avoid killing anything unless we are sure to make use of it, so fishing as a diversionary activity was out. Unfortunately, this left us with absolute oodles of spare time, and very little to fill it. Have you ever spent nine months sharing exactly the same experiences as someone (or several someones) else, day in and day out? If not, then let me give you a little insight into what happens to conversation after so long. You can only relive an event so many times before you realize that you are really just trading off lines from your previous conversations to have some diversity. On top of that, half of what you have to say has either been anticipated, so someone else says it simultaneously, or is a phrase that we have used so many times, we might as well have left it unsaid. As a result, we all turned to alternative entertainment to maintain our sanity. Ellen listened to her podcasts, John somehow powered through his literary sleep aid Diplomacy, and I alternated between listening to Harry Potter and writing blog entries (which I clearly should have done more of, so I wouldn’t still be trying to catch up in mid-April).
For all my whining, this was actually an incredibly pleasant time for me. For a few days we enjoyed a luxury that few people get to experience. Prolonged separation from society, internet and cell reception has a wonderful way of focusing the mind. The only way most people can approximate this feeling is to turn their phones off for a few hours, and even then, there is always the concern that someone might be trying to contact them, providing an unwelcome temptation. Our enforced solitude was therefore blessedly relaxing, as there was literally no way we could possibly contact anyone, even if we were in trouble. The nearest country for three straight days was Cuba, and the only other live voices that penetrated our world were those of a fishing boat and a Cuban dock officer, having a conversation over the vhf that I’m quite certain I couldn’t understand. We swam, we read, and for a few days, we inhabited the world that we had created for ourselves over so many months, completely remote from the society in which we have lived most of our lives, and to which we had to ultimately return. This remoteness actually made for a fantastic culmination to our trip. After months of frantic anxiety about schedules and getting to port on time, having a few days to simply exist in this totally solitary world and reflect on everything we had done was truly gratifying.