Sunday, May 22, 2011

La Realité

Baie Nettle, Marigot, St. Martin - There comes a time in every relationship when the honeymoon ends and la realité sets in. All the bad habits, the pimples and morning bedhead come to light and you wonder, “what was I thinking?” Well, it’s not quite like that, but now that we’ve been in St. Martin for about a month, we can see some of the reality to living here.
Firstly, it is the issue with computers…. There is always some obstacle here!!  The latest one is that I plug into the outlets in my apartment and sometimes the battery charges, sometimes it doesn’t.  I walk around the apartment with cable in hand and test each outlet.  There are some days it works in the bathroom, other days it doesn’t; some days it works in the living room, other days it doesn’t; some days in the living room, other days it doesn’t.  My computer also has some weird issue with Skype, where the system crashes every time I try to use it.  I finally unistalled it, but unfortunatley cannot skyp with anyone.
Another thing I still cannot figure out after all this time is the bus system and fares.  Firstly, the buses are not buses like we are used to, but privately owned mini-vans with three rows of seats in the back.  There is no rhyme or reason to the color, model or size…. Just random mini-vans.  Some have little signs on them so you know for sure they are public transportation, most do not.  I therefore find myself flagging down vans that are not meant to be public transportation, but rather a regular driver who is minding his own business driving down the road in his mini-van, or it could be a flower or pizza delivery van or something else, but you don’t know this until he is close.  The drivers and I share a good chuckle over this as they wag their fingers “non” at me through the windshield, and I see on the side of the van as it goes by, “St. Martin Windows & Glass” or “Pizza au Emporter” or some other name.

Then there are the fares…. How much does the bus fare cost, you ask???! I have no idea! At first, we were told US$ 1 - one US dollar each… which equals $3 for the three of us. We paid that for the longest time until I take another bus, the driver tells me that it is only $2:  1 for me and fifty cents each for the kids and to fight it if someone tried to tell me otherwise.  So, the next time I get into the “bus/van” I don’t have US Dollars, but Euros, so I’m thinking, “well…. The exchange rate for $2 US dollars would be roughly 75-95 cents, in Euros,” depending on the exchange rate that day, so I give the guy 1 Euro – and I thought I was being generous!!!  Boy…. Did he read me the riot act! In French and Creole!  And even though I kept calmly saying, “Sir, I’m not from here, just tell me how much it is…” he kept going on and on about “the high price of gas and if you don’t have enough you should have told me!”  I gave him 3 Euros and got off his bus/van.
When I have asked around, people tell me the buses cost ONE… one DOLLAR or one EURO it doesn’t matter.  Half the time I never see people paying… so I don’t know if they’ve bought some sort of pass, or they know the driver of the bus/van, or it’s that informal communication that goes on in different cultures that we tourists, as outsiders, never quite seem to understand.  Whatever!  I now just act like I know what I am doing and hand the driver 2 Euros and get off the bus… they have not disputed it since. 

I have found a solution to this issue by resorting to alternative methods of transportation…. And Dad, close your eyes/ears…. I have actually hitch-hiked with and without les enfants.  This is very common on the island since the buses/vans are not reliable.  And it is not weird looking old men who do it, it can be a family with children that pulls over to pick you up.  I do feel safe when I do this, so Dad, please don’t worry.
So, now let’s talk about my cuisine.  Yes, I know, très quaint… it’s outside, you never get food smells inside the house, and you squeegee the mess from each meal right off the balcony, yada-yada-yada. But no one ever tells you about what to do when there are massive monsoon-like rains… how are you supposed to cook then? Lately it has been raining quite a bit – every day there is a “YELLOW” warning meaning pre-hurricane - and it comes on kind of quickly… so you could be out eating and all of a sudden, “grab the plates and the food!” and you’re slipping and sliding all over your squeegee-ed tile floor trying to get inside!  Or let’s say the rain has already passed and you want to eat, well now all your dishes and glasses and pots and pans, and table and chairs are – you guessed it - WET!  People don’t seem to complain, so I do as the Romans do and just get out a little towel and dry my things and make our meal.

On the bright side of things, I have been meeting some colorful characters during our stay and it is such a small island, I run into people all the time.  I like that part of it! There are two women from my complex, both who work at the boulangerie I always go to use their Wi-Fi (pronounced “wee-fee” in French).  One is my next door neighbor with the big German Shepherd whom I see from my kitchen during mealtimes, and the other I will call Topless Girl, because, well, she is always topless at the pool.  The next door neighbor loves to bake and the smells emanating from her outside kitchen are irresistible… she has baked and then given us brownies and cookies on a couple of occasions, much to the kids’ delight!  Then there is the masseuse who is very nice, and her Private Eye Investigator boyfriend who used to work in Special Ops under Sarcozy.  I guess he retired as a Colonel in France and came here to live, and now has a profitable P.I. business trying to catch spouses in illicit activities.  He says there is a lot of business for this here in St. Martin and in St. Barts. There’s the Brazilian who is a renowned piano teacher on the island and of course, Sylvan the restaurant owner and Delfine, the waitress.  All of these people live in the complex but frequent the same boulangerie, supermarkets and travel the roads at the same time I do, so they may be the ones I get rides from on occasion.
I continue to take French lessons from my very good teacher.  She is the mother of Liam, one of the children who go to the same school as the kids.  She teaches English at the school but also teaches French to foreigners, as well as does translations for the courts on both sides of the island. We share a passion for linguistics and for the subtleties of different languages when we compare them.  I enjoy my time with her, since I can really practice understanding the nuances to the French language and culture.  Through her, I see that life in St. Martin is difficult from many people… very expensive and “not what it used to be.”  There are the wealthy few and the rest of the population is struggling.  I hear often that “there are no jobs.” And I can see poor Sylvan at the restaurant has no business.  The bad economy has affected everyone…  and I have heard more than one person say the Americans are not coming here as often.

So, life goes on…. And Sebastian is still on the boat.  We spoke on Thursday before he left Bermuda  – so he’s 2 days into his trip - en route to the Azores.  ETA: 20 days.  He says they are sailing well and fast and have implemented a routine of sailing shifts between the three of them during the entire 24 hour period, not just at nights.  It appears that is working better for them.
At the marina here in Marigot, I ran into one of our sailing buddies from the Bahamas.  He ended up coming over for dinner last night to get caught up.  It was nice to have company, although I find that I am keeping myself very busy here with the kids’ and my activities.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Bermuda - The captain called today from Bermuda.  It was so nice to hear his voice after what is actually not that long, but one week, sailing the seas just seems to be so far away…. Sebastian talks fondly of Bermuda.  He says it is beautiful, orderly and very British.  I guess he and the crew have been hanging out with the sailing crowd at the Dinghy Club Happy Hour.  The plan is still to leave this coming Wednesday in the a.m. after filling up the tanks with fuel. I
t is a small world and especially in these sailing circles… Sebastian ran into the folks from Tehani-Li…. A boat we met back in Culebra, off of Puerto Rico and had seen them at various ports throughout the US and British Virgin Islands.  Sebastian says he was approached by them on their dinghy passing by. This is a couple from Australia and Quebec who have been sailing for the last ten years.

Sebastian also ran into Aurora… the Argentinean woman who is sailing solo from St. Martin to Portugal, stopping in Bermuda and the Azores.  I am not sure I have mentioned her before but our sailing friend Alex back in Chicago had read about her on the internet and wrote to tell us that Aurora was in St. Martin preparing to cross.  We dinghy-ed over to the marina where her boat was parked on the Dutch side of the island and introduced ourselves and ended up spending about 6 hours with her drinking caipirinhas… (Apparently she is famous for her caipirinhas even though she is not Brazilian!).  What a fascinating lady…. She is 60+ and has sailed all her life in Argentina, participating in and winning various all-women regattas.  She has done one of the famous races in Argentina from Buenos Aires to Mar de Plata (a co-ed race) and won that too. 
We learned a lot about her in the afternoon we spent together, mainly that she runs her own shipping company in Buenos Aires, thus her boat’s moniker:  “SHIPPING.” She is a spunky woman and has a strong character… I wouldn’t imagine any less than that if she wants to cross the Atlantic! She shared some very interesting stories about travelling from Argentina to St. Martin and how as a woman alone you have to be STRONG.  While we were with her she received an email from a reporter in Argentina who had done an article on her and wanted to let her know that the article came out in El Clarín that day. (I am sure if interested in learning more you could Google “Aurora, Shipping, Argentina” and something would come up). She will be the first Argentinean woman who has done a solo crossing!  She will go down in the history of her country and we were thrilled to have met her.  She had left St. Martin about a week before Sebastian, and just arrived.  Total travel time solo: 13 days!!! The poor lady must be exhausted.  I think she is staying put in Bermuda for a couple of days to get her mojo back.  Sebas and crew went to one of Aurora’s friend’s homes for a BBQ on Sunday.

The guys are still looking for flights to return to Argentina, although they are not having any luck doing it not expensively.  Sebastian told me they may have to continue the trip after all???? Don’t quote me on this, as things seem to change daily.  Sebastian is looking forward to getting “on the road” again.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011


Bermuda - Quick update on the Begonia and crew.  They arrived on Friday at about 2am and are planning on staying until Wednesday in order to clean and air out the boat, fix the spinnaker and one of the battens.  Two of the crew are looking into flights back to Argentina, so Sebastian and the two women who have crossed the Atlantic before will be the crew from here on out. 

Next stop:  the Azores

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Friday, May 13, 2011


Begonia Sailing the Atlantic Ocean – Some of you may be interested in knowing how the Atlantic Crossing is going.  It is Day 8 already!  I receive daily e-mails from Sebastian, Captain of Begonia, and although the messages are very brief, it is amazing that we can actually communicate via e-mail.  It seems the vessel and crew are heading toward Bermuda with the plan of stopping there for a day to take a break.  I do know that one of the crew has been (sea)sick for three days straight, and maybe the decision was finalized because of this?  Sebastian also mentioned the need to get fuel and water.

Some good news from them is that they caught a big mahi-mahi the second day out (no details on size or weight).  This is amazing as we have had the lines out every day for months and have had no luck recently.  The crew was happy to cook up the fish and enjoy a good meal.  Another positive thing to note is that the crew finally bathed on Day 6 and it made everyone a little happier.
Some bad news is that something happened to the spinnaker (the big colorful sail that is used when you have wind coming from directly behind you) and the whole thing fell into the water.  The entire crew worked together to get it out, but the spinnaker is huge and difficult to manage when dry… I can’t even imagine when wet.  I am not sure whether or not it is fixed now or what. The captain also mentioned the boat is very wet and humid inside and not too comfy.

Sebastian also mentioned the first few days were tranquil and not much wind – they even ran the motor a little! But then the seas became rougher and they rocked and rolled for a couple of days.
I just can’t believe that during this entire week when I’ve gone back and forth with the kids to school, making dinner, running, having a coffee at an outside café, watching the kids in the swimming pool, etc – that during all this that has gone on in our daily life this week  – Sebastian has been sailing!  I know that perhaps it sounds funny that I say this, but it just seems like such a long time.

The latest news today is that they will arrive in Bermuda as they are only 10 miles from the coast!!! It looks like two crew members will be abandoning ship in Bermuda due to seasickness and lack of time to go all the way.  Sebastian says he will be glad to sleep well in a dry place that is not moving.
More to come…

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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.

Monday, May 9, 2011

L'Ecole Au Bord de L'Eau

Baie Nettlé, Marigot , St. Martin – I can’t believe that after not blogging for so long, I now have posted 3 in a row! 

Today was the children’s first day of school at L’Ecole Au Bord de L’Eau (The School on the Edge of the Water).  It is a small primary school located right in the channel that leads from Marigot Bay to the Lagoon, just next to the drawbridge that allows sailboats through 3 times a day.  Since the school play area literally is on the water, we passed it several times by boat and dinghy so I was thrilled that it all worked out for the kids to attend there.  The school is new – just opened last September – and run by three women.  There are only 30 students, ages 6-12 who are divided into 3 separate classes (one for each of the teachers).

After having visited the School Board here and visiting two other schools, Sebastian and I really liked the philosophy of L’Ecole.  They even have a website (which was not common for all the other schools on the island)!!  The school hours are from 8-1, but you can have the kids stay an extra hour for lunch until 2; and/or stay for after school activities like sailing class and art and tennis, etc. until 5; or until 6 for after-school care.  Apparently the public school system in St. Martin is closed every Wednesdays, so the school offers a daycare on Wednesdays for public school children whose parents work as well as during the summer and holidays.  The kids have English and Spanish class once a week and right now they are all preparing for the year end show, where the kids are learning to dance a minuet.  Yes, I can tell you right now, Benjie will LOVE that!  Not!  Most of all, we liked the teachers and their flexibility to take on our non-Francophone kids for only 4 weeks at the end of the school year.  Je suis trés contente!
We went for a visit last Friday and just in the 45 minutes we were there, the differences in French and U.S. education were very apparent.  There is a strict list of rules at the school that every parent and child must not only read, but SIGN!  I went through the list with the kids at home before going, but the director went through the list again with Sofia and Benjie in person, item by item and made them nod their heads to each one… it was cute to see little Benjito “signing” his name to such an important document when he can barely write at all!  They make the students sign it so there is an official contract that can be pulled out of their files if they disobey the rules…. I can just picture a mad teacher holding up the document and yelling, “See, you must do XYZ… we have a contract… you SIGNED it!”  I wonder how that contract would hold up in court?  ;  )
Most of the rules are obvious ones like “You may not use foul language,” or “You may not hit other students,” but a couple of the more salient ones are:

  • You must say Bonjour and Au Revoir to all present teachers and students or parents when arriving to and leaving the school.
  • You must call your teachers Madame, Mademoiselle or Maitresse (teacher); not by their name.
  • You must all rise whenever an adult comes into the classroom.
  • If opening a door, you must hold the door open for anyone who is coming behind you.  (I agree that children should do this… I was just surprised to see it as an official rule of the school for which you have to sign).
These are all nice rules, but again, I’m just a little surprised at the formality of it all.  The director also explained the disciplinary procedure that if you don’t follow the rules, they give you a warning.  A second time, you have to sit out at recess… and the third time, a note gets sent home to the parents.  Talk about three strikes and you’re out!!!  I try to imagine Sofia’s school back in Evanston implementing such a no-tolerance policy.  They’d have to have a separate staff just to manage The Rules.

The students seem very happy there.  One of them is a boy from Thailand who just arrived two weeks ago.  He only speaks Thai and the teacher pulls him aside half hour each day for basic French.  Sofia and Benjamin will be joining him in these sessions.
When I dropped them off, as to be expected, Sofia went right in and started asking the girls their names and ages, etc. and Benjamin stayed by my side.  As soon as he saw they had some good TOYS… he left my side and they barely even said good-bye when I left.

Yesterday I had a good Mother’s Day with the kids and was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from my Dad!  He made my week!  I hope all you mothers out there also had a good day.
First Day of School:  Kids waiting for the bus on the  main road.

The street where the school is loated.  L'Ecole is the orange building on the left .

Main entrance.  The upstairs classrooms are for the bigger kids; the downstairs for the smaller ones.

The back play area of the school.  See the drawbridge leading sailors into Simpson Bay Lagoon.  It opens three times a day.

This is how I left the kids - happy as clams!
The "Contract."

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

La Vie en Marigot

Baie Nettlé, Marigot , St. Martin – Perhaps you are interested in hearing a little bit about our daily life in St. Martin.  We have yet to settle into a routine, but slowly we are getting to know the village of Marigot, our surroundings, our neighbors, etc.
Saint Martin, as many of you know, is divided into the French side on the north and a Dutch side (Sint Maarten) on the south, with a big lagoon on the southwestern part of the island.  There is one main road that follows the perimeter of the island, with various little settlements along the way.  The buses drive along this main road, but are not very frequent.  One can stop the buses at anytime, anywhere, without having to wait at a bus stop. If you can believe it… during the peak morning and afternoon hours there is even a traffic jam!
Our apartment is located in Baie Nettlé which is on the strip of land (about ½ mile wide) that hugs the northern part of lagoon.  Therefore, we have easy access to the lagoon and beach.  The apartment complex itself is called Anse Margot and I assume it used to be a resort, since it does have two pools and a restaurant.  The tell-tale sign though is that all of our kitchens are OUTSIDE on the balconies of all the apartments.  I gather these apartments did not originally have kitchens at all but they were added when the building was converted into apartments to live in.  Having a kitchen outside is quite interesting as you can hear/see/smell the neighbors all the time.  I can’t quite figure out how we don’t have ants, though I am very cautious not to leave any crumbs of any kind.  This means I actually have to mop the floor and do all the dishes immediately after every meal, which is not my normal m.o.  For the mopping, I just throw a bucket of water on the tiled balcony floor and squeegee all the water through the little drainhole.  The water then literally trickles down over a ledge to the plants below. Luckily, we are on the third floor so no one squeegees their soggy breakfast crumbs into our cuisine!  Boy, do I miss my Roomba (the self operating vacuum robot) from back home. 
The apartment has a pull-out couch on the first floor, with a full bedroom on the second-floor loft.  Two bathrooms…. Couldn’t have asked for anything better, really!
So, internet continues to be a challenge, only in the fact that we do not have it in our apartment and we are constantly having to use it in a public location.  This is fine of course, but just not relaxing, nor leisurely, nor necessarily comfortable – especially with two kids in tow who constantly either ask to use the computer  or whine because they want to leave.  Sylvan who owns the restaurant here, has no business, so I go as frequently as possible to buy something to drink and use his Wi-Fi.  But the bugger changes his password every day, so it forces me to have to buy something to ask him for the new code!!! I can’t just mooch it off him from my apartment. I am trying to write all emails and blogs beforehand so when I arrive at a place I spend the least amount of time possible.  For this reason, I look forward to next week when school starts so I can sit at a café for a long period of concentrated time to use QuickBooks and do our taxes!  I just have to remember to bring my bug spray…. Those mosquitoes love me – especially when I am sitting still.
It is extremely hot here, and while it feels like it is above 100 degrees, I think it’s really only about 85.  We did have some uncomfortable moments when the electricity was not working in the apartment and we could not use the a/c or the fans.  The owners were very responsive and had someone come out immediately to try to fix the problem.  The electrician came out three times.  On the fourth day, the electricity was out again and I was really frustrated to have to call again…. I was comforted (?) and relieved (?) when the agent told me, “Oh no…. it is not your apartment alone…. The entire island has had a blackout!!” C’est la vie!
 What else? The neighbors on either side of us each have big German Shepherds who greet us at every sighting, including when we’re eating on the balcony.  There a two or three children that I have seen playing around; otherwise I see many retirees and many apartments closed with hurricane shutters, etc.  The kids have been keeping busy collecting and painting shells and going exploring around the complex. 
Saint Martin is a cultural melting pot.  Even though it is only about 66,000 in population (this includes the Dutch side) you can hear English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento, Portuguese, etc. spoken all over the place.  I am afraid it is so easy to default to English that I really have to push myself to (try to) speak French.  Today we are chillin’ with the a/c indoors and I am playing the kids’ French software games.
Marigot, the “capital” of the French side, consists of about 3 square blocks.  It is the heart of all activity.  Lots of tourists visiting the outside marché .  And lots of nice shops and restaurants are located along the waterfront so during the day Marigot is bustling.  At night though, everything closes around 5/6pm and the place is dead.  People have recommended we not walk around by ourselves after dark.  I am going to try to get all my errands done in Marigot at the same time.  The bus is $1.50 per person each way and even to use the ATM you have to go all the way into town.  I guess we are spoiled in the States where you can have every service at any time.  We used to having an ATM, a Laundromat, a hair salon and a market on practically every corner, so we don’t have to think ahead… here I feel like on a Friday I need to prepare ahead and think about all the food, money and other items I will need for le weekend.
Our big luxury will be fresh fruits and veggies… we are just going to close our eyes on the cost.  We have grown tired of different variations of the same Bread-Cheese theme:  crackers and cheese, pizza, pasta and cheese.  With a diet super high in carbs, I am certainly looking forward to trying to eat well and exercise more while here.
Sebastian is on Day Three of the Crossing and I finally heard from him today by cruise email.  It is one of the ways we have decided to communicate, and while he will try to check once a day, the propagation doesn’t always allow for a connection. I am supposed to try not to worry if I don’t hear from him in a couple of days.  The backup is a man named Alejandro located in Buenos Aires who has a sailor’s network and offers people help in communication through the Single Sideband Radio (SSB).  Once a day Sebastian – and other Spanish speaking sailors – listen in to the same frequency at 7pm and can talk to one another, relay information and share stories.  It helps the trips go a little more smoothly since it gives you yet another thing to do while sailing, and gives you peace of mind that there are others out at sea as well.  I can email Alejandro in case of emergency or if we find the cruise email isn’t working and he will communicate between Sebas and I.  Trés romantique!!
Anyway, it appears Begonia’s position as of last night was 20º 54´ N y 63º 46´ W northerly winds.  Travelling at 6 knots they are 700 miles to Bermuda . Tomorrow they will deicde whether they will continue north or head diagonally to the Azores.
Our home:  top floor, open balcony, no curtains

View from my cuisine/balcony.  You can see the lagoon in the background. 
This was where Begonia was parked during preparations.

View of my neighor's cuisine.  See how close!  We wave at each other in our pijamas... what else can you do?

Other view of the kitchen.  There's my tiled floor that I squeegee daily.

Living Room with door out to balcony/kitchen.

View of stairs going up to loft from living room.

View of upstairs bedroom.

Another view of bedroom.

View from front door into yard.  You can see others' kitchen's as well.

View of Lagoon, pools and restaurant.

View of Anse Margot from dock of Lagoon (low tide).  You can actually swim on this side of the Lagoon.

Need I say more about the prices???

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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

BON VOYAGE, Begonia!

Baie Nettlé, Marigot , St. Martin – Phew!  What a spectacular week!  Since arriving in St. Martin we have been non-stop.   Even before St. Martin with the visit of Enrique and Jane and family, we had (gladly) changed our routine a bit:  no homeschooling, not a lot of cooking on the boat and a lot of sight-seeing.  After about a week in St. Martin, getting acclimated to the island, we were visited by Pablo and Nicole and family.  Pablo is a dear friend of Sebastian’s from Patagonia and he and Nicole currently live in Vancouver.  It was a long journey for them and their little guys:  Lucas (6) and Sebi (4) but they made it here about 10 days ago, renting a condo on the east side of the island in Oyster Pond.   The condo served as our home base where we had a pool, showered, BBQ-ed, etc.  It was thrilling to swim in water that was not salty and use endless amounts of hot water.
Unfortunately the sea was very rough during their visit so we really only sailed twice with the two families – much to the kids’ dismay, since they were chomping at the bit to go snorkeling.  The first day we did get out on the water with everyone, it was very hot and uncomfortable – probably the worst seas we have had yet on this voyage.  Most everyone was feeling a bit queasy  – especially the kids.  We had all the tell-tale signs of sea-sickness:  yawning, burping, irritability, either whining or complete silence and lots of fixating your gaze on a stable marker so that even if someone is speaking to you, you don’t even look their way because the risk of turning your head from the horizon just a fraction of an inch will have you visiting the side of the boat pretty quickly!  Luckily no one actually got sick on the one-hour sail to the little island of Tintamarre where many snorkelers go.  The kids enjoyed it and it was a pleasant treat after having felt so sick.  Most other days we spent at the pool, which the kids enjoyed immensely anyway.
Mid-week, after signing a rental contract on my apartment, the group made the collective decision to change hotels and locations.  This way, we could use the already-paid-for apartment as home base and Begonia would just be parked out in front in the Lagoon.  Pablo and Nicole could save on hotel costs and it would be more convenient due to the apartment’s location for getting the boat ready for the Atlantic Crossing mobilizing people.  Not only did we have the visit from Pablo and Nicole, which in itself was a blast, but we had two other guys, J.C and Daniel, also great friends from Patagonia and crew members for the Crossing arrive midweek, so the dynamic of the group changed a bit with Pablo sleeping on the boat in the lagoon so all the 4 could relive old times, and Sofia and Benjie and me sleeping with Nicole and her boys in the apartment.  I felt sorry for Nicole who had intended to have a nice vacation with her family and then ended up shacking up with us!  The 4 kids had a blast though having a “sleepover” every night… although it sure wasn’t a “blast” for Nicole and I to try to get 4 very excitable little kids to sleep in a shared bed for about 4 nights in a row.
It felt a bit like we were in the “Chicken Little” story where new characters, like “Turkey-Lurkey,” and “Loosey-Goosey” keep  joining forces with others to visit the king… we kept adding characters  to the picture and people to the apartment and boat! 
A couple of days after “J.C.-Schmacey” and “Daniel-Waniel’s” arrival, Lula and Malena arrived.  These two Argentinean women are also friends from Patagonia who have already done an Atlantic crossing.   This will actually be Malena’s third crossing, so input as crew for the Crossing has been important.    Poor ladies ended up sleeping on Begonia’s salon table which converts into a bed.
I always knew we were extremists.  It’s not enough to live n a sailboat for a year (and a half?), but we vacationed with Pablo and Nicole, the 4 boys/men had a reunion, the crew arrived for the Crossing and on top of all this, we worked hard to get the boat in order: repairs, laundry, provisions, water, fuel, etc.  We intended to have a nice Bon Voyage dinner with the 12 of us, but with everyone working so hard and so late, the party kind of fizzled.  We were extremely ambitious.  At least with so many people around the apartment and the boat, we were able to split off into smaller groups once in a while to do a little bit of sight-seeing or relaxing or drinking coffee, etc.
So, with that said, Sebastian and his crew left this morning, Friday, May 6 at 8am to cross the Atlantic.  Estimated arrival in the Azores:  15-20 days.
We are very thankful to Pablo and Nicole for helping with the kids while Sebastian and I were arranging the school for the kids and our apartment, for allowing us to use the rental car for this purpose.  Thanks also for the wonderful meals and gifts for the children.  La verdad se pasaron!  Thanks mostly for their friendship.  It was yet another great moment spent with the Nepomnaschys.
Pablito and Nicole - dear friends

Night on the Town!

Girls' Afternoon in Marigot

The four "cousins"

Just Hangin' at la plage

A Patagonian Planning Party

The Crossing Crew: (l to r) JC, Sebas, Daniel, Malena, Lula

Bye-bye Begonia... we'll see you on he other end of the pond!
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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.