Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Joy Of Being Unprepared

So, for Chile, we more or less had our act together. Had researched the place ahead of time. Got the boat well ready. The same with South Georgia.

Those were places where being unprepared was unlikely to make things better for us.

Since then, however, we've been sort of letting things fall into place as they will.

Take Cuba, for instance. Our decision to come here was made quite last minute. So no travel guides for us. No field guides to the birds of Cuba. No visits to the 'sailing to Cuba' Facebook pages before we came. (God forbid).

As a result,there have been some surprises along the way. The most notable of these was when we checked in, and the officials took about half of our onboard cash in visa fees. This left us...rather light on purchasing power for the rest of the trip. Oops. We were a little hazy on whether our US ATM card would work here or not. The answer would be no.

But, for all that, there has been a certain joy in just letting things happen as they would. And even our cash shortage has been something of an odd blessing. Without at all romanticizing any hardship that individual Cubans might be facing, this is a place where it feels right to be making careful choices about where to spend our money instead of carelessly saying 'yes' to some chance offer to break open the cruising fund. And we find that when we really do not have the money to simply pay the going tourist rate, options that are both cheaper AND more fun seem to magically present themselves.

And, for us fundamentally (I think) rational westerners it is simply fun to play things by ear a bit. There is a tremendously distressing paradigm in the American 'cruising' milieu which holds that the entire world is simply a puzzle that needs to be adequately researched to be understood. Traveling the world in a sailboat is reduced to a thousand utilitarian details of filling propane bottles and having the proper map app on your phone. The ends are nothing, the means all.

Which bores me completely to tears.

And, when it comes to the actual travel, it seems that research ahead of time can often just funnel you into the most obvious choices. Like our day trip to the 'must-see' colonial city of Trinidad. It was very pretty and all, but you end up just staring at other tourists at places like that, and at locals trying to sell you a hat for a week's wages.

Much better to judge a country by chance interactions with fishermen looking to make a trade, or with disinterested locals on the street who suddenly find their day made by some ridiculous Spanish mis-usage that you bring forth, or by the deserted anchorages that don't merit much space in the cruising guides.

Planning ahead doesn't help much with that stuff.

This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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