Monday, August 14th, Alvor, Portugal
First of all, our thanks to the homeland security folks
both in the US and the UK for two things: 1) For
apparently foiling the latest terrorist plot targeting
air traffic between the two countries, and 2) for timing
their counter-measures to begin the day AFTER our whole
family descended on poor, unsuspecting Alvor last
Wednesday. Our long-planned family reunion could have
been thrown totally out of whack had events unfolded a
day earlier than they actually did. But as it was,
everybody arrived within about an hour of each other, on
schedule, and we could begin the festivities by
celebrating daughter Kathy's birthday (we won't discuss
which one publicly) our first night here. Her thoughtful
younger sister, Christy, even made Kathy's favorite
carrot cake for the occasion.
One of the nice things about having kids bitten by
wanderlust is that we can have these exotic reunions.
With everybody scattered as they are, just being able to
see each other as often as we do is quite a treat, and
to be able to do so in a setting like this is very
special. As best we remember, we first visited the
Algarve on a vacation more than 25 years ago when Kathy
and Christy were at school in Rome and Candyce, Kim and
I were living in Moscow. The thing everybody
remembers about that trip was the strawberries -- the
hotel where we stayed served big bowls of them covered
with rich cream. Delicious! Candyce and I
came back once a few years later and stayed at a Club
Med. We loved the Algarve, but decided Club Med
vacations are definitely not for us. Too much
togetherness! And besides, we were already of an age
when a steady stream of lithe young bodies mostly just
makes one feel inadequate.
I suspect that the thing most of us will recall first
about this trip is that Candyce managed two days on the
good ship Zia WITHOUT getting seasick! She was a
little gray around the gills a couple of times, and her
skin was a touch on the clammy side once or twice, but
not a single upchuck. Given that she has been
known to hurl in a hard shower, we were all, shall we
say, attentive to her every facial tic as we experienced
Zia under full sail in the Atlantic.
"You okay, Mom?"
"Can we get you anything, Mom?"
(Aside) "How do you think Mom's doing? Isn't
she losing color? Maybe we should head back."
(Aside) "Can I have some more of that salami and
Limburger cheese? Oh -- sorry Mom!"
It took enough Dramamine (spelling?) to supply a small
army, and wrist bands pressed firmly into wherever that
anti-vomit point is near the carpal tunnel, but by Jove
and Shiver Your Timbers, she made it. Sustained
applause from the entire Zia crew and auxiliaries
greeted Candyce's successful return to anchorage after
our second full day of sailing.
The Grand-girls have been great. They all swim like
fish! Okay, maybe minnows. The three of them --
Cassie, Juliana and Kathy's daughter Kayla -- hadn't
seen each other since "Camp Gran &Gramps" in
Woodinville, WA a year ago, but they quickly got
reacquainted and have seemingly had a ball. It took a
bit before Kayla was comfortable enough to spend a night
aboard Zia with her cousins -- and without Mom and Dad
-- but she finally did that last night. Other
times, the three girls have slept in the apartment we
rented here at Estrela do Vau. I think Jim and
Kathy, who are also staying here, would join Candyce and
me in recommending the place. Two bedrooms, two
baths, kitchen, living room with dining area, and a nice
patio where we seem to spend most of those waking hours
that we're not on Zia, at the pool, playing golf and/or
tennis, buying or eating food!
Having four cooks in the crowd is a big help. Christina
made her own sushi onboard Zia one evening -- with
assists from both Jim and Candyce. She assured us
that the tuna was frozen within an hour of her catching
it somewhere around Bermuda a few weeks ago. And it WAS
delicious. Jim, who is a chef as well as a sushi fan,
finished off the few leftovers for breakfast the next
morning. He exhibited his culinary talents with pasta in
his special sauce on another night. Kathy and Candyce
have been in on the cooking as well. "Aunt Kim"
has a magic touch with the Grand-girls and mostly keeps
them occupied while food is being prepared. Joe
and I -- well, we both eat well. And the best part
of it all is that we don't have nightly battles over
which restaurant to disrupt with our noisy party of 10.
The apartment is further from Zia than was the case when
we visited the BoFish clan in St. Thomas last December.
But our rent-a-car by now can almost find its own way
the 4 or 5 miles between the two. Thankfully, the
Portuguese drive on the same side of the road as we do
and they're no worse as drivers than, say, the Italians!
Of course, this trip for us really isn't about Portugal,
its history or culture -- as interesting as those would
be to absorb under different circumstances. It's
about the family. I think it's been more than two
years since we were last all together -- at Gran's
surprise 60th birthday party. So it's a treat not only
for us, but for the girls. You should have heard
the three of them recalling their days in high school in
Rome! Scandalous! Good thing their mother
and I were unaware of some of these events back in the
day! It's fun as parents to watch your adult
offspring relate to each other -- sometimes in ways that
echo those of their childhood, but in other ways that
seem ever-changing. And those Grand-girls!
At these ages (8 1/2, 7 1/2, and 7) they seem to be
getting noticeably more mature both physically and
emotionally every day.
Unfortunately, our visit is nearly over. While the
BoFishes can take their time deciding where and when to
go next, the rest of us have been checking the Internet
in hopes of learning more about what faces us on the
trip back home in a couple of days.
It has been a great trip, however. And yesterday,
as we cruised aboard Zia along the Algarve coastline, I
think I got a glimpse of something important.
Neither Candyce nor I will ever be sailors, I'm
confident. And the choice to live aboard a boat --
even one as comfortable as Zia -- is not one I can
identify with. But sitting up in one of the bow
seats yesterday -- taking in the red of the coastline
cliffs, the blue of the sea and the sky; feeling the
fresh breeze over my skin and the motion of the boat;
smelling the salt water -- I had a glimmer of what it is
that so arouses the passion that our daughter and her
family have for sailing. The ports of call are
exotic and interesting. But the sailing can really make
you feel fully alive.
Maybe over dinner tonight we can get on to the next big
question: Where and when do we catch up with Zia
Many thanks to our
friend Craig Homenko for his assistance in setting up
We also would like
to thank our buddy Scott Brunner who has been kind
enough to host the website on his server.