I just looked back to see when was the last time I wrote something, it's been a month. A lot has happened in a month. A friend recently wrote to me "it's like I'm going through life hacking away at it with a machete". That definitely makes sense to me. I'm not one of those people that gets things easily. Everything I have, I have because I've fought for it.
So the question is, is it worth it. The answer is yes. Up until now, this entire adventure has been in the planning stage. I've been studying the seas, the passages, the marinas, the weather, where Gaston traveled, fishing, how will the flock stay safe and happy, etc.
Next week, I will be taking the first step in actually making this happen. I will be testing a boat which could fit my needs for this adventure. And, I have made arrangements to test another boat also.
Does this mean that that is it and we are ready to go? No. But too often people get so bogged down with the planning, they forget that the point is to actually get doing. Take action. And that is the scariest part.
I have been reading everything I could find related to Gaston's travels and even his path and one thing that can definitely be said about him is that he was not afraid to do. And when did, he went all in. That's how he got his job as an illustrator with a newspaper in Paris, that's how he came to be a travel writer when it wasn't yet popular and that's how in the end he bought a large property for the sole purpose of giving it to the community for free in return only for a promise that it would be kept as is and not used for industrial purposes.
If there is one thing this process is teaching me is to go after my dreams. Just take the first step. And then the second. And before you know it... you're living what you want and not just what you've been given.
When traveling, you see and experience new cultures, you meet people with a different way of life, with a different philosophy of life. This is enlightening, it is thought provoking and at times it forces you to look at yourself in a completely different life.
When traveling you also forego some creature comforts you may have been used to at home. This makes you appreciate what you had and what you may have again in the future but it also strengthens you. Anyone who knows me will tell you that we I greatly value strength of character. Some of us have developed it due to life challenges while others simply by putting themselves in a position to develop it.
When traveling at sea, these lessons become exponentially informative. The sea is a sweet sweet lady until her temper turns to rage, at which point she will easily remind you that while you are a guest in her house, it is her house. You must respect her rules. I once spent 40 hours in a tiny little rowboat out at sea (long story for another time). The stories I have from those 40 hours. From visions at sea (I probably was a bit too dehydrated and REALLY tired), to overcoming some pretty big waves a few miles out, to seeing a turtle near me. And physically, it was quite a test. I did not sleep during those 40 hours. I rowed non-stop. I barely ate (since I had to row) and please don’t ask about the whole bathroom situation. But my god! What an experience!! During those 40 hours I learned more about myself than I had in the previous few months if not years.
Some people may be put off by this but for me, it’s an addiction. Testing myself non-stop. Because it’s during those times that I find myself to be most at peace with myself.
Twice in my life I almost drowned. And yet, I have an attraction to water that is beyond explanation. For me, water is life and water is death. We grow in water and yet it can kill us. Go through a hard time and nothing makes you feel better than a good shower. Did you know that our bodies instinctively slow our breathing when our face is splashed in water - that's why it relaxes us.
Why all this talk of death and water?
A week ago, I had to deal with death again. It is always a struggle. At the same time it forces you to be in the now since any moment could be your last.
For me, water is our everything. We are born from water and when we die we lose all water (hence we go back to ashes). We need water to live and we can die in it. Water can be stressful but our automatic physical reflex is to calm down and slow our breathing when we feel water on our face.
I once learned that if the sun were to explode it would take 8 minutes and 20 seconds (500 seconds) until we would know it due to the speed of light.
So just like the boy in the picture with the waterfall behind him. Whenever I have a challenge that could pull me down, I just think to myself that if right now the sun explodes I have 500 seconds left to live my life. How do I want to spend that time? Angry, mad and anxious? Or calm, serene and full of appreciation for what I do have?
*Great quote below the picture
The gods envy us.
In some of the areas he traveled Gaston was a little less liked than in others. The reason for this was his bluntness. He never lied about a place nor did he sugarcoat anything. If a place stank, he said it. If a place was noisy, he said it. If a place had certain improvements that could be made, he said it. Though this made for some very interesting reading, the people who got the blunt side of his dialogue did not always love it.
However, because of his bluntness, when he liked something about a place the way he wrote about it made you want to visit it yourself.
See below an excerpt and a picture from his book "La Tunisie".
As a kid one of my favorite songs was about a a little ship that had never been out on the water. I loved that song. What most people don't know is that I am terrified of the water as much as I love it and am in love with it.
My great-great-grandfather traveled the Mediterranean area by steamboat. An example of which he drew in the sketch I've added to this post. I do want to be authentic, but traveling by steamboat is not part of that plan (not even sure if possible nowadays).
So how will I travel to recreate this voyage? By sailboat. It is a lengthier process but oh so worth it.
After his many travels to many different countries, Gaston found Gimel Les Cascades in Limousin, France. That is the place he finally called home.
His love of the place was incredible, so when a company wanted to harness the power of the beautiful waterfalls there for energy, he fought them.
Ultimately, he bought the land surrounding the waterfalls and gave the estate to the commune as a gift on the condition that they preserve the land and the waterfalls.
To this day, the park there exists with the beautiful waterfalls he used to visit and paint and the land surrounding it has been kept as a treasure.
You can visit the park which they named after him - Parc Vuillier