Friday, August 24, 2012

Ode to Friends and Family

Our two and a half months leave of absence from the boat is finished. And, what a great time is has been. Mark and I were really ready to take a break from the primitive life on the water and swap it temporarily for the comforts and luxuries of other people’s houses. We took lavish showers, spent as much time online as we desired and ate scrumptious foods. We rarely cooked, barely had to do dishes and used washing machines to clean our clothes. We were so “out of it”, that once we settled back on Irie, we didn’t remember which side of the bed we used to sleep and wondered what all the buttons were for… The whole trip to the States and Europe was a success thanks to our lovely friends and awesome family!

In the United States, we stayed at Mark’s parents’ place, where we occupied our own little “flat” above their garage, and we visited sister Dru and husband Brian on the extensive and pretty grounds of one of Greenwich’s estates. They all made us feel welcome and kept us entertained.  When I arrived in Belgium, a random encounter with an acquaintance led to a wonderful long weekend in Holland with old Scouts friends and their children. My oma received many visits which brought a massive smile to her face, which in turn made me happy, and my parents harbored me in the room of my childhood. I was taken care of in the same way and didn’t have to do a thing! Sometimes one can really go back in time and enjoy it immensely!

When Mark arrived, our visits started in earnest. We were treated to home cooked meals and superb restaurant meals by friends and family alike. Our “vacation” in Germany, was a German version of the Belgian hospitality we had encountered thus far. Back in Belgium, the splurge continued with delicious food, interesting company and afternoons turning into evenings with complimentary dinners and drinks, and once even with some fun in a homemade water park! With a plunge, I finished a steep ride down a slide, and with a mojito in hand I relaxed in a bubbly Jacuzzi. The sun was even present that day; life was good. Mark savored the renowned Belgian specialty beers, while I was the designated driver. The food made up for it, though, and in the States, he took the wheel.

Our stay “abroad” finished with a fast, last week in the States, where we took hold of our little flat again. Most of the days were spent trying to pack the loads of gear we had obtained and catching up on last minute online chores. Evening dinners were social events turned special with friends and family wishing us well in the unknown future. One of the last nights, we went out for an exquisite sushi dinner, at the expense of The Wirie. It grew into a fun business meeting, without talking about business at all. Who said doing business with family members is a bad thing? Even though these wonderful times “at home” are still fresh in our memory, the daily boat life is engrossing us again. It was a needed and welcome break and we truly feel refreshed and excited about our life style again. Now, it is back to showering in the ocean, doing laundry by hand, being restricted with internet, careful with electricity and fresh water and … making new friends.

Going out for a fantastic four course Chinese lunch with Liesbet's parents.

Lobster as a last dinner with Mark's parents, his brother and sister-in-law.

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