Saturday, June 19, 2004

First "live" update from Katrina!!!!

Dear Everyone,

I’ve decided I’m not a big fan of mass emails b/c they are far too impersonal for my liking but I will make an attempt to update y’all on my trip thus far. I have been avoiding email and will continue to do so for as long as possible but I promised to keep people afloat on my adventures once in a while so here goes nothing! I am currently sitting on the deck with a cool breeze across my body, the sun sparkling on the water, palm trees waving hello, boats going passing to and fro, singing good old Good Charlotte and a variety of Erika’s music from the 80’s such as The Cars and Honk surf music.

Let’s start with the lightning tour of Paris. Paris reminds me New York however it is completely European looking. Go figure. Cobblestone, narrow roads, window flowerboxes, little cars everywhere, restaurants with patios out onto the sidewalks. I arrived in the Paris airport to breathe a nice big, fresh breath of…smoke. Welcome to lung cancerville. This theme was further emphasized on my marathon run/tour of the city. The sun was high in the sky, temperature was high, the humidity was high, the pollution level was sky-high. I was determined to run from the apartment of Erika’s friend Claire in the cinqant diesement (haha, that is definitely wrong but it sounds like that when they say it) which is one block away from the Pantheon, past Notre Dame, up the Champs do Lises to the Arc de Triumph –formidable, and probably even more so if I wasn’t seeing white spots from the terrible air quality. Naturally I got lost on the way back, even with a map…the streets are laid out in a maze like ‘arrangement.’ What happened to 1st ave, 2nd ave ...?

Enough about Paris – on to Port Bacares, France. Port Bacares is nestled where the Pyrene mountains meet the Mediterranean basically at the border between France and Spain. Indescribable. Deep blue, refreshing water, wide beaches, clear blue skies 75% of the time, wind strong enough to blow your socks off. At the beach you can get quite the whipping on really windy days so we head out to the rock islands just off shore and climb around like the monkeys we are. The men wear speedos, the women bottoms only (a liberating experience…I don’t want to stick out as one of those disliked ‘Americans’ now do I?), everyone is roasted-chicken-brown. The boat is bigger than I expected and can hold much more than I imagined even once acquainted with the size. Every nook and cranny of the hull is filled. They have enough food on board to live off of for at least a year. I’d just like to say a few words about sleeping on a boat. Amazing, as if you are sleeping in a huge rocking chair that never stops. But that’s not all folks, there is also the breeze that travels straight across the cabin and the hatch overhead that provides a spectacular star show on clear nights and a rain shower song on stormy nights (my favorite). We haven’t sailed yet b/c Achim (the dad) is still working making the boat perfect with all of his engineering inventions. The other morning I heard someone up at 6am (I am usually the first one up by far at 7:30am for my beach run in the sun :). He had solved the problem that was nagging him about the self-steering system and he just had to start working on it. He is putting it in so he can steer the boat while in bed. They have 4 big solar panels that will generate all the necessary electricity while at sea. Engineers on the list, all that stuff we learned in school when applied is actually really fun and interesting!

Time to talk about the munchkins. Well, Ari, the blond-haired, blue-eyed, two year old boy just pooped on the floor (I knew a few of you that would love that one!) We are in the potty training process and so far he only likes to pee pee in the potty. He is an adorable little monkey that makes you want to hug and kiss him every time you see his face or hear his little voice say things like ‘yuckabuffsky, dog poop!’ There are lots of dogs here and no one picks up after them. Ari is also a computer expert. He knows how to start the computer and find all of his favourite programs from the start menu, usually the train building one where he is conductor! Choo chooo! Antonia, the four year old is such a sweetheart. She loves to share every thing and to protect her little bro. She is translator when I try to speak in German. Note the TRY. I am so impressed with how well these kids play together and alone, looking at books or making up games involving trains, superman capes from dish towels, imaginary cats to name a few.

I can only think of one word to describe Erika (the mom): supercool. In a nutshell she is fun and crazy and creative and thoughtful and smart. She dances around the cabin singing at the top of her lungs, plays guitar, squirts whipped cream into her mouth from the can, tries to set me up with her 30 year old friends who speak only French, comes up with ideas like touring France, Germany and Austria out of no where, discusses philosophers and science and all her adventures of life. Achim is what I have always imagined a real engineer to be. He does not accept what the traditional design is, but instead decides what he imagines ideal, comes up with a way to achieve it and then implements it. It is a pleasure to watch and learn from him.

Next on the agenda is a whirlwind tour of Germany and Austria on account of my new Eurail pass. We have the time and we have the desire so why not? Sign me up! First it’s a trip to Bodensee in Germany (Lake Constance in English) for a radio transceiver conference (HAM radio stuff). Yeah sailing geeks! Then onto Hamburg to see where Dr. Opa went to school followed by Badgastein (Austrian Alps) for a little taste of the mountain and then Waidhofen, Austria where the Bruckschwaigers live and back to Bacares where we will sail off into the sunrise.

Congratulations if you are actually still reading at this point. Hehehe That’s plenty to keep you abreast haha on my trip thus far.

Until next time I have the urge to write…


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