Casa Blanca – Ecuador: Sailing aborted, anniversary, Return to the Sea, sinking

July 12, 2021

I was supposed to be writing this post in Grenada. Alas, the sailing trip had to be postponed for family reasons.  As planned, Natalia and I left Beirut on June 28 bound to Washington DC and the girls joined from France a couple of days later.  But on July 2nd, instead of flying to St Georges to meet ANTARES we flew to Quito-Ecuador to spend some time with my parents.  Last Wednesday we drove here. 

We are starting to settle in a certain routine, though not exactly the same as four months ago; routines do change over time, plus Marina and Sofia are on vacation (Natalia and I are working part time). The days have alternated between sunny and overcast but the temperature is consistently in the 25-30 C range. We all like this place. It’s good for my body and mind.

Over the weekend we went to Playa Escondida for lunch. The restaurant there is closed for remodeling but our friends who manage the place grilled fish for us that they served in one of the open cabins along with salads and two bottles of a Portuguese Sauvignon Blanc.  We had a very pleasant day. 

Sunday Natalia and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary.  Not sure why we take as reference the time when we got married instead of the day when we met, or when we started living together; that would be 10 years ago. We started with a glass of Cava at home and then had dinner at our favorite restaurant by the beach.  Marina went to see friends and Sofia opted to stay home and watch a movie. A friend who I hadn’t seen in a very long time was at the restaurant having a drink at the bar and ended up spending the soiree with us. Not very romantic. We went to bed quite late so today I have been operating in slow motion. I cancelled a meeting I had and wasn’t really able to do much in terms of work — or to run or workout.  

Instead I finished reading Webb Chiles’s Return to the Sea about the second half of his fourth circumnavigation — from Boston to Sydney via the Azores, Portugal, Senegal, Brazil and South Africa.  I had read all his published books and the unpublished logs but not this one, simply because there is no electronic version, so I finally bought the hard cover.   Sailing books are popular among sailors because of the stories, adventures, guides to places and approaches to solving problems but most are badly written; sailors, on average, are bad writers.  Chiles is a writer who also sails. You read about the passages and the places Carol his wife and him visited together (at least until they reached Cape Town) but also about the writer himself and the struggles we all face to keep different pats of our life together.  The book doesn’t always follow a straight line in space-time, there are detours and transitions between past and present handled with much care as to maintain the integrity of the story.  Highly recommended.  

Otherwise, back in the Middle East, Lebanon continues to sink and we no longer try to guess when it will touch bottom. Now, without diesel, even the buildings in well-off neighborhoods are struggling to provide electricity and since the pumps can’t run the country is starting to face problems with water.  Natalia and I might have left just in time. Over the weekend there was a lull in the storm created by the two soccer finals — the Euro and Latin America’s cups — which millions of humans, including Lebanese who had electricity, watched.  I did not but was happy to learn about the results.  

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