When we first got to Bonaire and saw how empty and quiet it was from Covid restrictions on travel, it felt this place was our own diving playground. Now, six months later, it feels more complicated than it first did. As we’ve got to know the island and the pandemic plays out long-term, things have taken a more sombre turn. Yes, the lack of tourists may still be good for the environment and its creatures – but we’re also human. We can see our fellow humans suffering.
Economically for the locals here, the lack of tourism has brought a huge hit. It’s hard not to feel it. There’s a sadness now in these quiet streets. And we won’t see it return to normal in our time. We won’t see this place in its usual happy bustle. We need to start thinking of going home.
I am reminded now, that as much as this has been a journey physically for us, it’s been an even larger journey for us – as a family. And I love my family very much, even in the moments they drive me bonkers. Perhaps like the rest of the whole world who coincidentally joined us a year ago, feeling the fun of confined spaces (Hi guys! Welcome 😊), we all dream of a little separation now. Indeed, I’m sure separating will be both cathartic and necessary for each person to thrive. At least for a week. Then all bets are off.
I watched Pip Hare arrive back tonight where she started her Vendée Globe race, in Les Sables-d’Olonne in France. Her face wore a combination of tiredness and joy. Plus, it was a cold and raining winter’s night. I couldn’t help imagine that, like her expression, she may be feeling mixed emotions coming back. If, when she puts her feet back on land, the land doesnt quite belong to her anymore. ‘It’s great to be back you guys, but, uhh, I have to go again.. in fact here’s my ride. Don’t worry, I’ll untie her. See ya!’
Of course, we aren’t doing anything as extreme as Pip Hare, sailing tens of thousands of miles around the world in one go. And super fast too. Since more men have walked on the moon than women have completed the Vendée Globe – though I imagine this statistic is soon to expire.
Watching Pip, I did wonder if we’ll be feeling anything like the same relief and trepidation when we get back to land-living. We’ve also learned to protect ourselves out here in our isolated spot so far from most of the pandemic’s unpredictable turns. What happens when we step back in? Quarantine in hotels is effective from Monday in the U.K. Will it still be in force in July – and for yachties? My guess right now is pure mud.
Still, we have to get back. We have to grow and progress and live – all four of us in our own ways. It is tempting to want to grab that idea with forks and spoons after this tough week on Quest. I do know when we do go back, when this trip is over, we’ll be dreaming of the next adventure. The nature of the beastie.