One of the greatest pleasures we’ve had cruising is one that we didn’t think of before we started: local events.
We more or less thought about things like provisioning, having to work on the boat, planning passages and then making them, even things like hiking, swimming and snorkeling. Without really thinking about it, we figured that we’d glimpse local culture mostly through everyday things such as going to the grocery or perhaps eating out.
What we discovered is that there are always a bunch of local events going on. And they’re a great way to meet people, have fun and usually learn a bit about the local culture . . . yes, even when we’ve been in the US (our home country).
Cruising isn’t only about moving the boat and enjoying nature. It’s also about slowing down and making time to take part in the local community and what it offers.
One of the first local events that we attended was charro, a Mexican rodeo. One of the local businessmen announced it on the cruisers net and we were surprised to find that we were the only cruisers who went. It was a huge local celebration and we had a ball!
In La Paz, we went to the Carnival parades, timed for sunset:
Off-road racing is the sport in Baja . . . and two sons of the marina/boatyard we used in LaPaz just happened to race (no pictures of their trucks, sorry). We hitched rides to several of the races. We’d been warned that it would be a long, hot, dusty day by other cruisers. Yes, it was — but I’ll never have an experience like that again!
Back on the mainland side of Mexico, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a boat parade. I think it was part of the blessing of the fleet.
In El Salvador, the cruisers were invited to the Mother’s Day celebration at the local school:
Last summer, in the Bahamas, we were at Hatchet Bay for their mini-homecoming. Dave got roped into the dance contest . . . and won!
Dave and I both raced sailboats for years before cruising so we were excited to go to two Bahamian regattas. When the local organizers discovered that we were former racers, they set the weather mark right off our bow . . . and we got to see all the action very close up!
The oldest skipper in the fleet and winner of the distance race. Love his attitude!
This past week, the Wings of Freedom tour came to the Marathon airport: four restored, flying airplanes from WWII: a B-17 (pictured at the top of this article), a B-24, B-25 and P-51. And not just to look at from a distance. All but the P-51 were open to be walked through . . . and all offered rides (for a price). Where else can you crawl all through a legendary plane right up to the time it’s going to take off?
The highlight of the day, though, was meeting Bob (last name unknown). Now 98 years old, he was an RAF pilot in WWII, flying the British equivalent of the B-24 Liberator. Thirty-five successful missions over Germany.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in boat projects and “getting ready to go to the next place” that we don’t make time for the things that are going on right under our noses. Had Dave not been a plane buff, I probably wouldn’t have gone to Wings of Freedom. And I would have missed something really special.
It reminded me that cruising isn’t only about moving the boat and enjoying nature. It’s also about slowing down and making time to take part in the local community and what it offers.