Elaborate Decision Making

The saying ‘to go where the wind blows’ has very real meaning for most of what we live. Our freedom of travel, while vast in scope and unlimited in reach, is actually quite restricted by the capabilities of our sailing craft and even more so by the search for a minimum amount of comfort, which we regularly succumb to. But when a couple days ago we came to realize that the decision making for our routes of travel had ended up in the hands of some petty official sitting at a desk in some shabby office, it put a new kind of strain on the little of patience we happen to call our own.

We thought we had the Vanuatu riddle solved with Beatriz’ visa arranged through the official channels down in Auckland. All that was missing was a confirmation message from Vanuatu immigration that they had in fact received our petition and that things were squared away enough to undertake the voyage to the island nation without the risk of encountering any nasty bureaucratic surprises. Since that official acknowledgment never came after I had sent the according forms by email over a month ago, I decided to go ahead and resend the message with its attachments and insist that I needed a confirmation from the receiver’s end. And a confirmation did I get!

The email drily stated that we had to send the forms with payment and passport pictures physically and that Beatriz would only be worth of a one-month visa, which could not be extended inside the country. Beatriz would have to leave the country and reapply for a new visa from abroad.  That, to put it bluntly, was unacceptable to us, especially since the consul general down in Auckland had assured us that things would go smoothly. An email to him asking for advice did come back with a petition to the chief of immigration to straighten things out. That’s how things stand three days before our planned departure from the Bay of Islands!

With such an uncertainty our stakes are set on a return visit to Fiji, which is one of the few countries that does include Colombia in it’s list of countries whose citizens can enter its borders without having to apply for an advanced visa. After all my stay there last year was pretty much limited to one place, so there must be plenty more to explore in the land of the military rulers. Plus Beatriz has not seen any of it. It’s all sweet and good if you overlook the disturbing fact that the decision making for our routes of travel has ended up in the hands of some petty official sitting at a desk in some shabby office. And that does put a new kind of strain on the little of patience we happen to call our own!

It does remind us however of how little it matters where we go, how unimportant it is where we are. I guess that sedentary dwellers give a great significance to place, since they are bound to it and blame many of their own shortcomings on it. We’ve been travelling so much over those last five turbulent years that there’s a dizziness setting in, where only memory can tell us where we are at any particular time. Is it New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, or even French Polynesia when I stick my head out of the companionway in the morning before reason has had too much time to establish its jealous domain? Human beings, in spite of their cultural differences are remarkably alike the whole world over, so what relates to them, the subtle work of creating relationships with them, the exploration of their resemblance to us, the upwelling of the collective unconsciousness, the many rituals of checking each other out, the ever-present temptation of comparison, it all goes through the same motion over and over again. Is it because we never seem to learn, and the changes we manage to inflict on our stiffness are miniscule and glacially slow to manifest?

The only solid foothold to be had is in the practical world, where two and two adds up to something reasonably close to four. The preparations for departure go through their motion and distract from the latent nervous convulsions that underlie the world of fantasy within our personalities. Practical things that make the time go by without falling off the cliffs of worst-case scenarios are what keep us on this side of the sanity divide. The underwater growth on boat hulls is a constant menace to the mariner and the pre-departure routine of cleaning the bottoms always implies a good amount of sore muscle mass. On account of the Kiwi’s good and gentle nature we thought that with our eco-friendly bottom paint we could to this job right here on the beach in downtown Opua. The day was gorgeous, the tides high and low water set smack in the middle of the day.  I was, in fact, singing elaborate praises to myself of the Kiwis tolerance as I was taking a series of pictures for a panorama of Aluna sitting like an amphibious critter on the beach.

opuabeachpanopuabeach1Looking closer I realized that another humanoid was taking pictures too at the other end of the beach. He had a notepad under his arm, which was not a good sign, and turned out to be an official of the Northland Regional Council, which was clearly bad news. We were instructed that there was a hefty fine on the books for what we were doing and that the local industry needed to be retained to mitigate the damage of microscopic copper particles contaminating the pristine beach. The official admitted that he knew little of boats, but he was clearly at home reasoning the rules. He took me by the hand and over to Doug’s Boatyard, where for a considerable sum of money we were able to complete this essential task two days later within the margins of the law of the land. We took advantage of the chance to be model citizens and applied a strip of antifouling paint to where Aluna’s designed waterline had sunk into the realm of marine growth. In spite of having ended up doing a bit of a rustic botch job without masking tape we managed to improve her lines by highlighting her sensual chine curve. So at least we think, but that, like any other thing of aesthetics, is a matter of personal taste, and with taste there shall never be too much distaste, unless you want to be arguing about things of little importance!

dougsbottomjob dougsbottomjob1

With her underbelly now smooth and slick Aluna is ready to roam to warmer shores as winter has set in with a vengeance. The water tanks are filled, all moveable things restrained, the ship stores replenished, and the navigational chores completed. All we need now is for the promised gentle weather to materialize and follow the predictions of number crunching machines. That, of course, is even in these times of hyper-virtual reality and decoded genomes still a question of what the gods are willing to bargain when throwing their dices through the alleyways of live on good old Mother Earth.

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One Response to “Elaborate Decision Making”

  1. Paz Perry Says:

    Deseandoles la mejor suerte en todo y disfrutando mucho con tu blog Beat, mis cariños para uds y un besitos para los dos!

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