Canadian brother and sister Jayne and Philip Davidson are traveling on motorcycles from the Arctic Circle to Patagonia. This is the latest entry in their travel blog. Read their adventure so far, and see where they are right now, here.
On Sept. 3, 2013 I had to say goodbye again. It feels like I am always saying goodbye to wonderful people who have enriched my life, and it gets more and more difficult each time.
I am trying to remind myself that the difficulties of saying goodbye are the result of making wonderful new friends, and of course I do not ever want to give that up. However after over a year of goodbyes to people, few of whom I am likely to ever see again, I am feeling the strain.
We spent two days traversing the Panama Canal on a 60 foot catamaran with an amazing family. Adam and Bronwyn have two beautiful children, Jack (10) and Amy (8), who I completely fell on love with. Adam, Bronwyn and their brother-in-law Volker are delivering the boat from South Africa to Australia, and we volunteered to be line handlers to help with their canal crossing.
The 5th Child canal transit crew and one of our advisers
Every boat that traverses the canal needs to have four line handlers aboard. Along with the official "adviser" who comes aboard just before you enter the canal.
Jack in one of his favourite positions.
Adam hard at work in the pizza kitchen
Volker making us pizzas
5th Child the eco-catamaran
We were joined by Marty, a Australian boat Captain who was also at the Shelter Bay Marina where we met the Norris family. Adam knows Marty from Australia and asked him to come along to help too.
Marty at the helm with the adviser, well, advising.
Our crew of six plus the kids spent the weekend preparing and relaxing before our set crossing time Monday afternoon. We even had a big BBQ one evening and Bev and Handre came and spun fire for us all when it got dark.
Everyone chips in to stop the fire from burning a hole in the bottom of the BBQ
Must be hot in the middle there!
Handre and Bev show off their skills
Love the reflection in the pool
The kids at the BBQ and fire show
In this time Jack and Amy became my best friends, we went swimming several times a day, painted our nails, played games on our iPods, ate ice cream and generally had a great time.
Amy and I are finger twins
Jack and Amy are extraordinary children, they've spent seven years of their short lives living on boats. They fearlessly ask new people insightful questions, are open to every new experience and are very intelligent.
The kids hanging on the front of the cat while underway
Amy and Phil making faces
Jack steals a kiss while I'm not looking
I enjoyed being a kid again, seeing the world through their eyes, and being reminded how simple life can be if you just let it.
The girls making mojitos (no rum for the kids)
Phil and Marc (the engineer on Marty's boat) at cocktail hour on 5th Child
Also in those few days I started getting to know Marty and found myself very attracted to him. I am learning that I find gorgeous, passionate, independent entrepreneurs irresistible. Who doesn't?
Marty and I approach the first set of locks from the "trampoline" on the front of the cat.
As well as captaining sailboats, Marty has also designed a product that is both simple and effective. He showed it to me and I am going to help him patent it, which means I can't say anything more about it. Yet.
Recently I have been a part of several conversations with people about what makes a person attractive. It's a very interesting subject.
In Colombia I've been told men search for women with light skin, who cook and clean, and try to avoid ones who are just after their money. Women who don't have jobs are trying to find a man to look after them. I am fairly sure that the above applies in many more jurisdictions than just Colombia!
Many of the men I've been speaking with however keep claiming to want an independent woman, with a career and her own money. They then struggle to properly articulate what they have to offer such a woman.
When asked what Canadian and British women look for in a man, I found myself unable to give a lucid answer.
Having now given the subject some consideration, aside from "tall and handsome", I am sure I cannot speak for all Canadian women, or any wider than just my own experience. I find that difficult enough to quantify.
Travelling has taught me about myself, relationships, and the kind of people I respect, can spend quality time with and fall in love with. Or maybe it's just allowed me the right mindset to discover what I already knew.
I compiled the list below, inspired by things people keep telling me are important to them, along with a few of my very own.
Jayne's random list of things she finds attractive in a person (men in particular, but I think these apply to people I'd like to surround myself with in general):
- Passionate about something (ideally not just work). This can be anything - a sport, a hobby, travel, animals, whatever
- Travellers with wandering spirits
- Good with people (has friends and makes friends easily)
- Capable. Can fix things, cook, and most of all learn new things
- Gets along with family (their own and mine)
- Tells/shows me they like me. May seem obvious but this one stems from many conversations. There is something very special about being liked by another human being for who you are. And we often don't clearly express to the people around us how much we like them. (Usually caused by fear/shyness/worry about rejection). When someone tells you that they really like you, it immediately makes you like them more
- Entrepreneurs - I find a people who take risks to profit from something they've built themselves extremely attractive. Perhaps because that's a direction I am interesting in exploring myself
- Patient or at least slow to anger. I think this one more reflects my aversion to angry people
- Intelligent, open minded and worldly
Now I've written previously about falling in love, and how I am now falling in love with people all the time, and am a better person for it. I fell in love with the Norris family and was very sorry to leave them. They have a farm in Tasmania and I hope to visit them there when I am next in Australia.
The crossing was a really special experience. Phil and I have a great love for locks, and actually being on a boat, helping to keep it in the middle of each of the six locks while the combined forces of water and gravity worked to spin it in circles or crash it against the sides, was amazing.
We went half way through on Monday afternoon, and then stayed overnight in Lake Gatun, before doing the second half Tuesday morning.
Once we made it back to Panama City, Marty, Phil and I took a taxi back to Shelter Bay, where our boat/bikes were waiting for us.
Sabatayn, Marty and Marc's home, like a fish out of water.
Here is our crossing, in pictures:
My beautifully prepared rope, ready for tying to the monkey's fist once it's been flung from the shore.
Placing mattresses to stop the lock workers from breaking the solar panels by throwing the heavy monkey's fists on them.
5th Child is made of carbon fiber, even the four bathrooms.
This one's for you mum. Phil's mouth is excited to be in the lock
Bronwyn at the helm while I handle my line
Phil holding onto his line with Adam supervising
Even submarines transit the canal!
The giant doors waiting to be installed in the new locks that are under construction
Line handling and jumping.
5th Child in the Miraflores Locks captured by webcam
I've got my line handled. Note the crowd watching on the balcony of the visitor's center behind me.
Phil and a lock
The Canal adviser gets picked up after his shift