Here we sit, in a marina in North Palm Beach, Florida, to get our watermaker back on track. It is only one of many things we are doing before making the leap to the island life once again. Mark and I were remembering what it was like the first time we set foot on the East Coast of the US, after being in Argentina and the Caribbean for months. We still plainly recall how it felt to walk into the nearby Bed, Bath, and Beyond store. I'm sure everyone wondered what rock we'd crawled out from under as we rejoiced about all the choices and the good quality along every aisle! Our cries of excitement formed a chorus of "oohs and awes"that caused other shoppers to stare. We had walked blocks and blocks of Buenos Aires, searching for bedding and linens that paled in comparison to the walls of fabrics offered in this monstrous consumer smorgasbord! Thankfully, we'd rented a car, so we could pack it full of all of the indulgences that America offers, unlike anywhere we'd been lately. Admittedly, we went a bit nuts - throw pillows, sheet sets, kitchen gadgets, quick-dry towels, and more. Seriously, like starving stowaways crawling to the captain's table.
It was similar when we entered any huge chain grocery store. Many cruisers can attest to the fact that many a "grocery" item is bought at a 7-Eleven. If it is within walking distance of the dinghy dock, that's where we end up to re-provision on anything from bread and milk to Pop-tarts and beef jerky. Yep, whatever we can find to pass for food (I know, the last two items are questionable as nutritional sustenance). But when that is your food shop, you can imagine what a thrill it is to enter a store with automatic sliding doors and a whole section of fresh produce welcoming you. It takes all my will power not to throw one of everything into the cart. (and a gentle reminder from Mark that we are carrying anything we buy back to the dinghy dock!) Nothing stops us, though, from just standing in front of the wall of yogurt, amazed and awestruck by the sheer number of choices (greek, whipped, active, custard, flavored, plain, and the list goes on and on). Yes, my kids are the weirdos calling out, "Hey, Mom, they have Pomegranate Chobani!! And, look, they even have those yogurt squeeze thingies! And, see? They have a whole aisle of cereal!! Mom, isn't this awesome??" Cue more staring from other shoppers and a few extra items thrown into the cart...
But that was then, when we had just returned from places with no malls anywhere to a place with 3-4 malls within one zip code! Our sensory overload eventually morphed into Americana, and we grew more used to the obscene amount of choices. We've been in the states since June of 2012. Now, we are preparing to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas, and I can't for the life of me remember what foods I missed most and what I vowed I wouldn't forget to pack when we came back from the states. It's not as though we're going to starve in these places, I mean all people have to eat, right? It's just that we want to have what we want to have, you know? We're not the type to stay in our American bubble and not eat locally, but kids crave P BJ sandwiches and I simply need microwave popcorn once in a while... but this takes preparation and planning. So, now we find ourselves in the mega grocery stores, asking ourselves, "What will we want??" THAT is a dangerous question with walls of cereal and rows and rows of favorites.
We make lists, figure out how much mayonnaise or syrup we use in a given week, then multiply that by the number of weeks we'll be gone. Just another little lesson for the kids in mathematics! We try to contain ourselves, to set a limit, to reign in our American tendency to overpack. But, it happens, and we'll have food to hand out to others who need it along the way, and that's okay, too.
Of course, there are bigger fish to fry when preparing to set off. We've done maintenance on our engines and changed filters. (and by 'we' you all know that I mean 'Mark') He's checked the charts, been watching and listening to weather forecasts, and called ahead for reservations at a marina. Sails and rigging are looking good. Propane, fuel, and water are filled. And Christmas cards are ready to be sent. We've made a list and we're checking it twice. Beaches, sunshine, warm weather here we come! Our official plans are to leave early next week, but we'll see! Plans don't always comply in this floating double wide of ours!