"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can." From Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.
It was a damp, drizzly November in California's central valley as well as in my soul by the time we boarded the first of several flights that would eventually take us to Antigua, where our boat was waiting. We had been landlocked for almost six months, and while I had not knocked any people's hats off, I knew how Ishmael felt. It was high time to get to sea, where the air is fresh and the water is clear and deep blue.
After traveling for 15 hours, we arrived in Antigua at about 3 p.m. local time. We claimed our duffel bags, realizing as we did that we had less luggage than the people who were arriving for a week's holiday. We had been traveling for six months and had almost all the clothes we own in two small bags. Living on a small boat helps to reduce your wardrobe to the essentials.
In just a few minutes, we cleared customs and immigration. We stepped out into the clean, fresh air. I took a deep breath, savoring it. After months in the foul air of California's central valley, I could breathe again.
We hailed a taxi to take us to the guest house where we had a reservation. We arranged for the driver to pick us up the next morning to take us to the marina where Play Actor would be launched.
When we got to the guest house, we had to wait a few minutes for the manager to return from the airport, where she had gone to meet our flight and give us a ride.
''I'm so sorry," Leslie said. "We didn't know."
"No problem. It's only a few minutes. I always meet the guests to save them the taxi fare."
''But how did you know our flight?"
"Only one flight from the States in the afternoon."
Life is simpler in the islands.
We had noticed that a restaurant was part of the complex and we had not eaten for 12 hours.
"What time does the restaurant open for dinner?" I asked.
''We don't have opening hours just now, but if you are hungry, we can cook for you. When would you like to eat?"
"5:30," Leslie said.
''Okay. You can eat in your room. We only have fish and some vegetables. Will that be all right?"
"That would be perfect," Leslie said.
And it was. Life is much simpler in the islands, and it's good to be back.