So much has happened and changed over the last 6 months that I didn’t know where to start with this blog update. So I finally decided to just start where we left off, and take my time getting caught up to the current time- which, by the way, I would have never believed someone if they told me where i’d be sitting right now. Life is full of twists and turns and I am thankful that I have just been able to sit back and enjoy the journey. Kyle left you guys off with his last post of amazing scuba diving. During all his posts, I was living at an Ashram in the Bahamas doing an intensive yoga teacher training. So I guess i’ll start there. That experience is a difficult thing to put into words and honestly, I am still processing everything I learned there. But i’ll give it a go.
There were 36 of us in this particular 200hr TTC (teacher training course). There were only a few of us from the United States, everyone else was from various countries around the world. We quickly became very close as we spent from 6am-10pm 6 days a week together. The schedule of the training was very strict and very demanding. It went something like this:
Wake up Bell: 5:30am
Satsang: Silent Meditation and chanting: 6am-7:30am
Yoga Class: 8am-10am
Bhagavad Gita/Chanting Class: 2:30-3:30pm
How to Teach Yoga Class: 4pm-6pm
Karma Yoga: 6:45pm-7:45pm
Satsang: Silent Meditation and Chanting/Lecture: 8pm-10pm
We had Thursdays off, but still had to attend Satsangs and had to study and do homework as there was SO much homework and studying. The housing varied for each person depending on what they chose. I, of course, chose to camp. So my tent was set up in a nice shaded area and I lived out of my tent for 30 days. This particular Ashram is also a yoga vacation center, so there are many more people than just the teachers and TTC students. Sometimes there were over 300 people at the Ashram, other times half that. But basically it was a busy place filled with people from around the world all taking time to go inward and focus on themselves and disconnect from the outside world. This experience was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. I thought that hiking the Appalachian Trail or rowing down the Mississippi River would be more difficult, but I was wrong. This course challenged me so incredibly much both mentally and physically that it broke me down many times. There were days that I would find myself in tears all day. I was unable to understand why this was happening and it wasn’t just happening to me. It would happen to people randomly throughout the course. Through all this yoga and chanting and intense breathing exercises we were cleansing ourselves physically and emotionally, and with that, a lot of emotions and feelings that I didn’t even know existed were surfaced. We were forced to go within and find silence. Finding silence within is so incredibly difficult and a bit scary. The mind does not want to be silent, it just wants to keep going and going, but my teachers taught me how to silence the inner voice. How to sit and be completely present. I learned how to gain control of my mind and my thoughts and realized that I am separate from my thoughts. I can control my thoughts, they do not control me. All of this was very profound and has been impacting my life greatly the last 6 months. I left the Ashram after 30 days with the title of a Yoga Teacher, but really I left with some of the most amazing friends and a much deeper understanding of myself and the universe. And most of all, an extreme urge and need to delve deeper into the teachings and practice of yoga as a whole. Here are some photos from my time at the Ashram. I’ll leave it at that, but if anyone has any particular questions, please feel free to reach out.
Kyle was able to join me at the Ashram for about a week. He slept on the boat which was anchored right off the Ashram’s dock (you can only get to the ashram by boat) but otherwise spent his days at the Ashram partcipating in a meditation course and joining all the meals and yoga courses. I didn’t get to see him a lot during the day, but it was nice to share meals and I was so grateful he was able to meet all the friends I had made. The day after I graduated Kyle came and picked me up in the dinghy. It was a Sunday and we went to the grocery store in Nassau because we were leaving the following morning for the Exumas. I hadn’t left the little world of the Ashram for over a month, and going to the grocery store in Nassau was quite the shock. Cars, noises, colorful signs, bright lights, etc. It took me a minute to adjust, but we enjoyed the rest of our evening gathering supplies for our crossing the next morning.
On Monday morning we motored out of the incredibly busy Nassau Harbor and turned South towards the Exuma Island Chain. Kyle had been stuck in the busy harbor on and off for a month, and was SO excited to be leaving. I was just excited to be back on the boat and continuing on with our journey. We had a perfect passage with the wind in our favor and calm seas. I had forgotten just how clear the water was, and found myself transfixed on watching as Sirocco surged through the subtle waves. That night we arrived at Highborne Cay just as the sun had set. The next day we went swimming and snorkeling and explored the area a bit. We had some friends from St. Petersburg who also had sailed to the Bahamas, and we finally met up. So when they arrived that night we all met at an inhabited little island and had a bonfire. We shared drinks and stories and experiences of our similar but also very different journeys from Florida to the Bahamas. It was awesome to spend time with some friends our age and we made plans to meet up later on in Georgetown, farther down the Exumas.
At this point it was the beginning of February, we had to be in Georgetown by February 20th in order to catch a plane back to St. Petersburg. Right around Christmas time we received news that my dad had been diagnosed with late stage throat cancer. Obviously it was very difficult and scary news, and we knew that we would be flying back when his treatment started. So during my time at the Ashram I purchased plane tickets for Kyle and I to fly out of Georgetown on February 21st. Being that we were on a bit of a time crunch, we decided to choose places we were most interested in seeing, and island hop to those places. The Exumas consist of over 365 islands (most of which are uninhabited) and span over a hundred miles. Within the Exumas is the Exuma Land and Sea Park, which is 176 square miles and was the first land and sea park in the world. Many of the islands within the park have moorings that you can rent for a few nights, which Kyle and I did at a place called Waderick Wells. We enjoyed a 4-5 mile hike across the entire island that took the entire day. It was unreal. Cliffs (well the Bahamas version of cliffs) overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean and half a mile in the other direction crystal clear calm water of the Exuma Sound. It was by far my most favorite place in the Bahamas, and we enjoyed every moment of our time there. From there we continued South and stopped at various islands along the way. We found awesome snorkeling, ruins to explore, and lots of really great sailing and anchorages. I didn’t write much during our time in the Exumas, so will allow the pictures to speak for the rest of our journey there.
Once we arrived in Georgetown we enjoyed a few days of going to the bar, checking out the town, and hanging with our friends who were also there. It was hot, so we spent a lot of time swimming. Georgetown is a huge meeting ground for sailors, and while we were there, there were over 300 cruising boats from around the world.
So, then February 21st came along and it was time to fly out for what was supposed to be 2 weeks for Kyle and 4 weeks for me. So we secured the boat at anchor, battoned down the hatches, and had our friends keep an eye on it. We didn’t feel that 2 weeks was a very long time to leave the boat, so while we finished off all the perishable food, we didn’t empty our water tanks or pantries, we didn’t take down the sails, we didn’t do A LOT of things we would have done, had we known Covid19 was going to come and change everything. We had planned to sail for 3 more months this season and end in the Dominican Replublic. So anyway, we made our way to Florida to help my dad through his 7 week cancer treatment. When we arrived he was already in week 3. There is so much to say about his treatment and what it was like. But I am not sure if I want to share that yet, so I might save that for another day. I will say though, that he is a fighter, and I could have never imagined how awful it would be, but also how much learning and growing would be involved. (He is now 3 months post treatment and healing- slowly but surely! And we found out yesterday that his treatment WORKED!!)
So while we were at my parents house for the treatment, the virus hit. It all seems a bit like a blur, between my dad’s treatment and Covid19 and lockdown and quarantine and finding out that the Bahamas had shut their borders. But basically what happened is in March the Bahamas shut their borders and our flights were cancelled and we have been stuck in Florida ever since. And Sirocco is still just sitting at anchor 4 months later. We had friends to look after her for the first couple months, but now all the boats have left and she’s one of the few left. It’s hurricane season and she isn’t in a safe spot. It’s been rough because it is so completley out of our control and there is nothing we can do except be patient. We didn’t pack very many clothes or personal belongings and as I mentioned above, did not prepare the boat for such a long separation. But after a few days of the reality of the situation setting in, we decided to just be grateful. Grateful that we even have a boat in the Bahamas to worry about. Grateful that we were able to stay with my parents through the entirety of the treatment all the way into the healing stage, grateful to have a house, food, and a garage to work on projects. Kyle and I try to plan and prepare for every situation we can think of to keep ourselves and our boat safe, but there was just no way to plan for a global pandemic- so instead of being hard on ourselves about being “unprepared”, we let it go and moved on. Sirocco is our home and we miss her greatly, but we just keep praying that she’ll be there waiting for us when we get to her. We currently have flights for July 17th for the weekend and plan to move her to a safer spot for hurricane season. Crossing our fingers this second wave of Covid doesn’t change that.
And so being that Kyle and I seem to be incapable of sitting still.. we took on another, totally unexpected project. We felt a bit displaced when we were separated from the boat. We had my parent’s house which was awesome, but we didn’t like that we didn’t have a place of our own in the US if something ever did happen to the boat. We aren’t interested in buying a house (nor do we have the money to do so) or renting an apartment.. so instead we bought a 1965 airstream camper! And as is our style, it was completely gutted and had to be completely renovated. It took us 6 weeks of working 12-15 hours a day. It was a major project, but so much fun and turned out AMAZING. Stay tuned for my next post to see photos of the camper and a final update of what we are up to next (Kyle gets his dream job!) Cheers!