Chapter Fourteen:  September 28-December 14, 2004


We had Seraphim tucked into the Marina de Lagos, Portugal, and it was time to return to the good ol’ USA for a visit.  John’s nephew, Andy, was to be married, and we didn’t want to miss it.  We’d originally planned to visit for Christmas, but the wedding on October 2 made us change our plans.  So we decided to stay through Thanksgiving, then return to Portugal for Christmas.  That meant eight weeks in the U.S., staying in other people’s houses.  John subscribes to the adage that “Fish and relatives start to smell after three days”, and so we had to keep on the move, trying not to wear out our welcome.

The wedding was lovely, as we would expect considering the people involved.  It was good to see everyone; the entire Martin family was there, including the littlest children.  Afterwards, Sharon flew on to San Francisco to see sister, Beth, and her son, Will.  It was a wonderful visit. John happily bounced back and forth between his two brothers in Houston. He even had the pleasure of witnessing brother David’s hole-in-one!

Then on to New England.  With the encouragement of our friends, Bernard and Judy, we made Cape Cod our base of operations for the next five weeks.  We traveled to Maine to spend some time with John’s daughter, Kelly and her sweet family.  Kelly’s husband Chip is aces, and they have the greatest son anyone could ask for.  We planned our visit to be there on Halloween, so John could go “Trick-or-Treat” with grandson Ian, age four.  For those of you reading this who have not grown up in the United States, on Halloween  children dress up in costume and go house-to-house, where they are rewarded “for being children” with a “treat”, usually a small bit of candy.  John asked Ian if he could accompany him on this annual childhood rite.  “Gramps” suggested he could dress up as a pirate, or a sailor, considering his current set of circumstances.  But, no.  Ian insisted that Grandpa dress up as a Golf Ball.  A Golf Ball!!??  Ever up for a challenge, we managed to pull together a costume of sorts; this included four days of a papier-mâché creation over an oversized balloon and two days of clean-up. “A good time was had by all,” but mostly the grandparents. 

A quick trip to New York and off to Connecticut we went.  Sharon’s brother, John, and his wife, Katie were the perfect hosts, and we were able to visit family and friends from Litchfield.  After spending a bountiful Thanksgiving, we prepared to return “home.”

When we left Lagos in late September, we carried 37 pounds of luggage in a duffle bag.  We returned, eight weeks later, lugging two duffels weighing in at just over 130 pounds!  My, but boat stuff is heavy.  Spare parts, tools, filters, wiring and whatnot.  We even shipped another 37 pounds of books and some flammable painting supplies separately!  Such are prices in the U.S. and Portugal.

Now we are in Lagos, where we shall remain moored until April.  We are beginning to find our way around town, and it is actually more charming than we first realized.  The Municipal Market is filled with fresh things to eat, meat and fish scents permeating the air. The cafes are bustling even in the off-season; the streets are busy with people.  The entire town is decorated with holiday lights strung across the narrow streets. Every motif is different; there are chiming bells, flickering candles, angel’s wings, three dimensional stars, on and on it goes. We’re fascinated by the variety and the work put into each string of lights. Even the palm trees along the esplanade are festooned with tiny white lights.  “Gaudy, but Good” is the phrase Sharon has adopted.  A festive feeling pervades this place, and we love it. 

The cruiser’s Christmas Party was last night, and the Algarve Orchestra’s Christmas Concert on Friday.  The following week is Christmas! 

The other evening we joined a last-minute dinner at a local Portuguese restaurant.  There were 13 of us, most under the age of forty.  This is the sort of impromptu gathering we love.  We were in the company of cruisers from Holland, Ireland, England, Sweden, Norway and Australia.  Quite an international group, just out having a ball.  It has been a long time since we have come home at 1:30 a.m.!  That’s the trouble with hanging out with these kids, though.

We plan to spend several days in Sevilla at Christmas.  Then it’s back to the boat and reality: there’s a ton of work to be done before we set sail in April.

We send our very best to you and all those you love.  Have a very Merry Christmas, and may your New Year be full of wonder.

A Bientot!