Month: July 2017

Saying Goodbye

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Our final salvage day on Tanda Malaika was painful. We knew our time on her was coming to an end, and we just didn’t want to leave her. She was looking so empty after all we had removed from her, and yet she still held strong on the reef, her mast standing tall and proud. I walked along the port side deck where I had walked so many times before, no more life lines keeping me safe from the ocean, and I whispered to Tanda Malaika how sorry I was.

Only one shroud was left on each side holding her mast up, and the helm was completely bare. I had sat at that helm on so many night watches, just me and the sea and the sky. I had felt peace there, as she responded so diligently to my touch on her controls and wheel.

Aidan came and sat beside me, and neither him nor I could speak.

Keeping busy was the only way to get through the next few hours, so I returned to her galley and then her hulls.

I watched a tiny fish that had already moved in and swam contentedly in the bilges just as another wave hit her port side and sent water pouring in through head side hatch. In the main salon everything had been ripped apart to get to bolts holding rails above, and ceiling panels lay all over the floor and where salon seating had been.

We gathered and hammered and unscrewed and collected, fiberglass making our arms and hands itch. Mycah undid hoses and straps after draining water we had made with our water maker – leaving water storage tanks empty and ready to be removed.

Finally after many many hours the sun lowered in the sky and we returned once more to the anchorage. Salty, drenched, cut up from coral, covered in fiberglass, and shed our dripping clothes to stand briefly in a warm shower. It always washed the tears away. We sat and talked, ate another delicious meal prepared by Janet, then lounged in the stern salon and listened to Mycah play the ukulele and sing to us. Her voice like an angel, soothing our tired souls.
Morning came so quickly, before I even had time to dream, and without much thought at all we dressed once again, filled our bellies with Weetbix, and for the last time returned to our home on the sea. She was still there waiting for us as if ready and willing to have her nonexistent sails raised once again to carry us across the waves that constantly crashed into her side. We had a couple last things to remove, and sweet little Jade from Jadean joined Jude on the top deck to unscrew some rails. Her happy and curious little voice brought smiles to our faces. Several times she stopped and looked up into our faces, her eyes caring and sincere, and said,’I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s so sad.’ Just for her we tried to be cheerful, and promised her that before she knew it, we would be back on the ocean and catch up to them where ever they were.

Barry from Jadean helped Mycah and Danny pull the fresh water tanks free so we could tow them behind the dinghies back to the anchorage.

I walked down to the galley where counters and floor were wet and covered in debris, and began cleaning . We had removed every bit of plastic, garbage and anything that could possibly float and hurt the ocean, and when my beautiful home descended to her final resting place on the ocean floor, I wanted her galley to be as clean as I had kept it when we lived on her. David walked past and said, ‘what are you doing woman?’ I told him I was cleaning the kitchen one last time and he smiled and shook his head, saying I was as bad as Mycah, who had cleaned her room beautifully as well. I stepped back from the counter and smiled through blurry eyes, blinking back tears.

Danny was feeling overwhelmed with sadness too as we spent our last few moments in our home. We relived the night we wrecked over and over again, talking about the entire sequence of unfortunate events, and though it had been over a week, we still sat in disbelief. Right now we should have been in the Cook Islands, exploring the reefs, mingling with locals, working on homeschool work, working on boat projects and laying on the trampoline to watch the approaching sunset. Danny quietly apologized to me over and over again, saying he would make it up to me, and I reassured him he had no reason to apologize. We were a strong team, I was by his side and as a family we would embrace our next adventure with much added knowledge and experience, and our lives would continue to be beautiful and meaningful, full of hope and learning. We would help others with the knowledge we have gained from this experience.

Barry, Jade and David returned to their dinghy and left just us as a family on Tanda Malaika so we could have a few moments to say goodbye. We sat on the steps all together on the bow, and watched the waves coming in and lapping against her hulls. Each of us sat sat quietly for a moment, completely consumed by our own thoughts and memories.

We said a family prayer, giving thanks for the time we have had with our home on oceans, for the experiences we had had, the knowledge we had gained, the wonderful people that had come and shared in our adventures with her. As my voice broke with heartache and tears as I prayed, I heard Danny and my children crying too, so we held each others hands and wept together. We talked about funny experiences we’d had, of crazy times and the experiences that had left us standing speechless and in awe. We had no regrets. Mycah played and sang ‘You are my sunshine’ on her ukulele. Our children held each other, trying to give strength to each other and bring comfort. So much love and endless commitment.

We tied a lei of shells to Tanda Malaika’s bow, then made our way to the stern to close things up.

Danny closed the doors to the salon for the last time, and we turned with heavy hearts to make our way down the sugar scoops.

Tanda Malaika. She has been our mother, rocking us gently to sleep at night and carrying us to distant lands and wonderful people. She has been our teacher, as we have learned so much from her on her decks, at her tables and in her hulls. We know her so well. We know the sweet spot when adjusting her sails, and every mark on her decks. We have scrubbed her belly, keels and rudders. We have learned so much and are so filled with gratitude. We love you, Tanda Malaika, and in your honor will work hard and soon be back on the ocean once again.

I took a screen shot of her location for other sailors to be aware, which is not exactly where we wrecked, as waves have pushed her much farther onto the reef. Though we still have not heard a word from the American Embassy (which is quite disappointing), we have been overwhelmed by the love from the cruisers. Meals and treats prepared by Beach Flea, Jadean, Pandora, Tamariki and Geniet Lewe, and endless hours of help from so many. Thank you so much for your support and love.

Descending like vultures

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It has been 9 days. Each day has lasted several weeks so I’m not sure how long it’s really been…Like an addict who is usually on a constant high from every day life, taking hits with every breath I’d breathed, I am now slamming my head against the walls and floor as I experience the ultimate withdrawls all while descending day after day like a vulture on a dying being, picking it clean one artery, one organ and one breath at a time.
The salvage company told us they wouldn’t even come look at Tanda Malaika until they had a $25 000 deposit, while the winds were carrying in massive sets of waves that pushed her farther and farther onto the reef. Each time she moved, rocks and coral that had initially broken holes in her hull in 3 different places was now pulling the gaps in the hulls to the side. Large flaps of fiberglass were twisting, tearing and gaping.

It was as if she was being scraped and skinned alive.

We called the American Embassy to see what help they could offer and were assured that they would send help and to hang tight. The big wig had gone on vacation but we would hear back from them soon. Every morning David (from Geniet Lewe) would get on the VHF radio, tell the cruisers that we were headed out to Tanda Malaika to salvage what we could, and before we knew it, a caravan of dinghies would be making their way out to her. We carried with us tools, thick garbage bags, tape, permanent markers and dry bags. We meandered through the large field of coral heads as far as we could then threw an anchor out, jumped out and made our way to our home. Like a forensic team at a murder scene, we would ascend onto her decks and begin picking over every inch of her, removing anything of value, bagging it up, labeling it and placing it in larger more water proof containers.

I placed screws, nuts and bolts in small ziplock bags, wrote the contents on them and taped them to the item they belonged to. As soon as we had a dinghy loaded up with bags etc, it was taken all the way in to Geniet Lewe in the anchorage. The overflow went to Makara (Ian and Erika’s boat).

While some people gathered electrical items,

others sorted through the galley and main salon. Books, clothing, bedding, tools, food, safety equipment, fishing equipment, the list goes on and on…
We removed high priority items first then worked on the less important things, all while waves continued to pound up again Tanda Malaika, causing her to shudder periodically.

We tried to stay upbeat and positive, and sometimes succeeded – other times sat starring in shock then fighting back tears, and got back to work once more.

The creatures dismantled everything they had worked so hard to keep secured and water tight.

Each time we returned to Tanda Malaika, she was more and more damaged. Part of it was that as we removed things, she became lighter, which allowed for more movement on the rocks and coral which caused her to rip even more. The rudder posts pushed through the sugar scoop steps, creating holes on both port and starboard. Each day we returned to her we noticed more things that had been stolen off her in the night.

The salvage company finally called back after we had sent them photos of her deteriorating condition, and told us that given how far she is up on the reef at this point, combined with the way her structure had been compromised, they recommended we either get a permit to have her towed off and sunk, which would total about $35 to $40 000. Our other option was to have her drug off the reef and towed to Raitea to be hauled out and chopped up, which would cost the $25000 pulling off the reef job, the $5000 an hour for towing her 20 miles at about the speed of 1 knot an hour since she would be float at about deck level in the water. After going back and forth in our discussions we at first thought that if we had her hauled out to demolish in Raitea, we could at least have a good look at her when she’s out and maybe she could be saved somehow. But, as each day passed her damage got to the point where it would cost more to repair her that to purchase another used bare bones catamaran and start over. We had been told that the Moorings charter companies were selling boat like ours (without all the added electronics, solar, bigger batteries, wifi extenders, AIS, radar, etc) for $200 to $250 000, as they try to make room for new models. Tanda Malaika would cost a minimum of $200 000 to fix.

We gathered the creatures into the salon on Geniet Lewe and explained the situation to them, and told them that at this point we were going to have to have our girl drug off the reef and towed to the legal area for sinking, about 7 tons of old engines etc would be placed on her to weigh her down, and she would leave the surface for the last time and sink to the ocean floor below. Everyone reacted differently, Mycah was crying and asking all the ‘but what if…’ questions, Jude withdrew and cried quietly, Emma was crying and asking ‘is this final? Is this really the final decision? Is it just a maybe or really for real?’ Aidan was teary eyed and sat quietly looking back and forth at his sisters trying to figure out a way to comfort them. To comfort himself. To process it all. I explained to them that she had provided a place for us to live and learn and grown, and once sunk, she would provide a place for marine life to live. She would become covered in coral and sponges and have marine life swimming through the hulls where we had walked and would continue to protect the living. Our Tanda Malaika would continue to be a place where life could feel safe and at home.
Making this decision of course meant that every single reusable and sellable item would need to be removed from Tanda Malaika. Once again Dave announced our plan on the VHF and day after day we have returned to her like vultures, picking her clean.

Electrical wire hung like entrails from the ceiling and walls as each light, each pump, each rail and block, each line and hose where removed, bagged and carried off to Makara and Geniet Lewe.

Janet organized and catalogued every single item, recording it on a spread sheet on the computer and assigning it a reference number. Cruisers from Geniet Lewe, Makara, Beach Flea, Solace, Son of Moondance, Puanani, Jadine helped so much hour after hour, day after day. Many vessels arrived to watch out of curiosity, some to purchase boat parts, and others just to help. Between Janet and Emma, they did (and continue to do) at least thirty loads of washing, cleaning clothes, bedding, towels and other odds and ends. Large items were cleaned then laid out on the trampoline to dry.

A man named Marc, who has a boat company in Fare, volunteered his flat bottomed boats and helped lift the two d55 Volvo engines out, the Northern Lights generator, the scuba compressor, air conditioning units, water heaters, life raft, freezer unit, lithium ion batteries, stater batteries and so much more. His plan is to take them to his warehouse in Fare and clean it all up and help us try sell it.
Cookies and other delicious treats were brought over from other boats, some offered to wash dishes, do laundry or help in any other way possible. Janet tended our wounds night after night. She put Jude on antibiotics for an ear infection, helped Emma with asthma and a cold, helped Mycah with her back and me with my sciatica. She has cooked amazing meals and kept us hydrated all while organizing everything that was brought off Tanda Malaika. When people came to buy stuff and Danny and I couldn’t think anymore, Dave researched the best price for each item and help us sell them. Beach Flea and Jadine families cooked us dinner as well, and invited the creatures over to relax and enjoy evenings of playing games while Danny and I tried to figure out what to do next.
At this point, 99% has been removed from Tanda Malaika. We have sold some things but still have SO MUCH to deal with and store or sell. We are waiting for the inspector to come out and inspect our home to see if she is environmentally safe to sink, Once he has given us the ok and taken the $25 000 permit fee from us, we will be able to give the towing company the reluctant thumbs up to drag her off and sink her. That will be $25 000 to drag her off and $5000 an hour to tow her the 13 nm to the legal sinking area, then the cost of the 7 tons of weight to push her down since its practically impossible to sink catamarans. We have been thinking hard trying to decide where to relocate to, knowing that we need to be where Danny will be able to fly the most. Hong Kong is in desperate need of BBJ pilots (corporate 737 jets). We know it is very cheap to live in Thailand or Bali and may live there while Danny flies a lot, I will find a job too, and we will save up for another home on the water to replace Tanda Malaika. We are looking into the most efficient way to get visas lined up and if we have to go to the US to do it, tickets will cost us over $2000 a person to get to our final destination. So much to think about!
Our family is strong. Our relationships with each other are strong and the love we have for each other is solid and wonderful. We will get through this and hopefully use what we learn to help others. We are so grateful for the amazing support and compassion from everyone here as well as those far away. Our daughter, Kjira, organized a go fund me and we thank her so much for that, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your concern and generosity. Today is a new day, we’ll see where this one takes us!

Bucket list success!

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I lay my head of wet, freshly shampoo’d hair on my pillow, body flat against the cool crisp sheets, and let out an audible sigh. A sigh that represented exhaustion, disbelief, shock, questions and gratitude for life and for the amazing feeling of sheets. Clean dry sheets. I had been drenched in salt water out on Tanda Malaika for so long that my fingers and toes had become wrinkled, and here in my borrowed bed I could feel that the wrinkles were finally going away. I closed my eyes for a moment and saw Tanda Malaika from above as I was raised up into the helicopter.

I heard her shudder and scrape as she hit the reef and I felt the cold spray from the pounding waves as they poured in through open hatches. I wanted to just wake up from this all. Surely it hadn’t happened. If only I could turn back the clock a few hours, if only we had arrived in Huahine during daylight hours, if only we had used different navigation charts, if only I were in my own bed in my own home on the water. I felt Danny move in the bed beside me and told him how grateful I was for him, for his strength and that he was there beside and not crushed beneath Tanda Malaika or thrown out into the ocean as we had raised up high then slammed back down over and over again. He turned to me in the darkness and quietly said, ‘I just can’t believe this has happened.’ All I could say in return, was ‘me neither, my Love.’ We spoke about our plan for the morning and how we wanted to get moving as early as possible to get out to Tanda Malaika before locals boarded her and stole everything. The hostel manager, Lawrence, had said we could have full use of the kitchen and that the grocery store opened at 5:30am, so I set my alarm for 6. Though I was so completely exhausted, I couldn’t sleep and knew I wouldn’t be able to for a long time. My back ached and I could feel sharp pain the entire length of my sciatic nerve – from my L4 all the way to the under side of my foot, and no position brought me relief. I thought about our situation and though I felt devastated, I knew I was not heart broken. My heart could only break once, and it already had been when my brother died. This overwhelming feeling was intense sadness. We were homeless now. Shipwrecked. Then the thought hit me!!! On this night in one foul swoop I had accomplished so many things on my bucketlist! I had survived a shipwreck…I was a castaway…I had flown in a helicopter! Check, check, check! Three things in one night off the bucketlist!!!I was still wide awake when my alarm went off at 6am, woke Jude as she’d requested, and her and I slipped out the hostel and onto the street. It was a beautiful day with a soft morning glow resting on the scene before us. There was a calm bay with several sleepy sailboats resting on the water, and in the center of them all, was a Leopard 46 just like Tanda Malaika. She was beautiful. She was there, safe at anchor all in one piece. She had a family fast asleep in their beds down in her hulls, and I imagined them resting without a care in the world. I was so happy for them and knew how they felt, because just 24 hours ago I had felt it too. I blinked back tears and stepped with Jude onto the street, which was already busy with locals walking back and forth, chatting and stopping to shop at produce and baguette stands. I felt like singing the song that Belle sang in the Disney movie, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, as she stepped out onto the street in the beginning of the movie…’There goes the baker with his tray like always….” We found the grocery store a few doors down, and bought bacon, eggs, baguettes, brie, fruit and juice, then returned and cooked breakfast for everyone. A sleepy, docile tribe entered the kitchen and thanked us for cooking breakfast. We talked about the plans for the day which included Lawrence driving us to the anchorage across from where Tanda Malaika lay, and once we got there the cruisers that had contacted us the night before would retrieve our dinghy from Tanda Malaika and tie it to the dock at the resort so we could use it to get out to our home on the reef. The creatures had many questions about whether we thought she was going to be ok or not, what would we do if she wasn’t, how long we thought it would be till we knew for sure…all we could tell them was, lets get out there in the daylight and see what we’re dealing with and continue to say lots of prayers that everything would be ok. We again expressed our gratitude concerning that fact that we were all alive and safe. After cleaning up the kitchen we gathered all our belongings and took them out to the front sitting area where Emma was going to stay and watch over them. Our sweet friends on Makara, Ian and Erika, has decided to completely change their travel plans and travel from Mo’orea through the night to hurry and get to us to help.The plan was that Emma would wait there for them and once they arrived, load all our stuff on their boat and travel with them to where we were. As soon as Lawrence was ready, we loaded into her pickup and drove the 30 minutes from Fare to the Le Mahana Resort, where the anchorage was. While driving we all felt great uneasiness and braced ourselves for the sight we were about to see. I tried to focus on the beautiful scenery but found myself straining to see around every corner as we approached it, just incase I would get a view of the reef where our girl lay. Finally she came into view. Her beautiful white hulls and tall mast so still as if she were a monument on the reef, with tall angry waves curling and crash on her port side. I quietly prayed, begging that she be ok then realized I had been holding my breath since I first spotted her. We thanked Lawrence once she’d stopped at the resort then walked out onto the long dock overlooking the bay and about a half a mile out was Tanda Malaika.

We stood quietly watching her for a while, each absorbed in their own thoughts. Each fighting the urge to burst into tears. Our dinghy wasn’t at the dock yet so we used the resort wifi and made contact with family while we waited. My mother cried with me on the phone as I expressed my love for our home and the torture she had endured just a few hours ago. Some may think she’s a luxury and not a home, but we had lost everything on land when all that was in our storage unit after moving onto her was stolen in California. We owned nothing on land except for a ford excursion we’d been trying to sell. Most buy homes on land, we bought ours on water for a very low price out of charter and had put time and money into her over the two years as we lived on her – our goal was to take her and do humanitarian work all over the world and we loved all we’d be able to accomplish thus far. We had always been the givers, the hard workers, the receivers of so much love and friendship as we served. We suddenly found ourselves in a very different situation – temporarily unable to help others like we were used to. As I watched her I wondered what miracle it was going to take to get her off that reef. Our insurance had dropped us in Galapagos even though we had 12000 nautical miles of sailing experience, saying we didn’t have enough experience to make the 3000 nm journey from Galapagos to Marquesas. My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of our dinghy approaching, with two cruisers we’d never met in it. They pulled up and introduced themselves as the ones who had tried to come to our aid the night before. We thanked them for their bravery and compassion and asked how Tanda Malaika looked. They said she was solidly stuck on the reef but didn’t look terrible – they’d seen worse, and it gave us hope. We dropped them off at their boats so they could get their dinghies, and set out in the direction of our beloved home. The resort had kindly offered for us to use their dock to temporarily dump our belongings on as we retrieved the most important things from the boat – just in case. The closer we got, the more my heart sank, and I looked at my children and Danny and could see they felt the same way.

Tanda Malaika was in such a terrible spot. There was so much reef all around her and I knew that if she could be towed off she would suffer so much more damage. Her sacrificial keels and rudders were already gone. The paddle board racks were already so bent to starboard from the waves. Our poor, poor Tanda Malaika. We each quietly made comment about dreading what we were going to see inside her. Dinner would still be on the stove, school books still in their places ready for the days lessons, chore chart still taped up in the galley for all to have access to, but what else were we going to find?

Making our way to her from the dinghy was treacherous as we had to work through a minefield of jagged coral. This poor reef. I felt so terrible for the reef, for the coral we had killed.
As I climbed the swim steps I talked gently to her telling her I’d missed her and how much I loved her. We are going to get you off this reef, Tanda Malaika, and everything is going to be ok. Our adventures will continue. We will raise your sails, fish from your stern, lay on your trampoline and look up at the stars and talk about my brother and Dad that are out there watching over us. We will play guitars and ukuleles and sing as usual, we will take aid to those in need, we will scrub your decks and keep your tanks full. Smells of delicious food would continue to come from your galley and writing and creativity would abound in your hulls and at your table. I love you, my strong, beautiful home. My Tanda Malaika.
Life jackets, throw pillows and shoes were scattered about the stern salon, and we opened the sliding glass doors and entered the main salon and galley. The floor was wet and cluttered with books, flash lights, items from the ‘blue basket’ of sunscreens, ointments and allergy meds. Battery chargers and various other items were on the opposite of the boat from where they were supposed to be. A wave hit the port side and I heard water running, and looked down into the port hull. The bilge in the forward cabin was exposed and the hull was breached allowing me to see the ocean below.

The floor in my room was covered in oil and the shelves where clothing had been under my bed were filled with oily water. The head floor was one giant puddle with rolls and tiny pieces of fresh toilet paper rolls.

Everything was going to be ok. Wasn’t it? Just be positive. Is that realistic or am I just setting myself up for heartache? Be strong for the creatures Belinda, be strong for Danny. Be strong for yourself.
I made my way into the galley, reached into the cupboard where we stored the garbage bags and got busy gathering items we needed to use in the next week. Some clothes, the dripping wet school books, toiletries etc. Other items that were important were gathered too. Thank goodness Danny’s Teton guitar was still dry. I looked at my big jar of brewing kombucha that my friend, Cheri, had given me a few months earlier, and told the scoby I’d rescue it as soon as possible. We worked quickly, bracing ourselves periodically as a wave hit the port side with great force. Tanda Malaika was slowing being pounded…how much of this could she take? Our new brave and selfless friends that’d come to the rescue carried the bags we filled to the dinghies and ran loads to the dock at the resort, only to return for load after load. The day was long and exhausting and I looked around thinking that we hadn’t even made a dent. Luckily we won’t have to take everything off because the salvage company who we still hadn’t been able to get a hold of, would tow her to the haul out in Raitea and we’d have access to everything there. Right? I reassured myself and the creatures that that was what was going to happen. Not once did they complain, they just worked and worked. Danny dismantled things that he wanted to protect and save from the constant bashing of waves. How do we get through all this? Just one bag at a time. Everything is going to be ok.
Finally it was time to head back and sort through the things on the dock. Where were we going to put everything? Would the resort have a shed or spare room we could rent? How long till we knew when Tanda Malaika could be towed to safety? So many unknowns – that’s the worst part. The unknown. I walked across the reef toward the dinghy, my sore back bent over like I was an old woman, and I clung to our new friend from Cape D. He comforted me with encouraging comments as I teared up when leaving our home behind once again. He caught me and pulled me up as I fell on the coral and bloodied my legs up again.
As we pulled into the anchorage and turned in to get to the dock we noticed a familiar Leopard 46 at anchor. Friends, Dave and Janet, whom we’d met a few months earlier were standing at their stern, and waved to us. Their boats name is ‘Geniet Lewe’, which is Afrikaans and means ‘Enjoy life.’ Dave and Janet spoke to us with loving concern and offered for us to stay with them. We could split up between Makara and them to allow for more room, and store our belongings on her as we sorted through things. We were so grateful for their offer and humbly accepted. We immediately got to work laying school books out in the sun, turning pages one by one to help them dry out. Night time came and we were still turning pages and sorting. Janet and Emma had started the endless task of doing laundry, using their washer and hanging things out to dry on lines on the bow. Mycah’s back was so sore from being thrown about the boat the previous night and Janet, who is also a trauma nurse, massaged it and also doctored our wounds from the coral.

When we finally all lay in our various beds between the two boats that night, we were so exhausted from lack of sleep the night before, from working hard all day, and from the emotional rollercoaster we were riding on. The room Danny and I had been offered was the exact location that ours was on Tanda Malaika, and in many ways it made us feel instantly at home, but also miss our own home. We hoped we’d only have to take advantage of Dave and Janet’s generous offer for a couple days, then we’d be in Raitea and could rent a place there while Tanda Malaika was worked on. This nightmare would end and soon we would once again be on our way with one heck of a journal entry and a few more things checked off my bucket list. Right?

MAYDAY!!!

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It was a strange sail from Mo’orea to Huahine because the ocean seemed annoyed and stormy. Waves were not in order but coming from all directions and Tanda Malaika felt different – bumpy and uneasy as she moved through the water. We had left Mo’orea around 6am and it was about 8pm and completely dark when I was in the galley cooking a late dinner with two hot pots on the stove and more food baking in the oven. Dinner was almost done and I had just sat down next to the stove because my sciatica was pretty painful. Jude and Emma were asleep in their beds, Mycah was standing in the galley on the port side of the boat and Aidan was sitting and reading. Danny was at the helm keeping close watch as we neared our destination, and we were moving at a speed of about 8-9 knots with the jib out and both engines running. Danny was watching the navigation instruments when he noticed the depth gauge suddenly drop from 180ft to 0, and he tried turning the helm hard to port realizing that an unmarked reef was ahead. It was at that point that we all felt Tanda Malaika violently hit reef. Massive waves raised her port hull to about a 75 degree angle then dropped her with an incredible force back down onto the reef. I saw Mycah being thrown from port all the way to starboard, down the stairs of the starboard hull and forward onto the floor in her cabin. I reached for the hot pots of food as books, water bottles, cutlery, the contents of the fridge, Emma’s potted basil plant, electronics that had been on a shelf and so many more things came fly through the air and smashing all over the floor. I could hear the roar of the engines, the wind and pounding waves, splashing water in massive amounts bashing against the windows and ceiling and deck and water, so much water pouring in through the open hatches, and scraping and grinding of Tanda Malaika’s keels and rudders as we were once again lifted and pushed farther and smashed onto the reef once more, slamming her 27 tons down again and again. I panicked, wondering if Danny was ok or if he’d been thrown from the helm station and I frantically called to him and heard no reply. I saw Emma rush past to get to Danny, giving no thought to her own safety, and she was thrown across the boat and into the life lines. Jude , Aidan and Mycah rushed about shutting hatches as waves poured in. Emma found Danny and tried to help him furl the jib, Mycah, Jude and Aidan and I desperately trying to secure things as we were all thrown about on a slippery, floor covered in food, dirt, water and all sorts of debris.
I heard myself yelling to Danny again to make sure he was ok as another wave hit us hard and all the scraping and grinding continued once again. More debris became projectile weapons hurled around and Mycah worked her way into the stern salon to see if she could take over where Emma had tried to go help Danny. She managed to help him furl the jib and each time a wave was about to hit, she yelled ‘BRACE YOURSELVES’ – which was such a great help, allowing us brief moments to secure items between another violent pounding. The helm spun around fast, hitting her knees and hand. Emma came rushing in, crying and panicking and I took her in my arms telling her we were ok, we were all accounted for at that point and I knew we weren’t about to sink because we were on a reef, but reassured her over and over as we were slammed, grinding repeatedly, water rushing in and the sound of violent waves pounding from every direction. I smiled to her and said, ’this is pretty cool, we’re surviving a ship wreck!!!’ She cried more and kept repeating aloud that she was going to be brave, as if trying to convince herself. Mycah noticed the dinghy looking like it was about to fall from the davits, and ran to grab the line on it just as another wave slammed into us. I saw her being thrown down the sugar scoop stairs and out of view and frantically yelled, ‘man over board,’ just in time to see her climbing back up again. She had been thrown all the way down to the bottom step and thankfully no further. I told the kids to check bilges to see how much water we were taking on. Everything seemed upside down and sideways. Everything was drenched and grinding.

I heard Danny calling ‘MAYDAY, MAYDAY, this is sailing vessel Tanda Malaika, MAYDAY’, on the VHF radio, over and over again. It was unreal to hear Tanda Malaika’s name being called in a mayday. I remember feeling so grateful because his voice sounded calm and he was so good on the radio from all his flying experience. It brought me momentary peace. Jude took charge of the bilges in the starboard hull as they were filling with water, and without me or Danny saying a word, the creatures calmly grabbed buckets, formed an assembly line and began bailing water out. While I tried scooping up as more debris from the ground so everyone wasn’t slipping and sliding on it, Danny checked the bilges in the port hull, and found them full as well. He managed to get the bilge pumps started and slowly they began to pump water out of both hulls. Every wave that hit was so loud and sent us falling about once again as we tried to make sense of the projects at hand. Finally the French Navy responded and Danny gave them our coordinates, they told us they would send help and to stand by. During the next 90 minutes, we were contacted by cruisers in a nearby anchorage and told that they heard our mayday and were going to try reach us to help. They were from the boats Beach Flea, Terapin and Cape D. We were contacted periodically and updated by the Coast Guard, we were thrown about the boat by huge bashing waves, grinding keels and hull, and I told everyone to gather a backpack full of personal items they might need over the next couple of days. The creatures immediately rushed down calmly and so bravely to their berths to follow out the task as they were bashed about and could more easily feel the scraping and grinding below them in the hulls. It’s an interesting experience…if you had a few minutes, what would you grab for your backpack? I’ve never been a material person, but aside from my wedding ring, I made sure I had my brothers scriptures, the ones my mom gave me when he died not too long ago, as well as a little crocodile the kids had given me as a gift. I also made sure I had all important family and boat documents. I saw Aidan coming up the stairs from his berth, and he stood wide eyed next to me repeating over and over, ‘Oh man, mom…oh man…’ I placed my arms around him and told him it’s all going to be ok. I tried to believe it as I confidently told him everything will workout just fine, as another huge wave came crashing over our home….everything’s ok….I just wanted to cry, scream, melt, be strong, be weak, lift the boat off the reef with my own two hands, curl up in a corner and cry, but mostly I wanted to hold my son and tell him without doubt that everything was going to be ok. So that’s what I did. Suddenly all lights went out and we were left in complete darkness, then slammed by another wave. More scraping, shaking, grinding, then moments later the lights flickered on again. Mycah came passed and her, Aidan and I prayed together, then separated and got back to work once more. The cruisers in dinghies were approaching far in the distance, their spot lights bright. We saw no way they could get to us due to all the reef, but they kept slowly coming our way. I walked out to the deck to shine the light back and forth so they might be able to see the reef and waves around our boat in the dark. Waves continued to crash over us, and my drenched body shivered more from shock than cold. I went back inside and watched as more waves shook the windows with intense force. I just knew they would break any second. Coast Guard came on the radio again, saying they would be another 20 minutes. 20 minutes… I’ve lived so many days of life never giving any thought to a 20 minute period of time. It had seemed so short. 20 minutes in a storm on a reef in a broken home on the ocean with your loved ones, is 20 hours long. It’s endless waves, endless scraping and endless shaking back and forth. Endless thoughts about what’s going to happen next, please Father in Heaven, spare my family. Endless picking up debris, watching water gurgle in the bilges. The generator stopped again and all lights went out once more. No radio contact could be made with anyone now since all power was lost. Hadn’t it been an hour now since they’d said 20 minutes? We were suddenly completely covered by bright light as the helicopter flew overhead – I hadn’t even heard them coming, then theyey carried on far off into the distance. It felt like they were abandoning us. I asked Danny where they were going and he explained how they had to fly into the wind to approach the boat. We all moved out onto the front deck, holding tight onto rails and life lines. Our life jackets had always been stored in the front deck lazarette, and in this experience we found that it was too dangerous to get to when we first hit reef. A good lesson to learn for future voyages…keep them in a stern locker! We stayed low on the deck and grabbed life jackets, helping each other clip in in the wind, and then watched the helicopter approach. We were soaked through and getting sprayed by waves as we stood. Aidan was just in his board shorts, Mycah in her swim suit and a t-shirt, the rest of us in shorts and t-shirts as we stood drenched in the wind and waves looking upward. We all stopped for a moment and had a family prayer together.

The helicopter hovered over Tanda Malaika, and a young man named Fredrick in a light pink wetsuit descended at the stern. We all walked down the deck to meet him with our backpacks on our backs.

He apologized for taking so long and said his group had been doing training in the mountains of Tahiti. We thanked him for coming as he gathered us in the stern salon, and told us to place all our backpacks on the table, take life jackets off and put helmets on. The last time I’d worn an ugly helmet like that was when we had slid down 27 waterfalls in Dominican Republic, so I told everyone as we stood together that aside from a helicopter ride, I sure hoped that some sliding down waterfalls was going to be included in this deal! It made them chuckle for a minute.

Fredrick told us that he was going to place a strap around our chest, which would pretty much stay on only because we had to hold our arms down by our hips in front of us. If we raised our arms, we would fall from the harness onto the reef. Emma helped so much by translating his French into English, so he told her he wanted her to go last so he could use her for communication. Jude went first, walking with Fredrick to the top of the starboard sugar scoop. It was difficult for me to watch my child leave my side, her safety in a strangers hands, knowing that one wrong move could cause her death.

Before I knew it, she was clipped in and lifted high above us and in about 30 seconds, she was out of sight and into the helicopter.

By the time Jude was in, Mycah had her harness in place, Judes harness was sent back down to us, unclipped and Mycah was clipped in and Judes harness was placed on Aidan.

One by one my babies were raised up and disappeared from sight into safety.

Fredrick decided that it would be best if four of us went on the first trip out to the airport, followed by the last two and the backpacks on the second trip. Danny wanted to stay with Emma, so I was next. He kissed me sweetly, told me he loved me and he’d see me soon, and I was lifted up over our home. I saw her solar panels that had provided extra energy, I saw her trampoline where we’d lay so many times, listening to the sound of the water below us and the stars up above, and I saw our mast standing sturdy and tall, with the American flag flying proudly on a line to it’s side. There, was my home, and she was not floating freely like she should be. She looked too still, awkward and solid in place, and then I watched another wave slam up against her hull, shoving her slightly. My heart ached as I watched her below me. I felt hands on my shoulders as my body was guided into the helicopter where three of my children were sitting with tear stained eyes. They were so brave, so drenched, so exhausted as they smiled at me.

We flew through the darkness, across the island where homes with glowing yellow light dotted the island. Homes that stood firm and dry filled with families who laughed and loved like ours usually did after a busy day, as everyone sat around with full bellies from the family meal and talked about this and that. That reminded me, our family meal still sat on Tanda Malaika. Our home. Our meal was uneaten and cold by now. We had not sat around the table and chatted as we usually do, and most likely never would sit around that table again. Our home was being beaten by the waves she used to ride on. Home. I just wanted to go home. The lights from the runway caught my attention bringing me back to the present, and we lowered down till we could feel the solid dry ground below us. I reached over and thanked the pilots for their efforts and asked them to please bring Emma and Danny safely to us. They raised their thumbs and we were immediately led out and into the main building, and greeted by men in blue overalls with wide, warm smiles on their faces. The short little airport manager greeted us in English we could easily understand, and told us to follow him to his personal office. He gave us water to drink, showed sympathy and strength that made us feel like we were in good hands, and handed me a pad of paper to write all our names, birthdates and Tanda Malaika’s information on. I listed us all, one after the other and was so grateful that the names I was writing down were of people I loved who continued to live. I wasn’t having to write down information of people I loved who we were to be brought off our boat in body bags. This could have been so much worse. We were all alive…then I listed Tanda Malaika’s information and I wondered if she could possibly live through this with us too. We were her family. She was a mother to us, a friend, a protector, a sanctuary. She was who we returned to each day after doing humanitarian work, we cried in her for those we had helped and felt so bad for. Her name was written down on the pad but she would not be brought in on the next trip with Danny and Emma, but would be left behind in the cold on the reef. She would stay and be smashed to pieces by the violent waves. I started to tear up. I wanted to go home. Two members from the gendarmerie walked in and spoke in French to the manager. The air conditioned office was cold and I looked at my children, who were still so wet and cold and in shock like I was, and I just wanted to hold them in my arms, wrapped in a blanket like I did when they were little. When they asked us what happened and we told them that our chart did not show reef, they asked us if we had been using Navionic charts, and I said yes. He then shook his head and said that at least five boats end up on those reefs a year who were using Navionic charts. They walked me over to a large map on the wall and told me to point exactly to where Tanda Malaika was, and I did to the best of my knowledge. They then pointed to two places, our spot being one of them, that all the wrecks seem to happen, then gave us the name of a man who we could call for salvage help. The word ‘salvage’ seemed so cold and final. It sounded to me like death. Had Tanda Malaika really just completed her final sail? The men in blue overalls came over and gave Mycah a pair of blue work shorts, and the little mananger man gave Aidan a clean, dry shirt and Jude a soft red towel that smelled like fresh laundry detergent. The creatures put them on and Jude used her towel as a cape and pretended to fly away. My sweet children who were so exhausted were so strong and loved each other so much, that even now they tried to cheer each other up.

We walked together to where we could see the runway and watched the bright lights of the helicopter approach. We were anxious and just wanted to be together, all of us as we usually were. As soon as they landed we ran out to them, and the creatures embraced Emma as if they hadn’t seen her in years, then wrapped her in the red towel. I walked over to Danny and wrapped my arms around him.

The flight crew exited and greeted us, hugged us and then hugged us again. They told us they were so glad we were all ok, and that they were relieved that they hadn’t had to look for bodies in the water. I thought back to the days I had worked with the Sheriffs Dive rescue and body recovery team. We had sometimes been scuba diving for several days at a time, looking for bodies, as the family stood close by on shore, and I felt so grateful once again that we were all alive.

After Danny chatted with the authorities for a while, and information and phone numbers of various people were exchanged, we were taken by police car to a hostel close by. A sweet woman named Lawrence greeted us and showed us to two rooms across the hall from each other. Each room was clean and dry and had a queen and a single bed in it. I placed my wet backpack on the table, went into the bathroom and removed my wet, salty clothing, and stood in the warmth of the shower and finally allowed myself to acknowledge just how exhausted I was. My body ached. Sciatica pain made me feel like I just couldn’t stand any longer, and I cried as the warm water washed every tear away. I was going to be strong for my children. We still had a long, long road ahead, and I was going to be strong.

Mo’orea, Society Islands

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It didn’t take much more than an hour to sail northwest over to Mo’orea from Tahiti. The actual spelling is Mo’ore’a, which in Tahitian means ‘yellow lizard’. Three ferries a day travel over to Mo’orea’s Val’are wharf.

This beautiful mountainous island is 10 miles wide and is completely surrounded by a crystal clear turquoise lagoon. Beyond the lagoon is a large reef, and Darwin once said, while looking at Mo’orea from a mountain top in Tahiti, that Mo’orea is a beautiful picture within a frame. In the photo below, one can see Tahiti in the distance.

Every photo taken looks like it’s been photoshopped, but it truly is just that beautiful!

This morning the creatures and I went for a dinghy ride to check things out. The mountains are so thick with foliage with dramatic peaks and valleys.

Small settlements are scattered along the coastline, separated from the ocean simply by a few coconut palms.

We had to watch closely for coral heads in the clear water as we moved through it, as some of them were large, but flat with tall pinnacles,

while others were stag horn and antler corals and spread out wide and close to the surface.

A gorgeous resort is located on the southwest end with bungalows over the water and an exquisite reef to explore.

Since it is paradise, there is of course plenty of area without coral if that’s what you prefer!

When we returned to Tanda Malaika, a ray welcomed us home and our sweet friends on Makara, (Ian and Erika), came over for a visit.

Erika brought me some keifer in sugar water to experiment with – she’s experimenting too. So if anyone is a pro at the water keifer, I could use some advice. She also let me borrow her book called Wild Fermentation, because I want to start making my own sauerkraut and kimchi.
Ian and Danny worked on building a new starter, using a blue footed boogie feather, pine sap from the island of Yap, the spring from inside a nebulizer and a zip tie. It worked and we now have two running engines. VOILA!

Far out there!!!

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The past few days are a blur. Due to the medication I’ve been on for sciatic pain, my brain has been some place I’d never heard of or discovered yet. During that time I asked Aidan how his non existent hamster is, I conversed with Mycah concerning upcoming plans about half a dozen times only to realize today that I’d never heard about it before. I discussed an upcoming flight for Danny, ‘we’ agreed to him accepting it and today I heard I’d agreed to him leaving for a month – maybe two.Three days ago I passed out twice here on the boat while we were all working on projects, both times waking up to find concerned family members around me as I’d French kissed the floor.
Two days ago I showered and dressed (with all clothing items on the correct body parts), and began walking to the temple. Danny and the creatures had decided to go hiking up to some waterfalls. Mycah took this gorgeous photo there.

After about an hour of walking I was drenched in sweat mostly from sciatic pain, but also from the humidity, and even though my head was spinning around at incredible speeds, because of my ninja skills I noticed a vehicle drive passed me, turn around farther up the street then drive passed again – this time very slowly. I wasn’t sure if I was going to need to give them directions some place or use my Jackie Chan moves, but somewhere in my floating head, I was ready!. They turned around again and this time stopped next to me, rolled the window down and sweetly asked if I needed help. I guess I must have looked pathetic. I tried to focus my blurry eyes on them and told them I was walking to the temple, and just as they told me they’d give me a ride and opened the door, I woke up half an hour later in the Emergency room of the hospital. After some time of me drifting in and out of some sort of dimension combined with an English word here and a French word there, they pried Danny’s cell number from my comatose mind, did an EKG and drew about 48 gallons of blood with a needle the size of the Alaskan pipeline. I quite enjoyed the entire experience telling jokes I’d forgotten the punch lines to. I’m still not entirely sure but I think the EKG showed my blood sugar was extremely low and the blood work showed that my pacemaker was doing its job…or something like that.

I do recall sometime in there some half naked men running a race carrying lots of fruit! Bazaar, I know, but welcome to my week!

Other men were loaded with far more than just bananas…we’re talking about an entire fruit salad for a tri-county picnic.

When I left the hospital I was told that they highly recommend me having an ultrasound on my neck to check out what mischief my arteries are getting up to. Danny showed up some time in there – I have no recollection of when or if it was really him, but I knew the nice man drove me to the marina and I ended up on Tanda Malaika to rest.

Yesterday I left the boat while all but Danny were asleep and walked to where the clinic was for the ultrasound. My sciatica pain was really getting old and exhausting.The only effect I could see I was experiencing from the meds was scrambled egg brains. I arrived at the clinic and spent literally an hour (which felt like 4 hours) being sent to different departments, up and down stairs and finally told I’d need to go to a hospital for the service about 480 miles away. I’m proud to say I didn’t cuss once, but instead left with a garbled ‘merci’ from my parched mouth, and began my next trek. At about mile 111, I noticed a beautiful mural and studied it as I held onto a street pole in appreciation of the incredible talent and time it had taken. II wished I could be the girl sleeping so peacefully.

By about mile 298 another mural caught my eye, and I leaned against an electrical box of some sort and studied every detail of the art work. I was amazed.

What seemed like 3 days later I reached my destination and stumbled inside like a zombie from The Walking Dead series. I sat down for a few minutes to catch my breath and checked my phone for the first time. Danny had texted and when texting him back he told me he was getting a tattoo in 20 minutes and that Jude and Mycah wanted to find me and keep me company. The twins accompanied Danny. I walked over to check in, handed them the order for the ultrasound, and was told to return on Monday. I’m not sure if it was the fire in my eyes, the sweat dripping from me all over the woman clean desk, or the fact that I told her that Monday was never going to arrive for her if I didn’t get it done today, but she told me to take a seat and she’d squeeze me in in about 3 hours. I then walked over to the general med area and demanded a big fat dose of anything at all – I couldn’t care if it was windex, to be injected into my hip for my sciatica. The doctor smiled and told me that people here NEVER ask for injections because of the pain. I told him I’d birthed several children, I’ve hung upside down after been impaled on 4” spike, all my body weight pulling down on the metal in my leg, I’ve ripped my knuckle in half, sending it down the side of my finger and more importantly, I’m African, so bring the dang needle even it’s size put a javelin to shame, and show me the love! He handed me another flipping piece of paper and told me to take a seat. Jude and Mycah arrived, we chatted a while and they left to check on Danny.

I was finally called back and the doc told me that the injection may bring relief for 6 hours or it may bring relief for 6 weeks – it depends on the person. I told him I’d take my chances and he drew up a some sort of concoction that looked like fabric softener, which was fine with me, and asked if it would be ok for him to get a nurse to hold me down because it’s very painful. Once I had him convinced that they simply didn’t have a hospital employee strong enough and that I welcomed and adored pain, he counted in French and slammed that baby into my right hip/buttocks area then exclaimed, “VOILA!” It hurt so good. I thanked him profusely and since I still had a couple hours I walked around, hoping it would encourage the fabric softener to spread quickly. My appointment time time eventually arrived and I lay down on nice clean hospital bed – not having felt any pain relief yet. The Radiologist gooped up the ultrasound wand and slowly moved it up and down my neck, periodically stopping to type some things into the computer. I’m not sure how long I’d slept and I hoped I hadn’t snored, and was at first embarrassed about the amount of drool on my neck but quickly remembered it was KY gel from the ultrasound. I sat up at the starring doc and smiled at him and said, ‘VOILA!” I didn’t understand 90% of what he explained to me, only that I had growths on my thyroid and that I needed a neck and brain scan, I thanked him, and paid my bill then made my way to the exit, Too many walls for this girl for one day! The hospital fees for two days, EKG, fabric softener in the hip, ultrasound and consultation with the radiologist, plus medications all came to about $250.
The creatures arrived as I was exiting the building, we stopped for an ice cream (I had mango sorbet) and walked back to the boat.

I’ve learned a lot the past few days. I learned I’m stronger than I thought I was. That my children are even bigger Angels than I thought as they let me lean on them for support and they cooked dinner. I learned there are two main types of people…those that love unconditionally and would walk to the ends of the earth with you without judging like a true disciple of Christ and those that ‘love’ only under certain conditions. These people in Tahiti love BIG. They share and laugh and work together, sitting in circles singing in the parks, with their genealogy beautifully recorded onto their bodies. Some of them are massive and few are petite, some are more dolled up than others while others are natural, and they are all so beautiful. I love these people with all my heart. We leave for Mo’orea today, which is another of the Society Islands. I pray my sciatic pain will fade away so I can be active like I usually am, and maybe there, we will once again take our imperfect selves and find those that we can serve, love and learn from.

Far out there!!!

Posted on Updated on

The past few days are a blur. Due to the medication I’ve been on for sciatic pain, my brain has been some place I’d never heard of or discovered yet. During that time I asked Aidan how his non existent hamster is, I conversed with Mycah concerning upcoming plans about half a dozen times only to realize today that I’d never heard about it before. I discussed an upcoming flight for Danny, ‘we’ agreed to him accepting it and today I heard I’d agreed to him leaving for a month – maybe two.Three days ago I passed out twice here on the boat while we were all working on projects, both times waking up to find concerned family members around me as I’d French kissed the floor.
Two days ago I showered and dressed (with all clothing items on the correct body parts), and began walking to the temple. Danny and the creatures had decided to go hiking up to some waterfalls. Mycah took this gorgeous photo there.

After about an hour of walking I was drenched in sweat mostly from sciatic pain, but also from the humidity, and even though my head was spinning around at incredible speeds, because of my ninja skills I noticed a vehicle drive passed me, turn around farther up the street then drive passed again – this time very slowly. I wasn’t sure if I was going to need to give them directions some place or use my Jackie Chan moves, but somewhere in my floating head, I was ready!. They turned around again and this time stopped next to me, rolled the window down and sweetly asked if I needed help. I guess I must have looked pathetic. I tried to focus my blurry eyes on them and told them I was walking to the temple, and just as they told me they’d give me a ride and opened the door, I woke up half an hour later in the Emergency room of the hospital. After some time of me drifting in and out of some sort of dimension combined with an English word here and a French word there, they pried Danny’s cell number from my comatose mind, did an EKG and drew about 48 gallons of blood with a needle the size of the Alaskan pipeline. I quite enjoyed the entire experience telling jokes I’d forgotten the punch lines to. I’m still not entirely sure but I think the EKG showed my blood sugar was extremely low and the blood work showed that my pacemaker was doing its job…or something like that.

I do recall sometime in there some half naked men running a race carrying lots of fruit! Bazaar, I know, but welcome to my week!

Other men were loaded with far more than just bananas…we’re talking about an entire fruit salad for a tri-county picnic.

When I left the hospital I was told that they highly recommend me having an ultrasound on my neck to check out what mischief my arteries are getting up to. Danny showed up some time in there – I have no recollection of when or if it was really him, but I knew the nice man drove me to the marina and I ended up on Tanda Malaika to rest.

Yesterday I left the boat while all but Danny were asleep and walked to where the clinic was for the ultrasound. My sciatica pain was really getting old and exhausting.The only effect I could see I was experiencing from the meds was scrambled egg brains. I arrived at the clinic and spent literally an hour (which felt like 4 hours) being sent to different departments, up and down stairs and finally told I’d need to go to a hospital for the service about 480 miles away. I’m proud to say I didn’t cuss once, but instead left with a garbled ‘merci’ from my parched mouth, and began my next trek. At about mile 111, I noticed a beautiful mural and studied it as I held onto a street pole in appreciation of the incredible talent and time it had taken. II wished I could be the girl sleeping so peacefully.

By about mile 298 another mural caught my eye, and I leaned against an electrical box of some sort and studied every detail of the art work. I was amazed.

What seemed like 3 days later I reached my destination and stumbled inside like a zombie from The Walking Dead series. I sat down for a few minutes to catch my breath and checked my phone for the first time. Danny had texted and when texting him back he told me he was getting a tattoo in 20 minutes and that Jude and Mycah wanted to find me and keep me company. The twins accompanied Danny. I walked over to check in, handed them the order for the ultrasound, and was told to return on Monday. I’m not sure if it was the fire in my eyes, the sweat dripping from me all over the woman clean desk, or the fact that I told her that Monday was never going to arrive for her if I didn’t get it done today, but she told me to take a seat and she’d squeeze me in in about 3 hours. I then walked over to the general med area and demanded a big fat dose of anything at all – I couldn’t care if it was windex, to be injected into my hip for my sciatica. The doctor smiled and told me that people here NEVER ask for injections because of the pain. I told him I’d birthed several children, I’ve hung upside down after been impaled on 4” spike, all my body weight pulling down on the metal in my leg, I’ve ripped my knuckle in half, sending it down the side of my finger and more importantly, I’m African, so bring the dang needle even it’s size put a javelin to shame, and show me the love! He handed me another flipping piece of paper and told me to take a seat. Jude and Mycah arrived, we chatted a while and they left to check on Danny.

I was finally called back and the doc told me that the injection may bring relief for 6 hours or it may bring relief for 6 weeks – it depends on the person. I told him I’d take my chances and he drew up a some sort of concoction that looked like fabric softener, which was fine with me, and asked if it would be ok for him to get a nurse to hold me down because it’s very painful. Once I had him convinced that they simply didn’t have a hospital employee strong enough and that I welcomed and adored pain, he counted in French and slammed that baby into my right hip/buttocks area then exclaimed, “VOILA!” It hurt so good. I thanked him profusely and since I still had a couple hours I walked around, hoping it would encourage the fabric softener to spread quickly. My appointment time time eventually arrived and I lay down on nice clean hospital bed – not having felt any pain relief yet. The Radiologist gooped up the ultrasound wand and slowly moved it up and down my neck, periodically stopping to type some things into the computer. I’m not sure how long I’d slept and I hoped I hadn’t snored, and was at first embarrassed about the amount of drool on my neck but quickly remembered it was KY gel from the ultrasound. I sat up at the starring doc and smiled at him and said, ‘VOILA!” I didn’t understand 90% of what he explained to me, only that I had growths on my thyroid and that I needed a neck and brain scan, I thanked him, and paid my bill then made my way to the exit, Too many walls for this girl for one day! The hospital fees for two days, EKG, fabric softener in the hip, ultrasound and consultation with the radiologist, plus medications all came to about $250.
The creatures arrived as I was exiting the building, we stopped for an ice cream (I had mango sorbet) and walked back to the boat.

I’ve learned a lot the past few days. I learned I’m stronger than I thought I was. That my children are even bigger Angels than I thought as they let me lean on them for support and they cooked dinner. I learned there are two main types of people…those that love unconditionally and would walk to the ends of the earth with you without judging like a true disciple of Christ and those that ‘love’ only under certain conditions. These people in Tahiti love BIG. They share and laugh and work together, sitting in circles singing in the parks, with their genealogy beautifully recorded onto their bodies. Some of them are massive and few are petite, some are more dolled up than others while others are natural, and they are all so beautiful. I love these people with all my heart. We leave for Mo’orea today, which is another of the Society Islands. I pray my sciatic pain will fade away so I can be active like I usually am, and maybe there, we will once again take our imperfect selves and find those that we can serve, love and learn from.