I always enjoy, at the end of a chapter of my life, to look back and reflect. What were the highlights? What were the moments of drama? What went well? What could have gone better? And so, as I draw the line under Stage 2 of the Pacific row, here is the ocean-rowing equivalent of my Oscars speech…
Special thanks to:
1. The animals – for making this such a memorable voyage. I will forever remember the Hawaii-Tarawa voyage for the incredible number of wildlife encounters – and how close the wildlife came to my boat, as if they were making a personal visit to say hi and welcome me to their domain. I saw more pelagic critters on this leg than I have seen on both my previous major rows – combined and multiplied by ten. The final tally was something like this:
– whale shark (1)
– other sharks (dozens – thankfully not too close, apart from one that swam right under my boat)
– whales (a dozen or so, species unknown)
– dolphins (dozens)
– turtles (3)
– squid (3, on deck, very messy)
– remoras (any remoras is too many)
– pilot fish (regularly hanging out in the shade of Brocade)
– brown noddies
– booby birds (how could I ever forget? They came, they saw, they pooped)
2. The Rozling community – for being such active participants in my adventure. On this voyage, more than ever, it felt like we had a real dialogue going, rather than me being permanently in “transmit” mode. I could really feel the love, support and positive energies pouring through the slender umbilical of my satphone/data modem. Thank you so much for making the last three and a half months so special. I love you all!
3. TeamRoz – how could I have done it without them? I might have managed the rowing bit alone, but there is so much more to an ocean rowing voyage than just rowing. Nicole, of course, gets special mention, for putting in an amazingly productive and effective summer’s work. She always gives 110%, and I cannot find the words to express how much I appreciate her support in all shapes and forms – logistical, administrative, and emotional. And a good therapeutic laugh from time to time as needed. Enormous gratitude also to Mum, Rick Shema, Ricardo Diniz, Hunter and Traci Downs, Evan Rapoport, Ian Tuller, Conrad Wade, Daisy Hampton, Dawn Pasinski, Leo Laporte, Laureen Hudson and Sinead Martin for their energy, time and support over the summer.
Over the course of the next few blogs I’ll be posting more retrospectives on Stage 2 of the Pacific row – favorite memories, favorite Rozling moments, dramas, triumphs, frustrations, favorite foods, favorite books and lessons learned. I hope you’ll join me as I look back over this summer’s success!
TeamRoz left Tarawa on Tuesday. Just before we left I had a meeting with the President of Kiribati (of which Tarawa is the administrative center), who told me about the impact that climate change is having on his people, and what he intends to do about it. I’ll be blogging about this in due course. Stay tuned. It was a fascinating opportunity to find out at first hand how climate change is a very real and immediate threat to these fragile islands on the edge of the world.
Apologies for the lack of blogs and Tweets recently. Trying to get online in Tarawa was problematic, to put it mildly. I was still having to Tweet from my satphone, just as I did on the boat, and blogging would have challenged the patience of a saint.
We are now in Fiji for a few days – an unavoidable stopover while we wait for Friday’s flight to Hawaii. I was in culture shock last night when we arrived. After the extreme simplicity (and poverty) of life in Tarawa, Fiji is a big step back towards a US standard of living. In some ways it is a relief to be back within reach of a decent internet connection and decent fresh produce, but I wouldn’t have missed my Tarawa experience for the world.
I will tell more when I blog about my meeting with the President, but for now I would just like to express my huge gratitude to all the wonderful people that we met in Tarawa, who gave me such a warm welcome and made our time in their country so memorable. Thank you for the memories.
APOLOGY: I am profoundly embarrassed. I have been unavoidably offline for the last week, so had no idea of the row brewing over something I wrote in my last blog. I was not at all familiar with the US connotations of “Aunt Jemima”, and am horrified that some people interpreted this as a racial slur. Nothing could have been further from my intentions. During my all-too-brief time in Tarawa I developed the greatest respect and love for the people there. Apologies for any offence caused.