Whoa. What a week so far. We’ve done so much that my brain actually hurts.
I want to write about it every night but as evening comes and rum pours, there’s always another morning to share- always another day to write. But there isn’t, because there’s another adventure for the crew of Delos.
I feel so lucky to be with these people.
Last night was one of my highlights on Delos, and it may be seen for something ridiculous. It was a simple thing of us all lying curled up together watching a film. There’s no such thing as personal space here, limbs intertwined, feet poking in someone’s ribs or pillows shoved in places to make for headrests in the crevices between body parts.
It’s something special.
That means a lot to me. My parents moved to Australia about six years ago, so it was just my sister and I back in England. My folks were on their own adventure and we respected that- valued it. Our parents were at a point in their lives where they needed to write their own story- just the two of them.
Fast forward to now, in this world where 9-5 jobs, finance on cars and 30 year plus mortgages are the norm, I’ve broken away and started my own adventure.
I went on my first test sail a few days ago. I have never been and I was concerned that I was going to get sea sick. But I keep telling myself that it’s all mind over matter.
Pulling out of the docks and heading out into the ocean was one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had- and I know it’s just the start. It’s the sensation of the freezing air on your face- the wind blowing in your eardrums until the entire world feels like a roar. Civilization drifting away into the distance until you’re surrounded by that stretch of blue until you’re not sure whether it’s clouds or mountains on the horizon.
The crew shout that they need to change direction, the wind continuing to whip around us. I duck and lie back, watching the sails twist above my head, my hands gripping the base as I tell myself, “Be cool. Be cool.”
But I couldn’t act as though this experience hadn’t touched me. I was out. This was happening. This was what it was about. We were only heading out for an hour but I was having a taste of what pure escape was like- even if just for a short while.
I keep looking back and breathing a sigh of relief.
Thank God I don’t feel lost anymore, I keep thinking. Thank God.
The bleakness as been replaced by a sensation of freedom and being in the now. I am no longer thinking of the tomorrow. Of the next week. Next month- next year.
This is it. This really is it.
I have those moments often when we’re all sitting in Betty, our van kindly donated to us to use whilst we’re here by our awesome chum Ian. Lisa, our Austrian crew member is usually DJ. She has an uncanny skill of sensing the mood and putting on the perfect music for us all to listen to. Alex is at the back, her feet stretched out in the boot of the car, her sunburnt blonde hair spinning around her face in curls as she’s laughing at some joke that spilled onto the back. Karin is sitting squidged in between Lisa and Brady as he stares out of the window, a world away in his own thoughts.
Brian and I are at the front. I’m navigating the best I can, just grateful for the extra legroom. Being in charge of the route seems like a small sacrifice.
We’re on the way to a place called Mzoli’s. We twist through the traffic, seeing people perched in the back of vans, using a folded mattress as a seat and no belt in sight. We pass the mountains leaning over Cape Town, their shadows stretching across the land and her people in a protective embrace from the sun. We ride out into the open sunburnt plain, pale yellows, golds and oranges burning my eyes as we drive on and on and on, my English satnav playing out a polite list of instructions towards our destination.
We roll up eventually to a township. We heard that this place holds a braai and a music celebration over the weekend and we’re keen to join. The sun is baking our skin already and I’m glad that I managed to squeeze my backside into the smallest pair of shorts I own.
We order our meat from the butchers and he cooks it for us there and then. As we sit down at one of the many tables inside, it isn’t long until our faces are dripping with meat juices and spices, our fingertips blackened and greased with the delicious food we’ve been offered.
Everything is good and everything is right all of a sudden.
This is where I am supposed to be right now.
The music is wrapping around my body as I kick back another cider. There is such a great vibe surrounding us all- I can’t explain it. Maybe I never will be. But I am happy.
Brady is sitting down, relaxed with a beer in hand and a scarf wrapped around his head. Lisa is happily tucking into her meal whilst Alex has vanished into the dancing crowd with her camera. Brian and Karin are sitting close together and I can’t help but smile.
Seeing this pair together always makes me feel good inside. Maybe because I know that this love exists. Maybe because I know that it is possible.
Small things like that make me happy. Brady’s jokes, Lisa’s easy way of inspiring me, Alex always being up for a drink or a dance, Karin sharing stories of her life and Brian for treating me like an older brother should- always taking the piss and always smiling.
We’re dancing, our feet stamping out our heartbeats into the floor. Alex and I have met some people and I’m turning around and around in the music, becoming swept up in what I feel represents South Africa. These people make this country. This music makes this country. This food. These sights. This passion.
Speak to any South African about their land and the love bursts out of their mouth. There’s problems of course. I cannot pretend I know the ins and outs. I listen, I take it in and the power and love that the individuals of this country have for what is right and wrong makes me want to be a better person.
This is why I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. Because I am growing so much. I am learning so much.
I feel like my head and spirit were filled with so many different lukewarm colours and now this journey is filling it with bright reds, pinks, blues, yellows and oranges. I feel like this journey is stretching my comprehension of what the world is about even more and more. That this journey is helping my soul to grow.
And that is so special to me.
Alex and I are dancing when a man comes over and drapes his arm over Alex. I can tell he’s drunk. He seems friendly- maybe a bit too friendly. I know I need to be tactful. I keep reminding myself that this isn’t England. I can’t just tell someone where to go.
I politely go over and attempt to release Alex from his clutches, only to find my shoulders captured under his other arm, his hand keeping me in place.
“Oh bollocks,” I breathe.
“Hey there, mate.”
I look up and see Brady, standing there ready to join the party with a beer in hand. Alex and I are eventually released as he explains to the guy that Alex and I are “both his wives.”
“Can’t I just have one?” the man asks.
Brady shakes his head as Alex and I take a tactful dance step away.
“Nah, mate- it wouldn’t be fair to them,” he explains.
The man nods, as if in understanding and backs off.
Whilst making friends, we’re invited to a house party by a girl called Keesha. We set off, slightly tipsy, a warm beer still in hand as we set off on another adventure. Pulling up to some flats, Karin and Lisa head back to the boat in an Uber.
“I need to pee,” grunts Brady, opening the door to Betty the van. Without another moment, he whips out his doodle and starts to pee behind the door.
“Dude!” Alex jumps back, her eyes wide in surprise. “Eee! You just pissed on my foot, breh!”
Brady sways slightly and shrugs with a lopsided grin, not changing direction of his stream. “Sorry mate.”
Alex and I are fast getting to know each other at this point, needing to pee for the past 30 mins. We run off to the end of the street to find some bushes, attempting to keep our crabwalk as graceful as possible. I think we fail, and I think I accidentally pee on her a little bit too.
“No worries, mate,” she says, pulling up her trousers. “We’re all buddies here.”
Heading back to the building the gates are shut. We hover outside, eyeing the people on the other side.
I walk up to the gates, hoping to get someone’s attention and start waving.
“Hey guys!” I start shouting. “Hey! Are you here for the house-“
My fingers touch something and all of a sudden pain rips through my body. A huge crack goes through my core and bursts in my center and I am not waving anymore.
I turn around, confused, dazed and thinking one of the crew has suddenly punched me.
To my shock there are all hunched over, howling in laughter. I haven’t seen them laugh so hard since I arrived in Cape Town. They are staggering around and I suddenly realise what has happened.
I have just been electrocuted.
Brady and Alex are howling like hyenas, their heads thrown back as Brian staggers over to me. “Oh mate, are you ok?” he manages through his laughter.
I have no idea but he suddenly gives me a hug and pulls me away from the fence.
We get back into Betty and head back to the boat, my fingertips still buzzing and my heart still thumping.
But on the return to the boat, I was soon to find that the night had not even begun.
Not by a long stretch.
Check out more from Elizabeth here! www.earlewrites.com
For more sailing adventures check out svdelos.com