8 months ago we stepped off the boat and I wasn’t quite sure when I would see it next.  We were taking off on another “unexpected turn of events” which moved us off the ocean and onto dry Dominican land. We didn’t know how long our boat sabbatical would be, but we packed with the idea/hope that we would be back “soon”. Well those 8 months just flew by as we hosted groups of Live Different volunteers, got sweaty building homes in Puerto Plata, created this temporary “land based” lifestyle, and took a quick hop over to Canada for a visit.
   But now we are back, on our floating home, and I wonder why I didn’t mentally prep myself a little better. For the good and the bad. Because there are obvious things that will happen upon return to a boat, that was left behind, in the DR. And certain things that one forgets about the boaters lifestyle. That I should have given my memory a quick jog for what was to come. 
Mildew. The interior of the boat had a pretty good layer of it. We had left a couple of the back hatches open for some fresh air to circulate through it, but lets not forget how insanely humid and warm it is here. It should have been expected that our boat was going to be speckled to the nines. So on day one I had at ‘er, stripped down to my undies (remember, hot and humid here) with a bottle of Simple Green in one hand and a scrubby brush in the other. In a sweaty mess I managed to clean almost every surface of the boat, since I didn’t even want image our girls getting some of that stuff on their hands and then into their mouths.

dirt and mildew on the underside of the bimini

The heat. I know we have been living here for over a year, but our hometel was beautifully air conditioned, which we totally abused of. So being back in Luperon, where the only breeze is one forced on to us by one of our 4 fans, I can say that I am finding it a bit warm. So I have decided that “clothes are for chumps” and now spend all of my days in undies or a bathing suit. And our girls, our poor sweaty-head girls, have developed heat rashes along their hair lines due to it. They now look even whiter than before as I am smearing Corn Starch on them every half hour. And I think I am going to get Eben to sew a dew rag for Ellia, or I will have to buzz her head.

corn starch baby

But still happy 

The bugs. Both on and off the boat. We returned to find a huge and mysterious pile of bug droppings on our hallway floor. If anyone can identify these PLEASE DO, because I have no idea what kind of critter leaves behind poppy-seed-like droppings, in a pile. Whatever bug it is, at least it is kind and keeps its potty in one area. And then there are the ants. We have ants, on our boat, I don’t even know how they got here. The groceries most likely. But they took our time away as a time to hit the steroids and bulk up, they are HUGE ants! If I didn’t know any better I would say fire ants, big and red, but again, I am at a loss. Luckily none of us have been bit by them yet, but they make my skin crawl when I think about them walking all over my boat, and probably on me while I sleep. And lastly there are the mosquitos and black flies. It seems Speckled is the new thing in the DR, first our boat and now us. The girls and I are covered in bites. Eben seems immune, or protected by his body hair. But we aren’t. Every night we are applying big spray, lighting citronella candles, and mosquito coils, in the hopes of eradicating them from our boat, while we have every hatch open trying to get any sort of a breeze. Today I pulled out the trusty mosquito net, that Eben absolutely hates, and created a princess fort for the girls. At least they will be protected in there, until we get around to making more mosquito nets for all our hatches.

Can anyone identify what bugs these would come from? The droppings look like poppy seeds or coffee grounds, and they are pretty much contained to this one area.

My princess bed bug net

The work. There were a few odd jobs and repairs that are newly popped up since we last lived here. Like how the railing on the shelf in our room just decided to pop itself off, thank you humidity and wood warping. Or replacing the fan that rusted itself dead. Or the fact that our inflatable dinghy is now definitely a “deflatable”. But Eben has been amazing at tackling them one by one. He even made a list of jobs, organized/prioritized them, and got right to work. Again, I am so thankful to have such a handy husband.

The lost stuff. Here I thought that we were awesome at keeping things where they belong, or putting them somewhere we will remember. It seems 8 months was long enough to forget all those awesome hiding spots. Because since our return we have found ourselves looking for things that we were sure we knew where we left them. It took me two days to find our cornstarch (the box was too big to fit in the baking cupboard so I had chosen to shove it elsewhere) and a roll of drawer lining material. The ziplock with the essential oils is still nowhere to be found and on my search list.

The pain. This one doesn’t take long, one painful moment is usually enough to remind your forehead that the headliner is lower in the hallway, your shins that the ladder is not fully bolted on, or your bum that the stepping stool is not solid. But each one of us, minus Eben I think, has had one painful encounter, that has served us all a good laugh.

Now for some of the awesome things.
My skin. It is getting better. I found, with our last visit to Canada, that my skin does not do so well in the cold, dry, Canadian climate. All at once I had a rash on my face, eczema in my hands, an itchy scalp, and my tan was replaced by pimples from having to cover up and wear layers. Lets say that I didn’t feel so awesome about the way I looked. But with the sun, and the lack of clothing that I am (not) wearing, my skin is clearing up, and the humidity is having its way with my scalp and hair, giving it a happier wavy style.
Our home. How nice is it that we finally get to unpack our things and be living in our own home again. It was daunting coming back to the boat with 5 duffle bags, 1 tupperware bin, and three backpacks, and wondering where all that stuff was supposed to go. But as I attacked every bag, one by one, I felt some stress melt away. Being back in our own place we are settling in to our own routines, eating what we feel like, and just having “freedom” (to stay in my undies all day long if I want to). It also brings back a sense of closeness. Yes, of course we are stuck being close because we live on a 41ft boat, but it is nice to have our family back to being in each others way, and loving it. The girls are running around playing with all their newfound toys (the ones we had left here), while Eben and I tackle boat stuff and bump into our sweaty selves around every bend.

They are happy to be home

The heat. Yes this was on my “cons” list too, but even though my girls are dripping sweat while they sleep, and I am down to wearing barely anything, I much prefer this to freezing my ass off in the snow. I relish it and can’t wait till all of our bodies adapt to it once again, and our girls faces heal back to normal. The sun is slowly blasting my skin blemishes and giving me a healthy glow and I am thankful.

The pride. I have to gloat, but seeing Eben at work is impressive. I have always believed that he can build/fix/create anything that he puts his mind and energy in to. But with all the minor jobs that have arisen with our return, it fills me with happiness watching him busy at work making bug screens and fixing shelves so that we can better enjoy our home.

My man and his sewing machine, attacking our mosquito problem

   So these are some of the things that jumped out and smacked me in the face our first few days back. Things that, had I really thought about it, I would have remembered or expected. But all in all, the reintegration to boat life has been marvellous, the lifestyle suits us and we were happy to see that our boat was fully intact when we got back to her with all the “essentials” still functioning. We are so happy to be back in our home. Now we just have to choose where we are going on this thing!

Food, and our many bags of luggage to return to the boat

Some drinking water