Thin Veneer

I have often commented on the earth’s thin atmosphere, at least the part we breathe, that contain all the storms, clouds, heat and winds that affects our lives. It is thinner, by comparison, to the thickness of an eggshell to the size of the egg. And how fragile that shell is. The thin veneer of human life is no less fragile.

We are on Kalunamoo here in the small island of St. Lucia amidst a world-wide human pandemic. Within the last two weeks, actions to stop, or at least slow down the relentless spread of the virus world-wide have focused on preventing movement and contact between people. This was inevitable since, at present, there is no way to stop it and no cure once acquired. Very much like a computer virus that shows its fangs only after the damage is done. The biological virus is only an active agent inside a living cell. It re-programs the cell to reproduce it. Unfortunately, that living cell is attached to a person that moves around, shaking hands, sneezing, breathing out and possibly shedding bits of that damaging human operating code, now known as Covid-19. Talk of the 85% of the infected people having mild to moderate consequences is of little solace to almost everyone.

Many of our cruising friends live, literally, in two worlds. Six months on a boat enjoying the pleasures of the Caribbean and 6 months (more or less) back on land in their home. This is a hard time for them as the tightening travel restrictions means that the transition from one life to the other could very well be closed. Entry and travel restrictions and conditions have been changing daily if not hourly. Since each island is independent of each other, each had different restrictions, time frames etc. This made island hopping out of here, or flying off island, a nightmare for many – ports were closing, flights were cancelled, quarantine requirements implemented. The difficulties of “getting back home” are, at this time, harder to negotiate than the actual virus and is the main topic of concern. That thin veneer of easy transportation world-wide vanishes as airplanes are mothballed and airports close. The reality of being immobile must be faced.

The situation for us, living full time aboard, is somewhat simpler, although we do spend time visiting family and friends that add up the frequent flyer miles. We hope that by the summer travel restrictions are relaxed enough to allow this. Of course, the hurricane season, is a major concern but by August or September if conditions remain as they are now, hurricanes may not be the worst thing to address.

So, the thin veneer of life is peeled away layer by layer. The glue of social interactions become like Swiss cheese, the holes expand and only essential services keep us together. Arguments can be made that the collective “we” should have been more prepared. After all, isn’t that what distinguishes us from all the other animals? We do now, what we must to avoid being a transmitter and enabler of this virus. Whether we contract it or not, we still have a responsibility not to carry it forward. All are challenged to see how we react to this peeling. I do believe that ultimately the veneer will be repaired. Humanity’s ingenuity will prevail but not without costs. It will take an unknown amount of time, which itself is a challenge, and we all will be affected. Lessons will be learned, hopefully.

So, we are staying put where we are. We are doing all we can to be physically isolated so that when it comes our way it hits a wall. St. Lucia reported 9 cases. All non-essential business are closed. The marina is open with water, electricity, Wi-Fi, security and even a limited amount of restaurant take-out food with many cruisers here. No new arrivals to the island are allowed. Our 6-week visitor’s visas are automatically extended indefinitely. We anticipate that it will be like this through at least April. We can take our dinghy to the bay for some swimming but don’t land on the beach. We keep our 6-foot distance from other cruisers here that we know as social contacts are kept to a minimum. A good time to catch up on reading, DVD’s, Wi-Fi phone calls, and practicing the keyboard. And observing clouds.

The first wisps of a new puff , lower left.

The bright blue sky is dotted with fair weather puffs of white cotton. The small Cumulus clouds streamed westward in the easterly trades. They are only about three thousand feet above me and constantly change shape, expanding and contracting in the swirling vertical drafts that spawned them. From my vantage point they first appear just east of here. Out of the blue, literally, they start as wisps of haze, steadily growing in minutes. The moist air rising vertically is invisible, but these puffs form the cotton balls trailing off to the west. The invisible steam engine puffs away all afternoon. Continuing west the cotton balls evaporate and the sky is again clear blue, oblivious to the human dilemmas below.

Family and friends, especially in the New York City area, are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. Even though health is of primary concern, the realities of jobs, economics, social connections, schooling and plans for the future cannot be dismissed out of hand. Those are the things that make up the veneer of life. In times like this, we all realize how thin that veneer is and how easily it can be disrupted.

And the Good News is that Kaluanmoo is Cricket fee!

One thought on “Thin Veneer

  1. Very well written, as always, Bill. Congratulations on being cricket free! I am trying to look to the positive as well. somedays are harder than others. No work now on the engine. It is a waiting game.


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