I’ve been on a boat for nearly two weeks. It’s an 18ft sailing yacht. Allegedly it has enough room to accommodate 8 people but there’s five people here with me writing this and I’ve already inhaled enough farts for a lifetime. Still, I like sailing, especially here in the Polish Mazury. Beautiful big lake, never ending forests and a kind of fresh air you can’t get anywhere else (when you’re not breathing in arse fumes, anyway).
It’s close to nature enough to appreciate the peace but the sailing community are a friendly bunch and there’s always a chance for a good conversation no matter how little of the language you speak. I even managed to try a bit of freshly caught and fried fish from a grey haired, bearded sailor wearing red speedos that were far too tight for his elderly figure.
I am very ready to be back on dry land though, I don’t think I could do this for much longer. Being cooped up on a boat with people is not the best place for introverts. Free time is hard to come by, along with a decent night of sleep. I am still enjoying it though. I’ve even been swimming at least once every day. I’ve done more intentional exercise in these two weeks than probably ever in my life. I feel fresh and free. I also feel clean, surprising since I haven’t showered at all in my time here. The lake water is naturally cleaning and my skin is smooth and tanned. I’m even getting good at shitting in the woods with great ease.
Some key observations from using the toilet in the woods:
- The most effective method is the ‘tree leaning squat’: Find a thin tree, small enough in diameter to hang on to with one arm. Hold on to the tree and lean back and let rip. The angle created in this leaning squat allows for easy pooing with minimal risk of any trouser/flip flop contact.
- Scan the area for ants before lowering your rear-end to the ground. The last thing you need is a nip on your tree gripping hand.
- Be considerate, take a trowel or small shovel and bury your poo. This also reduces the spread of disease by flies.
- Wash hands. I like to push my immune system so I don’t go mad with the antibacterial gel and all that. I only do a deep clean if I get piss/poo on my hands.
- Walk back triumphantly and make a brief statement on the location and quality of your poo.
Some other things to note in my two weeks on the water. Being hungover on a boat in 30 celsius is one of the least enjoyable things I have ever done. It is too hot in the boat with all these people so one night after a few beers I slept out on the deck. It was beautiful, clear skies, stars and the Milky Way were looking perfect and I drifted off staring to the cosmos. I was awoken to blistering heat soaking in a rag of my own sweat. I was dehydrated, there wasn’t much water to drink on the boat, my head was pounding and aside from my spinning head I had to deal with the boat swaying left… right… left… right. It’s a recipe for vomit. Thankfully I held it down and got some food in me.
The swaying feeling still hasn’t left me though. I’ve got sea legs. Now, whenever I’m on the boat I am fine and I don’t notice much rocking at all however as soon as I set foot on firm ground my brain is wobbling all over the place as though I’m walking on a bouncy castle. When I sat down in the pub it felt like the bench was constantly moving backwards but moving no further. It messes with your head. I hope it goes away soon. I don’t know how I’ll handle sitting in a car for an hour on the way back in a couple of days.
It has been an adventure. Adventure is what this summer is all about. I’m pushing myself physically and mentally: Working in a school and a summer camp, exercising every day, seeing how long I can sit on a boat with a bunch of other blokes as equally sweaty and smelly as me, bonding with my father and getting to know my half-sisters who are growing up at a scarily rapid rate. It makes me feel rather old indeed.
Things are coming together though. I now have a semi-plan of action for when I return to the UK in September. I get to spend 10 beautiful days with Simone in Poland next week and I’ve ticked all of the boxes of what I wanted to accomplish this summer.
I’ve already achieved more in this year than I ever anticipated. I’ve been abroad for longer than I have been on home turf, I had the time of my life working for a charity in India, I fell in love, I’ve spent important time with my family and I have a taste for what I want to do for a living. What happens in the rest of the year is entirely at my disposal. It'll just as much of an adventure finding out what happens next...