When you go on a sailing trip, you can’t imagine the richness of having anything of your own. Or at least that’s what happened to me.
The occasion was a trip to the Fiji Islands in a sailboat fitting six people, but it was much narrower and much wider than I could have imagined.
The boat was moored in Lautoka, the Sugar city on the island of Viti Levu – the largest of the islands that make up the Fiji archipelago. The nickname – sugar city – comes from the local sugarcane production that gives the air that unmistakable fairground scent mixed with the smell of the sea.
I brought a few things with me, some clothes, my camera, a few books, and the ever-present mp3 player.
On a boat, you learn that you need nothing but to be there at that moment. Always. A kind of hic et nunc brought to the present day.
You learn to appreciate fresh food because you don’t know when you will have any more. To respect spaces because they are cramped but can also be too wide and swallow you up. You learn the value of sharing: of a book, of a gesture, of the starry sky (and so shiny you thought you had never seen it); of counting the days with the tides, when you are forced to stay at anchor, and the yearning to move if the constraint persists for several days. You learn that the sounds of nature can comfort you better than a pair of earphones and that a hand on your shoulder can move you.
In Fiji, you also learn that the water of the still-green coconut is your salvation from thirst and that the fruit of the breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) is something you will not be able to forget (nor to describe in words). It teaches you to get rid of the world and to leave behind what is not needed because it is only human trinkets.
It brings you back to the dimension of yourself. And that is a good feeling.