Ali

Ali

It was Tuesday. I had been here in Cyprus for two full weeks.
Things were good. Acclimating to boat life was taking some adjusting, but the sea breeze and the marina views were carrying me through the minor issues.

I was on the deck washing my clothes in the big blue bucket.
Despite things in Cyprus typically being much cheaper than in the US, laundry service in the marina was outrageously expensive. And since my primary form of transportation (besides sailing) was now a bike, I didn’t have many options other than to do it by hand.
I had however come to love the process, as well as any task that needed done on the deck of the boat.
The weather was sunny and upper 70’s nearly every day. And the sea breeze as well as the sounds of the lines creaking and the med’s waves hugging up agents the boats…
It was so peaceful. I could spend all day, every day happily tied to the dock.

I was ringing the rinse water from my jeans, when I noticed a girl wondering down our dock. She was dressed in jeans, a tea shirt, and a bright red headdress. She was obviously out of place, not only due to the fact that there were few women who roamed the marina, but also because of the large backpack I noticed she was carrying as she turned.

Two boats down from us, a man was out on his stern, “hello sir?” I heard her chime, in perhaps the most confident yet cheerful tone I had ever heard, “Im looking for a boat, going to Greece”.

I rung my second pair of jeans. The water ran down upon the deck.
“This girl Is brave!”, I thought to myself. “And how did she even get into the Marina through the locked gate?”

“I can help with cooking and cleaning. I want to learn how to sail!. I come from Belgium. I am a traveler”.

There was something special about her, not just her traveling gypsy spirit, but her openness, her belief in humanity, and yet an underlying strength. 
I could not hear how the man was responding; I was hoping he was telling her no.
For we were the next occupied boat, and I wanted her with us.

It took some convincing the captain, a lot of questions, a background check. But after a few hours he was handing her a pile of sheets. Her cabin was across from mine. I was ecstatic!

The next few days were pure bliss.

Ali is only 24 but she is very smart and adventurous. It is surprising to me how much we have in common though our first language isn’t even the same. We worked together, cook together, go on adventures together. I am apprehensive in this new country, but Ali is bold and will start a conversation with any random stranger.

 

On Wednesday we went sailing. The Seas were calm but there was just enough wind to keep us going at 6 knots. I smiled as I watched our captain teach her the lines and maneuvering the sails; the same position I had taking just one week before.

Later as we sat on the bow, being weathered by the sun, “Jamie! Dolphins!” she cried, and we rushed to the edge of the boat.

A pod of dolphins were indeed swimming right alongside of us. There were about 10 or 12 of them, one baby as well.

We squealed with delight, as one appeared above the water. They were huge! Much bigger than any dolphins I had seen at the zoo. We grabbed our cameras, trying to capture such a magnificent moment.   

I knew it was the first of many adventures we would share.

On Friday we left the Marina, and went walking in the park. We ended up at a thrift shop, trying on piles of local garments. We pulled dresses and rompers from the outside discount racks, marked with signs written in marker; “5 euro”. 
An English song played in the background by a band who was obviously not American; “I have a big, big heart” the chorus repeated over and over again. I smirke, hearing the electronic beat blare behind their heavy accents.

After handing over 12 euros for my first Cyprus treasure (a striped sundress) we continued on in search of yoga mats (or “yoga carpets” as Ali calls them). 
Ali and I share preferences in food, music, adventuring, spirituality, and the desire to stay active. And after one conversation on that topic, we agreed that “boat yoga” must become a thing.

When the only mats to be found however, were 37 euros, Ali questioned nearly every shop and person passing on the street. Finally we got our answer; “Jomba” was the place to go; A children’s toy store a few miles away.

We had already walked several miles at this point, and were starting to head back in the direction of the marina. Ali refused to waist money on the bus however, so on we went, several miles out of the way, where 5 euro yoga mats did indeed became our prize. 

I might add that I fully intend to use the mat, as soon as I recover from the shin splints incurred on that day.

As the days continued to pass, me and Ali made more plans; adventuring when we reach Crete, exploring when we arrive in Croatia. Our Captain was busy working his day job and we only got to go out sailing every few days, I didn’t mind however, now having Ali by my side. 

We have two more weeks to fully learn the ropes before leaving for Crete on June 1st. It is a two and a half day trip sailing from here in Cyprus to Crete. A nice short trip, however I will admit I am a little nervous.

In the meantime me and Ali immerse ourselves in all the Cyprus culture.

I am so grateful for my time in this beautiful country. I am so grateful for a friend.

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