Embracing Disorders

Rob, thanks for your comment!

I understand you dislike the word “disorder” in its sense of upset of health; ailment. You probably thought I am using the term incorrectly, trying to describe in a dramatic way our desire to travel. Or maybe you accept such a condition as normal, as you yourself are a traveller! But I assure you, we truly were diagnosed by a psychiatrist with Dromomania and it is a mental disorder.

Dromomania-also travelling fugue, is an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander.[1] People with this condition spontaneously depart from their routine, travel long distances and take up different identities and occupations. Months may pass before they return to their former identities. The term comes from the Greek: dromos (running) and mania (insanity)

More generally, the term is sometimes used to describe people who have a strong emotional or even physical need to be constantly traveling and experiencing new places, often at the expense of their normal family, work, and social lives.”

-quote from Wikipedia

Let me explain some more.

In my previous post About Us I used the term “disorder” sarcastically in order to describe our constant desire to travel which has altered our lives many times already.

“The one thing the four of us have in common is a disorder. Many years ago, when Ivo and I were both eighteen, we would hitch-hike, bike, hike, take a bus or a train or even a plane (depending on our budget) in order to go to a place we have never been yet, or to escape from a place we didn’t want to be in any more. While hitch-hiking, we’ve been picked up by many strange transportations besides cars, among which: a donkey wagon, motorcycles, a garbage truck, and a convoy of mules led by gipsies in the Bulgarian mountains. In 1995, in a hostel somewhere in Slovakia, an ex-psychiatrist finally diagnosed us with Dromomania: a maniacal impulse for travelling, and we’ve been chronically and proudly sick ever since. The kids got this condition too or were probably born with it, and I think it might be contagious, as many of our friends, after spending time with us, got it as well.”

I didn’t want to offend nobody using the word “disorder”, not even ourselves. I think I used it accurately.

I have to admit, I am fascinated by the term and all its definitions, now that I think of it, especially the fourth one: a deviation from the normal system or order.

disorder [dɪsˈɔːdə]


1. a lack of order; disarray; a state of confusion

2. (Law) a disturbance of public order or peace

3. (Medicine) an upset of health; ailment

4. a deviation from the normal system or order



I embrace disorder!

The normal scare me.

 nor·mal  (nôrml)


1. Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical: 

2. The usual or expected state, form, amount, or degree.

a. Correspondence to a norm.

b. An average.


Anyway, I believe that there is no such thing as „normal“. We all at one time or another feel different, act different, are different; with some sort of a disorder.

Today: a hyperactive kid is immediately diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Today: we are being sold modified foods, fast foods, horrible foods, and immediately diagnosed with Eating Disorders.

Today: we are being subjects of immense stress: the gas prices rise uncontrollably; we lose our jobs for no reason; a crazy guy kills twenty kids in a school, and soon enough we are taking pills for Acute Stress Disorder or Anxiety Disorder.

Today: our kids live in a virtual world of videogames: they have Adolescent Antisocial Disorder.

(I think, normality is urban legend.It is also a fluid term that may change its definition according to historical, geographical, or social context. What is normal in Africa may not be normal in Asia. What was normal in medieval times may not be normal today. People once accepted slavery as normal. People today accept as normal such things like inflation and taxation in a corrupt system (isn’t that slavery again?), hanging in traffics for hours each day, or working jobs they hate in order to pay for things they don’t need.)

So, we have a disorder. We have many disorders. So be it!

Embrace your disorders and live with them, it’s normal!

Ivo, totally crazy at Siesta Key Beach, Florida

Ivo, totally crazy at Siesta Key Beach, Florida


Axis Mundi. Our Mandala House

After weeks of creating the intricate pattern of a sand mandala, as a meditation on impermanence, the sand is brushed together and placed in a body of running water to spread the blessings of the mandala.

Today I have disturbed all the spiders in our house. Some got their long legs twisted beyond repair while I was reaching for the farthest corners. (Stumbling cripples, so fragile they are.)

The world’s point of beginning: a connection between Heaven and Earth where the four compass directions converge, a place that is sacred above all: our house, has been disturbed.

We are leaving our house forever. The house where a bird once entered trough the open window two years ago, frantically flapping her wings, terrified, creating commotion for a brief minute before finding the open window again. The house where, four years ago, we placed the two rocks we found at the two ends of the continent: one white and perfectly oval like a dinosaur egg from a beach somewhere near Halifax, the other black-red, scorched by the belly of the under-earth, we found somewhere in California. The house where Maya, purple, was born, nine years ago. The house where my father came after so many years and stayed for a night. Is no longer our house.

One by one, every object disappeared. Every object we have so carefully placed in its place. Other people are having dinner at our table tonight. Maybe mashed potatoes or soup made out of snails. Kids I have never met are sitting on our couch watching a film on our TV tonight. A man and a woman who were born in Alger will make love in our bed tonight and the night after.

Tonight, I am sad, so sad. I never thought it would be so painful all this leaving thing. Leaving everything almost, except a few clothes, a few books, a few board games, and a photo camera.

From now on, we will live on a boat, and the boat will be our new mandala.

The boat we named: Fata Morgana.



Marine Survey and Back

From Key West, FL to Montreal, QC the distance is about 1800 boring miles. Baba Ghanoush, cautious and focused as a mule, is capable of going at not more than 50 miles per hour, which means about four long days of driving through three different types of climates, going from tropical through moderate to continental.We have done this trip many times in the past aboard one of those commercial trucks, and so we don’t think it is a big deal. Plus, we have a stop in the middle.

In South Carolina, we detour from our rout to visit Brian and Joyce, our neighbors from Bois-des-Filion and good friends (the guys who helped us repair and clean Baba Ghanoush in October, and prepare for the trip), who are snowbirding in a nice three-bedroom-three-bathroom condo in Myrtle Beach. We spend there two days and nights, enjoying the condo and all its comforts, a walk on the beach, some discount shopping in OldNavy, and Joyce and Brian’s exquisite cuisine&company.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

We are now driving back north on Interstate 95, somewhere in New York state. The heater is on. The sky is the same color as the highway: dirty-grey. So are the leafless trees and the dead grass, and so is our mood. We are even starting to see patches of grey snow. The tiny transparent ants who descended from a tree somewhere in Jacksonville climbing aboard our RV in the beginning of this trip are nowhere to be found. Either they abandoned the premises knowing deep in their guts that we are heading towards below zero temperatures, or are presently hibernating in some cosy unknown to us place in Baba Ghanoushe’s old body.

Going back from Key West, Florida to Canada in the beginning of March sucks. It is like going back from summer trough fall into winter. But we have to return to Quebec and deal with our bank, our house, our stuff, and then go again to Key West by the end of the month to take possession of the boat, and basically, to move aboard.

Her name is B&B Adventure but that will change soon. She is a 2001 Robertson and Cane Leopard 38 owner’s version, which means, she is 38 feet catamaran and has three big cabins. Built in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001, these boats are heavy and stable, not as fast as other catamarans the same size, but very roomy and comfortable. Which is more important to us, as we are not going to race her, but live aboard, spend lots and lots of time in the galley and the salon, in the cabins and in the cockpit.

Haul-Out for Marine Survey

Haul-Out for Marine Survey

We did a marine survey and a sea trial in Key West a few days ago, and we have signed the acceptance papers. The survey showed a number of little things that need to be fixed, and a few bigger repairs, but nothing major or urgent (or that is what we are thinking right now, optimistically…). Still, my head hearts just thinking about what are we getting ourselves into… For sure, every (used) boat needs some taking care of; being a boat owner means also a permanent state of fixing, maintaining, and upgrading (or paying for it). But before the repairs, we need to worry about bank transfers, vessel registration, cruising permit, etc. So, Montreal, here we come!


The Nudist French-Canadians in Miami

After the Boat Show in Miami, and after our RV gets out of the auto service center, we start looking for overnight spots in safe areas in Miami while negotiating the catamaran in Key West and all the details around the contract and the sale.

The first night we sleep undisturbed behind a Publix store, and the next, in front of a 24 hour Wall-Mart in Hollandale Beach where we discover in the morning a small yellowish ticket on the windshield of our sleeping Baba Ghanoush saying “ No commercial vehicle parking between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. : fine $104.“  Baba Ghanoush IS NOT a commercial vehicle, she is an RV (Recreational Vehicle) and as a matter of fact, we were not parked, but stopped (people inside the vehicle). Next, we freak out, we find the police department, and we gently fight over definitions with a nice policewoman, who finally gives up, says, you are nice young people, and don’t do that again, and indulgently acquits us of all the charges. Great!

Now, back to finding a safe overnight free parking spot in Miami area for a 32 feet 1988 suspicious-looking RV…

It’s getting dark and we pull over behind another Wall-Mart in another part of Miami and just like that, accidently, the most amazing sight unfolds before our perplexed gazes. Baba Ghanoush stops abruptly, facing a population of  about twenty vans and campers of all sorts: big and small, new and old, almost exclusively with Quebec registrations, stationed in the most remote corner of the parking lot. There are also a few commercial tractor-trailers parked between the campers, a few permanent vans where homeless locals live, and some mini-busses. Not a single normal car. It looks more like a campground than a Wall-Mart parking lot.

In the middle, between the campers, there is a group of tanned men in their sixties wearing nothing but shorts and sandals, holding beer cans, staring at us, their conversation interrupted.

Bonjour, we greet them friendly in French-Quebecois, but it’s hard to break the ice. We join the gang for the night, instructed on which spot to park. We obey. We are not absolutely sure what is going on here, but we feel safe, among compatriots. We sleep.

This little off-grid campground, whose precise location I am not going to reveal as I now feel very protective of it, exists for many years. Its unknown French-Canadian founding fathers first settled here decades ago and each year spend six of the harshest Canadian winter months in Miami, near shopping and near the beach. More precisely, near the nudist beach, as these are no ordinary snowbirds, but nudist snowbirds, who don’t pay for campsites in crowded over regulated campgrounds. I absolutely admire them, and I can’t believe the local authorities are letting it happen. Maybe there is a reason why no one disturbs them and the police car slowly passes trough a few times a day with no objections. Living in the area half the year, they are supporting the local economy by spending their Canadian pensions in near by stores and restaurants. Plus, they occupy only a fraction of a humongous parking lot in back of Wall-Mart, which, if the no overnight parking rule was enforced, would remain deserted and unused anyway. Thus, they don’t bother no one and no one bothers them. I think, that’s the way it should be.

We spend a few days there, trying to fit in, accidently breaking some of the unwritten rules and regulations, like: taking someone else’s overnight spot, running the generator too close to the neighbor and thus ruining his atmosphere, using the water from the little water pump near the fence for washing our Baba Ghanoush in broad day light, and having too much fun at that same water pump taking late-evening cold-water bucket showers. Next time we’ll know better.

The Historical Washing of Baba Ghanoush

The Historical Washing of Baba Ghanoush

We spent a few great days there. We met new friends.

Marcel helped us fix an electrical problem with our RV and took us to a nice park and a pizza buffet; Stephanie from Switzerland introduced us to her dog Mapuche; Nicole thought me how to do crochet and how to make beautiful knitted handbags out of plastic bags; and we spent the last evening before heading off to Key West sitting in our folding heavy-duty camping chairs, under the parking lot lights, sipping warm beer, and sharing funny stories with Alex and few other guys until midnight.

A handbag made out of Dolarama plastic bags.   -by Nicole Cloutier

A handbag made out of Dolarama plastic bags. -by Nicole Cloutier

Evening socializing at the Wall-Mart French-Canadian nudist campground.

Evening socializing at the Wall-Mart French-Canadian nudist campground.