What are we going to do?

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The plan has changed. Again.

It’s funny how cruisers change their plans all the time. Often when we ask fellow cruisers where they are going to be in February or when are they going to be on that island in Vanuatu, the answer is We have no idea. Often, you start for one place, but because of weather or a breakdown you end up in another. The circumstances change, or we change our ideas, and then the plans change too. As the saying goes “Our plans are written in the sand at low tide.”

Our plan to sail to the Solomon Islands, then Papua New Guinea by the end of 2017, then Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in 2018 has changed when we decided to sell Fata Morgana in New Zealand and move to a bigger boat back in the Caribbean or in the Mediterranean region. We wanted a bigger boat with four cabins for charter guests, as a way to make some money while living on a boat.

We placed Fata Morgana for sale in August 2017 when we were in Fiji. Shortly after, the hurricanes came.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a hyperactive, deadly, and extremely destructive, as well as the costliest season on record. Hurricane Irma and Maria devastated entire islands and communities, wiped out or damaged many yachting destinations and destroyed thousands of boats.

Even though the hurricanes didn’t affect us directly, as we were safe on the other side of the world, they affected the boat market, as well as our future plans.

Selling the boat in New Zealand remained a possibility, but buying a boat in the Caribbean and spending the next few seasons there became uncertain.

We decided to wait. To take some time off. After selling Fata Morgana we decided go back and live on land for a few years. The more we thought about it, the more it made sense, the more reasons we found, and we felt good about this decision. The time felt also good, after five years of full-time non-stop living aboard.

Maya is now 14 and will have the opportunity to graduate high school back in Canada and continue her studies if that’s what she wants. She can finally take piano  and dance lessons, enlist in the Canadian Cadets, have permanent friends and do all those things she couldn’t do on a boat.

In Canada we will reunite with our son Viktor, who is already 20-years-old and we miss him more and more every day.

I will have time to finally sit down and write that book I was planning to write since a few years, which is now a defined project in my head, ready to be put on paper. A book about one family’s dreams and illusions.

We will work, look for home, buy a car. We will go back to “normal” life and it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not going to be hard either.

Actually, we have never had a normal life and I sometimes wonder what it would feel like. We left Bulgaria, our families and friends, when we were barely 22-years-old, and arrived in Canada to start a new and better life. We had a house in which we barely lived, as we worked as long-distance truck drivers, both Ivo and I, the kids with us in the small cabin, travelling all over Canada and USA for years. Maya was practically born and raised in a truck, before moving into a boat.

After traveling some more around New Zealand and possibly Australia in the next few months, we are going to fly back to Canada and live in Vancouver area. What exactly are we going to do and how is once again uncertain, but I suspect it’s not going to be a very conventional comeback to land-life. After living on wheels and then on a boat, after visiting so many places, meeting so many people and learning so many things, it will be almost impossible for us to just get plugged back in the system and suddenly stop. I suspect that we will keep traveling, keep learning, keep looking for alternatives, even without a boat. We have many ideas, and if you are still interested we will keep sharing them with you, our followers and supporters, fellow adventurers, travelers and dreamers. Our Life Nomadik will continue one way or another and I suspect it’s going to be epic. We didn’t reach Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Africa, Europe, and so many other destinations by boat, so now we will have to find other ways of traveling there (always as cheaply and amazingly interesting as possible.) We accept ideas and offers!

When we told our friends and parents, five years ago, that we are selling the house and buying a sailboat and then getting the kids out of school, leaving work and moving on the boat, sailing from island to island with no particular plans, they looked at us with a mixture of worry, disbelief and condemnation. You are crazy and irresponsible, they said. DON’T DO IT! We knew we are crazy but we did it anyway and we are not sorry.

Today the reverse is happening… Many are disappointed with our decision to sell the boat and move back on land, but such is life- things change and it’s time for a change.

In the past five years we visited more places and had more adventures than most people will never experience in a lifetime. It has been a great journey of discovery, both world and self-discovery. And it was a privilege to be able to share it with so many people via the blog and the short videos we made. We will keep making them and writing stories in the next months, as the best stories and adventures are still untold. We have amazing footage from Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, so we will be publishing many more episodes in the future, and written stories. We are planning an expedition on land to New Zealand’s South Island and possibly Australia in February and March, so we will have even more material and footage for films and articles. And then, who knows! Keep following us to find out!

Maya told me a few days ago, that she is not afraid to die and if she dies now, her life has been complete, because so many awesome things have already happened to her. I was terrified! No, your life is not complete, it’s just beginning now and a lot more is ahead of you! You don’t have to compare with the majority and become satisfied with what you have accomplished just because it is more than the next person. You need to strive for more and better accomplishments and knowledge, to develop your potential and talent, to seek happiness and improve yourself and your environment. Life is an adventure, with or without a boat, and yours is going to be even more fascinating than you can imagine. You can become a marine scientist, or an artist, you can go to Antarctica or visit the moon! Five years on a boat halfway around the world is nothing yet! Keep going!

We want to thank our Patrons, the 56 people who are supporting us and helped us incredibly enormously, especially in the past few months, which have been a bit difficult for us financially. Those of you, who send us 1 and 2 dollars each month have helped us cover our internet expenses, so that we can keep posting and uploading stories, photos and videos. Those of you who send us 5 dollars every month helped us move forward, paying for boat fuel or transportation on land. Our 10-dollar Patrons ensured that the entry fees to the different countries, visas and other formalities were in order. And thanks to our 20 and 50-dollar and plus Patrons we could buy food for a month and even share some with the friendly islanders in Vanuatu. This is how you kept us going and we will never forget it, hoping that some day we can do the same for you and others.

Some of you, fellow cruisers and sailors, or dreamers planning to sail around the world some day too, have been following and supporting us mainly because we sail and live on a boat. We completely understand if you no longer find a reason to support us, now that we are selling the boat and moving on land and we will understand if you decide to stop your monthly subscription. We are grateful to all of you and hope to be able to return your kindness in the same or in a different way some day.

We will keep the videos and blog stories coming in the next months, as we have a lot of footage to work with and even more footage is coming up, as we visit some more of New Zealand’s wonders. We will also continue the special Behind-the-Scenes and Sailing&Cruising monthly articles with extra information for our 5 and 10+ dollar Patrons, sharing what we have learned.

To those of you who decide to keep their subscription for a few more months, while we keep publishing videos- we are grateful and touched!

Thank you all!

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Running a Marathon and Celebrating Maori Culture in Hamilton

On November 29th 2015, Ivo crossed the finish line of his first full 42 km marathon in Panama City, crying. For the first time in his life he was overwhelmed by a mixture of total exhaustion, physical pain and a sort of inexplicable sad quiet euphoria.

One year and a half later, he joined another 42km race in Hamilton, New Zealand. This time, there were no tears and Ivo enjoyed every moment from start to finish. Three hours and 55 minutes of flawless, painless, glorious running.

Ivo running the Kirikiriroa marathon 2017. Photo by photos4sale.com

It’s mid-March, 2017, nice sunny weather. We are driving from Mangawhai through Auckland towards  Hamilton together with Mel, who came from Pert in Australia to New Zealand for a few days to accompany Ivo in his second full marathon.

Maya, Mel and Ivo in New Zealand.

Mel is Ivo’s running mentor and one of his best friends. We met Mel and his wife Caryn aboard yacht ‘Passages’ (a beautiful teal color Island Packet) in the Caribbean and sailed together from island to island for many months. We share many unforgettable memories.

Ivo and Mel also share a passion for running- a sort of a hobby, or mania, that only runners understand. Mel is a few years older than Ivo, born in Namibia, now living in Australia. He has many running races under his belt including a 90K ultra marathon in Africa, and he initiated Ivo in the world of running. It includes training, gear, safety and food.

Mel and Ivo aboard Fata Morgana getting ready to go for a morning run in Mangawhai, New Zealand.

Can you imagine training for a marathon while sailing and living on a boat? Getting up at 4 a.m. , before the burning tropical sun becomes unbearable, kayaking to shore and running between 10 and 40 kilometers (one to four hours), often in circles on tiny islands with no paved roads, with dogs chasing you and little  kids running, screaming and laughing after you; trying to follow a strict running program interrupted by days, sometimes weeks of ocean passages; eating whatever stores you have on the boat or local foods and not having access to the recommended runner’s diet; using the same old shoes even when they are finished and you need new ones, but there is no place to buy new good running shoes in a thousand nautical miles radius.

You have to be really passionate about running and extremely disciplined to train for a marathon while sailing and living on a boat.

We buy chicken and pasta- lean meat and carbohydrates, which we prepare in the hotel. Mel booked a nice double room with kitchen and TV near the Hamilton Gardens- a big beautiful city park where the marathon will start early tomorrow morning. The guys spend the rest of the day resting and eating pasta. We go to bed early.

Saturday, March 18. It’s still completely dark in the park. The runners have gathered. The kiwi people are fun-loving friendly folks and joy is in the air. Many of the participants, men and women, are wearing orange tutu skirts and orange T-shirts, as if coming out of a techno concert. The race begins before sunrise. It will take about four hours for Ivo and Mel to return. Some of the other runners and walkers will cross the finish line much later.

At the start of the marathon

Mel at the finish line. Photo by photos4sale.com

ivo at the finish line. Photo by photos4sale.com

Instead of sitting around and waiting for four hours, Maya and I hitch a ride back to town, and from there we take the bus to Ngaruawahia- a small village half an hour drive north of Hamilton. Another race is taking place there this same day- the annual Turangawaewae Regatta and we are not going to miss it. We will miss Ivo and Mel crossing the finish line- the most glorious moment and the greatest achievement in every marathon runner’s life, but we will witness one of New Zealand’s deepest cultural events- the best waka kopapa racing in the country.

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Waka kopapa are single-hull paddling canoes with great proportions and unique design, traditionally used by the Maori people for war. Built from giant totara tree trunks, with exquisite tribal carvings at the front and the back, some wakas were up to 30 meters long, holding up to 100 warriors. These were sacred vessels used for epic battles.

Waka kopapa- Maori war canoe

We arrive at the event just in time for the waka parade and watch from the banks of the mighty Waikato River as five long boats take off. The men in each waka are dressed in their traditional tribal Maori piupiu, a kilt-type garment made from dried flax. Many have body and face tattoos and they all look fierce.

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Maya and I have time to roam around the river bank with many stands selling traditional food, carvings and other Maori art and crafts before the wakas return. We get traditional ‘mokos’ or face tattoos, which for women are limited to the chin. There are hundreds of visitors, the majority local Maori families from the near-by communities, gathered to celebrate their ancestral culture and history.

Maya and Mira with Moko Tattoos

More and more people arrive as the culmination of the Regatta approaches. Four hours have passed since the start of the Kirikiriroa Marathon and soon Ivo and Mel join us on the loan in front of the small stage on the shore of the Waikato River to watch the return of the wakas. The runners look tired, their bodies are tense as if the juices have dried up inside them, but also very happy and proud.

  • It was a good run. I felt great. I didn’t even feel tired at the end and could keep running a lot more.- said Ivo with an expression of serenity and content.

At the Turangawaewae regatta

A thunderous chorus of hundreds of bare-chested, bearded, hairy, tattooed warriors rowing and chanting rhythmically in perfect synchrony as they approach down the river is a mighty sight to behold, followed by the traditional Maori Kapa Haka performed by each of the waka teams.

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There are no words that can describe the Maori haka, as there are no words to describe the powerful might, the tremendous energy and awesome devastating force of an apocalyptic storm. You feel it with all your senses as it hits you, invading all the space around you, penetrating inside your chest like a thunder from another world. The Maori haka is a natural phenomenon.

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The Maori haka is a custom of high social importance and an ancient living art form. A spiritual dance and song performed by groups of people to welcome guests or warn the enemy, to pay respects in honor of the living or the dead. It is still proudly performed today at every event throughout New Zealand, in public institutions and private gatherings, thought to kids of all backgrounds in every school in the country, and in all Maori families and communities.

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The hakas, imitating oral narratives, transmit feelings of personal and historical events, and transfer knowledge and tradition through music. The war dances aim to intimidate psychologically their enemies with strong loud chanting and roaring, stomping, and fierce expressions. The first Europeans who witnessed them got terrified and described them as ‘ferocious and vigorous’.

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Joseph Banks, who accompanied James Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769, later recorded, ‘The War Song and dance consists of Various contortions of the limbs during which the tongue is frequently thrust out incredibly far and the orbits of the eyes enlarged so much that a circle of white is distinctly seen round the Iris: in short nothing is omitted which can render a human shape frightful and deformed, which I suppose they think terrible.’

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Later, the Christian missionaries tried to eradicate and prohibited the haka dances and many other Maori or non-Christian traditions and customs, and replace them with harmonic hymns, like in the Polynesian islands. But the Maori people secretly kept their traditions alive and in the 19th century they were revived. When Queen Victoria’s son Prince Albert arrived in New Zealand for a visit in 1869, at the wharf in Wellington, he was greeted by a vigorous haka. The Wellington Independent reported, ‘The excitement of the Maoris becomes uncontrollable. They gesticulate, they dance, they throw their weapons wildly in the air, while they yell like fiends let loose. But all this fierce yelling is of the most friendly character. They are bidding the Duke welcome.’

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It is like that today still. There’s yelling and fierce shouting, mean expressions and terrible gestures, to let us know we are welcome, as long as we respect: the land, the people, the tradition. Ours or not.

Kids watching the haka performance at Turangawaewae Regatta

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Watch the short YouTube video with footage from the Turangawaewae Regatta and Haka performances Road Trip in North Island

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If you are reading this …

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… we have a small favor to ask. More people than ever are regularly reading our stories and watching our short videos, but far fewer are supporting us. We have no regular income. And unlike others, we haven’t made our content private – we want to keep posting free stories and videos for everyone. So we think it’s fair to ask people who visit our blog and YouTube channel often for their support, a sort of a friendly monthly subscription. Our efforts to research, write and post pictures, to film and edit, to translate, take a lot of time and hard work. And it’s even harder to do it from a boat with limited internet and electricity. But we do it because we believe our journey and way of life matters – because it might inspire you! If you regularly read and value our hard work, watch the videos and want to support us, consider becoming one of our patrons and part of our Nomadik family for as little as $1 or $5 dollars a month, and help us in our future travels. You can chose the amount you want to contribute and for what period of time, and you can always change your mind and change or stop your pledge. We use the funds collected through Patreon to upgrade our photo and video equipment, as well as to cover our modest living expenses- food and boat repairs. Thank you!

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