Traveler or Tourist?

And the winners of their own special copies of Sharktopus on DVD are…

Mike Berndt with this comment

and

Michael Lockridge with this comment!

Congratulations guys, we’ll be shipping it out to you shortly and awaiting your reviews 😉

You can still buy Sharktopus on Amazon!

What’s with the obsession with Sharktopi?  Guess who’s in it!

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Tikehau, Tuamotu, French Polynesia

We prepare to leave this little island paradise and head for the Society Islands with a little hesitation.  Not only is Papeete, Tahiti the capital and ONLY major city in this “colony” the size of Europe and consisting of a conglomeration of over 100 islands it is also a known location.  Translation: Tourist town and more importantly, normal tourists.  Unlike us.  We’re different.

No, seriously, we are.  The nature of cruising on a sailboat makes us a significantly different “type” of tourist than the typical one.  For example, we live on our boat so we don’t worry about living in a hotel.  Which means we don’t have to make every day worth the daily hotel rate.  It actually relieves a great deal of stress from the traveling equation.  Instead of telling you about tourist attractions for gringos in Mexico, I can actually tell you what it means to really live in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for over a month.  I can tell you about a city that when we arrived there, most of the tourists were actually other Mexicans!

We don’t have a flight home to catch and that alleviates the rush of most travelers.  Met a new friend and want to stay an extra few days to have them over for dinner?  Heck, why not?  We even have a “home” to invite them to!  Fall in love with a place and don’t want to leave yet?  Sure, we can tack on a few days.  The main concern we have is the expiration of our tourist visas.

Also, since leaving Mexico we have pretty much been in places where the locals outnumber the tourists.  If you have never been a tourist in a non-tourism location let us tell you, it makes a HUGE difference in the way people treat you and your overall experience.  We actually got to meet real Polynesians, not just the smiling people at the fancy hotel and we found out how genuinely friendly most of them are.  Also, because there were so few travelers in their towns, we were a novelty to the local people instead of a constant nuisance or just a source of income.

We are exaggerating to a small degree because we are subject to the movements of our ship & the desires of our captain & co-captain (when airline pilots run ships they have funny names for things…) but that really doesn’t interfere as most of us are ready to move on each time that we do.

We also experienced lots of other “non-tourist” things, like grocery shopping in a foreign language, and buying spare parts.  Fortunately for us, in both Mexico and French Polynesia we had the use of specialized-for-traveling-sailors Spanish and French dictionaries, for things like the port side of the boat and the head gasket of your engine.  Try to explain those with a basic high school or even university level language class!

We’re not saying that we are somehow “better” than the typical tourist; just that what we are looking for and our overall experiences are vastly different.  We also put up with more headaches.  Like a lack of air conditioning, slow travel and small living conditions.  Our movements are restricted by weather windows and if our boat breaks or we lose something overboard we can’t just call someone like for a rental car; we have to deal with it. (There are no boat yards and shipping parts out here is not cheap.)

We also don’t get the benefits of personal service, which means we mostly do our own dishes.  Oh yes, and we are sailing a 44 foot boat though the middle of the ocean hundreds of miles from any form of rescue…but to us that’s kind of awesome 😉

We prefer this style of travel.  It’s cheaper, more self-reliant and you get to see what we think are the “cool” stuff.  You get to connect with people…and get your butt handed to you in ping-pong.

Tahiti will be interesting as we will become tourists in a tourist town for the first time in several months.

Would you be willing to take on a few discomforts and a couple of manageable risks in order to sail the world?

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11 Responses to Traveler or Tourist?

  1. Yes I would! Looking forward to as soon as I can quit working. I am staying for the America’s Cup at least…

    Thank you so much for the DVD, I will have to make it part of a party with the team.

    I look forward to all your posts.

    Mike
    It is still raining here.

    • Tiffany says:

      You’re welcome for the DVD! Just make sure you email me your address so we can have it shipped to you!

      I’m bummed that we won’t be in SF for the America’s Cup. I will have to find it online so I can watch it and tell everyone “I’ve sailed there!”

      I’m sorry it’s still raining :/ That’s one of the reasons I’m ok with having left CA…

  2. Michael Lockridge says:

    If you want to sail your boat to Houston, I can arrange to have you picked up and couffered to San Antonio, put you in a comfy Queen bed, and even arrange a few free meals….but you of course will have to autograph my copy of Sharktopus! (Thanks guys! It really is amazing how the world has changed…now, thanks to the internet, sending a gift to friend in a foreign land is about 3 mouse clicks and 100 keyboard-characters away. I’m having a hard time conceiving how non-simple it must have been 20 years ago.)

    • Tiffany says:

      We will definitely be keeping that in mind Michael!

      It is amazing how easy it is to stay in touch with people back home, even from some amazingly remote places. Sometimes it’s hard to find an internet cafe, but whenever we really need one, it’s there. I can only imagine how people used to do this 20 years ago, because it is so radically different now!

  3. Erica says:

    I would do it in a heartbeat. Going to try to get in as much sailing as possible over our next trip. We’re currently in a debate over a boat vs. RV. We have never been in either but both allow mobility to some degree.

    Shaun’s main argument for boat is that we can survive the zombie apocalypse. :X

    • Tiffany says:

      Ha Ha! When Greg sees your comment about surviving the zombie apocalypse he’s going to go nuts! 😉 I think he may have found a kindred spirit in Shaun…

      We’ve thought about the RV thing also, especially for some of the larger countries like Australia. There is so much to see in the interior of the country that we don’t want to miss out on. Either way, having a boat or an RV saves you some serious money on hotels, along with giving you a place to cook your own food so you can save on meals! So far we haven’t purchased either. We’ve managed to find boats to crew on, which has given us all of the benefits of boat ownership without most of the headaches. We didn’t buy a boat when we left, because we made the decision to head out very quickly (less than 30 days from decision to departure) and didn’t have the time to find and fix the right one. When we eventually get home, we plan to look for a boat and continue to do local exploring.

      • Erica says:

        Well, we did work in the video game industry to expect the internet memes/pop culture goodness here lol.

        Right now I want to do everything which makes making decisions interesting…

        • Tiffany says:

          I hadn’t realized! Greg will be so jealous. We’re both into console games and have been missing our xBox 360 a little bit (but it’s way more fun traveling than staying home and playing it!)

          One of the nice (but sometimes annoying) things about being crew instead of owning your own boat is that you just go where the owners go. It makes some decisions lots easier!

  4. Greg says:

    Erica,

    Ships are for buying, RVs are for renting once you get there. You can go more places and you can travel without spending money on fuel. ’nuff said.

    And my zombie plan involves long sunsets and mai tais…tell me the RVer who can beat that!

    Either way, as you look to outfit your ride, this blog entry comparing the viability of different gaming consoles may be of interest to you.

    http://coastguardcouple.com/2010/10/28/hiva-oa-french-polynesia/

    • Erica says:

      Hubby approves of the boat. Although, I can’t imagine the names he would come up for ours. He worked at Blizzard for 4 years – I should be scared.

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