So, in few hours I will arrive to France, after an incredible journey of 11 days, across the North Atlantic Ocean. I can already guess the coasts of Normandy, in a light fog, like in a pastel landscape painting. This trip was simply magical, a sweet and poetic break, out of the time and out of the world. A unique experience, between the light blue of the sky and the dark blue of the sea.
I left New Orleans with my heart full of tears. I saw the last visible point from the Mississippi disappears, while listening Nola music. In my cabin, Mardi Gras beads were already swinging with the boat. Few hours later, the pilots left the ship, and the 19 guys of the crew were the only ones in charge on board. On this huge vessel who is constantly vibrating, I discovered the life of the sailmen and the secrets of navigation, helped by the other passenger, a 70 years old German lady, who did several times the tour of the world on this kind of boat.
On board, eight nationalities are living together on this German freighter under Portuguese flag. The captain is Polish, officers are from Romania, Russia, Estonia or Ukrainia, sailmen are Philippinos. Even if there is the respect due to hierarchy, it’s a deeply humanity and an immense kindness that link everybody, speaking an English rich of different accents. During karaoke nights and barbecue parties, everyone share a beer or a glass of wine in a friendly athmosphere. Even on freighters, Saturday nights are fun.
Except those events, the life on board, in my passenger situation, is pretty calm and lonely, but never boring. In these days of 23 hours, time has not the same value, and seems sometimes frozen, extremely slow, but seems also going in a rush, to the future, push by a big propeller high of 8 meters. Only regular eating times limit mornings and afternoons, without other obligations than taking care of myself…
Sea is a permanent entertainment, constantly in move, and absolutely beautiful. Under the horizon line, which draw a perfect 360 degrees circle, ocean is never the same. Disconnected from the world, listening to music, with the perfume of sea and the wind in the hair, sunrises and sunsets are like poetry, with new colors and emotions every day.
One by one, sailmen, officers and captain show me all parts of the boat, until the most secret one. Every day was full of surprises. From the upper deck to the bridge, from the engine room to the pilot entrance, from the lifeboat to the front deck open on the sea. It was an incredible feeling of liberty to stand up on this platform, in front of the boat, on top of the waves, with nothing between me and the ocean.
So, finally, for me, only a passenger who doesn’t know the hard reality of sailmen, this trip was a sweet mix of poetry, dreams and wratings. On this freighter, I had the impression to feel the story of the ship, with salty notes, and the stories of all these men, far from land. A trip full of learnings and emotions.