December 08 2021- January 11 2022; 7339 nm and 1027 days after departure from La Rochelle.
Well, guess what happened. Correct! Our dear friend, the affectionate lovely virus Sars-Covid-19, lately disguised in a new variant named Omikron was the reason for our sudden return.
In fact we had a perfect start. Our neighbour at the marina, Jean-Francois, a Belgian sailor offered us a lift to the airport as he was picking up a crew member the same day. That was great and of course we happily accepted his nice offer. We arrived early at the airport and enjoyed just being there in time. No need to worry about anything anymore. The plane took off on time. The “Orly”-bus to Paris was waiting for us at the airport. A last jump into the metro and just like that we were hugged by our dear daughter and her boyfriend in their sweet little apartment in Paris. Needless to say that we were all very happy after a long year of not seeing each other. Of course the long weekend was too short! A little bit of shopping combined with long walks through Paris and catching up let the time fly by. Saturday evening the kids spoiled us with a delicious Raclette dish, but the best part was that they as well invited Benoit’s lovely parents, Martín and Jean-Claude (nous étions très heureux de faire enfin votre connaissance). A nice French evening with yammi Champagne and Jana’s favourite dessert “Pavlova”, a divine meringue-based dessert. It has a crisp crust and soft light inside topped with whipped cream and fruit. So very delicious!!! I forgot to take pics so you have to look it up yourself😋.
Early Monday morning we jumped into the train and headed off to Essen. At around lunchtime we arrived at Essen main station and we were picked up by my parents. After a big welcome and many huge hugs we got home. My mum had prepared a lovely breakfast. Yeah it was lunchtime but we asked to have a late yammi German breakfast. For me it was 1,5 years since I’ve been to Germany and for El capitano it was even 2 years! So we were desperate for a proper German breakfast with “Brötchen”, “Leberwurst”, “Schinken”, cheese, salmon, eggs and more. You can’t eat it all but its so nice to be able to choose😁. What is wrong with me? I keep writing about food! All in all it was a busy week. We spent time with my parents, drove up to El Capitanos dad and spent a day with him. We also visited our friends Natalie and Martin who were so kind to lend us one of their cars for our stay in Germany. Again our old neighbours and friends Kissy and Alex offered us to stay with them and use their house as our base. That was and is always a huge help as my parents apartment is a bit small for 4 people. Apart from that it’s also nice to have a little more time together. Thanks a lot dear old neighbours😘.(Old regarding neighbours not age! Of course!) Same here, time was flying. For the weekend we headed to Aachen to meet up with the kids at Luis place. I can assure you I am now so happy that we were able to do so! After a nice breakfast (it was still important for us😉 and so yammi with Brezeln) with the four of us we walked to town and inhaled the x-mas feeling. Strolling through little beautiful Aachen is always nice but at Christmas it is still a little more exciting. Despite of Covid the x-mas market was open and with it the hot wine sellers. Sipping a hot wine in front of the old “Rathaus” (the town hall) with the kids was so nice. Mami was very happy having her tribe all together. The strolling and chatting went on until we ended up in a nice restaurant for dinner. The next day we only had a quick breakfast and Luis took us for a looooong walk to the “Dreiländereck”, the border triangle of Germany, Belgium and the Netherland. It was a beautiful walk through sometimes muddy woods which took us more than 4 hours. Exhausted and hungry we returned in the afternoon. Fortunately we still had some leftover “Leberkäs” from my mum which we all very much appreciated as nobody had to cook.
What a great weekend! But we had to leave as the kids still had to work. Jana decided instead of staying with a friend of her in Essen, to stay a little longer with her brother. The plan was that we would all meet in Essen and then drive up to my brothers place to Leipzig to celebrate Christmas with the whole family. We were all so much looking forward to it as last year was already canceled due to Covid.
Well, Monday morning was a beautiful sunny day. We had a little chat with our dear landlords and after wrapping some presents and finishing some errands we were invited for a special lunch at my parents place. My mum does cook each year for x-mas an ox-tongue. It might sound weird for some of you but I just love it!!!! And I was looking forward to it! But then it happened. We were just coming back from a short visit from other neighbours when we got Janas message. Her self test was positive. Shock! What? How is that possible? What shall we do? Millions of questions were popping up in our minds. Nooooooooo! Kissy was already back home and we told her the horrifying message. The thing was nobody was really afraid to get it or better get seriously ill because we were all boostered, but it was x-mas time. Who wants to infect their loved ones or friends? We immediately felt bad living at our friends place. Fortunately we had only a short chat with our friends the evening before with no hugs. We did an Antigen test and fortunately the result was negative, meanwhile Jana and Luis did also an official antigen test which turned out to be positive again for Jana, Luis was still negative. It was obvious that Janas PCR test would also be positive so we cancelled all our visits. My parents were as well very upset and sad. How crazy is that with this damn virus? We had to pick up the meal in the hallway 6 feet away from their entry door, masks on and not being able to eat with them or worse saying goodbye in a proper way.
After a couple of hours thinking about the whole situation, we decided to leave as soon as we had the proof that Janas PCR test was as well positive. We separated us from our friends to hopefully make sure not to infect them just in case we also caught the virus. We stayed upstairs and only went down to their kitchen when nobody was there. It felt all so weird! Awkward and strange for all of us. In the afternoon and evening while waiting for the result we checked the flights and trains to travel back to Martinique. In the morning Janas result came back positive. We got another antigen test as we needed a negative one to fly back to Martinique. Our test was negative and then all went super fast. We changed our flights and train tickets and organised a taxi to the station for 5am the next morning. The last day was strange. Even though we were tested negative we felt like lepar. Always having a bad feeling we could infect somebody, although being negative. With Kissy and Alex we only communicated via WhatsApp or through shouting. And instead of going out with them and saying thank you for having us they prepared us a nice supper upstairs while they were having their supper downstairs. That was odd, but we did not wanted to give it any chance that we might have infected them. Saying goodbye was lovely. With our masks on and more than 6 feet apart it was a very hearty imaginary hug. Thank you, you damn annoying virus!
After about 20 hours of travelling we arrived very tired on Altimate and just collapsed into our bed. With no fresh food aboard, we hurried to get groceries the next morning to make sure we could at least cook us some nice x-mas dishes. The frustration was still big but at least we were back home and we could recover from the stress in our own surrounding. Thanks to the internet we had video calls with the kids and the rest of the family on x-mas eve. Not quite the same than being together but better than nothing!
It took us (probably mainly me) a while to get over the whole sad circumstances. And the fact that a self test told us we were also positive, didn’t help my mood to cheer up either. At least apart from a sore throat we didn’t have any symptoms. So for the next ten days we stayed on Altimate and worked on our project list. The good thing was that we were already prepared to work on some projects. Meant that we had bought the parts before we left and could jump deep into our work. For example, we did a full blown engine maintenance with oil exchange including exchanging all the filters; we built in a new engine ventilation; El Capitano rebuilt the data navigational network and more. Slowly the world felt back to normal and a couple of days before New Years eve we did another selftest which fortunately turned out negative. Yippeee! What a relief! That meant we could celebrate the turn of the year with some friends. We invited Andrea und Gerhard, the crew of Monte for a bbq on Altimate to start the new year together. It was a fun night with a lot of catching up as we hadn’t seem them for two years.(The first time was in Porto Santo/Madeira). The new year started well and that made us all feel good!
We stayed some days in the anchorage of Saint Anne and anchored by chance next to our French friends from Bequia Pat and Cat who looked after us while in quarantine. That was a nice surprise. We had a sundowner together to catch up. Unfortunately not more meetings as they left the next day to sail to Guadeloupe. The next days went by pretty fast, we run into more people we new and enjoyed being back to “normal” life. Meanwhile we are back at our favourite anchorage Grand Anse de Saline and are happy to enjoy the beautiful bay.