OK, you’ve waited long enough for this one! Here’s the continuation of my previous article! 

If you didn’t read it yet, I invite you to do so, it will help you follow this text! 

So, to put you back in the context, we were about to meet a family from Quebec who is travelling in North America with a modified school bus named Bleu Nomade. After a very busy afternoon full of surprises, we finally made it on land, knowing they have been waiting for us in the marina’s parking lot for four hours already.

The more we approached the bus, the more I got nervous. I mean, I don’t meet other girls my age every day. And you all know how socially talented I am! As we kept walking, I tried to convince myself that it would go well:
“They all speak French, it’ll be fine! Plus, you can tell them your name ‘normally’! Don’t worry about that. Just act casual and be at ease. Remember what Thomas says all the time: If you look shy and you stay away from the group, nobody will come to you. You have to look cool You’ll be just fine!”

As I finished telling myself those last words of encouragement, we were arriving in front of the blue bus. In a few seconds, the door opened and before I had time to realize it, I was inside, pushed by those behind me. Once the calm returned, and I could somehow stand still without people stepping on my feet, I raised my head. Right away, I noticed the four girls sitting in the back of the bus. They seemed nice! I immediately felt my stress decreasing. The relaxed ambience made me feel at ease. Go for it, Charlotte! You must look friendly too!
“Hey! Hi!”

Whoops, I think I just whispered! Were my hands shaking? I was very nervous. I wanted to look relaxed, as Thomas had told me to, but my voice didn’t come out loud enough. Luckily, Cynthia and Eric, the parents on Bleu Nomade, didn’t give me time to feel awkward. They greeted us right away and since I was the first one in line, I was questioned first:
“So… What’s your name?”

Oh dear! My brain started searching the best way to pronounce my name, as it usually does. But I was so well prepared for this encounter that this time I was ready. I decided to say my name just as I would normally do. We’ll see!
“I’m Charlotte!”

As simple as that, and they understood! Decidedly, I love speaking French! I once again was pushed forward by my siblings who were trying to fit in the bus. I ended up facing the 4 girls. I knew nothing about them other than the fact they were between 11 and 17 years old. Juliette took the lead and the girls started introducing themselves. By then, I knew their names were Alixia, Charline, Daphné and Florane, but I still couldn’t tell who was who! Then, Juliette introduced herself, while I looked down to pat their dog, Luna. When I raised my eyes again, everyone was staring at me. Oh! Did I miss something? Since I wasn’t saying anything, Juliette helped me out by saying:
“What’s your name?”

Oh dear! I can be such a noodle sometimes!
“Me? Hum, I’m Charlotte!”

There you go! I’m turned into ridicule once again! But it’s not a big deal. It brings a relaxing atmosphere. Soon, the parents told us to climb on top of the bus to sit on the platform. This way, we split the teens from the parents. That was perfect! Now, we were facing the second challenge: Having a discussion. The four of them were sitting on one side, and the 6 of us were sitting on the other side (Thomas was still at the library). You can imagine the scenario: We each looked at each other, then looked down with a shy smile. We finished introducing each other by mentioning our age. Then we were shy again. Luckily, the awkward silence didn’t last more than a dozen seconds. Raphaël rescued the situation.
“How do you like living in a school bus?”

Of course! I had completely forgotten about our conversation plans! As expected, this question broke the ice. The middle child (Charline 15) replied. It helped me feel at ease. The conversation flowed effortlessly during a big hour. I realized it was the first time in years (or even ever) that I was so at ease speaking with people and actually enjoying it! It might have been because we were all speaking French. It helped, that’s for sure! I remembered the times my dad told me that one day, I would encounter awesome people my age with whom I would be able to talk for hours without getting bored. Today is the day!

After an hour, our feet started feeling numb from the cold. Plus, Felix, Alice and Florence were starting to get bored. We therefore went down inside the bus to join the adults. It gave me the chance to observe the interior arrangement: the floor was nice and clean, the walls were made of wood, and there was a long counter and a long bench. Not to mention the fridge and the shower! The comfort of home! At the rear, there were the beds. It left me speechless! Each of the four girls had their personal space with a wall and a curtain. And it was high enough for them to sit comfortably. Wow! That’s really the bed I’d like to have in the boat!! Finally, in the front, there were the car seats and Luna’s cushion. It was so pretty in there! I can only imagine all the work involved in transforming this school bus in a mobile home!

At 7 p.m., we got out of the bus to return to our boat. But hey! We must take a photo! OK, one photo, two photos, plenty of photos! With a group of 14 people, it’s hard to get everyone looking at the right place at the same time! Once the photos were taken, the parents started talking again. They too seem to have found people with whom they feel at ease. Especially my dad! It had been such a long time since I’d seen him absorbed so deeply into a conversation. The mothers talked about school. Not surprising, there’s so much to say about homeschooling! At 7:45 p.m., we were ready to leave again, but at the last second, a new conversation had started. At the end, it was dark when we said goodbye, chilled like never before. Had I known it would be so cold, I would have dressed up a little warmer! Who could tell the Californian climate was so chilly? On our way back, I couldn’t help recounting everything in detail to my dad. However, I couldn’t put words on the feeling I had…
It was just the most wonderful evening of my life! We were hoping to see them again the next day, but nothing was sure yet… (Deep inside, however, I had the feeling we would!)

 When I entered the boat that evening, my vision of it was much different. Suddenly, I realize we had lots of space! Our saloon is wide and we have plenty of storage room. We have large rooms too… Visiting their bus has opened my eyes on all that. Bleu Nomade is clearly smaller than Pinocchio. The bus is 35 feet, while the boat is 44! They don’t have as much space as we do. At first glance, I didn’t notice, but I became fully aware of it when I re-entered our boat. Well, it doesn’t change the fact that their bed space is really cool!

As we were hoping, we met with them again the next day. This time, the parents met on the boat and the teens on the bus. I mean Raphaël, Juliette and I. The younger ones had nothing to do with us, so they stayed with the adults on the boat. And Thomas was gone to the library once again. This time, we didn’t stay in the bus. We went outside to get some air. There was a nice place to walk near the beach. Once again, the conversation flowed well. We talked about our passions and our dreams for the future.

After a while, Luna forced us to turn back. We therefore went to sit in the bus again and kept talking during a few hours. It’s interesting to learn about other people’s points of view. The only one I usually talk with, is my father. So generally, my spirit is rather concentrated on his points of view. Now, discovering others’ way of thinking is very interesting too! For example, we talk about our different eating habits and I discovered that diets vary a lot from one family to the other! Just thinking about the apples and peanut butter, THE ideal snack on Pinocchio. I really thought everybody knew about that snack! They told us about the one-year sailboat trip they had in 2016, about the life they had before they left for this bus trip, their school and the pressure it put on them… 

Everything they told me about school, the pressure and all that should have turned me off. But it did little to curb my desire to go to school. In fact, I’m now even more driven by the desire to go to school, to have a teacher that helps me to understand my school books, to take the bus back and forth from school to home, to do my homework with my friends… You know what I mean? I’m increasingly attracted to everything that has to do with school, even despite their warnings! If this journey continues as planned, I will never have gone to high school. This somehow aggrieves me, because celebrating high-school graduation with friends was and remains a childhood dream that will never come true. Instead, I will only go to adult school. I suppose it will be a lot different, but still alright. Isn’t it?

After a little while, the parents came to join us with the younger kids. We nevertheless continued discussing inside while the parents stayed outside. The younger kids were told not to bother us. They didn’t mind. They enjoyed running in the empty parking lot and playing with Luna. That was much more fun than listening to our teen discussions!

The sun had slowly gone down and the temperature had done the same. The parents were getting cold, so they came in to warn us we would soon return to the boat. Deep inside, I was disappointed. I really enjoyed being with them and I knew they were leaving the next day. It might be long before we meet them again. Before we left, I remembered what my dad told me the day before, as we were returning to the boat:
“Did you share your social media contact info? It would be nice for you to keep in touch with them if ever we meet them again in Mexico!”

I hurried up grabbing my phone. I wouldn’t forget this time! We exchanged our Instagram and Snapchat info, then joined the adults outside. Their conversation was still quite alive! With the adults around us we didn’t talk, but only listened. Thomas was back from the library and was discussing with the fathers. The mothers once again talked about schooling and writing, while the kids were still running everywhere. Like the previous day, it was dark outside when we ended up parting from the Bleu Nomade family. When we arrived to the boat, it was 9 p.m. It was too late for preparing dinner. No big deal. We had bread, mayonnaise, eggs and tomatoes. That was just perfect!

That night, I fell asleep dearly hoping we would meet with Bleu Nomade again for Christmas in Mexico…!


November 15, 2 months later

“They’re coming!” screamed Florence from her observation post.

When I heard those words, my heart leaped.

We were in San Carlos, Mexico. Although it wasn’t Christmas, we were about to meet Bleu Nomade again! We had arrived in this anchorage the day before, just as the bus was crossing the border of the United States and Mexico. It was by pure coincidence that we crossed their path again so early and at this specific place! In fact, we thought we might meet them somewhere around Puerto Vallarta, not in San Carlos, that little city near Guaymas. We didn’t even plan going up so far in the sea of Cortez! However, at the last minute, we had received an email from the boatyard in San Carlos telling us a spot was available for us! Our reservation was on November 25th. We therefore had ten days to wait before hauling out. That was soooo perfect! Ten days to spend with the Bleu Nomade family! It couldn’t be any better! But let’s get back on track…

Florence had played the trick on us at least ten times, but this time, there was something in her voice that convinced me it was true. I ran up the stairs and grabbed the binoculars. They were still far, yet I soon recognized the one with whom I had kept contact with during the last two months. I became a little nervous, as I usually do, but everything was fine. When I knew we would meet here, I proceeded in a major clean-up of my room, I bathed and washed the clothes I was planning to wear. I don’t have a big wardrobe, so I washed everything! I was fully ready. It’s crazy how this whole thing moves me!

It wasn’t like if I was having an interview for a job. I was just going to meet with friends! Soon, the dinghy drew alongside Pinocchio. As usual, Brume took her watchdog role very (too) seriously! Even the dog treats to keep her away from the guests so they could quietly board the boat didn’t work! I must say that it was the first time another dog came on her territory! In fact, the Bleu Nomade family felt it was better to bring their dog Luna, as they didn’t know how long they would be away. It was fine with us, but we hadn’t asked Brume’s opinion! Luckily, our dog has never been aggressive. She’s just very curious. Anything new gets her overly excited! We left the animals introduce each other, and we entered the boat so the girls could visit the inside. Well, I must admit that it was an incomplete guided tour, but we can’t blame me! It had been such a long time since I guided a tour on Pinocchio that I forgot how to do it!

Once the tour was completed, we sat on the bench in the saloon. We were all shy and were trying to find something to talk about. We soon did and started talking during an hour. So much that we almost forgot to go onland to do the hike we had planned to do!

I remembered something my dad told me when we parted that family at El Granada two months ago.
“If you keep in close touch with them, by the time we’ll see them again in Mexico, they will become like close friends you’ve known forever!”

I had a hard time believing him. Especially since I did have some experience in that field and I do know that friendships don’t always work out the way parents think they do. In fact, we rarely keep in close touch with people we met during the journey, even if we added them on our social media. It's particularly because we don’t often have internet access when we travel on water, so it’s pretty much impossible to get closer to someone online. That’s what I kept believing after we parted from the Bleu Nomade family. And to be honest, I still did when a few days later, one of the girls from the bus added me on her Snapchat and sent me a message. But soon I changed my mind! At that time, we had internet access on the boat all day, so it was possible to discuss with her on a regular basis and create a closer friendship! And just as my dad had said, two months later, even if we hadn’t seen each other during all that time, we had become like long-time friends.

The next day, we left the bay of San Carlos city and joined them in front of Playa Piedras Pintas. At this place, they could park the bus day and night for free and we could anchor in a calm and beautiful little bay surrounded with nice beaches and many hiking possibilities! We couldn’t hope for better!

Our ten days together passed by too quickly to me. But those were the ten best days of my life! Every day, we could spend hours with our friends. We spoke about hundreds of subjects. We walked to a mirador where we had a beautiful view on the sunset. We stayed together until dark. We laughed together and played games on the beach. We ate so many meals together that I lost count. We sang songs with Thomas playing guitar. We got chilled to the bones exploring the sea bottoms with Raphaël. We climbed Mont Tetakawi, the most perilous hike of my life! We even did school together!

Juliette and I spent a whole day on land with them. That morning, our family had been invited for maple syrup pancakes. Then, Juliette and I stayed for lunch and did some school with them. Later, Juliette went for a paddle ride with Florane and I stayed with Daphné to play cards. Afterwards, we were invited for dinner. In the end, we spent the whole day with their family! 

I found it very interesting to spend dinner time with another family. I discovered different customs than our family, different topics of conversation, a different atmosphere, a different humour, different roles and manners. Everything was different, even (especially) the food! At 7:30 p.m., we gave our farewells. The next day, we were returning to San Carlos to get ready for hauling out the boat. Nothing was sure next, but we would need at least two weeks at the boatyard, while they continue driving down to Puerto Vallarta. Our paths had crossed, but would separate again. And although we truly wished to see each other again at Christmas, it was hard to plan that much in advance, not knowing if the weather would be good for getting there. We therefore gave our farewells in advance, just in case…

But it turned out we said goodbye a little too early. In fact, when they went to Guaymas, they ran some errands for us, so they had to come back to San Carlos to bring us our purchases. Great! That gave us a nice last ittle visit! My dad said we would just pick up the bags and leave, so it would be brief. I didn’t worry about that. When the adults start talking, it always gives us plenty of time! And they did! So we did too! It seemed like although we had already talked for hours, we still had plenty of topics to talk about!

When we finally exchanged our real farewells, hugs were also exchanged. 
Generally, I’m not a very hugging person. However, I accepted a hug from my friends, because I felt closely attached, and sad to part from them.

Thomas often told me it’s better not to get emotionally attached during our journey, cause then you’re sad to leave. Maybe I should have listened to him. Nevertheless, I don’t regret anything. Anyways, as long as we have internet, we can continue sending messages to each other! And, in case we can’t see each other for Christmas, we secretly gave Cynthia gifts we had prepared for the girls for Christmas. This way, I took precautions, but we never know. Anything can happen! If you’ve been following us for a long time, you probably know our plans change all the time. So even if we have plans now, nobody knows what the future holds!

(I’m temporarily unable to reply to your comments on this article and my previous article. But Grandma told me I got a few comments, so I want to thank you all! Your kind comments encourage me to continue writing!)


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About the Author

Je voyage autour du monde avec ma famille sur le voilier Pinocchio depuis 2016. J'aime le vélo, l'écriture, la pâtisserie et la couture.
I travel around the world with my family on sailing vessel Pinocchio since 2016. I love biking, writing, baking and sewing.

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