Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ports of Call

In my mind I can see a ship sailing in the endless blue to no destination in particular, after roaming the sea it stops at a port to rest, it is confused, it does not know whether this is the final destination or whether it will soon be pushed to the oceans. In a way we are all ships stopping at ports for provisions, for a short break, only to take off again and face the seastorms. And though we know that we will soon have to sail off we cling to the safety of the harbor as if it were our home.

I have been meaning to write about Ports for a while...questioning what makes us yearn to rest at a port and cling to it if we know we will soon be off again. We'd indulge in moments and places as if they would be ours forever only to realize it won't be long before we abandon them. We would cling to a loved one's embrace like it would last forever, we would fill our self with the natural high of a new found achivement or right, we would be filled with joie de vivre in a gathering on a terrace with cherished friends, we would sing on a starry night celebrating that we are young and free...only to realize that nothing lasts for long and that life is composed of disconnected moments, highs and lows...

I have been listening time after time to my friend Haddock's tales of ports, for he was a seafaring captain with many adventures before he settled down on land to share an office with me. His stories made my days in the steel and glass office lying in the immaculate high tech compound much brighter. Here is what H. used to say:
"Ports have a too-good-to-be-true feel to them. Arriving to a port after a sailing leg that would last around 5 days is totally different than arriving at a part after a sailing leg of 45 days. Sailing seas or oceans is very different, oceans are nothing but complete blackness because of the depths that you can't comprehend but seas are just blue and soothing. You sail your through typhoons, waves, swells and currents, sometimes you manage to escape but by then the crew is nothing but fish shit -thats how we call it in sea life, it means you're drowned, eaten and bitten to pieces and then excreted like shit. Before reaching a port you keep on smelling that breeze of cities and lands. You see seagulls and birds roaming around giving you that hint of a place to rest and settle. Once you reach the port you set your crew on "mooring duty" that's where you set your mooring lines and anchors to be ready. Mooring lines are to be fastened to the pier in case you will get directly to port otherwise you drop your anchor in the anchorage area waiting for your turn to get into the port. And then you're on Land and you can walk on solid ground, you feel like someone who has been gasping for air, you need that feeling to feel secured at last, though you know it won't last long, but it's just something you hang on to, something that will boost you again to set your sails. When we arrive at at the port city we hunt for bars, pubs, malls, and even people, we just want to talk to people we don't know, you just want to start a conversation of any sort with anyone, as you end up sick of the pirate like faces of the 32 crew members (though deep inside u know quite well that the ugly face next to you onboard is the same man who will give u a hand for a rescue, but that's the nature of mankind). Port people have this ideology of ripping sailors off, sailors are stuffed with their salaries for sometime onboard so they are a good prey to rip this money off them. [Some ports would smell of spices ... in some old women in black greet you...every port has a different flavour ...]"

Photo: Alicante, port city of my heart