VHF and Radio things / connections when crossing an Ocean

The VhF was an important tool for my new life abroad. So it was that I started my “official” and “public” talking in English. At that time I remember it was an issue because even if I could communicate quite well with this foreign language I was still in doubt about my “listening” skills. Imagine when the skills needed are related to safety during sailing, approaching harbours, decks and having infos about weather, coordinates and communications with other boats. I really thought I could mess a lot with this tool in my hands, but everything went right in the end. First time using it was in the Caribbean Sea, Virgin Islands. Everybody on board thought it was my duty to do that, cause nobody was able to say anything in English. After this time that I remember with a bit of fear, this job was quite different…

When I started to travel with a more diversified provenience travellers everything become more “democratic” and the use of the vhf wasn’t a big deal anymore.

During my sailing trip I discover that the SSB Radio (single side band) was a great tool to communicate. In every area you can ask for the frequencies were independent volunteers advise you about everything related to the sea at least twice per day, at a certain time. I found it interesting, especially because you can communicate your position when you leave and people are taking notes of it. That means that they will look for you when you are aspected to come somewhere, somehow. This might sound a bit “too much” but is actually a very useful way to stay safe and “together” even when far apart from each other. Sometimes you meet new sailors because you hear their story on the radio and maybe you even talked, and the day after they are anchoring just besides you.

On those radio “rendez-vous”, there is normally a boat crew who is volunteering. They normally start to call people that were “in” during the last transmission. If you are signing for the first time you go on the queue waiting for the call for anybody else to join. After giving your name and position you can just keep silent and listen to the others or asking your questions and express your doubts on the end. I loved this system, I loved to hear from other people. I loved that we weren’t alone in a little boat in the vastity of the ocean. There were other sailors, many of them.

In Ritme, I was using the SSB radio also for sending very concise mails. We had the SailMail account provider connected with a Modem to the SSB Radio (it’s something like 280 $ per year, a pretty fair price for being connected with the world and being able to get the forecast wherever you are). It was quite a funny game for me to look for the best station with the most of the chance to get an email through, unless the Ocean was rough and throwing me up, down and left and right onto the desk. This system is actually very basic: you send a little email to a computer that is always connected on one of those radio stations offered (that is why you need to check the favourite one), that computer will eventually send it for you. Quite often “Niue” or “Honolulu” were the best options. One -few words (10) – email from the Ocean could take from two minutes to half of hour to go through. But, yes, I could tell my sister that I was still alive after many days of silence. It’s a great tool.

I turn 30 and I’m free (some lines I wrote for my birthday, the 25th of November)

The last decade has begun with two mourners that have struck me deeply. I’ve being followed by that cloud of bad feelings during my whole twenties. I can’t say they were horrible; better than the teens, for sure. Many things had happened, including moves, delusions, achievements, and doors slammed in my face. At the beginning of my young life I was a teacher of righteousness. I was good at being in advance in everything, especially in time, in reasoning, in reaching a goal. The ambition that always moved me did not even allow me to be competitive, to look around and compare myself to others: there was no time for these stupid things. I was good at doing many things and I expected the world and its inhabitants to reward me with their graces. This has never happened, especially from its inhabitants, who, despite having studied them long and wide, continue to cause me an immense discomfort and make me feel the need to go to lick my wounds in solitude more often than expected. I remember the times when I used to say that hard work would be rewarded. I have a word for those who still believe in it: “bullshit”. Just bullshit. What is rewarded is when you decide to fuck it all and decide to break through the door that has always been slammed in your face or write on it “Fuck you”, turn and walk away. Those are the finest satisfactions I have ever taken: me, my personal growth and the times when even if the world shows me how unjust it is, I look at him with my glittering eyes and tell him: sooner or later everyone slams the useless baby toe into the useless corner somewhere, somehow. 8d927b37392659.5606670fa529dI grew up in a wonderful place where despite the people I love are always there to wait and show me their affection they often have been the ones to make me suffer the most, with their prejudices and their biases. My mother is the exception. Despite her atavistic negativity, that is the result of ages of watching corruption, bad politics, mafia, and all kind of usurper exploiting us since many centuries, I believe she comes from a parallel universe: her mercy has always misguided me. She can do something I’m trying to do since a longtime now: “Do not bring rancor.” When I was little, except for my closest relatives (which are very special in this) every time I was curious about something, I was answered: “What’s for?” That, translating intonation and Sicilian sarcasm, means “let it go, it’s hard, you’ll probably won’t make it, this is not for you. ” Honestly, I think it is a miracle that I came out as I am from such an ineffective environment, devoted to the impossibility and poor ambition. I am astonished less and less, because in the rest of the world it does not work that way and, since I’ve lived in the rest of the world, I tend to forget the bitterness of an uncle or a relative who “stifles” your abilities. I promise myself that I will smile every time that this will happen in the future rather than get angry. As far as I am concerned, it is ten years that I’m getting all that I want, for terribly contorted and disgraced ways, and I do not think many can say the same. I can, aloud. I have always had very few money and earned with a lot of effort, but this did not stop me from appreciating the slowness of real travels, the struggle for survival and the “barefoot” conquest of what freedom, happiness, knowledge were for me. The difficulties did not stop me from pointing my finger on a globe and saying “I’ll go there” and do it in reality. In my homeland it is always said “no”. It’s an interlayer! Even when we agree with someone we say “no” to intervene. It is amazing how much this attitude for years transmitted makes you become an exile if you do not want to accept it or one of the many “sad” being if you accept it. This mystical impossibility (which in Sicily makes people answer to you questions “no, it can’t be done” and even if you ask why it is not possible to solve that problem, especially bureaucracy related, they answere “because it is so”) made me so angry that I started to denounce my hometown problems with complains that nobody has ever listened to. I started to cure myself with travels, music and moving in a very special city like Turin, which has given me friendships I can swear will last forever. Thos special human beings took me by the hand when my anarchy began to overwhelm the bigots around me, they taught me the beauty of the “blurred edge” while my “sunny” attitude was only admiring the “bright” side of things, they showed me that it is not necessary to hide myself only because I’m a bit different. cropped-fotor_145369593632151Then, It comes about the international friends who have helped me understand that the world is mine, and that love has infinite shapes, apple-shaped, home-shaped, sometimes grave-shaped, sometimes shapeless. Since then, since I only know how to make shabby shapes and chaotic things, I decided that I would have given so much love, free love, row love, fine love, in fact, inform love. Whenever I am tempted to judge a behavior or a choice of life I will ask myself a thousand times if it is not the case to learn again and to accept a new existence shape among my limits. I wish everyone to be free, to love without being “choked”, to be gentle and to send what makes you sufferto the hell, like I did yesterday that I quit my job! I’m going to build new dreams for the next decade, I know already they will be a million …

Borders, how to survive by car, by boat, by foot

When I started to study Anthropology some years ago, the word Border was passing by everyones notes like a ghost, carrying its historical and sociological meaning of wall, fence, division and exclusion.

In a certain way we were avoiding to use it, because we would have rather to talk about ethnic groups in a cultural relationship instead of using strange words like “identity” that was like a summit rising successfully from the pride of being forever diverse in a corrupted world, while becoming immediately corrupted itself. I must say, I could talk about this concept hours, especially when I see people misusing it and defining things just to divide instead of clarify. For me the word identity has been always dividing and find a substitute to it gives me the same pleasure of chatting about love and relationship in the society: null. That is why I never do that.

But borders are real and political and since I started to travel way out of Europe I had many experiences. I got familiar with some special deals in between countries, that is why even if you go many times in the same place, you can have very different experiences depending on where you are coming from, at that specific time. I got familiar with vaccinations, quarantine and the value that some countries give to the food, to the drugs, to organic products or luxury goods.

Crossing by car is very interesting, even if procedures are more intrusive (checking a whole car can take a lot of time). The behaviour of the frontier forces can tell a lot about the country you are visiting but also yuur own behaviour can compromise your staying in the country.

The most beautiful and sometimes long and boring “check in” is by boat, especially when you have to wait some hours or days before you can actually put your foot on land. The reason why I don’t enjoy this process is obviously related to the sailing itself: sometimes you are just busy to find a proper spot, put the anchor or approaching the deck that the last thing you want is talk with somebody. Sometimes the whole trip has been so rough that the boat is a mess (who wants to receive guests when the house looks like hit by a hurricane?) and the first thing you want to do is put everything in order, clean, have a shower, drink some water and wash the salt out of your clothes, cushions, sails, cabins (sometimes it happens) or just sleep for 12 hours. The reason why I like this procedure is because customs people, even if they seem to not understand how hard it is to arrive from sea, they are normally very relaxed and friendly. They don’t deal with millions of people per day and they come ready with all the papers you need. All they ask for is documents, passports and some signatures. In the end, is not a big deal and after that you can enjoy your sleeping time for many many days. It’s actually quite awesome the freedom you can access once you get all this paper sorted. Just try to smile, even if you and your crew know how many times you have been puking or messing around, even if you know how much effort it takes to stay on route and get the boat safe in a harbour. Just try to take it easy, smile and be always polite. People don’t know what you have been going through and neither do you about them.

Liqueurs: a rustic, yet fine way to produce them at home

Every year I have a very important appointment: going to collect fruits and herbs to make my own liqueurs.

In some countries this process is forbidden, and this is something that I do miss when I’m abroad.

Since, little by little, I started to have some customers, what was an home-made activity became also a funny job.

What I love the most is the beginning and the end of the process, also because in the middle there is nothing (which is actually the “whole” thing) or just waiting patiently that the alcohol has absorbed all the flavours from leaves and/or peels.

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The beginning is collecting the ingredients. Most of the time I go for fruity digestives so I collect tangerines, oranges, lemons around. I often find people who support me offering their trees since I haven’t been so lucky to have a piece of land and have my own resources.

Some people do understand the meaning of sharing, especially when they know that they can’t use most of the product of those prolific trees, unless they have a farm, and in the end some of the fruit would be wasted.

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When I finish this part I rinse everything with a sponge and I start to peel in a fine way. Lemons are the hardest in terms of stress for your fingers but tangerines are the worse because it is very important to avoid the white part of the peel which is always very attached to the peel itself talking about tangerines.

I won’t tell how important is that every fruit, after been washed, is clean and dry, cause I believe is obvious. Once this thing is ready to go in a jar with the alcohol, all you need to do is just wait (for some liqueurs 40 days, some 30 days and some others a week or a couple).

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After the maceration I’m ready to prepare the syrup which is normally just water and sugar, boiled, cooled and finally rejoined with the alcohol. The filtration is also a sensitive process: it’s nice to find some imperfections (brown dusty dots) in a home-made liqueur, but it’s better to avoid most of the impurities released by the macerations. To do that I just use a funnel with a little linen sheet on top. It slows down the filtration but the result is remarkable.

This year my specialties will be

Finocchietto (Funnel Liqueur)

Arancello (digestive based on oranges)

Limoncello (digestive based on lemons)

Aurum (citrus fruits mix)

Mandarinetto (digestive based on tangerines)

Allorino (digestive with laurel leaves)

[text me for recipes]

Week thirtyseven in Australia

During this week I’ve been getting familiar with my new job and get to know my collegues. Good bunch of people that I couldn’t really talk to while working. Work is really fast going. I don’t get even thirty seconds to breath or drink my water. I do feel this pressure. I love to run at work but I sencerely don’t like “pushy” enviroment that undermines human relationships.

I didn’t think I could last long since the very beginning. But this job had also some positive aspects: once I started my shift, I felt confortable. I guess because of my experience in hospitality jobs. Learning “nothing” sometimes makes me chilled, luke you do when you switch off your brain, because everything omes authomatically. Some other times I ‘m really nervous about theidea of getting stuck sonewhere just because if money. Stuck with my mind and with my body…

It would be nice to be more appretiate, but I also understand that if it is about money I also deserve to start from the bottom over and over, since I never held on enough in a work position to rise my level.

Apart from this personal ideas about jobs I’m doing, I find Cairns very nice: it’s cozy on the end, the tropical weather is sweet and there are so many people from everywherepassing by here thatyou can’tget bored meeting and listening to so many interesting points of vew.

I’ve heard that Australia is very strict about collecting and carrying fossils, but look at this car: isn’t it the perfect place to “place” some skulls?

Week thirtyfive in Australia 

Last week I did a gardening work. It was hard but fun! I like to take care of the “landscape” even when this belongs to a very rich family and not to the land anymore. The vew from that property was stunning. Cairns is stunning.

At that time I didn’t know I would have had a lot of troubles working for this family. I still haven’t got the money they owe me. I needed to put Fairwork system in the middle, which is a very useful platform as well, offered by the government.

At firework.com.au you can find also how much you need to get payed for a certain  job. Thanks to this website I understood that anyway I would have get paid less then the minimal wage of Queensland according to what the “boss” said when we first met and that I can claim for my right to be respected.

They are still working on my case, but I’m happy that after ignoring me for many months, finally the Ex-boss had to respond to my complain.

Week twentyfive in Australia

Kitchen hand challenges: meet the crew, help the chef, don’t cut yourself, don’t burn youself, stay calm, multitask, be quick, try to slow down when it is less busy, save energies but keep on working otherwise tomorrow you are going to have more job to do there. Don’t show you are too good. People are akin to exploit you everytime they can, especially if they see that you don’t mind to be “overloaded”