Wednesday, March 22, 2017

1980 (8) - Health Problems

Ed in his pareu - bought at Ste. Anne, Martinique

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

During our fourteen years on Tropic Moon, receiving mail from home was an ongoing challenge – especially in the islands.  When we decided we’d be staying in Martinique for a while, we’d given our family a ‘Poste Restante’ (General Delivery) address for Fort de France.  We had our mail addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Edward Baardsen. 

The guardian of Poste Restante was ‘tres formidable.’  When I tried to collect our mail – though I had both of our passports with me – all I got was a slew of French in my direction.  I finally caught the word ‘Monsieur,’ and called Ed over.  He’d been waiting by the door.  That made her happy, and she gave us our mail.  You see, my name, ‘Jean,’ wasn’t written in the address….  The same lady was usually at the window.  After a while, she was getting to know us, and came really close to smiling.  We only checked the mail twice a week, so as not to antagonize her.

Post Office, Fort de France.  Photo from the Internet

Ed had started having some pain in his lower back while we were home over Christmas.  When we were back in Antigua, he decided to see if he was better by trying to touch his toes.  Somewhere along the way, he did some serious damage.  For about a week in Antigua, he could barely get out of his bed.  Ed rigged up a pulley system, with a rope noose, at the foot of his berth.  He would put his foot in the loop, and pull on the rope to lift his leg, putting some traction on it.  After a certain height, he wasn’t able to straighten out his leg.  He was also having problems if he sat up too long.  We weren’t able to imagine what was causing the problems. 

Though Ed would improve for a while, the pains returned, affecting different areas in his back and legs.  While in the Saints, he was getting cramps in his right leg.  Not one to let a little pain stop him, he and I hiked over hill and dale, into town and back.  Ed even climbed the local mountain, Le Chameau (by himself, it was too steep for me).  By Martinique Ed was in worse shape, and could only walk a short distance before getting shooting pains down his leg.  He finally quit going into town, except for the mail, as the post office was just down the street from the dinghy pier. 

Map, Martinique

We left Fort de France after three weeks, and sailed to Anse d'Arlet, a bay on the southwest corner of Martinique, where we stayed for almost a week.  From there, we decided to go the Bourg Ste. Anne, a small village on the south coast of the island.  It took us seven hours to sail from Anse d'Arlet to Ste. Anne.  I was getting rather tired toward the end of the day.  We’d been traveling to windward, tacking several times to avoid the shallows near the coast.  Ed was in one of his "sailing purist" moods, and didn't want to start the engine to motor in.  It appeared to me we’d need at least a couple more tacks to reach the village.  So I suggested we anchor off a beach.  Long, curving beaches graced either side of the town.  Ed asked, “Which one?" I pointed straight ahead, and said, "That one!"  I didn't want to face even one more tack.  We anchored off the beach, and then sat through two days of heavy rains.  When the weather cleared, we motored over to anchor off the village of Ste. Anne.

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