Visitors Roos and Vincent, December 2004
Casilda, close to Trinidad, Cuba, 5th of January 2005

Far Out West
A tale by Roos Leemhuis & Vincent de Gouw

"Far Out West" is a Dutch expression that goes back to the days of the Dutch East Indies. Vessels returning to Holland had to stay away from the coast so as not to run aground with their expensive cargo. They went far out west. Doing this too eagerly they sometimes ended up in Great Britain. Nowadays, some how, this expression is interpreted totally different as being knocked out physically. Both happened…

We can write about how we got on Poco Andante, but that's just travelling I believe; meeting wonderful people, listening, admiring, absorbing and, when you travel light and on a shoestring, finding people hospitable and welcoming. All happened when we met Keith & Christine. The question we ask ourselves is why we were lucky enough for it to happen to us…

We met in Viñales, one hundred and twenty-five kilometers west from Havana, during a walk through the hills and were invited to go aboard Poco Andante. The gathering was planned to take place on the third day, 19h00 at the port Maria la Gorda ("fat Mary'), close to the most western point of Cuba. We hadn't had the intention to go further southwest after Viñales and now we were going as far west as possible! We allowed ourselves three days to get there, Keith & Christine to sail from Puerto Esperanza and us to cycle, because that's how we travel, by bike. An exciting gathering, organized out of the blue with two unfamiliar people… travelling wasn't getting any better. We arrived at a spectacular setting on the morning of the third day; palm trees, white beaches, a crystal clear sea and Poco Andante at anchor as topping on a pie.

For the Cuban officials, Keith's best friends, we were tripulantes, crew members. Maybe from Keith & Christine's point of view we were guests. But the moment we got on board it felt much more than that. It is difficult to hide yourself, physically and emotionally, on a boat - which contributes to the fact that you share almost everything together - but the hospitality and generosity we found on Poco Andante was remarkable. They simply shared their lives with us.

Keith & Christine offered to sail us to Isla de la Juventud (island of the youth), a four day trip, stopping at Cayos de San Felipe, to "catch our breaths". This usually meant finding a deserted Bounty island, lobster and some good snorkelling. Tomorrow we leave Poco Andante after thirty-one days on board...

So what happened? Of course the choice of people, a "tight" agenda, practical and pragmatical reasons but overall it was just pure fun and exciting. Now this is our way to explain the fact that four days became thirty-one; maybe next time when you meet Keith & Christine you'll have to ask them for their explanation…

The Christmas and New Year holidays were approaching and soon it was agreed to spend them together. When travelling this is always a period for home sickness, of feelings of doubt why you left your mother's wings and where to find some of the holiday spirit. We found it on Poco Andante. In Maria la Gorda we met two fine young Norwegian lads with their boat Ed Hunter who hooked up as friends - and for Keith & Christine's infinite advice, support and entertainment (beer & food). They also decided to join us for Christmas and New Year and a 'surrogate holiday family' was born on the spot. The luxury island Cayo Largo served as the proper background; a gorgeous island full of all-inclusive luxury dollar hotels. We didn't find Cuba but we found our hoped-for holiday spirit. In a 'private' bay, on a deserted jetty Keith made the best Christmas Roast Dinner, we shared a real Christmas tree, including presents and poems - with Poco Andante in the background decorated as a Christmas tree with eight hundred tiny colored lights. The full moon rose and life was perfect.

Life has been good to us on Poco Andante.

Keith & Christine; thank you for the most wonderful time!

All the love in the world,

Roos & Vincent.

You may wonder what knocked us out…well that was because the writer of this tale was sea sick all the time!