I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Paddle Day 34: Wild, Wet and Wicked; and Great Inspiration from Safe Passage Mothers

Getting wet
Can't believe I had to be rescued by a shoreside angel.
It was wet and wild out on Long Island Sound.  The forecast had changed overnight from a great paddling day to one with high seas and winds that would be 20 knots by late morning.  I had hoped to miss the worst of it by heading out early.    Two hours of battling the waves.   Getting wetter than ever on this expedition by waves breaking over me.  Water running down into my NRS wetsuit top - because I forgot to cinch the neck.  At the first harbor, I headed in behind the breakwater for a rest.  Yipes! More surfing as I entered.  Yipes!  That police boat with flashing blue lights I'd seen at the harbor entrance wasn't there for the fun of it: a ferry passed as I was hugging the breakwater.  The ferry wake was large and when reflected off the breakwater, it became even bigger ups and downs of clapotis.  But finally I went deeper into the harbor to the calm water and refueled.

Should I stay or should I go?  When in the calm harbor, where I only had to paddle against the stiff wind and the moderate current, I decided I should carry on.  I headed back out.  After driving through the breaking waves at the entrance I could see the field of whitecaps across the sound.  I figured I had a 95% chance of making it through unscathed.  But those odds are not good enough for me.  I decided to bail, and turned and headed back to a little beach near a road.  
Beached kayak bedecked with seaweed - a gift from the surf.

Now how was I going to get to the host I was staying with?  I decided to call Jon Van Gorder, a local kayaker who had been so helpful in setting up my visit.  But as I unpacked my cell phone, it began to ring.  It was Jon!  He had seen the conditions in the sound and had hoped I wouldn't paddle.  Then on the Delorme website he saw I had sent a message saying I had started paddling.  He was calling to make sure I was okay.  When I explained where I was, he immediately came to pick up me and my kayak.  What an angel!!
My angel Jon delivering me to the Pequot Yacht Club
The evening was spent with Rotarians at a Foundation Seminar where I spoke about Safe Passage.  

The highlight of the day was receiving an email from Andre Lopez in Belize, offering to help me when I am kayaking in his area.  Here's part of what he said:
"I was impressed beyond belief with my visit to the Safe Passage Project.  One of my fondest memories of this project was visiting an adult literacy program for mothers of the Dump Children, and saying to the assembled class that we need an adult literacy project like this in Belize.  Then one of the women said  "...well we can come and help you get one started...", to which I answered, but we speak English in Belize.  The women were undaunted, replying "...six months ago we couldn't read or write and now we can----give us a couple of months and we can learn English too!"   Well this is a project that I'm in love with."

Once again, the mothers of Safe Passage are my inspiration!  If they can be so confident about helping others, I've got to be confident I can paddle over 2,500 miles and get to Guatemala to help raise money for a school for their children!

Paddle Day: 34                                                          Date: Sept. 11, 2014
Start: Stratford                                                          End: Southport (Fairfield)
Distance: 9.25 miles                                                  Total distance: 390.83 miles
Max speed:  5.8 mph                                                  Moving ave.: 3.6 mph
Kayak storage:  Pequot Yacht Club                             Hosts: Pat Matteson
Rescue Angel: Jon Van Gorder

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