|Barbados, 4 February 2002
Yesterday I sat on the beach looking out at the watery horizon and could not quite get my head around the fact that I had spent 111 days out there. It really does seem as though it was all a dream. Thank goodness I brought back a little plastic bag of flying fish scales (picked out of my bed!) as a reminder of life at sea.
The welcome I had from the Barbadians at the finish and continue to have as I visit parts of the island has been truly magical. They are so friendly and laid back. As I approached Port St Charles last Saturday, I was accompanied by a plethora of boats and kayaks, while hundreds of well-wishers lined the Helipad at the entrance to the marina. What a moment! After 3 months alone, the mass of noise, colour and smells sent my senses into overdrive. Everything seemed heightened. But nothing could compare to that moment when I reached the dock and Andrew leaned into the boat and gave me a big hug. I didn't even notice all the people and cameras or that Andrew was wearing a BBC microphone. All I was aware of was his arms around me and the wonderful feeling that I was now safe.
Attempting to walk on dry land was absolutely hilarious. I wobbled and swayed my way into customs before I was allowed to see my family. When I came out there was a mass of blue Troika shirts and big smiles waiting for me, which made all the hard times melt away. This was the moment I had dreamed of so often when things got tough.
Unfortunately the time with my family was short lived. There were so many journalists there and the next three days were almost solidly filled with interviews and photo shoots. The attention from the media has been completely overwhelming. We had absolutely no idea that the story would make front-page news or that 4 days later we would be sat on the Johnny Vaughan show chatting to Meg Ryan! There are more TV appearances to come but not until we get back to the UK. It's definitely time for a rest and for Andrew and I to spend some quality time together. Although I have to admit that resting is not a concept that is coming easily to me at the moment. The need to keep active is strong but the jacuzzi and hammocks overlooking monkeys swinging in the palm trees are helping!
So much has happened in the last 7 days and I would love to tell you about it but we'd be here forever. Perhaps I'll have to add an extra chapter at the end of the book. It would be equally difficult to thank everyone but I would like to make a particular mention of
The Challenge Business (good luck with next year's race and the Ocean
Fours in 2005), Everyone at Port St Charles,
Here's to the next adventure !
Ocean Rowing Society
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