By Isabel del Rio
My father was a sailor
I was nine years old when I travelled by ship for the first time.
It was a tanker and it was in Huelva (a port in the South of Spain). My father was the Captain.
I lived in Madrid with my mother and brother. My father was always on board, going around the world or something (in fact, I saw him only once a year), but my mother used to go to meet him the few times that his ship docked in Spain. Usually, I stayed in Madrid with my grandma but this time, it was Christmas and I didn’t have to go to the boring school.
The tanker was so big that it couldn’t dock in the port (insufficient depth) and it was at some distant: a small boat took us to it. The idea was to see my father only some hours since they had to continue to the Canarias islands. All was perfect but when we had to return, it started a big storm and we couldn’t disembark. I was excited since I had to go to Canarias (a great experience for me… or at least that was what I thought).
A ship is boring, more for a child, more than the school. From the first minute, my father banned me almost all. I could only be in the cabin or in the playroom (fortunately, it was a big ship with a playroom) and I couldn’t even go to the deck (you know, to see the wonderful sunsets and so). Apparently, all of the children who had disobeyed before, they had suffered serious accidents and my father’s descriptions were so eloquent as to be closed in the secure cabin (at least, for some days). Furthermore, my mother insisted in the bad words the sailors said: my mother has been always a little esoteric and she thought I had mental powers too, since at this time I only spoke Spanish and the crew spoke (including the bad words) in whatever other language (maybe English, I didn’t know).
I was really bored. The playroom was usually empty. One day a sailor took pity of me and he tried to teach me to play ping-pong. Bad result: I was clumsy and I have disliked ping-pong forever.
Other sailors give me sweets. Bad result: I have always loved salt meals.
Even another one showed me his tattoos: yes, you know, I was not interested at all.
However, in the cabin of my father, there were a lot of books. On the covers, illustrations of cowboys or gangsters (no high literature precisely) but: good result, I was really intrigued about their plots.
Days later, in Canarias, my mother asked me if I would like to buy something, a Christmas present. I said ‘books’. ‘Books?!!,’ she was surprised. ‘What kind of books?’ ‘Books of sailors, I answered’.
She bought me Lord Jim by Conrad (well, a children’s version) but I was deleted and afterwards, I kept on asking for books of sailors.
Next number of Yareah magazine is going to be titled ‘Sea and trips’ and, of course, dedicated to travel books: Jack London, Stevenson, Jules Verne, Salgari, Pio Baroja, Henry Miller… all of the authors that I loved from my first trip by ship.
I hope you enjoy the issue so much as I’m going to enjoy its preparation.
Travelers on board and good riddance!