Cindy has returned from an extended visit to her family – yay! Unfortunately, just like any other time we’ve traveled internationally by plane, she caught a cold on the return trip. Thankfully, it was on the return so as not to spoil her visit. However, we’ve passed this darn cold back and forth now for a few weeks. It’s really getting old. Both of us are really tired of sneezing and coughing.
All Cindy has really wanted to do since getting back is to go snorkeling. However, sneezing and coughing through a snorkel isn’t much fun. There was a brief moment when we were both healthy between passing the cold back and forth. Unfortunately during those few days, the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to even stand up let alone take the dinghy out. I had visions of us being blown to Fiji. We thought it might be best to wait. Then round two of the cold came. And, here we are.
Coughing in public is now about as socially acceptable as removing all of one’s clothing. Out on the streets of Pape’ete, if I happen to cough, people scatter like roaches when the light is turned on. It’s sad how Covid has made us all so paranoid about germs. And yes, I do wear a mask. However, I think my attempt to spoil the spreading of this cold is just adding to the angst of people who still fear Covid.
Thanksgiving holiday came and went without much ado. In all honesty, we both completely forgot about it. Had a good friend not emailed us a card on Thanksgiving Day, we’d have completely missed it. Christmas is a different story. It’s hard sometimes being in strange places for Christmas. But we both enjoy the atmosphere here during Christmas. This is our third and hopefully last one in French Polynesia. We are both so ready to move on once cyclone season is over.
So besides sneezing and coughing, what else have we been doing? Well, it is that time again: FIFA World Cup. We have been glued to SBS (Australian TV) and are once again captivated by football. How are we able to get Australian TV? We watch it on a laptop that is connected to our TV. The laptop has a VPN so, we can log on as if we’re in Sydney. Normally, we watch the matches live on BBC TV. But, because this year’s tournament was held in Qatar, the time difference meant having to watch the matches a few hours later. As much as we both love World Cup Football, we are not going to get up a 4 am to watch games live.
The problem with the BBC site: it’s entirely possible to see the end score of the match while looking for the replay. I hate knowing the score ahead of time. The Aussie site made certain not to post anything other than the games queued up.
On a side note, in just about every country in the world, the World Cup matches are broadcast on a free network. The only place where I am aware that a person needs a pay channel is the USA. I read a hilarious article written by a British paper about Fox Sports. Warning, it is not flattering
I also had to be careful when wearing my England jersey, a birthday present from Cindy this year. I wore it on the days England played. One day I was taking the trash out after breakfast before we settled into our match-watching positions on the Puffster. A Tahitian guy quickly started a conversation with me as I walked toward the dumpster. I somehow manage to walk away from that conversation without knowing England had just lost to France and was eliminated thanks to the England team captain, Harry Cane.
Harry Cane didn’t help much when he completely missed the goal in what would have equalized the France match giving England some hope to continue. His penalty shot wasn’t saved, it completely missed the goal. And, not by a little bit. To quote the Aussie commentator, “It looks like he tried to bounce that one off the moon”.
I find it amazing how a country (that by most accounts) started organized football does so poorly in the World Cup competition. British people have a football gene embedded into their DNA. Without starting a sports war here, I firmly believe Gareth Southgate, the English coach, needs to go. I wasn’t impressed with him four years ago and this tournament was not better. Someone needs to explain to him that defenders passing the ball back and forth in their own half (and often back to the goalkeeper) is not creating chances for World Cup goals.
This was mostly demonstrated in a match with the USA where for whatever reason both teams played defensively. My opinion: one of the most boring matches in the entire history of the World Cup. The lions, with a wealth of talent to choose from, couldn’t even beat a team who has yet to call the sport by the correct name and whose coach seems to think being underdressed on the sideline in a tee-shirt is acceptable. The end result: A nil-nil tie and me asleep on the sofa.
One more dig on the US team coach, Gregg Berhalter. I might be the only one thinking this. I am referring to something not common in football but very common in US sports. If a coach/manager finds themselves at the World Cup feeling the need to stand on the sidelines screaming instructions to the players, then perhaps the coach hasn’t done a very good job of preparing them for the game. Just saying.
The tournament ended for us with the ultimate game: France vs. Argentina. For the first time since I can recall in my many years of watching World Cup, I was going to be happy with whoever won. France looked very strong throughout the entire tournament and would have been only the third time a team had back-to-back wins in the history of the cup. An incredibly hard feat to accomplish.
Also, I have always been a big Messi fan. Perhaps, he is one of the greatest football players ever. This was his fifth time with Argentina trying for the trophy. And he’s not getting any younger. Although he says he has no plans for retirement. We found Messi stuff when we visited Buenos Aries. There are five blog posts about our trip starting with this one. In Argentina, football is huge. This was evident by the number of fans who attended the Qatar games. A couple of fond pics from our visit there:
I sat in Cream Puffs cockpit 6 am on Sunday morning doing my crossword. A bar down the street was showing the final live. I could hear the roars of the crowd and knew that after breakfast Cindy and I were in for a big treat when we watched the replay. We kept all of our electronic devices turned off until we watched the match – Wow! That had to be without a doubt the most exciting final in the history of world cup football.
Four years ago, we cheered for France to beat Germany in Russia while in a berth at a boatyard in Curaçao. We sweet-talked the owner into letting us stay because they had rocking Wi-Fi. Eight years ago, we sadly watched Germany win when Brazil hosted beating Argentina. We did this from our home in Atlanta just before we sold it. Cindy had recently sold her business and both of us had one foot on the boat already. Each time the tournament ends we seem to sit and wonder where we might find ourselves for the next one. When we watched from our home, I would have never imagined we would be watching the next one in the ABC Islands in a slip next to a boatyard. From that boatyard, I’d never imagined us taking a four-week timeout in Tahiti to watch the matches. And now, the same question, I wonder where we’ll be four years from now.
My brain wandered a little bit when watching World Cup. If you are a regular reader, you already know something very obscure is about to follow. So, not being one to disappoint you, here goes. If you have any basic understanding of the game, you already know players are not allowed to use any part of their arm from the shoulder down to the fingers to play the ball. Hmm, I thought, what a waste of good body parts. So, why not let the players wear boxing gloves and have a version of the Queensbury boxing rules tacked onto the football regulations?
If a player comes within reach, another player can just simply punch them in the face. While this might seem extreme, it seems to me some of the fouls called during the matches fall just short of this. The gloves would also prevent players from hanging onto other players’ jerseys. Perhaps it could be said that only the player with the ball can throw punches. Hmm, interesting! I can already see Kylian Mbappé, who runs faster than Usain Bolt, blasting down the left wing swinging wildly at defenders as they come into range leaving a trail of bodies as he advances toward the goal. Now comes the interesting part: goal keepers should be allowed to have water cannons.
The water cannon could also be used to water the grass when the ball is at the other end of the pitch. With all the spitting that takes place on the field, this would dilute the health hazard. Why is it the camera always seems to find the person about to spit as they do their close-up shot of a player? I mean, is this what the world really wants to see? I realize many viewers really pine for the close-up shot of Cristiano Ronaldo but, why does it always seem to happen as he spits? Speaking of Ronaldo, I just realized boxing gloves will never happen. Why not? It’d mess up his hair. And, we can’t have that.
Some good news: unlike Thanksgiving, we didn’t forget Christmas. Even with both of us coughing and sneezing and a serious time-out for the World Cup, we managed to get our Christmas bling up. Well, to be honest, Cindy puts up the bling and decorates the tree. My job is to plug the tree in each morning since I am usually the first up.
We rented a car and did some serious shopping. Mind you, not for presents. Mostly for food. Our cupboards have become rather bare. With Cindy in the US, my diet mostly consists of tacos. I love tacos, especially breakfast tacos. I even found some awesome French sausage for breakfast tacos while she was gone and I could experiment with taco variations. Our supplies dwindled when we were in Fakarava. When we returned to Tahiti, we didn’t load up much since Cindy was leaving and she knew tacos were on the menu every day whilst away. Sometimes it is much easier to rent a car and hit the stores for a few days in a row rather than haul groceries back to the boat on our cart. This was one of those times. We are starting to think about leaving French Polynesia in March and have already started the process of stocking food. It’s a long way to Australia.
Our grocery shopping extravaganza included vittles for Christmas. In Panama, we once found really awesome Butterball turkey breast at Pricesmart. It became a regular item in our shopping cart. A marina neighbor turned us onto it and told us how to cook it. We’d slice off a couple of thick slices and pan-fry them with a little spice for just a few minutes – OMG – so good. We were hoping to find something similar here. It’s always fun to have turkey at Christmas.
We didn’t find Butterball, but we did find something, well, we found something sorta French. Turkey in a box stuffed with something. It wasn’t really clear. So, here we are in the hypermarket Carrefour grocery store in the frozen food section. We are using our Google Translate app on the phone to try and decipher the instructions.
It turns out to be Guinea fowl. Hmm, never had that and we wonder how it tastes. Google says, “The flavor is often compared to pheasant, or described as extra-tasty chicken. The lean meat stands up nicely to strong herbs and spices, and guinea hen can be fried like chicken, braised with herbs and root vegetables, or roasted with butter or duck fat.” Okay, not being a pheasant connoisseur, not much help, except for the “extra-tasty chicken” part.
There is also a Youtube video showing both a Turkey and Guinea fowl side by side. They kinda look alike. It’s one minute and twelve seconds long, has 113 likes, and 400,000 views. Apparently, we are not the only people standing in a Carrefour wondering if it’d be okay for Christmas dinner.
Very pleased to report that the Guinea fowl stuffed with caramelized pears and blackberries was a hit. Served with British-style roasted potatoes, green beans, and gravy. Yum! For dessert, I made my world-famous bread pudding and custard. It’s a recipe perfected over many years, compiled by oodles of travel, and sampling bread pudding at some of the world’s best restaurants. Ultimately, I hope one day my bread pudding will surpass the bread pudding gold standard of Mr. B’s Bistro (New Orleans, USA). A Brennan family recipe rich in butter, cream and eggs, with Irish whiskey sauce all for just $8. To toot my own horn, my Christmas version of bread pudding using Panettone bread is just about on the same par as Mr B’s.
A fun fact*: aboard the Puffster, it is not possible to have bread pudding and lasagna as part of the same meal. Why? Because they both use the same dish. Why am I thinking of this? Because, Cindy just purchased all the fixings for making lasagna. Some days, I really do miss a real kitchen. Our limited space often ignites the creative juices for a strategic cooking solution. We have a larger-than-average cruising boat with tons of space compared to others. Sometimes, I really don’t understand how others on smaller boats manage.
So, to summarize the past five weeks, Cindy is back. We both caught colds. We missed Thanksgiving. We watched the World Cup – all of it. We managed to not miss Christmas. We are now feeling better. And, it’s time to go snorkeling.
Oops! I almost forgot. Happy New Year’s wishes to everyone. We hope you have a wonderful 2023. I can promise more posts next year since we’ll be on the move quite a bit as we head westward. Time to blow the cobwebs off the Puffster and not let this blog get rusty again.
*A fun fact is a line from a TV series. We’ve been watching Young Sheldon DVDs – a Christmas present from a dear friend. When said, it is usually followed with a groan.