If you walk into my studio today you’ll see a mix of SwimVacation evidence. My bags from our March 24-30 trip not quite unpacked – standing, mouths agape, gear a jumble in them, having been pawed through and poached for the odd recent project here and there. My stuff for April 27 – May 3 slowly collecting into a pile to be packed and carted back down to the islands. I’ve used this black soft suitcase on every BVI trip so far (twelve, to be exact), and it’s done its time. I’m retiring it before it busts a gut in transit. Treated myself to a shiny new one for lucky number thirteen.
There’s a certain comfort in routine and familiarities – even when the routine includes packing the same gear and clothes for a trip that is bound to be full of new adventures. The things I know – equipment, my usual compliment of t shirts and bathing suits, the Promenade, our swimming routes throughout the islands – all give me the confidence to lead our guests (some new and some returning on this trip) through the water every day. The routes may be the same, but the conditions, wildlife, scene is never quite the same twice. I know this place, and I know it will surprise me next week just like it has the last twelve times.
Kerry and Bazza will host us on Promenade. They are SwimVacation family. They’ve got a new addition – a boat cat named Stella who I can barely believe is there and cannot wait to meet. Guiding with me is third time guide and heroic marathon swimmer Dave Barra. I love working with him and can’t wait for him to meet some of our repeat clients he doesn’t yet know. Added to our team this year is an old friend of mine from my college swimming days, Eric Gordon. Eric and I spent a year together on the Colby swim team, lost touch for 20 years, then found each other again on Facebook. A few visits to Maine with his family and we became fast friends again. I know he’ll make a great addition to the week.
We’ve got three returning guests – Janine (BVI ’12, Hawaii ’13) and Alison and Ken (BVI ’11 & ’12). Each of them have become part of our SwimVacation family. I am so excited for their return. The rest of our new guests all sound great – triathletes and urbanites and a woman who’s currently studying in San Juan. Just last night we added another SwimVacation newbie – she happens to be a friend of mine from nursery school and has the same name as me! Heather Bruce Rogers, I can’t wait to swim you around the islands.
So lots of old comforts will be with me in the islands next week, for a trip that will most certainly offer new adventures. I think I may have the best job in the world.
I’m packing my old gear into my new suitcase today. Early Saturday morning I’ll head south. It happens to be my birthday that day. I can’t think of a better way to start another year than with a perfect mix of familiar and new people to share what promises to be a great week.
PS. Just because she sent this to me after signing up….see here, two Heathers (that’s me on the right in the pigtails and plaid), circa 1975. Maybe we can borrow Kerry’s boat cat to recreate a 2014 version this week?! I even have a plaid swim suit….