Away We Go: Day 4 of the Sail

hi all. I am writing you from somewhere off the coast of Western Sahara. The best part of this lovely blue place is that I get to type things like I am writing you from somewhere off the coast of Western Sahara. 

While work has been business as usual during the sail, this weekend has been quite different because, well, we are all stuck here. It has actually felt a bit like a weekend at camp. Activities were including, but not limited to: sleeping in, reading books on the porch (er, deck), star gazing, playing Apples to Apples, and (perhaps due to lack of Frisbees and a better idea) “Sock Golf.”

The only difference is that instead of reveille, taps, and maintenance pages that you would enjoy if working at say – a camp in the Texas Hill Country – the Captain’s intercoms are things like “good morning crew, if you’ll take a look outside you’ll see a family of whales, starboard aft.”

Yep. Just a pod (I looked it up) of whales out your window. Nbd.

All in all it has been a wonderful sail. I want to share a few photos with you – but first a story.

On our last evening in the Canaries I had the good luck of meeting Teodoro Mylonas. Teodoro is the 72-year-old, sweet-natured Greek grandfather you never knew you’d always wanted. Originally from Argentina, Teodoro lived in 27 different countries before settling in Tenerife; his father was an officer in the Salvation Army. In true Argentinian fashion, Teodoro pronounces his “ll” with a “j” and shouts a genuine “mah-ma mi-ah!” when he is impressed, excited or shocked.

He first heard about our organization more than 20 years ago when he read in the local paper that the Anastasis, the Africa Mercy’s predecessor, was going to dry-dock in Tenerife. “A ship coming from Africa full with volunteers?” he said to his wife, “This must be it.

Having grown up in a household where acts of charity were valued highly, Teodoro wanted to witness this hospital ship of volunteers and see what it was all about. A bandmaster and spirited musician, he greeted the Anastasis on the docks of Muelle Cruz with his trumpet. He has since played at every arrival and departure of Mercy Ships’ fleet, more than 30 times since 1990.

“I want to bless the volunteers like they bless others,” he said. Thus, when Mercy Ships is docked in Tenerife, Teodoro acts as a local host, taking crew members to dinner, chauffeuring us on errands in his blue Citroen, stopping by to check on his “brothers,” and of course, heralding the ship’s comings and goings with all of the ceremonial fanfare fit for a king. He calls it “Teodoro’s First Class Treatment.” On Wednesday evening, Teodoro offered to take myself, Chelle and Deb (our wonderful AFM photographers) to the best sunset spot on the island. We grabbed our cameras (and my notebook) for what would be our most memorable night in Tenerife.

Here are a few photos captured during our “First Class Treatment”…


I’d like to end by saying after meeting Teodoro I am inspired to “bless people as they bless others.” His ‘pay-it-forward’ attitude set a wonderful example. Quite appropriately, ‘Teodoro’ means ‘gift from God.’ 

Gracias por todo, Teodoro! Nosotros le apreciamos y le tomamos con nosotros en nuestros corazones a Africa.

Hope you all had a great weekend :-) 




5 responses

  1. So glad things are going so well for you, but miss you. Keep up the good reports . Love hearing from you. Lots of love, sas

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Bravo! Sounds like sock golf and whale watching is awesome and what a gift to meet your new Greek Grandpa! Thanks for sharing your wit and wisdom from the sea – I feel like I’m there too :)
    Didn’t even know Western Sahara was its own country.
    Hugs to you,
    -Sheila Mayfield


    • thank you Mrs. Mayfield :-) I am having a wonderful experience so far!

      Actually your first instinct is right – Western Sahara is not its own country – it is a non-self-governing territory. It only has one major city of about half a million people. As you can imagine it has long been the source of border conflicts between Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria. Today Morocco maintains control of most of the region.

      We don’t hear about it often – the US has been pretty neutral. I would assume it’s because there are few natural resources to be fought over but I could be wrong. ;) I think it is mostly desert.

      Good thing we aren’t stopping there!

      hugs to you too!


  3. Catherine,
    You are a gifted writer. Loved hearing about your impressions of Tenerife … I was there many many years ago.Thank you for allowing us to share in your adventure! Best of luck.

    Liz Spradling


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