chinese lantern wishes in baja california - on the horizon line sailing blog

The Curse of the Chinese Lantern

Posted on Posted in Family and Friends, Reflections on Life

chinese lantern wishes in baja california - on the horizon line sailing blogThe first five days of our trip were magical.  Easy.  Simple.  Relaxing.  Good people in a gorgeous spot, with few hassles and lots of laughter.  We felt blessed.

So, on the fourth night with our current tribe of saltwater-loving friends on the beach in Pescadero, Baja California, we made a feast to celebrate the sun-filled joy.  We barbecued over a wheelbarrow fire, played Yahtzee, told stories.  And then we decided to light off a Chinese sky lantern to send our wishes to the heavens.  These ancient floating orbs are like mini helium balloons, with a big paper body surrounding a little fire that lifts the lantern high into the night sky.  Chinese holidays and celebrations often feature a lantern lift-off, a tradition reminiscent of blowing out birthday candles in the U.S.

After making sure the wind was right, we each made a wish and took pictures (not these, though, due to subsequent events) as the three-foot lantern ascended toward the stars.  It started off slowly toward the north, then veered south at a fast clip as it hit winds in the stratosphere.  The closer it got to the heavens, the more it looked like a star of its own.  Then it faded out.

chinese lantern wishes in baja california - on the horizon line sailing blogThe next morning, the corpse of the blue lantern was in our driveway, about 30 feet from where we lit it off.  The six of us looked at each other in complete confusion, and discussed the improbability — impossibility, almost — of the lantern landing back where it started, especially since we’d watched it cruise so far south.  Bizarre, we agreed.  Borderline creepy.  We decided it must be good luck, because it made us feel better about the improbable return of our wishes.

Turns out, it wasn’t good luck.  The very next morning, we awoke to find a trifecta of a shit-storm had descended upon our happy tribe: $3,500+ of our electronics were stolen, Katie had horrible food poisoning, and Alan and Bequia’s 16-year-old dog seemed to be heading to the heavens herself.  We weathered the storms, said our goodbyes, and drove to La Paz to stay on Mark and Katie’s boat for the night.  Our exhaustion had us leaving much of our gear in the car outside the marina, and heading immediately to bed.  We awoke to find the shit-storm still in full swing: Katie and Mark’s car stolen, along with all of the gear inside.

Again, it seems improbable — impossible even — to have that much bad karma in a 24-hour period.  The only plausible explanation is that we were cursed by the Chinese sky lantern.  You’re not supposed to see your wishes return to earth when you’ve explicitly bequeathed them to the stars.  Our wishes spiraled in reverse and exploded in our faces for a brief but intense reality-check.

Now for the good news: our friend Brandon gave us a kata before we left Missoula, blessed by Tibetan lamas.  We broke it out last night and hung it from the boom to fight off the curse.  It seems to be working.  Katie and Mark will likely get insurance for the stolen goods, and already have offers of potential rides back to the States. Rob and I got an offer to go sailing for the next few days to nearby islands with a couple anchored here in La Paz.

The moral of the story?  Be careful what you wish for, and always check the winds twice.


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7 thoughts on “The Curse of the Chinese Lantern

  1. Thanks for the kind words, and thoughtful support, everyone! It’s wonderful to read all your notes as we re-enter La Paz today.

  2. We are so sorry to hear of the rotten thefts that are thwarting a beautiful beginning of the adventure. May good things come to you RIGHT NOW. The Karma and the winds should bring you goodness and mercy now. When we go to Flathead each season, we always lose something over the side – not the monumental things you just lost–and we say that is our donation to the lake gods for safe sailing for the season. You have made a humongous contribution to the sea gods – so you are set for safe and good times ahead for a long while. I like your attitude – life got infinitely simpler…stay calm and keep enjoying where you are! Our hearts and best wishes are with you! Pura Vita!

  3. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that old saying, Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. We’ve had our shit storms here as well – losses and challenges we’ll share with you aboard Llyr. But for the moment, the good news is that the guys are on board, the engine started right up (yeah!), there is no mold inside, the fridge is working, and they’re getting ready to head to Colon and to welcome you guys. Is there anything I can bring from here for you? Did you lose things in the car? Let me know asap and I can order stuff.

  4. Hey guys,
    This is legit crazy! Omg. Same as Kassi this breaks my heart to hear such crappy things happening to such good people!!! I’m so sorry guys! I hope the bad luck realizes that you’re good people and don’t deserve to be quote on quote “hated on”. Just gonna send my thoughts and love to you(: oh and rob, I will beat you in a wrestling match/arm wrestle…. Name your game… I’m there -_- haha. Love you both very much!!!
    STAY SAFE xoxo
    -Sarah Randall

  5. Hey guys …. this is such a crappy start! I would have already given up and come back home, to tell you the truth. You two can make it past this if anyone can. My heart actually hurts reading the second set of bad news. LOVE to you!

  6. dearest bri and rob,

    your last post just hit me in the gut. i am soooooooooo sorry for this crazy run of bad luck. i mean your friend’s car was stolen with your belongings inside! i think this can only mean that the worst has passed and the rest of the trip will be smooth sailing. a wise woman once told me that the universe never gives or takes more than we can handle. keep your heads up…i will be sending my love your way!

  7. Dear Bri and Rob,
    I am so so sorry to hear about this trifecta of bad luck. Terrible! But if bad things come in threes, then you are done and it will be smooth sailing from here on out. Meanwhile, at least you’ll be glad to know I’m setting in here to your new home as your tenant and Ian and I love it! The chickadees are at the feeder, yellowbells blooming on the hill, and all is well. Looking forward to meeting all the neighborhood folks. Take care.

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