But, first: A list of new reasons to use sustainable menstrual products, discovered on the road:
1. Don’t be shark bait. Cindy, our host in Sebastian, has spent most of her life on the water as a diver, surfer, kayaking guide, and more. Not only do tampons have to be changed more often, requiring a schlep back to the mainland, or get soggy and fall out, or put you at risk of having an embarrassing string hanging out of your bathing suit… if they leak, your blood could literally make you shark bait! Solution? Use a cup! No leakage, less changing, fewer sharks.
2. Touring the world? Jocelyn (read about her below) has spent years biking all over the world. Pads are definitely a no-no with bike shorts we when you’re in the saddle all day, and tampons can be hard to come by in distant lands. This applies to anyone traveling around the world, of course. Instead of packing a giant ziploc full of supplies – just bring your reusable and you’re good to go!
3. There aren’t drugstores on Marine ships. We met a woman who used to be in the Marine Corps and told us that female Corps members often have to pay super inflated prices to get supplies, or end up resorting to less hygienic ways of coping when out at sea.
4. Have 4 daughters? Disposables are expensive! Having 5 women in the house could easily mean spending $30/month on supplies. That’s $360 every year. Instead, you could buy 5 cups for $200 and spend nothing for the next ten years.
5. SFMS (Summer Festival Menstrual Synchrony). Several women have told us that in their younger days they would go to a music festival and all of the women would start getting their cycle at the same time. All of a sudden your period would have come 2 weeks early and everyone else would be getting their cycles too, and supplies would run out quick! Solution? Bring your reusable, Duh!
Ok. Now back to the story.
A woman who came to our workshop in Miami set us up with her friend Cindy, a wonderful hostess and adventurer who we stayed with in Sebastian, FL. She not only let us swim in her pool and made us french toast for breakfast, but she also led us to the Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, FL, a magical spiritual place with a series of shrines devoted to teachers from many religious traditions. There we were welcomed with open arms and a great deal of interest in our mission. We left feeling refreshed and inspired!
In Cape Canaveral we met Jocelyn, a touring cyclist who – at our age – has gone on several tours of the US and also biked from Morocco to Thailand! Her story (as well as those of many other adventurous women we’ve encountered) was extremely inspiring! We wish her the best of luck in her ongoing adventures. She and her family leave next month to bike from Washington to Argentina. We talked about menstrual cups, which she had heard of recently on a women’s cycling group on facebook, and how useful they would be for traveling and surfing. We left her with a ruby cup to take with her on her next trip!
We spotted our first alligators in the swamps along the NASA Astronaut museum outside Cape Canaveral – so cool!
That same day we rode 80 miles (through the rain, nonetheless!), our longest day yet, to get to Ormond Beach, just north of Daytona. Thanks Graham, of Bath Salt Zombies for the hospitality! We held an impromptu information session at the Agape Birth Center in Daytona Beach, where we talked about menstrual cups and pads with some of the midwives and expecting mothers.
On Tuesday the 14th we finally reached Jacksonville, where we held a workshop for 70 girls, ages 12-17, at the PACE center. The girls split into two groups and Rachel talked to one group about the benefits of reusables while Heather led body-positive discussion and writing exercises with the other, and then the girls switched. While this was a mature and surprising topic, the girls were awesome and asked lots of great questions. Many of them were excited to try a cup or a reusable pad, and were also curious to hear about our bike trip. Maybe some of them will be interested in taking a trip in a few years!
We also had the pleasure of staying with our friend Sarah in Jacksonville, who started a lovely bakery called Community Loaves. They make delicious sourdough bread and serve as a center for local food and community connection. We also made a pit stop for some brake adjustments at Zen Cog in Jacksonville and appreciated the continuing support and enthusiasm from the bicycling community.
Our friends in Jacksonville directed us to the Hostel in the Forest just outside of Brunswick, GA. So we spent our first night in Georgia sleeping peacefully in a tree house and exploring their beautiful grounds, which include an outdoor tub, geodesic domes, and a two story glass house! We’ve been lucky to be surrounded by trees–pines and live oaks adorned with Spanish moss, during most of our time in Georgia.
There are many other stories to tell… camping on the beach, watching the sun come up over the ocean, meeting all kinds of people, being on the receiving end of incredible generosity and hospitality, visiting the Smallest Church in America… but they’ll just have to wait and be told over a campfire next time we see you!
Next destination: Charleston!