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Abandon Ship…..

December 29, 2014

My morning started slowly enough yesterday. While Nicola and Tiffany snorkeled happily around our little island, I drank fruity ice tea (which wasn’t so hot as they through some ice cubes over the hot tea, and really, that never works) and waited for my new room.  Island time kicked in as the receptionists would tell me it would be ready in 5 or 10 minutes and by lunch I was floating away on tea, but still with no room.

Stashing my valuables in N and T’s room, we lunched on fish and curry and off we went on our sea trip to see turtles and manta rays. I had initially agreed to the trip because I thought we were seeing manatees, but after it was explained to me (with some amusement) that I have to go to florida to see the adorable swimming hippos and these rays will be beautiful and graceful, I was great to go.

Our young guide was on his first trip in charge of a group and he nervously explained to the group of about 15 passengers of all nationalities that we would take the boat out for a while and then when we spotted some, we could jump in and swim with them.  But we might not see them, he warned.

After about 45 minutes the boat slowed then stopped and our guide jumped in saying follow me.  Nicola, already suited up was first in the water – apparently there had been an issue with an older woman not wanting to jump off the boat on their previous trip, and she was not about to let a slow poke (me) keep her from seeing the rays.

By the time I was ready to jump in, the group of 6 or so already in the water was heading back to the boat. Nervous creatures, the ray had zipped away when bodies began crashing the water. We cruised a bit longer with no ray in site, but a school of dolphins jumped happily in and out of our wake for a while.

There was a large island in our sites and we picked that as our meeting point should any of us be left behind – a morbid little game I tend to play with myself and anyone who will indulge me. Then, just when I was giving up hope we would spot the fish,  we stopped again.  Before I could look up, Nicola was in the water.  I struggled into my gear and jumped off the boat last.  As the group swam to my left, a guide tapped me and pointed to the right and their was the magnificent ray.

Apparently they can be the size of an airplane. It was a bit away from me, but I could see it dancing in the water as it swam as far away from us as it could get.  Giddy, I looked up and realized the group was quite far off. No worries, thought I as I began to paddle my flippers in the choppy water. My legs started screaming from the effort before I was halfway to the group and the water was getting rougher by the second.  I looked with envy at a small boy with a life-preserver on, but I caught up and Nicola, Tiffany and I all gave each other the thumbs up – we’d seen what we’d come for. The group headed back to the boat and the small child blocked my way to the stairs – I wanted out of that water.

Back on board, our guide counted us all and we headed towards the turtle cove.  Nicola showed us her video of the rays (which I will post here soon), which apparently involved shoving a french woman out of her way to get the shot. The sea got rough quickly with 5 foot swells battering the boat.  As we jostled side to side, up and down, I decided silently that I would not be getting back in the water, turtles or no. No need for that though, the guide apologetically explained that the storm was getting bad and we’d have to cut the trip short.  He looked forlorn, apologizing over and over for the weather, despite the relief on the faces of the passengers.

As the seconds passed and the storm got worse, the boat got noisy with nervous laughter and our  squeals of fears each time we lurched. Nicola went over to the small boy, at this point crying and panicked, and held him tightly.  She whispered soothing words to him and soon had him laughing with delight, completely oblivious to the fear in the boat.

Actually – that didn’t happen.  Nicola resorted to her fear response – loudly expressed four letter words despite the presence of children.  Tiffany and I smiled and held the sides of the boat tightly.  Show no fear I repeated in my head.

After what felt like hours, but was only minutes, the sea began to calm.  We made it back to shore and immediately ordered a cocktail to celebrate our survival. Then another. Then a third.

After checking into my new room -a lovely cabin on the beach completely with hammock, we had dinner and another cocktail. Tiffany and I stayed up a bit later after Nicola retired and as we walked back to our cabins, she warned me to nap tomorrow (today), because we had a long day ahead and she couldn’t have us pooping out early.

Tomorrow’s not New Year’s eve, though, is it? I asked confused.

No. It’s better. She responded. It’s karaoke night!

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