Saturday, July 11, 2009

Going to the dogs.

Grey skies – not exactly what you want when you’re hanging out on a deserted island in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, that was what we woke up to. But thankfully, the rain that poured down all night had stopped. Our mood wasn’t improved by breakfast which was a meager half of a hamburger bun with fried egg. Nick and Ariane had wisely brought a shopping bag full of groceries with them and shared their milk with us which at least made the instant coffee more palatable. Negro had said he’d come after breakfast to pick us up for our snorkeling tour but when he didn’t arrive in the hour after breakfast, we all began to think that the weather may have caused him to rethink it.

The sun threatened to come out so Adrian and I picked through the snorkel gear to find a couple of sets and headed out from the beach to see what the reef was like just off shore. We swam past the sea grass, and then the garbage and finally reached the coral and fish. It wasn’t bad for being only 20 metres from shore. And on the way back we had to navigate through a school of hundreds of thousands of tiny grey fish which was pretty neat. Back on shore I told Nick and Arianne to give it a go. Just as they were coming back, Negro arrived. We rounded up the rest of our snorkeling gear, as well as Britt and Gunn and headed out.

Negro dropped us off at Isla de Perro, a large sandy island (photo above) with a volleyball net, small snack shop and many tourists already there. We had to pay $1 to visit which none of us had, assuming we were just going snorkeling. Negro instead paid for us and told us we could pay him when we got back to our huts. He said he’d come back for us later and we’d be back in time for lunch. We stopped him and asked about the snorkeling and he pointed out to a dark shape in the water. That was the barco esconditio. The island was beautiful but not quite what we were expecting.

Oh well, Adrian and I grabbed our snorkel gear and swam towards the dark shadow. We weren’t expecting much and were shocked by what we saw. The boat was a 60-metre ship that had obviously been underwater for decades. It was thoroughly incrusted with beautiful coral and absolutely teeming with fish. It.was.awesome. We immediately called to the other 4 and told them get out here. After an hour of swimming around it we were all a little hungry and thirsty. Despite’s Negro’s assurance before he left that we could put things on a tab and then pay him back later, the little hut didn’t offer much. Nick and Arianne shared one of their stash of granola bars with all of us which helped stave off the hunger. To get my mind off of the lack of food and water, I went back out to the ship although by this time it was crawling with newly arrived visitors, some of whom were ignorantly walking and climbing on the coral. I couldn’t take that anymore and headed back to shore just as Negro appeared on the horizon. I informed the other 5 and before Negro had even pulled the boat up to the beach we were already in it, hungry and ready to go back. The beach was lovely but since none of us were prepared for it we were just as anxious to leave.

Back at Iron, we all ran to the picnic table and had our utensils in hand ready to eat. It was 2 and breakfast had been at 7:30 so we were starving. After last nights hot dogs and this mornings tiny sandwiches we weren’t hopeful. One of Oneida’s daughters brought out a plate of chicken and rice which we all dug into. There was complete silence as we gobbled it down – except for Adrian who decided to educate us all on the glory and versatility of the humble spud versus boring rice. I was glad the rest of the table was laughing because after 12 years of hearing it, it was old news to me. He continued his ruminations, proposing that while we were all roughing it out here, our host Kuna family was on the other side of the island with wifi, satellite tv and freezers full of ice cream and chocolate.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing nothing. Reading. Lounging. Sunning. Although not in that order as the clouds came back later in the afternoon. Adrian and Nick bored the rest of us with their three hour conversation on music. Nick was a musician which meant Adrian was in heaven talking about the most underrated hits of the 80s. Thankfully, they stopped when dinner was brought out. Actually we all stopped. For our last dinner, they staff wowed us with two huge platters of crab. We tried to figure out what sort of crab produced claws as big as our fists but gave up and just dug in. There was even dessert, another platter but this one was full of pineapple. Finally we had a meal that left us truly stuffed. As the dishes were cleared away, Ricardo brought us back to reality reminded Adrian, Britt, Gunn and I that Negro would be picking us up tomorrow morning 7:30-ish to take us back to the mainland. But his wife stepped in and said “siete en punto” as she cleared away the dishes. Yikes. 7am sharp. That was an early start.

It was now time to settle our bills. And even though Ariane and Nick have a decent understanding of Spanish, it was rather confusing. Particularly when Adrian reminded me that we paid a $10 deposit back at the hostel. Unfortunately Ricardo had no clue about that nor does he have change for the Norwegian girls and us. But he promises that tomorrow we’d get it from Negro when he brought us to the mainland. As for our deposit, that was beyond any of our translation capabilities. But it worked out okay because Ricardo had done the calculations wrong and undercharged us. So the $10 was their money anyway.

As we finished our drinks by candlelight again, we said goodbye to Nick and Arianne who begged off from the early wake up call. We also got a chance to say goodbye to Frank and one of his offspring when they made an appearance in our room. I said goodbye to them by tossing them out of the room.

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