The persistent cough, like the geckos, isn’t going away. Neither is the invitation from the city of Atlanta to appear in court three days before my scheduled departure from San Jose. It’s time to go home.
The friendly Delta agent is happy to get me on an earlier flight. Admittedly, I’m not much, but to Delta I am a big deal. My status is hard earned, logging in miles and schlepping suitcases and not much of the travel is comfortable or first class. My trip to Paris last November had all five foot four inches of me crammed into a claustrophobic seat, my legs cramping and numbing from the lack of blood flow. Boo hoo, poor me and my pauper tour to Paris. All those flights are paying off now that I need Delta to do me a platinum favor.
“Sorry to hear about your cough,” Ms. Mayo, the platinum desk agent says sympathetically. “You know what works?” she asks piquing my interest. After two weeks of couging lungs, I am open to anything, or so I think. “I know this sounds gross…(oh God, here is comes), but take a finger-full of Vick’s vapor rub and swallow it and then put some on your chest.” Did she really just recommend that I swallow mentholated petroleum jelly? It will loosen that stuff in your lungs right up!” Sure, sure, sure, thanks for the advice. Just as soon swallow the gecko crawling in my glass. Now what about that upgraded seat, Sugar? Just a suggestion, but stay way from doling out any more homegrown remedies. Stick to what you know.
It’s all set. I am going home three days early and I am not sure how I feel about that.
Yader and I walk to the dock a couple of buildings away from my hotel. It’s early and the sun is still fighting with the clouds for domination. From years of scuba diving, I know if the sun prevails, the visibility will be better for water boarding over the reefs. Yader introduces me to the captain of the craft with the 250 horsepower outboard motor that’s going to drag me behind the boat like bait. Sometimes even I question my sanity because this still sounds like fun. Yader pulls out a Plexiglas shield that we will hold onto while we’re being ripped across the reefs. I am a bit distracted because Yader is a bit ripped himself and, if being boat bait gives me arms and pecks like his, well… let er rip! He places his fingers on the board showing me how we use the board to lower into the sea and, once there, steer right and left and then eventually ascend for air. There are no snorkels or tanks, this is lung- powered au naturel.
Yader’s million- watt smile exposes his adult orthodontics. His enthusiasm for what we are about to experience has me all jacked up to be dragged behind a boat. I can’t wait! Waterboarding is a form of terrible torture, and I have shelled out a sizable amount of cash for a similar experience. Larry Ellison says that when people start saying that you’re crazy, you’re probably onto one of the greatest innovations of your life. I am clearly onto something because I’ve been getting a lot of “you’re crazy” lately and now I am thinking it myself.
We cruise around in the boat looking for the ferry wreck and checking the water conditions. Yader and his captain are speaking Spanish while I enjoy the ride and incredible perspective from the water. We come to a stop in shallow water so clear it looks like glass. Yader jumps over the side of the boat and instructs me to wait until he checks things out. He’s looking for sea urchins and other things that would not be welcome to walk on. Coast is clear, he says, and I jump overboard. We’re doing this ride in tandem, and that makes me feel a bit safer. My general rule of thumb in diving was to buddy up with someone much bigger, because sharks prefer meat over minnows.
The engines moves from idle to full throttle and I have my masked face in the water as we speed away. Yader goes down for a first dive but I’m still adjusting to being dragged and wondering if, when I go down, I will be able to come up. Deep breath… and Tawanda! I am down, suspended right above the magnificent reefs that fly by like clouds on a breezy day. I’m out of air and can’t get up, so I let go of the board and come up without it. The boat stays with me and Yader emerges from the crystal sea. “Did you see the stingray?” He’s excited as a little kid. That’s the thing about us sea creatures – it never grows old, the wonders still elicit the same jubilant responses. The magic never dies. Darn, I was too busy struggling for my life. Maybe next dive I’ll see a ray.
We see starfish and the beautiful little fish that nibble on coral reefs and the underwater flora and fauna as vast as varied as what I see on land. The water is tugging at my bikini bottom and I am hoping it doesn’t come off with the pull and drag. After over an hour, Yader is concerned that this is too much water logging for a little lady, so we head back to town. They drop me at the dock at Tropical suites and Yader asks if I will write a review on Trip Advisor and I promise I will. He’s special and I feel a twinge of sadness as I hug him and say goodbye.
There is an hour or so before the ferry takes me back to the mainland. My bags are packed, my Trip Advisor review of Total Adventures is complete and I am showered. The door to comfort is closed behind me. Ali at the front desk hugs me goodbye and I tell him to keep shining and sending the world his warm spirit. It’s infectious.
In town, I make the rounds, stopping to say goodbye to Gloria. I wear my new hat for her benefit and she points out to the tourists coming from a cruise ship that I bought the hat from her. I’m a walking, talking mannequin. Gloria gives me a final hug and kiss and we say goodbye. A lump forms in my throat. Terry is busy moving garments outside her shop. She smiles broadly when she sees me. It’s great to meet you. Thanks for everything. We had fun, didn’t we? Now water wells up in my eyes.
At Buena Vista, the lovely restaurant that has fed me local delicacies for the past three days- cinnamon Johnny Cakes with banana rum sauce, Caribbean eggs, homemade brownies made from local chocolate and blackened fish plucked right from the sea. My stomach is acting up again so maybe a smoothie is a safe option before a boat ride. Machete-like knives dice up pineapple, papaya, mango and melon. They are tossed into a blender and come out a vitamin C charged glass of yummy. See you later, Jeremy. Thanks for feeding me every day!
The boat arrives 30 minutes after the scheduled time, but I am in no hurry to leave this island paradise. Today the sea is calm and the sun is out and the ride back to the mainland will be far smoother than the ride out. We’re loaded, but not packed, in the boat and I don’t have a care in the world. I’m too happy.
I watch the island get smaller as we move out to open sea. Such beauty everywhere I think already nostalgically. Such amazing beauty in the heart of these islands and in the hearts of these islanders.
Adios Amigos. You’ve touched my heart.