18 December 2016
December 17, 2016
3:30 a.m. - I awaken to hear Jay rustling below. It is our second night back on Cadenza and we have been sleeping in the cockpit. Whenever we leave the boat for an extended period of time, we take her apart and most everything seems to land on our bed for safekeeping. The boat is cluttered and in disarray. Thus, we sleep topsides for several days while we reorganize and regroup.
"What are you doing?" I ask Jay.
"I woke up so I thought I would check the batteries." He says, as he crawls back onto the bunk. So far, we are feeling rather optimistic since most things are working; the electronics, our Ray Marine, the radar. Even the raw water pump - that broke the day we left Martha's Vineyard - has been replaced. The big question this season, at least as of now, is if we will need new batteries. They aren't holding their charge so Jay has been monitoring them closely. Evidently so closely, he checks them in the middle of the night.
The moon is nearly full. The light creates an air of confusion. "Is it time to get up, Jay?"
"Hardly. It's only 3:30. You can go back to sleep."
However, I am wide awake. Disoriented, I suppose, from the change of time and scenery. Just a few days ago, we were on Martha's Vineyard. A cold snap had hit and we were bundled up in front of a warm fire. Soups and large meals were consumed. I claim, to add to the warmth. (Sadly, they only added to my winter fat.) The island, especially our neighborhood, was quiet. So quiet, at night we would hear no traffic. All was still. Our street was dark and deserted but for the millions of stars shining overhead.
I lie back down and try to sleep. Puerto Vallarta is a big city and I hear lots of traffic. Despite the late hour. What sounds like a heron squawks loudly as it flies past the boat, announcing his arrival. Another bird makes a soft cooing call in groups of four. Off in the distance, a beach party continues into dawn. Their music amplified, just enough to sound like a bass thumping drone. The surge has picked up and the boats bump back and forth against the docks. The fenders grown and breathe as they get caught between. An engine hums across the fairway. Fisherman preparing for their daily outing. These are not unfamiliar sounds. It's just different here. Drastically different than where we were just a few days ago.
7:30 a.m. - Jay is off to collect gas for our dinghy. Our friends have generously offered to take him in their rental car. Much easier than trying to schlep a five-gallon container full of fuel on the bus.
I decide to take a morning walk along the beach. The shoreline of Banderas Bay stretches for miles along a flat patch of sand. The water nips at my toes. I feel it to be a perfect temperature for swimming. Today the waves are gentle. They roll in quietly.
Up ahead, three people are standing in a circle staring at the beach. I stop to take a look. There, on the sand, is a tiny, baby turtle struggling to make her way to the sea. She is weak and moving slowly. As the water rises enough to touch her, she gets a burst of energy and paddles furiously, trying to find her way. The wave recedes and she sticks her head up as if to say, "What? Where did the water go?"
This goes on for several minutes while the four of us root her on; a young Canadian couple, a pretty Mexican woman (who cheers in Spanish) and me. The waves reach out, again and again, while the little turtle tries desperately to survive. We are her protectors, we say. Our presence keeps the birds away. We see that she is close. Finally, close enough that we think she will make it to her destiny, when a big wave crashes down and carries her back onto the beach. We collectively sigh in dismay. She must begin again.
The Canadian couple move on but the Mexican lady and I stay. A few minutes later, another Canadian woman comes along (There are lots of Canadians here.)
"Oh, the poor little thing. You know she's not going to make it." She says, emphatically. "She has lost all her strength. Most of the turtles, when they are released, run to the water with energy and spirit." Our smiles turn to frowns. I look at the turtle, stuck in the sand, imagining how she must have watched as her sisters and brothers left her behind. Of course, it is the nature of life. Either she will be strong enough to survive or she will succumb and become food for others. Understanding that intellectually is not the same as accepting it emotionally and both the Mexican lady and I are hesitant to give up.
"I know we're not supposed to touch them, or interfere in any way." The Canadian woman continues, having noticed our concern. "But we could pick her up and give her one last swim. One last try." The Mexican woman and I look at one another in hope.
"So, who's going to do it? You? Or you?" The Mexican woman asks. I hesitate, wondering why she has so pointedly announced it will not be her. Is it the fact that it is illegal? Or is she just squeamish? Maybe she knows of an ancient spiritual curse that will come upon the one who touches the baby turtle. Meanwhile, the Canadian woman picks her up and takes her out to the sea.
"I will wait for the right wave!" She calls out to us. I can see the turtle's legs moving - as if she is swimming in air. Clearly, she is upset and unsure of what is happening. If only we could assure her that we are trying to help. The Canadian woman returns to us with a satisfied grin. "There. At least she will have a last swim."
I continue my walk. I pass several people on the beach. Generations of family members walk together. Couples stroll hand in hand. And, as usual, there are athletes out for their morning run. I come upon a Mexican man standing guard next to a bucket of fish. He watches as his partner heads out into the water with his net.
I briskly walk past, but then stop. I am out for exercise, but I try to be mindful too. Being aware of my surroundings enriches the experience. It is no longer just a physical activity, but becomes a meditative therapy that calms my mind and at the same time makes me feel connected to the earth and the people around me.
I turn around and walk over to the fisherman. I try out the little Spanish I know. "?Que es?" (What's that?) I say, pointing to the fish. "Liza." He answers. "? Comida?" I want to know if it is edible. "Si." He smiles.
I move on but then stop again. I want to see how they catch it. It is all done by hand.
His partner gathers the net (which is circular and has some kind of weights at the bottom). He moves through the waves as they crash against him. He is waist deep. When he has gathered the net together, just so, he waits for the perfect wave and then as it breaks, he tosses out the net up and over the wave. Then, he moves backward and slowly collects the net. I see he has no fish this time.
He does this several more times but it seems to be an uphill battle as the waves are now increasing in size and bashing him around. Since they already have a bucket of fish and he quickly surrenders, I can only presume that this kind of fishing must be done when the waves are small and gentle like they were when I first began my walk.
On the way back to the Cadenza, I notice a ketch leaving port and heading out to sea. It still seems so far away; our life of cruising. Getting back to the boat is just the beginning. There are so many more things to do to prepare - both for the boat and for ourselves. We still have much to do. I am reminded of a Spanish saying, "Poco a poco."
Little by little.
P.S. Can't figure out how to do the inverted question mark for the Spanish. :(