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Things Begin

Friday, January 9th, 2009

View of Crystal Blue Persuasion taken from Tequila Beach, Mahahual
The day after my doubtful last post, we took 10 passengers out for a two hour sail. Five were a group of Arkansas teenagers from the cruise ship. The others were from Mexico City. One girl worked on one of the cruise ships and was with her Norwegian boyfriend and her parents. It felt good to finally be putting the boat to work, to have a purpose and to not be so bored. Gary let all the teenagers take a turn at the wheel. We were out for two hours and everyone came back happy. The tour guides at Tequila Beach sold the tickets so they got 30% of the $40 ticket price. There’s not much Gary can do to lower the percentage of their share as that’s the price for using their facilities. The best we can do is find business independently, online, at the hotels, through taxi drivers, wherever.

The next day, Wednesday, turned out to be prosperous as well. Tequila Beach had 25 people lined up for the cheaper, $20 snorkeling trip. Normally they do these on their own, with their pontoon boat, but 25 was more then they could handle at one time, without going twice—which there wasn’t enough time for—so they asked Gary if he could take the party. Five people ended up changing their minds so we took out 20 people on Crystal Blue, with a guide from Tequila Beach, and we used their snorkeling equipment. This party was composed of some Americans and Brazilians. This time Tequila Beach took 50% because of their guide and equipment. It was what Gary expected, so he wasn’t disappointed.

We motored a mile or so South, to some random spot on the reef. It was very shallow and I stood lookout on the bow to make sure we didn’t run aground. Although, I wasn’t much help. In the clear water, 20 feet deep looks shallow to me. It’s also hard to communicate where to go. I was looking immediately in front of us, not bothering with anything too far away. I could have sworn we were going to hit several times, but we never did. Alex, the tour guide, didn’t seem to be worried. We managed to make it inside the reef unscathed and dropped the anchor. We distributed all the fins and masks, lowered the steps on the bow and let the passengers loose. Although it turned out to be not so great of a spot, everyone was impressed. It’s funny, the reef wasn’t any different than the one in front of the town and all we did was take them a mile away but the psychology of paying for something and being taken to a different, lesser populated spot makes the snorkeling seem better. I guess they got a boat ride out of the deal. The way back was even more treacherous. Larry and I were up front keeping watch and sometimes we were even pointing to go in different directions. A couple of times we straddled some shallow rocks and once I felt a faint scrape on the bottom of the starboard keel. I attribute our traversal of the reef to dumb luck. Things will get better once Gary memorizes and marks some spots.

There were so many people in Mahahual on Wednesday because there were two cruise ships in town. Walking up and down the malecon, I noticed a couple of hippies, complete with tie die shirts, scraggly beards and hemp necklaces. I thought to myself, “That’s odd. I didn’t really thing that cruises were a hippie’s bag.” Maybe their parents took them? Later I found that one of the cruise ships was Jamcruise, a jam-band music festival on water with the usual lineup of Les Claypool; Galactic, Medeski, Martin & Wood; Michael Franti; etc. I even knew an old coworker was on the ship from her Facebook status messages about being on Jamcruise, but I never saw her.

There’s been one more cruise ship (today) since Wednesday, but it didn’t result in any trips. It was rumoured to be a “bad ship,” meaning tight-wad old folks. I printed up a couple of flyers yesterday to be proactive about getting some buisness, and I handed them out today but no one was interested. The rumour was correct. Not that many passengers came into town and the ones that did were content to simply stroll and buy some craftwork.

We’ve been making friends with all the locals. I know everyone in town now. We’re buddies with a few of the waiters from Tequila Beach, since we’re now a part of their family. We even partake in the employee dinner after all the ships leave. I help one of the waiters, Rudy, with his English and he helps me with my Spanish. I’d say we’re both 3/4 intelligible in our foreign tounges. I downloaded a Spanish-English dictionary for my iPhone and use it to look up words I don’t know. It’s the first iPhone app that I’ve paid for, and worth it, I think. I read reviews and the free ones aren’t that great, some of which you need an Internet connection for. This one works without being connected.

On Sunday I’m taking a bus to Cancun to meet up with Ali. I’ll be missing out on a good will sailing trip that Gary’s doing for all the locals here. But I’m going to bring Ali back here for a sail eventually. I’m thinking about getting scuba certified here, too. There’s an instructor who’s open to trade so maybe I can make him a website.

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