The Boat Is Broken

August 15, 2023

-or- You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Yup, thats how my yesterday started. A call from Ann at Aquatic Adventures who tells me that yesterday after their dive, the boat broke down and they had to get a tow home. Thus the boat is with the mechanic getting fixed. So needless to say no dive.

However she did recomemed that I head over to Playa Tamarindo (oddly never saw any tamarind fruit) and snorkel off the beach there with the tutles. OK, that sounds good.

But first, since I don’t get to dive today, I want to keep my # of dives in total here in PR the same so I think I’ll spend one less day on Vieques and go down to La Parguera a day early and do two days of wall diving there. Sounds like a simple idea right. HA! You are not me.

So for some dumb reason I booked through hotels.com for the reservation at the Blue Horizon Resort on Vieques. Yeah, I said dumb.. you know whats coming.. a cluster of EPIC proportions. I’ll spare the entire chat conversation as I do have it saved, but the next 2.5 hours of my life go something like this:

  • Chat (can’t find a phone number) with a Hotels.com agent with a conversation that flows along the following lines:
    • ME: I’d like to change my reservation and leave a day early
    • HC: I’m sure we can accomodate that but that is under the control of the hotel, you’ll need to call them
    • ME: I call and talk to the hotel, “no problem, we can accomodate that, but HC needs to send us an email, I’ll put a note in your file”
    • ME: back to HC, different agent. 35 minutes explaining everything above aftet they tell me no the hotel wont let them.
    • HC: OK I’ll send an email to hotel. Email sent but I need to call them to confirm
    • ME: I talked to the hotel directly, they said not to call but just to email.
    • HC: No I have to call…. they call.. no answer.. surprise.. you’ll have to wait for them to contact us give us 72 hours..
    • ME: That wont work, I’ll be done with my vacation by that time
    • ME: … I needed a break so laid down and had a beer and enjoyed my wonderful scenery. I’m not even pissed off yet.
    • ME: 1 hour later, I call the hotel to see if they have gotten the email, the confirm the did and replied to it. (note nobody has said anything from the hotel about forfieting money yet)
    • ME: chat with Hotels.com again
    • HC: no you can’t do that
    • ME: I’ve talked to the hotel three times and they’ve assured me I could
    • HC: let me check.. oh yes, here is the email, they say you can check out early but forfiet the last nights fees becuase you have a non-refundable fare.
    • ME: Interesting they assured me I could check out early and never mentioned loss of money. You people are crooks. Why would I ask for an early checkout and just give them money for something I didn’t use? I’m done with you and will do all in my power to discredit you for the fraud you are on every social media platform I can find. Good Bye (yes.. I finally got pissed off)

So now it is two and a half hours later and I have had a chance to enjoy nothing of the island just argue with a bunch of fools. Enough of that, eitherr get busy living orr get busy dying. I choose living!

OK, I look up some info on this Playa Tamarindo to see if there is a reef map or anything like that. I find a descent page about it but nothing that is really a dive / snorkel site map. But hell, its snorkeling I’ll just paddle around and see what I can find. But I am going to want a beer when I’m done, so I get spare trash bag, put some ice in it, my last two beers and then twist it up so it isi sealed. I then take a huge beach towel and roll the beer bag up inside it and stuff this whole mish mash in the bottom of my daypack. I’ll have to say I’m personally a little dubious how well it will work as a) there wasn’t a lot of ice available and b) its 92 degrees outside and odds are I will not have shade to put my bag in.

So i finish cramming my mask, snorkel, and camera gear into my bag and hang my fins off my bag with a carabiener and I’m out the door… forgot money.. back inside, OK i’m on my way… forgot golf cart keys, back inside, OK I’m on my way… forgot the door key, back inside, OK I’m on m way… forgot my hat and sunglasses, back inside, OK, I’m on my way… forgot to put sunscreen on, back inside, OK I’m on my way…. and this timem for real!

I was a bit hungry so I found this little restaurant along the way that served what looked to be empanadas and other Puerto Rican goodness. Of course, as the day has gone, I pull up and it is closed. Oh well, I can do without lunch. I continue my drive over the potholes and drainage dips and speed bumps… they really need some suspension on these golf carts. And make it to the parking area for the beach.

There are two LARGE groups of snorkelers in the water already on their way out. I stop and ask the guy clearly renting snorkel gear next to me if there was a better spot than others to see turtles. He says, with honest intent of help, either to the right or to the left, but you want to get out in front of those people in the water, so get hiking down the beach an go in there. Paraphrased, anywhere but get out in front of them!

Well I hustle about 300meters down the beach pull al my gear out, fins, camera aparatus, fins and booties and get my butt in the water.

finally I get my fins on but then I find I have no spit in my mouth for some reason. Why is this important you ask? Well, that is how you keep your mask from fogging.. spit in each lens, rub it around then rinse it with seawater. so I do my best to muster some saliva but its not much. But I start my snorkel.

As anticipated, the mask is fogging, so I roll over on my back, and try again. This time I’m more successful. Roll back face fist into the water and right below me are a small school of cuttlefish, very cool, had never seen that before! I spend some time trying to take some pics, but I don’t have the sunshield for the display so I cannot really see if I have anything framed correctly or even IN the frame.. turns out I did OK.

Finally I move on. My plan is to swim farther out into the seagrass under me to get away from the groups as they are closing in on me. ThenI spot almost right away a disturbance in the sand on the bottom and just to my left i find myself over a reasonably large stingray… and another… again photo time with little clue if I am getting good pics. Turns out, again, not too bad. It has been too long since I’ve used the setup but I’m starting to get the hang again. Only thing I really forgot was my whitebalance card. But I can always post-process ths pics and fix any blue/green/brown color problems.

Off to continue to my swim… about 20 minutes later I look to my right and voila! A big turtle, I’m snapping pics and short videos (wish I would have gotten longer one but again had no idea whehter he/she was in my frame so I didn’t want to waste time). The turtle swims up and down grabbing some breath from the surface and then drops to the sand right by a piece of coral where I’m able to dive down and get a couple of cool pics.

After that I saw a couple of cool jellies and huge tuna or Mahi or maybe something else entirely, this time I absolutely did miss the fisgh in my pics so no ID possible, but it was cool.

Now I’ve been swimmming against the current (intentionaly) for about 1.5 hours at this poitn and frankly I’m ready to head back. So I flip around and angle in towards shore. Well about half way back, I finally run into this “reef” that they said was out there.. so I have to swim back out about 300-400m to get around it. No problem, there were some pretty fish around the reef, but nothing particularly pic worthy.

Eventually, its back into shore, put all my gear away and pull out my papoose of beer… holy crap, they are ICE cold still. Soo sooooo good after a long swim. So I enjoy my beer and then realize that I need to get ferry tickets for tomorrow.

Stingrays
Blurry Turtle
Turtlel Up Close and Personal

So back into the golf cart, all the way back downtown (10 min LOL) over to the ferry dock to the ticket counter. Afterr waiting for 20 min and chatting with the workers there, I finally make the ticket office. The gentleman there finally understands I want to go from Culebra to Vieques via Ceibu tomorrow. That will be two tickets, yes I know. The best part, they are $2 each.. FINALLY a break on prices. But then he tells me the only ticket available is a 6am ferry. I ask if I can go later in the day and he says no. OK, it is what it is, slide on the ice!

But now I am in a connundrum. How do I return my golf cart tomorrow, they are not open that early. And here is my public service announcment both for being kind to strangers and for Carols Jeep Rental on Culebra. Since it was on the way and I needed to figure out how to handle this I stopped in. The young woman at the counter when I explained my 6am situation kind of looked perplexed and annoyed and said, “they have tickets on later ferries.. they TOLD you they didn’t”. I said yes, and then SHE was pissed. You see, she was annoyed at the locals not helping the tourists which drive their economy. So she took her valuable time at work, helped me change my ferry tickets (which there were indeed many many of available at other times). I would never have figured that out. I missed her name but THANK YOU whomever you are.

I then decided I wanted some snacks for othe apartment so I stopped at the grocery. It says open but all the doors are locked. A little old lady comes by and points to the mask on her face but she spoke english perfectly and said she had one she could provide if I didn’t mind, I of course did not. So in I go, the store is immaculately clean and organized. i got a couple of diet cokes, a pint of Hagen Daz Belgian Chocolate ice cream, a frozen Stoffers french bread pizza and some BBQ chips… you know, all kinds of good healthy food 😉

Then back to the condo, download my snorkel pics, fix up the colors (they turned out allright) and then a nap ‘cuz I was wiped out.

Finally, time for dinner. its Monday so a large portion of the island is closed. But there is a place open on the water La Cocina Del Navegante

To save me typing something great again I’ll just share my Google review here:

Let me tell you this.  If you are on culebra and you do not eat here, you are doing yourself a HUGE disservice.

I had the chef special of lightly breaded and fried snapper with rice and beans.  My my my my… That had to be the best meal I have eaten anywhere in years.   And I travel for work and eat out all the time.

The chefs creamy sauce with delicate capers complimented the fish perfectly.  The fish was ridiculously fresh and when I say lightly breaded and fried if normally run the other direction.   This was PERFECT.  So light and delicate.   Not over breaded or fried so the flavor of the snapper was still the star.

I paired it with a mojito and those too were amazing.
Id be remiss in not mentioning the staff.  Impeccable timing, friendly smiling faces and knowledge of their product.  Kudos to whomever is hiring!!

Please come here.  Keep this place in business do I can come back years from now and enjoy the same amazing experience

But I wasn’t quite done for the evening and righ across the street was Zaco’s Tacos which is where I got my Quesadilla the other day, but the bar area looked so cool I had to go in and have one last drink.

So the bar tender saunters over and his voice and inflection is DEAD ON for Serge from Beverly Hills Cop!

I ask him to just make me his best Rum drink.. he says something that I cannot hear becuase it is lound in the place so I just nod.

Next thing I know I have desert in a glass sitting in front of me. DELICIOUS. I know not my usual style but damn this was GOOD!

Finally back at the apartment, watch an episode or two of Chuck and pass out.

As soon as I’m done here its pack like crazy and get back to the golf cart rental location in time to make my 11am ferry.

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