Our day started out looking very similar to the previous two weeks on the island but as Anil, one of our Couchsurfing hosts from India said, “serendipity finds the adventurous.”
Since Utila is all about scuba diving, each dive shop is connected with accommodations and restaurants. Our hostel is linked with Parrots Dive Center, one of the most reputable and locally owned centers on the island. Tatiana, the owner of Parrots, has been extra kind to us since we have arrived on the island because she has two small children of her own, ages 5 and 11 months. She is an amazing woman and we smile whenever we see her zipping around town in her golf cart with Tristan on her lap and Damien hanging on tight. Tatiana insisted that we borrow snorkeling equipment from Parrots at no extra charge so today we finally decided to try it out.
When we returned to our hostel, we saw Angel (pronounced Anne-hell), a 31 year old from Spain who bought a sailboat and offers charters from Utila to Belize, and we wanted to give him our 5 gallon collapsible water storage container with a spigot because we did not think we would need it on our trip. He was thankful and said it would be very useful on his boat. We overheard him talking about doing a short charter to Water Cay which would leave in less than an hour. Water Cay is arguably the most picturesque postcard island in the Caribbean and we have been thinking about finding our way there. We said to ourselves, “how serendipitous that we get our snorkel equipment today, give Angel our jug, then hear him talk about going to Water Cay to do some snorkeling.” We quickly agreed to go with him, packed our stuff for the day, inhaled an early lunch then waited for our dinghy shuttle to his huge sailboat.
As we puttered in the over packed dinghy, Angel commented on how you are his youngest passenger ever and how adventurous you are at such a young age. We climbed aboard and looked around above and below deck. The boat could comfortably sleep eight people, though he has chartered seventeen before, and it had a small kitchen, dining area and shower area. After hoisting the anchor, he used a GPS on his tablet to navigate through the narrow channel of rocks leading out of the bay. The wind picked up and so did the swells and as Angel ran to unhook the furler for the jib, he asked me to take the wheel and keep it at 240 compass degrees. He explained that he did not want to set up the main sail because it takes a long time and he did not want to worry about the swinging boom on a short trip. Needless to say, it was a very slow and relaxed ride. It wasn’t long before your mother and I started feeling seasick. The day was hot and because we were mostly drifting with the jib, the breeze was limited. You were curious to look at all of the ropes and gadgets and were not affected by the exaggerated cresting.
You nodded off about thirty minutes into the trip and I laid with you below deck while your mom caught what little breeze there was above. We could see our target island, a minuscule oasis far off in the distance, and after an hour of sailing, it didn’t seem any larger. Then two hours passed. We were on board with six others from our hostel: two Aussies, two Brits and two Americans and they were very respectful to not make too much noise while you were sleeping and commented at length about how amazing you have been around the hostel and now on the sailboat. Angel, whose unattended dreadlocks reveal he is not too eager for commitment any time soon, said, “I would have four if they were all like Asher.” Backpackers have no lack of adventures and as you slept, we listened to them recall stories and make plans for their upcoming 30+ hour sail to Guatemala.
Angel ran to the front of his boat, threw on some polarized sunglasses so he could see deep into the ocean, then made hand signs for James, the American, to navigate between the coral. We dropped anchor as close to Water Cay as the fifteen foot keel would allow then Angel made two dinghy trips to the island paradise. Your mother took all of our gear on the first dinghy because she needed to stand on solid ground and you were happy to play with all of the ropes and pulleys on the boat. We went on the second boat because Angel wanted to make sure he knew how to navigate the coral before taking you, the precious baby. It was amazing to pass through hundreds of meters of coral reef; some sitting just inches from the surface. We serpentined our way to the beach where your mom was snapping photos and eager to try out our snorkel gear.
Asher, we had so much fun that afternoon snorkeling off the coast of Water Cay. You sat happily in your floatie while your mom and I hung onto either side, dragging you around to see the next big fish or extraterrestrial plant. We took breaks only to hang in the hammock, nurse, eat some granola then return to the water. You loved riding the waves and squishing your feet into the soft white sand. Anyone who has spent a year or more on a Caribbean island has lost all concept of time, so when Angel said it would only be an hour and a half to get home, we knew we had to ask the parked motor boat for a lift home. It was amazing to spend the afternoon on an uninhabited island with only ten other people, enjoying the turquoise and the serenity.
On the island, it is as serious to preface boat operators with “Captain” as it is to preface your physician back home with “Doctor.” Captain Junior was happy to welcome us aboard his massive 90 horse power speedboat which we shared with only two other travelers from Columbia. After towing a local in a canoe to Pigeon Cay, Captain Junior told us to put our belongings on the floor, sit near the back, and hold on tight. He blasted the boat into full throttle and we literally soared over the now two meter swells. Your mom and the Columbian girl shrieked then laughed with each massive jump and you loved the wind on your face. The thirty minute thrill ride passed quickly and allowed us a full view of Utila’s coastline. Somehow you managed to fall asleep on this boat that spent more time in the air than on the water. Captain Junior was happy to have you on board and dropped us off right at our dock. I whipped us up a treat of a dinner; French toast with home fries, and as we savored each morsel, we recalled our adventurous day in total astonishment. At seven months old, you spent thirty minutes on a dinghy, three hours on a sailboat, snorkeled on a deserted island, and skipped home in a speedboat. And still you were all smiles. Serendipity certainly found you today Asher, the most adventurous baby we know.