Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Caribbean Catamaran Cruise - Day 8

To quote my journal that I took on the trip, "Thursday already! This has been the most incredible experience!!"

Per routine - each morning David would give us an overview of the day's plan or options.
David and Alena needed to make one last stop in Gustavia so the girls decided to join them and drop in a couple more shops.  One particular thing we were looking for - zinc for our sunburned lips.  We went to small grocery store looking for zinc but got sidetracked by the French cookies, chocolate and other snack items.  We picked up a few things for dessert later and some to take home with us.
The guys stayed back on the catamaran...they played a few card games....
...and did a little fishing.

Here we are on our return dinghy ride.
This is a side story - because I can't remember which day it happened on.  But David caught this needle fish and immediately produced all sorts of tools to set it free.
Look at those teeth!
David delicately removed the hook and it was released back into the water.
We pulled up anchor and sailed to Gouverneur's Bay.  The crystal blue water was so inviting - we couldn't wait to go snorkeling.  We suited up and went for a swim.
When we returned,  a light lunch of salad and quiche was waiting for us.  And a strawberry tart for dessert.  Yum!
Salad was served with almost every meal.  And for the dressing, a very expensive balsamic vinegar and EVOO.
We decided to head to shore.  In this picture you can spot Elise and Reid just landing on the beach in the inflatable kayak and Vanessa is paddling the one person kayak.  Wes and I took the paddle board.
The next few hours were some of the most memorable of the entire week on the catamaran and sadly we didn't take one picture!  As you will soon find out - pictures probably wouldn't have been very appropriate anyway.

We landed on the beach and immediately became aware of the many nudists - women and men - that completely outnumbered us (all of us in our one-piece bathing suits).  We chuckled a bit and started to walk down the beach.  After walking to what we thought was a salt pond - we met up with all of the others in our group and sat on the beach for a while.  We took notice of one particularly odd couple that was laid out not far from us.  It was an elderly man (at least 70 years old) and a middle aged man (definitely no older than 45).  They were obviously "together."  And did I mention they were nude?  The older man spent most of the afternoon napping while the younger man did some very interesting stretching exercises.  I can't really describe them - but ask Wes someday and he will demonstrate.  After some time passed by we glanced over and noticed they were now standing about 4 feet apart - tossing one of their sandals back and forth.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  It was hilarious!  We were having trouble keeping our composure at this point so we decided to walk to the other end of the beach.

We ran across a shelter of sorts...very run down.  It looked abandoned!  We spotted a couple of coconuts on the ground so one of us (and I won't say who but believe it or not it wasn't Wes) decided to hop the fence to gather them.  Another one of us (and I won't say who) spent the next several minutes throwing the coconuts against some rocks to crack them open.  Eventually there was success and we all sipped of the fresh coconut milk and ate the coconut meat.  I thought to myself how amazing it was to be on a beautiful tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean eating fresh coconut!  We were in the middle of breaking open our second coconut when a very perfectly bronzed, handsome French  man started walking towards our group (he had the courtesy to wrap a towel around his waist).  He referred to another man on the beach who was fully dressed in pants, shirt and baseball hat.  The handsome man told us that the fully dressed man was very upset because we had trespassed into his private property and stolen his coconuts!!  He also asked that we not leave the coconut husks on the beach because it will attract rats.  We felt pretty stupid and apologized profusely - but the fully dressed man had left.  

We collected the husks (what did we do with those husks anyway?  I can't remember) and headed back to our original beach - near our friends who where tossing the sandal.  The next thing we know Elise walked up to the middle aged (naked) man and started asking him if he spoke English and if he could tell us how to say "I'm sorry" in French.  It was quite a sight to see Elise in her one piece swimsuit talking to this naked man as if they were two people talking on the street!  Again - hilarious!  Anyway - she tried to apologize to the fully dressed man who was hiding out in his car but he never showed his face again.  Looking back I do remember seeing a very faded sign that said, "Propertie Privee."  

We decided to take a dip in the ocean before heading back to the boat.  Jason snorkeled to search for Scharman's sunglasses (which he found!), the rest of the guys bodysurfed and the girls floated in the waves.  Our sandal-tossing friends got in the ocean not too far from where we were (pretty close to snorkeling Jason, actually) and our final memory of them was of the middle aged man launching the older man into a wave.  Good times.

We returned to the boat with so many memories, stories and jokes. We could not stop laughing, reenacting and wishing so much we had at least one picture of the adventurous afternoon.  No such luck.  Except look what I found!  A couple of photos that were taken of the beach just as we arrived!  So at least we can remember these memorable locations from a distance.

Oh my, it was quite the afternoon.  And for the rest of the trip, all anyone had to say was "hey you want to toss a sandal?" and we all lost it!
Anyway we enjoyed a lovely dinner and settled in for an evening of games and conversation.
Like I mentioned before, one of the main goals of the men on the trip was to catch something in the ocean that we could eat - specifically lobster.  Well I guess lobsters are more active at night so a night snorkel hunting trip was organized.  I personally was very uncomfortable with my husband swimming off into the black water with sharks, waves, darkness and who knows what else awaiting him.  I could sense that even David was a little concerned about the idea.  But the guys were determined.  So they suited up.

It was all in good fun...
But they took this mission very seriously!
They did have diving lights and fortunately Matt's plan was to follow them in the kayak with a light.  But I was still really nervous.
But off they went!  All we could see were their glowing lights under the water and eventually the lights disappeared as they passed behind some distant rocks.
Patiently waiting wives.
After several tense minutes where we couldn't see their lights - all of a sudden they appeared again and slowly moved towards the boat.  They made it!

Sadly there were no lobsters to be found but that doesn't mean they came back empty handed!
They speared a lionfish! 
Lionfish are actually quite beautiful fish but are considered pests of the Caribbean.  They are native to the Pacific and Indian oceans but are reproducing uncontrollably in the oceans surrounding the Caribbean islands because they have no predators.  I actually read two different theories as to how they got there.  One theory - and this is the one that David told us - is that the fish were held captive in a marine center but escaped during one of the recent hurricanes.  The other theory is that fish hobbyists released them.
According to David - it is encouraged to kill lionfish if they are spotted.  To help try to control the population.  Of course the guys were thrilled to hear this news!  The fish has poisonous spines and cannot be eaten. 
Picture of a lionfish from google image search.
Here is a video that Wes took where he spotted the lionfish on the ocean floor - keep in mind they were snorkeling, not scuba diving.  So every time they went under, they had to hold their breath.

Here is a video right after Jason speared the lionfish.  Don't turn your volume down - the best part is listening to Weston's excited laugh!

 Random memories:  
- News that our furnace stopped working in the middle of the night!  We purchased a new one over the phone and it was replaced before we returned home.
-Both Wes and Reid got sea urchin spines stuck in their skin.  Wes still has three tiny spines stuck in his leg - he never could get them out!
-After a conversation with David about religion - he requested a Book of Mormon.  Reid and Elise had brought one to give to him.  It was very interesting talking to David - he is well-read and intelligent and definitely knows more about world religions than I do!  I was impressed with his insights and thoughts.  

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