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01 September 2007
Sharks, rays, and MOUNs
A memorable trip through the Fire Swamp
This is the kind of day travelers live for. True embodiment of the credo "As long as you have a good story to tell, it was allllllll worth it."

We began the day with a series of lovely dives. First to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, for a nice shallow dive where we saw two huge rays and a handful of other critters. It wasn't nearly as spectacular as the diving in Utila, but we all agreed that a mellow dive would be a good way for Josh & Kathryn to get back in the groove after not diving for over a year. We saw a bunch of nurse sharks approach the boat as well. Then we snorkeled for a bit at "Shark Ray Alley" where we saw neither sharks nor rays. But it was an entertaining way to spend a half hour. Next, we headed over outside the reef for a deeper dive in Paradise Canyons. (I could hear the folks at Alton's screaming "Hey! You're supposed to do your deeper dive first!" but as usual was able to ignore the voices in my head and thoroughly enjoyed the dive.) Not sure if it was due to the recent Hurricane Dean, or because divemaster Tony wasn't really big on pointing stuff out, but we didn't really see a whole lot. I have been totally spoiled by my week on Utila!

Brian's amazing Coco Locos We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool, sipping some potent rum-based beverages from bartender Brian, and enjoying the fact that we seemed to be the only ones at the resort. The place is meticulously run by a family from Connecticut (Fairfield County in the hizzouse!) and we had several pleasant chats with matriarch Marilyn and her husband Mark. Nice people. Very relaxing place. After a hot shower (joy!) it was time for dinner.

We'd spent the previous night at the swank Capricorn restaurant just up the beach, so we decided to rent a golf cart and go into the town of San Pedro. Marilyn had warned us that the road was "a little rough" due to the recent storm, but once we got past the first 500 yards or so, it should get better. Armed with two large flashlights and a can of Deep Woods Off, we set out down the driveway, Josh driving, me navigating, and Kathryn in the back seat hanging onto our stuff.

carnage and destruction The road was fine at first, and we assumed Marilyn had been overly cautious, until it started to get a bit bumpy with a few puddles in the road. We'd also been warned about getting through the water hazards with some degree of speed, so as not to stall the cart, so Josh, a seasoned golf cart driver, was taking the road at a brisk clip. All seemed fine until we approached a series of gigantic puddles that took up the entire width of the road. We made it past the first one, only to get completely stuck in the second. Dagger! With the cart listing at a not-so-jaunty 45-degree angle, there was no choice to get out and push. I stepped off (not a far step, my side was perilously close to the fetid water) and squooshed into sulphurous mud up to my ankles. Ewwww! Nearly lost a flip-flop to the thick muck. It was decided that Josh would get behind and push while I attempted to find the elusive balance of enough gas to get us out, but not so much that the tires would spin futilely. It was stressful, to say the least. Poor Josh was in back, sucked into the most disgusting swampy mixture nearly up to his knees. Kathryn was attempting to swat vast clouds of mosquitoes away and wielded the Off bottle like a champ. I was doing my best to gain enough traction to get us out of this mess, and I'd just started to feel some forward momentum when I heard Josh yell "Let off the gas!!!" I did, but not quickly enough to prevent him from getting coated with a flurry of slurm. Oops! Never mind, we were moving forward, keep your foot on the gas, let's get outta here. Josh hopped into the front seat and we made our way out of there. A bicyclist heading in the opposite direction took one look at us, silently turned around, and hurried in the other direction.

Kathryn and Josh are just happy to be alive We managed to make our way into town, Josh yelling out directions to help me avoid further pitfalls, and only got stuck once on a huge chunk of hurricane debris. By the time we reached Elvi's Restaurant in San Pedro, we were exhausted, sweaty, completely covered in mosquito bites, and coated in varying degrees of sulphurous muck and slurm. We, and particularly Josh, looked and smelled fantastic. Somehow they let us into the restaurant, and after a glass or two of wine, we dissolved into hysterical giggles recounting what we'd just been through. Thank god I have friends who are cool enough to laugh at this kind of misadventure! Love you guys!

The meal was over far too quickly as we gathered our courage to go back the way we'd come. We did consider leaving the golf cart in town and taking the ferry back, but decided that if we'd made it through the Fire Swamp once, we could do it again. We'd been clever enough to discover what the lightning mud looks like. And at least there weren't any Rodents of Unusual Size, not that we'd seen, anyway. Nope, no ROUSs, just MOUNs: Mosquitoes of Unusual Number. We can do this! Go team!

We did manage to make it back, and got stuck only once, in pretty much the same swampy place as last time. (There was just no avoiding it!) But knowing that we'd made it out once, we knew we could do it again. There was an instant, when Josh was once again doing his manly duty of pushing from the back of the cart, where I heard him cry out and thought perhaps he'd thrown out his back or something. But he was only reacting with disgust at having his entire leg sink into the foul mud. Grody.

When we got back to White Sands, we made sure to take a few pics of the destruction (both on ourselves and all over the golf cart) and entertained Marilyn and Mark with our tale. Marilyn decided she'd better give a more strenuous warning to the next poor sods to rent a cart. Yes, perhaps. And make sure they take along an extra can of Off. Ours was just about out.

Never a dull moment!
Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
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