Our 1st Week!
We have put out 1st week behind us now. Hard to believe it went so fast, even though the last 6 months went about as quickly. Don’t know why I bother continuing to be surprised when time flies. So what have we done with our 1st week? Well, I have managed to earn my advanced open water diver certification (underwater orienteering, deep water, night, shipwreck, and drift diving). In between those dives we’ve managed to go to the beach every day, and have snorkeled almost daily as well. While deep water and shipwreck diving I’ve had the chance to see sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, some lionfish (did you know they also come in black and that here they’re a quickly reproducing pest that divers are asked to kill on sight?), octopuses, barracuda, needle fish, parrot fish, all sorts of triggerfish, reef life, black groupers, flying fish, etc. Tigger and I got to see some rays hunting for their food when we did a sunset snorkel the other night.
We’ve also navigated the adventure of driving around the island on a scooter. When you see the topes sign, you better slow the heck down and see what’s coming at you. Speed bumps are serious business here! At first Tigger expressed his fear about riding on the back of a scooter. Definitely can’t blame him. But within a few minutes I felt his hands leave my side. I looked in the mirrors and could see an arm extended to each side as he relaxed and simply enjoyed the journey. “I was trying to make us fly,” he informed me at our first stop to admire the turqoise and blue waters crashing against the rocks.
He also has had the chance to visit a grocery store and supermarket (and one that would put many of the stores in the US to shame!) as well as the mercado where pieces of fresh meat and recently beheaded carcasses swing from giant hooks. He watched interestingly as we stood in line waiting for our freshly made tortillas to be finished while quietly noting how people stared at us. We were the only light-skinned people in the grocery store. I’m sure they wondered if we were lost. And when waiting in line and he sneezed, I heard a woman say something softly, and my chest swelled with pride when my somewhat-shy-of-his-limited-Spanish sweetie replied loudly Gracias!
He’s had the chance to sample real Mexican food, and he’s decided he really likes it. The other night we drove around for probably 40 minutes in search of a place that was open on a Monday night (apparently the slow night here) and a place devoid of white faces. When I finally found a place and looked up at the menu painted on the wall, I knew I had found the right place. Among the many types of tacos and other typical local fare included some of the special ingredients you won’t find in the US too readily at your local diner: eye, brains, tongue (THANK YOU!), head meat, intestines, stomach, etc. Unsurprisingly, Tigger wasn’t too interested in sampling anything from that particular menu.
He’s also learned about some of the cultural differences that exist aside from extreme friendliness, esp. that of sense of time. Even though I have spent a great deal of time in Latin America and working with latinos, and am very well aware of Latin America time, it always takes me a bit to get back into the swing of their sense of time. “I’ll be there at 6” doesn’t mean that at all. Often I can work the extra time into something, but sometimes, like when you’re standing outside in the Caribbean sun, it frustrates me still. I keep my seething mostly quiet, but he’s heard me grumble a couple of times already. When he asked why 6 o’clock doesn’t mean the same thing here, I simply responded every place does things differently and here time is one of them. In another country, it will be something else. In his characteristic flexible and accepting style, he nods his head sagely and goes back to trying to find a lizard or bug to catch.
Our most important accomplishment so far, I think, came from Tigger during our 2nd day here. “I was really nervous about this trip. I thought people would be really mean.” And? “They are a LOT more friendly here. Americans just aren’t that friendly it seems.” One day while at the beach some local kids were playing in the water, Tigger jumped right in with them. With their limited communication, kids do what comes naturally: They simply rise above the verbal challenge and focus on having fun, laughing, splashing, and playing. Always interesting seeing the world through a child’s eyes.