The planned excursion was one similar to the catamaran one we did from the cruise ship. Alejandro described it as, "Like the jeep thing, but with a lot more water." We took 45 minute bus ride to a dock where there was a large non-catamaran sail boat named Isa Isa with a pirate standing on board welcoming us. He welcomed everyone in Spanish, until he got to me and said, "Welcome!" in English. I said, in Spanish, "What? I don't look Spanish enough for you?" And he said, "Not at all, not at all." Oh well. Later he said, "You don't have a drop of Moor blood in you, do you?" I responded as he had earlier. Once all aboard, we headed for the island. We were served a little spinach pie thingy and some juice, and then the beer came out. With the music blasting, the atmosphere was festive and reminiscent of earlier excursions.
Driving to the port where we caught the boat. The larger slower vehicles invent new lanes on the shoulders to let other drivers pass.
The majority of the rural houses on the island have these blue tanks on the roof, presumably water deposits, which means that the houses don't have water piped in. I don't know about piping water out. Septic tanks, maybe?
Wait, aren't pirates supposed to board other ships?
Sunbathing on deck.
They made everyone take off their sandals when they boarded.
This boom didn't have a sail on it.
Our first destination was a shipwreck. It was an old ferry from 25 years ago where there was a fire on board, and the captain had taken the boat as close to the island as he could to let the crew and passengers off. All were saved, but the boat was lost. They passed out the snorkeling gear and we jumped in the water. Just before jumping in, I realized I still had my watch on, so I took it off and a crew member gave it to Marga to put away. I jumped in. Two seconds into the water, I realized that I still had my t-shirt on. Oh well.
A pelican and a lighthouse.
The sunken ferry.
The Venezuelan flag flapping wildly on our boat.
The pelicans were fond of the ferry.
As we approached, the pelicans took flight over the water.
Nobody driving this vessel anymore.
Look guys, there's just no more room to land here.
The water was a little murky, and so was the sky, so visibility was fairly low. But there were several thousand little silver fishies swimming all around us, and some larger ones down below. The wreck was impressive. The part we'd seen earlier above water with the pelicans was just a small portion of the original ship. After 15 minutes of looking around and trying to take some underwater photos, we all got back on board.
The sunken part of the ship.
This video is much better than still photos could be. I'm not much of an underwater videographer. At the end, I swallow some sea water and start choking.
When we got to a few hundred meters from the island, the anchor was thrown and a little motor boat was prepared to take us in. The captain said we could swim if we want, so one fellow jumped in. Marga and I felt like a swim, so we followed suit, asking a crew member to take our beach bag on the boat. It was quite a little swim, and we were both panting when we touched shore.
Looking up at the boat from down in the water.
The collection of cell phones was humorous to me. Also notice the pirate hat and the tip jar.
The motor boat the transported the wussy passengers that didn't swim.
More drinks and splashing around. I played some beach volleyball with five other Spaniards. My team lost pretty badly. Some more splashing, and we were told it was time to head for the boat again. So Marga and I put our bag in the little motorboat and started kicking towards the mother ship. When we arrived, we were definitely ready for the plate of food they provided us. They said it was pelican meat, but it tasted an awful lot like chicken. After dinner, the passengers were pooped, so we lay down on the open flat area for a while like beached seals.
Eventually there was a call to go back to shore. Now fully digested, we dove off the side of the boat and paddled our way back to shore for our "spa treatment". We were marched 500 meters down the beach to a place where there was a little pond on the opposite side of the beach from the sea. We were told to hop in and get all muddy. I had no idea just how muddy we'd be getting. About a meter into the water, my feet sunk down to my knees. I reached down and grabbed some of the pitch black mud and, under instruction from the guides, started rubbing it all over my body. Everyone else was doing the same. It was pretty gross, really. A few of us felt the need to make some oinking sounds. After we were completely blacked from head to toe, we got out and were directed back 500 meters up the beach to where we'd been before to let it dry.
Thankfully, I didn't take my camera down to the mud pit. But I've found these two photos on Flickr from some people that were there in January 2007.
Our captain lead us in some screaming, followed by some relaxing breathing and finally to lie down on the beach and dry out. A few minutes later, he said that those that wanted to could go wash the mud off in the water without disturbing anyone else. I continued to lie there. Marga and I were the last two to get up. It was so nice lying there in the warm sun with mud drying on the skin of my entire body. Very relaxing. After a few photos, we jumped into the sea to wash off the mud. It was harder than you might think to get it all off. We definitely felt clean afterwards, but I hypothesized that it might be a trick. The mud doesn't clean you, it just makes you feel really dirty so that when you do clean it off, you get a clean sensation without actually being cleaner than when you started.
Sitting all in a row. Can you spot me and Marga?
My lovely black bride.
Feeling a little dirty.
Someone could use a shower.
That's a handsome couple.
A local fisher kid we befriended. You should have seen this guy drop a line with a hook (no pole) off the dock, wait a few seconds, jerk the line, and pull up fish after fish.
Back to my pasty white self...chillin' in the Caribbean.
Some more drinks and relaxation and then it was back to the boat, swimming the whole way. On the ride back to the main island, I witnessed something I've always wanted to see but never had. The captain had been telling some of us a story about how a few weeks ago he'd seen a waterspout (a tornado over water). There was a storm and the clouds started swirling and it came right down and touched the water. He said that the passengers all went running for their cameras, but he had to put the boat up to full throttle and pray that it didn't come in their direction. I had been noticing a beautiful thunderhead forming in the distance, and had even taken photos of the rain beneath it from the beach. But on the journey back, we began to hear thunder coming from the cloud and see some lightning. We were under perfectly sunny blue skies, mind you. We were just witnessing a storm from a distance. And that's when people started pointing at the storm. A perfect little tornado had come down from the storm cloud and was running along the water. I shouted at Marga to go get the camera, and she took some photos of it before it disappeared a minute or two later. I've always been fascinated with (terrified of) tornadoes and it was cool to see one for the first time, even though (especially since) it was a few miles away.
On the way back, I spent most of my time in this hammock up at the bow.
That's one nasty storm!
My view from the hammock.
Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't we dangle the camera under the hammock, down by the splashing water!
Marga was well hydrated too.
Our friend, Eduardo, is doing fine.
To show you I was really completely outside the ship.
The pirate turned monk to ask for alms.
I wish I remembered what he was saying.
We docked and hopped off the boat and onto the bus. On the way back to the hotel we got a little rain. They can't get much rain here considering how dry everything is. Another nice day out on an excursion.
After a shower, which revealed more mud than I thought I still had on me, we went to choke down some dinner. The best item on the buffet, the only thing remotely edible, was some fajitas made by a guy at a grill at the end of the buffet. During dinner, I started having the strangest sensation in my shoulders, where my pectoral muscles attach to the shoulder joint. At first I confused it with heartburn. By the time we finished, I felt in so much pain that I had to lie down. Plus, I had some pretty severe sunburn on my upper arms where my triceps are. Marga wanted to stay out and talk with people, but I really felt bad, so she came to the room to lie down with me. I was really puzzled as to what I had done to hurt my pectoral muscles. With the triceps sunburn, I was beginning to wonder if President Chavez hadn't kidnapped me and had me doing push-ups all day in a Venezuelan boot camp, preparing for the imminent attack of the US Armed Forces. After dozing for a few hours, the lactic acid in my pecs had spread to my biceps. The pain was the worst muscle aching I've ever felt. The muscles themselves didn't feel weak. I had no restrictions of movement, just pain. I took some ibuprofen and went back to bed. We ended up sleeping from 8:00 PM to 7:00 AM. Marga was apparently more tired than she'd let on, too. I guess I'm just not used to the level of physical activity as I experienced on the beach with so much swimming and volleyball.
Up next: More Lobster!