Needing Less Doing More

Tag: nancy

The Blues

“…You were only waiting for this moment to be free”

-The Beatles

6 days now in the “Real Bahamas”.  No casinos in Nassau, no cattle boats, just locals.  Let me tell you the first thing you will notice about the island nation.  The water is always four shades of blue.  When the ocean floor is sandy the water is a brilliant Carolina blue.  If you aren’t familiar with Carolina blue, think Tarheels.  If you can’t think Tarheels, you have other issues.  When the floor is grassy the water turns into a darker royal blue color.  Think, Blue Devils…or if you prefer, as I do, don’t think about them.  When the floor is rocky with coral reef, the blue is more turquoise.  A nice transition between the sand and grass.  And when the water gets deep, the blue is a dark, tempting, navy color.  My only wish is that I could swim through each stratification of color and bottle the different blues.  I’m sure with a little food coloring you could sell the bottled blues to the tourists.

Untitled 40

Oreo boy sporting the lobster scarf his Grammy made him.

We are now in Green Turtle Cay, on the Atlantic side of the Abacos, where we have run into luck.  A friend of ours, John Shedd, happens to own a house here.  He has insisted that we take advantage of some solid ground, a bed that doesn’t move and a….SHOWER!  Of course, with some reluctance, we took him up on his offer.  John, we will never be able to pay back your generosity.  So yes, your protagonists have found themselves in another fortuitous situation with access to a house.  Living next to us is the caretaker of the property, Ms. Julie, her husband, and their son David, who happens to be an excellent freediver.  In fact, we managed to talk David into taking us out for a dive, which didn’t take much effort.  The guy has lived on an island his whole life.  His blood needs the water in a different way than the rest of us water mammals.  The island people feel closer and live closer to the water.  If only they could breath it.

We have met a friend here on the island, Nina.  She is traveling alone from New York City, where the water is not blue, and the saltwater content in her blood is just a relic of our evolutionary process.  She is a teacher and a writer who we invited to come stay at the house with us.  She spent the first part of her vacation on Treasure Cay only to find herself on Green Turtle Cay where the non-authenticity of Treasure Cay became immediately apparent.  Treasure Cay is resort Cay.  There are shops surrounding the resort and this co-dependent nature of resort and surrounding shops masquerades itself as a community.  Much like a series of American suburbs whose center is comprised of no less than one Target, a Wal-Mart, Lowe’s Foods, Great Clips, Walgreens, China One Take-Out, Tony’s Pizza, Barnes and Noble, and Old Navy.  A strip mall or two next to a housing development is not a community.  These development situations lead to depression because they lack something.  There is a key ingredient that everyone knows is missing but the ingredient is hard to identify.  The unknown variable is soul.  There is no soul.  There is no artist, musician, assemblage of free thinkers, the heartbeat of a community.  The elements that make up a “downtown”.  Unlike Treasure Cay, Green Turtle has soul.  Green Turtle operates as it’s own collective even when there are no white people around to buy up all the postcards.  The people are beautiful and patronize each other.  They go to church on Sunday, they fish and lobster, they bake bread, they rent houses, they have parties where the whole island shows up (which we were privy to attending).  For this reason, Nina could not return to Treasure Cay, so we invited her to stay on with us in Green Turtle.  I knew she was friend and travel companion material after we both agreed that a perfect breakfast, such as french toast, is ruined when the chef does not use enough egg wash per piece of bread.  A friendship was forged over a detestation of dry french toast.

As I mentioned, David agreed to take the four of us diving.  After the french toast discussion, it was decided that we would eat a nice french toast breakfast on the boat (that I would cook to ensure proper egg wash to bread ratio) then have David pick us up at Nila Girl on his boat for the dive.  I should mention that Ren and I have cultivated a natural circadian rhythm for island time, which we are predisposed to anyway.  For example, this is how the dive morning went:

“Yes David, we will meet you at Nila Girl at 10:00 sharp where you can pick us up in your boat and take us for a little dive.” 

Untitled 38

Ren and David with their bounty.

Bermudian accent: “Ok guys.  No worries if I am 5 or 10 minutes late.”

“No David, see you soon!”

10:00 arrives.  The cast of three + Oreo are on Nila Girl, having just arrived.

“Oh hey David.  We have just managed to put the french toast in the pan.  Breakfast will take at least 15 more minutes to prepare, 20 to consume, then we have to suit up.  That’s Ok though right?  Does not your life revolve around us?”

“Oh sure guys, that’s fine.  It’s Sunday and all I want to do is wait on your American asses and then show you all my special diving spots even though the weather is not favorable.  You know us Bahamians, too nice to say no to you demanding devils.”

“Oh David, you’re the best!”

Untitled 42

There’s nothing attractive about pics of dead fish, however, lobster are absolutely delicious!

That’s exactly how it went before we managed to make our way onto David’s boat for the dive.  He first took us to a spot for lobster…which proved to be fruitful.  The spot was not an extraordinary dive as it was pretty shallow with sporadic coral life.  We managed to scrape supper together in about an hour in the form of 11 lobsters, one NC sized.  I’m not bragging, I’m just recounting the facts.  This may sound like an absurd number of lobsters but rest assured, the meat is already consumed.  The second dive spot was special.  It was the kind of dive people pay big bucks to go on.  An underwater playground of fish, sharks, and four humans.  We pulled up to the spot and left all fishing gear in the boat.  It’s not the kind of place you take from.  Leave only fin splashes, take only pictures kind of place.  We anchor in about 20 feet in sand and swim over to the reef.  At this point we are offshore and are in an area just inshore of the reef where we are completely protected.  The depth at the reef was about 30 feet.  The four of us cruise along, checking out the fish, blah, blah, blah.  The spot was good and the reef came all the way to the surface of the water, creating almost surf-able waves.  However, I was hoping for a little more.  I was hoping that we would go somewhere where I could fly.  That’s when I saw David and Ren swimming through a break in the reef.  I finned over to the break that reminded me of the Oracles from The Never Ending Story.  Each side of the reef wall towered above me.  You enter the “other side” through a huge crevice in the towering reef.  As I swam through the crevice, I looked down to see the bottom drop out from under me.  The 30 foot bottom gave way to 80 feet just on the other side of the Oracle.  This is 80 feet, Bahama style.  Meaning, you could see blades of grass and grains of sand on the bottom.  Looking down the 80 foot drop, a Bahamian reef shark swam by, followed by a school of Bermuda chub. 

Damn it!  There is no way, other than through video (come ON Ren!) to convey the feeling of being suspended over deep water able to see the bottom below.  It would be like jumping off an 80 foot building but not falling, just riding the wind, floating like a bird.  My first instinct was to fly.  This is how I do  it:

I nestle myself back over the reef which is protruding through the surface of the water in some spots.  So I’m suspended in one or two feet of water.  I tuck back in the reef so I cannot see over the edge.  Then, in a sudden burst of energy, I pull myself past the wall of the reef as fast as I can, hold my breath, and soar over the edge of the reef into 80 feet of nothing.  I “jump” off the edge of the building and free fall down to the sandy bottom.  This is the only way I have learned to fly without growing wings, which i have been trying to do for some time now.

Untitled 41

On Doc Shedd’s porch, chilling and grateful for his generosity.

After my flight I look up at Nina and she says something striking.  She says, “This is so beautiful  I don’t even know what to do!”.  I almost cry when she says this because I know exactly what she means.  When your heart fills up completely full and there’s not room for anything else without it overflowing.  It fills with gratitude.  To whom?  Who knows.  For what, everything I just described to you.

Needless to say, we finished the night off with a few Budweisers, some lobster rolls with Thai sauce, lobster tails with red curry sauce and vegetable brown rice.  And yes, Oreo ate lobster too.  In fact, he has a special bandana made by his Grammy Nancy that he wore just for the occasion (see picture).

To learn to fly, contact us at [email protected]  🙂

Two Humans and an Oreo Boy

“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book.  Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping.  Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.”

-Thoreau

Untitled 79

Oreo, so cute and pitiful at the same time.

Now isn’t that the cutest, yet most pitiful, face you’ve ever seen?  Against the wishes and hopes of most of our friends and family, we brought our 15 year old Lhasa-Shit (you figure it out) with us on our adventure, which makes it his adventure too.  Oreo has lived with us for going on seven years now, December makes seven.  There was no way we were leaving him behind.  Oreo cares about only a few things, his people and peeing on everything he smells.  It’s actually pretty impressive.  This animal has an endless supply of urine just for pissing on flower pots, people’s lunch at the beach, his own feet if he isn’t paying attention…EVERYTHING.  I think it has something to do with ‘small dog syndrome’.  He needs his little scent everywhere.  When our veterinarian, Dr. Lackey, asked me if we were taking Oreo on our trip and I affirmed that we were, and she said, “Oh great!” it just confirmed our decision to pack the little guy up, right next to the cans of diced tomatoes and coffee beans. 

Untitled 80

All cuddled up in his doggy bed, blankie and all.

We attempted a twenty-four hour offshore trip with Oreo once before.  He made it the entire twenty-four hour period without the slightest little drizzle or doo-doo drop.  Not that we wanted that.  We tried everything to get him to go.  I’m not quite sure how many times I said (in my best babying voice), “Gotta go pee?  Come on boy, pee pee time.”  Needless to say, after the trial run, I was particularly nervous about Oreo contracting a urinary tract infection, trying not to disappoint us by soiling our precious cockpit floor.  We needed something.  We needed some kind of trickery to get the little bugger to go.

We found manufactured pee pads and the like at pet stores but didn’t want anything that was going to turn to waste.  How would we throw pee pads away while living on a boat in the Caribbean?  It didn’t make sense.  What Oreo really needed was some grass.  Naturally we couldn’t cultivate a plot of grass that needed to be maintained.  Not with our schedule.  The next best thing, fake grass, astro turf.  Oreo’s Grammy Nancy was on a mission.  She wanted her grand dog to be as comfortable as possible!  We came home one day to find that she had purchased a bulk sized portion of astro turf from the hardware store.  I cut the turf to fit the back  part of the cockpit and our problem was solved, I hoped.

Untitled 81

He just chills on board…and holds his urine.

The first urination came after about fifteen hours of travel.  I guess the age onset incontinence worked in our favor, and his.  Oreo was prompted to jump down into the cockpit      floor and make the astro turf his, well, turf.  He liked the feel of the turf against his face and commenced rolling on it.  That was not a good sign.  How were we going to get him to pee on the turf when after he decided to make it his comfort, roll mat?  However, nature called and the call could not be screened.  He cocked his leg and went.  The pee flowed like wine!  Half way through he lost his balance, we were sailing, and quickly recovered by taking a more feminine stance.  All fours did the trick and the tail started to wag.

Untitled 83

Who doesn’t love fruit and nuts?

Getting him to poo was not quite as easy.  This feat took a good twenty four hours, still not terrible.  To accomplish this, we had to wait until the weather was calm and put him out on the gunnel.  He walked out to the bow, spun around several times (looking for the perfect spit of paint on which to soil) and committed.  This was the first and last poo, to date, I ever saw Oreo take on the Nila Girl.  Maybe he hasn’t had to go as bad as that first time, maybe we let him off the boat often enough now, or maybe he felt a little guilty about it.  Don’t know, but problem solved.  The poo seal has been broken and he now knows he can do it on the boat if he has to.

Untitled 82

Such a sleepy little animal.

Oreo spends most of his sweet time lying around.  There are a series of pictures on the left documenting his favorite boat past time.  He also eats exceptionally well on the boat.  Sometimes he get just dry food but more often his dry food contains a bit of raw fish, juice from our supper the previous night, pb&j, whatever.  He has eaten a more varied diet in the past couple of weeks than he has in the entirety of his previous 15 years combined.  For instance, this morning he has dry food with the bloodline of a wahoo and pb&j.  For supper tonight he had leftover wahoo in a stew of diced tomatoes.  He has the life.  We also learned that he likes to snack on Kirkland brand Fruit and Nut mix, available at Costco.  He does not like almonds (maybe the consistency) but really enjoys walnuts and dried cherries.  Please email [email protected] if you have any information regarding the negative effects of Fruit and Nut mix on dogs.  I’m not aware of any at this point.

We’ll keep you posted on arguably the most interesting part of our adventure, Oreo on board!