Saturday, January 14, 2017

happy birthday to me

I have been living a lie. At least, telling one.

For well over a decade, whenever anyone would ask my age, I would respond "68." Early on, it was fun because the response was: "My goodness, you don't look that old." But it soon lost its edge when my little prevarication occasioned no response.

Well, it is time  to pump some more gas into the misdirection tank. I rather like the sound of "79."

I have not celebrated my birthday in the company of others for some time. Two years ago, I celebrated my birthday in Campeche, on the Yucat
án peninsula, with my cousins Dan and Patty (¡yo quiero campeche!). But this year, I had a crowd of five (plus two dogs) to help me fill out my lap around the sun.

My neighbor, Jaime is a local fisherman. He has been trying to get me into his fishing launch since I moved into my house. I had politely declined.

I have no particular dislike of being out on the water. It is just not one of those activities I wake up thinking I absolutely must do that day.

My brother and sister-in-law, however, are boat people. Power boat people. If you can propel anything that floats through the water at high speeds, they will be delighted.

I saw Jaime in his yard when Christy and I returned from our morning walk, and asked him if his boat would be available today. It was. So, all six of us loaded into his boat to take a spin around our bay.

Initially, I thought they would enjoy a tour of our lagoon. There are plenty of birds and boats to see. But, when I saw that one of the options was a trip into the Pacific to see the Los Llanitos.

The Los Llanitos is a rather recent tour attraction. On 23 October 2015, those of us who had decided to ride out hurricane Patricia were hunkering down into our dens. But not the captain of the bulk carrier Los Llanitos. He decided he would try to outrun the storm along with his crew.

He lost. Even though the worst portion of the storm struck to our north, the seas simply pushed the full length of the 215 meter ship on the rocks just south of the entry to Navidad Bay. And that is where she rests to this day.

Mexico has more than its share of dramatic seascapes. Our mountains tend to cascade into the ocean in these parts. What is treacherous for ships is a cornucopia for those with a painter's eye.

As dramatic as the rocks are, they do not dwarf the size of the wreck. It is huge. If I did not know better, I would think it was a movie set. Perhaps, something out of Inception.

We did not dawdle long. The captain of the port has a boat on permanent patrol to ensure that interlopers do not violate a cordon sanitaire around the ship. And I understand why. All of us, basically being of pirate stock, wanted to board the wreck. Not for booty, but for adventure.

Having whetted our appetite for boating, I asked Jaime to extend the trip with a swing around the large lagoon that borders Barra de Navidad.

If the theme for the day was boats, it came in two very distinct varieties. The large, sleek yachts that populate the marina at the Grand Isla Navidad Resort.

And the not-so-sleek shrimp trawler that failed to withstand an earlier hurricane.

We returned to the dock just in time for lunch. Because everyone else has a certain preference for Mexican food, I suggested a local restaurant whose food tends to be consistent.

I am not particularly fond of  boats. I am less fond of Mexican food. But I am very fond of spending time with my family and friends. And this day was fun because of that.

Tonight, I am making oyster mushroom sandwiches -- marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and onion, and topped with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and feta. A Greek salad sounds like a great accompaniment. While enjoying our Mediterranean fare, we can swap tales of ship wrecks and ancient mariners.

And I can regale the young people with my days in the trenches of Gallipoli.

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