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There’s no such thing as a mangrove

August 21, 2008

Today is my last day in paradise, but before I write about that, I need to write about the incredible night Lisa and I had at the bio bay. We left the house and headed toward the north east side of the island. We stopped for dinner at an amazing little open air bar for a dinner of rice and beans for me and a potato ball filled with beef for Lisa. Add two cokes and the whole thing cost less than $10 and was served entirely disposable. (I think because there wasn’t a sink or kitchen…)

After dinner, we made it the rest of the way to the coast and got settled. We found the company that would be taking us out in glass bottom kayaks and spoke with our new friend, Richard. Lisa and I both needed to use the restrooms, but we were in the middle of a big park and knew that it would be somewhat sketchy. Richard pointed us in the direction of a stand alone cinder block restroom. The women’s were locked, so we decided we could stand watch at the men’s room and be really quick. Turns out there was only one stall and there was already a woman waiting to change her clothes. She went in, Lisa and I waited outside. A line formed. A woman walked up and in very fast Spanish and pretty good English said that she wanted to just “pour out her water” and didn’t need the stall. She went in with a gallon of water, towel, and some strange looks. A line of about 10 men and women has formed. The woman who had to change comes out. Lisa goes in. Lisa calls to me a minute or two later and tells me that the stall if free; she is just going to wash her hands. I walk in and the woman with the water is completely naked and is washing herself with the gallon of water. Lisa and I exchange incredible looks. Lisa also informs me that there is no paper towels and no toilet paper. Washing woman says this is standard for public restrooms. (Which is no more true in Puerto Rico than it is in Dallas) After mistaking a urinal for a place to rest the keys and camera, we are out of there feeling dirty, but recognizing that we’ve just had an incredible experience. ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t worry, we purelled our hands, keys, and camera before the excursion began.

We get back to Richard just in time for the PowerPoint presentation. We learned all about the bio bay, which is full of single-celled organisms that produce the same substance as lightning bugs. He teaches us how to kayak, which freaks Lisa and I out because we realize that we’ll be kayaking through a small canal made of mangroves trees. We get a little slap-happy and giggly, mostly because we are terrified. We are the only girl-girl kayak team in this episode of the Amazing Race: Akuaventure Series. It was absolutely pitch black where water met sky and we were about to walk into it to get into a kayak together and paddle through a narrow canal surrounded by mangrove trees (which I am still convinced there is no such thing as a mangrove…) to get to a lagoon that is about 40 feet deep.

So Lisa and I wander into the black depths and sit in our glass-bottom boat, life-vests on, paddles in hand. Our guide leads us paddling through the ocean to a small opening to the canal that will lead us to the lagoon. We paddle, we laugh, we sing a song about coqui as they sing a theme song. We get to the canal and realize that we can totally do this. It’s challenging, but Denise is our personal trainer and we can do it! The folks behind us obviously do not know how single file, stay to the right actually means and crash into us, but we manage to remain upright the entire trip without running into the mangroves. We make it to the lagoon.

I wish I could have brought my camera. It is insanely beautiful. The moon is shining. There are about a million stars. The glass bottom provides us a beautiful view of the glittery water beneath us. We play around in the water, watching it shine. We are literally in the middle of no where, floating in a kayak. I stared at the stars. We were probably in the lagoon for 15 minutes, but it felt like 3. I took some pictures with our underwater camera and hope to have those up when I get back. Lisa and I bought the tourist trap picture (but we got a GREAT deal!) of us before the excursion got started and it’s super cute. I’ll scan it when I get home. It was an incredible experience.

Paddling back was a challenge, but we did it. It was raining pretty hard when we hit the ocean again, but that just made it more fun. Jesus wasn’t there; the storm was not calm. ๐Ÿ™‚ We made it back safely, wandered through the water to return to the shore, and had a snack. Then we had a mildly scary adventure on the way home, but we made it with only minimal help from the GPS. We got home, retold the story to the boys, and went to bed.

This morning we are headed to Old San Juan to walk. It’s just something I wanted to do before I left so Lisa, the kids and I are taking the jogging stroller over. I’m in complete denial that my nest post will be from Texas.

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