The rest of the day was spent moving things from Bad Kitty to NOMAD, saying hello to old friends that were in the area, and drinking our celebratory drinks. More friends showed up – hey Lisa, you still have my pans 🙂 … Everyone was asking for fish. But when we headed out to the reef – it was too rough, even for me. And so we ended up eating spaghetti and making plans for tomorrow’s fishing escapade. We drank and talked and Lisa stopped by so we could catch up. She reminded me that it was a year ago that we met – on New Years on an island named Yansaladup. It’s been a wild year.
The next morning found Bobbeye and Alexis leaving abrutly, in search of a reliable internet connection that proved impossible to provide the night before. Something about work. And it was another moment in which I was reminded how good my life really is – to not be controlled by such outside forces. I was sad to see them go, but such is life. With the girls gone and hangovers to nurse – the rest of the day was spent resting and cleaning. That afternoon I got in touch with Kenny who is now in this area (Kenny, can’t wait to see you dude!). Having good friends around you makes all the difference in the world.
At some point Steve began telling me (again) how few fish there were in The Swimming Pool. I told him I would fill his freezer in less than an hour – depending on some amount of luck with weather/fish. Steve told me that he bet we would be eating SPAM for dinner. I knew better, and always appreciate a spearfishing challenge.
After all of his chiding – I picked him up in the dinghy that afternoon and we went outside the reef. The rolling waves were steep and every bit of 8 foot – crashing into the reef with a sound that is exciting to me, but terrifying to others (I soon found out). Steve was at the edge of his limits – his knuckles were white and when I was laughing, he was tight-lipped as we jumped and crashed through the surf to the outer reef. It’s always a bit dicey getting outside, but we made it.
As I found the nearest honey-hole and dropped the anchor – Steve decided he would stay in the dinghy. It was too rough for him. And, of course, he didn’t think I would find fish. As I rolled into the water – he said “Just think about SPAM.”
Three minutes later I put the first of the fish into the dinghy. No big deal to me, but Steve was a bit surprised.
Within twenty minutes I’d speared Black Grouper, Dog Snapper, Triggerfish (Teena placed this order), and Yellow Jack. And I’d seen a Goliath Grouper the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Stoked? Yep. My first dive back at The Swimming Pool and I’d landed another Black Grouper. At this point we had fish for a week, and the dinghy was rolling precariously over the steep and near-breaking waves – so I called the trip and we navigated back to our catamarans. As I jumped into the dinghy with the last fish – Steve said: “Thank God you’re done, I was sure these waves were going to flip the dinghy.”
Once back at the catamarans we cleaned the fish and planned our dinner, which was to be held onboard Bad Kitty. I actually took a shower, put on clean clothes and even combed my hair. We brought a bottle of red wine and the dinner ended up resembling a get-together in someone’s $1M condo downtown – but with better views. Sometimes I feel spoiled. And sometimes I feel like the most overworked and underpaid captain that has ever existed. I suppose it all balances out.
We talked until I’d finished cooking the fish – then we gorged ourselves on one of the best meals I’ve had in months. At the end of it, as I stretched out on a cushion to listen to the waves break on the reef and the fish jump around the boat.
It wasn’t silent, but it was peaceful. No car horns. No sirens. No dogs barking. No road noise. No alarms. No children screaming. Just the sound of the breaking waves underneath a beautifully starlit sky. We were quiet for a moment, just enjoying the silence, lost in not-so-deep thought.
Then Steve verbalized what I was feeling. He said, “What the f*ck would you do if you had to go to work tomorrow in Austin?” We laughed hysterically at this.
And as his words faded into the night, so did the very thought itself, never to be taken seriously. Joy. Back in Panama.