Blonde and Brunette promiscuously enter travel contests. We enter contests as often as Hugh Hefner wishes he entered all of those silicone-breasted 22 year olds who litter his mansion.
After years of entering contests Blonde recently won a free trip for two to Puerto Rico. One of the included activities was a kayak tour of the Nature Reserve of Las Cabezas de San Juan’s bioluminescent bay.
Brunette ensured that our travel dates would be after a full moon to guarantee enough darkness to see the glowing blue dinoflagellates. (We are going to take the high road here and not make any jokes about dinosaurs and flagellation – unless we can think of some.)
Several years earlier we had been to another bioluminescent bay, Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques, and enjoyed the experience. And, the night before leaving on this trip, we saw the movie Life of Pi which has a scene where Pi is suddenly surrounded by amazing illuminated organisms and creatures. Given that Brunette thought the animated tiger in the movie was “amazingly well trained” it’s safe to say that her bio bay expectations had also now become somewhat outsized.
Prior to the bio bay excursion we had each kayaked a very little on our own in one person kayaks you sit down in. This time we were going to be our own puny unskilled team in a two person kayak where we sat up on top.
Our preparations for this voyage involved purchasing small plastic headlamps. We knew we were going to paddle through a long channel in pitch dark until we reached the bay. Blonde purchased a waterproof cover for her iPhone so she could use its camera.
Although these efforts should have been viewed as laudable by our guides we were told to leave all electronics behind and that we were not allowed to use the headlamps. (Blonde did stash her headlamp down the front of her life preserver just for the sake of not being completely obedient even if she wasn’t going to be able to use it. Smart.)
Prior to departure a perky kayak instructor gathered our motley group of maybe 20 people together to have two reluctant volunteers demonstrate how to kayak – on a sidewalk. It didn’t look hard at all.
They would put their oars where they were told and the instructor would use a rope to pull the kayak in the direction they would have supposedly turned in the water. This should fall into the category of deceptive trade practices as maneuvering a kayak in a strong current in the dark with no one pulling you by a rope is much more difficult.
Everyone was informed that in the water we were to maintain a distance of 10 feet between kayaks and go out in a long line. Initially that seemed to be a reasonable request. However, as most of the others appeared – amazingly – to be nearly as inept as we were it was quickly was revealed to be an unrealistic goal.
One couple Blonde had profiled as a sure-to-be-a-problem duo reinforced her stereotyping by constantly zig zagging horizontally across the otherwise vertical line of kayakers. At first we were annoyed but it quickly became hilarious (only to us) and like a Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell in charge of the offending kayak.
The laugh was all too soon on us as we were defeated by the current (and our abilities) resulting in us spending a humiliating amount of time going backwards ricocheting off gigantic clumps of hostile mangrove tree roots. We could go forward only very slowly but we could go backwards at an impressive rate of speed – as attested to by the horrified reactions of the others we bashed into.
We were very fortunate that apparently our fellow kayakers were unarmed or just couldn’t see to aim in the dark.
At one point Brunette remarked defensively that “other people are doing the same thing” by which she meant going backwards. Yes, but only because we had rammed into them and spun them around. But why quibble when cooperation was needed?
By the time we reached the bay we were soaked, humiliated and very much in need of an awesome display of nature. However, this bay had drastically less life and light in it than the one we had easily explored years earlier by sitting on a nice electric boat where someone else did all the work and then let us swim in the glowing water.
All of the kayaks in our group were somehow tied together into a knot while we were given a cursory lecture about the star constellations (WTF?) and all of the cool organisms we weren’t seeing but potentially could have under different conditions. (Like watching an Ang Lee movie somewhere we were dry.)
A man in the kayak beside ours suddenly and unhelpfully paddled a lot of water into our kayak so we could see the sparkles. The same ones we could already see. Fortunately he had more useful equipment than we did, pulled out a pump and promptly removed (most of) the water he had paddled into our kayak. To be fair he had probably been plotting some way to torment us and he showed admirable restraint.
The journey back to our starting place was even more soaking, crashing, spinning and offending as now there were other companies bringing unseen hordes of kayakers out as we were going in. We are equal opportunity idiots and managed to offend and disturb a whole new group of people on the way back.
Back on shore we reclaimed the bags of dry clothes we had stashed prior to our departure. We got in line for a decidedly unhygienic and unappealing public bathroom located in the middle of a field and changed into our dry clothes.
We didn’t emerge as beautiful sea creatures. Blonde had forgotten to bring dry underwear and realized her pants had aggressive and poorly located seams so she walked like John Wayne in an old Western. Brunette had walked in the ocean in her socks so was now clomping about in large dorky shoes that might have potentially looked better, and certainly would have felt better, with socks.
Prior to departure we’d read about charming little restaurants in the village and had planned to enjoy fresh grilled seafood after our fun-filled athletic outing. However, when we inquired as to the culinary options we were given mystified looks and finally told to look for a yellow trailer.
We were still damp, addled and more than a little disheveled and couldn’t imagine a yellow trailer as being a place likely to produce anything other than food poisoning. So, headlamps attractively mounted, we squished our way back to the resort where we were staying. We then consumed wine in a quantity that rivaled the amount of water our co-kayaker has splashed into our vessel of despair.
After enough wine we were sparkling more than anything in the bay – or at least that’s our version of events.