Sunday, August 22, 2021

Utila Honduras 1999

It has been a process of packing boxes, emptying shelves and not getting overwhelmed. We have been nomads most of our lives so we know what to expect but the work of preparing to leave a life of 20 stationary years takes effort. It takes effort not to stop and remember where we bought books or took photos before we stuff them in boxes and transport the boxes to our storage locker near the Miami airport. "I meant to take digital photos of these albums" I told Layne. "And I never got around to it." I lamented to my ever patient wife. Well the ever practical woman said briskly: "Do it now." So I have started.

The photo above shows the boat we sailed from San Francisco to Key West anchored in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala on New Year's Eve 1999. I am not a great fan of river boating in a sailboat but that river yields spectacular canyons, tropical lakes, historical monuments and subsistence indios living in huts on the river bank.  The stuff of Heart of Darkness so my literary imagination was boiling over.
We arrived in Guatemala after a pause of a few days in the Bay Islands of Honduras.  The oddly named Suck Suck Cay (check it out on Google maps) lies just off Utila the smallest of the Bay Islands and has one street of cement and a bunch of fishing families. Above you can see Debs and Emma, the well traveled California dogs meeting the locals. Below we see Layne on Utila's main street dodging the local traffic.
The Bay Islands are known to Europeans and Americans as a diving paradise and tourism is directed all that way. 22 years ago the Reef Cinema had just opened selling two dollar  (30 Lempira) tickets and it was great fun for an evening date. I checked online and it's still there for sale with a restaurant downstairs and an apartment upstairs all your for $350,000. 
I must have handed off the camera for a family portrait with Tom, another catamaran sailor on our path half in the picture probably taken for us by his girlfriend a Venezuelan wild woman, the oddly named Jihad. Tom was a San Diego businessman who retired early on a 50 foot catamaran which he single handed all over the Caribbean and chased fish with his mask and spear. He was totally self sufficient and driven, mechanically and electronically capable who taught us useful skills for sailing the Caribbean and its peculiar winds. He hated to run an engine and liked to sail smoothly and I learned a lot from listening to him. How he kept the wild Venezuelan half his age happy doesn't bear thinking about. We saw the new century in with him and Jihad, possibly the most memorable drunken celebration of our two year trip. If he is no longer alive I know he lived exactly as he wanted. 
How our dogs put up with the new places and the constant change I don't know but they thrived. Debs loved to harass monkeys in the trees who would oblongly throw us mangoes to shut him up. Emma the peaceable Labrador, a pure bred dog abandoned on a  Santa Cruz street was happy as long as she was in his shadow. I think coping with Rusty alone in the  van will be a piece of cake by comparison to the complexities of sailing with two big dogs.