Friday afternoon, August 22nd. I make my way to the Taco Mansion (no more Taco Shack) as people begin arriving for the dinner. Taco Girl made some awesome crock pot ribs along with some steamed veggies. And Cindy (Shuffles) made a killer coconut and rum cake that was to die for! They later surprised me out on the veranda with a birthday present of 6 pack of Belikins, a Belikin Koozie and 2 Belikin mugs (which now reside in my freezer, waiting on a cold beer to be poured into them. It’s a shame they won’t be able to hold a Belikin, but I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for that minor flaw)…we hung out on the veranda till the late hours, laughing, joking and talking. It was a great time with everyone. A huge Thank You to everyone for making this the best early birthday ever!
Some where in the wee hours…. I find my way to my room and collapse on the bed. A breeze is blowing in through the open windows, and on that breeze I hear the music from the Black and White bar next door. It’s not loud or deafening. I can’t understand the words, but I do understand the rhythm. It’s up-beat, happy. You almost want to get out under the Christmas lights and dance as it’s got such an allure. I listen to the laughter along with the music and close my eyes, drifting off with a smile because I’m back in San Pedro. Welcome Back.
5:30 a.m.- Taco Girl wakes me because we are scheduled to go fishing with Capt. Jeff that morning. I make my way to the shower hoping to shake some of last night’s frivolity from my head. I conclude that the only thing that will save me is breakfast at Estele’s. We hop in our carts and head over to Estel’s where I order the lobster omelet. Just what I needed, food, a coke and a smile and we are on our way to Mr. Pete Graniels. Heading through the back side lagoon toward open water south of the island, once again, I am taken in by the mangroves. Knowing the importance of the ecosystem and how close the health of the mangroves closely ties in to the reef/ island health, I scour the mangroves for signs of disease/ decay as we skip across the crystal blue water. I’m no expert by any means, but I enjoy taking notice of my surroundings. I did catch a glimpse of an area that had some dead trees, but they were not mangroves. I don’t know what species they were. Coming up from the south side of the island we lightly coast in, closer to the mangroves looking for bait fish… sardines. What I saw next amazed me….. the sight of thousands of silver bodies flashing beneath us. And moving fast! After a couple of expert casts of his net, Mr. Pete had plenty of bait fish for us and we were on our way! We made a gallant attempt to fish outside of the reef, but the waves were just too rough. So we went to the “Jeeps”…. An artificial reef made of old jeep bodies that had been sunk years before. That was the right call! The minute we set our bait in the water, we were all pulling up yellow tail snapper, mutton snapper and I even caught a trigger fish. Those babies were hungry and we were sure enough feeding them….. (I lost quite a few bait to the more sneakier ones, but I made my presence known!) After 4 hours of fishing, laughing, yelling “FISH ON and having the San Pedro/Living the Dream time of our lives, we head back to the dock. I return my cart to Cholo’s and Capt. Jeff drops off 3 dog-tired, sun-burned, fishing fanatics as we make a B-line for the showers and a good long nap. Rising from my nap, 2 ˝ hours later, I change and go for a quiet stroll down the beach. I’m a loner by nature, so a little “me time” is in order. Even though the weather is unusually warm I still welcome the tropical breeze that envelopes me like a favorite comforter. I recline in a well worn hammock. The smell of the sea/salty air, the sound of laughter and music in the distance I’m beginning to understand what the magic is that is part of San Pedro. It’s more than just one or two things. It’s a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds and smells. From the blues/greens of the reef, the colorful costumes during fiesta, the smell of the sea breeze, the various vendors cooking their wares and the music that you hear from live bands and juke boxes to the musical laughter of the children and adults alike all form a tapestry that is forever in-twined in the hearts and souls of the ones that call San Pedro “home.” Welcome Back.
Part 3 to come later