Juanita and Mary were at church. I slumbered into the restaurant. Lupita knew what that meant, but asked anyway.
I took my coffee down to my vacation hammock. I wondered why Juan hadn’t arrived. It was 7:45am. Birds were everywhere.
At 8am sharp a car pulled in. At 8:01 Lupita appeared at my vacation hammock and said the people were here to do a SUP tour. She didn’t actually say exactly that because she doesn’t speak any English. She said the word Tabla, which in and of itself, can mean a lot of things. Yet I had taught someone else that it very well could mean SUP board, and she told two friends, and so on, and so on.
So I knew what she meant. But more importantly, I knew what it appeared to be meaning for me. But why wasn’t Juan here I kept thinking?? He just told me the other day that he would be out to the lagoon on Sunday morning to lead a couple of couples on a tour. I thought for a second that something might have happened to Juan. Perhaps Juan was involved in a wreck. Gads.
So I get up out of my vacation hammock and walk over to people that I presumed were from Canada. “You must be here for the SUP tour?”. We are. From Canada? That too. I told them I am NOT the guy they are looking for, but I would make a phone call to see possibly what happened to the guy they are.
Where the fuck are you guy?
No, a couple of Canadians are waiting here at La Alejandria.
Really? The other couple cancelled, so I just figured….
Oh is that what you figured?
I will be there in 25 minutes.
Oh so they are just gonna wait here for you?
Well do you want to take them out? It’s easy money
Fine. You owe me. Click.
I told the kind folks that the other people cancelled and Juan thought that meant that everybody had cancelled, and that there are no dramas whatsoever because I would be their guide. They didn’t seem to care one way or another.
I unloaded their boards and such from the bodega, and set them up on the water’s edge. I put on sunscreen. It was 8:20am. I fit them with their adjustable paddles, gave them eight seconds worth of useless instruction, and said let’s go have a good time.
The water was dead glass. Rick and Paula I’m guessing were in their early 60’s. Both were on “Dawgs”–Boards designed for just about anybody to be able to stand up on. Consequently, Rick was up and paddling before I even had a chance to tell him or them how to go from being on ones knees to actually standing up. Paula on the other hand…not so much.
Huh. I had to remind myself that I was their guide, and this was their(her) first time EVER doing this sort of activity. I mustered up some empathy and chimed in a bit. Take your time lady. Try when you feel comfortable. Keep your eyes on the horizon. First your right leg. Then your other leg. Look straight ahead. Relax. You got this! No rush. You’re doing great Paula.
So she’s on her knees, and every thirty seconds or so she tries to stand up. I’m behind her thinking Good Grief Batman! But to her credit, she kept trying and trying. A for effort lady.
She finally revealed an excuse, and I found it to be completely legit. I SHOULD have uncovered this vital piece of information prior to ASSuming that they(she) would pick it up like most people seem to do. Her excuse? She said that she wasn’t sure if she would be able to stand up because she had recently broken both her feet.
At the same time?
No, different times.
Yikes lady, that sounds brutal. Hmmm.
Yeah, it’s a bummer.
Are you in pain all the time?
Yes and No.
Well take it easy, I said.
But she kept trying. And I kept watching her try. It wasn’t pretty. I began thinking that there just wasn’t going to be a way for her to find the strength and flexibility to go from her knees to her feet. And if you need to know the truth, her busted up feet were only part of the problem. The other problem? She was probably 100 pounds overweight. Yeah, she was a big woman.
So after watching her try to go from her knees to her feet for about 20 minutes off and on, I determined, as the lead guide, that it was going to be impossible for her to create that motion. Hey Lady, I don’t think this is going to work, but I do have a good idea. Follow me.
We all paddled to a section of the lagoon that I knew about that had sort of a swampy-esque beach sort of area. A little section I discovered where the mangroves part, and a sandy bottom has created a beach if you will. I call it Vulture Beach because at night, it is littered with Vultures. Littered.
So we get to Vulture Beach. I explain to Paula how we are going to get her standing up. I ask Rick for some assistance. Yada Yada, it wasn’t easy, but next thing we knew, Paula is standing up on The Dawg. Paddle in Hand. Mission Accomplished.
So we paddle, and paddle, and paddle. It’s now about 9am. The lagoon is still dead glass. We are on the other side of the lagoon near some of my favorite mangroves. Toodling and Toodling. I tried to stay in the zone and not think about what I kept thinking about, which was get me the hell out of this stupid mess.
We keep toodling, and paddling. Pretty slow going. Lots of birds. La La La. By now I just knew that Paula’s feet had to have been falling asleep. Most beginners do have that problem, and the remedy is always to go to the knees for a rest or a stretch. Or perhaps go for a swim. Or sit on your tush. You know, break it all up.
But Paula couldn’t do that because if she went back to her knees, she knew as well as I knew, there was going to be no way she could get back up. All of a sudden I hear a HUGE THUMP. That was no pelican I thought. I turn around, and Paula is in the drink. Oh No. Good Grief. I knew this was gonna be a heavy situation.
I immediately get in the water to offer comfort, and get her to smile. The water was very warm which was a big help. She held onto her board, and I held on to her board. Rick was smart. He let me do all the talking, calming, figuring, and refiguring. Paula still had her hat on. She was wearing a tank top over her bathing suit. Now a wet tank top.
The Dawg is twelve feet long, 35 inches wide, and 5 3/4 inches thick. I knew the width and the thickness were going to wreak a bit of havoc in trying to get Paula back on the board. It’s not like a raft. It’s not like a surfboard. It’s more like a CruiseShip. I knew this lady was going to have a hell of a time pulling herself up. She couldn’t touch the bottom, but even if she could use the bottom for a push off, much of the bottom of Manialtepec Lagoon is barnacle. Pushing off of barnacle is no bueno. I certainly didn’t want to add blood to the scene.
So again, it was real tough for her to pull herself onto this board. These boards stay extremely buoyant, and she didn’t have the strength. Remember, she was a heavy set woman. Her breasts alone must have weighed 35 kilos. But I kept her calm. And I tried to remain calm myself.
Thankfully, she wasn’t upset or anything. She just kept trying and trying and trying to pull herself up on the board. Pretty determined lady. Think about it. 60 year old lady. Broken feet. Knee AND shoulder issues too I come to find out. 100 pounds overweight. In a blackwater lagoon. A half mile from shore. Bad idea. Shoulda had her sign a waiver.
The ordeal had me thinking about the Poseiden Adventure scene where Shelley Winters volunteers to swim underwater and ends up dead. I began to conjure up my alibi. I punch out Rick and drown him too. Throw both bodies to the Alligators. That was simple.
But alas, I figured it out. It involved Rick pushing and yanking on his wife’s ass and thighs, and me keeping two boards together, as well as lending a hand where needed. Lastly, and most impotantly, Paula had to have faith.
After twenty minutes worth of solid effort, and trust me, you could see the perspiration on her face, she finally pulled herself back on her board. It was totally fucking nuts!! It was now 9:30am. It was beginning to get hot. The wind had picked up, and my board and paddle had drifted about 200 meters away. I pointed them in the right direction, and told her it might be best to stay on her tush. I swam to retrieve my board.
Back at shore, I stayed clear. I let them eat breakfast together outside. I figured they needed the time alone to argue. I was pretty hammered myself, so I wolfed down my omelette by my lonesome in the restaurant. After breakfast, and with another black cup coffee in my hand, I walked outside, thanked Paula and Rick for a wonderful experience, and disappeared into my cabana.