Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mutiny on the Conga

Sailing to

Crow's Nest Cafe, Bar & Grill,

Placencia, Belize

When we’d finished the breakfast dishes, we raised the sails and glided away from Rauguana toward Placencia. Winnie, Sandra and Sheila all took a turn at the helm. While Sheila received her lesson, Bruce pointed off the starboard beam, “Dolphins,” he cried. We searched the waves but could see nothing. Just about the time we gave up looking, Bruce pointed and yelled out again. Still no one saw them. A third time Bruce yelled out and Dennis and Sheila nodded and smiled.

I asked Sheila, later, if she had really seen the dolphins and she shook her head. “I didn’t have my glasses on. I didn’t see anything, but I was trying to be polite.”

We decided the dolphins weren’t real and that Bruce was seeing things.

We had arranged with Maria Cabral at South Waters Resort to dock long enough to take on fresh water

and then use their showers before a fabulous private party at the Crow's Nest Cafe, Bar and Grill. After filling the water tanks, we dropped anchor a short distance from shore. A jaunty wind gave some relief from the tropic heat, but the shower felt great.

The nine of us strolled down to the Crow's Nest where Maria Cabral waited with William, the bartender. She got us settled with drinks (yes, I had a Panty Ripper) and we chatted until Bruce and Ryan looked out at the boats bobbing off shore.

"Bruce, wasn't the Witch further up shore?" Ryan asked.

Bruce squinted and his eyes drifted from our catamaran to the landmarks on shore. His chair scraped against the plank flooring as he rose. "Yes. We’re dragging anchor again.”

The two of them leaped down the stairs and sprinted toward the dinghy. The rest of us sat quietly, hoping they'd be able to get the two anchors to hold in the wind.

We waited.

And waited. And then, we decided we would play a joke by staging a bunch of pictures to make it look like we were having fun without them.

The band arrived and as the first notes of music floated into the muggy, hot air, we pretended to do the Chicken Dance.

We pushed a couple bar stools together and staged a party shot. We handed our cameras to William and staged a conga line. I asked William for a limbo stick, but had to describe one, as he had never heard of the limbo.

The band kicked into a lively tune. Instead of just posing, Dennis actually did the limbo under the stick.

Not to be outdone, the rest followed. The stick lowered and the group went under again.

Before we knew it, we really were having fun, even without our captain and firstmate, especially when Nelson made the video camera do the limbo.

Maria brought out fish balls, shrimp ceviche, conch ceviche, and bean dip that were perfect in the hot evening air. We started dancing; using the lessons we’d had on the boat. A local man by the name of Dillon showed up and joined in the dancing.

Bruce and Ryan returned, wearing scowls. We handed them a drink, paraded them over to the appetizer table and then coaxed them to dance. Bruce joined in and soon regained his usual happy mood, but Ryan kept gazing out into the twilight to see if the Witch had moved. Through it all, the band played and the food disappeared, and the dancing continued.

To get Ryan involved, we formed another conga line right out of the Crow’s Nest, turning to the left to conga over to the other entrance. Unfortunately, deep sand made it impossible to conga. Even walking through it took effort. The crew started talking mutiny. When we panted up onto the firm sand pathway in front of the other doorway, we immediately broke back into the conga steps like we’d done them the whole time.

However, Ryan had watched the whole thing from inside, as well as Maria and William. He knew there’d been talk of mutiny and he rushed to join the captain at the end of the line to provide support.

Soon Maria brought out dinner consisting of grooper, chicken, coconut rice, and rice and beans, followed by a scrumptious bread pudding with Bailey’s Irish Cream drizzle. It was a fabulous meal.

But after Maria cleared away the dishes, she got us all up and taught us the Belizean Punta rock.

She explained how to move the hips to the music, but it didn’t seem to come naturally.

Faron and Sheron Evans, from Houston, TX, were in Belize to learn to sail a friend’s boat. It was their poor luck to wander into the Crow’s Nest. It was only right that we captured them and made them walk the dance floor plank, like any good pirates would do.

About ten o’clock, a group of us trudged back to the dinghy. Ryan pushed it out into the water a little and I splashed my way to it and threw my leg over. Unfortunately I didn’t throw it high enough and I toppled over into two inches of water. What made it worse was that when I braced my hands to get up, they sank into the loose, coarse sand and I tumbled over. I tried to brace again, and once again, floundered in the water like a beached phantom dolphin. My biggest worry was that Nelson caught it all on video, but good fortune was with me. He had remained behind for the second dinghy trip.

When we returned to the Bonac Witch, I sat out in the cockpit, gawking at the black blanket of sky filled with millions of twinkling stars, while Nelson used his iPhone star-gazing app to read off the names of each.

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