The cruising adventures of Sid and Manuela

Sunday, March 29, 2009


“Cruising plans ARE written in sand at low tide” our latest has just been wiped out by a tidal wave. At first I was going to say no to Sid as he brought up going on the next Hash since I was worried that he would hurt his shoulder again. But seeing the disappointment in his face I just couldn't say no. The last five weeks have been tough for him as he was not able to do anything on the boat due to his shoulder injury and being in a marina for him means working on the boat, well not this time. So we rented a car picked up Wally at Crews Inn and drove to Squeeze, headquarters of the Hashers where a bus was waiting for us all. The hash was in Toco a 3 hour drive so they rented a bus for the ones who didn't want to drive that distance like us. Toco lies on the north eastern shore of Trinidad, a very scenic area with rocky shorelines and some sandy beaches surrounded by lush steep hills where turtles return every year to lay their eggs. After all the hashers met and instructions were given we all ran or walked into the jungle and followed the trail. Sid was in the front with the runners.
As always the path through the thick forest was amazing, there is so much to see from the beautiful household plants and exotic flowers we pay loads of money for, here all growing wild. Each Hash I find some new plants I haven't seen yet including some strange bugs, this time I saw a walking stick about 6 inches long scurrying across the path, weird but incredible. The scavenger I am I again found something yummy. Along the trail were some cocoa trees. The yellow/orange pods are delicious so I snatched one. Each hash trail has short cuts for slow hasher like me. My hasher name really should be TP for Toilette Paper as in wiping up the rear as I’m always the last one. Thinking back now all I can say is that the team that came up with this trail did well as the short cuts got us way ahead of all the running hashers, this saved my bacon, as usually even with short cuts we are still behind them. The trail was not as tough as most are and didn't put a strain on my bad ankle. It had some up and down hills but not too tough. The path was narrow and started leading down a valley. The path got narrower; there was only room for one person behind another. On the left was a thick overgrown steep hill and on the right some thick bushes and behind them another lush overgrown steep hill. It was beautiful. We followed the path one by one. What we couldn't see was that the bushes on the right hid a deep gully underneath them until the young lady in front of me told me to watch out. Between the thick branches I saw a deep gapping hole. I stopped and looked at the path that was now only wide enough for one foot at a time for about 10 feet so I proceeded with care. I put my left foot forward first as it was on the safe side of the hill. The part I stepped on caved in, my food snapped and I started sliding down that deep gully. I immediately knew that I had broken my ankle and even though I was holding a water bottle in one hand and the cocoa pod in the other I somehow managed to grab onto a root sticking out below the path. Now a sharp pain shot through my ankle and my adrenaline started pumping even more so, when I saw the deep gap my feet were dangling over. I had no idea that so many thoughts can go through ones mind in split seconds, like the ankle was broken, the sun was going down soon, I needed to get out of this predicament before dark, the root was strong enough to hold my weight, there was a gapping hole underneath me, no wall for my good foot to push up on, how the heck am I’m getting back on the boat with a cast, I was fighting not to faint and at the same time telling the girls not to let me fall and somehow managed to get the water bottle and cocoa pod on the trail (the cocoa pod never made it home with me, bummer and I also lost my favorite “Church Mouse” visor). Here comes the part about the team having laid out a good track saving my bacon as the first runner started catching up with us. He first tried to pull me up on my left arm, I told him that I was too heavy for him to pull me up this way he somehow needs to get me under my armpits and pull, more leverage. He tried and started sliding downhill into the gully himself. He caught himself, by then a second guy showed up and somehow they managed to pull me up and somehow I managed not to faint until one of my butt cheeks sat on the treacherous path (there was only room for one) then all went black. I don’t know how long I had blacked out but after coming out of a pleasant dream forgetting all around me I realized I was not waking up in my bed but instead still sitting on one butt cheek on the small path looking down on the deep cap while the guys were still holding on to me. I woke up into a nightmare and the bitter reality set in that I was in trouble. The problem now was to get me off that trail and the funny part was, as the guys lifted me up all my bodily functions left me and out of my behind came loud noises like I had started a Jet assist to help them get me up in the air. Well, a little turbo boost always helps, don’t you think! Later when I told my friends Shawn and Debbie about it they gave me a book called “Guide to Farting” and we’re still trying to figure out what kind of fart it was.

Usually occurs when the situation truly does no warrant one. These farts can be very uncomfortable, and often result in humiliation. They occur at the absolute worst of times. For example, on hard wooden church pews, job interviews, meetings, jungle walks and the likes (did it say jungle walks?!). As the name suggests, the farter will suffer from severer cold sweats in their attempts to postpone the inevitable.

Could be a yes, but I think the cold sweat I had was definitely from my broken ankle.

As the name suggests, these occur sort of by accident. Some circumstances that create the perfect moment of these to surface are: bending down for the newspaper, picking up someone's wallet, sneezing, coughing, changing a flat tire, during jungle walks (there is the jungle walk again, hmmm). Sometimes, the Ooooops Fart can also produce unwelcome merchandise.

OK I don’t think it’s this one I only brought a broken ankle home!

Farters usually have no idea that they are about to produce this until it just happens and they can sometimes be very traumatized by the mishap. Mismanagement and poor judgment of the expulsion velocity is often the cause. A despicable fart and needs no further explanation.

This could be the one as I’m pretty sure that I traumatized those poor guys.

With that comes to my mind that hashers sometimes get nicknames. My gosh I could just imagine what mine could be “Turbo TP”, “Turbo Queen”, “Jet Assist”, “Ooopsi Tush”, “Jet Bumsy”, I don’t even want to know! Anyway, the thought was there to help them getting me up, I did my best. First the two guys were my crutches as I had one arm around each neck and I hopped one agonizing hop after another away from the gully, loosing my grip on them, stopping and starting over again. It was impossible to hop down that uneven trail. So they grabbed each one leg and I hugged them around their necks and they cradled me sideways down the trail but every third step I lost grip as we all were sweaty. So they would put me down and start over. It was not easy for them to keep balance either. Now the path had a trail of giant ants, every time we stopped they would climb up our legs, attack and bite the shit out of us. I tell you the ants were about 1 centimeter in size, big enough to dip in chocolate and eat. We soon left them to their jungle, the guys were happy, so was I. It was tough to get me down there but eventually we came to the river bed where they sat me down and I dipped my broken foot into the cold water. This is where Sid caught up with us, not a happy sight for him either poor guy. From there it was a tall steep riverbed wall to climb to the road. By now more strong hashers arrived and two of them carried me up the steep river bed wall to the dirt road where we all waited for the car ride back to the beach. The car ride down was bumpier then heck and I was driven straight to the local clinic. After the Cuban doctor agreed that it was broken the nurse then immobilized my foot, gave me some pain killers and back we went to the Hashers. While I waited in the bus for the Hashers to finish the traditional ceremony the urge to disappear behind a bush came on, natures call. What is a girl to do with a broken foot and no way to walk behind a bush and do her business? One of the hasher girls came to my aid and found me a small rusty bucket she placed in front of me on the bus floor. Great I thought. Now the driver closed the bus door and turned the lights off and left me to my business. Have you ever tried to pee in a tiny rusty bucket on the bus floor in the dark with a broken ankle laughing your ass off, me neither but I managed somehow. It was too funny. Since the bus ride back was 3 hours and the bus had a couple bar hops planned a young couple offered to drive us back to get our rental car and hospital. Some other cars left with us and so we were in a caravan along the very narrow Toco road. Not far down the road the caravan slowed down and we were crawling at snail’s pace. Finding out that a giant crane, four huge trucks and a few police cars were in front of us, the crane then pulled down an electrical wire and all of them stood dumbstruck starring at the wire, not knowing what to do. So my ordeal wasn't over yet. A while later the traffic started moving again, but do you think the police would let the 10 cars in front of us and at least 30 behind us pass them, oh NO, they don’t do that here. So 20 minutes later the crane was stuck in a curve and they needed all the cars and four trucks to back up. Our driver’s wife took the opportunity to talk to the cop letting him know about our situation and eventually as the traffic was cleared they let us zip by. Over 6 hours after I had my accident we finally arrived at the hospital which now was almost midnight. Imagine now just 50 yards in front of the emergency room we got into another traffic jam. Finally an X-ray later, a temporary cast and the orders to see an Orthopedic on Monday we headed back to the boatyard with a short stop at the 24 hr pharmacy for some meds. Now that’s another story. The girl Sid handed the doctors Rx to through the take out window, starred at it for quite a while then didn’t move to get the stuff instead she said she couldn’t tell us the price and we couldn’t pay with credit card because the register was broken. “That’s fine”, Sid said, she still didn’t move, so he said we need the mediation and pay cash. So she finally lifted her little butt and moved away from the window. Quite a bit later she came back telling us it was 51 TT, Sid gave her a 100. “Oh do you have exact change?” After going through both of our wallets he came up with the exact change. So Sid asked her now if they had crutches for sale as I didn’t have any. They did have one pair left, but she could not give us the price, remember the register is down and how would they get them out that little window. We finally drove back to the boat and of course the problem now was, I could not climb up the ladder to get onto the boat. Crews Inn was full with a wedding party and all the yards were closed so nobody there to rent rooms so I spent the night in the back seat of our rental car. It’s not as bad as it sound. It was actually very comfortable as I could put my leg up on the backrest after Sid removed the head rest. I slept well and when I woke up and saw the anchor above the car and Sid stood there with a hot cup of coffee for me, I could only say:” I feel homeless” and we both laughed.
I mentioned Wally earlier he is one of the US Military guys who are here to survey the ocean floor for new charts. Nice guys, he came with us to the Hash and we promised the guys that the following day we would take them to Maracas Bay for some Bake and Shark. They didn’t think it was right for them to go, but I insisted that Sid take them, there was no reason for them not to go, so I spend the day in Wally’s room watching TV and getting used to my predicament while the guys had fun. Shawn and Debby (remember them they own Catbird the sister ship of Paradise) when they found out, invited us to stay at their place for the time being, so after Sid came back with the guys we drove back to the boat waiting for their phone call. While I sat in the car Sid went up the ladder, yep it was upstairs and not down below and cooked dinner we then enjoyed in the car. Shawn and Debby called a little after 9Pm that they were home now and so we drove to my recuperation home for the time being.
Ahhh life is good!

Monday I called the doctor’s office for an appointment but doc was not in until Friday, no way, can’t wait that long. So Debbie hooked me up with her doctor and on Tuesday we sat in his office worried about if surgery was needed. He told us right out that I probably needed surgery with pins and plates but that he will take an X-ray first. When the X-ray came a huge relieve the bone (Tibia) went back to the original position and I don’t need surgery. The foot although was still too swollen for a better cast so I’m stuck with this one for one week taking drugs for the swelling and pain and just laying on my lazy back doing nothing.
I feel very lucky that I don’t need any surgery as when it happened the bone stuck out quite a bit, but then when they removed the splint at the hospital the hump was gone. Sid thinks between me moving or trying to move the foot and the bobbing around in the car and the pressure from the splint must have helped to get it back in place. Whatever it was I’m very lucky and grateful. After all I have my other foot that gives me problems due to an injury 23 years ago. We are broken down in Trinidad for at least 12 weeks. This is my story and I’m sticking to it or is it I’m stuck to it.

I know, I know, this is not the Academy Awards but my deepest thanks go to (sorry I don’t know all your names) the team laying out the trail with the good shortcuts, to the strong guys who pulled me out of that predicament and brought me safe to the road, to the limo driver for taking me to the clinic, to Salma calling for help, to Daphnie who was by my side from the minute it happened and made sure all was going the right way, to the wonderful couple driving us to the hospital, to the young lady for finding me a pee bucket, to the bus driver making sure I had my privacy, to all the Hashers for their concern, compassion and well wishes, to Wally and friends for letting me stay in his hotel room and making sure that Sid got this ordeal out of his mind for a day, to Linda for giving her crutches to Jesse James two years ago for future cruisers in need, to Jesse who had the crutches delivered to me. My deepest thank you goes to our dearest friends Shawn and Debbie who took me into their home making sure I’m as comfortable as possible. And last but not least to my hubby Sid suffering with me, working hard all day long on the boat without my help, trying to get the boat back into the water as soon as possible, then driving to see me every evening making sure I’m OK. I know this is a very stressful time for him.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Back in the yard

Where does time just go? It's been a fast few weeks since we moved into the marina. Sid had a chance to recuperate his shoulder, although still more time is needed to heal completely. Poor guy was going out of his mind not being able to do anything on the boat without getting yelled at by me and our neighbors. Marina life for him means working on the boat, well not this time. I guess it must have been even more so frustrating to him to watch me sew away.

The Crews Inn Marina, although very expensive, sure know how to spoil us. Every morning at 6 the daily news paper is thrown into the cockpit, so after Sid made our coffees, he relaxes in the cockpit reading, while I sit on the computer doing my job as communications officer, answering emails. At 8.30 in the morning its noodeling time in the pool. I give noodeling aerobics every morning which has a lot of people hooked. We have about 12 to 14 people and when I asked them if they want to take a day off on Sunday it's a big NO WAY. It's been a lot of fun and I even managed to get 6 guys into the pool.

The hour before sunset everybody meets at the pool for a sundowner and a lot of chit chatter. Tuesday nights we still go for the Movie Matinees and dinner at Movie Towne, which Jessie organizes a bus for us. And Thursday nights we have the weekly potluck which is always a huge turnout with around 30 people and the most incredible food.

Trinidad is well known for fabrics and the ladies get together and go fabric shopping. I found the nicest bathing suit materials again and there are several local ladies that will copy your favorite bathing suite or use their own patterns for a fraction of what it would cost to buy a new bathing suit. Some of the local ladies make dresses and again will copy any favorite dress. Best yet they all come to the Marina once a week to meet us.

I also found some beautiful imitation leather, tan colored texaline and sunbrella and sewed up a storm in the cockpit. I made a sunshade cover for our neighbors bow; she in return bought me a very nice material to make slip covers with for our cockpit cushions (still need to sew those). Sid and I rented a car for one day to buy foam which Sid then glued on top of our old cockpit cushions to make them a bit more comfortable and I sewed new covers for them. We have an all new cockpit again. I also replace all the pockets I made two years ago. What a difference.

Sid is definitely feeling better and decided that it was time to haul out once more. So Paradise lost her sea legs for a couple of weeks, while we are at Peaks Yard doing some varnish and Randolph from Same Crew is replacing the rub rails. Of course we'll find some other things to work on. Peaks Boat Yard compared to Power Boats is like the Hilton Hotel to a Motel, we would haul out at Peaks again.

As I said it's been a busy month and sometimes I wonder how we ever fit work into our busy schedule!