Monday, December 20, 2010

The Great Sailing Expedition and Abby the Great

In what is reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, four brave adventurers set sail on a Hobie Cat towards the grand old buoys surrounding our resort on the Caribbean. Truly a grand adventure given that none of the four had ever sailed before. But who can stop the undaunted? Bur why was I a part of this mission? Only to prevent the other three from meeting Crusoe's fate as castaways on an untraceable island. And of course for the unmissable fun of it all.And so it happened that a catamaran was begging to kiss the blue waters on this sweet day. Three jobless boys looking for something to do on just could not resist this booty call. Nana hollered at the resort chaps to get the Hobie Cat going, totally against their reluctance to get her in the water on this wind-less day. Heady with the challenge of trying to figure out sailing techniques, the boys jumped right in. I wasn't far behind, because as luck would have it, Talinn had decided to let go of our company in favor of frolicking on the beach with Tanvi and Nathan anna.Our send-off, so to say, from the shores of the resort was as grand as the titanic. Guests lounging on the chairs wished us good luck and took pictures. In jest we told them to call for help if we failed to return within a reasonable timeframe.All began tremendously well with the sailing expedition. The wind was picking up. The boys were applying all sorts of theories about the direction of the winds, optimum ways to position the sail, and the best tricks for maneuvering the rudder. This from a bunch of non-sailors led only to non-stop laughter and camaraderie. Naresh mama was constantly challenging all the theories while Nana, the self-made proud sailor, was vociferously defending his "fundas". All this fueled on by the fact that the catamaran was obeying us and surging along furiously.And then there was trouble in paradise. The winds died down to a complete zero. No matter how hard we stretched and tugged at the sail, we failed to make the boat go anywhere. She refused to turn around and head back to shore (we learnt something about having to zig zag back much later). We sang a few songs, dangled our feet in the water, pretended to look around for marine life, lamented over the lack of beer and just plain circled around the same spot. There was no way to bring this baby back home. Finally, a local dude came along on a water scooter to chat about our situation and I just asked him to tow us ashore. And he did. The "sailor egos" would never have stooped to this but that explains my role in this adventure.Oh! the mortification of not arriving to the glorious victory accorded to sailors. We prayed that the farewell committee would not be present on the beach to welcome us back. But no such luck. Chinna atta and the rest of the hotel guests had already had too much fun at our expense. They were all present in full force to welcome us with full on laughter. We ate the humble pie, mumbled about the winds, and settled down to beers and watching the kids playing on the beach.
So what else was cooking at the resort while we were gone? Besides chasing Iguanas at the resort grounds and playing at the beach? Well it's time to introduce you to Abby. I met this Belizean lady at the beach on our very first morning, when she came around offering baby sitting and hair braiding services. We invited Abby to transform our hair this morning. I've never had trouble adopting the Caribbean hair do. Isn't the thought of not having to wash or style hair for a couple of weeks too sweet to resist? When we returned, Abby was done with Tanvi's hair and was working on Swati.During my hair time, we learned that Abby was a single mother of seven. And although all seven kids had seven different fathers, this situation was no indication of Abby's capabilities. She's a true entrepreneur. And our angel investor group here -motivated by our memorable lunch at Rendezvous -came up with a new enterprise for her. Abby was commissioned to shop for groceries and cook an authentic Belizean dinner for us (at her home) for a great business price of $100. She was to deliver the food to our villa that evening. We indicated our ingredient choices, spice level preferences and let her surprise us with the rest. When we learnt that her daughter and her also made jewelry to sell on the streets, we asked her to bring those wares along as well. After all she had done a great job with our hair. Abby herself swore that we all looked like native Belizeans! I don't disagree.In the meanwhile, the kids got into the pool again while the adults hatched a plan to rent golf carts to go into town. This is the alternate path via backroads if you don't take the boat or can't afford to do so. Most locals walk to town - it takes them an hour. The kids were totally psyched when the carts arrived. The unpaved roads and generous pot holes made it all feel like a true off-roading adventure. We screamed to our hearts content at every bump and turn. Then someone spotted a local bakery where we were compelled to savor all kinds of local treats.Nathan anna got his first hand driving lesson from Nagesh mama. It was lovely driving along the beach. In San Pedro, we stopped at a local pupuseria and ordered some custom pupusas (very similar to stuffed paranthas - these are stuffed with meat, beans, or cheese) that were gone before we could blink. We rate it as one of the top favorites of the trip.
When we made it back, the nightfall was incredible. The ocean breeze was spectacular and we all hung out at the beach to gaze at the moon beams dancing on the water. Abby delivered our promised meal and most would rate it hands down as the best meal of the trip. She made traditional spicy chicken curry, rice with frijoles (beans), fried plantains, cole slaw, fresh tortillas, and a lemon cake for dessert. Very homey and delicious. The quantity she brought in was so large that we had to pack some up for the rest of our journey (more for the food bag). She also brought in her handmade jewelry. Dinner with personalized shopping service! She deservedly made some good business. She also received tons of advice on registering a business on Kiva to get her own enterprise going. Someone with her energy, talents, and spirit deserves the break to make an honest living. We wish her all the luck!That night Nana was terribly busy studying late into the night - for his PADI (diving) certification. Some people take their vacation hobbies too seriously. Chinna atta and I decided to bond over a night stroll along the beach. It was a lovely way to soak in the sea breeze and savor our last night at Ambergris Caye.

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