Return to the Island of Swallows

I sing of your beauty Mysterious Lady of the Sea,

I sing of your beauty Ix’Chel,

I sing of your beauty Cozumel,



We try not to go dive to spots we have visited before, there’s just too much to discover, but some of us really needed a break and the deal was very good (I’m not saying we’re cheap, but you know, thrift and all that). So bags were packed, coworkers were informed, and a taxi, with the worst suspension this side of the gold rush, took us to the airport in the dead of night. It was raining hard as we walked into the terminal, hard enough to wash away all the broken dreams that hang around airports and leave a glistening sheen of silent promises. Orange cones were all over the place, like so many hustlers trying to make the most of what you’ve got. The terminal has been under construction for the last 17 years or so. Someone’s lining their pockets, probably someone called Little Joe but weighs 300 pounds. Welcome to Montreal. 

I do get (noir) carried away.

The upside to visiting a place you’ve already been to, is akin to having perfect intelligence in a military setting (and having on site allies, hello Mateo). While people crowd the front desk to register for rooms that are not ready yet, (we arrive well before noon, cleaning crews will be hard at work) we will bee-line to the beach, and see if we can score a bite and a beer. That’s why flip-flops and some beach wear go into the carry-on and go a long way. You’re welcome. No I’m not travelling in a bathing suit and sandals. Way too many men are showing off their nasty ass toes on airplanes. I’m wearing a linen shirt and a tie. It’s how I roll. Yes I have issues, but guess who breezes through customs? Not the guy with the dirty ripped jeans and the FTW t-shirt.

We’re flying Air Canada Rouge, the seats are a damn tight fit even though I’m not a big guy. The only way to sit without having an elbow, or something else, stick out into the alley (many ouches, neither air crew nor passengers seem to give a fuck), or having your knees deep into your front row neighbour’s back, is to sit perfectly still and straight, church style, but I knew what I was signing on for. There is a cost to cheap flights. Like said, not a miser, but thrifty. Though possibly I’m starting to reconsider that, I think it will be well worth it to splash out a few extra bucks for better seats… Looks like the airline’s strategy might be working.

That’s a lot of elbow in the alley…

I settle in for the 4-hour flight with an improvised cocktail, rum from one cart (I get a semi dirty look when I ask for it, it might be 0800, but I have been up for 5 hours, deal with it) and jugo de naranja from another. It’s about getting my vitamin C you know. Scurvy is a blight we must all fight (I think someone needs to put that on a t-shirt). A small dose of Bacardi helps me sleep in fits, better than nothing after a night lasting a whole two hours. I wake up for good after biting my tongue really hard. Hmmm, blood. Some kid is crying, I guess he/she could use a little Bacardi too. My ears just popped, we are starting our descent, I really look forward to hearing the ocean.

Talk to you in a bit.

Barely off the airplane but the check in went super smoothly, time to put on my business suit of the next couple of days and go for our first dive. Why wait?

So what suit should I wear today, the Hugo Boss with my dad’s brief case? No, I think not.

Fantastic first dive. 59 minutes at 55 feet, we drift over a reef called Paso del Cedral, we are greeted by turtles and nurse sharks and the deep Caribbean blue of the ocean. The current was intense. This is going to be an awesome week.

Friendly nurse sharks.

Back top side it’s time to fill out log books and get the taste of sea salt out of our mouths. Corona is on tap. Our log books are almost full, we will need to print some more soon, anybody need one?

The weather is brutally, relentlessly, and yet pleasantly hot, it’s in the thirties but feels like the forties no questions asked. You really need to take counter measures against the sun. We’ve seen big lobsters under the waves, but a ton more above, apparently pasty white gringos don’t get the concept of S.P.F. One guy was fluorescent pink with a vinyl texture to his skin, I’ve seen S&M outfits that looked more comfortable. You needed shades to look at him, poor bastard.

 My dive buddy/siren just got back with Cuba libres and books. This will be a perfect afternoon. 

I crack open an early edition of Return To Paradise by Michener, and signed by him (I’m into that, it feels like the author is almost reachable through time). Yes it will “lose value” on this trip because without fail it will get dinged and spilled on, that’s how books live. I’m good with that.

As I look around me I realize once more how fortunate I am.

Who do I say thanks to?

More of our adventures soon. Thanks for being here.

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