Friday, April 24, 2009

Adventures of an aging gringo

La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico -- I was bit by a cobra today, but it is not as bad as it sounds.
It was a boat bite. The boat was a kayak named Cobra. Anyone who works around boats, as I do from time to time, knows that they will bite you once in a while.
Usually it is when you are working on them with tools.
Today it was when I failed to recognize that for some reason I am not able to tackle very large waves in a kayak. I used to be able to do that, so I did not think twice about jumping into the Tenacatita Bay surf, even though the waves were making a WHUMP! sound once in a while.
The first time I tried to climb aboard the Cobra kayak and paddle quickly out through the waves I was gently picked up and tossed over the side. The water was not very deep, and was refreshing.
No big deal.
I righted the kayak, retrieved the paddle, and tried again.
The second time the wave was a bit bigger and it rolled me over in the water, took my new hat and washed it toward the shore. Pat retrieved the paddle from the sand while I collected by dignity, righted the boat, and prepared for a serious assault.
(Meanwhile, my friend Michael, had straddled his kayak and gone straight over the surf into calmer water where he sat waiting patiently.)
The third attempt was when my judgment lapsed a bit. I was pretty sure the local folks were taking bets by this time, and I ignored what turned out to be the largest waves of the day and started back to the sea. Picture the wave scene from the Perfect Storm movie.
I realized, as the kayak began climbing the wave as it crested in front of my face, that I may have made an error in judgment.
Down came the wave. The kayak flipped up into the air -- without me aboard -- did a rather pretty flip in the air and began to drop back into the sea.
Meanwhile, I was rolling around directly underneath where the kayak was spinning, bereft of hat and paddle, sunglasses firmly strapped to my head, which proved to be solid.
The boat hit my head first, glanced off for a rather direct hit on my shoulder, rolled a bit and managed to clip my elbow with a metal fastener.
The foam in my mouth kept my language from being heard by anyone but the fishes.
I recovered and got to my feet with as much dignity as I could muster, noticed the blood dripping down my arm, thought about the movie Jaws, and followed the kayak back to the shore and a waiting beach lounge.
Beer in hand and ice pack on shoulder, I heard the best news of the day: my main squeeze, first wife and beloved of more the four decades had decided early on to put down the video camera and watch quietly from a safe place.
Our friend Sylvia looked at Pat and said, "That would have made a great blog video."
But we are more into scenery, sunsets, and watching the surf roll in.
The video just wouldn't show how rough it really was, so Pat put the camera aside after the first dump to stand by in case she needed to call the Coast Guard.

1 comment:

eugenie said...

Hi Sanders,
What a story! Ouch! Glad you're fine. I don't suppose you'd be ready for the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, a 1,600-mile byway that was charted by the state’s Office of Greenways and Trails between 2004 and 2007.

If you and Pat decide to make the trip, please holler when you paddle by!!!