Bocas del Toro

-- where my sunglasses fell

October 17

There’s no doubt about it Mark and I like it in Bocastown, we’re definitely enjoying the cultural differences, and it’s impossible for the laissez faire attitude not to rub off. It’s wonderful that everyone has been so supportive, but I can’t help but think…what would family, friends and colleagues REALLY think of us here, with our pseudo Caribbean laid back attitude??

Take breakfast this morning, for instance. Mark and I decided to splurge for an American style breakfast at a cute waterfront cafe — splurge because it’s not just the menus that are American style — the prices were too, not at all typical for this town, thank goodness. The food was so-so, but I certainly walked away with a new take on some important life lessons.

The picture above is where we eat, and right next to our table, on the far side of the pier, is where my $260 prescription sunglasses slipped over my head and fell into the Caribbean. And, being “in the moment”, as the Bocastown residents tend to be, I followed, pretty flowered skirt and all. Not a graceful swan dive like you see in the movies though — I stepped over the railing and plopped in, didn‘t tell Mark what I was doing, just shut my eyes dove under and grasped out at … nothing…. my timing was off. A thoughtful person would have slipped quietly into the water after determining out which way the glasses were going drifting– besides down, of course.

Instead, my splash stirred things up enough that I couldn’t see where the glasses landed. Diving around a pier is usually interesting, with little fish nibbling around the barnacles growing all over the pilings and anything else that might be on the bottom. But — it’s not the best environment for pinpointing something that’s fallen there. I don’t have any problem opening my eyes in the saltwater, and would expect, accurately or not, that I could dive down to 8 feet or so, even though I’m out of practice — but the bottom was 12 feet deep.

Another explanation of my floundering is that after the initial rush of adrenalin wore off, I was a little self conscious about having my skirt over my head while I was “bottoms up”, with and a dozen or so people looking over the edge of the water at my attempts to retrieve the glasses. The spotlight was off me for a few minutes when a couple of other patrons joined me in my search, but they had no luck either. Seriously — the water seemed crystal clear! You could see the bottom! Why couldn’t we find them??

But, the fun didn’t end there….after I decided my search was over, I had to get OUT of the water. I hadn’t climbed down a ladder, I had jumped off a pier that was 5 feet above the ocean. I had to find a boat, and try to pull myself over the edge. But wait — I’m a 48 year old woman with NO upper body strength — there’s was no way that was going to happen! Mark came over to help, and tried so hard to do it in a way that didn’t make me look like, well, like a 48 year old woman with no upper body strength. No luck there either though. Apparently the free weights in the gym aren’t the same as hauling up a 90+ pound woman (hey, as long as I add the “+“ I can say whatever I want and I’m still being truthful) out of the water, over the side of a boat. He did it, but the process was not well engineered.

Oh yeah — don’t forget that that there were a dozen or so people were watching us make a spectacle of ourselves. (spectacle…glasses…ha ha?) How’s that sound for two people who most emphatically do not like to be in the spotlight??

Once I got out of the water and heard that the chatter had died down a little, Mark and I walked over over to the scuba center, two docks over, to see if anyone would search with a scuba tank for me. A woman named Lanie — my daughter’s nickname —  volunteered. I knew that was a good omen. She found them in about 3 minutes.

I was a little worried about the mile or so walk back to the apartment, but it says volumes about the town that few people even raised an eyebrow. And much to Mark’s credit, he didn’t even flinch, acted instead like it was a perfectly normal thing to be strolling hand in hand down main street with a woman walking around in sopping wet street clothes

Would I have done the same thing if I were at a place in the US instead of here in the Caribbean, in a town where “dress shoes” are flip flops that have a strip of leather on them?? Still not sure!

So, my lessons for today were — Think before you act. Look before you leap. Don’t wear a skirt if you need to retrieve something from the bottom of the ocean.

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