Monday, October 26, 2009

We're Still Alive

On the morning of our second full day at the Carribean Island house, the four of us were loading the pickup for an easy trip. I blurted out the title above, and jokingly said that would be the heading of our 1st. story on the blog. Lusty, testosterone laughs were followed by a barrage of witty quips. We were in Paradise, knew it, and shared the same feelings about the day before. Thursday was a day to recover.

Our planes had landed 20 minutes apart at Miami International. Getting off the plane and through the C gate, I was greeted by floor-to-ceiling installations of beautiful fiberglass molds of all the popular sport fish in Florida's waters. Each species of fish was arranged in an artistic design of 4-10 fish with about 2-3 levels of designs per wall. They were beautiful, and I took a few photos as I waited for my companions to arrive. We'd never met before.

Standing in the waiting area in front of the gate, my eyes and the eyes of my host-Stan met. We recognized eachother immediately, thanks to photos shared through the previous year's emails. I had wondered during the many months of waiting for that moment, what it would be like to see the real faces and persons responsible for great philosophical and float-sharing emails. The glad-to-see-you shake and hug answered the question. Followed by two more similarly warm greetings from the last two of the Buoy Brothers Rudolfo and Jim, we were quickly talking. For the next 9 days, the only lull in great conversation, came when we were asleep or reading our books during the short snatches of minutes between adventures.

Needing a lot of hydration was the lesson learned on our first float hunting expedition. Each man carried a camel pack, bandages, net bag for floats, walkie talkie and camera. We had battled thick brush, with little-to-no-shade, over 100-degree temps, and no cooling ocean breeze filtering through the Casuarina trees to relieve us. There were many moments of dizziness, trying to catch my breath and breathe through my nose, and not my mouth. There was a breakdown when I draped myself over the waist-high branch of a 7'tall palm. The top part of my torso from armpits to the top of my head was bent over, supported by the palm's branch, and I wondered if my companions would find me if I passed out? From somewhere deep, came the strength to stand up, clear my head and push on.

Half an hour earlier, while searching for a piece of tideline left over from Hurrican Ike, Stan had called me on the walkie talkie to come see a glassfloat that he'd found. Our two companions were searching closer to the Casuarinas, about a quarter of a mile away.

Stumbling as quickly as I could through the maze of brush, scurrying lizards and bleached Landcrab remains, I found our Buoy Brother standing over an opening in the brush, looking down on a beautiful colorless Euro. Quickly, a few photos were snapped, and Stan stooped over to pick up the float and see if it had a maker's mark. It did...LT. Our fourth float of the day. Rudolfo had found an unmarked amber shortly after we started. Jim had found two throughly broken floats, one a Heye Glass Clover.

Fifteen minutes later, and only a few moments before the draped-over-the-branch experience, I'd decided to walk to my left to see if I could find the tideline again. I found it, and just after finding it, there in front of me was another colorless Euro embedded in the old debris right next to a European metal float. What a beautiful pair!

I called Stan over, and while waiting for him, I snapped a couple of floatos. I'd found an RG Made in Portugal 5-incher. My goal was realized. During the summer months between that moment and the initial surprise invitation, I had tried very hard not to set myself up for lack of float finding disappointment, so kept the hope alive that I would at least find one Euro on this adventure. There it was!

Walkie Talkie conversations evolved into a plan to leave the brush and get back to the truck where cold beer was waiting for us, where we could convert our long legged brush pants into shorts, and get the hot and sweaty socks and hiking sneakers off. That old dirt road was a little piece of heaven when we broke free of the morass. We slogged back to the truck. The only thing comparable to being able to sit down as we drove back to the house, rolling the cold beer bottles on the sides of our throats and faces, and drinking a good long gulp of liquid refreshment, was putting my face up and my body into the cool outdoor shower on the back porch. Nirvanna!

The next day's easy pace, and rehydrating ourselves throughly, was what we all needed, because our third day was planned. We were hiring a guide to take us to an outer Cay for more float hunting, and some afternoon fishing.

To Be Continued...