Sunday March 30, 2014
Back when Matt and I were in Guatemala we had a great thing going. I mean a great thing. We managed to sneak into one of the last open slips at the same beautiful marina our friends Luki & Elmari of s/v Skebenga were staying in, and made friends with the members of two other boats that were some of the very few to actually stay through hurricane season. Between the four boats, consisting of the four of us as well as Luis of m/v Hydromax and Ana Bianca of s/v Kajaya, we found ourselves getting together for dinner every single night. With each of the other boats consisting of at least one great cook, and then Matt and I to do the dishes, it was a perfect set up. I even dubbed us the Dinner Club.
For months we had a routine of going about boat work or daily upkeep and errands during the afternoons, always gathering just as the sun was setting to enjoy a fantastic meal and great conversation. We grew as close as family, and when the cruising season began and we all started to break away from the marina one by one, it was very hard to let our group disspiate and resume the lonely positions we had started with months before. Somehow though, through waiting weeks for weather windows or potential boat buyers, we all found ourselves spread out through Florida at the same time. Luki and Elmari up in Melbourne trying to sell Skebenga now that their eight year journey was over, Matt and I in Ft. Lauderdale, prepping for our jump to the Bahamas, and Ana Bianca and Alfredo in Miami, visiting family and taking care of personal business. Though we weren’t within a stone’s reach of each other we had no idea if or when we’d all be this close again and planned a get together. Ana Bianca and Alfredo, although still living on their boat in Biscayne Bay, were situated very close to Alfredo’s family on Key Biscayne with the option to stay whenever they liked, and even better for us, the ability to have guests over.
A plan was formed for Luki and Elmari to rent a car for a few days and swing by to get Matt and I on their way to Key Biscayne. When they pulled up in front of the Hyatt to retrieve us, even though we hadn’t seen them in over two months, it was like no time had passed at all. Nitoriously bad at emailing though, on my part, we used the drive south to catch up on all that had been going on with each other, the impending sale of Skebenga, and us trying to talk them into keeping her for just one more season, just long enough to buddy with us to the Med. We’ll have to see how things work out, but I think we at least planted a seed in their mind.
Arriving at the door of Alfredo’s mother’s house, it was a bit shocking to see these two again as we’d gone quite a bit longer since seeing them, not since August regularly, and just a quick visit in November as they came back to check on their boat. Yet somehow the fates had alligned, and here we were together again. The six of us took to the beautiful patio area behind the house, enclosed by wooden fences and tropical greenery, complete with a pool to finish the idealic scene. Over chilled beers and glasses of wine, our old group fell right back into step, although we had to admit that we were missing one of the best members, Luis, who was still back with his boat in Guatemala. Even with the lack of our favorite stories from The Most Interesting Man in the World, we found ourselves deep in speech of the transformation of our lives over the past few months.
Before we could all get too carried away though, it was the traditional part of our evening, the dinner. What was even better was that instead of enclosing the meal to only the six of us, it was a family affair with the rest of Alfredo’s family that lived near by. Before we knew it, this household was full of his Cuban siblings, cousins, and nieces. It was a fun and lively group that enveloped you immediately upon introduction. We weren’t Ana Bianca and Alfredo’s visiting boat friends, we were now just an extension of the family. A few more spots to add to the dinner table and new stories to be tossed into the conversation.
Our dinner club had now more than doubled, and we were all loving every minute of it. The night wore on so late that even after the non resident family members took their leave for the evening, us remaining members stayed out until well after midnight, not quite ready to end the reunion. With a planned departure early the next afternoon for Matt and I, by taking the Metro back to Ft. Lauderdale, we realized that chances like this don’t come up very often, and extended ourselves for one more nights stay. I’m sure the cat can make it one more night on her own. We have some exploring of Miami to do and at least one more meeting of the dinner club before we can all go our separate ways.