Wednesday June 5, 2013
To get a better understanding of this story, let’s go back a few months to January when I was visiting my parents in Arizona. Somehow, that one week decided it wanted to accumulate 1/4 of the yearly rain fall in that area, so more time than we planned was spent sitting inside in front of the tv. Being a lover of TV though (don’t judge), I sat there happily, enjoying all the shows that I used to love watching back home but hadn’t been able to catch up on for months. While eating lunch one afternoon, I was flipping through the channels and found one of my old favorites on, House Hunters International. It’s a show on HGTV that follows people as they go to buy homes in new countries across the world, showing them three different properties, and having them decide on one at the end. The one being featured that day was about a young couple around my age from Pennsylvania that was moving their life to Grand Cayman Island, where both would be continuing their careers in the banking industry. At the end of the episode, where it showed the couple happily moved in to their top choice and enjoying the splendors of their new location, the girl mentioned that she would be blogging about their time there so friends and family could keep tabs on them. Hmmm, sounds familiar. I filed this couple, their location, and the blog in the back of my mind.
Fast forward a few months. We had just arrived in Grand Cayman, and probably our second day there I thought, ‘Hey, there was that couple that moved here from PA. I should try and contact them, see if they can give any info on the island, and maybe see if they want to meet up sometime’. Doing a little research on Google, I found their blog, Offshore CPA, and sent an e-mail, which was responded to by Jenn within a day. She gave a lot of great tips of places to check out on the island, but was unfortunately off the island at the moment for a wedding back in the States. A little bummed out, but still grateful for the info, I kept in touch with her a few more times, until we found out that tropical storm Andrea was keeping Serendipity put for much longer than originally anticipated, and we would still be in Cayman when they got back. Even then, Jenn was incredibly bogged down with work, but her husband Nate, was just about to transition between jobs, and had much more free time on his hands. Not only that, but he was also about to leave for a trip to Central America before his new job started. She passed the e-mails off to him, and we began to talk, trying to find ways to meet up and discuss traveling. After a few failed attempts, he was even going to pick all of us up from the Masochistic Trail and have lunch with us, but with very limited internet and low spirits that day it was pushed back, we finally made plans for him to snorkel the West Bay with Matt and I.
Meeting up at my favorite place in the world, Burger King, we sat in a booth and chatted for awhile, getting to know each other, and finding out all the dirty little secrets behind shows such as House Hunters International (like that it was actually filmed one year after they moved to the island!). We probably could have sat at the BK all day chatting, but since we had promised Nate snorkeling, and that this would probably only be a 2 hour outing, I forced us down to the dinghy dock so we could run over to Serendipity to change and grab our snorkel gear. Once Matt and I were suited up and I had packed a small cooler with a couple of drinks, we were off to find a dive buoy to tie off to. We found one about a half mile out from shore, and one by one dropped into the water to check out the scenery below. In one area that we were swimming over, there were small caves and tunnels that were filled with thousands of little fish called silversides. They were so thick and clouded that you could barely see past them, but as soon as you dove down to get a closer look they would spread apart and then swallow you as you swam through. Both Matt and Nate took turns diving down through the caves with the fish while I watched mesmerized from near the surface. We also went in to just off the shore where we found dozens of little squid, darting in groups near the shallow bottom.
When my legs and fins were getting tired, we swam back to the dinghy where I pulled out an odd array of drinks for us to enjoy. Nate was given the last Red Stripe, I took the last Lime-a-Rita, and poor Matt got the 345, Cayman’s version of Steel Reserve. As we sat out in the sun enjoying our cold drinks, Nate told us of his seven weeks off between jobs, in which time he’d fly in to Honduras, and then go to Guatemala and Belize before meeting Jenn back up in the States for some more family time. His first stop in Honduras was going to be the ever popular diving area of Utila, one of the Bay Islands. Also, conveniently, where we were headed next with Serendipity. We kind of joked around that, ‘Hey, you should come with us instead of flying, we’d love to have an extra crew member’. We all kind of laughed about it, how he could spend three days traveling the high seas with us, until Nate kept responding “No, really, I’m intrigued”. He said that he would need to talk to Jenn about it more, but he was seriously thinking about cancelling his flight and coming with us, should we be able to hold off until his last day of work the following week. I’m sure Nate was thinking that trip would either be 1.) a nice relaxing way to sit out in the sun, drink some tropical rum drinks, and catch up on a few books, or 2.) a high thrill adventure complete with stories to tell of ‘That one time I braved the Caribbean Sea’. All Matt and I could think was ‘Six hours of uninterrupted sleep’.
Pretty serious about running off into the sunset with a couple of Michiganders that he had just met, Nate had run this new plan by Jenn, who wasn’t opposed to it, but thought it might be nice to meet us before sending her husband off with us on a 400 mile journey in a sailboat. After helping us run a few errands with the use of his car, we went to eat at a place called Sunshine Grill, which serves some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. Jenn came to met us while taking a quick break from work, and over dinner we discussed our traveling so far, and the idea to bring Nate to Honduras with us. We listed off all the navigational and safety equipment that we carry on board, as well as the fact that we have a satellite phone, which can keep her and Nate within reach of each other at all times. Being the all around awesome wife and person that she is, she agreed to let him come with us, should timing and all other things work out. Meeting new friends and a possible new crew member all in one day? See, it pays to watch TV.
Nate & Jenn. Too cute!
Matt diving through the silversides.
Nate’s view as he swims with the fish.
Matt and I float near the surface.
(Yes, the music was added by me. Before you say anything, all I had access to was the classic rock my dad downloaded for me while I was visiting in January.)
*All photos and video courtesy of Nate Smith