So I went on a six day boat trip in the Carribean and it was cloudy and rainy the entire time! That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. Let’s just say that it was a different experience than I was expecting.
When Faisal and I got on the boat, we soon realized that out of the 6 other passengers on our boat we were the youngest by about 25 years. It is strange to converse with people who say things like, “20 years ago…”, “back in the 60’s”, “my 40 year old son..” or “my grandchildren..”. These are the types of people who struggle to find a Spanish translation for the phrase “hunkey dorey.” But not to fear, I was not the youngest on the boat. We had a bet to see how old our cook was on our boat; I guessed he was in his teens but others claimed that latinos are actually much older than they look. However, I was right. He told us he was diez y ocho.
Our time on the boat was primarily governed by the meal times – 7:30, 12:30, and 6. It doesn’t really matter whether we are hungry or not but we all congregate in the middle of the ship and happily eat whatever is served. If we are still hungry at the end of lunch there is peanut butter, honey, and jam that we can eat with whole wheat bread. The presence of the peanut butter could not be a bigger treat for my cohorts on the boat. Every meal is filled with promise for the peanut butter jelly sandwhich that awaits the end of the meal. It took me a little while to warm up to the peanut butter but soon I was eating it after every meal.
Some of the people on the boat wondered how Ariel, our chef, learnt how to cook; in Guatemala it is uncommon for men to cook. When someone asked our EL Capitain about where Ariel acquired his skills, he looked confused. What do you mean how did he learn to cook?
“You mean you just threw him down there and that’s how he learnt?” She asked. Exactly.
On the boat there are three women who have given up their respective American/Canadian lives and have come to Guatemala to take advantage of the cheap prices and build a house. Together they revel in the ex-pat culture of Antigua and Guatemala as a whole. Divorced or unmarried, they have left behind their families to carve out a new experience in Guatemala. They have learnt Spanish, avoid newspapers, and sponsor the educations of young Guatemalans. One is Bonnie, who is legally blind. I can only imagine how difficult it is to navigate a boat on rough seeas when you can’t see. Kari, another woman, is a retired psychotherapist and surgeon aid (I don’t think that is the technical word for it). And Sue, works seasonally as a someone who watches fires in a tower in Alberta. She spends her off time in Guatemala.
Sue and I had a conversation in which (being fully aware that I was a Mormon) she told me she thought Mormons are the wierdest out of the religions that she knew. “For example,” the idea of multi-layered heavens.”
I thought about this and felt that out of all the wierd things that one could pick out about Mormons, this was one of the least strange ones that I could think of. I also did not really feel like getting into a theological debate. I just shrugged and said, “We’re not that weird. We are just as weird as all the other churches. We just haven’t been around as long so people aren’t as used to our oddities.”
She looked at me unblinkingly and said, “I’m an atheist.”
I think I am getting a bit off track. Back to the boat!
Another person on the boat, the only one in fact that wasn’t from Canada or America, was Thomas. Thomas was from Austria, had a laugh as evil as a villain from a 007 film from the 80’s, and had never (gasp) tried peanut butter before. Thomas was an ex-karate fighter, and now worked in a bank and volunteered as a referree. I felt like Thomas and I were kindred spirits because like me, he really loved food. In fact, it is safe to say (I don’t say this very often) that he loves food a lot more than I do. We knew when Thomas was getting hungry because he would start detailing the kind of pizza he would order when he got back to Rio Dulce and off the boat. The fact that I did not eat most meats and drink alcohol was something of a great tragedy for Thomas (One night when our crew didn’t catch any fish and we had a vegetarian dinner Thomas said that if we didn’t have meat the next night he would start a revolution on board.). After dinner he would tell us about cakes that he made for himself in Austria; they were a mixture of blended/powdered nuts (instead of flour) and nutella, this would be baked and then frozen while he mixed up the icing which was marmelade with rum and all sorts of other delicious sounding things. By the end of his descriptions the rest of us would all be drooling.
After any given meal, Thomas who was inevitably still hungry, would take several pieces of bread and help himself to the treasured peanut butter. Indeed, the peanut butter seemed to be the uniting factor amongst us all. We all fussed over our jar which was diminishing. One day, Bonnie, who had the best Spanish of us all, over heard the crew talking about how slow we were eating the peanut butter. According to him, in other trips, the guests had eaten a jar a day.
“Wait,” she asked, “There is more peanut butter?” We all rejoiced.