I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ALLIGATOR ALLEY

I wonder how many times I had to tell David to turn off his indicator today?

Up at 0 dark 30, as my friend Fran says. Actually up about half an hour before the alarm goes of at 3:30. I went to bed sobbing my eyes out last night over an email I received from one of my kids that was very hurtful, and this morning they are puffy. I hate that look. I splash cold water on my face but it doesn't help. Some dark eye shadow makes the puffiness look less puffy.

I put water on for tea and hear David's alarm go off down the hall. It stops after a minute or so but I don’t hear him moving around. I am not about to go see if he's up. He might be the type who hits the snooze until the last possible moment and I don't want to risk him getting snappy with me for treating him like a child. Ever since it's been decided that we aren't going to be sailing together, the nice guy has vanished and has been replaced with a sullen, quiet, and - when he does speak - snappy old man. While the water comes to a boil I go finish getting stuff together to leave for the day. I hide my laptop under the pillows of my bed... the maintenance guy comes almost every day and he seems nice enough but I don’t know him and others might come and go for all I know. David said that the kids come home from college unannounced frequently. I hope if the guy whose room this is comes home today he doesn't sit on the pillow.

I go back in the kitchen to make my tea in my insulated mug and I hear David's alarm again. Still no sound of him up. As I putter in the kitchen he suddenly appears, hair wild and pulling on a shirt. "My alarm didn't go off." he says. "Yes it did, I heard it." I say and he mumbles something as he dashes back out.

He comes back in a few seconds later and says that he doesn't have time to make himself tea. I tell him I have boiled enough for both of us and I was going to make him some but I don't know what tea he wants. He grabs a teabag that is near his travel mug and says he had put it out last night. I make his tea.

He gathers up all of his stuff. Last night he was packing all of his shirts into his backpack and I asked him why. He said he likes to take everything with him when he goes far for the day. I asked if I should be taking all my stuff as well and he says no. I ask why he takes his then. "I just like to." he literally snaps back at me. Whoa. "Hey," I say, "I am asking because if there is a reason why you don’t feel it’s safe to leave your stuff here all day while we're gone then I’d like to know that so I can pack up as well." He doesn't look up from what he's doing. "It’s safe here. I just like to do this ok?" he snaps at me again. I am annoyed and walk away.

So now he is gathering his backpack and briefcase, pillow and even some clippers he bought the other day. "You are even taking your clippers?" I ask. He puts them back down, "No." and walks past me. I am starting to see things about this guy that really rub me the wrong way but, ever the peacekeeper, I shrug it off and gather my purse and the bag containing my bathing suit and towel (he told me to pack it for the beach later) and my tea and follow him out.

We aren't long in the car and he asks me if I planned on waking him up when I heard his alarm go but he didn't get up. I say "No." He asked how long I would have let him lay in; 4, 4:30, 5? Annoyed with the attitude behind the question, I tell him that if I still hadn't heard movement by 4 then I would have knocked on his door. He asks why I didn't sooner. I tell him that I don't know if he is the type who likes to hit the snooze, and besides he is an adult. If he needs to be up then he can get himself up, that I don't even wake my kids up unless they ask me to. He asks if I would let them sleep past needing to be up and I say yes I would. They are grown ups and are responsible for themselves. He dismisses me with a wave of his hand and that makes me see red. So incredibly rude. We drive on in silence and I fall asleep as it is pitch dark out and I only had 4 hours sleep last night. I wake every now and then but don't feel any compunction to be sociable at this stage of the day as well as the fact that his grumpy old man routine has really put me off. I am starting to think that it’s a good thing we aren't going to be on a boat together for months on end.

I wake as he pulls into a gas station. We have been on the road over an hour and I get out to stretch my legs. It’s so warm out and it is still dark. I love this weather! We pull across the road to a McDonald's and he goes in for a 'sausage biscuit'. I don't want anything this early, not that he asked.

Next time I wake, the sky has lightened to a pink tinged blue and we are on a long bridge that seems to go for miles. It does go for miles. Up ahead it rises from where it is now level with the water, to really high up. There are suspension cables in the center of the bridge, just one set rising twice instead of the usual twin set. It is floodlit and the cables are yellow. It is a very eerie effect.

A few hours later we stop for gas again and I get out and stretch. When I get back in, David tells me we are about to drive Alligator Alley. Huh?? He explains that it is a long stretch of road joining the east coast to the west coast and that there are alligators living in the ditches along side the road and the everglades beyond. I am excited that I get to drive through the everglades and that I might see a real alligator in the wild. I scan the sides of the road as we speed along but don't see any. David tells me to let him know if I see a log on the road, because that will be a 'gator that someone ran over. Ewww.

David is back to being nice and affable again so now I am much more inclined to socialize. We chat about his life in these parts and he points out places of interest along the way. At one point we pass a white wooden building about the size of a large outhouse. It has a US flag flying and a sign that says US Post Office. Hmmm. David tells me that it's the smallest post office in the entire U.S. of A. Pity the poor person who has to work there. There is nothing around for miles but swamp and, presumably, alligators and that has to be the most confining place to spend one's 9 to 5.

Up ahead there is a building that houses the Alligators Appreciation Society Museum, or something like that, and they have a long observation walkway over the slough-like ditch where a whole bunch of them (alligators not society members) are usually hanging out. We pull into the parking lot and get out for a look. There are a whole bunch of them hanging out. And the ditch is full of fish that look like Pike. Poor, poor fish. They must live in sheer terror, waiting their turn to be eaten by all the 'gators floating around. I pull out the camera and take a bunch of pictures. There is one big guy in the dirt and as I walk over that way, he gets up and starts to walk. I quickly flip the camera over to video and manage to get most of his waddle over to the water.

We get back underway and, hours later, arrive in Miami. David tells me to keep my eye out for a certain road and I do, wondering why the GPS's directions aren't good enough to follow. Apparently it's confused. I call out street names and soon we pull into a parking lot. David pays the guy at the entrance the $12 flat rate for all day even though we are only going to be there an hour or so. We just passed a lot that was $2.75 for half an hour. I don't get this guy. He's loaded yet pinches pennies like no one I know; he orders a Whopper Jr. instead of a regular Whopper because it's a dollar cheaper, yet he just paid way more to park than he needed to. Go figure.

I tell him I am going to find a coffee shop that has outdoor seating on the street behind the Government building he has to go to and he can come find me when he's done. He tells me to come and check the truck every half hour instead. I say no, I will be just around the corner on the street and won't be hard to find. I really don't want to leave a coffee shop earlier than I need to, go to the truck to find he isn't there, and then what? Go back to the same coffee shop? Find another? No, he can come find me. He gives me a set of keys to the truck and again tells me to check every half hour. I give them back and say no. He strides off in a huff and heads away from the Gov't building towards the cafes. He comes to a little alley that is all set up with tables and chairs and points to them and tells me to sit there. It's a restaurant not a coffee shop and I am annoyed again. I am finding his attitude towards me really offensive today... either ordering me around or snapping at me. I want to tell him where to get off but bite my tongue and say instead that I'll see him there. He leaves and I keep walking past the alley. I don't want to sit just yet; I have been sitting for five hours and need to walk. Besides, now I am in a rebellious mood and the last thing I want to do is sit where he just ordered me to sit.

I walk around the block, stopping at a little discount store run by Cubans. A quick look through and then I keep going and come across a Macys. Ooooooo! I go in and stroll through the purse department. I need a bigger one to put all my crap in for the flight back. The one I have just isn't big enough. All the purses here are really expensive though. Then I see some by that designer I saw at the discount store yesterday, Kathy Van Zeeland. So that bag really WAS worth $99 usually. Hmmm. I really liked it so I might have to go back and get it. No. I won't. I can’t afford it. Oh well.

I make my way back to the cafe alley and ask the waiter there if I can just take a seat. He nods. I sit and look at the menu. I haven't eaten yet and it’s after 11. I order the hummus and an iced tea and pull out my book. It’s 'Sail' by James Patterson. It’s actually David's book and he just finished it and now I am into it. My iced tea and hummus appear and I eat as I read. The hummus is light and is the best I have ever had. The iced tea, however, is the typical US stuff that tastes literally like plain tea poured over ice. UGH. I stir a couple of packs of sugar into it but it doesn't improve much. When I am done, and the waiter comes to clear the plates, I tell the him that the hummus is the best I have ever had and he beams. He then, I think, tells the chef in Spanish. The chef is right beside me in the outdoor kitchen that’s behind a low wall. I smile at him and go back to my book. Suddenly another bowl of hummus is put down in front of me with more pita. I tell the smiling waiter that I am full and couldn't possibly eat any more. He tells me this hummus is much better. I dip my finger in and taste it and, OH WOW, it is fabulous. Nutty, smooth, light... amazing. My eyes widen and he grins. I ask why? How? He tells me what I had first was made yesterday but this was just made. I tell him I can't believe how good it is. He asks if now I will eat it? I tell him I can't, I am just too full so he packs it up for me to take away and tells me there is no charge for it. I thank him and tell him this is my first time in Miami, that I am from Vancouver, Canada. He tells me he almost went to Canada once. He was in Buffalo, New York to see Niagara Falls and he wanted to cross the border but his friends didn't have papers so he couldn't go. He says he will go some day.

David arrives just as I am paying my bill. He is frustrated. The computers are down in the Gov't office and so they can't give him back his passport with the additional pages today. They will have to mail it to him. But he still had to pay the $60 for expediting the process even though now it’s not expedited. He is fried about that. I can see why. It makes no sense at all.

I had told him that I wanted to see the part of Miami that has the Art Deco buildings near the beach. Now we are in the car, driving, and I thought we were headed that way but suddenly we are on the freeway headed out of the city. He says we will go to the beach in Fort Lauderdale. I am quiet, not wanting to cause a problem by speaking my mind. Oh to heck with it.... "I wanted to see Miami Beach." I say. He is exasperated. Apparently he didn't hear me say that... THREE TIMES over the past two days. He doesn't hear a lot of what I say and I am constantly having repeat myself louder. Anyway I tell him it's fine, I will see Miami Beach some other time. I know I won't but, whatever. I am sick of the bickering with this guy.

Parking at the beach in Ft. Lauderdale isn't free and between us we have enough change for an hour. I go to the restrooms on the beach and change into my bathing suit. The surf is really pounding the wide beach. The water is a pretty shade of blue, green. Not the color of the water in the BVI, but it's nice. And it’s just a few degrees shy of warm. I wade in up to my waist and am about to swim when I see a piece of poop floating an arms length away. GROSS!!!! I run back out and don't go back in. David says he is going to sit in the car and read and gives me his watch so that I can be back before our parking is up. I sit on my towel and watch the waves and eat the hummus and pita. It’s so delicious. I wish I had asked for the recipe. Keeping my eye on the time, I finish up the book and then head back to the truck. David is sleeping and jolts awake when I open my door.

I sleep most of the way back. At some point he starts talking about Louise, again. She is a woman who was on the boat with him for an extended time and they ended up in a relationship for about 18 months. He says they broke up because he didn't want her dog on the boat and she said, "if the dog goes then I go". He gave me her number to call for a reference back before I left home, which I did and she told me she broke it off because of the age difference. She is late 40's. She still calls him every day and he talks about her incessantly. He tells me now that he thinks he will ask her to marry him. Then he says he won't because she might say no. I tell him that I can't stand it when people make up my mind for me, like not asking me to an event because they think I won't want to drive that far. I tell him he should ask and let her decide. He asks me if he should have a ring when he asks or ask then get a ring together. I tell him it's always nice to have the ring when you ask. He gets the idea of trading his dead wife's ring in where he bought it because if you get another they will give you what you paid for it. He tells me he did that with his second wife's ring after she died, and bought this ring with the credit. He then says "That's awful. Is that awful?" I say that "Yes it is awful." He then turns on me "Why is that awful? What was I supposed to do with the ring?" he snaps. I tell him why I think it is awful and he starts to get snarky with me. "Would it have been better if I hawked it and then took the thousand dollars across the street and bought the ring?" I have had about enough of this. "Look," I say, "You asked me what I thought and I am telling you." "I didn't ask,” he says. "Oh yes you did. You said that’s awful, is that awful? And I am telling you, it’s awful." He does the dismissive hand wave thing at me for the second time that day and I lose it. "If you don't want to know, then don't ask. I think it’s awful that you would buy your new wife's ring with money from your ex wife's ring." "She's not my ex-wife, she's dead." "WHATEVER. Same thing. She's not your wife anymore." If he waves that hand at me one more time I will want to deck him, so I look out the window and say no more.

When we get back to the house I notice right away that my bathroom has been cleaned. The trashcans are empty as well. I ask David if someone comes to clean the house and he says yes, on Mondays and he meant to tell me. Glad I hid my laptop. I should have hid my jewelry as well. I just KNEW someone was going to be in the house while we were gone.

I throw two small frozen pizzas in the oven and go check my emails. My cousin Nancy, who lives in Key Largo with her husband Jake and has a dog grooming shop there, has finally answered my emails. She has given me her cell number and as soon as I have eaten my pizza I give her a call on Skype. We have a great chat we get caught up on what our kids are doing. She can’t believe the ages of mine. I can't believe she is a grandma to four and that she just turned 65 last week. I remember her as my glamorous older cousin when I was little and I wonder what she looks like now. I haven't seen her for about 16 years and she still looked glamorous then. She tells me how run off her feet she is at her shop. Apparently, after running the place for several years, she sold it and retired. She held the mortgage on it and when the guy who bought it wasn't successful and couldn't keep the business, she took it back. So now she works 7 days a week 10 - 12 hours a day and is exhausted. We talk about my situation and how it sucks that I am not going to be able to see her before I go back home. I tell her I was in Miami today and she tells me that was just an hour away from her and we are both fed up that we didn't manage to talk before today so that I could have gone down there to see her. Now I am 6 hours away.

When she talks again about how busy she is, I suddenly see an opportunity to salvage this trip. I ask her if she could use my help. She could. She asks if I mind dogs and I tell her I don’t as long as they don't bite me. I tell her that I have office experience so perhaps I could do that end of it and then she could just concentrate on the grooming. She gets very excited at the idea. She tells me to rent a car and come down as soon as I can and that I can stay with them on their houseboat [!!!]. She says that they know everyone down there and that they will take me out with them on Friday nights and I can get to know their friends. And maybe someone will know someone who is looking for a crew member.

I feel like someone drowning who was just thrown a lifeline.


video.

1 comment:

  1. I started this blog on a different site (getjealous.com) and then moved it to here but I lost all of the comments that were made on that site. I decided to copy and paste them all into this blog. Below are the ones for this post:

    Ron Oliver (14th May 2009)
    Best story ever.
    This story of yours just gets better and better, it's really a remarkable adventure. and don't you LOVE florida culture? we spent a couple months there every year when i was a kid and i remember that post office! you must get to south beach, the deco hotels etc are amazingly beautiful as are the people. keep writing this all down, it's gold and although the boat trip didn't work out, this is going to be worth serious money to you when it's all over. I'm already talking to my Hallmark guys. xo

    Linda Sheehy-Brownstein (14th May 2009)
    Does this guy resemble your ex?
    He's sure pushing your buttons (& you, his, for that matter). Yuck! Happy trails - looking forward to the next chapter.
    Linda

    Stephen Cholakis (14th May 2009)
    You're awesome
    Sandra,
    bravo! to you for hanging in there. consider me for the transport coordinators position when you make the movie. if you need a little help ($) while in the florida i can help you out. scholakis@telus.blackberry.net is where i can be reached. i'm behind you. i'm sooooo! glad you rented that car and making your way to a BRIGHTER location. have a nice day! big hugs!!

    ReplyDelete

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Some names have been changed to protect my butt.



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