Thursday, January 12, 2012

Second Culebra Experience

As soon as we got out of the marina, the wind and high seas started to beat us. I suggested turning back, since there was no pressing reason for taking this trip for Deniz and Zeynep, besides sight-seeing. They were to return to San Juan by ferry, to catch their plane on the 3rd of January. I was afraid that they might get stuck in Culebra, if storms should continue. But of course, the guys thought nothing of the waves, and Zeynep put up brave front, so we pressed on. It was a good thing that our ginger tea was already in the thermos!

For four and a half hours we fought with high waves, northerly swells that were coming from a different angle, and wind blowing head on. I had a hard time watching the bow constantly diving into the water, and coming out with a high angle. The sight was too scary, so I sat facing the back, and did not move much, since keeping one’s balance was almost impossible. Zeynep and I did a lot of talking, doing small physical exercises with our arms, and drinking our tea, to keep ourselves busy. I think I was the only one scared of the situation, but everybody felt the discomfort. We made fun of Al by asking “When is the tide going to help us?”, “Is tide really coming, or has it stood you up?”, “How come four feet waves look so high?”

After four odd hours, we got encouraged by the seeing the entrance to Ensenada Honda; but the waves and the wind doubled while turning in. The last bit was not easy to take. Poor Zeynep could not help commenting on the length of the trip. If you ask me, I can live without ever hearing the name of Culebra in my life! It had been such an ordeal both ways, and I am thankful that we did the passage with friends, rather than tackling it alone; however I felt responsible for their safe deliverance.

The worst was over, as soon as we entered the deep bay, it was quite calm, so anchoring was a breeze. It is customary for Deniz to dive, to see the position of the anchor, so he immediately jumped into the water. I felt so sorry for him, because I would not dip my hand into that awful water. The last time we were there, I saw several dead fish floating on the surface. When I told him that, he said he could not see the anchor anyway (at 15 feet of depth). What a sacrifice!
Our stay in Culebra was not too bad, the town Dewey is very small, but he beaches around the island are great. We got a map of the town and vicinity, and decided to walk about to explore it. We had learned from our friends earlier that on Fridays a pickup truck would bring fresh vegetables to the town, so we made the mistake of asking the grocery store about it. The owner told us that the vegetables would be sold in his store on Saturday, not on Friday. One should not believe everything one hears. Half an hour later, while looking for the bakery, we stumbled upon the mini market place that was being established around the said truck. I even held one corner of the that tent they were trying to set up over the vegetables. So we were right on time, to get our pick before everybody else. I don’t think much would be left to be sold at the grocery store the next day. It was a make shift place, but equipped with Interac and credit card payments. That was a lucky find, thanks to our willingness to walk around.

The next day we found a nice beach at the north end of the island called Plaja Flamenco, with miles of a sandy beach where high waves constantly hammered. The beach was lined with a park, picnic tables under coconut trees, open showers, not very clean bathrooms, food kiosks, etc. It turned out that Deniz enjoyed the surfing waves as much as we did, however Zeynep had a mishap in a similar sea, so did not swim much. The two of us walked on the beach, which curved around to create a calm area, and swam at the protected side, and later joined the guys sitting at a table in the shade sipping their beer. We had lunch there, and later took our showers, thanks to the custom of Zeynep always carrying soap in her purse. During the shower, when I commented that in Turkey, it was not allowed to use soap at the beach showers, Zeynep saw the sign to the same effect, but it was too late. You know, finding that facility was a great help for preserving our water supply.

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