September 27, 2022

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September 27th 2022
Published: September 28th 2022
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…and we did – eat breakfast outside, that is. (Just checking to see if you'd read yesterday's post.)

This enormous mango was ripe, even though it was very hard. It tasted great in our oatmeal.

Then we were off to Mangel Halto for the first drift snorkel this year. Yes, the seas were rougher than the calm days we’d seen of it, but not much more so. David did the usual: dropping me off at the “hole in the wall” that the divers use to get outside the rocky reef, and then driving back to Mangel Halto, and walking about 8 minutes back to me. We got in at the usual dock area, and the water felt cold at first, but we soon got used to it. As usual it was sediment-y until after the breakwall plus about 20 kicks, and then we saw the many varieties of hard and soft corals we expected.

Saw the usual “suspects” over the next 90 minutes, but did NOT see any green morays or ocean triggerfish, which we often do see out there. It was very relaxing to just float along, even tho the swells were large and sometimes choppy. We even found the sunken boat – remember Ron & Mary Jo? and David tried to dive down, holding his nose against the pressure. My guess is that he went down 15’ and it is at least 30, maybe 40’ down. We then turned in towards the peninsula of sand and mangroves, and that wasn’t easy swimming against the current. And it was quite sandy – extending further out from the shore than usual, so when asked by some visitors “how was it?” we had to tell them that they wouldn’t see much unless they went pretty far out – but then they would see lots of a variety of parrot fish, but with a strong current. So many people think they can snorkel just in close to shore and with no fins on.

We had seen just one other small group of snorkelers on the drift, and they came as we did – 2 guides and two young woman – all with assisted snorkeling “motors.” We teased them for being wimps – but there would have been no way they could have done what they did (swim up the channels against the current) without them. We had done that a few times in calmer seas, including the time that a manta ray left us in the dust as he continued up the channel so easily and we were kicking like crazy. I had gotten one brief photo before he disappeared into the gloom.

Off to Zee Rover to buy fish. And they didn’t have any!!! Nor any to cook and eat there. Nope, these winds have thwarted the little fishing boats. They only offered shrimp. We did determine that the huge pale gray fish that enjoy eating the crumbs and shrimp heads are a new fish for us – at least per the server at Zee Rover – African Pompano. No, not a mahi mahi as mentioned, nor a palometa (right colors but about 1/5 of the size). The huge porcupine fish came out too. It’s obviously a great place for these fish to live just off the pier there!

So, we stopped at Huchada to buy some ham & cheese pastechis (like Cornish pasties but without any potatoes/vegetables) for lunch. There were only 2-4 people in front of us this time. Why in the world was it so crowded when we were there with the Fadeleys!!

How lovely to eat this outside too in the cool of the shade. And then I enjoyed 20 minutes in the pool on my float and David managed about 5. I had told him I intended to enjoy the pool this time much more than he’d allowed me last year.

By the way, David saved a bird this morning!! When he went out to set up for our breakfast, he found a mocking bird splashing in the pool, struggling obviously. He used the cleaning net to retrieve it, and it hopped immediately into the protection of some aloe bushes. It was there for at least an hour, but fortunately was gone when we returned for lunch. Also, we espied a most surprising bird – 2 of them actually. Not new ones to our list, but most unexpected. Only once before did we see bobolinks – in May in Ohio, in full mating plumage. These were the duller, “bet you can’t tell what I am” colors. In my opinion one should get credit for non-mating plumage like a new bird. They are en route to South America for the winter – early migrators.

We discovered something interesting from Roxanne, who works as a technical analyst for the government. She sets the prices of gasoline, diesel, etc., and confirmed that every gas station charges the same rate.

After our quiet time (well, quiet for David, but I had to do 2 loads of laundry) we went birding back at the Gold Mine. Still no humming birds, but Shocos were out, and it was interesting to see an osprey on the ground guarding his fish. Evidently it was too heavy for him to fly off with it from a standing position! We saw a rare Summer Tanager – big yellow bird with black wings.

We stopped at another fish-selling place we knew – David asked “do you have fish to sell?” Man: “not yet, but I expect some boats to come in.” David: “when will that be?” Man: “Do you see a watch on my wrist? He comes when he comes. Island time.”

Well, fortunately the man came in, having been out in his little boat from 7:30 – and brought in only one cooler of red snappers (maybe 25) and one grouper. Not much for a long day. We bought the grouper for $27 and hopefully it is two meals in curry. I used a jar of tikka masala sauce with extra coconut milk, raisins & peanuts and banana slices, on rice. I gently let it all bubble (except the fruit) until the fish is cooked thru, then I refrigerate plates full of the fish until I can handle it with my hands to feel the bones, and return it all to the sauce. It was delicious!

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