Not a good start April 27

Published: April 28th 2022
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Not a good start to the day ☹

We went over to the sheltered ocean opposite our place very early in the morning, like 7:15. Perhaps because they do not adopt daylight savings time, it’s amazingly light early. It was chilly to begin with in the ocean, but by the time we submerged it was the usual lovely temperature. Warmer than Hawaii had been in December/January. The reef is a fair swim off, in quite shallow water (6’ ?) so for about 10-15 mins all we saw was grass, and it would have been another to get to the reef. However, when we went to take a photo of a shell, David saw that his underwater camera was not working, and he saw water inside the “waterproof” casing. Oh no!! So we came back in and put everything immediately into some of the rice we had brought. (Hope basmati works well to dry it all out.) We could see no reason for the failure, and it’s a very expensive problem.

Anyway, the storms were to return by 1, so we regrouped and drove off to Rum Point for the drift snorkel. (We are staying further east than before, so it was barely a 20 minute drive as you “cut through” from south to north and don’t have to go all around the east side.) Because we missed the pull in to the public bathroom where I normally wait, we drove the 5 mins to Rum Point (the end of the drift) just to see it and turn around to go back. AND A SIGN SAID IT WAS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. What!!??

When we pulled in to the parking lot a man came walking over waving his arms – no you can’t park here. No problem, sir, but what’s going on!? From him and the owner of the Czech Inn restaurant we surmise that business had been really bad due to Covid, and then in September 21 Hurricane Grace was terrible, and so when Easter 2022 ended “the season,” they set to making repairs. No water is on; nothing is open. But he said access to the beach is public, just don’t go on the pier. Goodness, what next?

So, David drove us the short way back to the public bathroom where I waited under the shelter as usual with all our snorkeling gear and he drove back to park just off Rum Point’s property, in order to then walk back to me. He took a little longer because he ran into a biking couple who were resting on the side of the road -- they had just ridden 24 miles to get there and were wondering what in the heck to do now. He gave advice on nearby restaurants and toilets. What a pro.

And off we went. The current was swift, like one other time we’d done it in the past, as the winds were from the East and from 10-20 mph. We could just about manage to stay still to photograph or watch something – like the STING RAY! What WAS he doing? Trying to bury himself or scruffling around for something to eat? From the looks of the hangers on (including the pluma, the bigger fish with yellow back), it’s the latter.

We also saw 4 TURTLES in the shallow area with turtle grass. And many soft corals, purple sea fans, sea fingers, lots of lovely colors, and the usual sorts of fish, including 2 tiny harlequin bass and a gorgeous pair of Queen Triggerfish (see the file on top of their head too, which pops up when they are aggressive). From a soft corals point of view, it’s much healthier and more varied that is Aruba. We just let the currents carry us along, as it would have been hard to manage the zigzagging we usually do to make the trip last longer. David failed to time it, but it couldn’t have been more than 45 minutes. We turned the corner at the pier of Rum Point and came in to the public beach. It started to rain, good timing. We stopped at Over the Edge, a restaurant maybe 5 mins’ drive from there, along the north shore of the East End, and sat inside with the windows open all around, and David had conch fritters, mixed veg and plantains (not half so sweet as at Zee Rovers in Aruba, but not tasteless either like some), and Jean had the “national Jamaican dish” of salt cod and ackee, mixed veg, “rice and peas” – which is really rice with black beans – and plantains. We were hungry by then after 2 snorkels.

We drove around the East side rather than doing the cut through, and even that is only about a 30 min drive to the Airbnb, and stopped for some fruit from the truck that evidently is there every day, every year. We stopped en the way at the Tukka restaurant to confirm that they DO serve lionfish as fish tacos, so we will return soon.

After recuperating with naps we set off to do some birding and yesterday and today added TWO new birds: the Greater Antillean Grackle – who is probably just the normal grackle we have in Ohio but with island accents – and the loggerhead kingbird. Not new birds for us, we were also rewarded at a little inland fresh-water lake to see a magnificent frigate bird overhead (it’s an ocean bird), an anhinga drying on the tree with arms outstretched forever, a tri-color heron and black-crowned night heron, snowy egret, black and white stilts with their funny pink tights , a moorhen, some sort of grebe far away, a yellow warbler (will he be leaving for Ohio soon?), white-winged pigeons, grackles galore, and amazing lesser terns, which hovered like humming birds before dying into the shallow lake for a fish. Plus we found a smooth-billed ani. That's a great scrabble word.

Back to the Czech Inn for their garlic fries to have with the sandwich wraps we bought yesterday at the supermarket – and while waiting we found the sign we were so impressed by last time, about grandfathers, and signed one of the posts, and then returned home to close up the evening with the blog and checking in with some missing friends. And soon to bed!!! Rest up, repeat.

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