A Spectacular Birthday Adventure

It was my 56th birthday and Pamela had planned a day on the ocean in Playa Del Carmen to celebrate. I was excited, but I really had no idea what to expect. The taxi arrived at 8 a.m. and we drove 30 minutes to the pier. I love taxi drivers in Mexico because I get a chance to practice my Spanish and them their English.  Ironically, I speak Spanish well enough that they think I am more fluent than I actually am, and soon we are wondering into conversations that are beyond my capabilities. Luckily, I can usually keep up enough to fake it.

Arriving at the dock, I expected to see a small Mexican boat that would take us for the day.  After all, we were in Mexico. We were promised spectacular, and that is the norm but not usually the case in Playa del Carmen where the mobs of tourists clamor for anything that will be an adventure. Of course, adventure to tourists usually means well controlled, safe, air-conditioned, and drinks in hand. That’s the irony of the typical tourist adventure.

I was surprised when, instead of the tiny boat I was expecting, sitting at the dock was a 40-foot shiny, sparkly yacht with a full crew!  They were waiting for us and had breakfast already served in the small but quaintly appointed kitchen. Breakfast was bagels with jam and locally grown fruit, including mangos and something none of us recognized which had purple skin and a soft, sweet interior like a kiwi.

The crew launched the boat and we started out of the harbor, me, Pamela, Tracy, and our taxi driver Jonatgan.  Yes, our taxi driver. You see, Pamela rented the boat and there were only three of us going.  Rather than have Jonatgan wait four hours for us to come back, we told him to come along and enjoy the day. He could experience the Living Every Minute brand of working and playing. Since there was only breakfast for three, he and the girls enjoyed theirs and I went above to the bow to enjoy the ride.

The day was warm and humid.  The sun was out, but it was hidden by a layer of clouds that had stolen its strength.  Still, it was nice, and I took my shirt off to enjoy the day on the water. I have never started a day on a boat that did not end up being amazing. There is something about standing on the deck, feeling the sun and the waves as you head to an unknown adventure. All the planning and preparing do not make you ready for what is about to happen.  It’s the feeling sailors must have as they go to the ocean.

We traveled northward along the coast and could see Cozumel to the right and Playa to the left.  After breakfast, the ladies joined me, and we laid on the bow of the deck and soaked in the rays of the sun like sand on a beach warming for the day. The waves made for a rhythmic, albeit bumpy, ride as we cruised. We were headed to a place to snorkel, swim around, and hopefully see some exotic and wonderful sea creatures.

Upon arriving, we immediately jumped in the water. It was warm and clear and there was a nice coral reef below us. I worry about the health of our coral reefs as I have seen them deteriorate over the last 20 years scuba diving around the world. It seems to me the easiest solution would be to give them “rests” where we rotate who can go to which ones and allow them a year or two to heal. The mighty dollar probably won’t allow this, as many dive shops and cruise ships make their living on providing nature’s coral reefs as attractions as if they were a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. The problem is, these are not stores but living breathing creatures and we must take care they are here for the next generation to see.

The snorkeling was great, the water perfect temperature. We saw some fish and even a turtle. However, once I got back on the boat the adventure really began. As soon as I climbed back aboard, we noticed the turtle we saw earlier was now by another. Soon, a stingray joined them. They were “sharing” a dead fish that had been tossed in the water. It was amazing to watch and too hard for my boyish adventure side to resist. I grabbed a mask and back in I went. For the next 30 minutes, I witnessed the ray and turtles arguing, fighting, and what seemed like playing. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The ray would cover the entire fish and then suck the meat off it with its vacuum like mouth. Then, the turtles would dive in and snatch the fish from him and off they would go munching on it like a leftover turkey bone from Thanksgiving. On and on it went until everyone on board finally insisted I get out of the water.

 

The trip back held another amazing surprise. Pamela and the crew presented me with a James Bond 007 themed black and white cake right there on the boat! It was beautiful, all black frosting with 007 and a gun across it. I immediately dove my face right into it in a James Bond sort of way. It was spectacular. The taste matched the look in how amazing it was!

We cruised back to the shore, basking in the sun. We sang some songs, listened to music, and soaked in that Vitamin D. I was turning 56 years old… There’s no way I could have imagined when I was16 what my life would possibly look like. I was on a yacht eating birthday cake in Playa del Carmen with my best friends in the world. Simply spectacular. As we passed the boats and houses seeking our dock, I was humbled and blessed by this amazing life and my commitment to Living Every Minute.

Get out there and try it sometime!

Dr. Tim

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