The day began relatively ordinary for what became the most extraordinary day of my life. I woke up by myself in a cute hotel in Road Town, which is the main city of Tortola. Eddie left two days ago and in my attempt to not torture myself with memories of him, I hitched a ride yesterday to the populated side of the island for some distraction. I carried all my belongings, checked into a classic Caribbean hotel with a friendly staff and began drinking. Rumor has it that I was doing the limbo and reading everyone’s palms who entered the bar. Good times.
I awoke with a painful hangover and left the hotel to bite the hair of the dog that bit me, so the saying goes. After I had kicked back a few over brunch, I meandered around town. I purchased a few sarongs, bathing suits and some sunscreen. Then I passed by a boat shop. I went inside and found my dream boat that soon became a pipe dream with the price tag of $15,000. I left the store, but my head started to spin (and not from the cocktails I had earlier!)
I inquired with my hotel of where to find a boat within my budget. I figured, I would need money for gas, etc and should spend half of what I had left ($4934) on a boat - $2500. The hotel manager laughed a hearty laugh and repeated my number aloud while he chuckled and giggled. To clarify (I thought), I said, “ this is not for fishing or diving or anything but getting from one boat to another”. He continued to shake mehis head with snickers. I left, but I was not discouraged. In fact, I was determined.
I felt like lightening had struck me. I was resolute that the reason Eddie left is so that I could live out my “Walden”. It would be my ticket to living out goal off living off the land on a remote island. I got out my stash of cash and set out to buy a boat.
Road town is a large town and there is no hitching here as it is filled with tourists . I must say that it is amazing that Brewer’s Bay, Rogues Bay and the entire other side of the island can be remote with the size of Road Town. This is simply because of the road that leads to the other side of town is so treacherous. I heard that many places where cruise ships dock are like this. Alaska is wilderness, except for where the cruise ships docks.
Soon after I arrived at the marina, I had several options of boats that were even less than my budget. Yes, most of them were covered in patches and hardly looked landworthy, let alone seaworthy. And the owners – yikes! Something about life on the water wears a person down and soon they are missing teeth and have leathered skin. But, I am a sucker for a colorful character. I cannot resist someone who walks to the beat of a different drummer and has had many unusual life experiences. Guess it’s from all the interesting people I grew up around.
I picked the grand prize fruitcake of them all – Captain Willie. He introduced himself to me by proclaiming that he doesn’t drink alcohol, while a bottle of rum stuck out of his pants. No, never touches a drop. He then went off on a rambling tangent which sentiment was lovely about how everyone should stop judging one another. He took off his rasta cap to reveal long dreadlocks and reassured me that Rastafarians don’t drink. I told him all about my plans with the boat. He was the first person that genuinely seemed to not only understand what I wanted to do, but was sincerely encouraging. What does that say about me?
I felt powerful, smart and courageous. The boat looked good. It looked new. He would even help me launch it. All for $2500! I thought to hell with the hotel manager, Eddie, Styles of Brewer’s Bay and everyone who doubted me. I was going to really do it and they would eat their words. Captain Willie drove me up to my hotel and I literally threw all my possessions in the boat. “Good for you”, he said as he drove me to launch the boat. In veracity, I was bold, stubborn, foolish and lucky.
I felt glorious! Having my hand on the motor, driving my own boat was the greatest feeling. I proudly waved at other boats leaving the marina as if I had done it all my life. Fact is, it was my first time, though I have always felt comfortable in water. My first spoken word as an infant was "water." I learned to swim before I could walk. How quickly my arrogance was about to change.
Just out of the marina, I cranked the motor to full speed. I was flying! Then I got out of Road Bay and the waves became large. My saxophone and tent that were gently placed at the front of the boat were thrown into the middle of the boat. Replaying this over in my head, I now remember thinking at the time that this was not good, but I just forged ahead at the same speed. With each wave, there was a hard landing and all my things became jostled. Any decent sailor knows to tie down their belongings, but I neglected to do so (big mistake) and my tent went overboard. I jumped in after it (nearly fatal mistake) and became separated from the boat.
I swam as hard as I could, I tried swimming under water, parallel to the boat, but try as I might, I could not get back to my boat. The current had carried my boat out of my site and I had drifted, too. The tent was somewhat buoyant, though not exactly a life raft. I started to scream out every expletive I knew. My circumstance was bad, but I wasn’t convinced it was dire. I decided to try to swim towards shore, though it was extremely far in the distance.
I swam towards shore. At this point, I was tired. Exhausted more like it. I thought that I was in a pickle and that it was going to be a major hassle, but I was not in danger.
By the time I got near shore, it was too late. The waves were pulling me into the cavernous rocky shore. This is when I got scared, to my core of my being. With each wave, I was closer to the sharp and pointy edge of the shore and I was afraid of being skewered or knocked out. I was trying to protect my head with each wave that pulled me all the way into the caves. One time, I came up for breath too soon and drank a mouth of water. I was coughing up water and it became difficult to tell where the surface of the water was. It was about at this point that I went unconscious.
I think I passed out for a few minutes, though I'm not sure how long I was out.
Things were extremely distorted when I regained consciousness. I was coughing up water and gasping for breath. I did not know what was happening, as all I could think of was trying to get some air. My next moments were panicked. I couldn't tell what was pulling me; I flailed my body around, terrified, only to become more frightened by feeling something slippery beneath me. My mind couldn't comprehend what was happening. I was in shock. I had gone to the edge of desperation about survival and had surrendered to death.
Then, I once I could breath, I felt like I was body surfing a wave toward shore. There was three dolphins swimming briskly, lifting me to the surface. I was near the shore, but they were swimming parallel to the shore. There was a moment of relief that my ordeal was over. I couldn't recognize the bay I was in. People had gathered at the beach, down the bay, the equivalent of a couple of New York City blocks.
They were trying to see exactly what was happening. When I came within speaking distance, a man said, “Jesus”. Then were all saying things to the effect of “can you believe that?” When the water became shallow and I could stand, the dolphins swam away. I didn’t get a chance to somehow acknowledge what had happened or thank them before they were out of sight.
The fisherman and tourists that were gathered at the shore were asking me questions. I am not sure why I lied to them, but I did. I think its because I was so scared and been so traumatized that I felt like I had done something wrong. I told them I was swimming by myself and got pulled by a current. I couldn’t even comprehend that dolphins rescued me, mostly because I was in extreme survival mode. I almost died. I didn’t have anything, except the clothes on my back. I didn’t have even passport. I was so scared that I just wanted to get back where people knew me and I knew people. I decided I needed to get back to Brewer’s Bay.
I had no idea where I was (now I know it Brandy Wine Bay), so I told them I just need to get back to Road Town. No problem, a couple of tourists were on their way to Road Town. Then my plan was to hitch to Brewers. It was getting late and I was fighting the sun, because its harder to hitch after sunset. I had no money and no shoes. I was in a terrible situation, but I was acting as if everything was fine. They all wanted to know how it came that dolphins were rescuing me, but I dashed off with the tourists that were on their way to Road Town and had stopped to take a picture of the view.
I was worried that the tourists would ask me all sorts of questions and I wasn’t prepared for chitchat or talking in general. I was in shock and had one focus. I told the couple it was no big deal that I often swim to that bay and dolphins are common in that bay. This explanation worked and I it was a quick trip to Road Town.
As soon as I said goodbye to the tourists that gave me the ride, I fell to my knees and wept. People stopped to ask if I was ok, and I said I had a fight with my boyfriend. I didn’t want to tell anyone what happened. I didn’t expect anyone to really help me and I thought I had to keep my wits about me to figure what to do to get out of my predicament. I started to walk onto the road out bay to Brewers. I walked for hours, as I cried, thinking of what I was going to do. A car finally came by and could take me further than they planned, because they were concerned about me walking alone in my state. Finally, I arrived at Brewers Bay late and everyone was asleep. I snuck into a campsite and slept a sleep that tethered on the touching the other realm.