I was wondering around the beach front in the evening, looking for a cheap dinner and a nice view to people watch and see the sea. I perused through several menus and finally settled on La Perlita, which seemed to be a pretty happening little outdoor restaurant owned by a Spainiard (Spain will always have my heart when it comes to my stomach). In any case, I found myself a cozy little table and took a seat. Not too long afterwards, a gentleman from the next table called over to me, "Are you American?"
"Yep," I smiled back, partly at the question, partly at his Southern drawl. I hadn´t heard one of those in a long time.
"See," he said proudly to his companions, three fair-haired chaps and brunette girl who all chuckled good-naturedly at their friend´s obvious delight. "We were debating, but I bet that you were American. Would you like to come join us?"
I paused for a mili-sec....don´t get into cars with strangers!...but the pre-school advice drilled into my brain didn´t seem seem to apply.
"Sure, I´d love to."
Best decision ever.
We chatted and dined, and come to find out, what I had originally assumed to be a family on vacation was actually the crew for a private yacht that had sailed down from Florida. Get out of town! The crew themselves came from all over the southern U.S. (meaning they all had beautiful southern accents) They were hired full time by the owners of Caterpillar (the machine company), and when they weren´t sailing around the world, which they spent 3-5 months out of the year doing, they maintained the fleet, yes fleet, of boats that the CAT owners docked in Florida. In fact, currently, they didn´t just sail down with a yacht, they had also brought down a large sport fishing boat and a smaller "fountain" boat. All of these crewed by just 5 people. Currently, all of their boats were docked at Casa de Campo, the ritzy country club/resort in la Romana, but they had driven over to Bayahibe for dinner tonight to get some local flavor. Needless to say, I thought this was the coolest thing ever.
At the end of the night they kindly payed for my dinner and asked if I would like to go sailing with them in the next couple days. In my mind, my jaw was doing the cartoon equivalent of dropping to the floor while fireworks exploded in the background and my feet began to dance an Irish jig. In real life I thanked them all and replied that I would love to. I walked home with a smile as wide as the Florida panhandle on my face and a number to call in my pocket.
The next day I called and it was decided they would come pick me up the following morning on their "little" boat and we would sail out to Catalina island. So the following morning I donned my finest swimsuit (haha) and flip flops and strolled around the beach front lazily in the morning while waiting for my ship to arrive and carry me away.
Except I totally Tom Hanksed it, like in Castaway, and crashed into some coral.
Checkout minute 55-56 of the link below....it happened just like that:
For real. Not even kidding. That´s what happened.
Ok, maybe I´m being a bit over dramatic. The real story is that we ended up snorkeling up to a rocky/coral-y part of the beach. I was trying to take my flipper off when a nice little wave washed me backwards against the coral where I managed to scrape up my lower back and elbows and tear a nice little gash in my finger. To make matters worse, it was extremely difficult to stand up since the waves kept knocking me back over and I was flopping around like a beached whale with my flippers on.
Luckily Jason was there to rescue me.
Unluckily, I was bleeding profusely. Jason quickly offered to swim back to the ship for the medical equipment.
Not too far down the beach was a crowd of people, tourists, partying under a large tiki hut. It looked like a gathering of multiple tour groups, so while Jason snorkeling back, I decided to make my way over there to see if I could get a band-aid, since I was getting tired of holding pressure on my finger.
Although my injuries were very minor, by the time I made it to the tiki hut, blood was streaming down my arms and legs from the scrapes on my elbows and back and my finger was leaking blood everywhere. Judging by the worried faces of the staff when I arrived, I probably looked like a multiple stab wound victim or possibly like I´d just had a battle with a shark, since they hurriedly shuffled me to the back of the hut away from the partying tourists.
Then they kindly poured stinging alcohol into my wounds (ouch)and bandaged me up good as new.
I arrived back to the beach just as Jason was making his way to shore.
We walked the length of the beach and back, just to check out the surroundings; layed in the sun for a smidge; and then, feeling parched, snorkeled back to the boat. It really was a lovely little island...just not so good for swimming.
Next up, I was getting a golf court tour of Casa de Campo and Los Altos de Chavon.
Los Altos de Chavon is a small village built in the 1970s in the style of an ancient Roman town. Sitting on a cliff overlooking the Chavon river, this picturesque little site is now home to ritzy art vendors and a smattering of high class restaurants.
The night ended with a mooonlight boat ride back to Bayahibe, and although I insisted I could take a taxi back no problem, they woudn't hear of it: "I don't know how they do things over here, but in the South, we make sure our ladies get home safely." I was even escorted to my hotel door.
I crawled into bed and almost had to pinch myself to make sure the whole day hadn't been a dream. Turns out, everything you've ever heard about Southern hospitality is true and chivalrous gentleman still do exist. Thank you so much to the Bluewater Cat crew for an incredible day.