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Sunday March 15

The immigration officer at the Tortola ferry terminal flipped through my passport earlier today: 1,2,3,4 pages, all filled with BVI entry stamps, dating back to 2008, the most recent being just last Monday. He grinned a massive grin, and said “Welcome back, friend”.

We’ve been working here long enough now that people recognize me and the other SwimVacation guides. We’ve built relationships. Our cab driver, Albert, refers to Heather as “Baby”. Today he overheard that our Island cell phone had run out of minutes, and he offered to do the footwork to re-fill it.  We accepted. The woman that works at the ticket counter at the ferry terminal in Charlotte Amalie now recognizes us, and no longer asks us for the $20 “departure tax” that she grifts from the tourists, apparently using it to supplement her income. Nice lady, really. Bartenders, waiters. hotel clerks, and flight attendants recognize us and say hello. We work here. It’s different from visiting, sometimes not as exciting, sometimes more. I like it.

By the time we gathered up our guests and got them aboard the Prom and the Nod, our charter yachts, it was getting late in the afternoon. We hurried to Great Harbor, Peter Island after a quick bite and our welcome and seasick talks. Seasickness isn’t a common problem on the stable cats we have this week or on the trimaran Promenade, but when the wind is blowing and the waves are big, it helps to have some tricks. Ginger beer is a favorite of mine.

As is common for us lately, about half of our guests have been on a trip with us before. Many of them have kept in close touch with us since their last trip, and we fall right back in step with them, sharing stories from past trips and catching up on on our lives. Guests Peggy and Greg slide onto the boat like they’ve never left. Peggy is one of the 7 or 8 people I know who have the same stroke cadence as I do, and we swim stroke for stroke together. It’s meditative and blissful at the same time. The other people I know like this are: Annette Chin, Dick Weafer, Dave Barra, and Maury McKinney.

We jumped in the water about 5:00. This group is game, and they were chomping at the bit to get in. We swam 15 minutes south, along some great coral formations, then backtracked. The sun had set, so most of us formed a tight group to cover the last 100 yards. We were met with Painkillers (pineapple, coconut, OJ, rum, nutmeg), then tucked into Chef Mo’s spicy roasted chicken. Many of these guests are involved in marathon swimming, so the conversation mostly stayed in that arena tonight.

We’ll plan a long course for tomorrow morning’s swim. I have a renewed excitement for guiding. It’s the enthusiasm our guests have that has caused this. I’m in.

– Hopper

 

Hi. It’s me, Heather. Happy to be passing the blog writing baton to Hopper this week, which leaves me lots of time to make great photographs. Which I did NOT do today. So please excuse this fairly pathetic collection of moments from the day, and I promise things will improve photographically first thing tomorrow!

Below see:

1. Scene from the supermarket we hit on St. Thomas

2. Picking up our new guests at the ferry terminal

3. Reuniting with Cheffy Mo

4. Hoooooorayyyyy! It’s Kerry!!! Owner of Yacht Promenade and SwimVacation Family.

5. Hopper hard at work writing tonight’s blog post.

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That’s all I’ve got for tonight. Stay tuned for more (and better!).

 

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Simon says:

    Hopper, have you forgotten Peaks to Portland 2012 where we swam side by side right up until you sprinted away and broke my heart in the last 200 yards?

  2. Maury says:

    Hopper, one of the most beautiful and memorable swims I ever had was the year you and I swam stroke for stroke at Nubble Light Challenge. And then we ran stride for stride to finish. It didn’t even matter who won because that feel of connecting with another swimmer was simply the best. A physical and spiritual exercise. Have fun this eeek. Say hi to Heather and my man Mo!

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