Mangrove Swamp

Big day for Miles – he’s been working at putting on his own shoes – today he succeeded in putting on and buckling his sandals without help! So proud of our children – Miles and Amelia playing so nicely together, both learning new tricks from each other. Miles seeming to be inspired by Amelia’s advanced language skills, Amelia seeming to be inspired by Miles’ physical precociousness. It’s empowering for us parents to know that we can pull this off – take a major vacation like this and the kids are troopers. It’s tough in a lot of ways, but we make it work, and I think the kids benefit immeasurably.

All six of us on a boat trip to Black River and the “Pelican Bar.” 14 ft. home-built fishing boat with powerful outboard motor, very seaworthy. Up the coast in open water many miles to river mouth. Driver Ted took us into midst of a migrating dolphin pod — 200 all around us playing, diving, blowing air.

In the mangrove swamp, branches swoop down to surface of water, working as overhead roots. Saw several crocodiles in their native habitat, lolling in the sun. Mangroves sometimes called rasta forest bc look like great wooden dreads.

The boat was called “Di Evil Tings.” I asked Ted about this and he asked if we had seen the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy” (we had) — in opening scene, a Coke bottle falls from an airplane onto head of an African bushman who has never seen technology of the modern world – this leads to his first introduction to it. The Coke bottle is then seen as source of evil. For Ted, the boat’s name is a reminder to beware Da Evil Tings. Thus the irony was perfect when he stood in the stern of the boat amidst the mangroves, his short dreads waving… and called his wife on his cell phone to let her know what time he’d be home.

The Pelican Bar is a pile of sticks pounded into a sandbar in a foot or so of water, driftwood nailed on top, thatch roof. 15 feet off the ground, a man makes fish and rice for boaters. On way to swamp, placed our order via hand signals for five fish. Way back stopped to play in shallow water climb the structure and eat inside. Miles loved it and played in the tidepools. Fish was just delicious.

On the trip back, weather changed — very choppy boat bouncing, warm salt water dousing us. Some friction about whether trip was appropriate for babies – I feel as long as no danger it’s all good, but held the minority opinion.

Long walk w Roger in countryside with babes in strollers. Beautiful and rugged, much is half-built. Man wanted to sell us fresh mangoes. Agreed but didnt have right change. To go get change he wanted us to hold two casssettes and the mangoes as collateral. We said no. On our return trip he approached us again, this time saying he had correct change. But he didn’t. Instead he had two more mangoes. To sweeten the deal he pressed a lump of hash into my palm. We didn’t want seven mangoes or any hash, but now he was casting it as a point of honor – we had an agreement. Getting out of “the deal” took banana-boat diplomacy. He walked with us down the hill as we struggled with strollers in the sand. When we finally shook him, another “mango dealer” descended on us. Relentless. You never feel in danger, but nor do you feel you can trust many people you meet on the street (or in the countryside for that matter). It’s all a sell.

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