“Yeah, no,” I muttered as I followed our guide down the makeshift ramp leading to a floating dock.
“Eight people will get on this zodiac,” he announced while pointing to what I would have more accurately called an inflatable raft.
I looked around at the other members of my tour to see if their expressions matched mine. I mean, I knew I had signed up for a less than luxurious experience. That indulgent yacht I had contemplated, the one with uniformed crew and polished brass would have never gotten away with transporting passengers in the kind of thing a seven year old paddles around a pool in.
“Paige?” the guide asked with an extended hand, his accented invitation interrupting my trance.
I cautiously stepped over the elevated nose, the toe of my foot almost getting ensnared in the twisted rope encasing the front to protect from wear. I let out a slight squeal of fear as I planted both feet on the floor of the zodiac and slowly lowered my ass onto the edge. Then, moving as if I were sliding across the narrow ledge of a skyscraper, I inched my way down the length of the side. When I finally reached the spot near the engine, I wrapped my white knuckled fist around a loosely dangling rope and prayed for the best.
“Eer,” the guy turning the throttle said as he tossed a damp life vest my way.
“Gracias,” I fibbed, the orange flap bouncing off my face because I refused to release a hand to deflect it.
Over the next four days, I spent more than a few hours in those dinghies. I eventually got the hang of entry and exit, though admittedly almost toppled the Captain when he helped me out one choppy morning. The boat was anchored out at sea and the whitecaps were thrashing against the dinghy as the crew member continuously revved the engine and rammed the nose against the platform. The dinghy rocked to the left. The boat swayed to the right. And in my attempt to keep me and my backpack out of the ocean, I sped forward with a rather steady momentum.
“I’m so sorry,” I said as I pulled myself off the Captain and straightened my bag on my shoulders.
“Es blah-oh si taco-blah cinquo blah-ita,” the Captain said.
I smiled and nodded my head, the universal response to something spoken in a foreign language.
“Si blah-ora es guacamole oh-blah manana blah-oh,” he continued with a silly grin.
My smile faded but I kept nodding assuming it was the safest response.
And then out of nowhere, I found myself swept up in the Captain’s arms as he twirled me around the deck. I let out a giggle. My sea legs carried me with him as best as possible before he had enough.
“Gracias,” I said with a girly grin.
“Blah-oh es princess,” he replied.
I curtsied, unsure if the comment was a compliment or an insult. The Captain reciprocated the gesture with a slight bow and a nod of the head. I had no idea what had just happened, what had been said and what it all meant. Maybe I had just agreed to be his bride and he was merely testing out the merchandise. Maybe he mistakenly thought I was graceful and wanted the chance to join me in motion. Or maybe the chef bet him $10 he couldn’t get the American girl to dance with him. No matter the explanation, I will say this much - it sure put a little skip in my step as I meandered down the exterior corridor en route to my cabin.