My trips to the Bahamas and the Carribean


Quite a while ago, I and other family members would fly southward around the last of December to escape the cold weather. Two trips to the Bahamas were disagreeable. On one the weather was too cool and on the other it rained most of the time. We made two trips to Cozumel, an island off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Both trips were pleasant. On both I rented a Volkswagen and explored the island. Large green iguanas were common as were large gray rock iguanas.
On one occasion, I seated myself next to an elderly gentleman from New York. He said,”I flew to Cancun to get some peace and quiet. The first day I was there, I went to the beach, and it was as bad as Coney Island. Those damnable boom boxes were blaring, and the racket was unbearable. I cancelled my hotel reservation, and got a flight over here. I’m really enjoying this place.”
Next year the family, against my wishes, chose to vacation in Cancun. It proved to be miserable place, so I rented a Volkswagen and headed for the interior, in the general direction of Merida. A few miles from Cancun, I encountered a toll booth. I was unaware that I was on a toll road. The toll charges, in pesos, were posted, and I determined that in U.S. currency, I should be charged $10, and I handed the attendant a ten dollar bill. He said,”No. Twenty dollars.” I told him I wasn’t going to pay that much, and I’d just turn around. He responded,”You turn around, and I cut your tires.” I pulled over, and a guy in a uniform holding a rifle approached. Simultaneously, a well-dressed Mexican lady driving an expensive car pulled beside my Volks and asked, “Sir, are you having a problem?” I responded,”Yes ma’am,” and I explained. She said to let her change my  $10 into pesos, which I did and she said I should have no trouble passing. She added, “I am sorry you had this problem. These crooks are the primary reasons why Americans are reluctant to visit our country.”
Later that day, I had an altogether different experience in Mexico. It was late afternoon and I was driving on a road in a desolate area about 10 miles from Cancun. Suddenly the engine in my Volks began sputtering and after a few minutes it stopped running. I thought to myself, if I don’t get back to Cancun before dark, my folks will fear that I had an accident or had been kidnapped by criminals. About five minutes later, two young Mexicans in a dune buggy drove up and stopped in back of my Volks. I did my best to explain my predicament, and one of the men tried to start the car. He said, “Agua en gasolino,” meaning water in gasoline.
He retrieved a plastic tube from their buggy, pushed it into my car’s fuel tank, and siphoned a gallon or so from the tank. He then took a gallon jug of gasoline from his buggy, poured into  my car’s tank, and hit the starter. The engine ran smoothly. I tried to pay the men for helping me, but they refused to be compensated. They were truly “Good Samaritans.”
One place I really enjoyed was Aruba, an island near the coast of Venezuela. The weather could not have been more pleasant. The temperature was about 80 degrees, and it seldom varies any more than two degrees from 80, day and night year-round. The island is almost desert-like, and a gentle easterly trade wind blows constantly. Each morning, I would go to the open-air restaurant to drink my coffee. I was usually the only one present when I arrived. I was entertained by small, yellow bananaquits which would light on my table and beg for sugar. I gladly obliged. When my breakfast was served, large orange and black troupials would descend and eat a few bites from my plate. They would usually be joined by large tropical mockingbirds which would nibble from my plate. When other guests arrived and would be served, small ground doves would walk around on the floor and search for crumbs. Across the road was an undisturbed area with a walking path. Several species of lizards were common as.were numerous birds, including flocks of small parrot-like birds. On the leeward side of Aruba, the water was calm, but on the windward side, huge waves, some 15 feet or more crashed onto the shore. I am reasonably certain that the girl who vanished from Aruba was tossed into the sea on the windward side by her male companion who met her at a bar.
I’ve about ran out of space, so in a future column, I will describe my trips to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Department of Zoology and Entomology at Auburn University. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.


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