Leaving Belize, like finishing a good book, left us with a grateful heart and eager to become engrossed in new stories. Mexico would be that next adventure. And a bird would guide us there. Our Mexican travels aboard Alembic would be full of birds.
The first was a sweet black bird, who came aboard in the evening, and flew about the cabin for a while, trying out perches on our overhead handrails, barometer, swinging lantern, fruit basket, and hat pile. While I sat in the companionway, journaling, and making course adjustments on the plotter, Bill announced from below that the bird had left the cabin. I was certain it had not, as I would have noticed a bird flying by my face. Evening became night, and we stood our watches in the cockpit while the other slept below on the port berth. Soundlessly, as the sun rose, our feathered friend scrambled out of the bookcase, right beside Bill’s snoring face, and flew out the companionway. He’d been in that cubby for eleven hours! And my favorite cookbook, The Boat Galley, had the pile of ick on the top edge to prove it. How ironic: my favorite food prep was now covered in bird poop.
Having been escorted safely to Mexico by our guide bird, we docked at El Cid in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. After a 42 hour sail and thirty hour check in process, we were finally free to walk about town. Artists abound here, making tippy lighthouses, spectacular sand art, and delicious pastries. After three days, half of which we were confined to the marina for check in, we departed for Isla Mujeres, only a 5 hour sail away.
Arriving just before Easter, we were privileged to observe the magnificent celebrations. First there was the dramatic parade, culminating at a spectacular ancient cathedral. Then the service we attended, struggling to understand the Spanish prayers and hymns. And finally the many churches we saw throughout the island which decorated their sacred spaces with simple, yet beautiful messages of their risen savior.
Monday, the day after Easter, we raised our anchor and began our three and a half day journey for Florida, in the company of Passion Rebelle. Our second guide bird took his last trip when he boarded Alembic as he migrated north. He was so friendly, even letting Bill and I carry him around. The wind was howling, but I didn’t want anymore disgusting presents below, so we carried this little guy to the protected hatch beneath the dodger. Here we gave him a cracker and a bottlecap full of water, neither of which he touched. All night, he entertained us with sweet little chirps and what looked like hopscotch around the screen beneath the open hatch. Finally, he went to sleep while standing up. In this standing position he remained for many hours. Curious why he wasn’t waking up, I nudged him. He tipped over; dead. I suppose he couldn’t keep up with is flock, and resting on Alembic gave him his final nap.
Next, another single bird came aboard who was more shy than the first two. Again, we tried to help this little guy find shelter for the night. He chose to crawl into a cockpit cubby, stay the night, and depart at dawn. Then our bird drama ramped up. A crowd of at least twenty five flew noisily on and off Alembic as the sun set on our second day out. They clung to the dodger, the binnacle, the ropes all over the cockpit, and at least seven at a time clung to the wheel. The autopilot caused the wheel to swing back and forth as it kept us on our course, threatening to toss the birds off. But they hung on. For hours. For the whole night! These birds were hilarious, squawking at each other, jumping on each other (having sex??) and finally settling down for snoozing. Adjusting sails had the added task of first removing the sleeping birds, and being careful to not drop ropes on the others. By dawn, all but one had flown off. One clung to a rope until 7am, 8am…When I reached over to him to encourage him to join his flock, he tipped over, another death.
Nearing Florida, we had our final bird event. A very noisy chirping bird landed on our flaked mizzen sail and settled there for a nap. Soon after, a large bird circled our boat, signaling that we were approaching land. An hour later, we realized that that bully had quietly landed on our mizzen boom without our noticing and created a murder scene! Blood and feathers everywhere! These Mexican travels were full of birds. Birds travel, live, rest, feast, and die. It’s all part of their plan.
As a final nature scene, we were treated to a pod of dolphins, frolicking and leaping about as if to say “You’re Home!” as we entered the waters off Fort Meyers Florida.