At some point in these futile exercises, I also found out I couldn't get the key out of the ignition which I assumed was stuck because there was sand in there … D'oh! Okay, one crisis at a time.
Leia asked the age old question: "What are we going to do?" Our options: I could walk back to the Queen's Highway to flag down a car or truck to help us or I could use our cell phone to call Stanton Cooper. The latter choice was least appealing, of course, but in any case, I didn't want to look stupid in front of these islanders.
As we contemplated our fate (with Lee saying at one point "I don't want to move here" as though Eleuthera was responsible for our predicament), a truck piled down the access road toward us. Two guys came out, observing (quite obviously) that we were stuck.
One of the men was a black man who called himself Wesley Johnson and the other guy was an old, grizzled Caucasian fellow who only known as Junior. They both agree we were in a bit of a predicament.
Lee asked them if there was anyone around who could give us a tow, but Wesley just chuckled and shook his head, replying they knew no one around who could tow us. He said they just happened to be driving the Queen's Highway and looked down the short road to the shore and gathered we were stuck.
At this point, I'm thinking to myself that this was where we're going to be beaten, our money stolen and maybe worse.
Wesley walked over to the car and listened to Leia explain how we ended up driving down a non-existent road. Wesley jut looked at her and quipped that this is why Eleutherans don't drive on beaches!
As Wesley started to survey this situation, Leia pointed out that this was a rental car. Wesley gave her a curious look and said it won't be a rental car much longer once the high tide came in. In spite of my embarrassment, I added it would then be a rental boat, which he repeated to all of us, causing us to laugh hysterically.
Wesley then went back to the wooded area near his truck and conveniently found a couple of pieces of plywood to put under the tires. I pointed out that it was the undercarriage that was the problem we all proceeded to dig out as much sand as we could.
Then, with Leia behind the wheel, the three of us men pushed and lifted the front bumper while she gave it the gas. After a lot of grunting and sweat, we finally got the car out of the berm!
The next matter was to figure out what we were going to do to get the car back on the road. I told them my idea about driving to what appeared to be a more solid patch of sand, then driving back. However, neither Wesley nor Junior were crazy about that idea.
Instead, Wesley suggested that I back it up on the rocks by the shore, and then drive forward. He and Junior disagreed about exactly which direction to aim for, but I finally just got in to make the move.
Before I started, Wesley advised me to not go too fast and dig back in the sand (while Junior encouraged me to gun it). I could see the wisdom in both suggestions, but I deferred to Wesley's idea as he was able to get us this far.
I drove forward, but not fast enough and felt the tires start to dig a bit. I back up further and stopped for a second. Wesley asked if he could get in to give it a try and I agreed. He then proceeded to gun it forward as Junior had suggested and voila, we were out!
Leia was so grateful that she asked me if it was okay to give them $20 each (instead of the $20 for both of them, as I suggested), but I was so happy to not have to call Stanton Cooper, I agreed.
I handed Wesley and Junior the cash and thanked them profusely for their help. Wesley paused and asked if it was only about money. I replied it was the only way we could show our appreciation and if he didn't want the money, he could give it to the church.
He finally took the offering, but asked if we wanted some fresh fish they just caught in exchange for the $40. We demurred on that offer, as we wouldn't be able to keep it cold while we were out and about. After saying our good-byes, we got back in the car, an hour lost due to "stupid tourist tricks."
I had a headache from the heat, plus I was both hungry and thirsty, but I was determined to snorkel on the Caribbean side. Leia checked her book for other nearby spots and found one that was further north, so we drove ten miles up the Queen's Highway. We found that access road and with some trepidation, we took it to the shoreline.
Instead of driving on an imaginary beach this time, we parked in the designated parking area. Two other cars were also there. A tire swing hung from a tall tree … quite an idyllic spot. From the shore I could see some people floating on rafts on the very tranquil Caribbean. Leia and I made our way up the beach to set up "camp," stripped down to our bathing suits, put on our gear and went in.
The water was warm as bathwater and "gin clear," as they say around these parts. We had a blast snorkeling around, looking at all the various sea creatures - little crabs scuttling along the sea floor, spiny mollusks bedecked with clam shells, schools of tiny, almost translucent, minnow-like fish darting to and fro.
I had particular fun swing with one of these schools - at first, they tried to get away from me, then just accepted me as a big, goofy cousin and let me swim above them with them darting around.
Meanwhile, Leia was in the shallows where the shells where and I joined here. This was more interesting - yellow and black angel fish were swimming behind shells and in between some small coral formations.
For about an hour, we alternated between snorkeling and just floating on our backs like we were in a huge sensory deprivation tank that God/nature made for humankind. It was quite relaxing, as you can imagine.
Our first visit to Poponi beach … and the return of Terry Sands.