“This relationship will self destruct in 5…4…3…2…1”
|Yeimi and I in Roatan, March 2013.|
I was speaking to my brother Darcy—not without a little foolish bravado—about my philosophy of being free: Free of debts, free of material things and encumbrances, commitments and, in particular free of a woman—or at least the attachment to any particular woman—who might white-picket-fence my plans and dreams. It was just before my trip to Central America last fall and the numbers I was counting down were months illustrating that, even if I were to get involved again in Guatemala or wherever I happened to be, I had a plane ticket back to Calgary May 31, and any relationship forged in that time would surely not survive the six months of separation. It is Tuesday June 18, 2013, I am back in Calgary as planned, and I can tell you now that I regret those words.
“Now everyone in town, they probably all agree.
I’m lying in the bed I made.
‘Cause when it starts
to fall apart, man, it really falls apart.”
- Boots or Hearts, The Tragically Hip
Yeimi broke my heart again, I let her do it, and I don’t know why. I had almost no contact since our split in March of 2012, adhering closely to my Scorched Earth Breakup Policy, but was in constant communication via text and voice with her three daughters over the six months I spent in Canada, as I had missed them very much. Yeimi allowed this and even encouraged it because the girls missed me too. Those kids are just sweet to me. When I saw them again just before Christmas, we exchanged gifts and went out for pizza, and it was like I had never left. Yeimi was there of course, but kept her distance which was alright by me, as I was simply happy she was allowing me to continue to be a part of the lives of Alynson, Melory and Chiquita.
Even so, I had asked her, almost on a lark, to help me get my boat to Utila and was astonished when she said ‘Si.’ When she stepped onto the deck on that Monday in January, I didn’t understand what had compelled her to want to come, as she reportedly had a new man in her life and this would certainly cause some problems, but simply shrugged and decided to be grateful for the help. Predictably, we ended up rekindling our relationship but with no idea how to proceed. When she left Utila for the Rio by ferry to tend to Chiquita who had become very sick, we had only a few days together and whatever we were now was left up in the air. I moved on, but kept in contact and extended an open invitation for her to visit me again in Roatan. In mid-March, she took me up on that offer, and the moment she stepped off the ferry, with the way walked and the way she looked at me, I knew I was in trouble.*
Roatan was like a dream, a sort of honeymoon. There was a moment we were out with our friends at the Coco View Resort, Brian James’s band was playing a Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and Yeimi and I were the only ones dancing, completely lost in each other. The week went by quickly and soon Yeimi needed to return to her girls and I decided that since her trip via bus and ferry to Roatan was so arduous and dangerous, I would take her back in my boat. She could crew for me again and I would get her home safely and lay Blue Monday up in the Rio Dulce for hurricane season a little early. We spent another couple of days in Utila’s Southwest Cays having some beach time with good friends and then returned to the Rio. As soon as we got back to Guatemala, we immediately began planning a trip to Belize—all five of us this time. It was a promise I made to Alynson, Melory and Chiquita when Yeimi and I were first together and now I had a chance to honour it. I would go to El Salvador with Gary for a week and then meet all four of them in Guatemala City so that we could get passports for the kids. Since the girls had school we had just 11 days for our trip.
|Weighing anchor in Livingston, Guatemala arriving from Utila, Honduras.|
We got underway to Belize and soon our days were spent looking down at the sea and our nights looking up at the sky. Whether we were swimming, snorkelling or just watching the sea life from the deck of the boat, playing and singing music, sharing a pair of binoculars to look at the stars and the moon at night, there was a peaceful harmony amongst us all. Alynson, Melory and Chiquita spent their entire lives just 20 miles from the ocean but had never before seen it. Dolphins came to investigate our bow as it pried open the seas, turning their heads sideways to look us in the eyes. Just minutes after tying to a mooring in Ranguana Cay we all loaded up into my dinghy and had the good fortune to see a five foot ‘wingspan’ Spotted Eagle Ray swim by surprisingly being followed by small reef shark. Even humble crabs and starfish were reasons to get excited. One early morning I was sitting in the cockpit, drinking coffee and watching the sun come up and observed a man swimming across the Placencia harbour, towing a kayak so that he was safely visible to power boats, and decided it was a good idea and did the same with my kayak, only this time Melory asked to come along. As I swam and towed the kayak with Melory in it, I would quiz her on the English words I taught the day before and she, in turn, pointed out the jellyfish for me to avoid. I had never before shared my cruising dream with kids and their presence, joy and wonder at the natural world was infectious.
|The crew of four latinas under way in Belize.|
“Eres un hombre muy intenso” Yeimi said. This was the day after the storm (See `A Full Force Gale) and we were fighting. It is true that I was a bit intense during the storm. I said things very directly and, due to the howling wind, quite loudly. You may not expect it from my normally laid-back disposition, but it turns out that I am a bit of a bossy prick in a crisis. I said things such as, “I need you to take the helm if I have to lift the anchor.” This had made her cry at the time, and because she was crying the girls cried too which I felt badly about but did not comfort them in that moment because I simply could not take the time, and though Yeimi had nowhere near enough experience at the helm to handle it in a storm, unfortunately she was the only crew I had. My single focus was keeping the boat (and by extension the people aboard) secure and prepare for any problems that may befall us if something were to go wrong, such as if the wind would be strong enough to make us drag our anchor and subsequently crash into something like another boat, land, reef. Once I had the dinghy secured, my engine running, chartplotter and nav equipment on and ready, and in spite of the close-proximity lightening strikes, I felt better about things, but could not seem to calm Yeimi down, so I asked her to do something she might feel comfortable doing and distract her if only for a few moments, which is make tea.
Yeimi would later claim I over-reacted. After all, nothing bad happened to us so what was the point of all my scurrying around? Even so, four smaller boats were lost in that storm and several cabanas flattened just 20 miles away, which in my books counts as a storm worthy of respect. Perhaps it was that sailing was my idea, my dream, and so I was responsible for all that happened, but either way, Yeimi would later make me account tenfold for every tear shed that night.
When we pulled up at the dock at Catamaran’s, I had just tied off the boat and was clearing out the cockpit of binoculars, chart-plotter and other items when I looked up and all four of them had their suitcases packed and ready on the dock. I had not even plugged the boat in, the engine was still warm and most items not yet stowed away both on deck and down below, and my four latinas were abandoning me. Yeimi left me for good that day and I didn’t even know it. (I thought we were simply having a row) She never explained why. Three weeks later her engagement to be married to her ex-boyfriend appeared on her Facebook page complete with an updated profile photo with the two of them together, which to see it, as you may well imagine, is just delightful.
I lost them all.
*Why did I keep falling for Yeimi? I think in part because she’s fearless (except on a boat in a storm!) and almost always present in the moment. What others think of her? “No importa.” She spent the first 13 years of her life selling tortillas and horchata on the streets to support her family and I believe this may be where she developed her almost uncanny ability to read faces. Highly intuitive, she would read my face and was right so often that I would deliberately get away from her at times when I was frustrated about something just to avoid an argument. By her first year of school, that is grade 1 for us North Americans, she was 14 and had Alynson. Tough, beautiful, and loca, she lives right on the edge. Everybody loves Yeimi. Why would I have been any different?