As we approached the port of San Carlos, Jairo turns to me. “I think we should buy some plastic just in case it’s raining while we are on the boat”. We were traveling with lots of cargo: Two large cardboard boxes filled with school supplies, one feed-sack holding 35 backpacks, five flattened cardboard boxes for Don Antonio to pack future orders of balsa ornaments as well as a large LLBean rolling duffel with my personal affects and gifts. I’m glad that Jairo is able to anticipate future needs especially since it would be sad to arrive at the island with soggy notebooks for the school children. He pulls the car to one side of the road and dashes into a small dark shop. Within two minutes, he returns with the plastic neatly folded into it’s own plastic bag.
The boat ride is uneventful. The sun shyly peeks out from the clouded sky. 45 minutes, I think to myself. That is all that we need for the rain to hold off. There are only six passengers on the boat this trip which fortunately leaves room for our excessive cargo. Don Silvio, the boat captain, easily makes the journey while the fresh tourists whip out their cameras to capture the beauty of the islands. We pull into the port, dry notebooks and all.
It’s one week later, we are preparing to depart and it’s pouring rain. It’s been raining since 5:30am. The boat is due to leave at 9:00am. We pack 1400 pieces of balsa ornaments into two large plastic bags. I use two other white garbage bags to store the entire contents of my LLBean duffel and then zip it closed. Arlen and Irena assist us in hauling everything to the boat. Jairo looks at the folded black plastic and decides to bring it even though everything we are carrying is already wrapped in plastic. We are the last to board the small boat which puts us in the front row. Six passengers are behind us. As Don Silvio starts the engine, I quickly realize what is about to happen when one is riding in an open air boat at high speed in the rain. The passengers in the front row become the windshield! We are being pelleted with stinging raindrops while Jairo struggles to pull the two yards of black plastic from his backpack. We drape ourselves and hunch over behind the shield of water repellant material. I look at Jairo and joke about the fact that since we awoke to no water at the hotel, neither of us were able to shower. I guess we could count this as a fine replacement for bathing.