Cruise Excursions Gone Wrong

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

We were first-time cruisers. It was spring, so we bolted Ohio for the Caribbean! What could possibly go wrong?

Our first excursion was on a small island that had not fully recovered from a hurricane. As we were transported to a remote corner of what was still a tropical paradise, you could see where some former homes were now shelled-out buildings or stone-fenced yards with no structure left within them at all. Upon arriving at the beach stable for our horseback riding adventure, we were instructed where to go to use the restroom beforehand. When I was done, I came out a bit embarrassed and said the toilet wouldn’t flush. That’s when an island girl, a bit embarrassed, said that’s what she’s there for. And then she entered the latrine with a bucket of water.

The gentlemen – boys really – handling the horses were so full of life. Their laughter was infectious. Our first ride was on land and sand. We saddled up and trotted uphill and down, learning how to lean forward or back in the saddle. I had never ridden a horse by myself before. Of course, I got a horse with a mind of its own. He’d stop on a hill and snack on the grass, holding everyone up. When I dug my heels into his side and pulled the reigns, he cocked his head to look at me. I could swear he gave me a side-eye as if to say, “You wait, buddy!”

Ironically, my wife had a horse named Frenzy, but Placid would have been more fitting.

After a pretty lengthy ride, which I was more than ready to end, our guides removed saddles, replacing each with nothing more than a pad. It was time to ride the horses along the beach, basically bareback and into the water. It was along the stables area where all of the arriving and departing tourists signed up for this excursion waited and watched. We only went four at a time for this ride, plus two horses with guides. I wasn’t aware of the short strap for holding in front of me. I should have paid more attention to the instructions. Instead, I just played with the reigns.

When the guide unexpectedly hollered, and the horses went into a full charge in the water, I was hanging on for dear life. It felt like I was rodeoing for dear life. It was only a matter of time – not much, by the way – before I knew I was going for a swim. I might get trampled by the three horses on my tail, so when I came off that thing, I did it with gusto to try to splash clear of danger.

When I came up out of the water, you’d think maybe I’d be humiliated, but I have to say, it was exhilarating. The 13-year-old boy, who had been chasing us on foot all over the landscape that morning, snapping photos for sale, ran into the water with an ear-to-ear grin. I threw my arms up and made the most of the picturesque moment. Then, one of the guides helped me back onto my horse. That’s when I noticed a look in my horse’s eye like, “I told you I’d get you.”

My horse charged like the dickens again, thundering through the water. It was a wild ride with lots of splashing. Then we turned around, barely slowing, and charged back the way we came. This back-and-forth was repeated several times. It was pure fun! So much so that I didn’t mind losing my prescription sunglasses. Well, not entirely. A guide noticed me looking intently at the water swirled with kicked-up seaweed. When he learned what happened, he was on a mission to find them.

Making a spectacle of myself caught the attention and funny bone of everyone watching. It wouldn’t be the last time during our trip that all eyes fixated on my shenanigans. But before I explain the next island’s mishap, I must mention another secret getaway we found.

Oh, I can’t forget to say that just as I put on my shoes to leave, the young boy ran up and handed my sunglasses to me with nothing but kindness and joy. I sure made him aware of my gratitude.

When we returned to the resort area, it was thick with sunbathers. We decided to walk the beach for a while. A band of younger people had the same idea. We wrapped around a corner of the island, out of sight from the masses, and kept going. Eventually, even the college-aged kids stopped in a remote area to snorkel. But we pressed on to a soft sandy area with absolutely no one near us. It was paradise all to ourselves. Amazing when you think about the crowd we just left. The afternoon hours peeled away effortlessly, much like my skin later.

On another island, we had signed up for a dune buggy tour, which is another thing I had never done.

About a dozen dune buggies went off-road on some rough terrain. But the pace and grouping didn’t meet the expectations of every guy in the group who wanted to let loose a little bit. So, you saw some anxiousness mixed with testosterone, little jerks of the wheel here and there as we kept formation as instructed. We were painting slightly outside the lines, careful not to get caught.

At the first stop, you could hear almost every wife quipping about their husband’s driving as we sat two to each dune buggy. We saw a couple of landmarks, and then came terrain that even the guides stopped to warn about twice! As we drove in a single file line, a rather large mud puddle swallowed the path just before a bit of a steep hill we needed to ascend. One by one, dune buggies carefully navigated through the muddy water and gave it a little juice to get up the hill.

My thinking was, finally, we get to really dune buggy!

I slowed enough to allow plenty of open space between our dune buggy and the one in front of us. When the coast was clear, I opened it up, pedal to the metal, and hit that water filled crater hard! The couple behind us later said that they couldn’t stop laughing about it.

“If you could have seen what we saw,” the husband started once we reached our next destination. “Mud and water shot like a tidal wave out of every side. It was absolutely hysterical.”

We knew because most of the water and mud shot up from underneath our dune buggy. There’s no floor, so we got it all in the most unexpected direction. And it smelled! Oh, did it smell!

Fortunately, we ended up at a slice of heavenly beach with no one except our group on it. It allowed us the opportunity to go get a saltwater bath to clean off. Then, we hiked into the rocks for vantage points that say, yep, you’ve found a secluded Caribbean island paradise.

On the way back, it was as if the other husbands noted my bit o’crazy and upped the ante. The winner of the craziest dune buggy rider went hands down to the guy that darn near ended his marriage by purposely taking a turn wide then sharp, putting the dune buggy on two wheels. His wife was so close to the ground before all four wheels finally touched again that if she reached out, her hand could have dragged the pavement. Nobody was sure which way the buggy would go. Most bets were surely on them flipping over. Miraculously, and you could tell in the husband’s expression, he recovered, and they smacked all four tires down in jaw-breaking style.

His wife aired her displeasure for all to hear her emotions were so raw. The other wives nodded in agreement while the rest of the guys smiled, winked, and chuckled in pure approval.

Fortunately, we didn’t do a third excursion the way things were trending.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

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