Spare Shoes

My apologies — I have dropped the ball on keeping up with my weekly blog as promised. Things have been quite busy since March. I had a bit of a travel spree and feel like I’ve been catching up on work and sleep ever since.

During this spree, I learned a very valuable lesson. In all the years that I’ve been traveling to fish, write and shoot photos, I can say that I’ve done pretty well as far as not losing, damaging or forgetting a piece of gear. In my parents eyes, I’m sure this is quite an amazing accomplishment. Throughout my childhood (and even now) I was always losing, breaking or forgetting something. I have always been somewhat flighty and absent-minded. It’s just that I get caught up in specific moments very easily.

While I’ve done well with keeping tabs on my work gear (computer, camera, fly rods, reels video camera, memory cards, chargers etc, etc), I’ve not done well at all keeping tabs on my shoes. My last two trips, have resulted in having to borrow somebody’s shoes.

I live in flip-flops and to me, my flip flops are like a baseball glove. When you first get a pair, they are stiff and unfamiliar but after time, they become a part of me and no matter how dirty, damaged and funky they get, I don’t want to get rid of them.

I like traveling to locations where shoes aren’t required. For example, I arrived in Mexico and once I set foot on the property of Casa Blanca Lodge, I kicked my favorite flip-flops off and didn’t think about them again until it was time to leave. As it turned out, I kicked them off during a low tide and three days later, obviously, they were long gone and I had to go shoeless the remainder of my trip. This wasn’t a problem until it was time to fly home. Thanks to Al Perkinson of Costa, there weren’t any problems at the Cancun airport.

Not long after that, I made my way to Freeport in the Bahamas and of course, the only footwear I brought were my flip-flops (a brand new pair that I bought to replace the ones I lost in Mexico). From Freeport, Ezra and Sydney Thomas of Water Cay Lodge shuttled me to a Mothership about an hour or so from Grand Bahama. Once I set foot on the Mothership, the first order the Captain gave was for us to put our shoes in the “shoe storage box” so they didn’t get in the way. So, I did — again, I went shoeless for the next 7 days. We had a banner trip and I completely got use to a barefoot life at sea. However, it was time to go. So, I packed all my things, made sure I had all my camera gear, all the rods and reels I traveled with. I double-checked to make sure I had my passport, my keys, my wallet, my phone. I watched all of my things leave the mothership and go onboard the water taxi back to Freeport. On the ride back, I reflected on the trip, the fish we caught, the ones we didn’t, the laughs, everything. Once we came off plane to approach the dock on Grand Bahama, Ezra said “grab your shoes, this bank has a lot of sharp rocks”. I started scanning the deck of the taxi thinking “where in the hell did I put my flip flops”. Like an idiot, it took me some time to realize that the reason I couldn’t find my shoes was because they were about 20 miles away on the mothership. Damn it!!!! Once again, I had to borrow some shoes (thanks Doug Jeffries) until we got to Freeport.

Once at the market in Freeport, I asked for the cheapest pair of flip- flops on the island. I got just that. There are many things Bahamians make well such as Kalik, conch fritters and island cocktails. One thing they don’t make well is flip-flops. The pair I traveled in that day were bar none, the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. Seriously. By the time I got home, between my toes felt like someone put a cigarette there and then smashed the toe bones with a little hammer.

Lesson learned for me — I will always travel with a spare pair of flip flops. And, take my word for it, NEVER buy Bahamian flip-flops.