Ship of Fools

30 Jan

When my husband announced that he had a two week business trip to Hawaii, I was thrilled to tag along. I’ve been to Hawaii twice before and sometimes the flight attendants are, well, not great. Mostly they’re just indifferent, but once we had one that completely lost her shit as we were coming in for a landing. It was a little turbulent (nothing major, even for me) and she came over the intercom, her voice shaky, with this little gem:

“Sit down people! This is serious! We’re over water here!” Not exactly a confidence booster for those of us with flying anxiety.

But this time was different. It was wonderful all around. We landed, picked up our car and headed to the resort. As we walked in I was pleased; big open spaces, bright clean rooms, and right on the beach. You could hear the ocean lapping against the sand as we checked in. Nice place.

So when the pretty girl behind the desk told us, with a smile, that sadly the beaches were closed due to medical waste spilling into the ocean after a heavy rainfall had caused the nearby landfill to overflow, I was kind of incredulous. A landfill had leaked medical waste? Into the ocean? Is that all? Couldn’t you throw some anthrax and dead bodies in too?

Fair enough, maybe “medical waste” was code for dead bodies.

That was, as they say, my first sign. But we rolled with it. Like we had any choice.

Coupled with the ongoing construction at the neighboring resort (which I discovered the next morning), I should’ve seen something ugly coming. But what can I say? I just didn’t.

I forgot to mention that just after the medical waste bombshell, the pretty girl behind the counter also told us that a few miles down the beach was where The Black Pearl was anchored. As in, Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl. This was a handful of shocking information. First the poisoned ocean and now this? She assured me it was the real deal and said I could even get close enough for great pictures.

I admit I was doubtful. I mean, any jackwad could say some ship was the Black Pearl, especially if they wanted to give their resort full of disgruntled vacationers something to think about other than the toxic tide that so gently caressed their beaches. It wouldn’t even be the first time. Boy, 12, exposes touring Pirates of the Caribbean ship as a fake | Mail Online.

But it had to be somewhere, right? Why not two miles down the beach from me and my contaminated paradise?

And so between fun dinners and Mai Tais, I kept thinking about it. Wondering. It couldn’t be the real one, could it? Jack Sparrow’s Pearl has got to be locked in some Hollywood warehouse. I’m probably closer to it in California than I am here. But then I thought, what if it really is the Pearl? I don’t want to miss it.

Or do I? What if it sucks? What if it’s like watching Little Big Man as an adult and finding out that it’s just not as good as when you were twelve? Some things are better left alone. So for three days I did nothing.

But today, after wondering just how long it would take for daily lunches of spring rolls and Hawaiian margaritas (which are delicious) to catch up with me, I decided to go for a walk. It was time to find the Pearl.

I passed the first lagoon, and then another, both speckled with sad travelers lounging in the grass, carefully avoiding the lethal sand and water. After the fourth lagoon (there were only three listed on the map) I began to wonder how long the island really was, and if perhaps the pretty girl behind the counter had played the mother of all jokes on me:

Two weeks lost in the jungle, doing nothing but eating papaya-spiked rat and wiping your ass with banana leaves will teach you to make faces when I tell you the beach is closed. Like I can help it! You know how much they pay me to stand here and tell you people this? Do you? Mahalo.

But just as I decided I should either turn around (always the smart move) or go head first into the Stephen King novel that awaited me, I saw the masts of some boats ahead, rocking slowly in the safety of the harbor. Aha! The Pearl must be up ahead.

I followed the path for another half mile or so, knowing I was close. I could see the end of the island, the way the land curved with nothing but the Pacific beyond. If she was really there, it was now or never.

Unfortunately, she was there. Or some jacked-up skeleton of a ship that looked kind of like the Black Pearl. You know, like I kind of look like Angelina Jolie. Ok, the crappy remnants of the ship is closer, but you know what I mean.

By the time I got back to the resort I knew it wasn’t real. No way. It just couldn’t be.

The Black Pearl is forever shrouded in mystery; her tattered black sails eternally crossing the wide open blue with darkness as her only companion (except for Jack Sparrow). Theirs is a pirate’s destiny, filled with saucy wenches and plundered booty, death-defying adventures and fantastical intrigue. They ask, “But why is the rum gone?” and look longingly into the vastness of the horizon as they sing, “…and really bad eggs, drink up me hearties, yo ho!”

What it isn’t about is being tied up in Hawaii next to a desalination plant.

Just sayin’. Some things are better left alone.

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