Yesterday we decided to go rogue. We woke up early packed our backpacks to the brim with camping gear and semi-edible food, and crossed our fingers that the rain would hold off for the next 48 hours. When we were about to head out the door to begin our “hike” to Lighthouse Beach, we were intercepted by our friendly neighbor (and favorite baker) who wanted to go to – guess where – Lighthouse Beach! Convenient. This is the same friendly neighbor that led us on a potentially hazardous journey over the cliffs and rocky coast just south of Tarpum Bay in search of a secret stretch of beach. The four of us successfully hiked (read hitchhiked) 30 miles and were deposited alongside a dirt road. We trekked for several more miles through the shrubland and chased blackback crabs off the road. If you closed your eyes for a minute, the sound of the crabs scuttling through the dried leaves sounded like a rain shower in the forests back in South Carolina. Finally, we rounded a turn in the road and saw a big blue streak of ocean in front of us. We had arrived!
The next several hours were spent exploring by land and by sea. A snorkeling adventure revealed angelfish, flounder, sea urchins, brain coral, gorgonian sea fans, barracudas – you name it. I spent a good bit of time scanning the water for sharks. I was beginning to think that we were in the clear, and that maybe, just maybe, it would be safe to venture out to that next patch of big reef where there was sure to be some rare and awesome, once in a lifetime discovery. It’s not that I dislike sharks. I think they’re awesome, and I would absolutely love to see one, or hundreds, of them. I would just like to be out of the water when that happens. We took a break from swimming to hike around on the rocks just below the abandoned lighthouse. While I was being distracted by my discovery of the tiniest hermit crabs in the world, Nicole spotted it. The shark. Bigger than either of us, dark as night, and swimming just below us. Where was Brad – oh gosh, where was Brad?! He had gone out to explore the rocks. The very rocks that were being stalked at that very moment by Jaws and his friend the four-foot barracuda. Oh, did I not mention that earlier? Yeah, throw a barracuda into the mix too. We watched the shark swim into the reef and out of sight. I cannot tell a lie – this was the point at which I started to rethink cancelling my cell phone service on this trip. If Brad were to be attacked by a shark, and we were several miles down a dirt road on an isolated beach with no transportation…
We found Cedenio, our friendly neighbor, relaxing under an overhanging rock. We told him that we’d lost Brad and feared the worst. Naturally and logically he headed out into the ocean in the direction that lost people tend to go. Toward the rocks, over the reef, to the domain of the shark. Now they were both goners for sure. Sharks and barracudas, and did I mention the rising tide? At least our water rations would last a little longer…
Just kidding. They both wandered back around the beach a few minutes later and all was well with the world. Cedenio decided to head back home to Tarpum Bay, and the three of us began a search for firewood.
Just as dusk arrived, we had set up a nice little camp under a rock overhang on what we thought looked like pillow-soft sand. We set up a nice fire and cooked an interesting, semi-edible meal. When the fire started to die down and the sand flies started to come out of hiding, we decided to take cover in our tiny tent. We tried various tetris-like conformations in an attempt to fit three people in a two person tent, and, after discovering that our “pillow-soft” sand was actually rock-hard, we managed to finally drift to sleep.
That’s when it happened. Brad was attacked by a man-eating crab. It sent our cozy tent into a frenzy as we fumbled for a light while avoiding walls (obvious crab attack zones) and the floor (the crab’s secret lair). After a thorough search of the tent and an assessment of the damage that the invisible man-eating crab had caused, we managed to reconfigure our tetris assemblage under the assumption the invisible crab would not return to attack Brad later in the night. He later confessed that the attack could have been a dream. Hmm.
We woke up to find that Christmas had come early – FOUR sea turtles had nested in the dunes nearby our campsite that night. The tracks were fresh and had not yet been erased by the tides. If only we had stayed awake, we could have seen these endangered species preparing their nests! Next time.
As we packed up camp, the sky clouded and we decided to head out before the rain came in. We hiked even further this time – from the point of Lighthouse Beach to the fairgrounds at Bannerman Town. It’s not a trek that I’d like to do again. Fortunately, we were rescued by a wonderful Rotarian and his family, who happened to be heading back to Tarpum Bay after a fishing trip. What luck! And that’s where our Lighthouse Beach Adventure ends. Tired yet triumphant, we found our way back home.