Meeting Raul, Episode 7, Odysseys in Paradise

The morning arrived and Rich launched the dinghy into the harbor’s water. The tide was in and the boats that once rested on the harbor’s floor stood buoyant and ready. Zeke needed some coaxing to board the dinghy. Once he was in, Rich started the motor and putted to shore.

Approaching the shore, Rich sensed the place was poverty-stricken compared to what he had experienced to this point. It was a far cry from the ports visited on the east coast of South America where the villages were teeming with fun and commerce. However, poverty is relative, sometimes people have to be told they live in such. A blind man living in a dark room has to be told he’s blind and then says, “there’s something else?”

Rich coasted to a small dock and looped a line around the piling. He climbed onto the dock and urged Zeke to do the same. Zeke remained steadfast on the seat. “Maybe later,” Rich said.

By the time Rich walked the short length of the dock and about to step on dry land, Zeke trotted alongside.

The street along the harbor was hard-packed gravel. It was moist, but not muddy. Water puddled in a few scattered places.

A man stood outside a large sliding door of a small building made of corrugated steel splatted with rust.

Rich asked him in Spanish, “Where is a grocery?”

Go that way,” the man said pointing to his left, “The next street, go on it. There is a store not far. It is where my wife shops.”

Thank you, sir,” Rich said.

It is no problem,” the man said.

Forgive me for asking, sir,” Rich said, “do you have a cart or wagon I can rent to haul provisions to my boat.”

Will a wheelbarrow be useful?” the man said.

Perfect,” Rich smiled.

You can use it for free,” the man said. “I will get it for you.”

The man walked inside the building and moved a few things piled around the wheelbarrow and wheeled it outside.

It has been a long time since it has been used,” the man said. “It is good.”

Thank you,” Rich said. “I must buy a lot of provisions, so it will have to be used several times.”

That is no concern,” he smiled, “you will not wear it out.”

I will wear out before the wheelbarrow does,” Rich said.

Three times Rich filled the wheelbarrow with provisos. He also restocked the water and fuel before returning it to the man.

You must be going a long way or eat very much,” the man said.

A little of both,” Rich said.

Are you a good sailor?” the man said.

The ocean bottom is full of good sailors,” Rich said. “I want to be the fortunate sailor.”

Then I shall say good fortune to you,” the man said.

I will need to do maintenance on my boat,” Rich said. “Do you know of a good store to buy boat supplies?”

There are two close,” the man said. “One is cheap, but the products are not reliable, the other is expensive, but good quality.”

You must spend a fortune to have good fortune,” Rich said.

That is true,” the man said. “The cheap store I told you about has many customers—at the bottom of the sea. You will need a well-maintained boat to make it around the Cape or through the Straits”

I have sailed from Maine in the United States through the Straits,” Rich said. “The next part of my journey will be to the west.”

Than you are a good sailor,” the man said.

A fortunate sailor,” Rich said. “I have much to learn about the sea.”

Only God knows the sea,” the man said. “And once you sail the sea you still don’t know it, but you will know yourself and God.”

You sound like a man with experience,” Rich said.

I have spent many days as a fisherman,” the man said. “Many lonely days and nights at sea, through waves like mountains and seas as calm as a dead man’s stare. But you know.”

Yes,” Rich said solemnly.

How long do you plan to stay in Quellon?” the man said.

When the wind is right,” Rich said.

Anything I can help you with,” the man said, “I am always here.”

Thanks,” Rich said. “And what is your name?”

Raul Choppa.”

Rich extended his hand, “Rich or Rico Larsen.”

A sailor’s grip,” Raul said.

Tonight, I buy your supper?” Rich said.

Raul nodded. “Sure, I know a good place.”

Six?”

Six.”

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