I ask the Range Warden if, in this land of crazy gunmen, he often had deranged local people doing dangerous things. “No!" he snarls in a gravelly voice, "He wassunt an American. He was an Englishman like you!” Oops!
We hired a canoe. To begin with I took the front position. We were hopeless. We could not go in a straight line along the twenty-metre-wide channel, literally hitting one side or the other. Whatever musclepower I expended we just could not advance in a straight line. We figured out that the rear oarsman had more control and so swapped places. Now we had it! Smooth and coordinated, we got up some good speed, and got out of the channel into a lake which was a bit choppy so we retreated back into our channel.
A guy came past in a powerboat, throttling right down out of courtesy, and said, "You guys seem to be working smoothly as a team", which was true. Our minds were frantically calculating moments of inertia around the centre of percussion, and drag limitation via minimal y-axis oscillation. Some, understandably, might say smoothly.
We noticed a little landing platform and parked up for a walk on a dry pathway among the mangroves. And then the mosquitos started on us. Our little stroll became a run and then a mad dash to try to outpace the bastards. I was trying to swat them from my face and legs and calves all at the same time, hopping and flailing and running and jumping. This was too much for Steph. She 'corpsed' - the sight of her crazy old man doing this deranged dance gave her a fit of the giggles and she couldn't run for laughing. The mossies made her pay for that, devouring her whilst standing stationary and shrieking with laughter. We later counted the bites on her legs: there were around a hundred.
Years later she confessed to hamming it up, feigning terror in order to make the fool behind her click his stupid camera.
On that Florida trip we had the most diverse fortnight imaginable. We met up with my sisters and Steph's little cousins; we drove through the tail end of Hurricane Mitch; heard our food being crunched in the darkness by cockroaches in fetid motel rooms; and survived to tell the tale!