A family of 5 (youngest being a 9 YEAR OLD GIRL) are seated at a poolside table. They have just arrived from the States. The MOTHER and 3 CHILDREN are weary from their trip, but are excited by the clear blue skies and equally blue waters beyond. The FATHER looks around the restaurant area, anxious for someone to come and take their order. A WAITRESS approaches the table.

How may I help you?

Yeah, we’d like five Co-Colas.

Five Coco Loco?

The FATHER nods.

Yes. Five Co-Colas.

The WAITRESS pauses, and then makes a head motion to the 9 YEAR OLD GIRL and asks–

Five? Coco Loco?

The FATHER is getting rather irritated at this point. His next one-word answer is spoken in several octaves–


Yes, sir. Five Coco Loco

The WAITRESS leaves the table and heads to the BAR to prepare the drinks.

Time passes. The FAMILY chats together. Small clouds pass in front of the sun. Various WAIT STAFF pass by the table without stopping. The FATHER grows more impatient. He wants his soda.

The WAITRESS returns to the table, carrying a tray holding 5 white frozen beverages, each with paper umbrellas and fruit garnishes. She begins to place them on the table as she says–

Five Coco Locos.

The CHILDREN’s eyes grow wide at the sight of the very fancy (and obviously alcoholic) beverages.

That itn’t no Co-Cola.



I was that 9 year old girl.

But that wasn’t the only memorable thing that happened on this trip.

Equally notable, but infinitely more terrifying (and far more pertinent to this post) was…

The Banana Boat Incident

Let me summarize:

Family of five boards a banana boat and is towed by speed boat at a fast clip out into the gleaming blue waters of the Caribbean. The speed boat makes nice, large sweeping turns. Middle child (the brother-yes I blame it all on him) leans hard in every turn, eventually throwing the bouncy inflatable raft off balance. Family of five falls into the water. Youngest child is terrified and attempts to climb up oldest child like a ladder to avoid whatever lies at the sea’s floor. Youngest child nearly drowns oldest child and never lives it down. Youngest child also never gets over fear of unseen horrors in the water below.

Back to 2013 – When a cool and learned man from our church began offering canoe lessons, I signed The Man and myself up! Canoeing would be perfect for fighting my water demons, as well as give me something to write about.

And so we went canoeing…

We met our fearless teacher at a local lake for our lesson.

He presented us with a syllabus. Delightful! 

We learned many things about the canoe, like how to pack it for a trip and how to “unswamp” it. A canoe would be “swamped” if it was full of water.

We learned how to steer our canoe slowly and quickly and how to navigate through obstacles. We also learned to communicate with the proper canoeing lingo.

We learned a few tricks, like laying our heads into the dark creepy lake water and switching places in the canoe while afloat.Canoe adventure

Later in the week, we put all our new skills to the test (and learned a few more) on a river trip in the mountains with our teacher, his family, and his other two canoe students. 

We learned how to turn upstream and park in various places, and also practiced paddling in serpentines around our fellow boaters while they remained still.

We learned how to “ferry” straight across the moving river. This could be helpful if we came across a stranded paddle or adventurer that needed retrieving.

We practiced our unswamping skills in moving water.

I faced a few demons and stood in mud up to my ankles. (who knows what was in that muck?!)

I faced a few more demons at our break spot and followed the young fellas down the river, bodysurfing on purpose. This was quite exhilarating in the cold water and all went extremely well until I had trouble getting my footing to come back to the beach. That was downright terrifying! (for a few seconds)

We handled the little Class I rapids with ease. We really enjoyed the last ones, which were closer to Class II rapids (due to the high water level that day).

We had a fantastic time and I left the river feeling quite knowledgable and wanting my own canoe.

Now I just need to learn how to fish!canoeing

One more thing I learned:

Way back when (I’m thinking Jane Austen times), courting couples would hardly ever have any alone time, since most meeting were chaperoned. Some couples would enjoy paddling on two-seater canoes that did not allow anyone else to be present. Going on these sorts of canoe outings, and whatever other activities may have ensued away from prying eyes, became known as “canoodling”.

There was no canoodling going on during either of our outings, but the word sure is fun to say.