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July 28, 2006

Walk on a romantic beach... while bringing home the Rodgers

Last night I got to walk a romantic Pacific beach looking for sea turtles coming in to lay eggs.

With a Mexican Admiral, Rear Admiral Uribe.

The Mexican Navy have been wonderful hosts. They host us for lunch, which is excellent, and has little in common, except in generalities, with what passes for Mexican food back home. Some nice *hot* stuff. And guacamole to die for. And, as Ward found out... some verra nice ladies. (No, SWWBO, I didn't win anything at the raffle, so I am still chaste)

Anyway, Captain Jimenez is eager to show us the good side of the Navy and the city of Lazaro Cardenas, the state of Michoacan, and, of course, Mexico. It's been fun to see something other than Ciudad Juarez, and someplace that isn't built to accommodate gringo touristas.

This includes the proper way to drink *good* tequila.

Captain Jimenez schools Rob Harshbarger

Last night, Captain Jimenez arranged a trip to the beach, to see the sea turtles coming in to lay eggs.

I've never done anything like that. Captain Jimenez, who is our host down here was there with his wife, Violeta, and son, Abraham. Admiral Uribe's wife also joined us.

Add in Brewer's Bandits.

And a detail of 8 Mexican Marines. In full battle rattle. Weapons, night vision, helmets, fully loaded vests, black uniforms, which was cool with former Marine John Nowakowski - who hung with his bros.

John Nowakowski with Mexican Marine Corps Patrol Leader

They were there to provide security. Mebbe we were also bait...?

Naw - when Captain Jimenez went to check out the beaches earlier that day, the local police told him that there had been poachers looking for both turtle eggs *and* tourists to rob. The good Captain didn't reach those lofty heights by not appreciating that getting the Admiral and his American guests involved with poachers would be a Bad Thing.

The Marines routinely patrol the beaches at night during spawing and tourist (there's a difference?) seasons, so we didn't have to feel too guilty about ruining these guy's Thursday night plans. All we did was change the location of their Thursday night plans. Which was to patrol the beaches. Well, they did get to nursemaid 8 Americans, two senior Naval officers and their families.

That Admiral and his wife completely kicked my butt. We went about a mile and a half, along the wet, sandy beaches, and Your Correspondent, while managing to *mostly* keep up with a killer pace, did lag behind as age, decrepitude and Good Living demanded their due.

If, when we reached the end of that walk, they had turned around and headed back (rather than having the vehicles meet us) I would simply have sat down and said, "So, this is where I die. Nice place. Smells funny though."

That didn't happen. My legs ached, my back ached, and I sweat gallons, but the heart didn't explode, so SWWBO isn't small-time comfortable from the insurance.

We didn't see any turtles, but we did see a clutch of eggs being gathered by Mexican officials who move them from the public beach to locations where they are more likely to survive.

We got done and back to the hotel at 2345. And today started at 0700. And today was a looooooooooooong day.

More on *that* later.

But rest assured - even though I'm grinning here in one of my 5" gun mounts (this being mount 5, all the way aft)...

The Armorer in his element

We're still working! Here I am with Ken Guiles disassembling a Mk4 20mm (made by GM, by the way - and the photo is by Rob Harshbarger).

Even a *cold* boiler room in Mexico in July is a *hot* place.

Ward Brewer in the aft boiler room of the Rodgers

Trust me. I didn't hit heat exhaustion - but I drank 5 liters of fluid and only, um, er, ah, "voided" about a coffee cup's worth of, well, y'know.