Friday, June 25, 2010

Oil's well that ends well

Recent reports indicate that the rate of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill every four days. As we enter day 67...well, you'll see I did the math.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The old man and the sea and me

This is the entrance to the harbor of the fishing village of Cojiba, just east of Havana. From here Hemingway's old man rowed out to sea and eventually returned. Ever since January's Cuban tour (Snoopy Goes to Cuba) of American cartoonists I have kept an eye out for a copy of The Old Man And The Sea. I found one recently, weeks after the BP oil eruption in the Gulf of Mexico.

As if the images on TV weren't disheartening enough, vicariously rowing out into the Gulf Stream with this old man and spending days at sea took me back to my time as a diver in Miami and the Bahamas. I'd all but forgotten the haunting deep blue of the Gulf Stream and the sparkling turquoise of Bahamian waters. I was jolted back to the day we stopped engines on our dive boat in the middle of the Gulf Stream to deal with a problem en route to the island of Bimini where we had a second dive shop. While drifting silently over the deep dark waters a huge sailfish swam alongside us, his full sail airborne and his large yellow eye taking us in from a mere 20 feet away. I am ashamed to admit that I looked around for a spear gun. In my mind these magnificent creatures only "lived" on the walls of bars and hunting lodges. My first instinct was to kill it. I still shake my head at the memory and am glad I had no weapons at hand.

Meanwhile, the old man, far at sea, reveres that which he intends to kill. He reads the sea, the fish and the birds as we would read a map. He is so connected to that cycle of life and death that he is resigned to either outcome himself. He is nothing if not committed.

Against this backdrop I absorb the daily news of ever increasing disaster as the oil permeates more and more of the Gulf. They predict the currents will draw it towards the Keys and up the East Coast. No one ever mentions Cuba in all this. No one points out that the fishermen of Cojiba may be totally screwed too. Thanks for Ernest I am painfully aware of it. It makes me want to go to La Bodeguita Del Medio in Old Havana and get blindingly drunk on mojitos. At least once. Just for Hemingway's sake.