Jerry marking my progress with his binoculars.
Happy April Fools day. My April Fool's day started by giving Bruce Travaris a ride to the airport at 5:30 this morning. I decided to bring Captain since he was up and looked excited to see Bruce go. After I dropped him off, Captain and I came home and watched the sunrise. The sunrise from Jerry's place is always amazing. The colors of pink, purple, orange, yellow and blue that paint the sky never disappoint. I really think the two things I will remember the most when I leave this place will be the night sky and the sunrises. They both take my breath away. The manarays were really out flopping around this morning and whale even breached for air about 100+ft off shore. But even with all this excitement I retired to my room to grab and hour and a half of sleep before breakfast.
It's hard work!
I was laying down for about 15 minutes when my phone rang, which was rather peculiar at such an hour. I picked it up and Jerry said, "Hey brother! There's a whale washed up on the shore." Now I'm thinking this is totally possible since I saw that whale so close in and the waves were acting strange today, so I asked "Really? I'll be right there!" Now I sleep naked, so lept out of bed, grabbed my swimsuit, and ran down to pool to see where this helpless whale was. I get down there, and I don't see anything. I scan up and down the beach just encase it's a little ways down or maybe just below the water level. I wait around just to make sure I didn't miss something, half expecting Jerry to come down, but nothing ever arises.
Flesh on the left, skin on the right.
Now Jerry doesn't have the best sight and he's not too apologetic when he makes a mistake, so I figure he either was mistaken or the whale had made its way back out to sea. I go back to bed and sleep in. When I arrive at breakfast, everyone informs me that "Jerry was looking for you. He said he called you at 6:30 this morning." Now this was sort of behavior seemed to out of character for Jerry. I knew something was afoot. I gave Jerry a call in his bedroom.
"Were you lying to me this morning about the whale?"
so that ruined my morning. For the rest of the day, I spent my time removing the last bits of flesh and sinews off of my shark skin.
Finally fully separated.
Yesterday I was able to buy the battery acid (which apparently is sold in water bottles here in Mexico), but I didn't have time to wash it. So today I planned to thaw, wash and tan my skin. Well I realized that As soon as I pulled my skin out of the water I was thawing it in, I figured I could do a better job of removing more flesh from the skin. No remember, I have never done this before and I have no frame of reference for what a well fleshed hide looks like. I have had plenty of compliments, but I'm pretty sure those people know about as much as I do if not left, after all my Googleing. Well one little bit of flesh lead to another and for the next three hours I was pulling rotten flesh and sinew off a shark hide.
I pulled for so long, I got at least three hang nails (several more in the making), loosened three fingernails from their nailbeds (especially my right thumb), and because shark skin is like sand paper, I wore through my first knuckles on my left had so that they started to bleed. All the while Jerry was sitting there telling me that I was "weird" and that I should just buy a cowhide wallet and glue the shark skin to it. Thanks Jerry.
After I had pulled off all the body parts I felt comfortable pulling off, I washed the skin to make sure it was clean. Finally, I went to the laboratory, (the kitchen) and began to concoct my tanning solution, per the instructions of Cindy, my beach acquaintance, back in the states: 1 gallon H2O, 1 pound salt, and 4 oz battery acid.
My lab (notice the bathroom scale)
I used a bathroom scale to measure the salt, which proved to be impossible, so eyeballed it. I knew the container of salt I was pouring was 1 kilo and I knew I needed .456 Kilos, so I just poured till the container was a little less than half empty. I hope that worked. After I had carefully mixed all the ingredients, I added my shark skin to the solution and placed it in an unused refrigerator to hopefully keep it at a constant temperature. I'll open it back up in about 3 days.
Now one thing I have learned from all this is that shark stinks and it is really, really hard to get the smell off of you. After I had finished cleaning up all the left over what-have-yous, I mixed a bowl of dish detergent and hot water, scrubbed my hands a few times and finally, just let them soak for about twenty minutes.
Water bottle full of battery acid!
It was a valiant effort, but when it was all done, my hands still smelled like large rotting fish. But while I was putting away the bowl I had soaked my hands in, I noticed a large jug of distilled vinegar. I figured this couldn't hurt and actually should do a good job. Well... I was half right. Just as I began to pour the vinegar on my left hand, my eyes grew wide as I remembered the back side of my fingers were raw from tugging on all the shark skin. My fears were immediately confirmed. It was quite an exhilarating stinging sensation but I manned through. In fact, coach Nady had a story, he was gumming it up with someone regarding branding which lead to the eventual $40 wager that Nady could take a branding and not change the expression on his face.
Letting it soak.
Well coach Nady now has and XN branded on his arm (for Xavier Nady) and is $40 richer. I decided to BLN (mom style: Be like Nady) and not change the expression on my face, which I think I did (I didn't have a mirror). Now I'm not equating putting vinegar on a scrape with being branded but if some wants to pay me $40 to do it again, I surely will.
Last order of business: I go back to my place to take a shower and get ready for dinner. I turn on the water, let it run, check the temp and get in. As I turn around, my whole right side feels like its burning up. I thought to myself, "the water didn't feel that hot." I try it again and get the same sensation. I step out of the shower and look in the mirror and I have an excellent line of red from my shoulder, directly down my back to the other hip.
My "bloody" knuckles. There was blood!
Now if you look in the pictures, the umbrella is protecting about half my body from the sun's deadly rays. Well I thought I was doing a pretty good job of moving with the shadow of the umbrella as the sun moved across the sky, but as it turns out, I didn't and now I have a charming half-burn across my back. Sweet.