by Barb Eller (December 2011)
I want a show of hands out there of anyone who has ever been on a stand-up paddle board or knows what a stand-up paddle board is. Ok, ok, so I have had my head in the water scuba diving and have missed a few things. But now I have been enlightened. Stand-up paddle boarding is standing on a board, using a long paddle to glide you over the water and you are able to see fish, coral, turtles and other sunken treasures.
I met two awesome gals, Carolyn Thomas and Susan Gregson, from Austin, Texas. Their business, Under Toe Mexico, can be found on the beach next to Nohoch Kay. It's the only place you can learn paddle boarding, relax on a padded float, and you can even get a toe ring and ankle bracelet.
Carolyn was traveling and met a fellow traveler in an airport between flights. This person had been to Mahahual and told Carolyn all about the town, the people and the beaches. Carolyn knew she had to experience this paradise herself. When she arrived here all she saw for two days were rain, dark skies and angry seas. Disappointed, she decided to leave the next day. In the morning she looked outside and saw sunshine, white beaches, seas of blues and greens, and people with smiles walking the Malecón. She found her paradise!
Carolyn returned to Texas and convinced her friend Susan to join her in Mahahual. They wanted to start their own business that was water related, something that would not be in competition with the locals, not damage the reef or fish life, and be something new and different—stand-up paddle boarding! So they sold everything they owned, bought the equipment they needed and headed for Mahahual.
I will be honest with you; I wasn’t sure this was for me. I tried getting on a skateboard once and Patrick's grandchildren still laugh about it. But the more I talked with Carolyn and Susan, the more I wanted to give it a try. That's all it took. Susan grabbed a board for me, Carolyn hopped on her board, and my lesson began. I was shown how to hold the paddle, how to stand on the board and a few other pointers. I began by kneeling in the center of the board and then was told to paddle out to deeper water. I must have been given a board that had a mind of its own because my board headed straight for the turtle grass. (I am sure it had nothing to do with the way I was paddling.) Thanks to a nearby swimmer who turned the board for me, I was now headed in the right direction. My next maneuver was to stand up. After a couple of tries I made it, feeling very confident, I shifted my weight and began rocking from side to side. I was talking to myself, "Take a deep breath, relax, you can do this." Things settled down and I began paddling along. We began our trek at Nohoch Kay and made it to the Fisherman's Wharf before turning around. It didn't take long to become comfortable and relaxed so I could start looking around and seeing some fish, rocks and other things in the shallow water.
Carolyn is an excellent instructor, has patience and, most importantly, loves what she is doing. Susan and Carolyn are committed to becoming a part of the community. They have already become involved in many activities as they meet new people and build a life here in Mahahual. They also are working on adding stand-up paddle board tours in Bacalar and more.
Be sure to look them up the next time you are walking the Malecón. Stop and talk to them and check out their toe rings and ankle bracelets, I got a tortuga (turtle) on mine. Their Web site will give you more information too: http://undertoemexico.com/.
As I keep telling you, Mahahual has so many interesting people living here with great stories to share.
Until next time ...