I was given a fully paid four-month leave of absence by my employer to write a book. Enlightened employer. Happy me.
The first two months were going to be a luscious vacation, travel, new places, and the last two would be for writing. My S.O. was cool with me being gone for so long.
This was the first trip I had ever taken where every item of clothing I brought had been made for women. Nothing ostentatious. Just clothes that I could wear and enjoy how they fit.
It was unbelievably liberating. I had been reading and writing about dieting, wellness, and health, and decided to try everything at once. What I did and what it did to my body will be the subject of another post, but it was incredible: toned, tanned, fit, and 2 stone lighter (almost 30lbs) in two months. I got in touch with my body in a way that I had never felt before and radiated the energy I felt.
I travelled to Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, getting from place to place on local buses—opting for the cheapest means of getting around. And I walked everywhere. Culture. I stayed in comfortable places, though when I discovered that I could stay for 2 weeks in one of Cancun’s most luxury hotels, including a jacuzzi on my balcony, and barely make a dent in my hotel points, I ended up staying put and laying on the beach and living the good life.
Travelling around, just dressing like a slim woman, cigarette pants, sandals, a blouse, nobody every bothered me, or really even stared. These are macho places, especially Mexico, but I had no problems. Effeminate for some equals gay, and gay can lead to danger in macho places, but I never had cause for fear.
Only when I went to Tikal did I get a creepy feeling from two really muscular guys, blonde-haired blue-eyed Australians, who said they were brothers, and joined me for dinner at our common hotel. They asked me if I wanted to join them out for a drink, but my internal alarm system went off despite how “normal” they seemed. I played out two scenarios in my mind, neither of which appealed to me—that they were gay and wanted to have hanky-panky, or worse, that they thought I was and wanted to get me outside to beat the shit out of me. I politely declined and then went and hid in my room.
At one airport the customs officer asked me to open my suitcase. He was more embarrassed than I was about the jumble of lingerie that tumbled out. Why are men afraid of panties? It was like it had just dawned on him as he looked at me. He sure wasn’t going to touch them; it was like they would burn his fingers. He gestured for me to pack it up with his hands and quickly walked off to deal with someone else. An older German gentleman who seemed to have a similar itinerary to mine winked at my knowingly as he sailed by in his rumpled pink dress shirt and Panama hat!
I had recently qualified in scuba, and in Belize booked a trip out to the Blue Hole, an iconic dive stop. I felt a little nervous about wearing bikini bottoms that day, in part because the divemaster intimidated me. He looked a bit like David Lee Roth, was into metal, was tall, well-muscled, quite good looking, and really into himself. I could easily imagine him meeting lots of pretty ladies in his line of work and thought he might not like having a girlie-boy on his boat.
My fears were unfounded. There was a young honeymooning couple who just had eyes for themselves, a rather attractive solo woman, and another guy who sat next to me. The divemaster’s interest in the solo woman was evident, particularly since he announced that he would be her dive buddy. But towards me he was an angel. I had never been treated like a princess before, but that is how he treated me. He helped me with everything, my flippers, my mask, he doted on me, and was just really sweet. It might have been for her, and I couldn’t imagine how or why I felt it, but I loved it.
The dive was amazing and brought me face to face with a shark. My dive buddy caught my attention and made the shark symbol and pointed over my shoulder. I turned around and literally two feet from my face a reef shark was just checking me out as we sank down into the depths.
After the dive I found myself walking with the attractive woman. She was tall, brunette, my age, completely my type physically. I had put on a very short sarong after the dive, a bit like a mini-skirt, and a “guy shirt”, white cotton, but the buttons on the wrong side. She was hitting on me, and it felt really nice, and safe, and it was okay to let our hands bump together as we walked. She asked me if I would join her for dinner and I agreed.
As we ate out on the veranda of one of the local restaurants, our divemaster walked up. He was taken aback that we were together, totally bemused. He clearly had designs on her, and I was probably the last person he expected to find with her. As he walked away he sang out, “Ain’t life a bitch.”
We had a lovely evening. We talked about life, travel, pollution, in a conversation that flowed effortlessly. She asked. I told her I was already in love. She went to the divemaster, and I went back to my hotel. My heart can only ever belong to one woman, and once I met her, I have been hooked for life.