"They Really Took A Dive"

The very beautiful island of Madeira is a part of Portugal and is about an hour and a half flight from Lisbon. The island enjoys mild temperatures throughout the year, making it ideal for the growing of grapes. The result of course is that Madeira is renowned for its superior wines as indeed is Portugal itself.

When one gazes at the terraced hillsides, rich with fine grapes and a sea of floral color it is not difficult to appreciate that Madeira has been and is called " The floating garden of the Atlantic." Madeira is also blessed with many picturesque little fishing villages dotting its coastline. They look like some majestic work of art captured in paint by a talented artist.

There are seven gentlemen in one of those little villages who probably still talk about the day Big Jim came to town. It was a wonderful, warm and sunny day around the harbor, which followed the half moon shaped hillside that it occupied. Colorful little fishing boats bobbed ever so lazily on the undulating azure water with men on the decks busily engaged mending nets and unloading the day's catch.

Fishermen Eating

Now, when a six foot five, almost five hundred pound man happens upon a tranquil scene like this, people usually stop to take a good look. I have found from experience that it is not all uncommon for some to laugh and point, making fun of what they perceive to be different from the norm, and I sure as hell am different.

As a fat person, I hate the word obese it sounds like a disease, I am all too familiar with that kind of reaction when people see me. I have learned however that to react with a friendly approach can at times change their attitudes of ridicule to one of acceptance so I usually swallow my pride and make an effort to be friendly and funny.

Boat at Dock

On this particular day, I was not at all surprised when a group of several young fishermen, all with beards to a man and relatively small in stature began to point in my direction and laugh as they exchanged comments that I was not yet close enough to hear. I could just imagine however what they were saying.

In keeping with my desire to make new friends wherever I go, I started to walk towards them. As I did, I raised my arm with the intention of showing them the size of my wrist and explaining the fact that I was a big boned person as well as just generally big. I meant it to be a friendly gesture but in this case it was obviously taken to be an angry reaction to their obvious ridicule.


As I approached closer, they all stopped laughing and began to look worried then downright afraid. They began to back up slowly with only the edge of the dock and the water behind them. I tried to smile and explain my intention of friendliness. But at this point something very unusual happened. They all turned, ran to the edge of the dock and one by one jumped off into the water. I guess I must have looked pretty big and mean even though I didn't intend to.

At that, everyone else around began to laugh uproariously, including me. The fellows stayed in the water until my guide and companion explained to them in Portuguese that I was friendly and in no way meant them any harm.


Later we all gathered at a dockside café for a beer or two and had a great laugh over the whole ridiculous affair.

Madeira turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. In another story before I left the island I'll tell you about tearing the back off a man's ski boat before I finally left Madeira. I know that a lot of people on that island will never forget me.

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