Today was a very good day. I woke up early, and I was lying in my bed, unable to go back to sleep because of these huge black birds that call out to each other in a way that’s as effective as any alarm. They start to shrill out to each other just before sunrise, announcing to their whole world that another day is starting, and as the sky just started to lighten, I realized that I had an opportunity. An opportunity to see the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea, and to take a picture so that I could post it, and it would then seem to all of you that I am the sort of person who gets up for the sunrise.
See? Doesn’t it look exactly like I’m the sort of pure spirit who gets up and does that? Sure it does. (I will admit to doing one tiny sun salutation on the beach, but hell. How could you not?) The rest of the day marched along smartly, with one major development.
Miraculously, today I got really comfortable with snorkelling. Mum and I tried it for the first time last year, and she was really good, and goes out alone all the time, and she’s starting to look pretty savvy out there. Me? My attempts have largely been successful, though have been punctuated by episodes where I inexplicably screw the whole thing up, draw a large lungful of air, and then near drown myself just offshore.
Today was different. Today I got the hang of how to clear the thing, and how to get it on your face so it doesn’t leak, and how to keep it from fogging up – it went really well. I don’t have any fins, so I just swim along, and I don’t make good time, but I am a very strong swimmer, so I can stay out a long time. Today I remembered I’m a good swimmer, and I got the mask on right, and figured out what to do if the whole system fills up, and once I had that all sorted, it was really fun. It was… peaceful, and weird to be floating along with your face down in the water, and still be breathing. (Trick number one to snorkelling. Convince yourself that you can breathe, even though your face is underwater. It’s harder than you think. Instinct is a powerful, beautiful thing.) Today it was all going so well, and I saw some pretty fish that were blue and yellow and black, and some that were just black and white, and many fish that I know are Barracuda, and then a fish that was as long as me – and about seven of his friends, all lurking around on the bottom of the sea, trying to look innocent, even thought they all had great pointy teeth.
The moment though – was when I was cruising along, and suddenly a great chunk of the ocean floor moved. I wasn’t in very deep, and I was in a place where the sand rose up, in a small underwater hill, and below me, only a metre or two away, a big thing was going. I don’t see very well, and I didn’t have my glasses on (obviously) so I kept swimming on, and only when I was right on top of the thing did I realize it was a big stingray. I froze.
I stopped swimming entirely, and didn’t move a muscle as it winged by right underneath me, and I tried desperately to remember what I knew about them. Did they really sting? Was that a myth? What made it sting? What about that Australian guy? Was there anywhere to go? Was this dangerous? How do you run away in the ocean?
I realized quickly that he was going his way, and I was going mine, and I couldn’t think of any reason we would hurt each other if we were both quiet and sorted, and off it went, with its great long tail trailing behind it. It was huge, and it was beautiful, and I am very glad I am learning to snorkle.
Then about 5 seconds later a piece of seaweed touched my leg and I just about had a heart attack and drowned myself.
It was elegant. Knittter out.