Welcome to Part 853* of my “Weather’s Better in the Bahamas” series!
Today I actually have a horror story to tell you, right out of the Bahamas. Don’t worry; I’ve still got pretty pictures AND there’s a happy ending.
One of the activities we were lucky enough to partake in while we were there was snorkeling. I had never snorkeled before**, and neither had the older boy. We were totally stoked to wake up on the morning of our first full day on the Pecheur and find out that the morning would be spent snorkeling. We were also totally stoked to discover this view, once we took a short sail from the dock where we boarded:
After we got our masks fitting just right, Captain Del took us closer to the exact snorkeling spot in his little motorboat, because bringing the Pecheur too close would do some hefty damage to the living areas of all that marine life. We all climbed out of the little boat and into the water, each of us holding a Ziploc bag of Cheerios, and got going with that snorkeling business.
The colors! The colors! WOW***!
We took a self portrait while we were there, to commemorate the spectacular morning:
A couple of days later, we were given the opportunity to snorkel in a very different kind of place. As we approached in the Pecheur, we noticed that the deserted beach ahead was extremely primitive-looking, like Gilligan’s Island. (and indeed, there were coconuts everywhere; more on that over the weekend!)
A little ways offshore, we saw a hunk of metal sticking up from out of the not-as-blue water. Our Captain told us that it was construction vehicles that were brought to the area and then just sunk in order to avoid the trouble and expense of bringing them back to civilization. It was a haven for marine life down there, and made for some pretty good–though not as colorful because of the lack of water clarity–snorkeling.
After spending some time exploring the island (more on that over the weekend!), some of us (me, the older boy, one of the dads and his son, plus two other boys) decided that we’d go ahead and snorkel, not wanting to waste the opportunity.
We set off, away from the shore and towards the sunken equipment, and the water got murkier and murkier. The three pairs of us swam in and around the equipment, checking out all of the life that was down there. It wasn’t as beautiful as the snorkeling experience on that first morning, but it was pretty cool.
When I became aware of my situation, I began a full-fledged panic attack. You see, I was in an area that was heavily populated with critters that looked like baby jellyfish****.
They. Were. EVERYWHERE.
Here’s a really poor-quality picture of one:
I was instantly paralyzed and didn’t know what exactly I should do. The older boy was swimming right behind me and although these creatures were surrounding us (I could see about fifteen to twenty of them–in any direction–without shifting my glance.), I didn’t know whether he was concerned or not. If you’ve snorkeled before, you know that you can hear yourself breathe under water. At that point, the pace of my breathing had increased in a major way, and actually hearing a symptom of my panic made things worse. My heart was beating out of my chest and the slimy feel of these creatures against my bare skin was feeding the Flight instinct I was having. I tried to just keep my body language in check so that the older boy wouldn’t sense that anything might be wrong. I kept telling myself that I needed to have mental toughness, because this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and my son, and it was important to take advantage of every moment. Plus, what a great story this would make! I hung on mentally for a few more minutes, but my brain kept working against me. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.
You see, I let my brain wander TOO FAR. Where did it go? To the original version of the Super Mario Bros. game by Nintendo. You know, in the stage where Mario has to swim and survive the fields of jellyfish-looking creatures*****.
So let’s summarize:
My heart? Pounding.
My breathing: Quickened and amplified to horror movie proportions.
My skin? Recoiling every couple of seconds when one of the creatures brushed against me.
My mind? On Mario, tragically killed by a jellyfish.
I resurfaced, faced the older boy and said as calmly as I could, “So…you wanna go back?”
He nodded and gave me the thumbs-up. THANK GAWD.
We left the others and headed back to shore, swimming through those slimeballs as quickly as we could. I hurried up onto the beach–yes, a’la Gilligan’s Island–and sat down on a rock until I was a little calmer. That’s when I found out that the older boy did indeed see (and feel) all of those creatures, but he was telling himself that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and his mom, and it was important to take advantage of every moment. Plus, what a great story this would make!
Then we laughed. Amazing.
We stayed out of the water until it was time to head back to the Pecheur. We did some more exploring and took some great pictures, including this one, which is one of my faves from the trip. It almost looks like a watercolor, doesn’t it?
*Kidding. If you’re just joining us, you’ve only missed about six.
**Unless you count a brief lesson on how to wear and breathe from the mask in a marine life-free swimming pool at an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
***By the way, these underwater pictures, though they’re pretty good, don’t do the real sights justice because they were taken with a disposable waterproof camera: though my Olympus IS all that and a bag of chips, it is not waterproof and therefore had to stay on the Pecheur.
****I don’t know for sure if they were indeed jellyfish for sure, but would YOU want to stick around and find out?
*****They are actually more squid-like, I guess, according to the older boy, and their Mario Bros. name is “Bloobers”. You know, in case you were wondering about that.
©2010 Suburban Scrawl