?

Log in

No account? Create an account

January 5th, 2003

fly away

Today we took a shuttle to the west side of the island, to a place called Paradise Cove. During the ride, we passed many tall pine trees. They differed from loblolly pines, because they had needles only on the very top, and the trunks in the main towered lean and slightly palm-tree-like without branches or needles. The understory plants were a dense growth of greenery, with some beautiful yellow and purple flowers from time to time. We passed industrial areas where rock was being pulled from the earth, and waterways with mangroves.

Homes varied from very nice, to middle class, to very poor.
A number of homes were nice enough, but only partially finished. The driver explained that many people built their homes without lenders, putting in a bit here, and a bit there, so that the home would be finished when it was finished. Grand Bahama's whole population is 40,000, roughly the size of my suburban Texas home town of Allen, but it stretches across a 100 mile by 17 mile island. It's like taking a suburb and turning it into a state.

The "Paradise Cove" was a nice place, with a simple concession stand, a nice spot of spotless beach, and a fellow grilling things. The fellows who ran it explained in detail the best way to see the best things snorkeling, as well as safety and "green" tips about the reef.

The snorkeling was excellent. The reef was about a fifteen minute swim from the beach. During the morning, the water clarity was crystalline. I saw a variety and good quantity of yellow, blue, brown and green fish. There were lots of grouper, a few tangs, lots of sergeant majors, and various small fish. In the shallows, tiny fish smaller than minnows were clearly visible.

The visit "came with" a grilled burger, a sack of potato chips, and a can of ginger beer, which hit the spot perfectly.
We lay on the beach in 70 degree weather and talked and rested.

In the early afternoon,I went back out alone while my wife slept. On the "other side" of the large rock outcropping, in about 40 foot deep water, I saw a huge ray swimming. Its wing span was perhaps five feet long, and it's "stinger" tail was perhaps seven feet long. I lazily watched it "fly" down beneath me; it was totally oblivious to my presence for a long while. At some point, it accelerated away faster than I could swim. Just when I had lost sight of it, two other large rays came swimming up from the opposite direction.

I like to snorkel because it requires virtually no "expertise" in order to become "good" at it. When I am cruising over reefs and kelp and sand, I feel as though I was in my shuttle craft, exploring an alien planet.

Our oceans have so much in them we do not understand. I am a big fan of NASA, but if we spent just one thousandth of what we spend on space exploration, we could learn so much about what is in the ocean.

Today I learned that when a ray flies by, I am enraptured.