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Snorkel, Sea and Smörgåsbord (Day Three - Part IV)

Those that had not already headed back to the boat were summoned. I tried my best to kick at lightning speed since I swum a reasonable distance from the boat. It seemed that the other tourist groups had been asked to do the same. While we weren’t quite side-to-side with the other boats, we were all within eyesight of each other. Anchors were raised, and all boats were underway. After closer examination back on the dhow, a travel mate noticed that jellyfish had stung her too, and she was having a physical reaction. The crew was specifically asked if there was anything that we needed to be aware of before we entered the water, and their answer was, “no.” Luckily, the reaction manifested itself in welts, and nothing more severe. She reminded me of one of my only other true “Brown” gal cousins, the eldest daughter of my dad’s brother. Of all my father’s siblings, he has one brother. Whilst I have a gaggle of female cousins, there are only 4 of us that carry the last name.

Without having traveled too far, the captain spotted another type of visitor nearby. Alongside our boat, traveling between the flotilla breached a pod of dolphins. One by one, a sleek aerodynamic body effortlessly soared above the caps of the waves. One by one was quickly replaced with two by two, then two by one, and every other combination. Each body appeared on the offbeat, with their rhythm and measure changing. Up and down, up and down. They were showing off more than our free diving Safari Blue guide. They could do this all day, and they would. Dolphins are intellectual animals and I want to know what they think when they see us humans. Obviously they are curious about us, but to what extent? Do they share the same self-centered qualities? All the captains of the boats killed the motors and tried their best not to interfere with forward progress of the pod while allowing us the opportunity to watch.

Stalled in the water, the dolphins outpaced us and were eventually out of sight. The motor was turned back on and we continued. Initially, the plan was to make another stop to snorkel. Under normal circumstances, I would have been elated at the idea. My love for the ocean is one of the main reasons I traveled this far. Plus, I already had all the gear, the mode of transportation at my fingertips; this was the moment. But with every new rock of the waves, seasickness spread like quiet wildfire. Duck duck goose and almost all of us felt uneasy. The strange thing was that although the water was mildly choppy, it was not erratic enough to be expected to wipe out most of the passengers. Sadly, our travel mate who felt ill before us was suffering the most. By the look on her face, I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. When the captain announced that we had arrived and were anchoring for more snorkeling, I had already been focusing on my breathing for what seemed like an eternity, inhaling through my nose and exhaling out of my mouth (repeat). I thought if I could be still enough, I would be one step closer to it passing. The idea of making any ill-judged movements scared me. And as much as I love the water and wanted to be in it all the time, I was frozen and opted out of snorkeling. I hated myself for not going, but I was going to hate myself more if I vomited all over the place. At that moment, I focused every ounce of energy on preventing myself from doing just that. Since most of my travel mates felt the same, only a few took the opportunity to snorkel again. A very wise travel mate (or two) suggested, probably after taking a survey of the passengers, that this stop should be cut short. The continuous rocking was becoming incessant. The Safari Blue staff heeded the warning and called the few snorkelers back to the boat in order to head for the next stop - land.

Breathe in my nose, out my mouth - in my nose and out my mouth...I was relieved that we were moving on. I was doing the best I could not to panic. The next stop was a temporary break at a sandbank. It appeared as an oasis in the middle of a dry desert would to a thirsty, lost man. Many other boats were anchored, and there were plenty of people camped out under tents, picnicking for the day. While the speed of the boat was slowed, one of the Safari Blue crew was sitting on the bow, guiding the captain to shore for anchor. Things were going pretty smoothly as they communicated from end to end of the boat. Then without any warning, THUD! The boat hit a hidden rock with so much force, that the crew on the bow literally flew off and into the water. Luckily he was ok, but he didn’t look happy. All of his stuff was wet, including his cell phone. We were in waist high water, and he was able to walk back to the dhow. He climbed back on and continued to guide the captain until we were able to anchor. I couldn’t get off quick enough. I don’t think any of us could. In my mind, when I walked to the shore, I could have literally laid down and kissed the ground. Immediately, I felt better. THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

A few travel mates swam around in the water, some walked their own way, like me. And our one travel mate who had felt sick the longest was ready to find a place to let nature take its course, and get it over with. She felt much better afterwards. As usual, we all regrouped here and there with each other after the initial break. For a sandbank, there was a lot to explore. When I was walking around, another travel mate and I noticed a cluster of small, moving shells, clambering out of a sand hole. It was quite fascinating to watch, considering I hadn’t seen any other significant signs of aquatic life elsewhere. We watched for a while and called over our photographer to investigate. If these tiny things were a few inches larger, I would have freaked out. There could have been hundreds of them. Something about more than a handful of anything seems like too much, unless it is cash or puppies.

Our itinerary didn’t call for a lot of time on the sandbank. The photographer gathered us to take photos. Trying to get 12 adults to jump at the same time is a lot more complicated than it sounds. Establishing if you jump on the count of 3 or after always takes a few attempts. Wait, 1-2-3 Jump, 1-2-jump (3). Hilarious. Finally, the shots were taken and we boarded the dhow, to head for lunch.

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