Saturday, 31 January 2009

confessions of a snorkeling virgin

Nobody told me the apparatus does not have to leak.
While others splashed around blithely and gazed intently, I endured a mask that rapidly took on sea water, triggering an allergic rhinitis; the meanly narrow breathing tube was soon bubbling and gurgling frothily, triggering off my worst fears of an ill-met death by drowning in some unkempt corner of a National Health hospital, courtesy of a poorly maintained respirator.

I retired to bed for a day to nurse my phobias and an alimentary indisposition precipitated perhaps by one banana fritter too many on a sub-stratum of papaya salad doused in fiery chili.
Then it rained torrentially for a day, and we wondered why we were there, and why no-one had told us the rainy season is not yet done.

And then the sun returned and I got my hands on proper snorkeling gear and what a revelation that was! Just yards off the beach the reefs began, fecund with piscine life and splendid corals and cucumbers and all manner of delight. A spell-binding phantasmagoria, in which I cavorted for hours. My new submarine friends did not seem the least put out. As curious perhaps as I was about them, they clearly were too about this large, very pink, visitor with ungainly flapping flippers huffing and puffing in greeting.

Here are listed some of my new friends, taken from a marine wallchart : Moustached thryssa, Obtuse barracuda, Starry emperor, Damsel fish, Painted sweetlip, Black-backed anemone, Ornate threadfin bream, Blackspot long tom, Lined silver grunt, Fourfinger threadfin, Areolated grouper and his unsalubrious friend Greasy grouper, Pomfrets both black and white, a very camp Yellow queen fish, Golden toothless trevally and his deceitful companion False trevally, monosyllabic Wrasse, Brushtooth lizardfish and the splendid double-barrelled Chacunda gizzad- shad. Aurevoir to you all, and your less resplendently named companions.

Tonight is our last on this lovely island . Tomorow we split. I return to the mainland and go my own way for a week or so, for an internal and private de-briefing.