We did a short trip, fourteen people in a speedboat about eight nautical miles out, and snorkeled for a little under an hour.
At the risk of sounding too pyramids and crystals, there's something about being on the water that seems so primal and somehow right. Life came from the sea, it continues to bloom and burst with its myriad life-forms, and what can I say? The smell and moisture of the sea air make me feel whole.
It struck me, while being jounced and bounced on the speedboat, that living in the centre of a continent is a little unnatural, slightly contrived. I'm not sure why it feels this way to me: that being able to eat the bounty of the ocean is easier and more natural than the landlocked need to farm to produce sustenance - after all, the ocean isn't exactly a top-notch source of say wheat or oranges or spinach. Perhaps because I grew up on the coast, had so many formative experiences in the context of being on the coast, everything else seems a poor substitute (she says, little more than a week before ending the holiday to go back to the land-locked freeze).
Not as many fish as I saw in the Caribbean a few years back, but oh, the corals.
We did see a turtle, some of the party saw a couple of small sharks, and I spotted those tiny fish, fluorescent cobalt on top, acid yellow underneath that I remember from the Cape Town Aquarium of my early childhood. A couple of parrot-fish, schools of iridescent turquoise fish, black fish, angel fish and hordes of tiny darting fish.
Corals the shape of shelf fungus, brown edged in lime green, waving plains of wheat-coloured fronds, lavender-tipped spiky corals, clams with curvy lips of black speckled with bright green and royal blue, fields of coral in mauve, yellow and golden brown, brain coral, huge dinner-platters of green and gold, white corals - the surreality of this alien landscape transported us.
Even my mom, who goes in the water only when grandchildren need attention, snorkeled. My dad would have loved it - and then bought all sorts of underwater cameras, as I'm pretty sure the beauty of the corals would have been a strong contender for his photography affection: flowers. My mother has a ridiculousness of flower photos that just had to be taken, but that don't mean much to any of us remaining.
Even my daughter who is quick to proclaim that she really doesn't care for the water, gave in and joined us and wondered and marvelled.
It's seductive in the extreme.