Yesterday, trip to Shimoni, people milling about the cement pier, the piles of vegetable oil and plastic cups being loaded onto a huge wooden dhow. We board a small creaking swahili fishing boat, the motor sputters to life after the captain pulls an extra spark plug out of a plastic bag of greasy miscellaneous parts. We leave the harbor heading for a protected reef, the boat rising and slapping against the churning water, which gets rougher as clouds gather. Our little crew scrambles to pull a tarp out and rig it over the mast as we huddle, chilled, wondering what in the world we got ourselves into, the sea tossing our small boat, then we pass through to cloud-filtered sun. Two kids pale and queasy; two unaffected. Then we are there, anchoring near a small atoll, pulling on flippers and masks and snorkels, slipping over the side of the boat into the aqua water, bright blue. Beneath the surface, another world. Purple and golden corals, lumps and fans and lace and castle, mushrooms of rock. A school of mustard-colored sleek fish disperses and re-forms. Every color, every size, every pattern of creature darts around. Long sleek, thin; fluorescent blue on emerald green; yellow stripes and black spots. Floating, drifting, kicking, chasing, the bubbling effervescence of someone else's fins kicking. Julia pulls my arm to point out sea turtles, two, gracefully and slowly flying through the waters. The boys dart down to touch an octopus which has retreated into a cave. Later three dolphins swim through, playful, glimpses of silver fins. Back to the boat after two hours of swimming over the reef, another moment of doubt as the dhow teeters aground in shallows, we wait for the rising tide to allow our return.
Friday, August 12, 2011
just another day in paradise
The click of palm fronds in the ocean wind, swaying branches silhouetted, dark and papery against the bright day. A misting rain moves in, and out, leaving damp tiles that steam in the sun. Fishermen push heavy wooden canoes through the shallows, bumping over the waves of a receding tide, to reach the rich waters as dawn breaks. The thin dark arc of monkey's tails as the shy group of sykes brushes through trees, pausing to pick fruits. Thick adobe walls, brick floors, grass mats, pillows, thatch roof, dark shutters open to the fresh ocean air, house on a coral cliff, outside and inside blending without barrier. The smell of sea foam on sunscreened skin. The soft give of sand. The sweetness of coconut rice, the creaminess of a seaweed sauce, the firm chewiness of octopus, the charcoaled flake of grilled snapper. Books, more books.