Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Second Kill of the Year

It was just four seconds after I told the girls, "either put something on your feet or turn the lights on cause it's bug season," I saw it. Right next to the dog's dish and near Aimee's bedroom door. "I got one," I shouted as I went to the kitchen to get Excalibur.

With a lightning quick swoosh and whaaaaading! It lay dead in pieces from a sound strike.

"Look at you now," I mutter.

"Ewwww, you killed it with the spatula?" cried Aimee. "I'm never eating anything cooked with that thing again."

Little does she know that I have already slain a good half dozen of the monsters with it already. Washing it thouroughly with antibacterial soap of course.

The steel from Excalibur rings true.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Swimming With Sharks

I had to admit I was scared. Two days earlier Jill had signed us up for an excursion on a boat trip to feed sharks and rays.

As we got on the boat the weather went from slightly overcast to clear and beautiful. The boat took us from Cook’s bay (named after Captain Cook) back to Opanahu Point just in front of our hotel but about 200 yards offshore.

The captain, a indegneous man originally from the Marquesas Islands slowed the boat down and anchored. Everybody on the boat began to suit up. “Good, they’re already here,” he said as he threw a bucket of chum into the water.

I looked over the side of the boat at the wrong moment. As soon as the fish guts hit the drink the water began to boil with the trashing of dorsal and tail fins, which could only mean sharks.

Major anxiety and the butt pucker factor kicked in. I mean it’s only natural to be fearful of sharks, to fear getting into the same water with a creature that was meant to consume you.

Before I jumped in I noticed that one of the deck-hands was throwing out about 20 feet of rope attached to a large buoy. “Stay to the left side of the rope an you’ll be safe, “ yelled the captain. Ah the rope rule. All sharks know the rope rule. You stay on that side and I’ll stay on this side. Right. Just like on the Discovery channel.

“Get into zee water!” the Cameraman yelled.

“Not so fast Frenchy,” I thought to myself.

Not wanting to be showed up by the Frenchman, the Japanese tourists and everybody else on the boat I jumped in. I could hear a loud repetitive, deep rasping sound along with my heartbeat. It was my panicked breathing through my snorkel. I wanted to just get a bearing as to where I was. I wanted to see where they were at relevant to where I was.

Once I saw the sharks, albeit many of them I was okay. Nobody was immediately consumed upon hitting the water. The sharks did not zero in on anyone and feast. Life was going to be okay.

I’m not sure how the current was running that day but the eau de chum must have wafted our way. Several of the sharks swam at eye level right towards us, but upon seeing us darted away. Mutual respect in nature is a good thing.

Then, one of the sharks disobeyed the rope rule and swam 4 feet directly below me. Once again I puckered, but despite my fear I managed to squeeze off a couple of shots.

We were in the water with the black tip reef sharks for about a half hour. Both Aimee and Jill had jumped in behind me without so much a moment’s fear or hesitation. Jill stayed with Aimee hanging onto the rope, Jill pointing out the different sharks and minions of fish that abounded. Both got back on the boat as soon as they got tired of treading water and had their fill of viewing the man-killers up close.

Shortly after that we headed a short distance to shallower waters and were greeted by a school of rays. Unlike the skiddish sharks the rays were friendly and downright social. They swam directly up to all of us and let us touch and pet them. Aimee had a harder time with the rays because she was not use to them and she thought they looked “freaky.”

Even though we were able to stand waist deep I dove down under to get on the same level as the rays. The rays glided up to and right past me. About 10 feet in the distance I could see 6 sharks, it was time to get back on the boat.

More than just an excursion on a vacation, the trip was life changing for me. Much like my days as a paratrooper I had a fear and without showing it faced it directly. I was able to share part of the experience with my wife and daughter.

It was an incredible day.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Under the Tahitian Sky

Of earth, of sky and of water, Tahiti is a true paradise. Its sights are breathtaking, vibrant colors, vivid hues in every color of the spectrum.

Mists surround green spires that shoot toward the sky, the sides of the islands weep pure spring waters from fern grottos.

Crystal clear waters gently lap the shores as huge rays glide through the waters and swim up to you as if to welcome you to paradise. In the not too far distance waves break on the motu.

Fish greet you as you swim through azure waters. Sharks swim freely around and under you.

Everywhere you look life abounds. Tahiti is truly an amazing place.