I haven’t worn shoes for 3 days.
The coral sand beach is cream colored, made mouthful by mouthful from the fish nibbling on the reef just past the wave break. It feels deliciously soft underfoot. Just at the shoreline the edge of the sand is littered with tiny shells and chunks of coral. So many shapes–little brains, antlers, polka-dot bits and branchy white trees. When you see it on the beach it’s bleached like bones in a desert and only feet away the living coal shimmers in pinks, blues, greens and browns. I was also surprised to discover that coral is not all brittle. Living underwater it sways and flutters to the currents as they pass. It’s little feelers quiver like blown feathers.
Today was our island safari to nearby Navati. We hopped on a small boat with 16 people to look for manta rays. Yes manta rays. The boats all pulled in a circle and we hastily put on our snorkel gear and jumped in!
Josh was ahead of us in line to go and the plan was that he’d wait in the water and catch Maxie. Just after Josh was in, our boat guys yelled “away away–swim away” and the they started the motor back up and we sped away from Josh bobbing in the water receding from us rapidly. The boat guys said “its ok don’t worry- swim swim out”. So in we went. The guide was pointing and yelling “here here here” and off we went on a fast swim. I held onto the kids— one in each hand and we kicked our might. Looking down was—-blue nothingness, just feet and feet of opaque cerulean water. It was dizzying to be out in open water with the kids clinging to me and the adults swimming rapidly away. We drifted farther from the boat and around the circle from different boats the captains shouted “here here here.” Every time I looked up to get my bearings it seemed someone else (in the opposite direction from where I was headed) was calling to us. It was spooky and disorienting and I was just starting to feel the edge of worry.
Then suddenly arcing towards us from underneath was a ray.
It was huge! About 12 feet across and dark grey with a long stinger poking out from behind, its giant wings flapped so gracefully like a ballet. All around us the frenetic energy and pace and yelling seemed to fade out as we swam with the amazing creature. And just as quickly as it came it vanished.