Just a girl rambling around the globe and writing about it.

Musings from around the block and farther.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Honolua Dreamin'

Yesterday, the weather was balmy and pretty, only a little overcast, so we took a drive to Honolua Bay.  The last we came here, I was nervous about snorkeling – the bay is large and deep and filled with fish – but I let Raf talk me into paddling out to the middle and it was such a highlight. 

I remember making the connection about a phrase my yoga teacher had said: “you are not the surface of the lake; you ARE the lake.”  That time, it was windy on the top of the water, but below the surface it was teeming with peaceful life, fish going about their lives without ever knowing what was on the shore, in the air, on the boats above them. 

So this time I remembered that I loved it and just allowed myself to get ready and go, no expectations.  We got our picnics ready, parked on the side of the road, mosquito-repelled, trekked through the canopy of the rainforest between the road and the bay, teetered on the rocky shore, got our snorkel gear on and got in the water.  Most of us.  Kendra and two of her kids hung out on the shore, books in hands, sunglasses on, waving at us as we jumped in.  The water, especially the ocean, has sometimes seemed a threatening, scary place for them (and did I mention that it’s “Shark Week” on Discovery right now?), so they were opting to just hang out and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

It was a few minutes later, as the rest of us snorkeled around the coral reefs that ring the bay, that I saw Kendra picking her way toward us on the rocky shoreline, gear in hand.  She jumped on an inner tube and Shane towed her out to us, then Keala came up and did the same.  I fastened a clothesline around our three inner tubes and we made up a little hobo-boat caravan.  Safety in numbers.

“This is huge for me,” Kendra said, still tentative even though we were a quarter of a mile from the shore.  “But I remember that it was one of your favorite things last time, so I wanted to try it.”

I didn’t want to say anything – the same idea as when a child tries a vegetable for the first time and you don’t want to break the spell, you just want to let them discover that they love it on their own, that doing something good for themselves can actually be something they like – but I had a grin brewing from ear-to-ear. 

We paddled around, checking out the spectrum of corals on the ocean floor, investigating the nooks and crevices of the bay’s underwater valleys, all while securely attached to our inner tube caravan, faces plunged just a few inches below the surface.  We oohed and ahhed and pointed out beautiful fish to each other.  I wasn’t sure how long they would want to stay there with me, but I didn’t place any expectations on it. The fact that they had been nervous but swallowed their fears and went anyway was huge for me. Bravery comes in everyday packages, and I recognized this one.  I wanted to be with the moment for as long as they liked.

After an hour or more, we got hungry.  “But if we go in, we can come back out, right?” Kendra asked in the garbled language of someone biting on a snorkel mouthpiece, but I could understand. 

“Of course,” I said, pointing to the right side of Honolua.  “I haven’t been to that part of the bay yet.”

Under the fog of her snorkel mask, Kendra smiled.  Twenty minutes later, we had eaten and were back out, this time with two kids towed behind us and two more paddling a boogie board behind them. 

As we paddled, I saw a wall of lava rock close to the shore that began to ripple.  “Oh my god!” I said, looking up at Kendra, who realized that it was a school of fish, like the one in Finding Nemo.  Hundreds of fish – seriously, at least 500 of them! – the same color and size, swimming the same way and then one would turn and the rest would turn, too, and then they’d be swimming  the same way.

She looked at me and poked her head out of the water. We were only a few inches away from them.  I thought she might panic. 

She took the mouthpiece away so I could hear her clearly.  “Let’s follow ‘em!” she said.

So we did, chasing the wildness of the ocean, moving from the silver gray fish school to the yellow and black angelfish to the Technicolor rainbow fish that led us a half-mile from “safety” and into the beauty of the unknown.  From time to time, the kids behind us would say, “Where are you taking us?!” then they’d fall off the raft and laugh and flounder and giggle and flail and get back up, waiting for the next adventure.

Later, Shane said he’d seen a sea turtle and had grabbed onto its shell for a quick ride.  That would have been amazing to see, but I feel like we were just as daring, far out of our comfort zone, changed again by Honolua Bay.

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