Hey folks! Happy Friday. This morning I had posted for the A to Z Challenge, and now this evening we get our weekly segment of the fictional story, Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks. I might or might not be currently hosting quite the sunburn from my own snorkeling experience…
Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks
Week Fifteen: The Grand Cayman Island
The salt water crashed into my face, filling my mouth, nose, ears, and eyes. I blinked rapidly and coughed, feeling a stinging sensation as my sinuses filled with the saline liquid. I gasped for a moment, treading the small waves and feeling a bit overwhelmed, then a peaceful sensation calmed me as the water settled into placid ripples.
I tightened my messy bun on the nape of my neck and then rinsed out my goggles and slipped them over my head. I made sure to only breath out of my mouth as I fit my snorkel into place so I wouldn’t fog up the goggles. Dipping my face under water it felt like I had entered a whole new world. It was gorgeous.
The captain of the boat we’d been on had told us that if a shark showed up we should punch it in the face. I’d been hoping he was joking, but decided to keep the advice handy in case I did see one of the scary creatures approaching me.
Christopher Columbus discovered Little Cayman in 1503 when his ships were blown off course by a strong wind. (I’d be pretty pumped if that happened to me when I got lost!) The islands were so full of turtles that he originally named the islands “Las Tortugas” which “The Turtles” in Spanish. The name “Cayman” (which is what the islands are now called) is from the Carib word for crocodile, and has been used since before 1586. The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory and the capital of the Cayman Islands is named George Town after King George III of England.
In total there are three islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. The trio of islands are about 200 miles away from Jamaica and are outcroppings of the Cayman Ridge, which is formed mostly of limestone and goes from Cuba to Belize.
I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and nearly ran (or I should say swam) into the flippers of the person in front of me. I turned to the side and lifted my face out of the water for a minute. I took my mouth piece out and breathed deeply, then closed my mouth and dove downward, gliding through the water and past a school of fish who darted to make way for me. I stretched out my fingers and followed the now divided school. They were little fish, probably no more than an inch long, but there were literally thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of them. After around thirty seconds I went back to the surface and filled my lungs with air.
Seafood is quite common on the island which made total sense. It felt slightly strange though, snorkeling and following the fish around, marveling at their beauty and knowing I was going to eat their relatives (so to speak) within a few hours. I’d been offered the traditional national dish when I first arrived, which was sea turtle. That was a bit hard to swallow because I’ve always loved watching turtles swim around. They are so graceful and beautiful. I even have swimming sea turtles as the screen savor on my laptop. I only took one little nibble of turtle so I wouldn’t offend the chef at the restaurant where they were treating me like royalty (in exchange for a review on my blog, but still…).
The food I was most looking forward to was key lime pie, conch fritters, and heavy cake which is a dessert made with starchy vegetables such as yams. I’d heard people talking about how delicious the food ways and so far I had to agree. Oh, and of course I couldn’t wait to try fresh coconuts. I was going to throughly enjoy the leisurely island experience for a week.
I continued snorkeling, enjoying all the breathtaking sights. My eyes widened as a sea turtle swam past me, close enough to touch. If I hadn’t been underwater with my mouth full of the snorkel, I’m pretty sure I would have gasped. It moved past me with languid movements and I marveled that the creature had no clue how beautiful it was. I was suddenly glad I’d only eaten one bite of turtle.
My goggles were fogging up so I surfaced again and cleared them out. After putting them back on though, I unfortunately didn’t have them adjusted correctly and so water began leaking in. In my confusion I dipped my head to far down and the top of my snorkel went under water so I received a mouthful of water. To top it all off my foot began to cramp from the flipper. I quickly lifted my head off and yanked off my headgear. I held the goggle strap in my teeth as I pulled the top of my foot toward me, trying to release the foot cramp. It wasn’t an easy feat, but after a minute I succeeded. It took several moments to calm my rapid breathing and clear my nose and mouth from the salt water. My eyes still stung, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. The amazingness I was experiencing was more than worth it, though.
Eventually I’d used up all my energy and swam over to the boat and climbed up the ladder onto the slippery deck (climbing with flippers is a challenge, by the way). The crew offered me and the other returning snorkelers cold water which I thankfully gulped down. I was planning on taking in all the varying hues of blue and green as the water and sky met as we traveled back to the dock, but the comforting motion of the boat rocking gently in the waves was too much for me to stay awake with. It wasn’t long until I found a relatively quiet place near the bow of the boat and curled up with my sunglasses on and fell asleep. I was excited that I had six more days to enjoy the island and the nature surrounding it, because I was already looking forward to my next snorkeling adventure.