snorkeling in deep water
Friday, December 27 2013
location: Room 208, Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, Curaçao
Today was our last full day in Curaçao, and Gretchen was so eager to get snorkeling that she jumped into the water immediately after applying sunscreen. This seemed to affect its SPF rating, because by this evening she was noticeably burned along her back, a situtation that would have been even worse had she not already developed a good base tan. As for me, I did a little reading on the beach before getting into the water, thereby giving the sunscreen a chance to soak in (or whatever it does) and provide protection. This is the first tropical vacation where I've experienced no (or very little) sunburn. (Usually my second day in the tropics is spent being burned and uncomfortable.)
My big snorkeling adventure today was to swim nearly the entire length of the sea wall between the Royal Sea Aquarium and the mouth of the creek that stinks of sewage (though I didn't realize I'd swum quite that far at the time). I stopped a little short of that dubious destination, at an L-shaped pier on the beach side of the seawall (12.087526N, 68.900971W), and from there I walked back to the resort along the beach. Gretchen has been saying that she sees something new every time she goes snorkeling, but at this point I can't say I'm seeing anything new. It's gorgeous and even psychedelic, but on some level it's become sort of routine (sort of the way flying in a jet plane gradually becomes routine, despite how mind-blowing it should be).
In the afternoon, after we'd relocated to the pool area, Gretchen made herself a beverage with some of the remaining rum and I bought a cheap blue drink from the resort staffer selling them by the pool. Once I was done with that, I went for a final snorkel along the seawall southwest of the resort, the place where (ideally) its beach would have been. The sun was low and lighting up the clear water, turning it an appropriate shade of aquamarine. Once under water, I could immediately see why there was no beach on this side of the resort. The seafloor dropped away immediately from the seawall, and despite the clear water it was impossible to see all the way to the bottom only 50 feet out. The depth of the water and the shimmering light from the sun gave the snorkeling here a majesty that snorkeling in shallower water had somehow lacked. To the west, I could look off into the distance and see nothing but water and the darting dapples of fish receding into the glowing void. To the east, the seawall stood like the edifice of a massive crudely-made castle festooned with the ornaments of sea fans and coral. And in every nook and hollow were absurdly-colorful tropical fish. Some were in great schools that held positions as best they could while the movement of the waves pushed and pulled them back and forth five or six inches relative to their unmoving stony world. I climbed out of the water near the channel that divides the resort from the Sea Aquarium (12.083568N, 68.897337W), noticing many living chitons adhering to the stones above the water line, looking like fossils among many actual fossils. When I got back to the pool, I told Gretchen about what I'd seen, and she immediately put on her snorkel to do the same.
The others in our party all went to services this evening at the synagogue we'd visited on Monday's tour of Willemstad, and while they were gone, Gretchen whipped together a multi-course meal using all the remaining supplies in both condos' kitchens. She made a coleslaw, a pasta with vegetables and beans, vegan sausage, and, for the kids: cut celery, cut carrots, cut apples, plain beans, plain noodles, and plain rice. I helped out in the kitchen, mostly by chopping vegetables and cleaning dishes as soon as they'd been dirtied. The others returned from the synagogue well past 8:00pm, and only then could our meal begin (though I'd been grazing on bits of vegan sausage). After dinner, there was a lot of work to be done cleaning up the kitchen and sorting through the remaining food to determine what was to be thrown out, what was to be left for the staff, and what we could take with us on an airplane. I couldn't bear to throw organic (compostable) garbage in with trash with the plastic and the paper, so instead I took it out and threw it over the railing into the branches of a tree, where hopefully a lizard or bird could find it.
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