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Tuesday, 01 November 2011

Maho Bay Camps: An Endangered Species? - Page 6

Written by Janice Anderson
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“When we have it, we use pure rainwater, for laundry and toilets. The rest is trucked in. The cistern is under the trap door in potato chip aisle in the store.”

“Amazing what’s right under our feet,” I said, and then asked, “Where do the sewers run?”

“We have our own treatment plant. You know that group of banana trees up on the hill?” he pointed over his shoulder. “They soak up seven times more water than any other plant. Whenever you see a bunch of banana trees they’re probably hiding a septic system.”

He leaned towards me and lowered his voice.

“You know, I wouldn’t eat those bananas for years. Until one day, one of the young volunteers from, oh, I can’t remember where, took a few green ones and let them ripen.”

He straightened up and gave a hardy laugh. “That there was the best banana I’d ever eaten.”

That afternoon, Pat and I took a sailboat trip on the Herron Schooner, a handsome hand-built sixty-five-foot vessel made of five types of wood. We sailed around Tortola, a British Virgin Island, then to Waterlemon Cay to snorkel (yes, Waterlemon). We were shown a picture of the Lionfish but told not to worry; they weren’t aggressive. The captain called them a “poisonous nuisance” and told us that none had been spotted there, but we should let them know if we saw one. Fortunately, we didn’t see any Lionfish. But we saw many others: green fish, white fish, blue fish, striped fish. One, over four-feet long – a Tarpon perhaps – was the largest I’d ever seen. As we swam around the tiny island of Waterlemon Cay, we found it equally rich with coral. Big purple lace fans. Brain coral the size of a large load of laundry. Black coral. Red coral. Soft coral the shape of a hydrangea bush swayed like willow in a changing wind.

At one point, Pat poked her head up, “If I found an octopus would you want to see it?” She asked hesitantly, knowing I might flee.

I realized I felt more confident. Meeting each day’s challenge had only led to new delights. So after a moment’s pause, I said, “Sure.”

“Over by those rocks.” She plunged in that direction. I followed.

And there it was: a brown and white ten-inch glob-of-a-body. It leaned on a rock, legs curled underneath. Since it didn’t come toward me, I remained comfortable, even excited to see it. Pat shrugged her arms, signaling (I thought), “Awh, it’s nothing, just another day in the Caribbean,” before she swam away. I stayed to watch. After a minute or so, he sprawled three of its long tentacles towards another rock and pulled himself over leisurely, uncoiling the rubbery legs on the other side in the process. Then he rolled these back under and sat taller, as if to slowly say, “I was there, and now I’m here.”

On the way home, when Pat and I talked about what we’d each seen, I mentioned how cool it was to see the octopus move.

“It moved?” she asked, incredulous.

“Yeah, didn’t you see it?”

“No, I couldn’t find it when I swam back to show it to you.”

“Oh, that’s just sad.”

We shook our heads and laughed. She deserved to have seen that.

(Page 6 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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