Sunday, August 21, 2011

Traveling Maniac - Honduras Day 6, Critter Encounters

Sleep eluded me last night despite taking Benadryl and Advil PM. My activity level on the island is so amazingly low that my body is rebelling by not sleeping. All attempts to nap today ended in failure as well. I am on book number 3 and magazine number 3 and am learning that I am not a person who relaxes easily. I had coffee on the dock this morning and fed crackers to the fish, went for my morning walk, swung in the hammock for a bit, washed some clothes in the sink, and then made breakfast. During my morning walk I found another giant conch shell. The island is loaded with them!

After breakfast I headed back to the abyss. Molly had spotted a warm water lobster earlier. She told me to follow the sunken tree then take my first right and he would be there. So I went in search of him and something Molly described as “the thing”. She wasn’t quite sure what “the thing” was, but it marked the point where she would go no deeper. I found both the lobster and “the thing” – which turned out to be an old shredded plastic “burlap” bag caught up in a giant sea fan. I went to check on my shark friend but he was not home, a fact that made me slightly wary, and then I again went in search of a water route around the island. In my second failed attempt I happened upon a particularly active area of coral where the fish were varied and colorful and pecking away at the coral. I floated over them for a long time, marveling at the wonder of this undersea life and the serendipity of it all. A medium sized gray fish with a dorsal fin came in from the abyss and watched my every move until I moved on. I swam with a school of big blue fish that eyed me warily but didn’t dart away.

By the time I left the reef I had been in the water for over an hour, but it felt like minutes. How blessed to have snorkeling at my doorstep in unbelievably beautiful reefs. Amazing! I dried off and had a light lunch of peanut butter and crackers, put my plate down in the sand next to me and, before long, Molly said “you have a friend!” A hermit crab had crawled onto my plate and was helping himself to my crumbs and the peanut butter that I had left behind! When he was finished, he crawled off the plate and walked away. A little while later I was sitting in the hammock reading and I heard a thud behind me. The sound was not like the one made when coconuts fall, so I went over to investigate. I found a huge hermit crab - the size of my fist - which must have fallen from a tree. I grabbed my camera while he struggled to right himself. He allowed a brief photo op before crawling away dragging his huge home on his back.

After a little more rest I headed back to the reef to search for something new and to check on my shark friend to see if he was back home. The backs of my legs were starting to get a little red from my time in the water, even with 55 SPF, even with my base tan. Being this far south and adding to it the magnification from the water, well it’s hard not to burn just a bit. I don’t want to stay in the water too long this time. I headed out on the now familiar path over the sunken tree and began to explore the reef again. There are just so many beautiful fish, and I only know what a few of them are. My shark was still not home. The thing with the dorsal fin came back and kept his eye on me again, very closely this time. It felt like I had a stalker! In my attempt to shake him I swam away fast, wasn’t watching where I was going, and had a very close (too close!) encounter with a jellyfish, but I did get an up close and personal view of a trumpet fish before making my way quickly back to shore.

I spent a bit of my downtime today trying to open up the outer shell of a coconut without the aid of a machete (we didn’t have one). It definitely used up a lot of my unexpended energy trying to break through. I had very little success – coconut 1, me 0. I made so little progress, and am not sure if I will give it another try again tomorrow. It’s a good thing our survival does not depend upon my ability to crack through the sucker!

There are no storms tonight, and so far the sky is clear. Molly and I are hoping for a good night of stargazing before bed. We had a late dinner and read for quite awhile, and I am still not tired. I check the sky before heading to bed. The moon is too bright and its reflection off the water doesn’t allow any decent stargazing again this night. The lights from a neighboring island appear as bright as a city. The island probably has 20 houses on it. It reminded me of our trip to northern Scotland where we would drive for miles and miles in complete darkness, and then suddenly we would come upon these bright lights in the distance. We would swear it was a small city. When we would get closer we would realize it was a tiny village where the main street consisted of a pub, a fish & chips shop, and the post office. Perspective is everything I guess.

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