Recently, I had a look at some coral, but only in a nice safe aquarium shop where the tanks shone with black-light and displayed tiny bits of coral growing on bases. It was a delightful, cool place to be and a young clerk was kind enough to answer my questions without pressuring me to buy. I never knew that such a thing as a coral farm existed and I realized that if I ever got a yen to see coral again, the coral farm or a public aquarium were the places for me.
I’ve accomplished the two things that were on what is now called a bucket list. I can’t think of anything else I want to do because I’m living the life I want and I’ve been lots of places, already. One thing I wanted to do was to SCUBA dive. There wasn’t much chance of that as you had to take classes, be certified, and buy a lot of expensive equipment, and don’t forget, practice, practice, practice. Frankly, I didn’t want to bother with it or pay for it, even though undersea videos and experiences with snorkeling had always fascinated me.
Then Bill and I went to a Caribbean island on vacation and lo, they offered SCUBA diving! We only had to take one class in the resort’s pool in borrowed equipment. Piece of cake. After our lesson, we were excited about the next day when we’d go to the beach, get in a boat and be outfitted for our dive over a coral reef. Yes, I can swim. Not a great swimmer, but okay. I’ve always been able to float pretty well if I needed to rest.
The water at the beach was almost body temperature so our bathing suits were fine. There were about six other people on the boat who would take their turns. The trainer gave me a mask. I knew about using a mask from snorkeling. Then she put a lead-weight belt around my middle. Next the flippers and air tank went on. By the time they got me outfitted, I could barely hold myself up, let alone walk. Two native crew-men one on each side walked me to the gunwale where they lifted me over onto the ladder.
I’m the one with the pink flippers on.
Underwater I was so amazed by the beautiful colors and patterns of the coral that it took a few seconds to notice that I was sinking and would soon crush coral. My mask was fogging up so I couldn’t see. I swam hard trying to stay off the bottom. There was no one in my range of vision. Finally I decided I needed to make my way back to the ladder and when I got there, the trainer and Bill came right away. I gave the signal to go up, and the trainer mimed for Bill to stay at the ladder. He hovered, but knowing Bill, I figured he would need to explore a bit in the short time the trainer was getting me on board. Doing that, he could get into trouble or get lost and there would be no one to save him, so I motioned that I had changed my mind. For the rest of the short time we were down I clung to the ladder and concentrated on breathing.
When our time was up, Bill and the trainer returned. I climbed the ladder and two crew members lifted me into the boat. They took off the tank, mask and flippers and set me down. They threw a towel over my shoulders because they could see I was shivering. I pulled it close and soaked up the warmth of the sun.
The next day Bill wanted to go for a longer tour. Of course, Bill came back safely, raving about all the wonders he’d seen. I was glad for him, but I mentally crossed SCUBA off my want-to-do list, and eventually found other ways to enjoy the wonders of the deep. Oh, by the way, “Finding Nemo” is one of my all-time favorite movies. I can hardly wait until “Finding Dorry,” comes on Netflix.