Monday, February 16, 2009

Vanuatu: Day III

Saturday, January 31st:
We set our alarm (one of the few times we needed to rely on a clock, except naturally to check we were in time for Happy Hour each evening) bright and early so we could feast ourselves on breakfast before our bus left for our day at Hideaway Island. As our little van bumped and jiggled its way over pot holes and through small rivers on the way to the jetty, I was beginning to get slightly apprehensive: the only time I'd ever attempted snorkeling was on a school camp at the age of about 9, where I became slightly hysterical at the claustrophobia of wearing a mask I was unable to breathe in.
What I presumed would be a one way ride...
When I saw the state of our 'boat', thoughts of OHS standards and just how much our travel insurance would cover lost of limb due to dilapidated boat sinkages flew into my mind. But, Cam's hand firmly leading my own, I ventured into said decrepit vessel and made it safely across the ocean, to the incredible Hideaway.

A very handsome man arriving @ Hideaway.
Once we arrived and signed in, we had a few moments to lather ourselves in sunscreen, take off all surplus clothing and run to the bathroom in sheer terror before it was time to embark on the glass bottomed boat across the reef. As soon as we set off, there were fish everywhere - big ones and little ones of all shapes, swimming right up to the glass and all waiting to be fed the bits of bread we threw over the side of the boat for them. I'd never seen anything like it, and was getting more and more excited to see the 'pretty' ones further out (and getting more and more agitated by the large, newly married lady who hadn't yet discovered the joy of silence, and to whose life story I had sat, captivated by, the entire 15 minute bus trip to the boat. I think each and every minute detail of her wedding - and various medical and emotional difficulties along the way - were shared intimately with the occupants of the back seat, and naturally I had to eavesdrop. I regretted it almost instantly, yet couldn't seem to stop...

Coral through the glass bottomed boat.
As we drifted out further over the reef, we were told where we would be able to snorkel - and where exactly the world's only underwater post office was, should we wish to send a postcard. The further out we got, the prettier the coral and fishys. I was starting to let my excitement outweigh my worry, and was looking forward to seeing the fish close up.
Once the boat docked back at the shore, we kitted up with our snorkeling gear and walked past the bar (I know. Hard to believe, right?) to the other side of the island where we could put our flippers on and start swimming out to the reef. As I fumbled around in my enormous flippers on the dried coral beach (no sand, just old, washed up, bleached coral) I started to get a bit anxious. What if I couldn't breathe properly? What if I had some sort of claustrophobia induced panic attack and wrecked the day for Cam? He was giving my directions for how exactly to put my mask on, while I hopped from foot to foot looking like some sort of ridiculous duck, getting more and more agitated at the thought of failing and letting him down. He told me to just shove my head underwater to get the feel of it while I was still standing, and as I did so, I opened my eyes to an entirely new and magical world. There were fish everywhere - coming so close they were nearly touching my legs - and after a split second of pure wonderment with my head submerged, I came up splashing and spluttering, something along the lines of - 'Oh My Fuck! There's FISH!' - before I shoved that mask back on and off I went.

The only time I stopped for the next 40 minutes or so was due to Cameron's silly underwater behavior - I found every time I laughed at him trying to give me a big sloppy kiss - resulting in us banging our masks together - I ingested about a litre of water and came up gasping for air. A whole while later, breaking the spell of enchantment in my newly discovered world of underwaterness, I swam to the nearest pontoon for a rest while Cam kept going. I hauled myself up, and basked in the sunlight for a few moments while I caught my breath. I closed my eyes for a second, reveling in the hot sun, and then opened them with a start as I asked myself what I was doing. I looked up and around me - for as far as I could see, there were wispy clouds playing hide and seek with the sun, ocean in shades of beautiful blues all the way to our little island where to the right were others; hilly islands covered in lush green jungle like I've never before seen. Except for the faint strains of the string band emitting from the bar, all I could hear was laughter and splashing - I was in one of those truly amazing moments where you have to stop for moment, and realize life just can't get any better. I was in utter paradise where happiness was the only emotion possible, as every one else around me was so easily demonstrating, and as I looked over the side of the pontoon at Cam coming up to pull me back in the water, I almost burst with contentment that I got to share something so incredible with someone so amazing.

Pidgin English - Rispectum Rif Blong Yumi. Say it out loud, you'll get the idea - Respect the reef, it belongs to you & me.
After another float around the reef, we headed back to shore for a break, and some much needed lunch - and a beer, of course. We sat on the picnic bench, drying out and devouring our meal before we realized we were the last to leave for our afternoon Snorkeling Safari. This time, we went out in a boat to the far end of the reef, where our guides took us out in the water and showed us giant starfish and the tastier less pretty but bigger fish. We snorkeled around for about 45 minutes at the drop off to the reef, where we saw some amazing things, as well as hundreds more fish that were so inquisitive you could reach out a hand and almost stroke.

Kicking back waiting for the storm to hit.
When we were all snorkeled out, we laid down on the sun lounges and watched the storm start rolling in over the water, as Cam bought me possibly the most amazing alcoholic beverage I have ever consumed - my first ever pina colada. I was in heaven, and lookin' mighty fine, as you can see. Oh yeah.

We're cool. No, really.
Later that afternoon, after we'd laid on the beach and let ourselves get soaked by the heavy tropical storm, we took the tour bus back to the resort, where we had a little time to kill before Happy Hour. Figuring we were already wet (and pretty much resembling drowned rats at this stage) we made our way to the pool where we happily filled in time talking to a couple we met at the pool bar. We discovered they lived quite close to us in Melbourne - Saranga, the girl, is only 5 minutes away from my fathers' house - and we had ourselves a great time, giggling and mucking around as the Happy Hour cocktails flowed. We passed on all the information we learned from Matt & Hayley on our first day, and shared stories of how fabulous Hideaway Island was - I even reassured David that snorkeling wasn't scary at all, as he was feeling exactly the same way I was before we set out. We soon had at least two frozen margarita's on the go each, and in no time at all we were making friends with the bar staff and trying new cocktail combinations. It was here I discovered my love of Sex On The Beach - each cocktail having a bare minimum 90ml of alcohol in each, slightly different to the standard 30ml shots you get in Melbourne. We only figured this out when we went to abandon the pool for a bathroom break, and realized our legs no longer worked. Happy to stay in the pool, we did so for the next few hours, not noticing the sun setting or the storm clouds forming overheard. As we chatted away and did a few occasional laps to get the drinks pumping through our veins nicely, it started to rain - and then not just rain, but pour. I've never seen rain so heavy and fast, and yet so warm and somehow extrinsic. As we swam out to the middle of the pool, into the darkness and with cocktails in hand, the rain came down heavier than ever, and seemed to encase us in a world that was entirely our own.
Drunkeness before the storm.
I spend my life constantly dreaming; plotting and planning exactly how I would word each experience and turn every moment into words so well written they take you there. All day, through everything I live through, I want there to be that one amazing moment I shall never forget, and I always thought I would have the power to makes my words turn to imagery, to take you that moment, make it feel like you were really there.
There is nothing I can say to explain that moment we shared, when the warm rain splashed down on our embrace. The world seemed to slow to a halt as we spoke of everything we felt, and saw the relfection of everything we wanted in each others in each others eyes in the middle of that moonlit pool.
It was that moment I will never forget, and although I will never be able to explain just how incredibly amazing it was, there's one person that knows.
He's the only person that needs to know, and the only person who will understand without being told - and that's all that matters to me.


...Oh yeah. And then we drank a few more cocktails, and thought it would be hilarious to use the hilly slopes that were the resorts garden as a Slip N Slide, and returned to our room entirely covered in grass, cuts and quite possibly some insect life, where we discovered an enormous, mangy sewer rat and were subsequently moved to another room - next door to the nice couple we'd met in the pool. They'd had a little difficulty 'keeping up with us' as we smashed down our cocktails, and as a result hadn't quite made it into their own room before 'falling asleep'. We were informed that security had to step in to get them to bed as they had somehow misplaced their room key.
They didn't talk to us much after that...

2 comments:

Melisa with one S said...

I'm so glad you loved snorkeling! I LOVED it too, my first time doing it when the older boy and I were in the Bahamas in 07. I need to write my post about that. Thanks for the reminder.

And this?
All day, through everything I live through, I want there to be that one amazing moment I shall never forget, and I always thought I would have the power to makes my words turn to imagery, to take you that moment, make it feel like you were really there.
There is nothing I can say to explain that moment we shared, when the warm rain splashed down on our embrace. The world seemed to slow to a halt as we spoke of everything we felt, and saw the relfection of everything we wanted in each others in each others eyes in the middle of that moonlit pool.
It was that moment I will never forget, and although I will never be able to explain just how incredibly amazing it was, there's one person that knows.
He's the only person that needs to know, and the only person who will understand without being told - and that's all that matters to me.


It's now my favorite passage you've ever written on this blog. Ever. Just beautiful. I'm in awe of it.

Sue said...

Yeah, I am with Melisa. Your words made me feel as if I was there. I think it is funny that the couple you drank with couldn't speak to you ever again. Way to drink them under the table!

Related Posts with Thumbnails