Ramblin Christian Gypsy
Literary whimsy. Dedicated poetic observer.
Literary whimsy. Dedicated poetic observer.
The soft beaches of Borneo are in direct contrast with the hard travel one must endure to eventually get there.
My ex used to have special criteria for taking a trip. He called them vacations. I called them, “Punishment for something really awful I must have done in a past life.”
Firstly, it must be a place I had no interest in visiting.
Secondly. There should be nothing to buy that would satisfy me and my magpie taste of all things bright and show off shiny.
Thirdly. Shots would have to be administered if you had half a chance of avoiding malaria, dysentery and other illnesses that could kill you.
Fourthly. Headhunters should lurk in the dark surrounding jungle surrounding your assigned resort.
Fifthly. No television, computers, phones or lights even.
That settled it. We were going to Borneo on a diving trip.
He called me into his office to tell me he had no intention of carrying my bags on this trip and that I should pack only what I was willing to schlep myself.
This guy was horrible to travel with. Petulant as the day is long. And with his penchant for being wholly unaware where his body was in relation to anyone else’s, this led to him to be forever stepping on people’s toes. Figuritively and literally. It made for a swirling vortex of pissy attitudes. I braced myself for twenty six hours of traveling and armed myself with a mouth full of ready apologies to keep world peace.
It was in the International terminal of LAX as I waited for our first of three flights and then a four hour boat ride, that I saw in People magazine a story on recent shark attacks. I decided right then and there that I would not be scuba diving in any way, shape or form. Imagine his delight when I told him.
And this was how it came to be that I spent my Borneo vacation days rescuing tiny newly hatched turtles who were in their first moments of life, crawling for the ocean like little soldiers with flipper/rudders for hands and feet.
Every animal in the region would descend on these babies and gobble them up like the Easter champagne brunch buffet at the Four Seasons. I was so busy offsetting the balance of nature that I barely had time to scold the resort dog who had long ago given up dog food to eat fresh crabs, the daily catch of fish, or on this happy day, baby turtles. “Jesselton, NO…bad dog.” But I was talking to the back side of wagging tail.
The babies were tiny and when you’d pick up these mighty mites you were astounded by their sheer will. They would not stop furiously paddling their way to the ocean. Even suspended in the air, held by your hands. They were on a mission, not to be dissuaded, discouraged or waylaid even. I was shamed out of my mild depression in the face of such precious doers.
I hurled two more babies as far into the ocean as I could. Some birds of neanderthal origin caw hollered their displeasure at me.
“Swim babies swim and don’t look back!” My kitchen help guys who came out to play volleyball with me everyday so I’d have something to do, thought this was great sport to watch. The do-gooding white girl who was scared of the sharks so wouldn’t dive but would single handedly take on the hellish birds of prey in the name of saving babies.
They literally dive bombed my head talking trash and hoping for my death. I would time my swats at them just right. My biggest regret is that someone didn’t get a picture of my proudest gladiator moment.
The kitchen boys liked me even though they didn’t get me at all.
One late afternoon when the divers hadn’t gotten back yet I put on my blue floral bikini and walked into the glassy ocean. I put on a mask, snorkel and fins just to swim around and see some fish. I floated around poking at the clown fish. I went over the reef without fully realizing, so taken with the blue fish I was. Said to myself, “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”
Suddenly the drop went to 25 feet of beautiful watery cathedral sized spaces. I smiled. I could do this. I pretended I was a mermaid suspended in a watery prayer.
Then I saw her. A sea turtle. Fully grown, she was the size of a Volkswagon Bug. In no particular hurry, she swam in my direction. I assumed that the little ones told her I was a good guy and she came to say thanks. Or something. We whooshed around side by side and I touched her massive shell until the power of thunder sent her in another direction.
I said the local greeting, “Bula” underwater as I watched her go, waving after her. How could something so big be so quickly out of sight? But the ocean is vast that way. Then swam fifteen hard minutes to get back to shore.
I had hated every minute of the trip to get to Borneo. Couldn’t tell you anything kind about my companion. But left forever changed and smiled the rest of the way home.
I had been touched by a turtle. I swam with a pokey giant whose kind eyes gave me a grin when I had none otherwise, anywhere in my life, to be found.
And it was worth the trip.