Saturday, June 18, 2016

Swimming with Shurtles

I realize that this blog is full of typos, grammatical errors and the occasional straight-up unintentional fabrication. I am not really keen on the whole 'proof-reading before hitting publish' thing and it shows. Therefore it is only reasonable to think that the title of this post is simply another one of my fuck-ups.

Swimming with shurtles? What the hell is a shurtle, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. Swimming with shurtles is simply the trendiest new multi-island activity.  It's quite simple, really. Famed nightlife and travel guru, Stefon, describes it thusly: It is when you have been in Barbados on a cruise and then a year later, you return there for work.  By virtue of having already been there, you already have the contact info for super cool man-about-town, Neville of Swimmin Wid Nevil fame.

One quick visit to the Harbour Lights beach bar and Neville will come and pick you up, even though there are no cruise ships in port and you are the only two people for miles around.  He will take you straight to an area frequented by hungry turtles and liberally chum the waters with the tastiest turtle chow.

Now, here is where it gets tricky... In order to get the trippiest photos of this event, you need to have one of those old single use disposable underwater cameras, preferably one with an expiration date of June 2012.  Once you get in the water, you just snap away like you just don't care.  And really, you shouldn't allow yourself to feel too much concern one way or another, because chances are good that nothing is going to come of it.  You could just as easily be snapping away on your prized pet rock.

But if you are lucky and you find the one CVS that still has film processing and you wait the 2 weeks while the camera is sent away to the one lonely photo processing dude somewhere in central Kansas and then an additional week while the camera goes missing yet the dude in Kansas is glad that you are calling because he's happy to have someone to talk to, then eventually you will get some very cool photos in return.

No filter or effects were used on these pics but if I had, I would name that filter: Outdated Film Meets A Cloudy Day.

Soon to be seen on the poster for When Turtles Attack, the lamest horror film ever.

There are also a couple of shipwrecks to see.  I can say firsthand that these are much more more enjoyable when you are not competing with dozens of people for space.  Unlike my last visit with the cruise ship, my friend, Yanira and I had both wrecks all to ourselves.

Not only that, we had Neville as our personal photographer, capturing the action from the relative dryness of the boat.

"Hey!!  Come back here, turtle!  The camera is this way..."

And if you think it is easy to lure turtles into a photo via the very precise placement of fish chunks, while simultaneously working a couple of camera phones, you have not seen Neville in action.

All of this is well and good (and it was a great way to spend the afternoon) but if we left it at that, this is just swimming with turtles.  Nothing new about that.

But in order to spice it up, you need to board a flight that very evening and fly across the Atlantic to Cape Verde.  More specifically, you need to land on Sal, one of the islands in the northern part of the archipelago. As you are going through customs, you will see a sign that catches your attention.

A short nap and a phone call later, you are sitting on the back of a pickup truck heading to a place called Shark Bay.

Armed with good water shoes and an excellent Welsh biologist named Jonathan, you wade into the water where you can observe as lemon sharks swim back and forth a couple of feet away from you.

One of the coolest parts is watching them surf through the waves.  If you look closely you see one here.
In the history of Shark Bay, there has never been an attack on humans and this day was no different. Even as were leaving the water and I scraped my ankle on the sharp coral and started bleeding in the one place you least want to be bleeding...a bay full of sharks, they seemed content to go about their business.  I will confess, though, as I was trying to wipe the blood away,  I was also eyeballing the rest of the humans in the bunch to determine who I could outrun if things suddenly turned south. Fortunately, it did not come to that.

Jonathan also  showed us some funky slug type creatures.  I had not noticed them before but once he pointed them out, they were everywhere.

If you don't happen to have water shoes,  this local croc rental outlet is ready to help.

Two hours later, I was back at the hotel, sunburnt, happy and ready to board my flight home.

So there you have it. Swimming with shurtles:  When within a 24 hour period, you swim with turtles in Barbados and wade with sharks in Cape Verde.

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