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#a115 :: Ivory manta ray

June 8, 2008

enlargeWe swam with manta rays in Hawaii last summer.

Yes, cialis 40mg it really was that idyllic.

We tell ourselves it was kharmic payback for a summer of pain – our dear friend Keith died horribly and too young, we were both working 14 hour days and struggling to be with the kids, our daughter broke her arm. And to top it all off, a skunk crawled into the foundation of our chimney and died. And stank. A lot.

So when we spent the most glorious week off we’ve ever enjoyed in our lives, we came away feeling as though the universe was rebalancing the scales. But the bulk of it – like this experience – smelled like magic – or some absurd positive kharma that we have yet to earn …

We boarded a 50-foot catamaran at nightfall with three-dozen other tourists, and motored out to moor in waters 40 feet deep, maybe 200 yards off the Kailua-Kona shore of the Big Island. After the crew welcomed us, briefed us on boat safety and fish behavior, we donned masks, fins and snorkels, and jumped into the blood-warm ocean.

The Sheraton Hotel staff on shore switched on two huge floodlights – yes, it’s all kind of prefabricated, including the part where you have to tread water face down with both hands gripping an enormous boom of PVC pipe and foam so that you’re packed side by side with other snorkelers, all doing this ridiculous dance. And the rays began to arrive.

Floodlights attract plankton, which attracts the rays.

They swim through the medium depths, then begin doing vertical loops. The loops – picture six-foot-wide creatures with mouths a foot wide – keep them in place in the plankton cloud, filter-feeding on the microscopic animals in a constant circular flow.

At the top of their loops, they came within two feet of our masks – a long, slow and sumptuous visual kiss from alien creatures the size of motorcycles.

And as they pass, moonlight silvers their extraordinary gills. It’s all you can do to keep breathing through your snorkel.

This is a gift for my wife, as thanks for patiently talking curmudgeonly me into agreeing to Hawaii in the first place. You were right. You were right. You were right.

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