Mom and Alex left Honduras five days ago and already it seems like they never came. It was a strange visit, as I knew it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled they were able to come and see what it is that I do here, its just funny when two spheres of your life collide. There were able to see where I live, where I work, meet the girls, teachers, and neighbors. We even went on a fantastic vacation. With their visit I was able to be reminded how wonderful the people of this country are.
My neighbor, Carlos, drove me and Yara to pick them up from the airport. It was so strange to see them come out of the gates. Like an out of body experience. The next day they came to school with me where I was giving exams. They even helped me with grades. Which was fantastic! Then after they met the girls and Alex got a great night out with the teachers singing karaoke we headed to Roatan. We stayed one night La Ceiba then got on a ferry to the island. Alex and I puked our guts out (I CAN’T BELIEVE IT HAPPENED AGAIN!) while mom filmed it…..I know, cruel and unusual. Then we headed to our beautiful hotel on the ocean, Cocolobo.
It was another vacation of desktop backgrounds. The water was a color I’ve never seen before. We snorkeling nearly everyday, we just couldn’t keep away from the reefs. I can hardly describe it. Swimming with flocks of fish, barracudas, sea turtles, and eels. I do have one story on this subject while we’re here. Entitled: Shark Sucker: A Survival Story of Terror in the Caribbean Sea.
Al, mom, and I went to a new place to snorkel, a more populated lagoon one over from our stomping grounds. We swam out and the reef was more fantastic than the one we had originally been at. And I just became a glutton. I had to see everything. You would not believe the colors of some of these fish. None of these colors could be replicated by human hands. I swear, someone needs to come up with new names for these colors because gentle pink, electric blue, soft green….I can’t even come up with names. It was glorious. I swam with schools, hovered above fish I wouldn’t be able to hold up, looked these almost translucent silver fish in the face. I kept swimming out out out. Finally mom said we needed to turn around. But I saw this strange drop off and a blue in front of me, just a blue void. I had to see the end of the reef. I motioned her to follow. We swam out and saw the drop off where the reef disappeared the ground sloped down 50 feet. And I saw levels of fish and a sea turtle. Mom and I were excitedly gesturing to each other to look at this! Look at that! There was a giant soft green colored eel hiding on the edge of the reef. I saw it flutter on the bottom and then fade into its surroundings again. We started gesturing for Alex to follow. He started to swim over.
That’s when it happened.
I looked under the water at Alex to see if he saw the eel. And I noticed something hovering around his legs. A fish about the length of my forearm and a weird triangle shaped head. I didn’t even stop to think. I started screaming and kicking away from Alex. I thought it was a baby shark. Mom and Alex followed suit. I have to admit I didn’t keep a cool head. Just screaming and kicking and swimming as fast as I could. As I swam away I’d look underwater every now and then and it was just flitting about around mom and Alex. It looked like it was trying to bite them. And we were freaking far out in the ocean. It was going to be a long swim back to shore. Finally, mom started screaming my name. I got a hold of myself and turned around. And swam back. She was having a hard time breathing and her face was flushed. It looked like she was having a panic attack. She said, “Emily, you have to calm down, you’re causing panic, I can’t swim like this, I need your help.”
So I stopped and held her hands. Alex was leaving us in the dust. But then he saw we stopped and started swimming towards us. I dared to look under the water again. The fish was fluttering around his stomach and he was bringing it right towards us. I got that look on my face then mom started screaming for him to get away from us and we just resumed our completely uncoordinated mad slosh for the shore. Problem was we were getting close to the shallow reef. We had to do something. So I turned around and lured it towards me and then smacked it in the face with my flipper. But then it came again. The second time it got the message. And we were free.
We heaved ourselves, huffing and puffing to the shore. Mom had no color in her face and we could hardly breathe. We were free. I started laughing so hard. How crazy! Later we found out its called a Shark Sucker, not an actual shark. But they are dangerous for two reasons. First, they attach themselves, literally suck onto the sharks and hang on till the shark catches something and then releases itself to feed on the left over’s. It attaches itself not only to sharks but boats….and people. We met someone whose had two encounters with these things. And they latched on to them and you basically have to tear it off your arm. He said it was a painful experience. So. I’m glad we didn’t have to go through that. Reason number two…..if you see a shark sucker….it means there’s something bigger out there and probably relatively close. So there is a very good chance we were swimming near a shark and didn’t see it.
We all exchanged panicked/relieved/incredulous looks upon learning this information. I told this story three times to great acclaim in each of my classes. Even had parents come up the next day and ask me about it….including a father who dives. He asked me if I saw the shark that was more than likely nearby. Oh, I don’t know what I would’ve done if I saw a shark out there. I think I would’ve fainted and asked Jesus to come and the get the Rapture going and take me to heaven.
What good is a vacation without a couple great stories? I had a fantastic time with mom and Al. We even paid an arm and a leg to swim with dolphins. This was the highlight for me. They feel like smooth rubber. And have friendly eyes. And nip and you in a loving way. Before our time was up snorkeling with them, the baby came up and danced with me. It was like a dream. Al even celebrated his birthday here and the girls loved him of course. I was so grateful they were able to come out.
I’m in the homestretch here in San Pedro. A little under three months to go. There’s this sinking feeling in my stomach and heart....sometimes I can't tell which. The same thing I felt my last few months at Calvin. High school. Summer camp. Closing week of a show. It absolutely terrifies me. More than any stupid shark sucker. Wish I could turn around and smack this feeling in the face with a flipper too. The girls have started asking if I’m coming back next year. They know they end is coming to. I can’t even imagine all they ways my heart will break my last days here and the amount of time it will take me to stabilize when I come home.
Alex and Mom helping me with grades.
Self Portrait in Roatan.
Me and mom at sunset
The Lagoon near our hotel
Walking around French Harbor, a neighborhood in Roatan
Mom and Al
Alex's yummy lunch
A local by the beach
Mom filming in Roatan's botanical garden preserve
Dolphins! I wish I had a underwater camera to show a glimpse of what swimming with them was like.
Mom's making a video for OLR to recruit volunteers, so these are some pics from our photo shoot.
Alex and the girls--the little ones adored him.
Then....me and the girls. Just hanging out.