Monday, November 5, 2012

At the beach

Alla and I took our friends Peter and Elena to Kapalua Beach, our favorite of the ones nearby. I remembered that I liked it, but didn't remember all of it's good points until we got there. We knew it would be pretty, the water would be calm and warm, and the sand soft and wide. I forgot, however, how much is happening under the water there. I spent far too long trying to inflate an air mattress, and when I finally went for a swim I rediscovered a wonderful world of colorful fish swimming around the coral just off shore. I swam back and forth in swim goggles, fascinated by the variety of life underneath me. I don't know much about what I was looking at, beyond broad categories. Fish, of course, in many varieties, and sea urchins and two kinds of sea cucumber. I stayed in shallow water because I haven't got any snorkel gear with me and couldn't dive to investigate the deeper stuff. I'll rent some snorkel gear tomorrow.

As I swam slowly back to my starting point, I lifted my head out of the water to check my bearings. Just ahead of me, I saw a black hump above the surface. At first I thought it was a swimmer in a wetsuit. Then I decided it might be a seal because it didn't move like a human. I put my face under water to see if I guessed right, and discovered that I was looking at a sea turtle. We looked at each other, about an arm's length apart. I didn't want to crowd the guy, or scare him, so I stayed still. The turtle put his head down and swam lazily toward me. As he approached, he submerged to stay just out of reach but he was close enough I could estimate his length. I think he may have been about four feet long, or 2/3 of my height. I watched and watched as the turtle doubled back and settled himself on the sea floor under an outcropping. Once he settled down there, it's unlikely I would have noticed him had I not known where to look.

I returned to shore. We had just settled down in a shady spot with our books, when Alla noticed that a couple of young women near us were speaking Russian. I looked and listened. Presently some others came to join these Russians, and there were four attractive young women and one lucky guy. I came over to ask him how he got so lucky to be the only guy among all those pretty women and learned that these were a few of a group of people from Ekaterinburg who had come to a destination wedding. They had arrrived a day ago after spending about 24 hours en route. I chatted for a while, returned to my book, and came back to chat some more. I particularly enjoyed talking with Svetlana, a Deacon at a major economic university . She wondered if I might be qualified to come as a guest lecturer, but I am not academically qualified. Peter, however, may be, and he's definitely got some interesting insights to share. It's too bad he doesn't speak Russian, but Elena offered to come along as his translator and we are all hoping for the best. At least we're having a great time imagining it.

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