We asked a cab driver to take us to Mosquito Pier, the snorkeling spot recommended by the guy at Blackbeard, where we rented our snorkel gear (everyone had an opinion about which beach was best, but we gave his a little more weight). She dropped us off in the middle of a long needle of land with waves on one side and still water on the other.
|I didn't have my camera with me that day, but luckily there is the internet, to remind you your experiences are not unique.|
We saw a sandy spot, but how to get to it without hacking our way through the jungle? Then a small road appeared out of nowhere, and there was the beach. Snorkeling, it turned out, was easy and fun. You could swim and breathe at the same time! And look at things! The breathing had always been the hardest part of swimming for me to figure out.
We finned along a wall of rocks, taking in the tiny tropical worlds inches below the surface. Layers of coral and gray-green grass and dark plum-colored plants like underwater kale. Suddenly I knew what all the tanks in the fish aisle at Petco were trying to approximate. And there were the fish themselves: striped, polka-dotted, electric blue (I just finished Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, not to mention a half dozen fashion magazines, and have been craving blues accordingly). Pinky-sized fish, flat angel fish, palm-sized fish, one torpedo-shaped fish, Dory fish and a whole swarm of nearly invisible little guys who looked like sperm do under a microscope. (Yes, looking at sperm under a microscope is just one of the joys of fertility treatment.)
|This is pretty much what it looked like underwater.|
I touched a couple of fat yellow sea stars with red bumps, and dark blue marbles that clung to the rocks. Eggs? Turtle eggs?
“I want to see just one baby turtle born,” I told AK.
Our cab driver took us to Esperanza on the other side of the island, which was the one-strip beach town I’d expected Isabel Segunda to be. We ate lunch at Lazy Jack’s, a salmon-colored burger shack and hostel where two dogs made big eyes at us and a little boy tested how far he could spit water from his cup. His grandma only chided him when he almost spit on the café owner.
We walked to Sun Bay, where the tide was so mellow it was almost comatose. AK rested and waded while I collected sea glass in a plastic cup. I went all OCD on my task, falling deep into it like a little kid. Lately, whenever I felt like a kid, it meant I was insecure or powerless or playing out attachment issues I’d had with my mom. It was nice, instead, to pluck smooth pebbles of white, green, brown and—occasionally—aqua glass from the sand, to want to run and show them to AK. Look at this curved one, look at this one with bumps, this polished ring of bottle top.
|Sea glass is like nature's Pinterest board.|
Now I’m sitting on the brick path called the Malecón, refreshed after a nap on a wooden bench belonging to a hibernating outdoor bar. Like a true beach bum. It was maybe among the top five naps of my life.
The water is denim-blue and clean. Two small lush islands sprout off the coast—islands off an island off an island, the world ever smaller, more remote, infinite.