Memories of Turtles

Laying on a beach in the rain is not pleasant.

I had the day planned out. A morning guided bird hike with my husband Pete in the marshlands by the ocean, with a park ranger in St John, USVI near Maho Bay. Then we would have a leisurely lunch overlooking Maho Bay and walk down to a deserted beach where I would read and gaze out into the Caribbean.

But then it started to rain on my book, on the sand, on me. Pete was snorkeling in the water in front of me. We were the only two humans within sight, and there was no shelter anywhere along that beach.

Reluctantly, I shook out my towel and packed it away with my book. Grabbing my fins and snorkel, I waded into the water. I put on my fins once I was waist deep, swimming out as the rain wet my back and rippled the surface of the water.

Beneath me was sand and seagrass but not many fish since there was no coral.

Pete was trying to get my attention. I looked up, hoping there was not danger or a problem.

“Turtle!” He exclaimed with a stuffy voice (his nose covered by his mask).

I quickly swam towards him, but before I got there I saw her. Sweetly munching on seagrass like a cow she took no notice of me. Time stood still as I watched her. She was joined by another turtle, and then another. Three turtles were noshing beneath me! I was mesmerized, not moving, just swaying with the waves.

Then she came up straight towards me! I swam backwards trying to miss her as she surfaced to take a breath, our faces less than a foot apart!

This was maybe 20 years ago, this moment frozen in time when I was face to face with a giant green sea turtle. Long ago, and yet still profound to me today.

It was pure magic, and it would not have happened if the day had gone according to plan.

I try to remember that magic happens when you can let go of plans and be guided by unknown waves. There’s magic all around us if we only open our eyes.

Leave a Reply