As you may know, I’ve been in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. I have one of those “in case of emergency, break glass” kind of jobs. There’s not a lot of surgery going on down here, so I have a lot of free time. I will say that the base does a remarkable job creating things to do when we are off duty. There is an outdoor movie theater, golf course, a very enviable gym and tons of other activities like bingo, dancing, concerts, multiple dining options, trust me, I’m just scratching the surface. I, however, am only here for two weeks, so I’m not plugged in with groups of friends and activities, so all of my free time has been spent alone (this would be a great place for a sad face emoticon). I’m a big boy, but I am a very social creature who is also plagued with shyness in this environment. I am a man who enjoys being around people and sharing laughs, recreation, movies and meals with other people, especially Naoma and my kids, but alas I have neither. Now this is not a pity party, just a realization that I do not like to be alone at all. Yes, I can watch a movie by myself, but talking about it, sharing the jokes, passing the popcorn, it’s all part of it for me.
One activity that makes me feel good, even when alone is snorkeling. The water here is amazingly warm and clear with tropical fish of every size and color. I have gone nearly every day. Yesterday, however, I was joined by a very large Sea Turtle. This beautiful creature was at least three feet long. I had seen another turtle the day before, but like most fish, get too close and they swim away. This guy, seemed to sense that I was no threat and maybe that I even needed the companionship. I kept my distance, but slowly edged closer. He was checking me out as much as I was him. When he started to swim away, it was so graceful, the way this animal flys through the water, his legs looking more like wings in both shape and coloration. I followed, and we just kept exchanging glances, and he led me to another reef that I would not have gone to if not for his guidance. The water was 40+ feet deep and crystal clear. I decided that I wanted to touch him and swam right up beside him at about twenty feet and touched his shell. He didn’t freak out, or swim away any faster, just eyed me up with probably equal wonder. We swam together for about fifteen minutes, and I was getting pretty far from shore so we parted ways. There is something about being underwater, the mystery and strangeness of it all and all its inhabitants. There is a feeling of wonder and discovery when exploring these things that we cannot see. The lyrics from an old Depeche Mode song kept running through my mind “though we may be the last in the world, we feel like pioneers”. When I got to shore, I sat in by chair, feeling very excited and not so alone for a moment, but rather like an explorer on a wonderful journey.
Who would have guessed that my most meaningful interaction in two weeks would be with a Sea Turtle, my unexpected tour guide.