Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crashing Thoughts

(Parque Tyrona, Colombia)

The sea always reminds me of my father. He once went scuba diving in Hawaii and talked about it ever since. Snorkling, a near relative, perhaps a cousin to scuba, introduced me to that fascination my father fell in love with. Bunches of florscent dancing sea vegetation, schools of fish darting like sliver slits of light from an early 90s sci-fi movie, massive rock formations revealed themselves only after you dived well into their territory, as if they said, "Now you're in my world. Welcome." It was beautiful. I wish my father had been there to share my revelation.

I kept thinking that if somehow the water disappeared entirely and placed me back in the jurisdiction of gravity, I would surely plunge to my death from the height I was hovering above the ocean floor. In fact there were many ways I could have died. A slush of water into the snorkel, a leak in the goggle, an unidentified sea creature startling my breathing pattern, all would have been enough to put an end to a novice swimmer like myself. Perhaps that was what made it so enticing; the fliration with death, the prescence in forbidden territory.

For some reason while I glided over the coral reef, I wondered if the boxer that sold Mandarin oranges had ever gone snorkeling here. I guessed the more probable "no" and in the overdramatized scenerio I played in my head, began visualizing the astonished look on his face when I ran up and asked him, "How was it!?!" But no. The reality of this place was a mix of majority white faces, conversing either about the fear of being beheaded in Colombia or how much they were shitting in Bolivia. Why would they think twice about an orange salesman?

This brief visit back into the backpackers' circuit reaffirmed that it wasn't for me. I could feel my Spanish slipping just from being around English speakers. Within these past few days I've met people from 11 countries, though hardly any of them are from Colombia. It makes me wonder how much you can learn about a place if you spend most of the time around people who aren't from it.

It was a bit strange that the culmination of my travels should now come together in a place that at any moment could kill me. Yet in some ways it made complete sense. My simultaneous relaxation and excitement, my incomplete comprehension of the surroundings. Me, seperated by plastic goggles and a snorkel, always on the outside looking in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i sometimes find myself reading your blog late at night when i can't sleep. I say to myself "I'm glad nick wrote, that's some good shit." So have you been bludgeoned by the truth?