Saturday, April 14, 2012

14 APR 12

Small windmills. . .
It's Saturday morning.
Been watching Jack Hannah's nature program,
on channel 7, while having my morning tea.
Today, the featured animal is the manatee.
These benign creatures like to sleep while
floating just below the water's surface.
This puts them in danger of being hit by
passing boats. Indeed, many of these animals
bear the scars from being cut by a boat's propeller.

I can, somewhat, identify with them. . .
back in the late '70s, my wife and I vacationed in Spain.
We'd driven down from Berlin and stayed at a campground
just outside of Barcelona. We had direct access to a beach
on the shore of the Balearic Sea (The Mediterranean).
It was a pebbly beach with a sharp drop-off just a few
feet into the water. Went from 1 foot deep to 15 feet
right quickly. I enjoyed snorkeling there. . . the water
was clear and there were many nooks and crannies to
explore.

Different societies, different sensibilities. . .
the local Spanish residents launched inflatables
and other outboard-driven boats right off the
beach where everyone swam. They'd then weave
their way through all the bobbing heads on their
way to fish in the open waters.
As I snorkeled, I could hear the buzz of boat
engines as they passed through the swim zone.
Could never tell their exact location or their
direction of travel while underwater. . .
just knew they were there.
This one dive, I'd been down a bit too long.
Was about 10 feet under and beginning to feel
the oxygen deprivation.
Kicked for the surface, exhaling all the way.
I could hear a loud propeller noise, not very far
from me. As my head broke the surface it was
bumped by a boat hull. Realizing that this was
the source of that loud propeller noise,
I immediately pushed off the hull, straight down,
forcefully exhaling what remained as I went.
Knowing only that I had to get deep, fast!
I felt the spinning prop ruffle my hair as the
boat passed over me.
I touched bottom. . . with no air in my lungs
to help buoy me. Pushed up, hard, with my legs
and managed to get my head above water.
Caught a quick breath. . . immediately began kicking
towards shore and finally crawled out, coughing
and gagging. . . barely made it. . . had nearly drowned.

This was as close to being killed as I'd come since
Vietnam and Tet '68.

                ( "Dying is such a waste of good health" - Sancho Panza )

-Fini

PS:
My wife at the time, Liz, witnessed all this.
When she saw me hit by the boat and disappear
under the water, she thought me dead.
She couldn't swim. She was stuck on shore,
screaming in English, which no one understood.
Barcelona was not a high point of her European
experience.

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