Blood in the Water!
The Caribbean was such a wonderful part of life in my village. All night long I listened to it lapping the beach.
I have so many memories of spear fishing adventures, of being surprised by huge green moray eels, or a sea turtle, or a sleeping shark, but my favorite story is of a french man I'll call Jacques, after the famous diver.
I was very good at spear fishing when I met Jacques. I used to swim out to the reef with my net fish bag and spear gun, and let the current carry me until I ended up at the ferry channel. Often I forgot about time. It was another world, a thriving under water jungle of vivid color. Often I would relax and just 'hang' in the water when a ray approached and watch them swim right up to me with that little human like face, as if to ask, 'who are you?'
I guess spear fishing is like combat. What I mean is that you may think you know the person beside you, but until a bull shark swims past, or 100 angry looking barracuda decide to surround you, you really don't know what that person is going to do. And that is the way it was with Jacques. We had been on the reef for about an hour, drifting along, climbing into caves after lobster, when I noticed he wasn't close.
The reef is only about a meter deep where we were, and when I looked around, I could see that Jacques was standing up about 25 feet away. So I swam over and raised my head beside him, pulling up my mask. But as soon as I looked at him I could see by the look on his face that something was terribly wrong. "What's going on?" I asked, following his gaze.
It was low tide and in the distance coral heads were poking out of the water, and the current rushing past created the illusion of movement. And then that stinking Jacques said the forbidden word: Shark!
"No," I answered. "It's coral!" I explained about low tide, but he wasn't having it. The look of terror on his face became a horrible thing to look at. I was staring where he was starting, thinking maybe he was seeing something I wasn't. Then, to my surprise, he started climbing up on the coral as though to save himself from some rabid dog. I could see his knees bleeding as he frantically climbed.
Well, that was it. I just pulled on my mask and slowly started swimming for shore. Now, you have to understand. Anyone who spear fishes knows that when you're under water you move in a certain way. Quick, thrashing movements make you look like a wounded fish, and that is the one thing you do not want to look like. So, I was just swimming along, laying flat on the surface, spear gun in one hand and bag of fish in the other, kicking my fins with slow easy movements. I made it about half way to shore when I heard this loud splashing, and saw Jacques come flying past me, arms and legs swinging like mad, as though trying to break a swimming record. I think he left his spear gun out on the coral.
When I got to the beach he was no where to be seen. He was so embarrassed he didn't even wait for me!