Friday, June 20, 2014

Past Participle

Well, I suppose enough time has passed to where my self-loathing has receded to a point where I can at least try to communicate like a normal person. In my (slightly embarrassing) last post, I touched on how difficult it can be to relate anything about a vacation in any coherent way once it’s over and I’m back in my normal routine. I can sift through the fond memories and colorful photos all I like, only to inevitably end up feeling like they were all a dream regardless. But despite enjoying my posts from the last time I was in the Bahamas, specifically because they were written during the vacation, there is definitely something that feels inherently wrong about taking a laptop on a vacation, which is why I had zero desire to take mine with me this time. The computer is a wonderful tool, but it’s also wonderfully distracting from the present moment and real life, both of which I was actively seeking out in my vacation, so no, no computer this time and no regrets about it.

And yet, despite that I had no real distractions from the present moment, I still felt like I couldn’t grasp it, and for the first time I stopped blaming my own incompetence and shortcomings and realized that it’s simply not able to be grasped. The present moment that I’m enjoying so much lasts a fraction of a fraction of a second, an amount of time no one can really grasp in any real way, and as such it’s already become past by the time I even recognize it. I kept talking with my boyfriend and my parents about this concept during this trip, which they all adamantly disagreed with me about, but it still feels true to me. And just last night, while reading Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, someone in the book quoted Henri Bergson, “The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory”. I was dumbfounded to run across that quote, and read it over and over, because YES, THANK YOU, THAT’S PRECISELY WHAT I KEEP SAYING, JUST WRITTEN BETTER. No one agrees with me on this, but my viewpoint is directly in line with that of a major 20th century French philosopher, one who has won a Nobel Prize nonetheless, so that has to at least validate me somewhat.

Regardless of whether or not I’m right about reality or the present moment, all of my vacations are spent repeating the words "don't forget this, don't forget this, memorize every detail, you will likely never see or experience this again in your entire life, don't forget this." I fill memory cards with photos, believing it's the easiest way to keep hold of the moment, even though I know that it barely captures anything. You can't take a photo of the smell of the Caribbean ocean air or fresh coconut bread baking, or the buzz of a tiny 9-seater Cessna engine as it wobbles over islands, or the taste of a freshly-picked coconut, or the way the rough coral rock felt beneath your feet, or all the moments of laughter you shared with people you love in a setting so beautiful it hurts to even think about. You just have to savor it in the moment and trust your memory. But, I don't. I don't know how to truly savor the moments that I most want to savor. I don't know how to be present in a moment that I know is, in reality, already over. I am happy, I am beyond happy, and I am soaking it in in every way I can think of, but I still can't ever shake the lingering thought that it’s already over and will never happen again.

How can that not induce panic?! Especially when the things I'm seeing and experiencing are so beautiful?
From our first night, at a marina in Nassau. Nassau, to me, is the complete antithesis of everything I mentally equate with the Bahamas. Just thinking about Atlantis makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. But I did enjoy this little marina.
I think James enjoyed it, too.
I was happy when we finally made it to Shroud Cay in the Exumas, though.
Exploring Shroud Cay in the dinghy. Unbelievable.
And snorkeling around Shroud Cay. No big reefs or anything, but there are always things to see.
From Shroud, we visited Warderick Wells, where the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park headquarters are. We hiked to the top of Boo Boo Hill to see a stunning view of the ocean side of the island.
No amount of photoshopping can reproduce the actual turquoises I saw. There were colors I didn't even know existed.
My adorable mother, with the inland side to her left and the ocean side to her right.
Inland view from the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park office.
One of the exhibits of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park- a pilot whale that died from ingesting too much plastic. The amount of random plastic I saw on the ocean side of all these various uninhabited islands we visited was astounding. In the worst way possible.
From Warderick Wells, we headed to Compass Cay, which is the first island that had any kind of civilization on it. And by civilization, I mean generators, spotty and expensive wifi, and a grill for hamburgers. Whereas the Abacos are pretty well settled, the Exumas are mostly uninhabited. It's so nice.
Exploring the ocean side of Compass Cay.
They may not have much on this island, but they do have their very own planetarium.
The marinas are all so cute, cluttered with painted driftwood that travelers have left over the years.
Most of the marinas in the Exumas have their own population of nurse sharks that hang around to feed on the carcasses of fish by the cleaning station. Compass Cay was no different. We had so much fun swimming with these gentle creatures.
Compass Cay was the perfect jumping off point to explore all kinds of neat areas. This is "The Aquarium" above water, probably my favorite place that we snorkeled.
The second you jump in, sergeant majors surround you, and follow you around the entire time. I love them.
But there were all kinds of other fish. Queen angelfish are stunning.
I really wanted to eat this guy. Buuuut there's no fishing in the Land and Sea Park, which is a good thing considering how overfished the Bahamas are.
My dad. What a nerd.
I'm a nerd, too. I get it from him.
Triggerfish are also one of my favorites.
The first few times we snorkeled, I took both my iphone (in a Lifeproof case) and my underwater camera. Top photo is camera, bottom is iPhone. I realized I liked my underwater iPhone photos better and stopped taking my camera. The angelfish photo above was actually taken on my phone, too!
On that note, I'd like to say that this probably would have been one of the best snorkeling pictures of me to date if my Luddite boyfriend knew how to use a damn iPhone.
Another fun spot to explore, the Rocky Dundas Caves.
No photos can really do them justice, especially not blurry phone photos. If there's one thing the iPhone doesn't do well, it's distance and weird light conditions. But the caves were just insane. 
And yet another cool spot to explore was a sunken airplane.
Are we done yet? No? There are more cool places to explore? Yep. This is Rachel's Bubble Bath. The ocean (bottom) crashes over the rocks at high tide into the big inland pool and bubbles all over the surface. I could have stayed here with a cooler of beer for hours. Or forever.
I also got my best above water-below water photos (I don't know what they're called) of the entire trip there. I always get excited when I can take these on my crappy little point and shoot.
Bouncing around on that little dinghy, getting sprayed by seawatr and burned by the sun, exploring all kinds of crazy places that I never knew existed, will remain one of my best memories.
Although I have some pretty great memories from the big boat as well. My mom doesn't love this boat nearly as much as my dad does, but PLEASE DAD, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T SELL IT.
I wanted to get this all out in one post, but I've already inundated you with enough photos, and you probably hate me by now, so I'll return again to post about the last couple of days on Staniel Cay.. which you should know will basically just be a million photos of me freaking out over an island inhabited only by wild swimming pigs. I'm relatively easy to please.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your journey.

Rae - Say It Aint So said...

i can't wait for the pig beach post! please post as many photos as you want! i loooooooove a long photo post!
this whole thing makes me want a boat. though the only place around here to use it is a kind of gross man made lake.

Nova said...

wow. wow. wow.

That is all.

Van said...

The fish and shark , turquoise waters! Yep, looks like an amazing slice of heaven there!

Jordan Welker said...

nassau was a huge bummer, youre right - i need to check out the exumas.