Anguilla is for Lovers
by Joyce and Guy
(New Jersey, USA)
My Anguilla Rose Conch
"Stop, Hon, someone might see", I said as I melted into my husband's embrace, only our heads above water, snorkel masks cocked to one side.
Surrounded by diving seabirds and a vast school of juvenile jack fish, we were floating in the marine reserve just beyond the north point of Crocus Bay. The silver sides of the frantic jacks flashed with reflected sunlight. The effect was hypnotic. That, along with the rum punches we had consumed earlier at da'Vida's Bayside Grill & Bar, put him in a frisky mood. My mood wasn't far behind.
"C'mon, Sweet Pea, there's not a soul around", he said softly in my ear. I knew from the "Sweet Pea", a term reserved for amorous occasions, that he would not be easily dissuaded. He was right though. When we had embarked from da'Vida's beach in our kayak, the shoreline was empty. It was a beautiful, quiet, June weekday. But, still, someone might walk to the edge of the bluff above us.
"Hon", I said, pushing back a little, "in case you hadn't noticed, this water's clear as gin. It won't conceal us like the murky water we're used to back in Jersey". "WelI guess you're right, Babe. Actually, I could go for some gin right now. I'm kinda hungry. Whatyasay we head back."
Our kayak lay on the beach strewn with countless washed up shells. Before we left I wanted to find some pretty shells, maybe a beautiful conch shell.
"Don't think you'll have much luck", he said, sorting shells with his foot. "These shells are all broken and worn from the surf". We picked through piles of shells until hunger got the better of us and then boarded the kayak with me in front.
On the trip out, we had learned, due to our lack of skill, experience, and coordination, we could not row together. Our oars knocked into each other.
"Just sit back and enjoy the ride", he had said. "I'll be the motor."
Now, as we rounded the point, I could see da'Vida. A stiff breeze met us face on. It had developed while we had been snorkeling.
We crawled forward, my husband breathing hard. "Let me row a while", I said. "Take a break."
No answer. I expected he would fight me, but I felt his oar thump against the plastic hull as it came to rest across his lap. I dug in, rowing as hard as I could.
"No good", he yelled. "We're moving backwards."
He resumed the struggle. The beach looked ten miles away.
"I wish I were thirty years younger", he choked out. So did I. In his twenties, he could have blasted us back to shore with one arm.
I noticed that moored skiffs dotted the bay. "Honey, head for one of those anchored boats. We'll grab the line and rest a bit."
No answer, but the kayak change direction toward a boat. I grabbed the line. I waited for his breathing to return to normal.
"Sweetheart," he said, "that was brilliant. If we use these boats as stepping stones, we'll get back easily."
My husband was able to reach the next boat, and the next, until finally he rowed right up onto the sand.
da'Vida's beach staff cheerfully greeted us. They had had an eye on us the whole time and were ready to assist if we had gotten into serious trouble. I wondered if they could have seen us snorkeling in the marine park but was embarrassed to ask.
Back at the Bayside Grill & Bar, we didn't talk much until our bellies were full and our thirsts were quenched.
"That was the best day ever", I said, reaching for his hand.
"It sure was, Babe. But, I'm sorry you didn't find a shell to remember our adventure."
"Oh, but I did." I reached into my beach bag and pulled out a badly eroded conch shell. The pointed crown and half the body of the shell were long gone. Yet what remained, a polished pink spiral core, was oddly beautiful, like some exotic undersea flower. Its battle with the surf, sand, sun and wind had broken away its superficial "prettiness" and revealed a rugged, durable beauty... a beauty that touched me.
"What made you pick this one?" he asked.
"Because, it reminds me of us. Over the years, we've weathered a lot of storms, suffered a few trials. But, it's made us stronger. What we have now is more beautiful."
He leaned across the table and kissed me. "Together, we can conquer anything."
"We need to come here often", I added, "to recharge and reconnect".
"OK, but next time, let's hire Calvin to take us to the marine reserve in his boat."