The next morning we board Indigo. She’s a 14m catamaran, according to a sign nailed to a wall of the galley that also has an s.o.s. number to call in case we sink…
The boat has a faux wood floor, a small, but decent galley and two bedrooms and bathrooms on either side of the hulls.
Mom, Danielle, Maddie and I take a cab to town to get groceries while the boys listen to a briefing about the boat. I’m completely fine with missing the briefing because it sounds boring and those things are never brief, even though shopping in town is sweltering.
The guide books said to expect temperatures in the mid 80s that feel like the low 100s and I find that truth to be overpoweringly as we make our way through the narrow pathways of the farmer’s market. At a tiny convenient store down the street we find pasta and sauce, cheese and a few other necessities not found at the outdoor market. They do not sell peanut butter and alcohol is not available until 11:30 according to local law, though. The heat and heavy grocery bags are sort of torturous, but we finish our errands in good spirits without any arguments, which I deem sort of miraculous considering all the joint decision making, the jet lag and the conditions.
That afternoon we sail to a small harbor only about 5 miles away and anchor there for the night. There’s small surf breaking over the reef in front of the beach when the tide is low enough. Scott and I catch a few as the sunset gleams off the glassy surface of the water.
The next day we sail to Anse Lazio beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world known for two deadly shark attacks a few years back. As a precaution, local officials motivated to protect people and tourism have placed a shark-net close to the shore that forms a 300 meter long rectangular swimming area just off the beach.
I’m very cognizant of the fact that being attacked by a shark is about as likely as being struck by lightning or caught in a snow storm where I’m from, but the fact that lightning has struck this particular picturesque beach twice sticks in my mind like a post-it note on the fridge.
That note reads: Sharks!!!
Scott and my dad make remarks like “That was years ago” and “There haven’t been any other attacks in the Seychelles before or since” to try to create a verbal shark net around our wild imaginations. We, the women of the ship, still insist on being taken to the physically shark guarded area on the beach to swim and make the men promise to follow.
Even though this net serves as a reminder of the tragedies of the recent past, it also brings me comfort as I swim. The water, still and just as salty as the days before, suspends me in this moment as I think about what it must have been like to come upon these islands hundreds of years ago and what a swimming person must look like to a shark from below.
We get drinks at The Honesty Bar which is a sand floored hut nestled in some rocks overlooking the spot of the first shark attack. You serve yourself out of a hotel sized fridge and leave the appropriate payment in a tupperware on the koa wood counter. The owner comes down and, after standard introductions, tells us the story of the shark attacks. One took place not 100 yards from where we are sitting, the other close to a buoy by our boat. Both were men swimming alone, both were by a bull shark never previously sighted in the area.
I didn’t begrudge the sharks for their accident or mistake or hunger or whatever it was. And, although I feel terrible for the men, the stories wouldn’t keep me out of the water. I wouldn’t swim out far in the bay here alone, it almost seems haunted, but I would swim other places. The stories really made me think about life, who we are and where our souls go. And even as confused as this world makes me, that I do have a feeling everything will work out.
As I jump and bodysurf later that day, I think about each one of those souls around me and I am thankful for the life I have and who I am spending it with. It is one of those rare comforting instances when you realize so many of the things you love are within arms reach.
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