One tur­tle, but it was enough

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

I flopped my flip­pered feet into the wa­ter and when I dunked my head, I could see fish of ev­ery de­scrip­tion, ex­plod­ing like con­fetti around the co­ral.

It was like an unabridged Dr Seuss book — red fish, blue fish, fat fish, flat-faced fish with sulky mouths, bright cobalt fish like glow sticks at a rave party, black fish with droop­ing fins, fish with ap­pendages re­sem­bling drift­wood, and fish with plump, kiss­able lips. I felt like a child peer­ing into a kalei­do­scope for the first time.

Sud­denly, a round shadow ap­peared right un­der me. I saw the tur­tle only as a flash, stretch­ing its an­cient, wrin­kled head to­wards the co­ral.

The seg­ments on its shell looked like asym­met­ri­cal slate floor­ing and its speck­led flip­pers waved gen­tly in the wa­ter.

‘‘I just saw a tur­tle!’’ I shouted at Mike. ‘‘Well, let’s turn around and find it again!’’ He be­gan to grap­ple with his pad­dle.

But I told him I was con­tent with a sin­gle sight­ing. Our kayak dashed us back to solid land, where shapes don’t warp with mov­ing cur­rents, re­turn­ing us to clat­ter­ing noise and cal­en­dars, to rou­tines and gro­cery lists and un­opened bills.

It had been just one tur­tle, but it was enough. Fol­low the Reader col­umns now also ap­pear each Tues­day on our new Food & Travel page.

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