I see a man on a kayak in the shallows. I paddle over to him. His name is Jonah. He’s in his late 20s with a sunfish smile and he’s collecting sea cucumbers, which are penis-shaped marine animals that sit on the sea floor. He’s after two types of cucumbers. The brown and unappetizing ones he places in a bucket, and the thick yellow ones he puts on a paddle board. Sometimes Jonah finds a fish treasure and he brings it to the surface just for me to see.
The sun is setting in an explosion of faded pastels. Jonah is shaking. He already has hundreds of sea cucumbers, but he’s still diving for more. I ask what he’s going to do with them. He says, “I sell them to the Chinese. They say eating them makes you younger.” I ask if he believes it. He shrugs. I say, “These brown ones look like they came straight out of the toilet.” He laughs and says, “Yea, I only eat the yellow ones.”
We make a plan to go find an octopus the following day, but Jonah stands me up. He probably had to go sling all the sea cucumbers on the mainland. I want to stick around Musket Cove and see if he’s coming back, but I’ve been here for two weeks, and now that the rain is gone and I can hear the earth breathe, I‘m ready for a change of scenery. My planet is all parts water and you know what happens to water if it sits still for too long? It becomes a stagnant fungi stink fest not even fit for the Jesus bugs or salamanders. Water must move and flow. I must move and flow.
My new scenery is the avocado shaped island at the mouth of the ocean. Namotu. From where I’m anchored I can hear the waves hitting the shore, and I can see the full moon through my porthole. I’m hungry but I don’t even know what I’m hungry for. I’m like a fly on the pie. The first time I felt like this I ended up in Cuba where I got run over by a 1960s baby blue ford truck and learned to dance salsa in a cave. Who knows what could happen in my life next? I could up and decide to become a castaway on some island where no boats go.
I’m not going anywhere at the moment. I’m high with fever. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Right when I dropped anchor, BAM; 100 degrees, body aches, sore throat, exhaustion, fetal position. Whatever I got, I must have got it at Cloud 9. It’s this two-level floating platform in the middle of the turquoise where spring-breakers go to swim and eat wood-fired pizza in their skimpies. The address is Roro Reef and they don’t take money, and when you go there you have to anchor and swim to the platform. It’s very bohemian.
I forced myself to get out of bed and look at the world. Everything hurts. I’m on the bow of Juniper looking down. There are sea turtles all over the water. I’m talking like giant grandpa turtles that are so old they probably know the ancient monkey or fish that humans evolved from. To hell with this fever. I gotta jump in.
There is black ink swirling around me and to my left is a petrified mob of squids. They are like shimmering black aliens with eight arms, two tentacles, giant eyes, and cone heads. They are wiggling their soft bodies in a way that reminds me of Batman. There are hundreds. Moving in unison by jet propulsion. I watch them for an hour. At the end I get too close and they all turn silver and flip lateral with their ginormous eyeballs glued on me.
I’m overcome with a fear that the squid might do something fit for a horror film to me. Ink, eyes, tentacles, beaks, blood. I swim back towards the boat. Pink moon jellyfish drift past me like bubbles blown by the sea. I like their hypnotic water ballet. Some of the moon jellyfish have faces and they’re trying to tell me something, I swear.
I made it back to the boat. There‘s a remora (a.k.a. sharksucker) beneath it. He‘s been under there since Musket Cove and he’s territorial and nettled by anything else that approaches the boat, including me. Sharksuckers are bananas. The top of their heads is a giant suction cup and they use it to latch onto bigger creatures like sharks. They spend their life suctioned to the shark, and sucking parasites off the skin of the shark, and eating the shark’s leftover food scraps. It’s no wonder the sharksucker is under the boat, the boat is dirty! It’s green with growth and frothing with miniature shrimps and the sharksucker is sucking on it like a shark and getting fat.
I climb back aboard before I get sucked on or inked. I am rocked to sleep by the sea and in my fever dreams I ride a horse named Lady Gaga.