Rob pulled himself into the dinghy. “Man, I sure wish I’d had our GoPro down there,” he told me, pulling off his mask. “How cool would it have been to get video of those sea lions side-swiping us?”
We’d just snorkeled off Los Islotes, a small rock outcropping north of La Partida island where we were anchored on our friend’s boat, Sea Raven. It’s famous for the sea lion colony that lives on the ammonia-scented, guano-stained rocks. And the fame is well-deserved: it was unbelievable to have humongous slippery mammals skyrocketing past us in the sea.
The lions, called lobos del mar or sea wolves in Spanish, honked and barked, blew bubbles when we got too close, and chomped on the millions of tiny bait fish shimmering like a silver wave just beneath the surface. This marine reserve looked like the Sea of Cortez must have looked a century ago – ripe with fish of all colors, shapes and sizes. It was quite a contrast to the more barren underwater scene near the rocks at our anchorage a mile south, where only a handful of smaller fish dodged hungry fishermen’s nets and lines.
We put some distance between ourselves and the clutter of tourist boats at Los Islotes, and snorkeled again at the next rock island. Rob swam around for 20 minutes, then jumped into the dinghy so I could do the same. This time, he didn’t say a word about missed opportunities behind a camera. He was full of stories of the world below: “I saw tons of trigger fish, and a huge surgeon fish! Did you see that sea lion glide in off the rock? This place is seriously awesome.”
That evening, we both stretched on the foredeck as we watched the red light of sunset roll down from the mountains and break across the sea. Rob pointed out turtles as they popped up to breathe (he’s seen approximately 43 turtles this past week, compared to my 2), and we followed a young sea lion that was playing between the catamaran’s hulls.
“You know,” Rob said, “I’ve been thinking about my time in Madagascar. I didn’t have any of that shit we just lost. I keep thinking it’s a blessing in disguise that our electronics got stolen. If I’d had the GoPro today, I would’ve been fiddling with cameras instead of just enjoying the dive, and I’d probably be inside editing the video right now instead of watching turtles swim in the sunset.”
It definitely still stings a lot that we lost all of the gear we so carefully researched and assembled. Mostly, though, it stings that we made dumb mistakes that led to that occurrence.
That sunset, Rob and I came to agreement that we don’t need to prove how cool and interesting this trip is, to ourselves or others. Sure, it’s natural to want to share our experience, and to capture remarkable moments to enjoy again later. But then you lose the now. The cost of recording those events means we’re behind a computer, camera or recorder, rather than fully experiencing how cool they are. The universe may well have been telling us that it’s our time to embrace the now.