So while our personal school is cool, we heard that in Swallow’s Cave there are schools of fish that must number in the hundreds of thousands, if not larger. “Really? We’ve been in there, we didn’t notice.”
“You’ve got to be in there at exactly the right time of day, roughly 3:00 pm this time of year, when the sun is perched just above those hills and the light goes straight into the cave opening. It doesn’t last long, but what you see will amaze you.”
Sounded to me like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones in the cavern, staff and crystal planted on the floor, waiting for that moment the sun shone through and aimed a beam of light on the map model on the floor, indicating precisely where the Ark of the Covenent was buried.
Such was our motivation for returning to Swallows.
“Eleanor!” the three of us called from the dinghy. (This is our thing these days, waiting on Eleanor. Doesn’t matter where we’re going, for what occasion, we’re in the dinghy waiting for Eleanor. If Del Viento ever sinks mid-ocean, rest assured Frances, Windy, and I will be in our lifeboat waiting for Eleanor.) There is no place to anchor near Swallow’s Cave. Last time we did what many boats do, leave one person to drive the mothership in circles while everyone else explores. This time, we opted for a long dinghy ride from Port Maurelle.
We got there late, the light was already illuminating the inside of the cave. It was a much different place. The schools of fish were immediately apparent. The girls jumped in the water.
|Looking down at the bottom of|
It was a blast swimming with the fish, as though we had a force field that would part the school as we swam through them, and allow them to join up again behind us as we passed. It was surprisingly difficult to get good photos. I didn’t figure out until the end that, counterintuitively, it makes more sense to shoot into the light.
Eleanor is the family freediving champion.
In French Polynesia, we got used to anchoring in clear water. I’d challenge the girls to dive to the bottom and bring me back sand to prove they’d made it. It became a thing and soon 15 to 20 feet was, literally, child’s play. Then 25 to 35 feet became easy. Recently, they both grabbed sand at 40 feet.
Then, working with another family (Hi Exodus!) to retrieve the blade of our Torqeedo prop that snapped off at the hub in 55 feet of water, Eleanor surprised us all. The father of this family and his teenaged boys are accomplished freediving spear fishermen. They were all in the game that morning—finding that broken prop was the order of the day. Tim was using an anchor with a line attached to pull himself quickly down to 45 feet where he could scan the bottom for a while before he ran out of air. Suddenly, there goes a determined Eleanor, kicking with her fins straight down, to the dark depths of 55 feet, where she grabbed a handful of sand (not my prop) and swam easily back to the surface, a huge smile on her face.
|Do they spend their entire lives in the cave?|
|It looks like the fish are forming a human|
figure to challenge Frances.
|I seriously need one of those boxes that let me get above|
water and underwater simultaneously.
|Eleanor swimming through a fish ball.|