I walked up the little hill covered with green grass and low growing plants. At the top I looked around and saw a complete circle of palm trees sunken in dense tropical vegetation. It was 1975 and I was 7 years old.
Before me was a concrete water storage pond – a square structure measuring about 250 yards per side. It had sloping sides leading down to the water. The entire body of water was overgrown with swamp and aquatic plants. There was nobody around or even somewhere near. I looked at the surrounding palm trees. I looked down at the water. I gave in to the urge.
Somehow I made it down the steep sloping concrete and entered the water. As I was – in shorts, shirt, and sandals. The water was up to my chest. I looked around and I dove in.
What happened next was a life changing experience. Later I read about a very similar experience described by the famous underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau in his autobiography. Early in his life he had an experience immersing his head under water and finding a realm of a completely new reality just underneath the surface. The separation line between that new world and everything else he knew was a the thin boundary where water and air met. He saw the beach, people, buildings above the water. With a dip of his head he saw the blurry underwater world. That experience changed the course of his life. One if his inventions was the diving rig – that same equipment we are used to see today.
My lonely experience was very similar. The palm trees and the tropical greenery above the water. And the blurry intense green and dark world just under the water surface. I tried to see fish or something moving. Everything was still. Just big blurry spots of color.
I got out of the water and climbed the steep concrete wall. At the top I took one last look down at the swamp plants and took off running. The company bus that transported everybody to and from work was about to leave. I could not miss it.
The bus was an old Russian looking vehicle with a shape of an armadillo but without the long tail and without the long snout. Very typical of the early 1960’s. It had faded orange stripes and the engine was a bulging mass right next to the driver. I sat by the engine. My shorts and underwear were wet. My hair stuck to my forehead.
All of a sudden I felt very sleepy. I leaned on the warm engine housing and fell asleep.
That was it. Experiences like that – that stay with your all your life and change its course – leave you in a dreamlike state after the fact. Some of that state remains throughout your life. I may say that if you have been there once you never leave.
The interest in aquatic life that was imprinted on me that day remained for more than 40 years now. It has taken different forms. Lately it has become a true appreciation of the wild, untouched Nature. In it there is a lot to be seen and heard but it is impossible to describe.
Nature is very loud and profoundly silent at the same time.