Over the Pacific
I've been reminiscing about the Pacific. The sea is the sea and to some extent I feel like it's always home - here, there, east or west. It's blue and alive and I want to get in it. But hang on, let's step back and first approach this entity objectively with
The Pacific is the largest body of water on Earth, covering nearly 1/3 of our planet.
It is also deeper and older than my home body Atlantic. These attributes give it a significant lead with regard to diversity of life. There are more corners, and there has been more time, for species to adapt and evolve here. Tropical fish species roll call: Atlantic:Pacific, Nearly 1:3. Tropical coral species: Atlantic:Pacific, Nearly 1:3. Yup, things are different here.
The islands of Hawaii, while 2400 miles into the blue off the mainland US, are barely a baby step into the vast expanse of water between us and Asia and the land mass of Australia. The Pacific is an ocean that turns an entire continent into a mere island.
My last time in Pacific waters was 15 years ago, when I made two separate photography expeditions to different island chains. My reaction on landing on some distant Pacific island nation was the same both times - Whoa. Big. Everything is bigger - the sea, the waves, the blue, the land with its jungled big peaks. The sounds even seem an octave lower to me, in counterpoint to the charming, light and tinkling sounds of the Caribbean. Incidentally, palm trees are palm trees - they make me feel warm no matter what sea surrounds me.
Today I fly and fly. Part I was in a diagonal line across the US from New England to Arizona. As the hours passed we flew over Niagra falls (too cloudy, couldn't see it), the flat and gridded acres of heart land, hit turbulence above the sudden Rockies - these slid away into great, sandy ridges and mesas outlining now stringy looking river beds. But you can see where the water has been. From 30,000 feet up, this part of our country looks just like the sand at low tide on a beach in Maine. Water is an amazing artist over time - its sculpting style the same whether a few meters or hundreds of miles wide.
A pitstop in Phoenix and I'm back in the air now, winging ever westward (and south). I passed over the last spit of land maybe 30 minutes ago. I can't see anything but blue streaked by tidy rows of small clouds. They look like sets of waves. This ocean has created the sky patterns above it. We'll fly for another 4 hours at nearly 500 mph before we hit the Big Island, Hawaii - the first in the Hawaiian chain. And still, i will only be at the threshold of the Pacific.
On my way home from one adventure to the central Pacific, I came to Kona by invitation of a charter boat caption I'd met in Micronesia. I spent a week working as a photo pro on a dive boat cruising up and down the Kona coast. I remember the water was different from the Indo-Pacific tropics I had just come from - cooler and a deeper blue. Hawaii is where the tropics dance on the fringe of Northern Pacific waters, creating a blend of tropical island with warm, but nearly temperate seas. This combination plus its staggering isolation make the chain home to hundreds of endemic species (creatures that live here and no where else). I remember being awed every time I descended into Kona's coastal offerings. I remember loving it.
In flight reading
And today I have the good fortune to return. But this time, I've come to swim. I'll skim along the surface and take in the best of sea and sky here. I wonder - will it live up to my memories?
There's plenty of work to be done. After all, I'm here to see about putting it all together for SwimVacation guests who will (hopefully) make the same small step into the Pacific with us next year. We've cut our teeth in the nurturing waters of the Caribbean. Found our niche, our vibe, tapped into the the heart of who we are and what we do. We've swum along side our guests as they've eased burdens, pushed boundaries, connected with the sea-loving, water borne parts of themselves. The British Virgin Islands has been our home for this work, and remains a spectacular place to take people swimming. We'll continue to dive in there.
But what new challenges can we find here? What new adventures and species and goals and expectations can we cobble together to create the next special SwimVacation experience? In another few hours I'll begin to know.
Hello, again Pacific! I cannot wait to reconnect and dive in.
PS. I'm now in bed in my rental home for the next 9 days. I've been awake for 24 hours. I made it to the grocery store, and walked a crazy little path to a very local beach. Jagged and rough, black lava rock. The sea didn't disappoint - just a dip and i was rejuvenated....In the morning, the IronMan swim from the Kona pier. Now...sleep.