Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ofu - (Part 2)

The first thing we did (after putting our stuff in our room) was go straight to the beach! Jessi and Jaydn checked out the hammock,

While I tried out the lazy chair.
The water at this beach (which happened to be right next to the hotel) was nice, almost like a big wave pool, and Jaydn and I had lots of fun with the waves. And it was really safe.
But it was not the best spot for snorkeling because it was really murky, so later in the day we moved on. Our rooms were like small buildings, with two hotel rooms to each building. They were surprisingly comfortable for an island so small. Jaydn thought he'd show you one.
To get to the really nice beaches, the eye poppingly beautiful beaches, we had to walk a ways down a dirt road. Once we got there, the walk was certainly something we could do again. It was beautiful.
It was soooo beautiful. We were ready to relish in this lush paradise, relax on the beach, snorkel, read my book, etc.
Jessi, Jaydn and I set out with snorkel gear (after applying sunscreen, of course). The water here was supposed to be clear. But it wasn't. So I kept swimming out more and more. I had my fins on as well, so it was hard to stand up.

Then disaster struck. I looked up, and one of our friends was coming in, saying that my co-clerk, Mike, had been sucked out to sea. I stopped and looked, and I could barely see him. He was waaaay out there. I thought I was going to come back to work at the courthouse alone. It was scary.

Then things got worse. Two other guys were further out than me in the water. They saw that Mike was out really far, getting tossed and thrown by the waves. While watching him, one of them ALSO got swept out. In the meantime, Mike was finally making his way back. He was completely drained of energy, because he was trying to swim with the waves when they would hit him so they would push him in somewhat. He was also clinging white-knuckled to his snorkel gear. When I saw him come in far enough, he was walking on the coral and looked like he had just been hit by a missile. But thank goodness, he came in safe.

The other guy that got pulled out, Fred, was still in the water. Then, a third guy, Nate, got pulled out. We all thought we were experiencing our worst fears at sea, and worried that someone, or two, were going to die in the ocean. Fred started to come in finally, but Nate was still out in the water. Nate was farther than either Fred or Mike had been. He got to the point that I almost couldn't see him. I was really worried for him.

All three waved for us to come and help, but I was worried. None of us went because we knew it would be a terrible idea. We would all be out in the ocean. So we tried to point to them which way to swim to get out of the terror. Needless to say, I think all of us were praying a lot.

What we didn't realize was that we had picked a spot with an 'Ava'. What's an 'ava'? Well, it's kind of like a stream of fast-moving water, that sucks right through reef on both sides, and anything that is in its path it brings out to sea. It just so happens that WE were in its path. If we had stayed about a quarter-mile down the beach, we would have had the best snorkeling, and NO ava. But you live, and you learn! Fortunately, we all did!

It was truly a miracle that Nate finally made his way in. They each exerienced a lot of getting pounded against the coral, going under the water and losing their orientation, and thinking that they were going to die. After they came back in, it became a very quiet, somber day, with a lot of reflection. Mike was in good enough spirits to show me his war wounds.

The three survivors!

Afterwards, no one wanted to enter the water again. Jaydn and I just built sandcastles.

We finally got tired, and walked back to the road and left. Marge, the owner of the hotel and a real gem, drove her truck out to pick up the wounded. Then she came back and picked the rest of us up! Free of charge!

We spent the rest of the day in the lounge, playing games and reading books and talking. Most of us said we weren't going out again. We knew better. We came here to swim!


Proud Mum said...

Hi Colettis! It's Heather (Fuller) Phillips, Dana told me about your blog. I love looking at the photos and hearing your stories as they make me miss our two years in Hawaii (except the cockroaches and centipedes, those are memories best forgotten!)

It looks like you guys are doing well, I'm so happy for you!