Hawaii. In Hilo on the island of Hawaii, I set off with the hostel keeper’s directions for a good place to swim and snorkel. I pulled over to swimming holes reminiscent of my childhood where you walked through the woods on narrow paths with twists and turns and finally pushed though far enough to see the water. This place had a lot of big boulders and moss-covered trees. I found a nice sized, deep pool left to its own in the ocean’s low tide. The water was clear and I was hot after the walk so I went in. After my joy at pushing through the refreshing water calmed down a bit, I started to look more closely at my surroundings. It was gray rock ringing the pool with green trees beyond the rock. Inside this fortress, the clear water was blue and seemed to have boulders underneath. A boulder moved and I found I was sharing the pool. It was a a huge yellow sea turtle! It was at least 5 feet from head to tail and its yellow colors were prominent in the sun. I was nervous at first as I had a flashback of the mass of Galapagos giant turtles slowly approaching me. I recalled the Far Side depictions about what “harmless” animals do when nobody is watching. But this huge, yellow turtle ignored me. What a relief.
I told my mother about my incredible swim alone with a big yellow sea turtle. A couple of months later, she got me a shimmering turtle to commemorate the event. It reminds of the time…A gentle giant with a graceful turn, meandered in its pool for the day. I swam in a blue floral print. The turtle swam in its yellow argyle. I was longer but the turtle was bigger. Neither of us spoke but we both acknowledged we were sharing the pool. Did I encroach on the giant turtle’s solitude and spoil its secret place? Or did I provide some welcome company in that solitary pool while the turtle was waiting for high tide to set it free? Was the turtle wondering why I left the pool before high tide? Did the turtle feel vulnerable too? I had the sensation I get after greeting an introvert on an elevator and am left hoping the other won’t become obsessive about our exchange and let it ruin the day. If only turtles could talk. Maybe the turtle was communicating in its own way and couldn’t make up its mind about me.