For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I’m sitting in a slightly too warm room and the washing machine is spinning behind me. My clothes are in there – about a week’s worth of dirty laundry. My hair is wet, and I’ve just come back from swimming with dolphins.
Yep. Today I swum with dolphins. A two and a half hour round trip on my bike to a beach dubbed “Two Step” led me to approximately ten spinner dolphins and about six green sea turtles. I left this morning around 7am, arrived there an hour later, and snorkelled and did some free diving for about two hours before the dolphins arrived in the bay.
The mood was crazy when the dolphins were present. First a German woman on shore yelled, “The dolphins are here!” It felt almost as though everyone on the beach were waiting for some very important guests to arrive. And in a sense I guess we were.
The German woman was the first person to spot them. But then, as soon as a few more people saw the dolphins’ fins cut through the surface of the water, we all soon scurried to put on our snorkelling gear and hurriedly entered the water. Our flock of people, once disparate, were now united. Kicking frantically, we all made our way hastily to the part of the bay in which the dolphins were sighted. When I arrived, I could just make out the rough shape of nice or ten spinner dolphins. They were deep down in the bay, beyond everyone’s reach.
In free diving one of the key things that needs to happen before you dive down is that you need to be relaxed. You work on getting into an almost-asleep state, lowering your heart rate and breathing in, and out, slowly and consistently. None of this was happening today what with the pod of dolphins underneath me. My heart was racing and my body felt like it was containing an over-stimulated ten year old who was jumping up and down in excitement.
I stayed in the water amongst dozens of other snorkellers and we all swam, dove, and played with the dolphins together. Sometimes we would dive down to try and get closer to them, but most of the time they themselves swam up to the water’s surface to greet us. We snorkellers would keenly follow them wherever they went. We were morphing out of what was a group of people and a pod of dolphins into a hodgepodge school of two legged and finned creatures – we were all becoming one. We humans were never as graceful or as fast or as intuitive as the dolphins though, but we sure tried to keep up. Other times when they were deep down it was incredible to just hear their unmistakable whistles and calls floating up through the water. It was so exciting, and so otherworldly.
It’s experiences like this which are one of the things that strike me most about bicycle touring. When you’re travelling on a bike, there is a bombardment to the senses unlike that of a tour done in a car or on a plane. Everyday there is something new to do or discover, even if it’s just to cycle to a new place or to shatter a personal riding limit. And in some ways I feel like my mind has just been racing nonstop since I started riding my bike around the island. Every day does present me with new places, faces, and new experiences to behold. I feel like my body, mind and heart are constantly being pulled into dynamism that is the present tense – I am constantly pulled back to the “now”. And I guess it’s a good thing, because it involves leaving the past behind. Much like this morning with the dolphins: I find myself scurrying after what lies ahead.