Swimming in Paradise

I may update this with some photos from our trip to Turks & Caicos in the near future.

Swimming in Paradise

“Is it an STD?” our brother playfully asks the nurse as we burst into the examination room with camera in hand. Our sister, suffering from burns, sits on a chair in the medical office of our resort while the attending nurse verifies her condition. Barb is not yet finding the hilarity of the situation and presents a finger in response to the intrusive photo taking and general merriment being enjoyed at her expense.

The day had nearly been like any other, on a trip with friends and family at a beach resort in Turks & Caicos. Relaxing breakfast lingering over coffee, wandering through the grounds, reading under a canopy, swimming. Today we sign-out snorkel equipment to be able to better appreciate the beautiful sea life below the surface. “You can snorkel here,” we are told at our resort, “but if you continue down the beach, the area in front of the next resort has a lot more to look at.”

“That’s awesome! Thanks so much for telling us!” Barb replies. We all make our way towards the water pulling on our masks and trying-out making silly noises through the snorkels. We sound like a herd of elephants in confused distress as we listen to our own affected voices manipulated through the air tubes while our feet awkwardly slap the wet sand as we walk with our flippers.

We enter the waves directly, with plans of swimming over to the next resort to behold the more impressive beauty known to reside there. It’s always interesting after swimming somewhere, particularly in salt water where you need to close your eyes tightly, to later swim again but with the added view of what is swimming with you. The beach around our resort was voted by readers of Conde Nast Traveler to be the “best of all island beaches worldwide”. So it was pretty. The main attractions, under the water, were not to be missed.

As a group we playfully drift our way in the direction we were suggested and eventually we encounter a rectangular area a bit away from shore circumferenced by lines of red buoys. “This must be it!” someone calls as we all follow suit and one-by-one duck under the line of buoys to enter the space. “Gold pot!” Barb calls sing-songly as she views her first school of spectacular fluorescent-coloured fish and brightly-coloured vegetation. “Over here, look!”

“This is amazing!” our brother Bryan exclaims, pulling his face out of the water long enough to share his enthusiasm. “Incredible!” calls a friend, “I can’t believe this is real!” We’re all fascinated as we slowly skim along the top of the water, enjoying the views of life and beauty unfolding just underneath us.

“I have to go in,” I swim over to tell someone not very long after we’ve started, “I’m getting burned.” I guess the waterproof sun block is coming off and I’m burning just at the top of my shoulders. I leave the group and the water and make my way to shade. Deciding I’m done with the beach today because of the sun, I go back to my room to clean-up. I’ll find a nice sheltered area where I can read.

An hour or so later Bryan has come to find me. “Do you have burns?” “A little bit, that’s why I got out.” “Let’s see!” I lift my T-shirt to show a bit of redness on my shoulders. “That’s not sunburn, that’s where the buoys touched your shoulders when you ducked-under them! I just have a bit on my arm!” Bryan shows, “You should see Barb, she is covered with great big red spots! She’s in the medical clinic, let’s go!” Starved for adventure at an all inclusive resort, this is quite a breakthrough. I mean, she probably won’t die or become maimed, so no need to worry really.

The first burst of adrenaline in days of lounging and eating at this child-friendly family resort, we excitedly run to the medical office where, when no one answers, we continue through to the private examination room. “This is private!” the nurse shouts on our rude and abrupt entry. “It’s okay, we’re with her!”

“Holy smokes, what is it?” I blurt-out seeing Barb covered in big red blotches and after Bryan has teasingly asked the nurse whether she has been sought on this occasion to treat an STD.

Barb, who was last to leave the water, explains. “We were swimming in fire coral. When I came out there was this older local guy who asked didn’t we know that we could be fined ten thousand dollars each for swimming in a restricted area.”

“What restricted area?”

“The area inside the red buoys wasn’t showing the best area to explore, it was showing where not to swim.”

“But how were we supposed to know?”

The nurse, who most likely fills her days dealing with minor injuries caused by the utter imbecility of resort guests, looks at us with tired eyes and some pity. I suppose she never gets to meet the sensible visitors. The ones who didn’t forget to wear sunblock when seeing sunlight for the first time in three months, or who thought it might not be prudent to try to pet the interesting wild birds that have large, funny beaks. No, she meets the daredevil who was sure he could impress the ladies by going down the enormous water slide standing-up and then sent his now-broken teeth right through his lip when it all went wrong. The girl who had one-too-many bottles of wine before accidentally falling unconscious into the chocolate fountain very nearly drowning herself in front of small children holding up their strawberries and marshmallows on little sticks under the flow of the viral chocolatey liquid. Had it not been for their screams. . . . The man who thought his mother’s medicated hot roll-on ointment for joint pain was his deodorant and burned his armpits. Okay, in his defence he never went for medical treatment and anyway that was months ago and he wasn’t used to having houseguests. They were very similar containers. With the impressive line-up of ailments she must treat, the nurse probably wonders how all of these ridiculous people can even afford travel let-alone how they haven’t accidentally killed themselves already by choking on their own toothbrush or forgetting to chew a large hunk of steak. Life isn’t fair.

“Does red mean “go” in your country?” the nurse asks. “Because in our country it means stop. And caution.” We stare, processing her logic. Interesting.

Barb continues, “He said there was a sign that blew over last week. And then the old man points at my red patches and he says that they are burns from swimming near endangered fire coral and that I will need to see a doctor.”

“Oh my goodness gracious,” I reply, although in less polite terms, as I now suddenly re-visit my own red burns. “So do they put-out burning acid into the water? Is that why they’re called fire coral?”

“They’re actually a type of jelly fish,” informs the kill-joy nurse. Again, we stare with pause. This woman really likes to be the centre of attention, barging-in with her random comments.

“Should we pee on her then?” asks Bryan, helpfully. (Urine can be an antidote to jelly fish stings.)

“You could,” the nurse replies, “but it won’t help.”

“Let’s try anyway,” I offer, “I’ll pee in this jar and bring it back.”

“If it’s not going to f*ing help, I’m not pouring your f*ing piss on me! Thank you!” Barb politely refuses. A tad melodramatic if you ask me. We’re just being silly about her being covered with burns from swimming with poisonous see creatures. I mean, she is in pain and I suppose we don’t yet know if it’s serious or not so I guess she has a point. But she’s probably not going to die or anything.

Cortisol cream dispensed, ten days later it’s like it never even happened. Just another happy travel memory.

Two years pass and we find ourselves on set of a travel show in production. We’re being interviewed for this story and for the story earlier-written that caught the producers attention about our flight to Turks & Caicos. Both stories will be separate segments of “Bad Trip”. http://www.cmjprod.ca/badtrip.html The show will be in editing this winter and aired sometime in 2014. I’ll post a link to it when it’s out.

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If this looks like a photo shoot, it’s because we forgot to take photos while they were interviewing us on cameras. These are pics from the photo shoot afterwards. See here Bryan, Barb, and Me.

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Rather than visit this production company in Montreal, we joined the proceedings at the Royal York Hotel here in Toronto. That’s why it may look like some conference you’ve attended.

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Of course they wanted me to be the one lifted in front but I was too shy.

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