Finding Nemo in Vanuatu
We chose our resort because you can snorkel right off the beach and so after a sleep in and a leisurely breakfast we did just that. The reef is damaged thanks to last year’s cyclone and general over-use but amongst the bleached damage there were wonderful flashes of coloured coral and there were fished everywhere. Little bright blue fishes; larger pale ones that faded to yellow at the back; even larger dark ones with deep blue spots; and, darting out from their anemone homes, Clown Fish.
The water is perfectly warm, and there was not problem saying in for ages in just our swimmers. I tried out my new underwater casing and in spite of some issues – mostly to do with my appalling eyesight – got a few OK shots.
Declan has been scared of deep open water for ages: Ever since an ill-advised joke about sharks from a guide on the Barrier Reef left him quivering. It’s since matured into a general phobia, and one of our aims has been to get him over it. We successfully snorkelled briefly in Sydney a few weeks ago, so hoped he might be OK. He had a rocky start and spent the first half-hour firmly gripping my hand. But after a while he relaxed enough to swim by himself and to agree at the end that he’d enjoyed himself.
The boys retreated to do some homework, we had no choice but to bring it with us, while Jennifer and I sat about and did, well, nothing. Then a slow lunch by the water and some more sitting about. Declan and I played chess on a bet. He won and got to push me into the pool fully clothed, much to his delight.
When the heat of the day had dropped off a bit we went out kayaking. We’re on a largely enclosed bay so the water is very calm and we could see coral and fishes beneath us, when we took time out from the kids general splashing.
To cap off a lazy day we had a swim in the pool, played backgammon for a while, and then had dinner on the jetty. The jetty pokes out, in the way jetties do, into the bay and the staff set up our table down the end of it. So we got to have dinner all by ourselves, under the starry sky, while a lovely sea-breeze kept us cool.
We were pretty happy to contemplate that a year ago we had had dinner under the open skies in the Northern Territory; and a year before that had gazed at the stars from a mountain-top Ryokan in the wilds of Japan; and a year before that had had dinner on a kayak on the Yarra River in Melbourne; and in 2012 it was sitting on another jetty on Lord Howe Island and again watching the stars wheel above us. That’s a pretty good run of April stars.