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moonlighting

$40 in tips, swimming through barf, dancing Mantas, a stalled skiff with 3 dudes and no snacks. That was the last few hours. Every day something different.


Tonight at sunset, choppy water tossed the boat around. Waves rolled in, bounced off the rocky shoreline and back to the sea with us bobbing in between. 35 tourists of mixed or no swimming experience cling to light rafts like a small colony of bugs while a couple of guides take turns towing them around by means of rope and fins. Together we search for night life in the bay.


Swimming in the ocean at night jostles the senses. The crew and guests climb in and float along the surface of the water, watching for movement along the edge of our lights. Different things emerge: plankton, eels, fish, the occasional eagle ray, manta rays and fire worms once. 


Hearing joyful screaming in the distance, we detach our light boards from their safety line attached to the boat and pull everyone over to a neighboring collection of rafts and lights -- the other tour companies. I soon find myself swimming through a cloud of someone else’s barf, my attention quickly diverted by the manta rays dancing in our lights, giant, gaping mouths and belly rolls beneath our boards.


People laugh and squeal with delight, forgetting everything else for the moment. I swim around them, making adjustments to keep limbs and cameras from dangling, peppering them with manta trivia.


Approaching the boat again, people struggle to catch their feet at the stairs. I drop a fin and dive down to catch it, forgetting my mask on my forehead. On ascent I feel something bump against my leg and I startle to the surface, realizing only too late that it was the mask I just bought yesterday, sinking to the bottom of the sea.


After all the fun we drop our guests off, reset the boat and tie it to a mooring outside the bay. On our way back to shore, between the mooring and docks, our skiff engine sputters and stops, buzzing forward in short bursts before dying again. We jokingly/seriously consider the closest point to swim to, should we need to tow the skiff back in. Eventually it works and we scramble ashore.


I decline a ride to my car, enjoying the quiet walk back when I discover I have the wrong keys and locked myself out. A ride, a good talk and a hot shower later, I still managed to enjoy a couple birthday li hing mui in bed before falling asleep without brushing my teeth.

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