Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yellow Slime and Phosphorescent Sand

All in all, the beach weekend for Steph’s birthday was pretty standard as beach weekends go.  Plenty of sun, relaxation, good conversation, and waves.  But there were a few things that made this weekend worth telling about. 

The first was my introduction to the yellow slime phenomenon of Guatemala/the Paredon Surf House (where we stayed).  We’re not sure what this yellow slime on the water is, exactly—some sort of pollution surely—but every now and then a patch of it would show up on the ocean water and we’d exit the waves to wait for it to wash down the shore.  I don’t know how to explain it—other than icky yellow foam and bubbles floating on the water. 

Thankfully, it was not always present, and for the most part we were able to enjoy the water and the waves.  The beach at Paredon is great because unlike at places like Monterrico, the current is controlled enough that you can usually go into the ocean without fearing for your life.  I spent more time in the water this weekend than I have any other weekend in Guatemala thus far. 

Paredon Surf House

Paredon also offers surf lessons, and before we left I was determined to take one once and for all.  However, as Saturday morning dawned, I began to feel a ball of something close to fear in the pit of my stomach.  When I think of learning to surf, it’s hard to get over the images of the board slipping out from under me, me tumbling in the waves, water filling my nose, and me coming up sputtering and trying to orient myself before the next wave hits.  I am sure that actually catching a wave would be worth it.  But let’s face it; I’m not very coordinated.  So when Amy told me she’d opted out of renting a surf board because the waves looked too strong and that it probably wasn’t great conditions to learn to surf for the first time, I semi-gratefully gave up the notion of surf lessons this weekend.  One day I’ll do it, though.

Walking down towards the beach

The afternoon on Saturday slipped by quickly, and soon it was evening and night had fallen.  After dark, we ventured out onto the sand to gaze at the stars.  We sat in contentment for a while, and then someone piped up, “ooh!  You have to see the glow in the dark sand!  Have you seen it yet?” and we tramped up closer to the water, where the sand was packed down with moisture.  Sure enough, when you disrupt the sand—stomp on it, dig your fingers through it, tiny pin-pricks of light appear.  They have to be the same type of dinoflagellates that make the bio-luminescent bays of Puerto Rico glimmer in the darkness.  I’ve never heard of them living in sand rather than water, but what else could it be?  I did a quick “phosphorescent sand dance” (picture a crude rain dance of sorts—arms extended, head looking at the ground, slightly bent over, stomp feet quickly while turning in a slow circle) and truly delighted in the phenomenon.

Sunday morning we woke with the sun, brushed away our mosquito netting, and went down to a hearty breakfast made by the establishment’s kitchen.  While we were eating, someone brought up the “dorm cat,” and asked if anyone had seen it. 
“Dorm cat?” I asked.
They explained that apparently there’s a mouser that lurks around the Surf House and often sleeps on one of the beds in the dormitory (where we had stayed).
No one had seen it, and we decided the cat hadn’t come in the night before.

And then we went up to our beds to grab sunscreen, and the guy who’d slept in the bed closest to mine saw me and said, “Oh, you had that bed?  Did you know you shared with the cat for part of the night?”
Um, no, I did not know!  And it’s a good thing I didn’t wake up while it was still claiming part of my mattress, because as I didn’t know there WAS a dorm cat, I probably would have freaked out to see a rather large, warm, living body on my bed with me!  (I mean, had I known before going to bed there was a dorm cat and then had woken up to see it, I wouldn’t have minded…but the shock in the middle of the night would probably have driven me to forcibly shove it off the bed and cause a commotion.)

The rest of the morning passed uneventfully.  We took a walk down the beach, jumped in the waves, and relaxed in the sunshine.  On the way home, Danielle and Carla introduced me to a delicious gelato place that is much too close to my house to keep me from frequenting it far too often for my waistline’s good.  All in all, a most excellent weekend, and a great way to celebrate Steph’s birthday.  

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