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September 3rd, 2012 | Caribbean

A Quickening of the Pulses…!!

September has finally arrived…!! And with it the confirmation that this month has and always will be, a very special one for me…

Passing the main Beach at Parrot Cay, on our way to snorkel on one of the outer reefs….

A few Conch were brought on board the boat and the crew prepared to remove them from their shells…

I was astounded at what came out of the shell…!! I had no idea what the animal that lived inside it looked like…. Not a pretty sight….!! No wonder they keep themselves out of sight….!!

September, for someone born in the Southern Hemisphere, is a month of new beginnings, for it signals the arrival of Spring, a time when the first rains arrive to turn the brown hills and plains, green with budding new life…

It is a month that I associate with new-born Impala and Wildebeest, struggling to their feet for the first time, and within minutes, amazing both onlookers and themselves, by dashing about with gay abandon…

Imagine if human children could do that on the day they are born…!!

After a spat between the government and the developers of this hotel on Dellis Cay, the project was abandoned about 5 years ago, and now stands as an eyesore on the nearby beach…

September is also the birth month of my eldest daughter Roxanne, and reminds me of the day I first held her in my arms and became fully aware of what a wonderful thing this life was, and how all the other things I had achieved up until that moment, paled into insignificance…

Two years later, close to the beginning of yet another Spring, I would hold Robyn, and feel the same enormous sense of pride and wonder all over again… I will always associate these two momentous events in my life, with Spring…

Although, for Patricia, we will be marrying in the “Fall”, or Autumn as we know it, in my mind it will be always be Spring… The term “Fall”, reminds me too much of Ethiopia, Flores, Peru and Alaska, where over the last few years, I did just that… Fall…!!

A very different form of transport for the Gypsy Biker….!!

But back to September…!! Not only will I be marrying the woman of my dreams in a little over a week from now, but it also heralds the end of my ride on the 6th and last continent on my World Tour…!! In theory I guess, it is the end of my ride…

On a more practical note however, I have not yet fully convinced myself that this is the official end of the road for the Big Fella and I, because I have always wanted to end my journey at the place where it all began…

A rather different view to that which I am used to…!! No ignition, no GPS, no Speedo, no Rev-Counter…!!

That decision though, will have to wait until I have ascertained whether or not we will return to South Africa on a permanent basis or not, and when…

It is no longer a decision the Big Fella and I can make on our own…!! My soon to be appointed “Minister of Home Affairs and Well Being”, will no doubt have a big say in the matter…!! Democracy is not all that it is cracked up to be…!!

September is also going to be the month when I am to be reunited with my family and friends who I have not seen for almost three years, and this too has caused a “quickening of the pulse”…

Recent contact with them via Skype, has made my longing to see them all again, even greater than it has always been, if that is possible…!!

Of late, there have been other reasons for an accelerated heart rate… The majority of them have to do with my recent encounters with iguanas, crabs and sharks…!!

The breakwater near South Dock, one of my favourite places on Parrot Cay…

The pair of Iguanas that have taken up residence close to our apartment, tend to lie in wait for me on my frequent trips too and from the canteen… One of them lurks in the leaf litter close to the path, and then  just as I approach; usually carrying two plates of food and balancing a third bowl of desert in one or the other hand, the bloody reptile scuttles off into the undergrowth making enough noise to make one believe that a rhino is barreling towards you…!!

I have left a lot of food on the pathway as a result of these little encounters, and I now know that Iguanas do indeed grin…!!

The shallow waters near the breakwater, where Nurse Sharks prowl…

After dark, the Iguana’s place is taken by huge land crabs, who, armed with pincers large enough to remove a toe, waltz across the path, clicking their pincers together in apparent agitation of having to share the path with me…

The path is not very well lit, and I am usually wearing slip-slops, so you will understand why I have been known to leap two feet into the air on finding one of these critters within inches of my feet…!!

One of the larger sharks that inhabit the lake on the island….

Yesterday I cycled to the far end of the island where few people ever go, except to take the boat back to Provo when the tide is too low for departures from Guest Dock… As expected, South Dock was deserted, except for the security guard on duty…

I cycled off the main track and down to the secluded little beach near the breakwater that had been built to prevent the channel silting up… It was one of those very hot days, and I could not wait to get into the water to cool off…

I parked the bicycle in the shade of a young Cypress tree, took off my shirt and cap, trainers and socks, and hurried into the water just metres away… I waded out to where I was hip deep in the crystal clear water, and just as I was about to dive forward, noticed a very large shadow swimming quickly towards me…!!

The smaller shark at the top of the picture was the one that got to taste my finger…!!

My eyes said, “Oh look… There’s a 5 foot Nurse Shark…!!”

My brain just heard the last word, and shouted “SHARK…!!” and “RUN…!!” to my body…

My legs said, “That’s not going to be easy…!! We’re in four feet of water in case you haven’t noticed, and dry land is a good 30 feet away…!!”

“F**k it then…!!” said my brain, “You’re on your own…!!” and promptly shut down…!!

Although Nurse Sharks are considered harmless, the index finger on my right hand can testify to the fact that they DO bite…!!

In February this year, while visiting Parrot Cay, I went to take a swim with the half-dozen Nurse Sharks who reside in the land locked saltwater lake on the island… Despite the horrified looks I received from a number of staff members, I wanted to get close-up underwater shots of me swimming with these sharks…

The lake is also home to many different species of reef fish, that breed here in the safety of the Mangroves…

I was not afraid of the sharks, even though three of them are easily over 5 foot long from tip to tip… I have dived with Ragged Tooth and Hammerhead Sharks, as well as many smaller types of reef sharks, in the Indian Ocean, and regarded them as far more likely to cause injury than a Nurse Shark would…

I waded up to my thighs into the water and was immediately surrounded by all the sharks, who came close enough for me to have to push the bigger ones away from my legs, while I tried to get into the water with them…

While I was pushing and shoving the bigger ones with my left hand, a smaller shark, maybe 3 feet long, made the bold assumption that the fingers on my right hand which were trailing in the water, represented a tasty morsel…

Nurse Sharks do not possess the teeth we normally associate with sharks, but rather a powerful set of serrated “rasp” like teeth, which they use to grip and crush crabs and other crustaceans they feed upon…

When I saw what this small shark had done to the tip of my finger, I quickly changed my mind about swimming with the larger ones…!!

The sharks were all clearly hungry, and are used to being fed by the staff, but never from within the water… Looking at my torn and bloodied fingertip, and a fingernail that was almost broken in half, I figured that if one of the bigger sharks mistook my arm or leg for food, there might well be a lot of blood in the water, and things could easily go from what can euphemistically be described as “bad to very much worse”….!!

I was standing in knee deep water when I took this photo… A few seconds later, nursing a tattered and bleeding finger, I found myself on dry land…!!

The shark that was now swimming towards me, changed course when it got to with four feet of me and circled around behind me, cutting off my escape route back to the beach… It hesitated there for a moment and completed its circle around me… It’s dorsal fin was out of the water, and I splashed water over it to see what effect that would have…

Trying out my clean shaven look to see which my wife to be would prefer for our wedding day…. The jury is still out…!!

The shark seemed to get a bigger fright than the one it had just given me, and took off into deeper water a few yards away… It then turned to face me again from about 30 feet away, and just seemed to hang there, checking me out…

I am sure it was just being curious, but the fact that it did not keep going into deeper water had me back on the beach a few seconds later…

I flung a few stones at it, which finally saw it off for good… I followed its shadow out past the rocky breakwater until I lost sight of it as it passed over the shallow reefs that are scattered at the entrance to the channel…

To be sure that it had left the area, I clambered over the rocks, out along the breakwater to see if it had really gone, and to my dismay, saw another two smaller sharks swimming lazily around the point…!!

The security guard had parked his buggy nearby and had witnessed the incident, because when I later walked over to chat to him, he said,

“You see the sharks then…?? Those things will suck the meat right off your bones, man…!!”

Needless to say, I stayed in the shallows after that, keeping a beady eye all around me in case they returned to take a much closer look at the object that was splashing about there…!!

By now my brain had come back on-line to check if all was well, and I was able to make a mental note not to go swimming there alone again…!! And not to be the first one in the water either…!!

Caribbean Blues… The kind I would gladly wish on anybody….!!

Tomorrow I will be making my way back to Washington, and from there make my final ride to New Jersey…

The two weeks I have spent here with Patricia, have flown by… We have managed to sort through a few of the arrangements for our wedding, and enjoyed the quiet times we have been able to spend together when she was not at work… It has been blissful to say the least…!!

In between Yoga and Pilates sessions, spending time on the beach and enjoying romantic, sunset dinners, I have had time to sit and ponder our immediate future, but am no closer to making a firm decision on exactly how that might shape up…

Our visit to South Africa soon after our wedding, will hopefully narrow our options, so that when we get back here in early October, we can begin work on our “Master Plan”…

We are looking forward to building a new dream together, on the backs of the wonderful ones we have both lived in recent years…

©GBWT 2012

10 comments to A Quickening of the Pulses…!!

  • Kim

    The 1st of September, was one of the best “spring days” we have seen in years… Charmz, Craig and myself had rusks and coffee for breakfast, chatting away about your return – we really are looking forward to saying “hello” to our “GB” – Mark Shuttleworth, still has not confirmed, yet…
    I could seriously wake up with the “Caribbean Blues” every morning…
    Take it slowly GB, tomorrow is another day…
    As always, BIG kisses to you both.
    K

  • Wow that is a beautiful place to spend some time! wish we were there, albeit I wouldn’t like the sharks! I know you don’t care what I think but I don’t like the shaven look! you know me cant resist! see you soon
    me

  • Mark Behr

    “In the stillness, in the quiet place, I am here” says the Lord. He is so aware of your impending excitement and the future you wish for. Hand it to Him and seek counsel – you will not be let down. I am so excited for you and Patricia. Cannot wait for your special day!

  • Sean Borrageiro

    Ronnie may you and Patricia be blessed on your speacial day and I wish you years of happiness together…I pray for a safe return for you to your family in SA…just remember we have real sharks here. After seeing the “Caribbean Blues” I’m just not sure that you will find a more wonderfull place to honeymoon but wherever you find yourselves I wish you a fantastic time.

    God Bless
    Sean

  • Carolina Correa Guzman

    What marvelous beaches!
    WOW! You look much more younger and handsome without the beard!
    To Patricia, I am sure that she will like it.
    Wish you all the bliss you can hold…..
    Take care of yourself.
    Great hug full of love,for both.

  • Carnivore

    Unbelievable, actually…. you are virtually at the end! How it seems like just last week you pulled into my yard with Jock! Ai ai ai… eish and all!
    I have followed your journey like a Jack Russell, and winced at your eina’s and rejoiced at your accomplishments. Living vicariously through your travels, it’s been an absolute blast.

    Me and Redd, Lake Malawi, Monkey Bay…. we WILL do it. And when we are there, Entebbe is not that much further, is it? Makes sense, huh… Ronnie, huh… ol’ buddy…? What an inspiratiopn you have been, especially when you have been down and just kept on keeping on.

    Lookit you now..!

    🙂

  • Carolina….!! Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments… I am quite sure that Patricia and I are going to be very happy together…!! R.

  • Meat-Eater…!! It has been the most amazing experience, and one with so many twists and turns…and I’m not talking about the roads themselves here…!! Knowing that I have had many people such as yourself following my exploits has not only inspired me, but “kept me keeping on”… I was never going to give up…ever…!! I have had a “until death do us part” deal with the Big Fella all along…!! R.

  • Antonia Leth

    I cannot believe its almost at the end, I have tuned into your travels and adventures regularly. Now what shall I do….I guess its time to create my own adventures!! Wishing you every happiness. I’m glad I had a little taste of riding on the big fella and being a tiny part of the dream. So long ago it seems sitting in Ghana listening to the plans of your world bike ride, and now it nears its end and your embarking on a new adventure. Peace and love to you and your lovely lady. Be happy WD 🙂

  • Trevor Hayes

    Everything of the best for your wedding Ronnie.

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