by Sharon Spence Leib

So you know me: always the first landlubber to hop off the ship, soon as it docks. But there I am, your Lazy Highness, hangin’ off the balcony, watching three hundred Holland America passengers trudge into Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Me? I’m headin’ straight to the cool blue pool for a mojito and a nap. 

photo via flickr by FloodkOffThree mojitos later, Jennifer pinches my ankle. Even my best friend can be annoying sometimes.

 “Hey sloth,” she whines, plopping onto the chaise lounge next to me, “Wanna kayak with me tonight?”

“Kayak in the dark?” I mumble. “Why?

 “To see green glowy creatures. At Laguana Grande Bay, off the island’s east coast.”

“Do aliens drink mojitos?” I reply. “Ok, sign us up.”

At sunset, we take a bus with the other passengers, and then scramble into those cheapo orange sit-on-top kayaks. “Follow me,” calls Carlos. He’s one of those too good-looking guides you think about seducing, but not in a kayak, I guess.

Anyway, Carlos thinks we know what we’re doing, so he takes off and next thing we’re inside this claustrophobic tunnel of mangroves, bouncing our kayaks off monstrous tree roots. I’m thinking “If a snake falls off a tree onto my neck, I will kill myself and then Carlos, or vice versa.”

But no snakes, so we keep on following Carlos, whom we can barely see, except his ponytail. Then we emerge into the lagoon, it’s Magic: green sparks from our paddles are flying everywhere, even into our frizzy hair. It’s raining, we’re soaked, who cares? This place is like the Fourth of July with green glowy creatures having a party. Even the frogs are happy, they’re so loud we can barely hear Carlos giving us a nature lesson.

“Ladies and gents, welcome to tonight’s dinoflagellate party,” Carlos whispers.

photo via Flickr by UltraBobbin“The freaky green lights you’re seeing are single celled algae. These cool creatures start their lives as one cell, and then divide into four cells. All by themselves, without partners. In five days. Now that’s creativity!”

“I knew we don’t need no stinking men,” Jen hisses. All I can see is her teeth, and you know she got them whitened before the cruise…. 

“So what, you might ask, is their purpose?” Carlos goes on. “The dinoflagellates are food for all the baby fish, sharks, and rays in the lagoon. When a dinoflagellate is touched, he or she emits a light called bioluminescence. “              

“Are they giggling or complaining?” I wonder silently.

“Well miss, why don’t you ask them?” asks Carlos.  Never mind about seducing this guy, he’s a weird mind reader.

“I’m going for a Dino Swim,” Jennifer informs me. “I promisenot to turn the kayak over,” she says, sliding out of our kayak. “If you turn it over, I’ll leave you here to die,” I threaten. I wouldn’t leave her but I have to maintain some control, you know?

Jen has always looked good in green, but tonight, the woman is Golden Grammy Emerald.

I imagine the dinoflagellates hugging Jen, applauding her free spirit. Wish I had the courage to swim in a dark bioluminescent bay.

“I crown you Bioluminescent Babe,” I yell.

“Call me BB for short,” she answers.

Paddling silently back to shore, we realize we’ve been to a very cool party.

Like all the stars in our Galaxy fell to Earth and floated gently in the Sea. It was that kind of magnificent.


Sharon Spence Lieb is the creator of THE GLOBETROTTERS, 65 first person travel/photo features about her "Intense Encounters on Planet Earth." Read her adventures, published monthly by The Moultrie News in Mt. Pleasant, SC: Click Travel, scroll the page, then plan your own adventures! Sharon is the author of guidebooks on Chicago, Trinidad, Santa Fe, Seoul and Florida. 

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