A Pleasant Day for Kayaking

by Natalie Himmel

The first observation you make from your two-person kayak is that the water is so beautiful surrounding Fiji.  The aqua-marine is enough to take anyone’s breath away.  Dancing light particles, reflections from the sun, sparkles and glitters on top of the gentle waves—it almost hurts your eyes to look at for too long, but like Semele, the mortal determined to see Zeus in his splendor, there is no way to turn away from such a sight.

An irresistible day for kayaking in the beautiful Fiji Island.

An irresistible day for kayaking in the beautiful Fiji Island. Photo courtesy of Clowee Martinez

After you take a minute to marvel at the Pacific waters, you make the second observation:  it is extremely windy and low tide, and this may not be the best kayaking conditions.  Your partner is currently mimicking an antelope who just spotting the lion—panic mode.  

Since no advancements can be made with the paddle in the low tide, the kayak is at the mercy of the wind.

“We’re going to have to get out and push the kayak back to shore,” the panicking kayak partner says.  “Or else we’ll be swept far out into sea and DIE.” 

“Okay, you go first,” you say as kindly as humanly possible.  So your panicking partner gets out and you take the time to observe the shallow ocean floor’s accessories.  

There are Dijon Mustard sponges and pale pink rocks.  Some pieces of coral look like textured mazes, no different looking than the kind you use to navigate a little, silver ball from start to finish. I see short, speckled stalks clumped together and even a few swimming creatures, including a very snake-looking one. 

Your partner, meantime, makes a little progress with the kayak.  

“Do you want to switch?” you say.  You say this, of course, out of politeness, and perfectly timed at a moment when your partner looks like she’s on a roll.  However, she stops mid-push and loosens her grip on the orange sides of the kayak.

“Thanks, that’d be great!” 

Damn it. 

You’re not very strong, you tell her, so it might be a bit of a struggle.  Just as you say this and step onto the coral, you lose your balance and flail your arms about.  This happens at the same exact time that the wind decides to let out a huge puff of air, shooting the kayak toward the deeper waters and not the shore.

Kayaking in Nadi, Fiji

Kayaking in Nadi, Fiji

Photo courtesy of Clowee Martinez

You stand still, a ‘what now’ look on your face as you squint at your partner now many yards away.  She starts to yell something when yet another gust of wind takes the kayak further out and behind a monumental cliff that hangs from a part of the forested shore on the left.  

So you’re alone, standing on a piece of coral the size of an ant, in Fiji.  The shore you need to get to is still a ways away, the rock formations to your left offer some sort of refuge.  You decide it’s worth a shot and pre-select the path you’ll take to get to the rocks.  You estimate about twenty-four large steps, and raise a foot to make the first one. 

Ew!  Your first step in on a sponge that is uncomfortably squishy and sinks the entire length of that leg into the water.  You hop to the next available step and it’s a gummy, slick surface and you want nothing to do with that so you jump to the next one without examining it first. 

Shit on an eel!  It’s a jagged sharp bit of coral and it was out to draw blood.  You are now frustrated, bleeding, and still very alone.  

The fact that you’re in Fiji helps a little, but it also drives home the fact that just because you are in paradise doesn’t mean nothing can go wrong.  You stand awkwardly on a rock, trying not to irritate your foot, but the cut’s on the bottom part between your heel and your toes and so moving your foot at all hurts.  

Suddenly, a movement catches your attention.  A chorus of hallelujahs rains down from the heavens and you open your arms wide…your partner is paddling against the wind with such intensity that she is actually moving toward you.  You wish you had a boom box and the song ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to motivate her, but you must suffice with hollering encouragements.  

The perfect spot for rest and relaxation

The perfect spot for rest and relaxation

Photo courtesy of Clowee Martinez

When she reaches you, the Fijian sun shines a little brighter, the water sparkles a little nicer, and your foot hurts a whole lot less.  You climb into that orange, gorgeous kayak you’ve never loved so much, showing your partner your foot. She wipes away beads of sweat dripping down her face and says, “I got this.”

When you get back to shore, and it does happen eventually, you both fall onto the warm sand, the color of the inside of a coconut, and let relief soak through your pores. 

Your partner sighs and looks at you and says, “We missed lunch and wasted two hours of our day.”

You sigh, feeling the sway of the relaxing Fijian way and think, Well, at least it will be a good story.