We did as Bas said. All of it. And at times, it was a bit hard to remember which part to do next. Oh yeah, we go down past the waves and back up.
It turned out to be completely awesome – tackling the waves. Of course we would have never done it without Bas. But Bas is a local legend. A very calm, very understated one. Perhaps that’s what you get when you mix Dutch, hippy and legend together. You get Bas.
And we so wanted to see sharks before we go home. Like most Caribbean islands, sharks are wily here. They’re around. Only sharks tend only to frequent places people don’t. This includes Bonaire’s east coast.
So, you have to brave the waves and conditions to go out to see them. And Baby Beach is considered the best place. ‘Baby’ because the reef is a well-known nursery for juvenile sharks.
Once we got through the waves, we spent the first part of the dive taking in the scenery. There weren’t so many coral heads. You do get loads of sea fans, blowing in the light surge. And when we went deeper, it was bright white sand.
What would it feel like when we saw a shark, I wondered? The girls had never seen one before; not diving. Jack and I had last seen shivers of them in Australia a long time ago. Would it be unnerving now? Frightening?
The worst part it turned out was the waiting – and thinking about it. When the shark; a metre-or-so long juvenile Caribbean reef shark, did swim purposefully towards us, it was strange. Like suddenly, it seemed strange when they aren’t there.
It helps I think that the shark both swims and looks like the most perfectly engineered creature down there. The way it moves, swishing from side to side is a force of streamlined nature. Its pectoral fins straight out to its side like wings. Being adjusted up or slightly down as necessary. And curious! This is not typical for the underwater world. Not the larger creatures anyhow.
In our experience, turtles and the like always end up swimming away from you. This shark swam around us, over us, under us and back around. Once it decided to check us out, it didn’t want to leave us. And yes, each time around, it came closer.
It was golden. Completely golden in colour. With a bright white cat’s eye. We watched it hypnotised, as it approached us. It acts so differently to other sea creatures, you can’t help but wonder if it wants to play. It has that feeling – like a dog. Then you remember it’s a shark. Duh. This is what sharks do.
So – is it friendly, is it curious or is it testing the waters for anything it could potentially eat? Perhaps all three. No wonder it is top of the food chain. With the way it moves and behaves, this golden creature deserves to be. No question. We want to see one again. And again. Maybe not too big though.
We got back to land easily. Turns out you just ride the underwater waves, going back and forth to the shore. When we were in waist height, we stood up. Surfer’s hut just in front of us. Bas and all of us grinning. We discovered it was Bas’ first dive of the year. Not his last though. Apparently, he’ll march out into almost anything.