I almost forgot this fest, and I'm thankful for Tara Tyler' timely email that helped me remember. I'm not sure really hit this fest the "right" way . . . and this time, it wasn't even on purpose . . . sigh. Here goes.
I'm still mostly on blogging hiatus (other than plans for visiting), so I'm re-posting an old post, from the most thrilling experience I've ever had (other than watching my youngest cliff jump last year from 25-30 ft up with her cousins - that nearly gave me a mom heart attack).
So, this is "as-is" and says "last night" when in reality this post is from two years ago in April 2011.
We swam with Manta Rays off the Kona coast last night. With no previous experience snorkeling for my daughters or for me, we slid off a Snorkel and Dive boat, The Manta, with my husband, two professional divers, and 16 other newbies. The sun had just dipped below the horizon before we put on our snorkel gear, and were handed flashlights that strapped to our wrists. My oldest daughter was nervous about getting off the boat. My youngest had trouble with her snorkel mask a few times on the swim over to the dive and snorkel site from the boat. I’ve had panic attacks in open water before, and felt myself shivering, but I stayed brave for my daughters.
Sound totally crazy? It probably was. The water was completely dark, except for the bobbing lights attached to our snorkel masks.
When we reached the snorkel and dive site, we floated, keeping our legs and bodies straight out around the circle of floats, and our lights pointed down into the center of the ring. Divers below us had lights set up on the shallow (at least 40 feet) shelf beneath us. We saw a ray swooping in circles over by another group. We could hear their shouts of excitement. We waited, and waited, just seeing the edges of the rays outside our circle. Then one swam up to eat the krill attracted by our lights.
The rays do this swooping circle to feed, with their bellies flashing white just below the surface. We were floating right above them. At least 6 different rays visited our circle, coming up right underneath us. One came less than a foot away from me, belly to belly, and I just tried to stay as still as I possibly could. I was scared, but elated, amazed, awed, shivering from excitement and a little cold. I made everyone laugh by shouting into my snorkel, “Holy Cow! That’s close enough. That’s good. Close enough!” as the ray circled again and again, getting closer every time.
The smallest rays that was saw last night were 6ft across, and the largest was 14ft. Thankfully, "Chloe" stayed down with the divers. I wasn't sure I wanted a 14 ft ray next to me. Maybe if I did it again, I would be braver.
The Kona Manta Rays are the only rays that are safe to swim with in the wild. They have no stingers. They have no teeth. They are very shy, and will swim away if people try to approach them or touch them. However, if they come to feed next to you, and you stay still, you can swim “with” them close.
My youngest daughter, aged nine, said it was the best night of her life. My oldest said it was awesome, definitely one of the coolest things she has ever done. My husband loved it, and surprisingly, I did too. Take that, fear of water!
A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Nancy LaRonda Johnson for her new book, Salted with Fire!
The Blurb in her words:
Black magic, murder, insanity, humor, honor and devotion. Salted With Fire is a journey of flash fiction and poetry that shows my (Nancy's) writing transformation from worldly to wanting to please God.
Flash fiction is my (Nancy's) passion; poetry is my release. I love creating a complete story, with a beginning, middle and end, with twists, humor, drama, compassion and horror, all under 1000 words. Salted With Fire isn’t just a book of stories and poetry, it is my journey as a writer, from writing only for the mere joy of it regardless of the message, to writing stories that highlight God’s will for people, even if the stories themselves are not religious in nature.
Inside are fifteen flash fiction pieces and twelve poems with full-color pictures, and short Biblical discussions after each story.
Oh, and my short story and poetry collection, Dragonfold and Other Adventures is out today at Createspace and Amazon (soon in ebook). Plus there's a Goodreads Giveaway for it! For a mini preview, go here!