Every time there are predictions and forecasts, there is a certain amount of disappointment. Thankfully there are some things that we do not try and predict or grab control of. This is certainly more relevant on the African continent than the others, as the life that is so abundant in the African nature, continuously shows more diversity and wild spontaneity than elsewhere on the planet; to those that are fortunate to experience it, well you really should open your eyes and lap it up in all its forms.
On no sort of schedule, we seem to have had quite a few Dolphins in Cape Town lately. Cruising along the Atlantic Seaboard and possibly other spots too, although I stick to the less sharky waters and seem to avoid False Bay for the perfectly legitimate reason of taking in the Atlantic instead.
I’ve heard and seen a few people mentioning these very friendly little dolphins, that go about their fun pretty close in to the shore quite often, have been back in these waters. In the past I have had some incredibly surreal and privileged swims with these little (2m) guys who love to interact below the water. Taking a breath and going underwater is where they come into their own. I see so many people that are fortunate enough to encounter the dolphins wildly in their natural and free territory, just sit and bob around in the water kind of waiting for the dolphin to come and say hi while balancing on their tails as if in an aquarium or fish circus. Obviously this aint happening out there so I take a breath and have a little look to see what is happening below the surface. I’ve had them zipping around, up and over before and it’s mental! Easily my best thing.
So yesterday I was on Camps Bay beach in the evening and had heard there were a few dolphins out earlier in the morning but was surprised to see them still there later on. Every now and again they would break the surface of the uncharacteristically warm water then quite quickly disappear for long periods until re-emerging at other places so it was quite difficult to try and meet up with them. I tried once, but they seemed to dodge some excited Argentinian rugby youngsters and screaming youngsters; whose parents were telling them how lucky they were, yet not seeming to believe it themselves as they did not actually get anywhere near the water for a swim themselves. So after an attempt to place myself where the dolphins might be and waiting in vain, I decided to just go for a swim to the other side of the bay.
When I returned the beach had emptied a bit. I was talking to my buddy and watching some pretty young Dutch tourists really enjoying the beach when we all spotted two fins again. I told Greg “Dude, one more chance. Will you watch my stuff? I am going in again to see if they want to play.” (the dolphins, not the tourists) Greg obliged and I grabbed my goggles as I ran into the empty warm water. The fins I had seen were not far out so I just swam about 40m and then treaded water waiting to see if there were any of those friendly fish about. There were. I did not have to wait long before, in the relative quiet of the Sunday evening in the sea, I heard air escaping from a little blow-hole behind me. I turned and saw a graceful dolphin breaking the water just two body lengths away from me.
It’s the most gratifying feeling which I will never get used to and never want to. The world does not quite stop but it does present itself in a very different light which I am able to lap up with nothing else in the world that matters. A true state of ecstasy as far as I can report although that is all subjective so will not try to put mine in words for you. What happened next though was something I am not sure I will ever get to experience again. As I think of it now it hangs timelessly in front of me giving me huge optimism that I can tap into this feeling any time I like.
It was just as I had seen and heard the first inquisitive dolphin that I decided to take a little drop under water to see if they wanted to play. Remember I was wearing swimming goggles so I could see quite clearly even though the water was quite murky because of a lifting swell. As I dropped my head under though, I immediately saw the dolphin really close up. In that split second I thought it appeared so close because of a lens magnification. Even if that was the case though, it could not have been this close. You see, the dolphin I was staring at appeared to be less than an arm’s length away. I realised this was not the case, but then how could it appear so close? Then I realised; the dolphin actually was this close, closer than my toes were to my fingers, easily close enough to touch; only it was not the dolphin I thought I had gone under to look at. It was in fact one of her babies.
Right there in front of me and just floating almost still like looking right at me. A baby dolphin not more than 50cm from nose to tail and then another just to the left, also just moving about in the current and not actually swimming at all. Writing it now I am in a dream and can’t connect it to the world I experience every day. The light, the movement, the energy was all something brand new to this human and it reached in and lifted my soul so that when I took a breath above the water, I began to laugh in a way I have never heard myself laugh before. Quickly returning to the water, I saw the two baby dolphins were still just hanging out at my side. They must have been just days old. So much lighter than the parents and with no energetic smooth darting movement, but a kinship to just be where they were.
I swam back to shore eventually. Not much more to say about that.