Glowing in the Dark
So, I realized last week that I’m not the best kayaker. I had been a couple of times (from what I remembered), but couldn’t seem to get the rhythm with my impatient partner from New York. If he told me to go left, I went right and vice versa. After about five minutes, the instructor suggested that we all “switch partners,” aka match the Kansas girl up with the guide so that she wouldn’t turn a two-hour kayaking trip into a night-long excursion. To be honest, I wasn’t there for the kayaking though. I was there to look at one of Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays.
I left the media group I was exploring the island with to go on this kayaking adventure at 9 p.m. on Friday. At first (especially after the little New Yorker mishap), I was questioning exactly what I had gotten myself into. The kayaking trip took us through a mangrove channel that was pitch-black. I could hardly see what was in front of me, let alone what may or may not have been hanging from the trees. (Don’t worry; the guide showed us the mini boa constructor sitting atop a nest with his flashlight.) After that, I tried my best to keep the kayak as straight as possible.
Once I got the hang of it, I started looking up at the sky, and the stars reminded me of being in the fields in Kansas—so bright, with visible constellation patterns, creating a blanket of glitter above me. And soon that same sparkle was in the water. My paddle began to glow, and the guide told us to splash water on our legs so that we could see the shimmering, diamond-like droplets. We had reached the beginning of the waters from the biobay, each gallon of which is filled with about 500,000 bioluminescent dinoflagellates (a type of plankton) that, when moved, glow in the dark.
Seeing the luminosity meant we were close, and when we reached the bay, we paddled across. Glowing fish were splashing in front of us and the waves were rippling into a faint lime-green color. The guide stopped us and told us to put our feet in the water, and I splashed mine around like a four year old in a bathtub. I couldn’t stop looking at the bright color around my feet as I traced figure eights.
To say it was “like nothing I’ve ever experienced” is about as cliche as someone telling me, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, are you?” But after the guide rallied us all to go back, I found myself disappointed that I had to leave. Like all child-like revelries, my time in the biobay had come to an end, which only meant one thing: I’ll have to go back.
For more on Puerto Rico and all its many offerings, stay tuned for our story about the island in our August issue.
Image: Kayakers on a bioluminescent bay, courtesy of Puerto Rico Convention Bureau
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