Megan and Tal Blog Bonaire: Day 4: Umlauts are cool.

by mammalfish

Megan overslept this morning. This is nothing new.

When she was done oversleeping, we all went for a snorkel at a beach called Windsock because it’s right across from the airport (every time a plane flew overhead, Megan thought we were about to be hit by a boat). It was pretty, and we saw some things—notably, a scorpionfish, which is quite poisonous and not particularly pretty (as opposed to, say, the evil lionfish), but they are hard to find and their camouflage is so impressive that they’re interesting. Also, when they swim, they stretch out pretty, textural red fins that look a bit like wings. Megan has been noticing over the past few years that whenever you see a motley collection of predators hovering over the rubbled seafloor—a group of coneys, jacks, trumpetfish, and hogfish, say—it means that they’re following an eel that is hunting, waiting for the eel to flush critters out of holes. This theory led her to several eels today, which no one else saw, so she feels a little insane but also like an eel-whisperer.

After getting home, Tal was in the mood to make sandwiches (she’s a wonderful person), so she made ham and cheese sandwiches for Megan and Grandpa (even though ham is against her religion) and grilled cheese for Grandma. She made herself leftover pasta. She is very industrious. Quick cooking tip from Tal and Wendy: always spread a little bit of mayonnaise on the outsides of your grilled sandwiches before you cook them to make them crispy. If you don’t like mayonnaise, we don’t care. You should do it anyway.

We set off in the early afternoon for another boat dive. On yesterday’s boat, there was a friendly Jewish-looking fellow named Dave who was wearing a shirt that said: “Wanted: Schrödinger’s Cat, Dead and Alive.” Megan remarked that it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen, which may have been a slight exaggeration. Today before our dive Dave remarked that he was surprised that anyone got his shirt, so Megan set about explaining the Schrödinger’s Cat issue to Tal, who had never heard of it before. Tal, to Megan’s slight surprise, was actually interested, which delighted her. As we headed out for our dive (towards the boat, onto the boat, away in the boat), this precipitated a long discussion about scientists with umlauts in their names, and their various paradoxes and theorems. Schrödinger’s Cat was fully described, dead and alive. Next, Megan attempted to describe Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, which she may have botched a bit because she doesn’t fully understand it herself. Much later on, we moved on to a discussion of Erdös numbers. Overall, it was a very sciencey, umlauty day. While we were busy discussing science and umlauts, a large brown bird—a booby, we think, which is funny—flew behind and above the boat, managing to keep up fabulously, and waiting for the boat to kick up whole schools of flying fish, which the booby then chased after. It was miraculous. At about 25 mph, in the middle of the ocean, we had fish skimming over the water on all sides, and a big beautiful bird hurrying after them. It was a ridiculous entourage.

This is very close to what we saw today: a brown booby waiting to pounce on lunch. What a ridiculous-looking bird.

Once we got geared up and into the water, our dive commenced. We meant to make it to the salt pier—the huge dock where barges moor up to take loads of salt, which are harvested on Bonaire, elsewhere, wherever. Lots of cool fish like to live under docks. Unfortunately, we were too slow to make it to the pier, and had to turn back. But still, we found a hawksbill turtle, and Tal found a lionfish, although she didn’t kill it like Ralf would have. She’s nice and doesn’t own a spear. Sadly. She says. At the very end of the dive (it turned out to be the very end, anyway), Wendy decided to drill Tal on some dive safety skills. This attempt went a bit haywire. Wendy approached Tal and made the hand-signal that means, “Hello there, old chum! I am completely out of air. We have about thirty seconds until I drown, so why don’t you hand me that spare regulator you’ve got and we’ll see how I fare?” (Diving hand signals can mean much more than you think). Or she tried to, anyway—she made the signal sort of wonky and wrong. Tal wasn’t quite sure what was happening, so in a spasm of confusion gave Wendy the regulator out of her own mouth. Wendy, apparently, then completely lost her mind, and handed Tal her spare regulator. (Neither of them, to remind you, was actually out of air.) The two of them, utterly confused and unable, due to water, to speak to one another, ended up bobbing to the surface, where Megan quickly joined them to find her two family members completely useless with laughter, and Tal shouting, “I’m so confused!” Once Wendy explained what had happened, Megan joined them in laughing, and vowed quietly to herself never to trust either of them in an underwater emergency. (Not really. They’re usually very capable.)

Tal and Megan had their now-ritual after-boat-dive snorkel (which involves swimming under the boat many times, and harassing divers). Then we headed back to Bruce’s. On the way back, Tal, to Megan’s extreme delight, asked for more interesting science factoids, so Megan explained how all of our atoms were originally in stars, where they were made out of lighter elements, and that every person’s atoms have been shuffled around so much throughout history that all of us probably have about a billion atoms that were in Shakespeare’s body. Tal digested this information for a moment, then put her hand on Megan’s shoulder, looked her in the eye, and said, very gravely, “I’m giving you my atoms.” Megan is pretty sure Tal is the funniest person who ever lived, even funnier than Shakespeare.

We also spent a while discussing palindromes. Here is our favorite: “Able was I, ere I saw Elba.” This is something Napoleon might have said had he had a penchant for palindromes.

We headed back to the apartment to ready ourselves for dinner with friends—a couple named Ben and Laura who are old friends with Grandma and Grandpa, and with Linda, who was our divemaster today and has been our friend for a very long time now. She is, to use a phrase that Tal and Wendy coined the other day, “an awesome bitch.” You have to be pretty awesome to achieve awesome bitch status, let me tell you. (Tal thinks Megan is an awesome bitch. Megan thinks the same about Tal.) Dinner was tasty and overpriced, but that’s OK. Linda regaled us with stories of her travels, most recently to Italy (everywhere in Italy, we swear), Amsterdam, and Eastern Africa. We went back to Ben and Laura’s house for delicious cake, and Linda continued regaling us with stories, this time about her experiences as the operator of a recompression tank (the thing that they put Bends-sufferers in. We don’t need to go into details, they were horrifying—but we enjoyed them nonetheless).

Now we are home, writing this blog, and we are about to go to bed. Megan will probably go outside to say hello to the ocean at least once more. Tal really should go to bed, because it’s nearing 11:30, and despite the advanced age of her brain, she is in fact only twelve. We keep having to remind people of this. Bye for now!

Advertisements