It claimed to be the adventure of a lifetime and while is was pretty damn fabulous I am hoping I still have yet to experience my adventure of a lifetime (and in any case for now that honor must go to my Paris ¬ Leningrad trip in 1991). Anyhow…the “Power Boat Adventure” from Paradise Island: a big power boat…and a couple island stops that include feeding iguanas, stingrays and sharks. Your get to live your very own episode of Wild Kingdom! (For those not of a certain age and who didn’t grow up in the States: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Kingdom).
Step 1: get into very big powerboat…maneuver yourself to get the perfect seat, make sure your hair is tied back…and go!
Step 2: land at small deserted island put grapes on the end of long sticks and feed the local iguanas while marveling at the amazing water surrounding you.
Step 3: allow yourself to get caught up in the cheesy silliness as the theme to Miami Vice plays while the power boat races around a couple islands
Step 4: sting rays and sharks!
Step 5: eat fabulous fresh grilled fish (whose carcasses were fed to the sharks) and drink up the rum punch at the open bar…and then lounge languidly in the water, pretending you are an oligarch and this is your island (or I guess Richard Branson if you prefer crazy capitalist to shady business tycoon).
So, back to those sting rays and sharks. The boat lands on a private island, disgorges everyone (including the extremely annoying “Southern Family” with the really supremely annoying pushy father…I feel for poor Jessiah!) and you explore a bit while the guides fillet the fish for lunch while standing ankle deep in water so as to attract the sting rays and sharks with the smell of fresh fish.
Once the bait, err, I mean lunch, is prepared everyone lines up in the water on their knees and we get to feed the stingrays. I guess the sharks don’t choose to come to the very shallow water and the guides have long poles to poke at the sharks if they come too close. You aren’t supposed to poke at the rays, just let them slide across your body and suck up the fish you are holding out for them. They are very curious and glide over your feet, hands, legs…whatever they can touch…and their skin is like silk. Despite being surrounded by people you get very caught up in the rays…the way they glide through the water…the feel of their skin, the way they look at you. Very soothing and calm. Which is not what can be said for the sharks.
The “Sharks!”. So now everyone is confident having lounged around with sting rays, time to feed the sharks (which the guides do while rest of us watch). A fish carcass is tied to a fat rope then tossed out to where the sharks have been circling. When a shark latches on it is dragged to the shallow water where the guide will then lift its head out of the water for all to see. Yep…lots of teeth and seemingly black eyes and totally mesmerizing in an adrenaline-pumped way. Giant, muscular eating-machines. At some point, once the guide gets his shark-groove going, he invites a few ‘guests’ to help him hold the rope connected to the shark. Poor Jessiah, I think he is the oldest of four brothers (I don’t know any of the other bother’s names since Jessiah’s father was only shouting “Jessiah!!” every two minutes). Jessiah was standing behind the guide and Jessiah’s father was standing next to me at the end of the group. He kept shouting for Jessiah to “Step up, grab that rope!, Don’t lolly gag…just do it Jessiah, get up there, Jessiah, Jessiah…go on Jessiah…do it…c’mon Jessiah get up there!!”. While he was shoutng he was slowly stepping into deeper water (the better to view and shout at Jessiah). At one point a shark swam within inches of his ankles and he was so busy shouting at Jessiah he didn’t notice. An evil part of me was hoping would take one more step back and then….now that would have been an adventure of a lifetime! But no, the shark was probably put off by the shouting.
After the sharks were fed a few people snorkeled over to the neighboring reef and then lunch was served. Fabulous, fresh, grilled Grouper and Mahi Mahi, accompanied by a nice little rum punch. It was nice eating fish that I had seen filleted…and had been shared with both the rays and the sharks.
Finally, time to go. Pile into the boat, speed back to Paradise Island and throw the annoying family into the harbour…oops, no, that last bit didn’t actually happen…damn.