Gloomy Curacao

I have had this post done for a long time (well the pictures and videos) but I kept coming back to edit the words because this time Curacao was different.

Rewind with me for a second; 2018 was one of the best years of my life. I was single for the first time in way too long and I took full advantage. I said yes to everything, traveled constantly, did things that wifed-up-me would never have done, made new life-long friendships – all in all I rediscovered how awesome and adventurous I am. I had a steady job and I decided that for all of 2018 I wasn’t going to worry about anything except living my life to the fullest.

As the new year approached I kept telling myself that it was gonna be all about my future and making big moves. So 2019 hit hard.

I kept giving myself unrealistic deadlines for decisions that would impact the rest of my life. I started to feel lonely and settled for companionship even when it wasn’t what I wanted… which lead to sticky situations and tremendous guilt.

In 2018, I learned how to be happy. 2019 came in hot with rejection and sadness.

Curacao colors were not as bright nor the ocean as tempting – I just wanted to go home. But I didn’t want to show that weakness to anyone. I just covered it up with a smile and told myself I was being crazy.

Which was a crazy thing to do – because my intuition is ALWAYS spot on. Five odd months later I am kicking myself in the ass because if I was just honest about how I was feeling and let myself be sad for a second I would have had a blast just like the first time.

Damn. Even just writing all that out made me feel so free.

Punda & Otrobanda

We did all the same things except this time I was 5th wheel. & Sad. When I am odd wheel out *& happy* I love it and theres no awkwardness and I’m running around living my best life… but sad me was glued to my phone.

You may be thinking “you’re a blogger\instagramer person thing, you must ALWAYS be glued to your phone.”

FALSE. Bears beating Battlestar Galactica type FALSE.

I am all about living in the moment. Yes, I do take pictures on pictures but I don’t post until there’s down time.

I was texting nonstop and going through social media as if my life depended on it. I needed constant stimulation so that my sad thoughts wouldn’t come out and wipe the smile off my face.

Sadness is exhausting.

Sail to Klein Curacao

I swam and walked Klein alone.

I could live in this lighthouse. This coral panel is to die for.

I am never sad in saltwater. Unfortunately, I had to dry off at some point.

The weather and landscape this time was much drier but we saw way more sea turtles. This a juvenile. I fixated the GoPro on him and only gave the slightest tap of my fin to follow without alarm. We hung out for quite some time actually.

I stared at him and his deformed shell wondering what happened. Maybe it was a birth defect. Maybe he, too, was sad – so sad that a part of his shell sunk.

He just kept eating. Occasionally he would peer up.

His judgmental little eyes saying “you’re so dramatic.”

…accurate.

Off-Roading

We went on another ATV excursion and before you continue to scroll through the pictures please watch this short ‘How-To’ video on coping with being the 5th wheel on a romantic ATV expedition on a tropical island paradise…

Do not try this at home… or anywhere

Most of my life I would just get angry instead of sad. Anger sucks. It makes everything worse. It’s an emotional wall we put up to protect ourselves that usually collapses on our own shoulders. After feeling true happiness for almost all of 2018 I couldn’t let myself go back.

Visited Family

Mitzi’s grandmother’s house has been the setting of all my day dreams since the first time I visited in October.

Yet not even this dreamy destination could I forget the weight of my heavy heart.

Jan Thiel Beach

We did all the same things we did on my first trip and it was all as gorgeous and breath taking as ever… despite what my gray tinted glasses lead me to believe.

FYI if any one of you is ever feeling sad or some kind of way please message me. I love helping people and all you guys have helped me so much… sometimes its good just to get it out. TBH best way to get ahold of me is Instagram. Just don’t be creepy.

Which I realize is a lot to ask for nowadays but like just try.

Shaking off this funk took forever. I failed a lot. Shut out the world constantly.

It took baby steps, like appreciating flowers again.

Spending time in nature and with animals always helps.

Eventually I stopped expecting so much of myself; Forgave myself for my failures and shortcomings.

In 2018 I learned to be happy. 2019 I learned how to be sad.

2020 will meet the best me there has been yet.

Good to be back!

Stay Fascinated.

Dying Stars

These are relatively health coral heads:

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(That clearly do more squats than me)

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They are starlet corals.

Growing up I would stand on the rails of the boat with my eyes squinted looking into the blue horizon as my dad drove the boat. Each of us waiting for a signal from the other. We were looking for these massive heads. Sometimes we would be fishing, sometimes lobstering, most times just wanting to be surrounded by the animals we love. Starlet corals such as these provide homes for many marine species just as most corals do.

The ones in the pictures above were enormous and gorgeous.

The ones below are also enormous and gorgeous… but dying. They are a short swim away from the ones above but just that small change in depth (and therefore temperature) makes all the difference for these sedentary creatures.

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This is the first in what I sure will become a whole series of posts about coral bleaching. It is short because I don’t want to overwhelm you with facts. Growing up in Miami… or probably near any coast, we hear it all the time. We learn about coral bleaching in school, hear about it in the news, well here is my first hand account of coral bleaching.

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As coral polyps overheat they expel colorful algae that live in their tissues which changes them from the orange brown, to this light purple, and eventually their transparent tissue reveals the white skeleton beneath. Death and decay follow soon after.

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Beauty in death?

 

 

Stay fascinated.

I Found a Pole

If you read my about me you know that I “[find] wonder in the ordinarily mundane” (#wordmagic) and this post & pole will serve as proof.

I found a pole in the ocean and I loved it.

Two poles to be precise. All ocean-goers know the excitement of finding any big structures in open water. It means marine life will flock to it… just as we do. Guess we aren’t so different from animals after all.. ARE WE???

Swimming next to them made me feel so small. Here’s my tail for scale:

Sirenas(Spanish for mermaids) are actually very real and have legs and elongated carbon fiber fins… as seen here. In this picture. Of me. Specifically of my legs\tail.

Look I’m a mermaid. So whatever I am is what a mermaid is. That logic is sound and if you can’t follow I can’t help you.

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Young bar jacks and a few sergeant majors circumnavigated the pole top to bottom the entire time I was near, picking off little morsels and staying just a few cautious feet away.

At one point I took note of this big snook and chased him around… snapping pics with crossed fingers. I got a few good ones.

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See him down there? ^

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Is a pole on the ground still a pole? Yes, obvío.

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Inside of dead pole:

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Up & back down again following my little blue bar buds.

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Hiding under the big pole were some parrotfish and a cute pork fish.

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I hear parrots are delicious but you shouldn’t eat them… Does anyone know whyyyy?

I’ll give you the time it takes to admire and scroll past this pic to think about it.

Parrotfish are ravenous. They eat a lot of algae… and yes they eat coral too but the benefits outweigh the costs… they basically clean up reefs. When a rock (or coral skeleton) is covered in algae, coral polyps (baby coral) cannot grow on it. So these parrots basically demolish algae and provide safe landing for highly endangered coral pups. Actually, some studies show that overfishing of parrotfish has been more detrimental to corals than climate change. In Florida, I am pretty sure it is illegal to eat them\kill them.. I know for certain that you cannot spear them but I couldn’t find anything about fishing for them. However, people with proper licenses can collect them for aquariums but just because something is legal doesn’t make it right… RIGHT? Right. How scientific do you want me to get on this blog? Because…

*wipes nonexistent dirt off shoulder* I can get real scientific ❤

There was a hog too. Chased her around for a bit.

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Question. Hogfish are more closely related to which of the following:

A) Wild Hog (lechón)

B) Snapper

C) Parrotfish

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Yes, we call them hog “snapper” but hogfish are actually wrasses which make them most closely related to wild hogs like the ones out in Africa.

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JUST KIDDING… just wanted to make sure you were awake. Wrasses are very closely related to parrotfish ❤ They both are very colorful groups of fish and honestly do look alike.

The give away is that parrots have those big buck teeth to scrape up coral and algae while wrasses have something a little different going on. You know that saying thick lips sink ships? It’s was about wrasses… probably not but let me live my life. Their lips are thiiiiick…  because they have protractile jaws which allow them to very quickly extend their mouth outward to snap up prey. Thick lips kill fish more like it. #science

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This is just height of “me-time.” Me & Bullet taking pics and chasing fish.

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Those orange patterns of life are made up of sponges, fire coral, Christmas tree worms, and other such sedentary cuties. Yes, fire coral is cute… and ANNOYING.

SUPER IN THE WAY.

LEAVES SCARS FOR DAYS

But cuuute.

I imagine my future husband will describe me similarly.

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The patches remind me of that perfect crispy layer on the top of homemade brownies… umff. Hay hambre (= “there is hunger” in Spanish)… (= send me brownies)… I make some bombass brownies guys… *currently thinking if I have all the ingredients to make some real quick*

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Alas, no. I do not. I push forward devoid of chocolatey satisfaction.

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Isn’t life stunning?

If you aren’t convinced yet check out these two they’re my favorite from this dive:

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Try to tell me there isn’t magic there.

I’ll tell you to go see a therapist…

 

(which is what I call boat dealers)

 

 

Stay Fascinated.

Jerry & Grover

Goliath groupers can be terrifying.

To be fair every animal on Earth (including humans) can be dangerous… especially humans. Anything with a mouth can bite, okei guys?

Goliath groupers can weigh up to 800 lbs and grow to over 8 ft long. These babes are protected and it is illegal to harvest them in Federal or State waters. It’s actually illegal to even lift them out of the water once they are big since they can crush themselves with their own weight (like most large fish\marine mammals). Goliaths can swallow sharks whole (google it) and they make a deep barking noise that has had me drop Bullet (what I affectionately call my GoPro) more than once.

But they are cute and have adorable bulldog faces. Don’t fight me on this.

There are two Goliaths I am particularly fond of in the lower keys.  Jody & Jessica Westbrooks of Livin’ the Keys Life (subscribe to their channel it is aaamazing) let me know that the locals call them Jerry & Grover ♥

Here is a shot of them from the boat:

Goliath groupers approaching boat

Jerry is very friendly.
Here he is saying hi to each member of the family:

Grover is much bigger and much more shy (the big fish always are, amirite?)

The first time I met these two it was a really bad weather day. Not sure how I convinced my dad to take us all the way out to the reef… #daddysgirl ♥

Rough chop, awful visibility, and the current was roaring… needless to say I was the only one in the water. I know, I know my mom tells me all the time… I’m a problem.

It’s never not been worth it.

Anyway, I am going up & down fighting all elements of nature – happily – and as I am heading into the boat I see two big brown masses hanging out underneath her.

My little heart drops for .5 seconds. If you couldn’t tell already from my first post I am 10/10 dramatic. But I bounce back faster than I fall so it’s fine.

So heart drops and I pop my head out of the water and yell for Bullet.

Most of my videos of Grover are me chasing him down and quickly giving up… because they only look slow and lethargic…

Can you tell how murky it was?

SIDE NOTE: did you catch this little piece of fire coral in the video? Rewatch. He stung me to high hell. He deserves his 5 min of fame. Does anyone else ALWAYS get hit by fire coral or just me?

They were both apprehensive the first day we met. Even Jerry kept a safe distance. However, every time after that he has been all up in my face & making my mom scream through her snorkel because she swears he wants to eat her toes. I’ve read they like crabs the most and I know they will swallow a fish whole while it struggles on a line… I should look into their affinity for toes.

big Goliath grouper swimming away

One of the more recent times we ran into the duo, Grover gave me another heart attack. I was swimming along minding my business when he barked from behind me. I promise I felt my brain rattle. We probably scared each other . I grabbed some air real quick and dove down again to catch this little video:

Forever avoiding me but Jerry is at a point where he begs for pets. He rubs up on our legs and fins and gets all up in our faces. It’s endearing… Friends and family we have taken do not initially agree.

I think that was roast beef one of my little cousin threw over the boat. He didn’t like it either. He needs a taste bud adjustment. I love roast beef.

Jerry is a total babe though so he is forgiven:

Goliath grouper face
Goliath grouper and yellow tail
adolescent Goliath grouper next to boat
Goliath grouper fish
goliath grouper swimming below
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Keep coming back and together we will vanquish all your preconceived notions about the “monsters” of the sea. Sharks, Goliath groupers… what do you guys want to see next?

Stay Fascinated.