I once stayed in an octopus’s garden, under the sea.
The time? Long ago. Around Woodstock. Though, in our neck of Africa, news traveled slowly. And I never really heard about Woodstock until two years later when I saw the movie in a cramped Quartier Latin cinema.
The place? A small resort on the coast of East Africa, by the Great Reef and the Indian Ocean. Sail straight ahead and you will land in India. Eventually. Its name? Malindi. 70 miles north of Mombasa. Mombasa was already a “tourist” place. Too crowded. Malindi was more… exclusive? Or simply smaller. Nicer. I imagine that to-day it has skyscraper hotels. Not then. 🙂
We drove down from our home in Nairobi, across the large extensions of Tsavo National Park. Minding the traffic signals:
An inquisitive giraffe smiled at a stop.
A red elephant threatened to charge by the side of the road. My sister was terrified of elephants. I think it had to do with a close encounter with baby elephants at an orphanage, on the other (West) side of Africa when she was 4 o 5. She never liked elephants. I don’t like monkeys. To each his/her own.
A band of ostriches danced in the sunset:
After Mombasa, we took the ferry at Kilifi. Is there a bridge now? Arrived late at Malindi. Went to sleep by the crash of waves on the sand. The loveliest music to fall asleep.
Then followed a few days of snorkeling, sailing, swimming in the Indian Ocean. Bliss.
One day at low tide, I was walking in shallow waters, looking for shells. If you ever go there make sure to wear rubber shoes. Urchins are ferocious.
I saw something strange in the crack of a rock. Circles. Circles? Several. Yellowish. Inside a rock? I grabbed a long stick and prodded gently. The circles moved. Tentacles gripped the stick. Hard. I pulled the stick firmly and out of the rock came an octopus holding to the stick and dear life!
I carried the octopus nearer to the shore. Put it down gently on the sand. It sort of picked up its bearings and waded to somewhat deeper water. Then made a circle with its tentacles all twirled. Probably thought: “I’m a giant”. Though its head was hardly more that a hand long. Its colours shifted, from light reddish to dark brown. Was that a signal? A menace? Octopus emotions? It was probably scared “shirtless”.
See the head? and the two eyes? And how the octopus uses its tentacles to look bigger? An octopus equivalent of a bristling cat. Time has faded or modified the colours of the photo. Now Photoshop tells me the true colours were those:
I‘m not so sure whether Photoshop is right. Maybe the latter colours are truer, but to me the reddish version is better. A red octopus in an octopus garden.
Many years and miles away from the coast of Africa, I still would
…like to be under the sea
In an Octopus’s garden in the shade…
Text and photos (c) BMO and Equinoxio.
Octopus lyrics by Ringo Star. All rights reserved, etc.