An octopus’s garden

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. πŸ™‚

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.




59 thoughts on “An octopus’s garden

    • Iya nih! πŸ™‚ Poor thing was standing up for a fight, facing the enemy. πŸ™‚ I’m pleased to say that I only stressed it for a couple of minutes to take the pix, and then let it swim away in a rush. Brave little octopus.

  1. “Its colours shifted, from light reddish to dark brown. Was that a signal? A menace? Octopus emotions? It was probably scared β€œshirtless”.’

    — octopuses (and squids) are ‘artists’ of color change – as camouflage, and to alarm a potential predators. Maybe that octopus was trying to tell you to get off his garden πŸ™‚ . Octopuses are very sneaky sea creatures, believe me, I live in tropical islands. But they’re nice creatures though.

    • Totally. Nice. This poor thing was hiding safely in a submerged rock waiting for the tide to return. I was stepping into its garden. Did quite a bit of snorkeling in Africa, saw all sorts of maine fauna, that was the only time I ever saw an octopus. Thanks for the visit and comment.

      • I enjoy snorkeling as long as I’m floating on top looking down. I swam in Lake Erie or a pool all my life….not much in there to cause injury….in the ocean, I like water clear and blue so you can see what’s coming for youπŸ˜€πŸ πŸŸthat had to be awesome growing up that close to it, waves lulling you to sleep….ahh….

      • Nice. I understand the need to watch down. Plus the waves lulling us to sleep was great. though the African village was right behind the house, and I swear they had a “party” or celebration (crops, newborn, such or such god…) So there was music, drums, balafon, kora every night. I felt like in a Tarzan movie all my childhood. πŸ™‚

      • I grew up close to Lake Erie but we had a local village pool that I lived at. It must have been awesome growing up that close….except in a storm of course, the waves lulling you to sleep, so peaceful…..I like clear blue waters and snorkeling but while floating above watching….there’s Eels down there you know…..can’t let them get me…or Jaws…..πŸ˜€πŸŸπŸ 

      • Eels? Haha! Actually storms were fabulous. My blog is called Equinoxio, because at the Equinox, we used to have very high tide, just right below the terrace, and storms. It felt like being in a ship in a major storm. Loved it!

      • Lake EriΓ©? Hmmm. Cleveland? (Didn’t realize Buffalo was also on the lake) The closest I got to that was Detroit where I went once for a presentation to GM. Must’ve been an interesting place to grow by. Though surely freezing in the winter. How’re you doing with the snow? Not hit too hard?

    • Indeed. I lived my entire childhood inside a fairy tale book. Which later, as I “returned” to France did hit me a bit. I realized that there was no frontier or wall between the adventure books I was reading and my every day life. So I kinda assumed that exotic adventure was the norm. Which it is not. But, then one must look beyond the walls and look for that adventure. You went all the way beyond Down Under to jump from a platform. πŸ™‚ TrΓ¨s bien. Keep dreaming. The dream is the real thing.

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