The New Zealand Diaries: of godly dolphins and the silver lining of the sea-sickness cloud (05/01/16)

The sun is shining, making this the perfect day for “domestic chores” such as washing (and drying!) piles of filthy clothes, cleaning and airing the camper (bye bye accumulated humidity) and, of course,  a leisurely brunch outside. My next door camping- neighbours have left and so I have unashamedly claimed the camping table between our two plots, and with a nice cuppa,  a duck who has adopted me and some warmth,what better time to try and sum up the multi-facetted morning I have had (some might say it would also be a good time for some maths GCSE work but I am making that second priority for now).

Let’s put the great news simply and succinctly: I swam with dolphins this morning—actually swam and interacted with them. It was the most glorious experience: not only was I already full of excitement on the (5.30am) boat journey out at having seen several albatrosses, but then to actually see and swim with dolphins…..what a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Bible should officially mark “dolphin-creation-day”–they are truly unique, beautiful, glorious creatures. As we had been told, they are playful and do respond to humming  and singing. Various songs were to their liking but “Great is thy faithfulness” beat them all…..I had 3-4 dolphins around me every time I hummed it, a hand’s length away from me. I could have touched their silverly, silky bodies and patted their cute noses but of course did not, in line with guidance from the “Encounter Kaikoura” team. Dolphins glide through the water like smooth gentle silver arrows and have such loving kind faces that I felt God looking straight at me when I looked into their eyes. When I lifted my head out of the water, I could see them jumping and doing flips for us.

The photos do not do the beauty of those moments justice and to tell you the truth, it was not me who took them but one of the friendly staff, to whom I am eternally endebted. By the time the photo opportunity came along, I was hugging multi-coloured buckets, too ill to even move anywhere. So I sat and gazed at dolphins, more albatross and a sea lion colony on a rock near the harbour while she kindly took some shots for me. Despite my depending bond with the bucket, I still felt awe, wonder and joy at all I was seeing–had those sights been the last granted to me on earth, that would have been okay.

Being very sick on  an “Encounter Kaikoura trip” also gives you other perks: I got my own pick-up (too dizzy to walk to the bus when we got off the boat), was settled on a bean-bag outside their office with a cuppa and ginger biscuits, got to dry my clothes on their line and, once the world eventually stopped spinning, I had some lovely chats to the very caring staff there (thanks, Bev, Sharon and others!) and was also able to see the giant washing machines in which  wetsuits are washed.

In short, whilst my snorkelling and boat trip days may well  be over, I went out with a glorious bang in many rich ways–and can look foward to spotting whales tomorrow not from a boat but from a plane on a short enough spin to be able to cope with it all.