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We discovered Yal Ku Lagoon, in Mexico’s tiny, ecologically protected town of Akumal, quite by accident. Driving down the bumpy, pot-holed main road of Akumal we were on a mission to explore. As we drove, the road branched to the left, leading away from the ocean, rambling through thick jungle brush occasionally interspersed with beautiful villas. Suddenly we could see water once more, glimmering between blossoming shrubs & landscaped yards. Pulling over, we grabbed water bottles, snorkel gear & towels, setting out to find a trail that would not trespass on private property. A wide, weedy path opened up in the rough, jungle brush behind a sign which hung haphazardly from a tree. Whatever message it had imparted had long ago been worn away. Time to explore!
The trail bordered an impenetrably coarse, low thicket which edged a flat, rocky plateau leading to the water. After scrambling through a deep ditch, we finally reached the rocky ledge, where the hot sun reflected off the smooth stone. The flirty breeze which had been keeping us cool had now become comatose and blistering bands of sun beat down on the back of my head and neck. I was regretting the fact that we’d forgotten to apply sunscreen.
As we stopped for a breather, we found a wonderful example of nature taking care of itself. Most of the holes had become tiny nurseries, full to the brim with throngs of colorful fry & fingerlings. In the silence, as we paused to contemplate our find, I could hear splashes and slithers all around us as startled lizards scuttled to safety, unaccustomed to human presence in this remote area. Moments later we were standing on the edge of surely one of the most beautiful natural aquariums in the world. As far as the eye could see, water & rock formed a stunning landscape.
There was not another soul in sight. I couldn’t wait any longer to submerge my sweltering skin in the silken water. Before Steve even had time to put the snorkel gear down, I had noiselessly slunk into cool, liquid glass. I could feel it refresh my burning skin, the coolness closing over my superheated brain. Donning my mask, I entered a magical, exotic dimension, enveloped by darting, swaying, whimsical creatures. Fifty or sixty bright yellow and black striped Sergeant Majors hovered in a large group, taking turns to approach my mask and stare at me curiously, eye to eye. Black Angel Fish seemed fearless, their wide, razor-thin bodies striped with vibrant yellow on black velvet. Their bodies were easily larger than a man’s spread-fingered hand, and their big, expressive eyes and triangular little faces ended in a pucker, like old-fashioned matrons expressing extreme displeasure; their big bodies gliding hypnotically. A Black Hamlet, his body more of a dark blue than black, hovered curiously near, as though debating whether to ask a question of me. Bright bands of hundreds of small neon fish glittered, forming a golden shield as they hovered around a cloud of striped Military fish.
Then suddenly something deep, deep down in the shadowy depths caught my eye. It was large enough to send a shiver of apprehension snaking down my spine. It was easily three-and-a-half feet long, and quite thick. I floated, suspended in a sea of wonder, delight, and a little fear as it came closer to the surface. His brilliant colors caught and reflected prisms of sunlight. A Parrotfish. A really exceptionally large Parrotfish. A brilliant lime green painted his back, and ribbons of blistering orange and flaming scarlet made him look like he’d swallowed a fluorescent light tube. Even his eyes were huge, giant black orbs glistening as they carefully perused the Lagoon waters for tasty treats. Blink. Blink. Occasionally he would peck delicately at the coral, sending showers of debris to the sandy Lagoon floor. He moved slowly, gently, completely oblivious to our presence above; if he was aware, he was unconcerned. I floated, mindful that I was holding my breath with wondrous fascination, feeling as though I had happened upon a magical creature like a unicorn.
I glimpsed movement again, and to my delight saw another Parrotfish drifting lazily with the bottom current, this one in fervent shades of turquoise blue, royal purple and hot pink. I felt at that moment that I could just float there forever, awed by the presence of such beauty. I could hear them as they munched and crunched on the coral delicacies below.
My musings were cut short by harsh noises from the shore. I watched sadly as our paradise was shattered by a large family with children who promptly began to shout as father leaped wildly into the water to entertain them with a resounding belly-flop. A large tri-colored Heron who had been fishing quietly nearby flapped her enormous wings and lifted herself out of the Lagoon, flying into the knotted jungle. When I looked beneath the surface once more, the Parrotfish had disappeared.
I wished I could tell the family that they would see so much more if they would approach the Lagoon with reverence and respect for the gentle, quiet lives of the creatures who made their homes within. It seemed to me that this Lagoon was almost like a great, sacred chamber full of treasures; tranquility the key to unlocking the door.
Read my entire story about swimming in Yal Ku Lagoon here: http://www.newjetsetters.com/swimming-with-the-fishes-at-yal-ku-lag...