Life Lessons from the Physical World

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fairy Terns and Sailors

This is a fairy tern, or white tern. It lays its eggs in the crooks of trees, and then dive-bombs you if you get too close. If you are lucky, you get to fly half way around the world and see one in person.

I got a gig singing for the sailors and airmen (you know the women are "airmen" too) on a tiny atoll called Diego Garcia. DG is smack-dab in the middle of the Indian Ocean, at 7 degrees south of the Equator. It's owned by the Brits and leased to the U.S. The tropical island used to be a coconut oil plantation.

It's still a tropical island. The humidity is 100% all the time. Running on the jungle trails, even first thing in the morning, left me drenched and destroyed.

The terns don't mind it. Neither do the feral donkeys and roosters.

I was fronting a classic rock band on this job, and it was the easiest gig I ever had. Aside from the 30 hours of flight time to get there, including 3 nights in Singapore while waiting for military transport, it never seemed like work. During the day we lolled on pristine white beaches and swam in turquoise water. The reefs around the atoll were filled with brilliantly colored fishes. There was a sanctuary for breeding turtles. And there were hundreds of military personnel resting here before they were sent to more grueling assignments, including Iraq.

The band was contracted to play just four 2-hour shows in various locations on the base, but we played every day we were there, and for as long as they wanted to hear us. Those young men and women were the most appreciative audiences I've ever had. But it was I who kept thanking them, every time I got behind the microphone.

What I really wanted to do was apologize.


Anonymous bassnatureboy said...

reading of you DG trip brought me back to Grand Cayman - they also breed sea turtles - www.turtle.ky - for conservation as well as food. I had hoped to see willd turtles during our dives & I was not dissapointed. Of the several that we encountered, the coolest for me came as I was snorkeling about 50 yards off the beach directly in front of our condo. I was in about 15 feet of water heading back to shore when a rather large fellow appeared on my left. I swam up to him as he surfaced & reached out to touch his shell. He paid little attention to me as we swam side by side for several minutes before going our seperate ways
Sea Turtles Rock!!

4:53 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Nature Girl said...

bassnatureboy, your experience sounds lovely, surreal and serene... in DG the turtles were protected so we couldn't even step into the water where they hung out, let alone touch them or swim with them. But they were beautiful to see.

9:11 AM, August 19, 2005  
Anonymous bassnatureboy said...

the turtles in GC are protected as well - as are the corals, lobsters, iguanas, etc. it was only after the fact that i became aware that the are laws against "molesting" turtles. i don't believe that i crossed that line, rather that the turtle & i shared a "moment" - not that i'm qualified to enter the debate on reptilian LOVE:)
your writing lovely, thank you for sharing your stories

10:01 AM, August 19, 2005  

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