How do you describe the colours and patterns of tropical fish?
I had one day of glorious snorkeling experience in ideal conditions on Kanawa Island yesterday. Returning to the shady tree on the beach for a brief siesta in between forays, I attempted to explain to Madame H the colours below the water in this little stretch of paradise in the Komodo archipelago.
But let me back track a bit. Madame H does not really enjoy water activities and it was enough to get her onto the funky wooden boat that took us out from the harbour at Labuan Bajo. The sea was deep blue and calm. We pass a few magical pirate vessels in the harbour and later a group of islands, arriving at Kanawa after an hour or so. Madame H found a shady tree, a log of wood and stretched out her sarong, determined to finish the book about the whingeing widow.
Mr Tranquillo and I donned our masks and snorkels, and headed off into the crystal aqua waters off the beach. The coral is protected at Kanawa and provides immediate rewards for those who venture in. Schools of tiny blue and purple fish swarm over a small hill of coral, Angel fish glide by, a giant clam closes its blue and purple lips, Nimos play shyly as Mr T tries to coax them out from hiding. A pale pink fish with green stripes decides that I am the funniest thing he has ever seen: refusing to move, he continues to stare into mask. Black fish with white spotted tails, orange ones with beige/black designer stripes glide by in pairs, like Japanese origami. Schools of baby blue float about like confetti, a lone barracouta glides by, all pointy nosed and silvery.
I try to explain all this to the Madame reader. The words fail. I think about iridescence, or translucency. Purple and blue and orange. No, these colours are not right.
You just have to be there, under the sea in a far away place, with the heavenly fish off Labuan Bajo.