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Post details: Captain Barbados

Captain Barbados

It is a common misconception that snorkeling in the Caribbean is popular for its intrinsic allure. Sure, hovering weightlessly over hulls of shipwrecked vessels bedecked with clinging corals and haunted by schools of brilliantly colored fish can be an exhilarating experience. It's like floating through a giant tropical aquarium with an added bonus of being able to poke the fish in their little rib cages with your pinky toe.

But after I embarked on a snorkeling expedition in Barbados, I came to the conclusion that the main attraction of such enterprises is a racy character of a well weathered captain, whose antics have the same effect on the vacationing passengers that a fresh buffalo carcass dripping with blood would have on a group of undernourished sharks. Being undoubtedly selected for the physical likeness to Kurt Russel, his general recklessness manifested by steering the ship with a foot on the rudder and casual attitude towards rum produces more colorful memories than any tropical fish can ever aspire to.

Our captain introduced himself as a "retired pirate with a valid license to rape and plunder", which immediately engendered quite a few expectant giggles on the part of middle aged ladies in our tour. After pausing for admiring looks to refocus, he vaguely pointed to a chest of life-vests and authoritatively declared: "Those are our emergency suits. If you see me donning one of those and jumping the ship, you know what to do." His navigational prowess was being showcased by spraying each and every passing watercraft with jovial hollering: "Are we in Venezuela yet?" - which we clearly were not, since at all times we were just skirting the island of Barbados at very close distance. And when we finally anchored at an old wreck site, he made sure that we all knew how to swim with a cautionary observation: "There is 26 feet of water down here and I don't see anyone 27 feet tall. So..."

It was fun. But when I crawled back on the catamaran and surveyed the rest of our group still floating around the area, something started to puzzle me. English has a sophisticated system of collective nouns for various groups of animals - a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, a pack of wolves, a litter of puppies, a school of fish. So what do you call a bunch of snorkelers having fun in the turquoise Caribbean waters?

I turned to the Captain with an inquiry and he only bared his teeth in an amused grin and said: "Have some rum and you'll figure it out." Hmmmmm, could it be a school of thought?

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