Just When You Think You're Safe

Back in my twenties, I was living on Maui. A bunch of us girls decided to go camping on Lanai for the weekend. This island is pretty vacant, except for one huge hotel. The draw to this island is that it's where all the dolphins hang out and you are guaranteed to swim with them in the little cove.

I was never one that was crazy for snorkeling or diving, let me tell you. The water is just not our world. We really don't belong there. If we did, God would have given us fins, or the ability to breathe under water, etc. I have a keen awareness that sharks are never far away, plus barracudas, etc. In Maui, we saw signs for "Extreme Snorkeling". My friends joked "What is extreme about snorkeling? Snorkel 'til your eyes bleed!" This made us all crack up. Honestly though, to me, snorkeling is kind of extreme. I did it a couple times, because I lived in Hawaii and it is required to at least try. The second time (my last time), I was surrounded completely by a school of fish. It was so cool. Then everything got kinda dark and cloudy, the fish vanished. I couldn't see far, so I freaked and headed back to shore (not far). Some Hawaiian passing through was yelling for everyone to get out of the water because a shark was sighted. Yea. Last time I snorkeled. That's extreme to me.

So, it took a minute of gathering my courage to get back out there in another cute little cove. I psyched myself up because, damnit, I am going to swim with dolphins!  It was amazing, obviously. You can hear them underwater too. It was so surreal to be a part of this world that is so clearly not mine. I was grateful these friendly creatures were so welcoming and glad to have us around. I felt safe- my regular fear of sharks dissipated because I knew that dolphins gang up on sharks, using their power in numbers. Sharks don't look for trouble with dolphins. I felt protected in some mystical magical dolphin way. I even saw dolphins having sex! Yep. Belly to belly, one was swimming upside down and backwards and the other one was on top. They were very comfortable around us, I guess. What a beautiful day, beautiful cove, and beautiful experience. I did it!

The day turned to night and we ate and made a campfire. I was a closet smoker with all these health nut hippies, so I would always sneak away as to avoid the stink-eye. I walked off to where our tents were set up in the trees because I also had to grab something.  It was pitch black in the middle of the Pacific, but there was some moonlight and tons of stars. I walked into the little circle clearing where we set up camp, which had a canopy of trees so that the moon was blocked..  I looked up and froze. About fifty glowing eyes were looking back at me. The eyes were in a semi-circle around me. I was almost surrounded. What the hell is on this island?!! It can't be that bad, just relax... I always realize that I should have done some research about new places way after the fact and it is too late... But it was just another Hawaiian island.. Seriously, what the hell? There's nothing on Maui... I'm racking my brain- maybe pigs, but this many? I never even saw a free pig on Maui. I remember being charged by a goat in St. Johns once... I never saw any free goats in these islands, though. The eyes were not low to the ground, either. They were around my eye level, meaning whatever these things were, they were big. The glowing eyes were an evil yellowish-hazel-green-brown and looked like glass marbles. They would not take their eyes off me. They were not moving. I was not moving. We seemed to be at an impasse. I was definitely imagining some crazy Stephen King stuff for sure.

I had to do something. I slowly backed up, praying silently, not taking my eyes off theirs. I bowed my head a bit. In complete darkness, I imagined these beasts would surely jump on me at any minute and tear my flesh with their big crazy teeth. Grimm's Fairy Tales, all those weird ass fairytales you were read to as a kid went through my head. Wolves. No way. No wolves on the islands. I just kept walking backwards slowly.

As soon as I got past the clearing I picked up the pace to the beach. I approached my friends with quiet fake calm like I just had a quick question with all the time in the world. They think I pick out things to be scared of, so I was rolling my eyes at this problem in front of me.  I had just made it through my extreme snorkeling with such joy! Seriously, if only they knew the weird shit that happens to me- the reasoning behind my slanted psyche, I guess. When I explained the situation, they actually didn't give me any shit and were pretty concerned. They had no idea what these beasts could be either. There is nothing on this island! So, all of us walk back there cautiously, with headlamps on this time. Headlamps are so cool.

We turn the bend into the clearing, looking like cartoon characters in Scooby Doo for sure. Walking very slowly...
Then came the relief. Laughter too, but relief.

Deer. The evil eyes belonged to deer. They stood there, looking so innocent, eating their berries or whatever. Just as friendly as the dolphins. In Hawaii, though?! I mean, that would have been my first thought back home in Michigan, but not Hawaii. OK, that would NOT have been my first thought. My head probably still would go to Stephen King first, but.. I was used to them back home. I had been living on Maui long enough to forget about these guys. Ha!

I call this memory "Deer in Headlamps". Mostly me. I froze just like a deer in headlights. We were one and the same in our fear of the unknown.
It was funny to me.

Do you have a funny camping story? Tell me in the comments!

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