Talked to Nikki at the front desk (I just add to the cacophany of "nik" names around here) and she told me where & when to catch the ferry; I packed a bag & walked down.
Weeeell, turns out I walked 20 mins in the sun to the wrong marina. No boats there went to Long Island at noon. Oops. But the next boat leaving went to Daydream Island so I bought a ticket for that.
Texted Nick, what is there to do on Daydream? And got a text back, well there's an activities desk in the hotel we're in...
Shock! Embarrassment! Did I just inadvertently follow him? Am I the accidental stalker?
I don't remember him saying Daydream but then again, why would it stick out, I don't know one island from another. My cheeks flushed red & hot as the boat pulled up to the Island.
He wrote back, was cool about it, thought it was funny, believed me that it was an accident, but also, apparently, told everyone at the conference my blunder. I wanted to hide.
I told him to pretend I wasn't there & he suggested we catch the same ferry back & he'd find me when he was done. Ok. Embarrassment over. Time to get on with my day.
I got as far away from the resort as possible.
Problem is, its a small, resort-based island. So the other side really isn't much. Some mini-golf (not fun alone), a bar (too early & too alone), and a watersports shop - there's an idea. Asked the guy about snorkeling & he told me the best place to go is lovers cove... right near the resort. Of course. Sigh.
Resigned myself to a possibly embarrasing walk & decided to get an ice cream to bolster my spirits. Checked out my map & decided to take the rainforest walk over; it looked like it steered clear of the resort buildings.
Ice cream in hand, walking up the stairs to the rainforest walkway, I thought I heard my phone chirp. Dug it out of my bag & wha?? I had a missed call from Nick. Wonder why he call-- oh and a text, saying, "sorry I can't take a call now. Are you ok? Text me if its important & I'll call you."
Horror! My phone called him on its own! Now I really do look like clingy crazy stalker lady!
Beet red & mumbling out loud to myself (yeah, like that helps me look not crazy), I texted back explaining what had happened & said, I will seriously stop bugging you now. He said he didn't mind, but the knotted embarrasment in my gut still remained.
With a deep breath, I entered the rainforest, determined to make the best of this already excruciating day. Trees? Nice. View? Gorgeous. Hiking felt good. I started to unwind. It wasn't the most interesting rainforest, but I was the only person on the trail & it was calming.
Enjoying the sounds of birds & bugs, I rounded the corner and -- dead end. Dead end INTO the resort. Are you kidding me?? I had two options, either go to the left past the conference rooms down what looks like it might be a path, or to the right, directly into the lobby of the hotel. I dallied at the edge of the forest, nerves burning hot in my gut, thinking, why are you being 16!!? No one is looking out the window! (turns out I was wrong, but we'll get to that later)
I gathered myself & quickly but (hopefully) nonchalantly walked out of the trees & past the conference rooms of the resort, stupidly nervous & self-concious. I followed what actually was a path (phew), down some stairs, & stumbled across a completely deserted beach. The signs told me it was lovers cove, and it was all set up for tourists with comfy wicker lounges, umbrellas, and fire torches to be lit at night, but there wasn't a soul there. I pulled a lounge into the sun & felt like some sneaky castaway, like if I got caught here, I'd get thrown out.
Looking around at the tall cliffs & trees around the cove, I finally felt comfortable that I wouldn't be spotted. Relaxed.
As I cooked, I debated getting into the water; snorklings not that dangerous, but you're supposed to do it with a buddy, definitely not when you're the only human in a very secluded private cove. Besides, I didn't know where to find a snorkel shop. So I just blogged. :)
After about an hour, a few snorkelers showed up, some parents with kids, but it was still pretty calm & quiet. I debated snorkeling again, and almost got up to ask where the rental shop was, but then a wallaby jumped onto the beach! And then two more! They were so adorable, little & grey, and though definitely wild, they weren't shy around humans. I watched them for a while.
Nick texted me the conference was done & asking where I was; everyone wanted to meet me. Oh great, I thought, they want to meet the girl they've been having a laugh about all day. The embarrassment flooded back. I texted back with my location but, worried that in a few minutes there'd be a large group of well-dressed business people charging down the stairs to the beach, pointing & laughing, said, can I meet you somewhere?
Waiting. Trying to pretend that I'm not waiting.
I felt the reverberations of footsteps on the boardwalk, looked over and it was Nick - solo, phew! - looking handsome in a blue shirt with a little Christmas ribbon hanging from the buttonhole. He didn't think I was a crazy stalker, just maybe a bit of a nerd, and he told me that the conference guys described seeing a "hot girl in a straw hat" leave the forest & walk down to the beach earlier. The hot girl part, not so much - I looked like a bum! - but the straw hat part - busted. So I wasn't being stupidly 16, I WAS being watched! Aack!
He said because of my mistake, he'd told everyone about me & they were dying to meet me. I'm sure they were. Dying with laughter. He said his mom & dad were insisting he bring me up for a glass of wine. Wait, what? Mom and dad? Oh balls.
Now before you get ahead of yourselves, his parents own the hostel I'm staying at & live there, so its pretty inevitable that I'd meet them at some point; this wasn't some "relationship-y meet the parents" kind of thing. Still, the idea didn't appeal to me too much. I was dressed like a beach bum tourist & feeling like an idiot.
Nick reassured me that I shouldn't take anything his parents say too seriously; they like to take the piss & they're pretty wine-tipsy besides. Which, actually, wasn't reassuring at all. But, I put on my grungy shorts & tank top over my sweaty bathing suit and put on my best optimistic smile, suddenly reminded of the fact that this is my holiday & if I'm embarrassed to death, it really doesn't matter; I can catch the next bus out. But hopefully it wouldn't come to that.
Walked up to the conference room & felt all eyes on us, but trying to be discreet. Evidence of a fun, expensive lunch - discarded plates, empty wine bottles, a waiter refilling half-full glasses. Tipsy-happy adults turned their bright eyes toward me in mirth, not mocking. Introductions. Compared bruises with his mom, who'd recently fallen off her bike; I have no excuse, I'm just a peach. Talked for a long time to his dad about, well, everything. It was a nice conversation. The consencus was, and I heard this because they'd had a bit to drink & weren't being subtle, "she's lovely Nick; don't eff this up". He exceeded me in embarrassed redness of face.
Later when Nick stepped away for a minute, his dad took me into the other room and introduced me as his possible future daughter in law - oh my God. I think he did it just to see the look on my face. Shock? Most definitely. Embarrased laughter, shaking of head & flooding of face with hot bright blood? Yup. (by the way, Nick was mortified when he found out & has not stopped giving his dad a hard time about it since)
I can tell they're a family that likes to joke on each other and I'm not taking it seriously. It was actually quite fun being around them.
We finally escaped the well-intentioned torture chamber & tried to leave the island but just missed the ferry by about a minute. Wandered the resort & saw the only natural coral reef in a resort in the world & the only lemon shark born in captivity, Bruce. Yes, teeter, I took a picture for you. Saw an anenome fold up into itself for the night, with one little Nemo clownfish holding guard outside.
We still had a bunch of time to kill & our only real option, apart from sitting in the sun for half an hour, was to go back upstairs, where his dad and their family friends told me funny embarrassing stories of him as a kid. It was his turn to feel like a nerd.
Finally caught the ferry back, changed & went out for a nice dinner. We'd planned it yesterday but I felt like it ended up being a bit of an "I'm sorry" for the days trials. Great conversation; he's had an interesting life. Great food, his treat. Very nice evening in all.
Took a walk down by the water & then went back up & hung out with everyone at the hostel.
Today I'm so happy & grateful for:
~ my discomfort = a good story
~ sense of humor
~ hanging with wallabys on a private beach
~ a nice dinner