Juliet Coombe tries out Jetski an impressive piece of modern engineering – fiendishly fast on the water and childishly simple to operate as there is no clutch, no brakes but the natural resistance of the water and no mirrors to check who might be coming up behind you at 75 kmh.
Jetwing water sports is a thrilling way to travel at that kind of speed on the water and actually it doesn’t create a massive wave but everything flashes past, the fishermen look like they are in an old fashioned slow motion black and white movie from another world and the only wildlife you see are those that can keep up with you, which aren’t many, unless you flash past them and they jump on board like a passing sea bird. You can, of course, slow down and even stop but after reaching such speeds and a strange feeling of disorientation – the lagoon is large and from a distance the coastline all looks very similar – you are left with a feeling of being strangely out of place and therefore feel it important to keep moving until you see something familiar again.
My guide steered me on a path that would not be too obnoxious to the locals but I later learnt – something that would have been handy to have understood prior to getting on my bike – that the fishermen were actually assisted by the jetski owing to the fact that the disturbance it makes in the water, causes the fish to come to the surface, presumably wondering what the hell this new superfast hellcraft might look like. My guide pointed out some interesting landmarks, such as the International School, some great churches, the general geography surrounding the lagoon and I learnt a little about the fishing, prawn farms and that the curious looking dead floating foliage stick-like rafts dotted around the lagoon are manmade habitats for attracting crabs and fish for the fisherman in addition to their bankside wooden cages and nets for farming them.
Heading out onto the lagoon in a canoe, is an altogether different experience; in fact, the antithesis of the jetski. With this, the progress was slow but somehow I learnt more, really felt the world and life of the lagoon fishing people around me, felt at one with nature, spotting all kinds of birds in calm repose as I quietly paddled past, seeing jumping fish, watching insects flitting across the top of the water, inspecting the raft traps more closely and watching a massive crocodile slithering down the bank towards me not ten metres from my canoe – only joking, they are very rarely seen and only grow to about a metre long, mere whippersnappers.
“What watery paradise is this, with setting suns on the ocean’s horizon, countless lengths in lengthiest pool and endless reveries around a lagoon so vast and varied.”