The beaches of Padre Island are so inviting that inland lakes have been known to import loads of Padre sand for their own waterfronts.
On a diving trip this spring, I explored a ship’s observation wing and swam along its starboard navigation deck, stopping to enjoy the view. I wasn’t on a cruise ship, but rather above one. The ship in question lies 17 miles out from South Padre Island and 132 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico with the top of its superstructure—the observation wing—at 62 feet deep. Here, in 2007, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sank the Texas Clipper, a 473-foot-long ship that served as a troop transport during World War II, then operated as a cruise liner, and finally retired as a training vessel for Texas A&M mariners. Now, resting on the bottom, it creates an artificial reef populated by corals, barnacles, and sponges, and offers shelter to all manner of fish and other marine life.
Under water, light behaves differently; colors sparkle, then fade. Sounds magnify and distort. Liquid cradles a body accustomed to mere air. Down and up become abstractions. Swimming equals flying. Water replaces atmosphere, and the sea floor or lake bottom might resemble a barren moon or the most riotous field of flora imaginable.