25 February 2013

Technicolor Dreams

Corona never tasted so good as after being submersed in ocean water all day 

Out of Cairns, I had signed up to go out on this huge catamaran and do intro scuba diving along with some snorkeling.  Now, I don’t exactly go sharing this with that many people, but I have a bit of (HUGE!) fear of swimming in the ocean.  It’s not like I’m not a strong swimmer because in general, I am a strong swimmer.  It’s what’s IN the ocean that scares me, especially in a place like Australia - sharks (including great whites), stingers, sting and manta rays, coral, big fish that look like they could eat me for lunch, the abyss, etc.  All I can envision is being down in the water admiring the colorful coral and fish and seeing a massive shark come over the coral from the big drop down into the big, deep, blue ocean and me freaking out and it eating me in several bites while I’m fully conscious.  Yes, this is what goes through my head.  I’m a disaster.

But first thing’s first, I had to be able to learn how to even breathe underwater!  After some instruction and all our gear is on, we jump in and hold on to this rope underwater that goes across the back of the boat to practice breathing, then practice popping our ears.  One thing is certain; the brain has trouble at first reconciling that you can even breathe underwater, so I had quite a bit of anxiety once I was in the water.  Eventually, I learn to breathe normally (if that’s what one can even call it), calm down, and then we decided to start exploring... while the guide literally holds my hand.  Yes, he held my hand.  And then had to put more weights on me because apparently, I'm quite buoyant.  Go figure.  Me and my big American ass.  Buoyant.  Yep.  Sounds about right.

Can I tell you?  Diving is truly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.  It was like learning to swim all over again but in a massive and surreal aquarium.  I’ll never forget when I really learned how to swim as a child, it was in my Italian neighbor’s pool and I was finally by myself in there after many swim lessons that I hated.  I remember holding my breath underwater and then I opened my eyes - it was if there was a whole other world down there.  I began to move my arms and legs and next thing I knew, I was swimming.  After that, no one could ever get me out of the pool.  So diving was like that, but in the worlds most beautiful aquarium where schools of the most exotic, colorful fish would swim up and around me, the most colorful coral created it’s own world in the water, the anemones and tiny coral and such were like plant like – it truly is like being in another universe like in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where Dorothy lives in a black and white world, then when she wakes up Oz (or in my case, Aus), and everything is in Technicolor.  

Yes, this is the one and only picture I have from my first diving experience.  I didn't want to rent a camera for $40 for the day so this is one my old, crappy iPhone could stitch together.  Sorry!


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