Last time I tried to dive, I puked. It was in Fiji and the water currents were extremely rough as I was on my way to go diving with sharks. I felt too ill to go diving so I had missed on an opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to dive with sharks rose again when I was invited to go shark diving in the Galapagos with Contiki and Céline Cousteau. This time I was going to go to the Galapagos prepared for diving.
I knew about the trip a few months before so I had plenty of time to prepare. I started to Google seasickness and found an array of solutions that wouldn’t affect my diving. I was recommended by a dive master to take motion sickness pills a couple of days before and take them daily to get them into my system. That seemed to have worked a bit.
The last time I dove was in 2009 for my Open Water Certificate with PADI. It’s been awhile and I had forgotten many of the basic stuff you should know like what to do when you run out of air and clearing the mask. I was told that the Galapagos is very strict about who’s diving too. Every diver needs to have dove within the last year for safety reasons. Since it’s been so long, I had to make sure I took a refresher class before I went to the Galapagos. I found a refresher course in the DC area for less than $100 for a few hours. The first two hours was with a teacher, videos, and a written test. Afterwards it was another two hours in the pool. We did the basic drills and I felt so relieved, confident, and happy by the end of the course. I was ready and leaving for the Galapagos in one week.
I was on my way to the dive site in the Galapagos. The waters weren’t nearly as rough as they were in Fiji so I wasn’t seasick at all. I was nervous though and especially nervous when I was about to go in the water.
Our first dive site was shallow to get us ready for the actual dive. We went over a few drills to make sure I remembered how to clear my mask. This was a fantastic idea because it made me more comfortable for the deeper end. I was nervous in the water but I cleared my mask perfectly and passed all the tests. Now for the sharks.
I was still nervous but mostly because I haven’t dove enough. Not once was I nervous of the sharks.
I descended down and I dropped like a rock straight to the bottom. One of the dive masters picked me up and guided me until I got used to my buoyancy. After awhile, I was on my own and followed the other divers in the water. It felt relaxing and calming. A few minutes later I spotted a few sharks. Then without warning dozens of sharks. Literally all around me in every direction. Just swimming along out in the distance. They were beautiful.
After my tank ran out I decided to go snorkeling around the area. That’s when I saw more sharks and eagle rays than I could have ever possibly counted. My guess was over 50 galapagos sharks and whitetip sharks. Others saw over 100. What impressed me the most were the eagle rays. They had perfect formation and all swam in unison. A school of them was coming straight for me and they just all went around me ignoring that I was there at all.
I got back on the boat feeling a bit emotional and happy. In Fiji I thought I had failed and missed an opportunity that I may never get to do again. The reality is you never really know where life will take you. In the last four years of traveling, I’ve been to places I thought I would never go back to or experience again. It can be hard but I need to reminded myself that missed opportunities can come back again for another chance.