Travel

My first snorkeling experience

Ok, suffices to say black people and water are generally not friends. By water I mean large bodies of water like swimming pools, the sea, lakes etc… I don’t know whether it’s because we grew up in areas where there were no swimming pools, or whether it was because we historically didn’t have showers and thus didn’t get used to having water on our faces, or that we didn’t have swimming pools at our schools, or maybe a combination of all these. For a lot of us, playing on the beach or sitting poolside with only the feet getting a bit of the water splash is enough. For me, Swimming = heart attack scares, snorkeling = death and diving = burial. I mean the fear I had (have) of water was beyond real. You see when I was 13 I went to Fountains Circle, a resort of some sort with a relative, my mom’s cousin who’s stokvel had a family day closing party. I was happily sitting on the edge of the pool with my feet in the water. My cousin, Lebo (mom’s cousin’s daughter) who was attending a Model C school was swimming merrily with others having a great time. They kept lobbying me to go in and I told them I couldn’t because I didn’t know how to swim. They laughed and kept teasing me. From nowhere I felt my foot being pulled into the pool and under I went. I felt little feet step on my chest as I frantically tried to get up. An adult eventually noticed something amiss and I was pulled out of the pool, half dead (ok ok maybe not half dead but that’s how it felt.) I coughed, vomited and cried all in one setting. That was the last time I would dare sit anywhere near any body of water. So as I grew older and started flying, flying over water during the day was a nightmare. So that Fountains experience was my introduction to swimming and so when I decided to conquer my fears at age 24 (failed attempt – thanks Mav for trying my friend), and again at 30 (almost there) I never in a million years thought I would beat my fear enough to snorkel in the Carribean Sea. So this is a story of my triumph over failure and courage over fear.

Seeing underwater sculptures in Grenada was one of the things on my to do list when I was finalising my to-do list for this trip. It was a beautiful sunny day on 5 September 2018 when we explored the crystal clear waters of Grand Anse Beach. Gorata came for moral support as she had done it before. Dive Grenada which I unreservedly highly recommend was the tour company that took us on this unforgettable experience. I explained to the instructor (Brittney) that I was a newbie at swimming and that I was very nervous. She took time to calm my nerves, gave us a safety briefing, suited us up and off we went. A fast 10 minute boat ride and we had arrived.

It took me about 15 minutes get the courage to get off the boat. I admit I needed a lot of pep talk to go ahead with it from my courage squad, Gorata, Brittney and Kirhon the boat captain. Kirhon suggested that I sit on the staircase of the boat and drop my legs into the sea which I did after some serious self-talk. He then suggested I look into the water so that I see what’s underneath while I sat on the staircase. I dipped a little of my face into the water for about 2-3 seconds and I was mesmerised!!! All I could say over and over and over was ‘Wow!’ There’s a whole world under the sea y’all. Oh my word! How am I only discovering this at age 36? It’s one thing to see under the sea on National Geographic and a completely life changing experience seeing it yourself. What a moment in time. I literally needed a minute (ok, make that 5 minutes) of silence when I was at a particular statue and on seeing that one, I froze and the instructor let me have my 5 minutes of solitude as I floated above the sculptures and took in what lay beneath. I will do a blog on the history of the sculptures soon. Although I can say a whole lot, they say a picture says a thousand words and here they are and a video for good measure. 🤪

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