Sometimes my projects take me places and in this case, it was my last morning in Roatan, Honduras.
She asked: Would you rather go for your morning walk, or snorkel?
Since I walk almost every morning and I’ve never been snorkeling and the idea of snorkeling scares me, I chose to snorkel.
So that’s what we did at 0615 this morning.
The flippers were new to me, so were the goggles (translated: I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE). My first trip face first in the shallow water and my arms flailed around. We popped up again above the surface.
She said: Try to keep your arms against your body. This is relaxing.
Relaxing was the last thing on my mind, but I took her advice. Face first I went and I kept my arms close to me. We fliipper-ed around in the shallow areas and I was mesmerized by the fish we saw.
You’re relaxing! I told myself.
We came to the surface again.
She asked if I felt comfortable going further out into the reef where the drop-offs were 40 feet plus.
No, I’m not comfortable with that. I can’t touch there.
Yes, let’s go.
She helped me strap a life vest to myself and I followed her.
The fish! The reef! The plant life! The feeling of observing underwater life. Suddenly we were in the middle of two schools of two different kinds of fish. Purple fish, yellow, bright blue – the kinds I’ve seen only in aquariums. The parrot fish nibbled from the reef. And tiny organisms flitted about.
She turned to face me and spread her hands a part to signify distance and then she pointed below and ahead of us.
The 40-feet drop-offs. This was untouchable territory for me. She floated and flipper-ed out first. The water was so clear that I could see all the way to the bottom of the 40 feet.
My mind tried to have a freak out. The part of me that over-catastrophizes everything started saying unkind things about dying. About that time I realized that my goggles had leaked and filled my nose piece, preventing me from breathing through my nose. Of course, this meant certain death.
But you’re not even using your nose for breathing right now, I reasoned.
But if you WANT to?! I countered.
I motioned to Brenda that I was popping above the surface. I emptied the water out, slipped the goggles back on and slid back underwater.
And I followed her out over the drop off, back over the reef and through a narrow alleyway. I did not want to lose sight of my guide, which was my greatest motivation for sucking up whatever fears I had and going out over the abyss.
After an hour (AN HOUR! TIME FLIES UNDERWATER), we edged to the beach. There was breakfast to eat, coffee to drink, interviews to conduct, clothes to pack and a plane to catch.
The feeling I had coming out of the water?
Drunk. Drunk on snorkeling over/through a small portion of the second largest barrier reef in the world.