Thursday, July 6, 2017

Swimming with Sharks: the truth behind the pictures

Every new year or birthday I tell myself that this is it, i'm going to blog more consistently. And then life throws you into work and (mostly) netflix tv shows and creativity takes a back seat.  So this post is wayyyy over due but I wanted to share my experience swimming with sharks in Durban before the whole thing becomes more fuzzy and I start making up how brave I was. Because after all, better late than never, amiright??

(also can I please get some claps for "re-starting" this blog again for like the tenth time??) 

When I learned that I would be traveling to South Africa for work again, I knew I wanted to experience a different South African city. And because I haven't swam in a nice clean beach in so long, the obvious choice was to go to Durban. But what to do there....

To be honest, I'm not sure where I got this amazing idea to go into the ocean with some sharks. But after perusing the internet and all its amazingness it has to offer, I learned that instead of going into a cage that is sturdy and strong where I could safely watch the sharks, I could instead swim WITH the sharks OUTSIDE of the cage. (http://www.sharkcagedivingkzn.com/)

Obviously, this was a MUCH better idea AND more bang for my buck... #saidnoonever #exceptmeofcourse

So I emailed the guy, told him I was coming and arranged for pick up.

At 5am, with only 2.5 hrs of sleep, my driver picked me up and we drove almost an hour outside of Durban. He shared stories like how he got knifed in the side while sitting in his car at a stop light and how he has guard dogs that he only goes near to feed and has no idea how to stop them if they were to ever attack someone... You know, just normal life stories....

By the time I arrived, the first group was already heading out for their shark dive. I learned that in that group, a man was planning to propose to his girlfriend while in the cage. Which is like really romantic but also really awkward if she said no because 1. They would be stuck in a cage together, but also 2. there's sharks he could just throw her into...

Anyways, once my group all arrived, we changed into wet suits and ran out into the beach like a couple of baywatch stars to our boat that would take us miles into the ocean to meet these overgrown fishies.

But first, we had to pull the boat into the water just as the waves came in and then jump into the boat as quickly as we can.... Excuse me?? Wat.

If anyone knows me, I have ZERO upper body strength. I can't even do a push up.. while on my knees. Being asked to jump into a boat is not only SO embarrassing but the worst thing ever. So with my puny arms I "helped" (LOLOL) push the boat into the water and when the man said "jump!" I jumped! .... and slid right back into the water...oh. fuk. my. life.

After a couple of more jumps and some straddling I finally managed to get into the boat... I may have had some help. But the main point is, I got in.

This was literally me, just not this adorable. 
Then we were told to sit our butts on the edge of the boat, strap our feet in, and hold on tight to the ropes because we had to jump the waves. Oh god. Is it too late to go back to shore???

Now if anyone knows Durban, Durban beaches are known for their waves and is often an ideal place to surf. WHICH MEANS that these are not puny bumps in the ocean but ACTUAL WAVES. oh Lord.

I screamed. I hollered. I didn't care that the rest of the group knew each other and I was the only outsider.... Just kidding. I did care. But I still screamed. The boat flew, it turned 90 degrees, one minute I could safely touch the water, the next minute I was hanging above the water... I thought my body would go flying out. And then when it finally stopped they had the NERVE to ask: "wasn't that fun?!?"
Seriously??? seriously????
Upon arriving, the first group was finishing up (btw, the girl said yes!) and we could see the excited sharks thrashing in the water and their fins sticking out. The guy in charge asked who would be going into the cage and who would be snorkeling. To the 2 of us that were snorkeling, he asked, "have you been snorkeling before? you have to have gone snorkeling before to do this." To which I replied, "when i was 8?". To which he said, "Great. you'll be fine." To which I replied, "Sounds good!" ..... And that (plus the warning to keep our arms to our chest and not touch the shark) was the extent of our safety lesson and qualifications before getting in the water. lolololol.

Me and another girl, along with our guide, were told to gracefully slide into the ocean (from the side of the boat that wasn't throwing chum) and to not make loud splashes. From there, we tested out our masks. Then, with the guide in the middle and arms linked, we swam around the boat to where there were about 15-20 sharks gathered.

First thought: Oh sh*t. There's a shark.
Second thought: God, that is so ugly.
Third thought: This is cool. I'm doing it!
Fourth thought: wait. shoot. is that water creeping in???

I mean dude is pretty ugly. 

Turns out, having snorkeled when I was 8 is NOT a good indicator of how good of a snorkeler I am. Or either that, my mask didn't fit properly. Whatever the reason, (probably the first. let's be real.) no matter how hard I tried to control my breathing, water kept seeping in. I had to come up for air, tread water, pray I didn't kick a shark in the face, and clear my mask... more than once.

And from that point on, it was like my brain decided this was a stressful situation and for my survival that it best I don't remember the details of what I saw....

THANK GOD FOR PICTURES, AMIRIGHT??? But seriously. Those pictures are showing me that I was THAT close to sharks?! oh jesus.

Me, with the red gloves, on the struggle bus.
I did this?? lololol

In the last 10 minutes of this half-hazy-excursion, with my continual gagging and leaking mask, I got into the cage to experience shark cage diving.

And that is my story of how I swam with sharks, lived to tell about it, and don't remember half of what happened. #AnticlimacticEnding #wompwomp

How did the rest of the day go since shark diving ended at like 10am?

I joined the Durban science march, where we marched and sang down streets. And then because apparently swimming with sharks in the middle of the ocean wasn't enough "ocean time" I went body boarding, wiped out, flipped in the water twice and hit the same side of my face on the ocean floor (strong durban waves). AND to top it all off, turns out gagging and leaking masks resulted in a build up of sea water in my sinuses so that the whole day, whenever I tilted my head down, water gushed out. So attractive.

But, all in all, it was such a memorable, adventurous, amazing day... even if i don't remember half of what happened. lolololol (i can laugh about it now, i wasn't laughing then.)


total #hotmess internally

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