Today was unreal. UNREAL. Up till now cage diving with sharks was something I always said I wanted to do, a future bucket list thing that I swore would happen one day. And today it did. After a two hour bus drive and a nice breakfast they slapped some life jackets on us and off we went. I kept waiting for the big safety tutorial, or some formal presentation about what was about to happen. Nothing. It was a group of about twenty; mostly girls, with only about 6 guys. The boat wasn’t that big and we were speeding along the water for about 15 minutes before we stopped and anchored. When we got to the dive site the guy in charge finally said he was gunna tell us a bit about how the dive would work. Except…we were already at the dive site…. and there were already sharks swimming around…..that’s like asking a bunch of five year olds to please sit still and pay attention even though Barney is in the background waving. And I was by far the squirmiest one.
Finally he says “Alright, who wants to go first?” My hand along with four other boys shoots up. Typical. “Get suited up” he tells us. So me and these boys I’ve never met quickly go put on wet suits. The cage is already lowered into the water, tied on to the side of the boat. The first boy gets in. I’m next. “Okay so put your feet on the side of the cage right there and climb in” they tell me. I look at the guy, incredulous, “Uh, really?” I say. Everyone starts laughing. Now, in my defense, the man JUST got through telling us to keep our hands and feet away from the cage bars, and now I’m supposed to put my poor little toes an inch into open water? “Yes, really” he says. Alright, here goes nothing. I climb down the cage and hold on to the top and monkey bar my way over to the side to make room for the next guys. The water was cold but the wet suit did its job nicely. Once the five of us were in we tried to get in comfortable positions, half floating half holding on to what we could. Then we heard a crew member shout “GO DOWN GO DOWN GO DOWN!” We all took deep breaths, grabbed the bar in the cage and pull ourselves down, submerging completely and hooking our feet on the floor bar to stay down.
And there was a great white shark, in all its glory, casually swimming by.
Like I said, UNREAL.
The rest of the time went the same way, we would chat a little bit in the cage, the guys took pictures with an underwater camera and then we would hear the shout and go down to watch. Once I even spotted the shark before anyone on the boat did, I yelled at my dive buddies “GO DOWN!” And we all got to watch as a great white came up completely vertical from the deep, attacking the bait. The boy next to me, Paul, looked at me underwater and starting shaking his hands, as if to say “Can you believe this?” And I laughed, the air escaping from my mouth and bubbling up to the surface, as I gestured back. No, I couldn’t believe it.
Needless to say, there is something about cage diving to see great whites with someone that makes you instantly good friends. Paul, Jamie and Chris are all studying together in Australia. Paul is a native of South Africa, Jamie is from New Zealand, and Chris is from Australia. We got to know them a bit once we were out of the water, watching the sharks and cage divers from above.
Today reminded me that there comes a breaking point where you have to stop saying you are going to do something, and just DO IT. When you do, your heart will feel as if it might explode and your cheeks will hurt from smiling. I feel so blessed to be here, having these adventures. Unreal.