Are you scared of heights underwater? I am!
Let me tell you all about this story!
When Gabriel and I met a year and a half ago, he won me over by bringing me a mask and asking me if I wanted to go snorkel. I’m planning a whole series of posts about how we met, so that’s all you’re getting for now; the relevant part of the story is that we were at Encuentro beach, a beach known for surfing, not so much for its underwater wonders. In fact, all Encuentro has to offer for sights is giant sea urchins. But we had fun! I was too busy thinking “holy shit, OMG, this boy is not only talking to me, he wants to spend time with me too!!!” to be looking at any sights anyway. Well, almost any sights ;) As we snorkelled over an almost-dead reef, Gabriel told me he’d take me to Sosua if I wanted. There was a really nice reef there.
That was December 2011. As of last Saturday, the 22nd of June 2013 (that’s a year and half, not that I’m counting) we still hadn’t gone to snorkel a reef that’s forty five minutes away. Ladies, your men will say anything to get in your pants, you know you’ve got the right one when they follow through. So sometimes it takes them longer than others, but we did go snorkel that reef.. and it was GLORIOUS. In his defence we’d just been way too busy being awesome to make it.
Ladies, your men will say anything to get in your pants, you know you’ve got the right one when they follow through.
The reef is no world-standard when it comes to underwater fauna and flora, but the water is pristine, and someone seems to be doing a lot of work to re-introduce native life to it. You hear stories of how beautiful Sosua beach was before tourism exploded on the North Shore of the DR, so anyone who was here 30 years ago would be appalled to return now. But anyone who was here a decade ago would tell you there’s a lot of progress happening underneath that aqua surface. We’re going to try to track down some history for you and see who’s working on the restoration efforts so we can all personally thank them, and who knows, maybe in a few years the North Shore of the Dominican Republic will be on the world map of pristine reefs. In the meantimes, it’s a chill family outing. Anyway…
Ok, ok, here comes the part about heights. Gabriel and I set off on a scintillatingly bright day and started off in quest of the swim-through he knew about from his family trips here. Before finding it, we swam all the way out to the edge of the reef where the water all of a sudden changes from clear to navy blue, and a cliff drops out below you. I don’t know how many feet down, I couldn’t see the bottom.
I’m not scared of heights. I ride roller coasters, I cliff jump, I stand on lone rock formations at the grand canyon with the rest of the earth half a mile below.… I’m not scared of heights. But I also wouldn’t run off a cliff without a parachute. No one would! Yet I’ve jumped out of a plane knowing the parachute in my chaperone’s backpack would save us, so I was very surprised to see that, although I was already floating yards above the bottom, something deep seated in my gut just wouldn’t let me go over that ledge.
I’ve jumped out of a plane knowing the parachute in my chaperone’s backpack would save us, so I was very surprised to see that, although I was already floating yards above the bottom, something deep seated in my gut just wouldn’t let me go over that ledge.
I held my breath and pressurized a few times to hover right over the edge of the darkness, touching the end of the reef. I peeked over. And stayed there until I ran out of air and blew bubbles all the way back to the surface. Once there I recomposed and though “this is just silly, you’re already floating Jade.” Unable to argue with that statement, my psyche gave me other excuses, “the water’s dark!” or “what if there are big fish in there” But I reminded myself I’ve already dealt with my fear or dark water, and there are no scary fishes here. No use. This fear is bigger. This is a fear of the Void. A fear of the Unknown. It’s a deep deep psychological fear of some sort that resonates from outside the chambers of life itself. It goes beyond the fear of dying and into the realm of the fear of entering into whatever happens after death, of returning to whatever was before the womb. Fear of the Unknown with a capital U. Unlike any fear I’ve ever experienced, it doesn’t come with a raised heartbeat or the usual adrenaline flight response. It’s calm. Draws your soul closer in like the Death Eaters in Harry Potter. I felt completely like a deer in headlights: too fascinated by what was in front of me to move out of the way of (perceived) danger. Let’s remember now that there is no real danger. I’m floating!! Really interesting.
I didn’t do it that Saturday. I came close but no dice. This is a new fear I didn’t know I had. It’s been added to the list of fears to overcome. It’s a welcome challenge. We’ll have to go back and I will keep you posted on my progress. Next time =)
One day, I’ll be able to do this:
We finally found the swim through, after asking a few boats for directions,where we noticed some of the restoration efforts. There are pieces of coral lodged between ropes held in place by milk-jug buoys. I didn’t know you could grow coral like that. There were lots of pretty fishes that followed us around too. One bit Gabriel. Maybe I should have been scared of the fishes after all!!
Finally, to prove to myself I’m not a complete coward we went to the next beach over to go jump off a cliff…. One that’s above water, you know, the kind I can handle.
We leave you with our GoPro shots and a cute little video that we hope you’ll enjoy :)
And an image gallery, just for fun.
Has your other half ever promised you something on a first date you’re still waiting for?
Have you ever experienced something like this while diving or snorkelling?
Do you have any other fears you’ve overcome? or any you’re struggling with?