Friday, October 24, 2008
It's good to be back, but we had an exceptionally fabulous time on our Colombia vacation! There were several physically intense experiences in the course of it. I'm going to write about them one by one so as not to inflict a huge long post on y'all.
The first scary moment: a snorkeling expedition in deep water with a group of about 15 people, including three who DID NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM. I was using my new snorkeling gear: lightweight fins that were not appropriate for paddling in strong waves & a mask that wasn’t tightly fitted. Saltwater kept getting into my mouth as I breathed, & my mask kept fogging up. Our young guide didn’t have time to help me get them adjusted properly; he had to attend to the nonswimmers (who were hooking desperately to a couple of small lifesaver rings) & was determined to take us all on a swim-tour around a small island, well away from the shoreline.
A good distance from the boat we had jumped off to begin our adventure, & having fallen well behind the rest of the group, I trod (treaded?) water, assessed my situation, & bellowed, “Ayudeme!” (Help me!). The guide detached himself from the group & came to my aid; he asked if I could make it back to the boat, & I said yes. I did see some beautiful bright fish on the way back (they hadn’t been evident before – I think they were spooked by the crowd). Then I sat unhappily in the bow for quite a while, feeling like a failure. But eventually my sister swam back to the boat too; it turned out that she had completely lost the group & nobody had come after her. Thank God she was able to make her way back around the island to the boat.
My sister has snorkeled quite a few times & is a strong & physically competent person, so finding out that she had not been able to “succeed” in this situation helped give me perspective. Then when the group finally showed up, we learned that they had all found the experience highly stressful & not very rewarding. My husband had helped one of the nonswimmers when she was floundering in the open ocean, & then he had hung onto one of the lifesavers himself; he was so glad I had gone back to the boat early on. Later we gave the guide some constructive feedback.
I did have a much more peaceful experience of snorkeling a few days later, this time at the Piscina beach in Tayrona national park. We got my mask properly tightened & I did considerable paddling around with no problems. It was important to "get back on the horse" & prove to myself that I can snorkel just fine.