They say to save the best for last. This particular morning was not my best as my mind and body were dehydrated and exhausted from five dives and the consumption of Fijian kava kava the day before. As the early morning sun peaked through my window I arose with my eyes half-shut and with my goggles in hand, I went to meet my scuba group.
Walking into the shallows, I watched my muddy feet and greeted the locals who were clam digging around me. The boat ride to the reef started off as a delight, until things got a bit shaky – the boat that is. As the waves intensified the boat rocked from side to side. Gearing up my tank and flippers, I was ready for action.
But, knowing my luck, I forgot my mask and had left it on the other side of the boat. Hastily, I reached for it and simultaneously got yanked back by the scuba instructor who was trying to hold me up by my dive tank. To say the least, rocking boats and walking in flippers are not a good match. After the disastrous fall, I placed the mask on my face and rolled backwards into the water.
To make the morning even better, my body started to experience lightning bolt stings through the wetsuit; we were swimming amongst miniature jellyfish whose stings woke me up faster than a triple-shot espresso.
On the float on down toward the ocean floor, I was praying that things would get better, including the constant itching of my skin.
As we reached the bottom, we swam around a reef wall to be welcomed by one of the most spiritual sights my eyes have ever seen. As the sun hit the reef, a glistening wave of blue, green, red and yellow hit my eyes as aquatic life meandered through the reef.
We watched little Nemo flounder about his home, played with sea cucumbers like we were five years old and said hello to one agitated lobster who kept creeping back into his tunnel each time a diver swam near him.
Then I saw the hand signal; the one I had been waiting for. After the morning I’d had, it was a sight I didn’t welcome.
The signal of the flat palm on the forehead meant ‘shark’. In that moment, all I could do was to ‘prey’ that this would not be a disastrous encounter. Soon to see this predator, my stomach turned, my body went numb and adrenaline surged through my body.
As the group eagerly swam forward, we crossed the gentle six-foot beast, which floated minding his own business. A second reef shark appeared and kept a sharp eye on us. With eight feet between us, the shark and I held each other’s gaze. Looking him in the eye became nothing but a spiritual moment.
From a disastrous morning to a quintessential high, the Fijian waters changed my viewpoint on life immediately; life is precious and we are just some of the many living and breathing creatures that share space on this earth.
Flickr credit – Derek Keats
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About the Author (Author Profile)
Elizabeth Kovar M.A. is a fitness professional, college educator and workshop presenter. She is also a freelance fitness, outdoor and travel writer. Elizabeth also coordinates wellness retreats to integrate her two passions: health and travel. Her most remarkable travel experiences include working and studying abroad in the Gold Coast, Australia and studying Ashtanga yoga in India.