One of my biggest struggles in life is to live in the moment. I tend to fantasize about the future and look behind me, in the past, quite a lot. So you can bet your a** I am gonna write about what I was doing last year, exactly on this day since it was, once again one incredible day. I was facing one of the fears I never knew I had: fear of swimming in deep waters. But let me start with the beginning.
Last May I was in the last country from my South American trip, Ecuador. It soon went on top of my favourite countries, side by side with Chile. And since my soul will forever make more sense on a beach, I decided to stay in a hostel with a pool but just few steps away from the Pacific Ocean. I could not afford going all the way to Galápagos Islands because I do tend to believe outside of the miracle of nature you can find there, it is a tourist trap. So instead I decided to take a tour on an island known as the Poor Man’s Galápagos, Isla de la Plata. And believe me when I tell you, it did not disappoint at all.
However, before getting there, I was already angry because I was not told from the hostel that my tour (booked with them) included swimming or better yet snorkeling in the open bay. So I had to improvise my swimming suit out of my shorts and sport bra and no towel. Yes, I was that silly tourist who was not prepared for their tour. Dammit!
Anyway, we all gathered around then went on a short walk to the harbour and off we went on the boat. I do love being on a boat, in general, no matter the size. This one was rather small, and we were around 15 people on board. It didn’t matter, since I was enjoying the sun and the ocean. People were talking and getting to know each other. There were a lot of people from Europe, even Eastern Europe which I was not used with. I don’t remember how long it took us, maybe one hour, maybe two to get to the beloved island. We had to jump in the water, and so as we were drying our feet and putting our shoes back off we were presented with two hikes we could do depending on what were our interests. Both of them being in the Parque Nacional Machalilla where we were standing. I decided I wanted to see the blue-footed boobies and the red birds. We all started together and in a specific spot the group got separated. I loved the hike very much, even if the sun was hotter and hotter and the shadows not so many. We have learned that the colour of their feet actually depends on their age: the older one having a darker colour. So the female are attracted to the ones with brighter colours since they might be more fertile.
Next we got to see the red-boob bird as well, I really cannot remember its name. And if you look close enough even an eagle. It was a really lovely sight, but I hated the fact that belonging to a tour in a group I had to keep going when all I wanted is to stay a bit longer to chill out in that area.
We made it back to the boat where everyone got ready for the snorkeling. We were told what to do, how to spot some of the exotic fish and turtles we were about to see and advised to stay together as a group, not to go too far out. Some of the people jumped from the roof of the boat, while I was putting my goggles around my neck. I was annoyed a little at their show off and then it was my turn to get into water. Basically all I had to do was to jump, not even jump, just step into the water. Maybe I should have known then that something it is not okay, since it took me a full minute to do that. And then, there I was in the amazing refreshing water. I put my goggles on, and the rest of the equipment in my mouth and it was time to look at what treasures were hidden beneath me. I always loved to swim and I always loved the ocean, also I have snorkelled before, so what happened next got me totally by surprise.
A small panic attack hit me with the first drop of water that got into my nose and mouth. I was scared because I had no other safety around me and beneath me there were tens of meters of water. Nothing else. Clearly last time when I went snorkeling, I was in a full-on suit that was keeping me afloat without me doing anything other than going right or left, way simpler than in this moment. And yes, I do know how to swim and I can keep myself above the water. Except it was hard to do that when, in all my fear, I couldn’t breath. It was not the water, or maybe that’s exactly what it was: the bottomless water underneath me. I do not know how many minutes have passed, might have been two, might have been ten, what I know is that little by little I focused all my attention on my breathing. I was counting down every gulp of air I was taking in, and slowly releasing the rest out. It made me feel extremely weird since I never knew something like this would get to me, making me all anxious. And so, after the time passed and I was able to control my breathing again, I put the goggles back on and start looking in the water.
It was incredible seeing turtles just beneath me and to my right a little colourful fish. I guess it was something yellow-orange, but not sure. I kept swimming around up until someone started screaming they found something exciting. They were too far away for me to reach them in time but they said they saw a manta ray. Excuse me, what now? We all got into the boat and decided to go a bit further into the ocean just to try and find the stunning creature of the sea/ocean. The water was too dark and that beautiful creature was too big for me to want to go back into the water so instead I decided to stay on the boat. I saw just a tiny bit of it, not even sure how many were there. See if you can spot them! Since I didn’t have a waterproof camera, I could not take any pictures of the wonders in the water. And unfortunately I didn’t manage to get anyone else’s pictures either.
We were all very happy and most of us fell asleep on our way back to Puerto Lopez from where we left. A little girl actually fell asleep on me and even when the mother wanted to wake her up, I told her not to since for some reason I was not bothered by it at all, with numbing hand with all. I went back to the hostel where I was staying doing some laps in the swimming pool and enjoying yet again another beautiful sunset in the ocean.