Did I tell you about the time I almost died on our honeymoon? My husband would say I am totally exaggerating, but, he wasn’t the one who almost died (well…at least not initially)!!! While we were on our honeymoon in Ocho Rios, I decided it would be a great idea to go snorkeling. I remember feeling so free, adventurous and unstoppable after becoming a wife. I was riding the high of being in love. Well, believe it or not, my husband almost had to bring me back home in a body bag. So here’s the story…We decided to do some snorkeling at the resort. We had to sign waivers stating that we knew how to swim and understood the dangers associated with snorkeling. This should have been my first indication that I didn’t need to have my silly behind on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Well anyway, we get on the boat and start putting on our flippers, life jackets and snorkeling masks and I couldn’t have been more excited. The water temperature was perfect, I was with the love of my life, what could go wrong? A lot apparently. I noticed a sign on the boat that said there is a $200 fee if the lifeguards have to rescue you. That should have been indication number two that I had no business going snorkeling, but I thought, what’s the worse that could happen? Next, we received some instructions from the captain of the boat on what to do and how to breathe and then they just let us step off the boat’s ladder. I started getting a little nervous at that point, but after watching everyone in our group (I was last to go) step off the boat ladder and start swimming away, I started feeling a little more comfortable. For some very stupid reason I was under the very false impression (although I am a scientist and know all about buoyancy) that when I stepped off of the boat ladder and into the water that I wouldn’t go completely under because I was wearing a life vest (I never claimed to be the world’s smartest scientist). Well that didn’t turn out very well.
I stepped off the boat and after I resurfaced I had a very hard time catching my breath, mostly because I was very afraid. The water was choppy and I kept getting slapped in the face by huge waves. Before I knew it, I was in a complete panic and I had floated away from the group as well as the boat. I couldn’t see anyone…I couldn’t even see the boat. The group was probably a good 200 feet in front of me, but the waves made it hard to see anyone. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my husband knew exactly where I was and was trying to get my attention. He saw I was panicking and swam over (oh, because did I mention that I can’t swim even, with a life vest on? Yeah, yeah, I know!). To my extreme embarrassment, my husband attempted to pull me back to the boat. You know how people get rescued by lifeguards and they put you on your back, try to get you to relax and then pull you back to land or the boat or whatever? Yeah, well that’s exactly what happened. While he was swimming me back to the boat I was determined that I didn’t want to end my snorkeling experience this way. I told him that I would feel a little more confident if he would stay by my side. After some hesitation he agreed. Then another huge wave smacks me and, although I love my husband, my fight or flight instincts kicked in and I almost drowned us both. I grabbed onto him and tried to use his body to get my head above the water, meanwhile pushing him under. I guess the lifeguard on board saw us because he then drove the boat over, starting yelling to see if we were okay and then threw me a flotation device. I could see all of the other snorkelers looking at me with concern, but in my mind they were thinking, “What the heck is wrong with this chick? Why is she out here if she can’t swim?”
After the captain threw me the flotation device, I finally got my bearings and told him I didn’t want to get back on the boat yet. I felt more comfortable swimming (floating) with the flotation device and having my husband right there beside me even though I had just unintentionally tried to kill him. Finally, I began to try to snorkel a little. The only problem was, that I wore two ponytails in my hair that day and they were stopping the stupid mask from sealing properly around my face. I kept breathing in water which was freaking me the heck out even more. I just could not master breathing through that mask. I managed to use the life ring to move myself through the water because for some reason even though I had a life jacket on, I just could not manage to swim. So after about 25 minutes of struggle…the last 5 minutes I actually spent successfully snorkeling. I figured out that I had to use one hand to hold on to the flotation device, the other hand to press the mask flush to my face and my feet to kick my way through the water. All in all, I was proud of myself for trying something new, but I could have drowned and died on our honeymoon. Now how romantic is that? Needless to say we spent the rest of our honeymoon on dry land.
Had I known how to swim, how to handle choppy water and what to expect after jumping off of a boat…my Jamaican snorkeling experience could have been so much better. At 29 years of age it is a shame that I cannot swim. The thing is, I love the water. I am going to make it my priority to find a private swimming instructor and put this foolishness behind me! I am thankful for 3 things. I am thankful to be alive! I’m thankful my husband tried to say my life even though I was embarrassed. I’m also thankful we weren’t changed a $200 fee for rescue.