Remember that episode of friends where they’re all in Barbados for Ross’ conference? A little kid tells Joey that there’s a turtle who will chase you if you blow bubbles in its face. He wonders, “what do you do when he starts to chase you?” Good question, Joey. Good question.
In Akumal, Mexico, Rhys and I snorkelled with turtles. This was my first time snorkelling, ever! And it should’ve dawned on me that I have a weak gag reflex prior to putting on the mask. To snorkel, you must place a piece of plastic in your mouth. This is connected to a tube that allows you to breathe air. Well, I don’t do so great with things in my mouth. And, yes, I do know how that sounds. Even when I brush my teeth – I gag sometimes.
However, the turtles and Akumal’s Barrier Wreath were too good to pass up. Even if my swimming skills are less than par. Lucky for me, Rhys is a trained lifeguard. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ve also been on Nexus Tours & Excursions during past trips to Cuba – and they have amazing tour guides.
So, we were suited up, and walked down the beach. Got into the ocean. Tested our equipment. Then suddenly someone’s wife began to walk away. “This isn’t for me,” she said. Uh oh. I looked at Rhys, so natural in the water. I knew I was in for it. But, it was too late to turn back.
There was our tour guide/instructor and then there was a camera guy/instructor – both in the water with us. Not even twenty minutes into the excursion, I ducked my head down into the water to see all the so called “tortugas” – and there it was. A massive turtle fast approaching me. Sheer panic set-in and I tried to swim away. The turtle, however, chased me. It followed me to the point where it was right beside my body. Swimming parallel to me. The camera guy then approached me and I got a warning for almost kicking the turtle.
F***. I felt terrible. Again looked over at Rhys, who was now laughing, and we both tried to swim on. I had to stay afloat with my face ducked under the water. You know how that goes.
We continued on our tortuga and barrier wreath tour, only to come across MORE turtles. Don’t I get in trouble AGAIN because another turtle swam into my body?? Of course I did. I apologized profusely and asked the camera man to readjust my goggles that were slipping down the back of my head and over my face. Luckily, there was no harm done and he felt bad for me once I showed him my equipment’s faulty fitting.
Finally, I got the hang of it – that whole floating and lightly kicking to swim thing – while looking under the water. And you know what? Snorkelling is super relaxing. I didn’t see any other turtles during the remainder of our time floating along the Barrier Wreath, but the colourful fish and plants were amazing! Whenever I start to panic these days, I just think about what it was like to breathe and float. Just breathe and float. That’s all that was on my mind in Mexico. And of course – I’ll be forever haunted by those tortugas chasing me. Ugh, nature.