Sunday, March 20, 2011

[DONSOL] Drowning in Glee

It was my first time to swim with fins and a snorkel. I held on to the life buoy as instructed but it went against my ego. See, I took two semesters of swimming classes, both beginner and advanced, as PE, and during our time visibility in the UP pool was also low. Navigating the ocean would be a breeze, or so I thought. Then I saw something spotted and brownish swimming under me. Hello, Butanding, we finally meet.

The six individuals to a whale shark rule is rarely followed when sightings are scarce. What happened was that people just flocked together. It was like an underwater version of rush hour on the MRT, with the whale shark being the train's quickly closing door. I would not say that the experience was spectacular or life changing. All I know was that after the gentle giant vanished from my sight, I saw a group of people swimming towards me, desperately following the fish. When I looked up, the life buoy was gone.

"Two semesters of swimming in a low visibility pool," I reminded myself. No cause for panic. As Dory said in Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming." And that was what I did. Thread, kick, breast stroke! Thread, kick, breast stroke! And then the inevitable happened. My hamstrings decided that they wanted to have cramps. My legs and I have always had this love-hate relationship. When I pedal a bike uphill, walk for hours, or do a waltz jump, my legs would always make it a point to let me know that they do not like any of that at all. Today was no exception. What makes me wonder is that most of the time when I am on water and I have cramps, the calves are usually the ones affected, not the thighs. But then, I have not swum for ages and regular exercise is not really my thing. This was bound to happen.

Wearing fins and a snorkel made it even more complicated. I desperately tried threading to stay afloat but the fins were somehow hindering my progress. I was desperately trying to breathe through the snorkel but all it did was force salty water, VERY salty water, into my mouth. I knew the fins would give me a boost if I swam head down moving forward, but my legs stayed dead in the water.

The crowd was already far away and I could spot neither the BIO nor my boat companions anywhere. There was one man around 15 meters away looking at me curiously. I waved my arms desperately. He waved back. Nice one, dude. Awkward moments. Another BIO spotted me just in time when I saw a plastic container cum life buoy floating by. I grabbed it. I saw a boat approach and the next thing I knew I was already of the water.

They kept on asking who my BIO (Butanding Interaction Officer) was but I could not remember his name. This voluntary amnesia thing is starting to get annoying. Anyway, it was not his fault. It was just that when I saw the whale shark directly under me, I felt the need to dive closer, which was a no-no according to the video. Rules are made for a reason. Regardless, I still recommend this activity to anyone who wants to do it. Just be careful and make sure to follow instructions.

I opted not to jump the third time around. I already saw one and that was enough. Besides, it seems I do not know my own legs well enough to know when they would betray me next. Heard that, legs? I am so hating on you right now. Back on topic, the third jump was THE jump. Our boatmen were wise. When they saw the crowd swimming to a certain direction, they decided to meet them from the other side so that when my five companions jumped in, they landed right in front of the Butanding.

The two Danes were euphoric. I forgot what adjective the girl used to describe those three seconds but she was absolutely thrilled. So were the two Filipinos. Even the quiet German was ecstatic. I sat there relaxing and acting all indifferent. Of course, I was envious. Are you high? I paid almost a thousand pesos for this gig. I so hate me right now (beats self with stick).

The breeze was strong but it was no longer drizzling. Things were getting better. Unfortunately, that was the last jump. We roamed around for another hour or so but there were no more whale sharks. We headed back to shore and went our separate ways. I asked a tricycle driver to bring me to the terminal for Albay-bound PUVs. Defeated, I boarded a jeep back to Daraga.

I am coming back, Donsol, and when I do, my legs would be more cooperative, the sun would be in full blast, the whale sharks would not be shy, and there would be less people. Now who has Professor Snape's number? I need a Felix Felicis potion. Or some Gillyweed...

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