Living A Dream (Literally)
Living A Dream (Literally)
I am an Island girl, born and raised. Growing up in the Cayman Islands, as well as traveling to the Bahamas with my family when I was younger, means I have experienced lots of snorkeling, fishing, and ocean life. I have had huge manta rays swim right beneath me, and 7-foot barracudas inches away from my face. But not even these childhood memories could have prepared me for the beauty that I was blessed to discover here in Utila, Honduras.
I got my open water certification early last year, but being so busy with work, I never took the opportunity to go diving with friends. In the midst of a slow September, my best friend Jenn and I decided to take the entire morning off and dedicate it to going on a couple dives with some of our pals from Eco Marine. We woke up at sunrise, packed our bags and jumped on the morning dive boat leaving from town.
With butterflies in our stomachs, we listened to our good friend Dave brief us on the basics of Scuba Diving. I can honestly say that I was only half paying attention, while looking out at the smooth, sparkling ocean and being so thankful that we took this opportunity to go out on the dive boat. In the middle of all this, I saw a dolphin! Lots of dolphins! Everyone was so excited and we headed over to the leaping pod. Dave immediately put on his fins and mask, grabbed his go-pro and jumped straight in the water! I followed his lead nervously and was instantly in complete awe at what I was experiencing: a whole group of dolphins in separate groups of 3 – 4 each were swimming all around me.
I looked towards the bottomless blue and saw them playing below me and communicating with each other through a beautiful melody of squeaks and clicks. I popped my head out of the water to tell Jenn to jump in and I saw their fins surrounding me on the surface! I could hear in the background Dave yelling “Brooke! Over here! They are over here!” Little did he know they were surrounding me as well! There were so many! In that very moment I remember thinking, “Wow! I am living my moms dream!” When I was a child, my mom always told me her dream was to swim with wild dolphins, and here I was swimming with them and they weren’t leaving, they were playing! Even as we reluctantly got back on the boat and headed towards our dive spot they followed us. We all sat at the front of the boat and watched them chase us, wanting to play some more. What an incredible experience! Little did I know, this was only the beginning.
Our first dive was a drift dive and I spent most of the time trying to get used to the concept of buoyancy again. I also watched as Dave and Caitlin continuously saw and speared lionfish. Lionfish are an invasive species in the Caribbean with glamorous but venomous spines – the only fish we are legally allowed to spear while Scuba Diving. We saw so many but they all couldn’t fit on the spears! After coming back up to the surface, the Captain yelled to us that whale sharks have been spotted on the North Shore. We jumped back on the boat and before we could even throw off our dive gear Capt. Foster was off heading towards the whale sharks! I was so excited. I had been living on Utila for over a year and had yet to swim with the famous whale sharks. We all couldn’t believe it: wild dolphins, lionfish, and whale sharks all in one day? It was just too good to be true!
Jumping in with the whale sharks was an entire experience in itself. Two other dive boats crowded the “boil”. When spotting whale sharks, Captains look out for the “boil”: a large mass of fish feeding at the surface, surrounding the whale shark. I watched as all the divers sat on the edge of the boat with theirs fins and snorkels on, ready for the leap. I was so overwhelmed trying to search for any sign of the whale shark when all of a sudden the Captain screamed, “THERE! THERE! JUMP! GO!!!”
It was almost like riding a roller coaster. We all jumped in at the same time and swam as fast as we possibly could towards this huge swimming shadow. We immediately slowed down as we approached the slow-motion massive creature. It was so unreal. I felt so small next to this massive WHALE. It was so exhilarating. Although it is unheard of, technically this thing could have turned around and swallowed us whole. We all kept swimming to keep up and get the closest view we possibly could, without getting too close. As it decided to change direction we all instantly stopped and reversed as to avoid getting wacked in the head by its massive tail. After about 3 – 4 jumps in with two different whale sharks, we had to head to our last dive, so as to not run out of time before Jenn and I needed to be at work.
Our second dive almost seems like a blur now, as I was so overwhelmed with everything I had already experienced this day. I remember it was a wall dive and the water was clear. I almost sat on a bright green moray eel and we saw tons of beautiful reef fish. We took some fun pictures to end the day and we all seemed to be smiling our heads off, even with regulators in our mouths the whole time.
With hungry bellies and happy hearts we headed back to work at Neptune’s. The dive boat brought us right to the dock. Jenn and I went straight in to work, while the rest of the crew scaled and filleted the lionfish catch. Our exquisite kitchen served us lionfish tacos with fresh pineapple habanero topping and deep fried beer-battered lionfish fingers. We had a feast with our friends while sharing stories about our day together. A few drinks later, the sun set, and our Eco Marine friends went back to the dive shop.
Right now, Dave is in sunny Florida, Caitlin in freezing Oregon, and Jenn and I are still here at Neptune’s. We are all in different places but we will have this special memory in our hearts forever. This day was supposed to be just a typical day of diving but turned into a day I will remember for the rest of my life. If one morning on a dive boat can do this to me (a girl who was raised in the Caribbean), imagine what a week or month of diving could do for you?
Change your life. Live your dream. Visit Utila.