Good lord, today was a dream. I feel the way I felt journaling that night after Rottnest. I’m awed that I’m here. I’m giddy that I did what I did today. Everyone’s getting grinned at right now. (your welcome, YHA members.)
I swam with whale sharks!
This elusive gentle giant. I swear pictures are coming, plus the “free” (em, nothing’s free on a $400 whale shark diving tour, excuse me) DVD of the day. For now be satisfied with the upcoming links on whale shark info and this picture of my sunnies:
As I may have told you, things got weird for a minute there in Perth. I started really stressing about going home, about buying a car and it’s insurance policy, about gasoline and dog food and moving into an apartment in Tempe. (oh please oh please oh please) I got all jittery and sick-feeling in the pit of my stomach because there is Real Life stuff to do back home. I even have a bridesmaid dress to buy.
In this anxious state I decided to sit around watching Friends, not spend money, and wait to go home. Security!
…is for pansies.
I was like, ohemgee, I totally did not spend like two thousand dollars to come to Australia and sit on my ass.
I’m not here to save money. I’m on vacation, not a diet.
So I gave my panic the finger and booked a whale shark diving tour in Exmouth. And subsequent plane tickets to and from.
Three Islands Whale Shark Tours (http://www.whalesharkdive.com/) picked me up form the hostel at 7:30. We drove around collecting more eager, albeit a bit sleepy, tourists and headed out for the boats. I was assured I would have special food in my own special lunch box, but that if I decided I wasn’t allergic to gluten and my conscience failed I could help myself to what the others were eating. Winning.
We first snorkeled at the most amazing reef. I’ve gotten over those first gasping, mistrustful breaths I used to take when first jumping in the water. I’m a pro now. I just waddle to the deck and plop into the water, and I’m off. And I get tapped in the shoulder multiple times to come closer to the rest of the group. You guys, please go snorkeling. It’s another world down there. I’ve never seen a forest so alive. I saw two manta-rays! I saw Dory!
En route to open water (shale shark water) we caught a glimpse of a turtle coming up for air, freaking out at our boat, and diving out of sight. I almost wept. Who sees sea turtles?!?
The spotter plane let the skipper know where the shark was spotted, and we made a beeline for him. By now I was best friends with a lady form England and a girl my age from Perth, and the three of us sat wide-eyed and tapping our heels. Anticipation is deadly.
Here’s what happens; they pull the boat way in front of the animal, in his path, and ten of us jump out and swim forward. It’s deep blue, and you can’t see anything. You’re just trying to stay near the group because, conceivably, they know what they’re doing. You hope the school of jellyfish you just swam through play nice. Then out of nowhere, silently, shape takes form in front of you. Spotted and wide-mouthed and getting massive the closer it gets, and you gurgle “holy shit on a stick” and kick to one side of the giant to let him pass. You can’t take your eyes off him.
It is so beautiful. So passive. Unthreatened and unthreatening. And it is silent, because your ears are under ocean and you aren’t breathing heavily, if you’re even breathing at all.
Once he’s passed you swim beside him as long he let’s you keep up. You watch him bob in the swells and fan his gills. You know his tail could knock you unconscious if he wanted. He doesn’t want. The other nine swimmers fade and you feel naked and alone in open water with a peacefully ancient creature. It is very much like a dream. Multiple times, you get in and out of the boat to catch up and swim with the shark. To see him coming toward you, all mouth and dorsal fin rising up behind him, is almost terrifying, except you know you’re perfectly safe. You can see his eyes, his lips, his spots, the stripe by his gills, his impossibly tall tail fin swaying in the water.
Back on the boat, you can’t explain why you feel like crying and laughing at the same time, so you just stay quiet.
I think His attention to detail is stunning, don’t you? I think he’s a divine madman, a creative genius with a flair for the unexpected and exotic. He’s probably tickled that His biggest fish is harmless. He probably can’t wait until we figure out what the pyramids are about. He probably loves watching us swim with His whale sharks and throw sticks for our dogs.
Wild. I’m reminded of that friend of mine, the one who things got so messy with. I’m reminded of him shaking his head at my misplaced defiance, telling me I needed to stop being so resistant to things I feared would settle me.
“You’re so scared of being tamed, you miss out on living. You wanna be wild? He’s the wild one.”
And isn’t He?