Swimming with whale sharks, sparkles in my eyes

I guess I must have mentioned this somewhere before, but my favorite animal is the shark. I remember the first time I saw one in a random aquarium somewhere. I must have been about 15. I didn’t expect anything, it took me by surprise. Instant, delirious love. I was fascinated. I just sat there and watched them for hours. It was so utterly and deeply relaxing. I guess it’s about the elegance with which they move. The casual dignity. It’s also about the symbolism of it all. They never stand still. Ever so slightly, they move all the time. And they can’t move backward, they can only move forward. Isn’t that the whole point in life ?

So, when I arrived in Mexico, it’s the only “day cruise” expedition that I signed up for. Swimming with sharks. And not just any sharks either. WHALE sharks ! Amazing, beautiful HUGE whale sharks. I was so excited.

The boat ride to get over there was pretty rough. I’m usually a pretty seasoned sailor, but by the end I was throwing up just like EVERYBODY else on the boat. Fernando (our guide) asked me if I wanted to go first. I was like “yeah” and then throwing up and then “HELL yeah”.

The whale sharks were pretty impressive, so massive, right next to our tiny fragile boat. One of the women of our group refused to jump “nope, nope, I see them now, I’m good, I’m good”.

So you just sit on the boat, wait for a shark to be RIGHT there, and your guide says JUMP and you can’t hesitate; you just jump right next to the shark. And it is AMAZING. I mean yeah, physically it is rather hard on you. You have 3 or 4 jumps of about 10 minutes, so that there’s not too many people in the water. We jumped 2 by 2 with our guide. You have to swim pretty fast to keep up with the shark if you want to see something. It’s very disorientating. Too many things happening at once. Then you go back on the boat, you throw up big time and when it’s your turn again you just spit, put your mask back on and jump again. No rest for the warriors.

So yeah, everybody was pretty sick and exhausted afterwards. But during. It was surreal, amazing, beautiful. These creatures are peaceful and graceful in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I was lucky, our guide kind of liked me best (probably because I was the only one doing that by myself). So he was always grabbing my hand and pulling me closer to the sharks so I could keep up, and see the most of it. The sharks didn’t give a damn about us. I mean I’m not even sure they registered our presence. The just kept on moving lazily forward.  With their cute little spots and distinguished presence. It was one of the most surreal experiences in my life. When I got back to my hostel and my best friend, I was pale under my tan from too much throwing up, but my eyes were shinning bright. I couldn’t wait to call my mother and give her an heart attack by saying “guess you swam with huge bad ass sharks today ?!”.

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PS : sorry I don’t have any pictures. I was too busy living the dream.

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