I sit on the long tail boat, snorkel gear in hand, strapped into a grimy orange life vest. I turn the gear over in my hands, looking out onto the serene blue water and the jungle-covered mountains poking from its depths.
Around me, other long tail boats have dropped anchor, too, and their passengers eagerly jump into the cooling water on the hot Koh Samui morning.
They all look like they have having a blast.
As the other girls on my boat begin to drop into the water, I linger aboard, letting myself feel the gentle effects of the rocking from the water ripples below.
Get in the water, D.
I’ve snorkeled once before. Well, not really snorkeled. I tried to snorkel. About 12 years ago. In the Florida Keys. Armed with a kiddie snorkel set, my friend and I jumped into the crystal clear water and dunked our heads under. But, I freaked. Panicked. Couldn’t get my breathing right, and when water flooded the goggles, I threw my arms up in the air and decided to not risk my flesh being eaten by the evil-teethed barracuda and opted for the sanctuary of sand instead.
“What’s in the water here?” I had asked Martin, the general manager of Amari, my first night on the island. “Are there any, you know, stinging or biting things I should know about?”
In Croatia, it’s the sea urchin. In America, it’s the bastard jelly fish. Always something to give me a reason to not get into the salt water and stick to the safe confines of the chemically-treated pool instead.
“Nope, nothing really,” he assures me. “Just these little black and yellow fish that are fed bread so they swim up to you. Occasionally, they may nip at you if you don’t have any, but that’s it.”
Now, perched above the water, I see those little black and yellow fish. They swarm like the fish in the old movie “Pirhana,” devouring the soft bread before it breaks into fluffy, water-soaked pieces.
I don’t want them touching me.
I survey my surroundings. It’s paradise, and I’m letting some fear — although I don’t even know what I am afraid of — to keep my on board the long tail instead of experiencing what I came to the island to experience — the water.
Do it, D. Just do it, you chicken shit.
I gather my courage and being to climb down the ladder and dip my foot into the water. I look down … nothing really in the water to eat me.
Then, I’m in. The water rushing over my swimsuit clad body.
I stick the breathing part of the snorkel in my mouth and bite down on it, hard.
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Holy shit. I’m doing it.
Carefully, I being to let my head go under the water. I blink my eyes a few times as it hits me I am breathing under water. I. Am. Snorkeling. I did it. I want to grab onto one of the other girls and wildly gesture to show her I am doing it, but no one is around. Instead, I channel the excitement and look at a world I normally wouldn’t see.
Around me, those gorgeous little black and yellow fish swim by, their bodies moving so smoothly. The dusty pink coral rests below my feet.
It really is another world. And, I cannot believe I actually wasn’t going to try it. This snorkeling thing? It isn’t so bad.
I proceed to swim around for about 10 minutes, dunking my head under as my body floats on the surface, looking wide-eyed at the remarkable life in the water below.
“Eel!” One of the girls yells.
“What? Where?” I respond, happy I am nowhere near where she is investigating.
“Just over there,” she says, pointing even further away from me.
But, then I start to think about the eel and its slithering about.
Yeah, it’s time to get out.
I climb back aboard the boat and smile. Snorkeling? Done.