One of our pastors told a story about his honeymoon snorkel experience. The guide, in an attempt to prepare the snorkelers, gave too much information. Took some fun out of the experience. So, instead of listening to the rest of the sermon (as usual) I was thrown back in time....................
Jeff and I went on a 7 day cruise for our honeymoon. When we stopped in the Cayman Islands, we took an excursion to swim with the stingrays.
take a moment to laugh at my patriotic cover up, but leave my sandals alone...i miss them, and the bathing suit (not seen) and my 21 year old self.....sigh
Jeff was very excited to go on this excursion. Me? well.....I had to encourage myself...
I have never been a fan of pets, petting zoos, or anything that puts me in contact with animals.......or most humans.
I convinced myself that if millions of people did this all the time without problems, I could too.
We boarded the excursion boat. I found a comfortable area with ample personal space and let the fun of boating on the perfect blue/green ocean sweep me away.
The captain started talking over the speakers. I half listened but mostly enjoyed the breeze, the sky, the sun, the gorgeous ocean. After a few minutes, my ears were begging me to pay attention.
"sting ray safety"
"sting ray hickies"........what?....wait.....
I began to pay attention to his words:
"we are headed out to a part of the ocean with a sand bar......you will be able to stand up and enjoy the sting rays swimming all around you"
I began to imagine me standing in the middle of the ocean with the water up to my hips. Sting rays, the size of couch pillows, swimming all around me. This was going to be great!
"Don't touch the back of the sting ray, near the tail. When threatened, the sting ray will injure you with the barbs."
I am still good. I probably wont even touch them and I am sure they wont touch me. I definitely dont plan on threatening them.
"The sting rays will try to suck on you and could give you a sting ray hickie. Just push them away on the tip of their 'nose'."
WHAT? Oh no! I am not letting the sting ray suck on me. I start to get a little nervous but decide that I could push them away and everything would be fine.
The captain continued: "They love chum and swarm to it. We have buckets of it."
I had a new plan. I would not get near the chum and therefore I could watch the sting rays interact with all the other tourists from a peaceful distance.
We dropped anchor and I jumped into the ocean.
I won't even begin to tell you how I failed at using the snorkel gear. To this day I have not mastered that technique.
The next part of the story happened and lasted about 3 minutes:
I jumped into the ocean and tried to stand up. The ocean was not up to my hips.
The water was up to my arm pits and most of the time sloshing right in my face. I was quickly losing control of the situation and angry panic took over.
Every person on the boat, but me, took loads of chum into the ocean. I was surrounded by chum, and excited, splashy people slinging chum....waiting on the sting rays to arrive.
My anxiety level was high, but I would swim with the tiny rays! I WOULD make my new husband (who was completely thrilled with this experience) proud of me. I would not be girly!
I struggled to look into the water around me as it quickly clouded with nasty squid chum.
What was that huge shadow coming right toward me? It couldn't be the tiny rays. It was as big as a sofa!
My brain, eyes and nerves worked together to alert me that the boat sized shadow WAS a sting ray and it was coming toward my chum, saturated area.
I grabbed Jeff and with great adrenaline induced strength, pulled him toward my side, pushed him under the water, climbed up his hips to his back to his shoulder and stood on his head as he struggled not to drown.
"PUT ME BACK IN THE BOAT"
I spent the entire excursion in the boat, with a 4 year old tourist, and watched Jeff enjoy the sting rays.