Happy birthday Raven! I can’t swim.

Vine might be dead, but the anticipation for today’s activities keep the six second clip on replay in my mind. Like the small child who looked out at the daunting ocean, I felt the same fear she had. Today was our second day on Dayang Island and today was meant to be a day dedicated to exploring the ocean. Everyone was excited and kept looking at me to share their enthusiasm and all I could say was “I’ve never snorkeled before.” The previous day I had started my training and I had gotten out the sea with some saltwater in my lungs and a piece of my toenail missing which seemed like an overall success considering the alternative was death. Now, we are going out for a day of exploration and I couldn’t stop myself from being nervous.

Our time on the island was meant to be the relaxing break before we had to return to reality and go back home. The last few weeks had been filled with early mornings and long hiking days. Here on the island, we were given a chance to disconnect and stop in a world that is always on the go. According to Dayang, the equation that added to a perfect break was Gorgeous Views + No Wi-Fi + Ocean Exploration, but the exploration piece worried me.

I pushed aside my worries and rolled out of bed to eat breakfast. At the breakfast table, a group of us began to prepare for a morning hike to the top of the island. We decided to uncover the ‘gorgeous views’ piece of our equation by venturing to the top of the island, besides what could be more relaxing then scaling the edge of a cliff. Our guide led the way as we struggled to find our footing on the soft soil and shaky rocks. With his help and the assistance of purposely placed ropes along the trail, we reached the top and saw Big Blue; the massive rock that somehow found its way to this peak. Looking pass Big Blue, we had a view of the forest behind us, the ocean in front of us, and the island across the way. The views were magnificent and we all stared in awe until our looks of disbelief became looks of confusion- did we have to go back the same way we came? With an even more difficult trip down we made our way back to the ground and only lost one shoe in the process. With a quick break and lunch, we all loaded up into the boat with our gear to go further out.

Time to snorkel. My nerves tripled as I prepared to jump into the waves. I spit in my mask like my snorkel life coaches showed me and put on my flippers. I took a deep breath before I jumped in the water, said goodbye to land, and finally looked down to take in the most amazing sight- life beneath the sea. I’ve been told about the world under the waves and seen Blue Planet, but something about snorkeling makes everything seem so real. With my life coaches by my side, we peaked into the lives of the vibrant fish, sea turtles, and a few blacktip reef sharks. The corals were full of life and the jellyfish were not to excited about our intrusion. Bearing witness to the ocean creatures, I had the time of my life. Snorkeling made the time fly and before we knew it we were going back to the resort for dinner. After dinner, we grabbed our spotlights and headed back to the water. We had seen what was out during the day and now, it was time to explore the ocean at night. With our lights by our side and our snorkel buddies close, we saw the sea urchins that came out and watched our unhappy jellyfish glow.

As I crawled into bed that night, I thought about my vine one last time and wondered if Raven ever got into the water and if she had as much fun as I did.