Heart pumping, I finally latched myself onto the edge of the boat in my cumbersome dive gear, panting heavily. The boat was anchored between the twin peaks of the famous Gordon Rocks, the most treacherous dive site in the Galapagos – “the washing machine”. All attempts to slow my quickening breaths were desperate and futile; full of trepidation, I could only look on helplessly at the jutting rocks, the crashing waves snaring, mocking, debilitating. “Uno, dos, tres!” Christian shouted, and we rolled into the undulating unknown.
With the bubbles trailing above, I was descending quickly into the caldera of the submerged volcano, cutting through the different layers of currents, feeling the strangely intermingling sensations of warm and chill. Already, my eyes were feasting on the surroundings, the submerged pinnacles effervescent with so much life. At the bottom of the fishbowl, 30 metres down the deep, deep blue, I looked up, astounded by the spiraling shoals and hovers of fishes, the floating turtles, the reef glistening with bubbles of light falling from above. From a distance, a school of hammerheads swam by. Eager, I wanted to get there and propelled my fins. Still shocked from the intense sensory experience, I could not comprehend the wavy gloss that painted over the perfect picture of hammerheads, speckled with microscopic bits of light and life. As if intoxicated, I drifted dreamingly, enjoying the illusion of the thermocline. With shivers of hammerheads and white-tipped sharks circling three metres above, I could hardly contain the frightening sense of excitement; the mixed feelings of fear and thrill pure ecstasy, my breathing labored and intense.
Then came the strong currents that swept me away. Frantically, I caught hold of my buddy, who pulled me against the rocks. My hands gripped tight onto the rocks, as my body tossed in all directions by the surges. Unable to fight the overwhelming currents, I gave up paddling my fins, but wrapped myself against the rocks, and found every opportunity to climb my way up. Yes, it was a mind-blowing experience, rock-climbing and diving in one. Every step/paddle of the way, I looked on with staggering amazement, trying desperately to capture all the sights of this out-of-the-world experience: the giant turtle that was resting right beside me as I let out a gasp of surprise, the curious sea lion my size that came right up my face to check me out, the scorpion fish that suddenly transformed from a rock.
The school of over thirty hammerheads returned, this time, swimming below us. Another bale of turtles paddled by. Above us, a fever of majestic-looking eagle rays glided gracefully. I paddled towards them, and soon found myself an arm’s length away from an eagle ray double my size. So exhilarating, the entire experience was unbelievable. It was so surreal, like a dream. I had two dives at the Gordon Rocks; together, they lasted for about an hour. When I finally floated back up, I was moved to tears. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.
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