So, what had happened was…. Ready? Read ahead.
It’s my first time in South Africa and I’m loving it! Saw some beautiful animals in Kruger (read more here), drank some wine at Stellenbosch (post coming soon), visited the Cape of Good Hope… it was a Disney dream come true. My travel buddies made comments here and there about going Great White Shark cage diving but I let it go in one ear and out the other; until one day, I find myself in a car on the way to Gansbaai, one of the largest homes to Great Whites. Still, I’m a team player, I’ll go on the boat, enjoy a drink and get my melanin on while these fools decide to test their fate.
35 minutes later, everyone is getting fitted for their wet suit and I am chilling in my white one piece mesh bathing suit looking like a Nigerian goddess. Not surprisingly, the guide tries to get me to participate by giving me standard reasons: I’m already here, I already paid for it, don’t be a baby and so forth; too bad he doesn’t realize I’m the youngest of 5 with a Nigerian Catholic mother — I am immune to guilt trips or petty insults.
Another guide comes over and tells me, “Just do it”, I reiterate, “No, thank you. I’m fine where I am besides I can’t even swim”! This man literally laughs in my face and says “You think learning how to swim would save you from a shark?!” and walks away. I don’t know what mental juju had just happened but a light bulb turned on and I thought “Damn, he’s right! Swimming isn’t going to help my ass if Jaws decided to attack so why the hell not”. So brave right?!
I put on the wet suit, everything’s fine; I put on the googles, everything’s fine; I put on a 12 LB LEAD WEIGHT on my body, everything is NOT fine. Cue the barrage of thoughts: “You are not adventurous, you can’t even go paddle boarding on a lake!” “You don’t even have a driver’s license! YOU CAN’T SWIM!” “How can I get out of this… how can I GET OUT?!” To make matters worse, due to me being a drama queen, I had made a dramatic scene about “conquering my fears” and everyone on the boat was cheering me on.
I climb into the 10-12 foot long cage and confess my sins to the Almighty as it is submerged into the freezing blue water. My fellow divers were my two friends (a term that’s being used loosely at this point tbh) and two other crazies; above us the guide was chumming the water in order to attract sharks to the cage (feel free to re-read that last sentence again slowly to capture the true essence of my bad decision).
“SHARK!! GO DOWN GO DOWN” the guide yells and down I go! I plunge myself into the FREEZING water and I swear my heart stopped. I felt terror, anxiety and uncertainty all at the same time; almost instantaneously two looming sharks whizz past us lunging at the bait! Instinctively, I screamed (still underwater by the way) allowing a wave of gross salty, chumm-y sea water into my mouth; flailing everywhere I pull myself up for air and start laughing uncontrollably. Apparently, in terrifying, knee-weakening situations… laughing like a maniac is my coping mechanism.
I caught my breath and after a chiding from the guide for flailing everywhere (my legs looked like fish for the shark), I was ready for round two! This time my fear was replaced with exhilaration and excitement as I eagerly submerged for another look of the majestic, graceful creatures. I saw a total of 4 sharks and though they did get pretty damn close to the cage, they were more interested in the fake bait and not the potential real life human bait. Honestly, the feeling was something I don’t think I can even describe; the mix of fear, excitement and unknown of what’s about to
happen was amazing!
All in all, it was such an incredible experience, or it could be the cold water seizing my heart, but I had never felt that able before in my life! In fact, I quit my job about 3 months after and moved to a brand new city! I mean, if I can go Great White Shark cage diving without knowing how to swim….Who gon check me boo?
Check out the video below 🙂