Snorkeling = Serenity? Maybe Not

I’d pictured pure serenity – pina coladas on white sandy beaches – when my husband and I took a dream vacation to Hawaii a few weeks ago. But I have a knack for complicating serenity and, it turns out, there is no better way to do that than becoming obsessed with snorkeling.

First, let me say in my defense that the word itself sounded fun and I’ve always been a fan of tropical fish. Also, my husband went into his Carpe Diem mode when he noticed shop signs everywhere offering equipment for just $1.50 a day.

“If you want to do it, now is the time!” he said. So ignoring the apocalyptic sign right next door that said “Jesus Is Coming,” we marched confidently into the nearest dive shop to rent a goggle-like mask, a mouthpiece with a long funny pipe, and a pair of slip-on fins.

As with most things that sound too good to be true, so was the price. I’m not sure what the $1.50 covered – possibly the baby soap solution that you use to clean the goggles – but that flashy price disappeared quicker than a flashy fish when we went for the “optional” upcharges. Like the “super-duper” snorkel that kept salt water from rushing into your mouth.

“Really, it’s not that hard,” the salesman assured us. “You’ll just have to get used to breathing through your mouth, not your nose.”

Easy enough, I figured, for someone with Ohio allergies. And when the fins actually fit over my bunions, I knew it was meant to be.

First, though, Mr. Carpe Diem suggested we start slow, in the swimming pool at the condo. Good thing. While I, the far less athletic, was instantly gazing peacefully at the bottom of the pool, he immediately got water in his mask and mouth.

“It’s probably your moustache,” said a veteran snorkeler who was there swimming laps. “It’s breaking the seal.” In a flash, she donated a tiny jar of raspberry-flavored Vaseline “so you won’t have to shave it off,” which he was apparently considering.

Happily, the fault was with his super-duper snorkel. With a replacement in hand, we headed toward a crowded public beach to display our snorkeling skills to the sunbathers of Maui. We had devoted several hours to finding a quieter place, but one secluded beach had a “RIP Earle” sign, which mentioned his love of snorkeling. It made me nervous.

So in front of a large (but lifeguarded) audience, the inevitable role reversal occurred. My partner, already waist-deep in water, donned his equipment handily. I immediately got sand in my mask and struggled hard to enter the surf wearing fins. So hard that complete strangers were running out to offer a hand and yell, “Walk Backwards.” This makes it easier to get in the water but does nothing to assuage the panic that comes from being sneak-attacked by a killer wave.

Finally, convincing myself that he should not snorkel alone, I did the deed and even saw some pink, brain-like coral and a charming pair of yellow tang fish. For a good 40 minutes, we enjoyed the serenity that came from two days’ preparation, followed briefly by pina coladas, but quickly complicated by Carpe Diem’s obsession to hike into the crater of a live volcano.

I guess we have a lot in common.

Copyright 2015 Pat Snyder



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One Response to “Snorkeling = Serenity? Maybe Not”

  1. Nita Sweeney Says:

    Love this! Sounds like every “serenity seeking” vacation adventure I’ve ever had! Glad you arrived home safely and didn’t drown!

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