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All the sounds came to a sudden stop as I plunged into this vast silence of the ocean. Time had slowed down. I was afraid that the saline water would sting my eyes if i opened them, but it didnt. I had never opened my eyes under water before. It  was a strange visual experience. The water was a much thicker medium than air and everything had a bluish tinge to it. I was probably a feet under water, feeling weightless, floating gently looking around trying to see as much as I could, as I had to reach the surface soon to breathe again. I held on tightly to Parvez’s hands. I stole a lglance at my own body and was surprised at how pretty it looked in the ocean. It was a beautiful sight. My body had never looked so beautiful to me before. And just as my eyes shifted from my body I saw something orange in the distant. A shock ran down my spine and I surfaced quickly to take a breath. i was not sure what I had seen. I could not wait to go immerse in the ocean again to get a better look at it. Holding onto Parvez’s hands I went under the water again. It was in the bottom of the ocean, orange, extremely still. I could not recognize what it was because I had never seen it before. But I knew I had fallen in love with whatever it was. This time when I hit the surface I asked Parvez if he knew anyting about it as he had just returned from a swim. I could not believe when he told me it was a coral reef. A CORAL REEF! This was unbelievable. Unreal.

Peering through the clearest blue waters, I was looking around as much as I could and as quickly as possible while holding on to Parvez’s hand -this time with only hand, using the other to navigate. The waters were pretty deep. I could have easily drowned as I didnt know how to swim. But I was experiencing something so exciting that I could not get enough of it. Time was not on my side as we had to leave in another 10-15 minutes to catch the ferry which would take us back to the main island of Puerto Rico. It was the last day of my trip.  I felt helpless because at that given time, all I wanted in the world was to be there and get as much of the beautiful waters as I could. Its a feeling hard to describe. I also deeply regretted not knowing how to swim. Well, let me correct that. I had learnt swimming 2 days ago in the swimming pool of our resort by an elderly gentleman from New York. He taught me to how to advance in waters, a skill I quickly learnt. What I didnt learn however was how to take a a co-ordinated breath. Every time I attempted to breathe i ended up swallowing water as  I would either breathe too early or too late.  The next day, I had jumped into the Atlantic, and with the support of my husband and friends who promised me they wouldnt let me die, I was riding wave after wave. Slowly I could feel my strokes getting stronger as my arms and limbs were working in better concert with each other. But I still could not co-ordinate well enough to take a safe breath. causing me to keep swallowing water. I kept doing this for atleast 2-3 hours. I called it quits when I felt that If I swallowed anymore water I would get hypernatremia. Another problem was I could not open my eyes in the ocean.

But that day in the Tamarindo beach was different. I felt at peace submerged under the water, and all the worldly sounds had come to a deafening silence. It was a sensory delight. I was seeing beautiful colors. Feeling the cool ocean with my skin. I felt happy. I didnt want to leave. Other snorkellers had reported seeing turtles earlier in the morning that day. TURTLES! If only I knew how to swim.

The ocean is this world that I know so little about. Swimming in the waters of Tamarindo Beach of Culebra has been one of the most special experiences of my life. It was fearful yet exciting. I guess I was experiencing an adrenaline rush. And I cannot wait to return. I definitley have some work to do before. At 30 years of age, trying to learn how to swim is a really difficult task, but its a skill I am desperate to acquire. I know I will return to the ocean again and hopefully will be  go SCUBA diving one day. Cannot wait.

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