Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Mexican Shark Dive II

“Greg?  Yes my friend.  The sharks are here waiting for you.  You are coming when?  Before Christmas?  Good!  Good!  You know the sharks like Santa…”  And with that the long awaited shark dive has been re-scheduled.  Mi amigo Alvaro has penciled me in and I am committed.  In a few weeks I will flop over the boat in Mexico to dive with Nitrox (which I have never used) after not diving for a year trying to remember how scuba shit works all to check out eight foot long 500 pound bull sharks without a cage or any real defense.   It's a horrible idea.  What really caught my attention on Alvaro’s website was the following: “The sharks are curious by nature and will come to within a few meters of the divers.  We allow the Bull Sharks to approach and remain at depth until we run low on air in our tanks and then ascend to the surface.”

I’m not sure how you ascend from bull sharks as most attacks I have heard about have been bull sharks striking upwards.  I have a friend of a friend that almost died swimming off a boat last year from a bite from a bull.  Not to worry.  Alvaro has assured me that the bull sharks are wary of the bubbles from our tanks.  That crazy fucker jumped into the water off La Jolla when Great Whites were feeding on seals to try and get footage for a wildlife TV program, so he’s pretty much up for anything.  He maintains sharks are essentially frightened of divers.  That probably is a lot more reassuring on top of the boat then when you are passively buoyant trying not to do something stupid when normally aggressive sharks that are 2.5 times your size swim by at a few meters. 

“Don’t worry my friend!  If they arch their back, it’s when they are going to do something aggressive.  Now you know!”  I don’t really understand what I am going to do with that information if a 500 pound sea predator gets aggressive while I am clumsily swimming around in dive gear.  In my mind I see myself quickly brandishing a knife and fighting the sea monster off.  What would probably happen is that I would get bitten in the leg and bleed out on the way to the boat while crying.  I trust Alvaro to make up a story of a more gallant finish than the undoubtedly sad reality.  He seems good that way.

It has become amazingly important to me that I accomplish this before the end of 2016.  I have been pretty lame this year overall.  True, I have made progress on the impossible wine certification.  Yes, I managed to get a record out.  Other than that it has been a series of personal embarrassments and spectacular failures.  I really need to get back on track.  Assuming that I don’t do something stupid on this dive and die or end up in a decompression chamber (which might be worse than dying by the way), I can make some new goals and re-new a sense of purpose. 

The real upside would be if I can get a small bite of some kind that doesn’t kill or disfigure me.  I can very quickly morph into a Hemingway-esque character and show off my shark bite at the drop of a hat.  “It was a day like any other.  The pelicans slept on the dock.  We took a small boat out to sea.  The engine strained.  The smell of petrol filled our noses.  And the tanks and masks and fins.  The sea does not care if you are calm or have fear.  It was cold and blue and small fish near the reef.  I dove with courage.  The sea respects courage.  But the sea does not yield.  The shark bit.  The shark bit hard and flesh tore.  I stabbed with the steel of the knife.  The shark bit again.  I fought.  The sea turned red.  My knife plunged through his thick skin.  The shark fled.  I ascended to the sunlight.  Alvaro applied the tourniquet in the boat.  We drank tequila long and hard and toasted the shark.  It was the truest thing I had known.”  Then I would show a small disappointing scar on my arm about the size of a car key.

Follow your dreams.      


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