Isla Mujeres, Mexico: Swimming With Giants

Guilty. <waiving hand in air>

I’m guilty of it.  I’m guilty of thinking (saying) “that’s a dream of mine!” but yet have no plan and take no action towards physically making that dream come true.

Until now.

As a young girl, I was enamored by all things underwater. I dreamt of being a dolphin trainer at Sea World (before animal rights was a thing), wearing a one of those black and blue Sea World wetsuits with a whistle hanging from my neck. So I flew through high school with confidence that I needed to get a college degree in Marine Biology. That’s where it would all start. Fast forward to freshman year at Florida Atlantic University – I had a horrible experience in Chemistry, realized the limited number of careers in Marine Biology, and the likelihood of an incredibly low salary, so I ditched my dream career and got an MBA instead. Go figure. But it all worked out and, in hindsight, boy am I glad I did. Dolphin training doesn’t sit with me well today. Dolphin rescue, maybe, but still. Chemistry. Blaph.

But what kid has but one dream? None that I know. For years, I would watch nature shows on TV, read those little yellow National Geographic magazines in the school library, and see pictures and video of people swimming with whale sharks and manta rays. Creatures so large you almost didn’t notice the human in the image. So graceful and gentle that I just stared in awe, wishing and hoping that, one day, I could see them in person. I wanted to experience the giants of the ocean up close and personal. But that dream seemed so elusive, so impossible. How on Earth would I ever just HAPPEN to be on a boat in the middle of the ocean (whatever ocean they even live in) with my snorkel gear, and by sheer good effing luck run across them? Not a snowballs chance in hell. No way, no how. So why would I even try?

Last year, a friend of mine sent me a video of a local family in Exuma swimming with a whale shark that they, guess what, JUST so happened to stumble upon while island hopping from Exuma to Long Island in the Bahamas. I had no clue that whale sharks even lived in the Atlantic Ocean and was dumbfounded that someone I knew actually got experience one of MY dreams. The impossible immediately became so possible.

Obviously, I’ve been traveling a lot these last couple of years. I am so fortunate, via unfortunate circumstances, that my new life affords me the time and finances to do so. A few months ago, while searching for my next travel adventure, I googled “swim with whale sharks”. Boom. Page after page of websites, videos, photos, you name it were plastered all over my computer screen. You know when you discover something (a song, a show, a fact) for the first time, only to find out that all of your friends and family have known about this “something” for months or even years? Yeah, that’s the feeling I immediately felt. This possibility has existed all along and I didn’t even know it was so attainable. Sigh. Thank goodness for the Google machine. After some simple research and a few recommendations from others online, I discovered this dream was not only going to come true, but it was easy, relatively cheap, and something I can do year after year if I so desire. High freaking five.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico……I’m coming for ya.

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