First times

WHILE everyone was out in the waters swimming and kayaking early morning during a trip to the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) last Sunday, I was still in dreamland inside my tent. I only came out when the sun was high up in the sky and it felt like being baked in an oven inside the tent.

I went to the wharf of Punta del Sol and sat at the stairs near the water’s edge with my feet dangling in the water, feeling rather out of place as everyone has had a swim and I was the only person who remained dry when one of my companions asked me if I would like to try kayaking.

I nodded absently and donned on a life vest but before I could think what I was about to do, I was pushed on to a white kayak and had to stiffle a shout as it tipped over to one side. I sat down nervously as it regained balance and somebody handed me an oar.

Before I could say anything, the kayak was whisked by a wave and it floated away from the wharf. (fly now, ask later applies here)

“Hey, what do I do? I haven’t tried this before!” I shouted as the kayak glided on the water.

“Sit near the middle, not on where you are sitting,” I heard one of them shout.

“What next?” I shouted as the kayak swayed with my movement.

“Turn your oar the other way around, yes, like that!” Benjo’s voice, the team leader of the Habagat group seemed so far away.

I tried to paddle and panicked when the kayak headed towards the deep sea. A counter-paddle and it turned to the opposite direction.

“What a way to learn!” I mumbled to myself, thinking that we were supposed to have a lecture on kayaking that morning before going into the water. Now I had to learn the lesson all by myself and follow a few shouted instructions.

Before long, I was beginning to enjoy as I got the feel of the oar and the kayak. I started to venture into the deeper portions far away from the wharf.

“Don’t stray too far away,” Benjo shouted. I nervously rowed back towards the wharf. Miraculously, I got the hang of it after only a few minutes and had to be coaxed by the others to let them use the kayak.

Back at the wharf, I kept on feeling to see if my arms were still there because they seemed to be detached from their joints but the whole experience was exhilirating.
In exchange for the nervousness and alarm I experienced, I was spared from paying beginner’s lessons on kayaking.

For a non-swimmer who would rather stay in a cottage and read or sleep while the world is out frolicking on the sea, it was such a wonderful discovery when I tried on a snorkel set right after my kayak experience and actually felt like I’ve been blind before and seen the world for the first time.

It took so long before I finally learned how to put the mouthpiece and the googles in place and submerged my head under water.

The rocky sea bed seemed very deep as seen from the googles and my gaze landed on the sharp black spines of two sea urchins (tuyom in vernacular) beside a stone. I panicked and surfaced right up, spurting water and flailing my arms around when I remembered that I don’t even know how to swim.

“I coudn’t breath!” I stammered, forgetting too soon that I was supposed to breathe through my mouth and forcing my mind to concentrate that I have a life vest on.

I tried again and this time, I saw that everything underwater was just too fantastic! Multi-colored fish of all kinds gracefully swimming amidst sea weeds, shells and corrals took my attention. It was a whole new wonderful world down there!

I was starting to really enjoy the experience and was vowing to myself that I was going buy my own snorkel set someday when suddenly, some black swirling things floated right before my eyes, blurring the vision from my googles.

“This is the end! I couldn’t see a thing anymore and something’s going to hit my eyes!” I gasped and opened my mouth, taking in a mouthful of sea water in the process. I thrashed and splashed and my hand grabbed hold of my companion’s head.
I realized too late the the black swirling things infront of my googles were tendrils of my hair which escaped from the confines of the rubberband.

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