Great Barrier Reef & Some Lies I’ve Believed About Myself

Lately I’ve been thinking about the smattering of lies I’ve believed about myself. Here are three that are on my mind right now:

I’m meant to be inactive and out-of-shape. When I was very young, somehow I got it into my head that I was “supposed to be” fat, and needed to follow through on this, my assigned lot in life. “Do I hate gym? Of course I do, I’m fat.” “Will I eat a fourth helping and then steal cookies later? Of course I will, I’m fat.” Eventually I realized this strange truth: I like exercising. It’s fun for me! Also, it’s not my job to eat all the food everywhere. I’m not a hoover that’s supposed to ensure there are no leftovers. This realization has been a huge release too. And I won’t be struck by lightening for failing to live up to my supposedly God-given life-assignment filled with inactivity and excess body fat.

I’m an introvert. I might be of the quieter, introspective variety… but I do gain energy from being around people, and that’s really the bottom line… truthfully, I’m an extrovert. (I keep laughing at this: “quiet extrovert”… just quietly enjoying being around people… sounds like a creeper. Hahaha AHHHHHHHH.) In fact, I’ve probably just used the “I’m an introvert” line to cover for myself when I’ve just been socially lazy. Example of a born extrovert: one of my earliest childhood memories is of a time I tried to literally yank my shy cousin off the couch, yelping, “COME PLAY! WE WILL HAVE SO MUCH FUN! COME ON!” Pretty sure that’s textbook extrovert-behaviour right there.

I’m from the prairies, and will never snorkel… not even when we go to the Great Barrier Reef:

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We could see the Great Barrier Reef from our flight into Cairns!

There are a lot of different ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Andrew researched and concluded that we should at least go to the Outer Reef, there’s less pollution there, less damage to the reef, etc. We booked a day trip on a catamaran with Reef Magic.

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Getting on the boat!

It takes two hours on the open ocean to get to the Outer Reef. There are a lot of waves. And a lot of subsequent seasickness. As we made our way onto the boat, every person we talked to: the person giving us our tickets, the person taking our tickets, the person taking our picture — they ALL told us to obtain seasickness pills once we were on the boat. I made it my life’s mission to do precisely this.

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“TravelCalm” pills. I could probably use a lot more than just two of these.

Later, as we endured the constant back-and-forth pitching of the boat, I told Andrew, “Taking this pill is probably the BEST decision I have ever made in my LIFE.” I knew that if it weren’t for that magic pill, I would’ve been barfing my brains out. LOVE those pills.

On our way there, we saw a whale and a baby whale frolicking in the ocean! Whales are immense and amazing. So huge and free! I feel so lucky to have looked up and out the window at the right time!

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We spent all day on this pontoon, two hours from the mainland.

We then arrived at the Reef Magic / Marine World pontoon that’s anchored to the ocean floor, two hours out from the mainland. The catamaran we floated in on was anchored to this pontoon via three boarding planks, and together these two vessels were our home base for the day.

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Interior of pontoon.

As we stepped onto the pontoon, we were handed wetsuits. It was assumed you’d need one for your day on the water. Andrew and I were unsure. I mean, we had already decided we weren’t even going to attempt snorkeling. We’re prairie people, after all.

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Activities Board! We originally were only going to do the glass-bottom boat tour.

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It’s like an entry-level way of enjoying the Reef.

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Some cool pics taken from the glass bottomed boat.

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Reef shark! They are not very big.

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So many kinds of coral! But no, it’s not all green. The boat must just have a green tinge to it.

Somehow being there, wearing the wetsuit, seeing everyone else diving into the reef experience, had us re-thinking our vow to avoid the water. We signed up for a Guided Snorkel Tour with the resident Marine Biologist. Most people just threw on the equipment and leapt into the water. I’m glad we didn’t try to do that. I especially needed the help of the guide. I’d never snorkeled before, so when we had to put our faces gently into the water at first, I panicked and gulped water. I kept trying again and again until I no longer panicked, and was able to breathe using the snorkel gear properly. I’m really glad we put on the wetsuit and also the available lifejackets. Because while I am generally able to avoid drowning, I preferred to focus on breathing, and listening to our guide. It was AMAZING. We learned about the schools of banana fish we were swimming with, and the gigantic blue fish that seems to really like people (if you go to the Reef Magic website, you’ll see it in photos… we didn’t bother to get a photo with it, I think that fish is in everyone’s photo). I calmed down and became so delighted with everything, I kept smiling… and then would ingest seawater and choke and have to empty my snorkel device. You can’t smile while snorkeling. At one point our guide left us and I watched as he swam down to the ocean floor and returned holding a Sea Cucumber. He told us that it is alive, it’s head is at one end, always in the sand, eating, and the ass-end is above the sand. It looks like a cucumber, and people sometimes eat them in fancy restaurants, and that’s weird. Andrew and I looked at each other. Um, we have eaten many a Sea Cucumber. I didn’t realize it was such a disgusting organism. We touched it. Ew ew ew ew ew brrrrr gross. Unnerving. He pointed out giant boulders of coral, explaining that the really big ones had been there for roughly 500 years… they would’ve been there when Captain Cook came by and discovered Australia. We learned about the fish, and how they change genders. Some are born male and become female, and others are born female and become male. I forget what else we may have been taught on this excursion.

When our half-hour guided tour was over, we were given the option of getting back on the boat, or just snorkeling on our own. We decided to snorkel on our own. I couldn’t believe it! We’d said we’d never do this because we’re such land-lubbers, yet here we were! Sure, we were wearing wetsuits and lifejackets… but we were still snorkeling!

At one point I let go of Andrew’s hand and I just floated there alone, finally calm, looking looking looking down down down, at all the layers of coral and the different fish that were swimming by… and then I saw them… a pair of reef sharks making their way along the ocean floor! For me, that was a very special moment because I’d become okay with the idea of being in the ocean, and had been able to figure out the breathing thing, and had become calm enough to really see what was around me in this extraordinary experience.

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This is what we must have looked like, snorkeling.

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But with a professional photographer on board… she made us look like this.

As I continue to accumulate life experiences, I wonder what else I’ll learn about myself!

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8 responses to “Great Barrier Reef & Some Lies I’ve Believed About Myself

  1. Lovely to read and I’m really glad you took the plunge! I love snorkelling and diving and had a very similar experience on the Great Barrier Reef. Crazy to think there’s a whole different world down there eh? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank-you! Yeah, I’m so glad we did it too! Can’t wait to snorkel again, the next time the opportunity presents itself 🙂 Yeah, that whole other world below the sea… it’s so intriguing, and in a way kind of lulls you… to explore what’s over here… what’s over there… just a little bit further… different coral patterns, schools of fish… amazing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SO cool! I loved reading about this almost as much as I loved hearing about this. 🙂 Clown fish change genders! So, if Finding Nemo had been a real movie, after Coral died (Nemo’s mom), Marlin (Nemo’s dad) would’ve changed genders to female and mated with Nemo. And that would’ve been a whole other type of movie.

    Like

  3. “Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you, what more is you lookin’ for?”

    Like

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