by Chesca Hammon
There has always been something otherworldly and alluring about the ocean to me. Like every time I plunge my face in the water and the blurry sight suddenly comes to focus for a few second before the waves blurs the sight again, I always get the feeling that I have been transported into another, wholly different place altogether. It is as if every crevice, nook, valley and corner in that underwater space hides an unknown alien creature, a fantastic looking plant species or an incredible marine terrain like no other I have ever seen above ground before.
Hence it is not so surprising that snorkeling and diving has always had its appeal to me, although admittedly, I have never had the chance to have a snorkeling experience great enough to appease this fantasy of mine. That is until I visited La Paz, Baja California in Mexico and had the ultimate snorkeling experience in the depths of the Sea of Cortez.
A visit to my grandparents house during Christmas break was not exactly what you would call exciting although it was always a very pleasant and enjoyable experience. Last year however, my grandfather who had just turned 68 years old decided it was time for him to retire. So he and my grandmother decided to sell their Minnesota house, business (car dealership lot) and all the cars in it and bought a beach house in La Paz, Baja California. There, they set up a seaside restaurant that quickly became popular with tourists and locals and which did not require as much time and energy from my grandparents as their car dealership business used to.
And so during the Christmas vacations on 2007, my family and I were able to visit their newly founded home for the very first time and were very much excited and pleased with what we saw. The house was absolutely amazing since every room in the front of the house directly faced the sea while those at the back allowed for a view of the nearby city and a glimpse of the desert not far off. But I have to say that the sight I most enjoyed during that visit was the one I saw while snorkeling off the beach.
Having a seaside home gave me plenty of chances to snorkel during our three week long visit in La Paz. During the first time I did it, we hired a snorkeling guide who took us by boat to the island of Espiritu Santo off the coast from La Paz. There I was able to see extremely deep sea cliffs whose bottom you cannot even see and which I suspected is several kilometers deep. The marine cliffs themselves were amazing in their structures, colors and shapes since you can see the different hues that the sea sediments formed probably a million years ago. Barnacles, corals and all sorts of marine plants embedded themselves along the cliff walls where schools of fish and several other marine species built their homes and lived their vertically inclined days.
After getting a few tips from the snorkeling instructor, I ventured to snorkel by myself along the beach just in front of the house. But since I was afraid of staying to long under water and not realizing that I have already drifted off very far from the beach, I always asked a cousin or aunt of mine who was sunbathing in the shore to keep an eye on me and to blow a whistle repeatedly if I was already drifting far away.
I cannot even tell you how amazing each and every snorkeling dive I took felt during those three weeks. There was barely a day in fact, when I didn’t spend at least one hour snorkeling along the shore and filling mg mind with marine sights I may not probably see for a whole entire year again.