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Swimming with sea lions

by Alkahil Muzrad

I have always, always been afraid of going snorkeling or scuba diving. The sight of that unknown underwater topography that suddenly meets your eyes and the creatures possibly lurking just behind every bundle of sea weeds or rock shout instantaneous doom to me. On my 18th birthday though, what I thought was a simple fishing trip to San Jose del Cabo, Baja California turned out to be a birthday surprise from watery hell and I was forced to swallow my fears and dive deep into the waters of the Mar de Cortez.

My brothers and my dad treated me to a two day cruise that would end in Cabo San Jose in Los Cabos, at the southernmost part of the peninsula. From there, we booked another cruise that would take us back to the United States because we wanted to spend two days fishing in the famous waters of the Sea of Cortez since all five of us enjoy fishing and take every opportunity we have to fish.

The cruise to Baja California’s southernmost end was absolutely enjoyable. Aside from the casino and buffet restaurant which we went to several time a day, there was also a comfortable deck pool where several fine looking ladies lounge in. I’ve been on a cruise several times before but was always disappointed to find mothers and grannies swimming in the pool instead of hot girls so this was a pleasant surprise which I think I was only allowed to experience because my birthday was coming up.

We have already booked a seaside villa in Los Cabos so we directly headed towards it the moment the cruise was over because we all five of us were rather tired. After an entire day of sleeping, sunbathing and walking to a nearby restaurant to pig out on Mexican food, we returned to the villa and I was informed of a planned fishing trip along the Cabo Pulmo beach the next day.

So i took out my pole and lures and prepared everything I would bring the next day so that our fishing trip would go on as smoothly and calmly as possible. My brothers and my dad, although they weer perfectly aware that they were not going to take me fishing, didn’t say a word however. And they just stood by and watched idly as I prepared food, extra clothes, cameras, and fishing equipment.

The next day, we arrive at Cabo Pulmo after a short walk from a restaurant where we had breakfast in. We were already a little far out into the sea and I was pulling up a chair so I can position myself at the side of the jet boat when they started taking out wet suits. The first thing that came to my mind was “Oh-uh. They plan on doing spear fishing.” But then, no spears or nets were on board but several scuba gears were soon taken out and I was handed a wet suit to put on.

I wanted to throw them all over board for putting me in a position such as that but I also appreciated the effort they made to surprise me and help me conquer my fear of diving. So after a few minutes, I was already wearing my wet suit and was swimming as near the boat as possible so I can scamper back up if a giant squid or a shark happened to come by.

A few idle minutes though, something gray and sleek and large was seen swimming towards us. I saw it when it was already near, about a mile or so, and I was already imagining gruesome scenes from Jaws which I thought would happen in just a few seconds when that creature reaches us. I was wrong though, it was not a shark but a dolphin. In fact, three dolphins came to us and stayed near the boat for more than twenty minutes. I was scared of touching them because I thought they would bite or something, but they were really amusing animals which seemed to have been gifted with a wonderful sense of humor. One of them kept on spitting at the guys in the boat while another kept showing off that he can do back flips in the air.

The boat person and tour guide also brought us near a colony of sea lions. Even from afar, I could tell they looked like moles with mermaid tails and I wasn’t feeling as amiable towards them as I did with the acrobatic dolphins. They were also very gentle though, and surprisingly graceful for such fat animals. We were told not to shout or touch them though. And if one was coming to near and we felt uncomfortable, we can just turn our backs to them and they would get the picture. The sea lions were all very entertaining and fun though, and I didn’t even realize I was scared of them until we were already drifting away as the boat took us back to shore.

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